Leith Chooses funding allocated

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Leith Chooses funding reduced to £44,000 this year (Credit: Leith Chooses)

 

Leith Chooses has only been able to award a small amount of good causes this year after their government funding was pulled, leaving a pool of just £44,000 be distributed.

Leith is the most densely populated area in Scotland with charities and social enterprises based within the community leading the way in helping the area’s most vulnerable. This year, the focus was on ‘food and equality’, with the introduction of the ‘booster vote’, put in place this year to improve the chances of projects that have been unfortunate in previous years.

One of the Leith charities awarded was Sikh Sanjog who received £3,000. They have been actively involved with Leith Chooses since it begun nine years ago and this was the first time their application has been successful.

Their award will go to a girls group which will be breaking down barriers surrounding cultural issues.

Speaking to EN4News, Sabrina Tickle, Youth Development Manager at Sikh Sonjog, gave her thoughts on the current financial situation.

 

Peter McColl, of Nesta, who attended the event referred in his speech to the Participatory Budgeting ongoing in other European cities. He said: “In 2014, the proposal from the Mayor of Paris through her Participatory Budgeting process, which is called Madam Mayor – I have an idea. The proposal was they would spend half a billion Euros over six years.

“The outcome of that process has been massive engagement. The most popular proposal was to have vertical green walls to clean the air in Paris as there is a problem with pollution. You can use vertical green walls with plants growing out of them to cleanse the air and that is the most popular with 21,000 votes.

“They’re beginning to shift the way in which they make decisions at a local level in communities towards this participatory process and what that’s doing is engaging many many more people in the process. It’s engaging people who perhaps can’t vote because they’re immigrants or too young to have the vote in politics and making political decisions and that’s a really important lesson.”

You can listen to Peter McColl’s opinion on how local communities in Scotland can benefit from participatory budgeting here:

 

 

 

Committee approves £128m contracts for trams to Newhaven

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The trams to Newhaven project set for next week’s crucial vote as contractors appointed (Credit: Graham Millar)

Contracts have now been approved by the Finance and Resources Committee for the two contractors for the potential Trams to Newhaven project totalling £128m, should Councillors vote in favour of the scheme next Thursday.

The Committee endorsed awarding a “Swept Path Contract” to Morrison Utility Services Ltd (MUS Ltd) costing £22m and an “Infrastructure and Systems Contract” to Sacyr, Farrans, Neopul Joint Venture (SFNJV) worth £106m. However, this could soar due to the fact that contractors are currently unsure of the actual workload.

Under the Swept Path Contract, the Council is acquiring the services of MUS Ltd to clear all underground obstructions, expected to be around 1200 obstacles. SFNJV will then commence the next stage, which is to carry out the construction work for the tram line.

There were four bids for the Infrastructure and Systems contract during the tender process, however, two withdrew due to “internal governance approval for the responsibilities and liabilities” of the project.

The contracts are subject to the full Council’s final ruling on the Final Business Case next Thursday.

See our infographic video for the key points of the Final Business Case:

(Credit: Jade du Preez)

Both contractors are delighted with the prospective awards. Peter Carolan, Director at MUS Ltd, said:

“Morrison Utility Services are really excited at being approved as the Swept Path contractor and look forward to the opportunity to work with the City of Edinburgh Council and the Sacyr, Farrans, Neopul JV to deliver the Trams to Newhaven project, if it’s given the green light by the Council.”

SFN Project Director, Alejandro Mendoza Monfort, said:

“SFN JV (Sacyr, Farrans, Neopul JV) are delighted at the news to be recommended for full award of the Infrastructure and Systems Contract for the Edinburgh Tram York Place to Newhaven Extension. 

Our teams have worked meticulously through the tender process set out by the Council and we now look forward to a positive outcome at the business case review by councillors on 14 March.”

Despite the Final Business Case being published, a lot remains in the abstract which has led to uncertainty among those who will be directly affected by the potential construction work.

STEC have also called for the project to be halted until the Lord Hardie Inquiry recommendations have been published, as well as understanding the full impact of the £20m dividend from Lothian Buses which is a crucial part of the financial case for funding for the project.

Leith businesses fear lack of support over tram extension

 

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Leith Walk  businesses preparing for the worst. (Credit: Graham Millar) 

 

Traders on Leith Walk voiced their concerns today about proposals to extend the tram-line, which they fear will ‘lead to years of fresh disruption’ to the daily running of their businesses.

Should Councillors vote in favour of the project estimated to cost £207m – equating to £69m per mile, businesses are already foreseeing financial problems as well as the potential infrastructure layout.

A manager of a charity organisation, who asked not to be named, spoke to EN4 News regarding the the loading bays that are directly in front of their shop, which they worry will be removed. Unlike businesses on Princes Street who have entry points on Rose Street for deliveries, etc, those on Leith Walk do not have a second entry point. The manager said:

“They’re going to put a few parking spaces around the corner (on Manderston Street) so that it will mitigate the affect on us to an extent but anybody with any donations will have to park round the corner and bring their donations to us, whereas at the moment, we’re able to have loading and unloading right outside the shop.

“With the road being narrowed to two lanes, the roadworks themselves and putting in the structure, it’s going to affect everybody. I do appreciate the authorities trying to put in measures to lessen the affect on businesses but it will have a massive impact to businesses on Leith Walk. 

“When the information about the trams first came out, we did get the impression there was going to be cash compensation for companies and businesses but I don’t believe that’s going to be the case, therefore, if what the council do offer doesn’t help at all then we’ll just have to live with what’s happening.”

However, the parking situation on Manderston Street is already tight, with motoring businesses that have been based there for over 40 years battling the logistics throughout time and the tram route is expected to bring further difficulties. A worker at Dunwell Coachworks said:

“We’ve always got cars (parked), cars that are either waiting be picked up or get done. You got to park them somewhere but there’s yellow lines all over the place – where do you put them? I believe there’s gonna be traffic lights at the end of the street. I think they should make this a one way street and if they’re gonna put traffic lights there they may put double yellow lines here. We’ll have less parking, I know that…”

 

Mark Gibson of Folly Antiques wrote a letter to the council listing the reasons for the Council not to approve the tram line, one section of it reads:

‘”At a time when many high streets are dying and many more consist of little more than chain stores, charity shops and vacant lots, Leith Walk is bucking the trend. Why?”

Speaking to EN4News, he said:

The final decision by councillors will be made on March 14th.

 

Leading charity declares ‘the system does not work’ for domestic abuse sufferers

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(Credit: Scottish Women’s Aid)

Scottish Women’s Aid have said the ‘single-biggest’ legal reason for calls to their helpline are from women and children failing to receive ‘affordable’ and ‘competent’ legal services concerning domestic abuse.

This comes in the same week a report by the Scottish Human Rights Committee (SHRC) was delivered to the UN’s 72nd CEDAW session in Geneva, making 24 recommendations to the Scottish Government on how to protect and improve women’s rights.

On the access to justice and legal aid, the report states there are still ‘significant barriers for women to engage in the criminal justice system in Scotland’ – and despite the increased budget for legal aid in 2018/19, The Law Society of Scotland’s perspective is that this only serves to cover administrative costs and inflation rises rather than the aid itself.

In an interview with EN4News, Chief Executive of Scottish Women’s Aid, Marsha Scott, describes the legal services to women and children suffering domestic abuse as “shoddy”, with this being a contested issue for quite some time with the Scottish Government.

 

The Law Society calls for larger fees and relaxed budget goals as a “prerequisite to ensure equality of access to legal advice”. They assert, “It is well documented that any decline in legal aid means less protection for women, as a high level of legal aid work is carried out in respect of issues that disproportionately impact on women including child contact, divorce and protective orders”.

Chair of the SHRC, Judith Robertson, said:

“While the Scottish Government is to be commended for many of its actions to progress gender equality, our latest report to the UN shows that it must now go further, faster, to ensure that all women in Scotland are able to enjoy all of their rights – economic, social, civil and political – on the same terms as their male counterparts.”

 

‘Meet the team’ event for new Meadowbank Sports Centre shows communication-breakdown with locals

 

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Event location: Meadowbank Church on London Road  (Credit: Graham Millar)

Graham Contractors hosted an opportunity at Meadowbank Church this afternoon, allowing for local residents to put any queries to them concerning the re-development of the Meadowbank Sports Centre.

Members of the Edinburgh Council as well as representatives from Edinburgh Leisure were also present.

Jo Matheson, Head of Property and Estates for Edinburgh Leisure, who previously managed the former site and was in attendance of the event said on the issues raised:

“There’s a mixed bag, there’s some people very dedicated to their particular sport and want to ask in-depth technical questions about it.

“There are people here who are still very concerned about the rest of the site and what that will contain in the way of housing. There are people who are querying about the programme because they’ve got small children and wondering what time we will still be bashing things around until, so there’s a very different focus depending on who you are and what your involvement is…”

However, some locals still appear unimpressed at the overall communication between themselves and project organisers throughout the consultation process.

A local resident gave their perspective on the event and overall situation thus far…

 

Edinburgh Council are hosting their last consultation meeting tomorrow at Craigentinny Community Centre between 12.30 – 1500.

Musselburgh forced to abandon important race-meeting due to frozen track

 

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Popular horse racing meeting has been called off (Photo credit: Musselburgh Race Course / Facebook)

The Bet365 Scottish Cheltenham Trials Weekend has been cancelled due to consecutive icy temperatures endured by the track in the run-up to the influential fixture scheduled for this weekend.

Despite best efforts from grounds-keeping staff, with temperatures dropping to as low as -7 Celsius, their preventative measures were not enough to withstand the cold Winter snap and with no likelihood of improvement on the horizon, officials had little choice.

Clerk of the Course, Harriet Graham, made the announcement via video clip posted on Musselburgh Racecourse’s Twitter Account:

These trials hold a significant position in the National Hunt racing calendar as many of the UK’s top racing trainers such as Nicky Henderson, Lucinda Russell and Paul Nicholls, send prospects that are primarily aimed at the upcoming Cheltenham and Grand National Festivals as a pre-test to the big prize races.

But the British Horseracing Authority has indicated that there is no plan to reschedule this meeting, although, may add an extra fixture to the region. This delay will no doubt have a detrimental impact on all trainers who use this trial weekend as a key preparation.

However, Musselburgh Racecourse general manager, Bill Farnsworth, has said, “Musselburgh will seek the opportunity to stage an extra fixture which will meet the needs of horses that would otherwise have raced at our bet365 Scottish Cheltenham Trials weekend.”

National Hunt racing has taking quite a pounding from the weather this week as numerous meetings up and down the country have had to be called-off. With weather temperatures not forecasted to rise until later next week, racegoers may have to expect more bad news for quite some time…

Refunds will be made available to those who have purchased tickets in advance for this meeting by visiting the Musselburgh Racecourse website.

Dave King makes multimillion pound offer to buy out Rangers shareholders

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Photo credit: Thomas Nugent

Rangers F.C Chairman, Dave King, has made the mandatory offer to buy out the other shareholders with a bid worth £11 million, complying with the legal requirement set out to him after a number of court hearings last year.

King had until today to submit an official offer to shareholders after he agreed to this at a hearing last December. It is understood that when he and his consortium took over the club in 2015, they had a 30% share of the club. Subsequently he was told that it would be obligatory for him to buy out the remaining shares. Scottish businessman, King, had requested the extra time to make the offer as he is currently in transition between Scotland and South Africa where his businesses are based.

The proposed offer has not come directly from King himself, but from Laird Investments, which is owned by the King Family Trust. The current offer submitted means each share price is valued at 20 pence. According to the BBC, when the requirement was set, Lord Bannatyne said: “The only question is compliance, not how or where he gets the money from.”

However, this is not an offer that is likely to be approved by all shareholders. It is estimated that around £8 million of shares are in the possession of fans. It has been reported that other shareholders holding around £11 million have already told King that they will not accept the offer.

The shareholders in question have until 13:00 on February 15th to accept or decline the offer.

Today’s local news

Vegetarian haggis sales excel in the run-up to Burns’ Night

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Picture by: Peter Merholz

Local butchers producing the vegetarian haggis have reported of the surge in sales for vegetarian haggis ahead of tonight’s traditional Burns’ supper.

Simon Howie said there had been an increase of 53% this year which is double compared to last year.

MacSween has also seen a rise of nearly 10% over the past two years with both firms attributing this change to people choosing healthier options.

With campaigns such as Veganuary, it is also believed that this trend could continue as people, including meat eaters, are choosing to avoid the sheep’s liver and lung.

 

 

Assault and Robbery in Dalry as Police make CCTV appeal 

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CCTV Images released by police of the men they are keen to trace. Picture by: Police Scotland

Police today have released CCTV images in the hopes to help with their investigation.

Police believe those pictured in the images will be able to assist them with their enquiries and are appealing to anybody who may recognise them to contact them.

Detective Constable Jennifer Patrick from Corstorphine CID said: “Thankfully the victim wasn’t seriously injured during the robbery, but was left in a state of shock after the attack.

“We are appealing for anyone who can help us identify these men to get in touch with us.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Police Scotland on 101 or make an anonymous report through the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Edinburgh Council faces “financial sanctions” of over £19.4 million to Health and Social Care Budget

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Picture by: Matthias Zomer

The City of Edinburgh Council faces “financial sanctions” from the Scottish Government as they will be told to save £19.4 million in their next financial year.

Bosses at the Edinburgh Integration Joint Board (EIJB) could reject the “daunting” financial offer from the council when they meet next month to discuss this issue.

The purpose of the EIJB is to improve the wellbeing of people who use health and social care services, particularly those with complex needs that also require social care.

The EIJB has estimated that it needs £225 million next year and if this is not met then it could lead to the offer being rejected. A report to the council’s finance and resources committee, which will analyse the budget proposals on February 1.

It has highlighted a risk of financial sanctions from the Scottish Government if the £3 million is not passed on to the EIJB. The £3 million to be used will be from the £9.9 million of funding from the Scottish Government for health and social care.

Unite Union lead cross-party campaign to stop £165 million tram project

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Picture by: Clive G. New campaign launched to stop the extension.

Unite Union have launched their campaign to prevent the tram line being extended reported to cost £165 million.

The Stop the Tram Extension Coalition (STEC) involves Tory and independent councillors, local businesses and the Scottish Socialist Party. They claim it is “misguided” to spend millions on extending the tram route at a time of council cutbacks and say the Capital would benefit more with a heavier focus on a bus-led transport system.

The decision will be made in March by councillors of whether or not to extend the current line to Newhaven.

Campaign spokesman Charlie Tams said: “The Stop the Tram Extension Coalition has been formed to actively oppose the council’s misguided decision to spend millions of pounds extending the tram, at a time of huge public sector cuts in the Capital. We believe that Edinburgh’s future public transport needs can be best met by its publicly own bus company and award-winning green fleet.

The STEC believe the £165 million could be better invested elsewhere such as to invest in new schools.

Alex Salmond vows to fight charges as he ‘innocent of any criminality’

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The former First Minister, Alex Salmond, arriving at court yesterday. Picture by: Ross Cowper-Fraser

Alex Salmond appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court yesterday facing multiple charges including sexual assault and attempted rape.

The former First Minister faces a total of 14 charges: two attempted rape, nine of sexual assault, two of indecent assault and one breach of the peace.

A police investigation has been ongoing for the past four months and the evidence gathered has subsequently led to his arrest on Wednesday evening.

The former First Minister said, “Let me say at the outset I am innocent of any criminality whatsoever.”

Follow these links for more:

EN4News’ Photo timeline 

Full Story of Alex Salmond’s Court Appearance 

 

 

New England Patriots to face the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII

New England Patriots will face the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium on February 3rd, after each winning their penultimate matches in the AFC and NFC Championships, respectively. 

Each game was a classic in their own right with both contests going to Overtime – the first time in NFL history that this has happened. The Rams overcame the New Orleans Saints to win 23-26 in a finish that was marred by controversy, whilst The Patriots were able to edge out the Kansas City Chiefs 37-31 in what was a thrilling match.

Click here to see highlights of Patriots vs Chiefs.

Here in the UK, there is certainly a big appetite for American Football as the UK is the NFL’s third largest market with an estimated 13 million followers. The London games which take place in October has been a growing success year on year. Here in Scotland, before they discontinued in 2004, the Scottish Claymores received average audience attendances of over 11’000 per game. This matched the average attendances at most SPL games. 

Super Bowl LIII should be a fascinating contest and spectacle. This year’s half-time show is to be performed by Los Angeles pop rock band, Maroon 5, who will be joined by Travis Scott and Big Boi after the initial appointment drew a public backlash. 

The Patriots head into this as slight favourites in which will be their third consecutive year in the Super Bowl. For The Rams this will be their fourth Super Bowl in their entire history and have won it only once. These teams met in Super Bowl 36 where the Patriots were victorious. Will this year’s outcome be the same?

The game will be broadcast on BBC and Sky Sports, respectively.

Check this preview below to find out the key players and game predictions.

 

Research Inquiry highlights food insecurities among Children

 

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A report coordinated by the Food Foundation this week has disclosed some of the biggest concerns and issues in regards to tackling the dietary and nutritional problems some young people currently face on a daily basis in the UK.

The workshops which were carried out by charity, Fixers, consisted of interviews with over 300 children ages 11-16 years old from all parts of the country, which aimed to discuss their food insecurities in all daily aspects of their lives. It is the first time that the subjects of a report has been solely young people, which has therefore been able to offer a unique insight into understanding just how complex the issue of living and eating healthy actually is for those among the future generations.

The children highlighted some key challenges regarding school dinners, such as a lack of time at breaks due to long queues and then having little or no time to eat which results in some going without any food at all to sustain them for the afternoon. This may cause alarm considering recent studies have proven the connection between improved academic performance in students when eating healthy.

62% of those interviewed felt that the responsibility to provide nutritious meals lay with their parents. However, for some of the children the burden belongs to them as some are full-time carers, as well as the hectic schedules of parents often prevent them to prepare fresh meals and as a consequence, the children must cook for themselves in order to eat at an appropriate time causing additional pressure.

Advertisements like these are to be targeted by the government

The report also revealed how the constant advertising of fast food chains such as McDonalds, KFC and Dominoes made them want to eat that as opposed to healthier and cheaper options. This is an issue the Scottish Government are trying to address as part of their 10 year strategy which calls for the banning of such TV ads until after the watershed, however, these measures can only be introduced by Westminster, with the consultation of this ongoing. What is also to be addressed is the fact fast food chains advertise on everyday items such as bus tickets which means children are constantly targeted which was also a raised concern.

Other food related adverts had detrimental effects too such as Marks and Spencer which aim to entice the viewer. Parents were said to become “depressed” as these were foods that were difficult to afford on a budget.

Dr. Anna Gryka-McPhail of the Royal College of Physicans’ and Surgeons’ and who is also the Policy Officer for Obesity Action Scotland said,

“Whatever actions we’re suggesting to improve problems in public health and problems with food insecurities especially within children in Scotland, it seems to be quite big and I think the best place to start is to speak to the young people themselves if we are to find solutions that will work. So we very much welcome this report.”

With this report highlighting changes that are needed in the home, education and popular media, this may lead to a new perception of how policy is developed in going forward. The findings of this report are to be discussed at Scottish Parliament next week.

 

 

 

 

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