Afternoon story round up

Some members of the EN4 News and ENG4GE team discuss some of the stories up online and in our new magazine on its launch day. Join Paige Beresford, Rachel Lee, Paul Sinclair and Olivia Hill as they run through some of the days talking points.

China bridges the 26 mile gap

After nine years of construction, Chinese President Xi JinPing has unveiled the world’s longest crossing bridge, linking Hong Kong to China’s mainland. 

The bridge, which cost an estimated US$20 billion to build, is set to be a life-changing invention for Chinese citizens who want to access Hong Kong and Macau from the mainland city of Zhuhai.

Spanning over 54km (26 miles) and covering 21,500 square miles of China, the bridge assists with a larger plan to expand 11 cities in the region, with the cities of Hong Kong and Macau home to 68 million people in total.

“I declare the Hong Kong – Macau – Zhuhai bridge officially open.” – President Xi JinPing, October 23, 2018

So far, the making of the now famous bridge hasn’t been easy, with 18 workers reported to have lost their lives during the construction process.

With 400,000 tonnes of steel to assemble, the new bridge has enough steel to build 60 Eiffel Towers, which in itself, weighs an impressive 10,000 tonnes. The design is also said to withstand an earthquake magnitude of eight and is also typhoon-proof, which are known natural disasters in the region.

The Hong Kong – Macau – Zhuhai bridge is expected to drastically decrease commuting time from four hours to just 30 minutes, meaning people can easily travel to and from Hong Kong’s international airport.

Originally set to be unveiled in 2016, the longest bridge in the world is now open for business, setting the tone for China’s futuristic vision.

Edinburgh, Electric Cars and You

The UK Government announced earlier this week that it would be bringing their proposed ban on the sale of petrol and diesel cars forward by 8 years to 2032 – the same year proposed by the Scottish Government.

This means that any cars purchased after this date must be ‘effectively zero emission’; one solution for this is the use of electric cars.

But is Edinburgh ready for an electric revolution?

roadAsset 13@6x-100

houseAsset 11@6x-100

map2Asset 16@6x-100If you can’t charge at home you can use a charging point.

These are dotted around the country and are easy to find with services such as Zap Map that give you a run down of the charging options available in your area.

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Edinburgh isn’t exactly short on chargers. There are around 20 sites within three miles of the centre, almost double the amount of petrol stations.

But there’s a catch.

This is how long it takes to refill the different types of vehicle

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and when you consider that in Edinburgh,

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twenty charging points might not be enough.

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After the Department of Transport announced that the electric car subsidy was being cut by £1000 in November, a surge of last minute applicants has left the fund ‘days away’ from running out.

If electric cars are to be the future then Edinburgh Council, Holyrood and Westminster have a long way to go to reach the 2032 deadline.

Thousands rally for pay equality

Glasgow is seeing its biggest equal pay strike in decades as 8,000 march on George Square.

Hundreds of schools, nurseries, and other local government organisations are striking due to a long-running dispute about equal pay for women.

GMB gen sec on far right

GMB General Secretary Tim Roache with striking workers at Glasgow City Chambers

Although Glasgow City Council has said the strike is unnecessary, GMB and Unison workers unions note a distinct lack of progress in negotiations over the pay issue.

The problem has arisen from a pay and conditions scheme introduced by Glasgow City Council in 2006. The scheme means that due to differing work conditions, workers in female-dominated industries like teaching, catering and cleaning are receiving up to £3 an hour less than workers in male-dominated industries like refuse collection.

Gary Smith, the Scottish secretary of GMB, spoke to us about the march in Glasgow:

“The Glasgow Women’s strike is the biggest ever strike over sex discrimination and equal pay. 8000 women have downed tools and brought large parts of the city to a halt. This is a magnificent display of solidarity amongst the women of Glasgow.”

Other industries which are unaffected by the pay dispute – or on the other side of it, such as refuse workers – have also been striking to support the female marchers in Glasgow.

GMB European Officer Kathleen Walker Shaw told EN4 News:

“The strike action and demonstration has met with widespread public support in Glasgow, Scotland, the UK and internationally with messages of solidarity pouring in from public service workers across the world.”

These messages included a speech from Rosa Pavanelli, the general Secretary of the 20-million-strong PSI Global union:

Councillors in Glasgow reiterate that there is no need for the strike. Council Leader Susan Aitken spoke to the BBC, stating:

“I’m not entirely sure why this strike is taking place. Negotiations have been continuing. We’ve made considerable progress in a number of areas.”

Over 12,000 claims have been made to the council to alert them of pay issues caused by the 2006 scheme. After pay increases and payouts for backdated claims, the issue could ultimately cost between £500 million and £1 billion.

The Highlands named as top world destination for 2019 by Lonely Planet

The Highlands and Islands have been selected as one of the top places in the world by Lonely Planet.

The beautiful landscape helped place the region in the top 10 of Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel list for 2019.

The guide named the Highlands “one of the wildest, least inhabited and most scenic parts of Europe”. The “innovative and fast-developing” accommodation across the Highlands is another reason for the area’s high ranking.

Lonely Planet’s guide recommends looking out for a number of animals native to the area including red deer, golden eagles, otters and whales.

The Highlands have long been a popular destination. They are home to Britain’s largest National Park, Britain’s highest peak, Ben Nevis, and a stunning coastline.

We found out where else in Scotland visitors should be sure to check out, by asking the public the most beautiful places they have been.

 

 

International Insight

Joanna Hampson brings you the latest EN4 international news brief for Tuesday October 23.

Here are today’s top stories.

  • The killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was allegedly planned days in advance. The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan revealed he has strong evidence to suggest Khashoggi was killed in a premeditated murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on the 2nd of October. In his address this Tuesday, to the MP’s of his ruling party, President Erdogan confirmed that 18 people had been arrested in Saudi Arabia over the case, but is yet to release further information regarding the details of the evidence. For live updates from the investment conference in Saudi Arabia head to the Guardian.

 

  • The world’s longest sea-crossing bridge has finally been opened in Zhuhai, China. Chinese President Xi Jinping has officially opened the bridge, which connects Hong Kong to Macau and the mainland Chinese city of Zhuhai, spanning 55km (34 miles) of water. The $20 billion bridge took nine years to build while incurring major delays and cost overruns. To watch the video ‘flying over the world’s longest sea bridge’ head to the BBC.

 

  • Poland’s first openly gay politician has said progressive policies can win in the countries local elections. After the ruling Law and Justice party suffered setbacks in local elections at the weekend, Robert Biedroń who stepped down as mayor of Słupsk to launch his own pro-European, “pro-democratic” movement, has now said that progressives can win. Biedroń’s own political trajectory, as a young, former LGBT activist who was elected to the Sejm in 2011, strides towards a modern Poland, advancing on the common view of the Catholic country. The Guardian report on the advancements of the upcoming elections in more detail on their website.

 

  • Donald Trump has warned that the US will bolster its nuclear arsenal to put pressure on Russia and China. Speaking to reporters, the President repeated his belief that Russia has violated the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, which he has threatened to leave. Russia continues to deny these allegations.

In Business

 

  • UK based vacuum cleaner manufacturer, Dyson, is set to build its new electric car in Singapore. The factory will break ground in Singapore later this year with the first car scheduled to roll off the production line in 2021. Dyson has said Singapore was chosen for the project based on the availability of engineering talent, regional supply chains and proximity to some key target markets. With a vast budget of £2 billion committed to the plant, Dyson will be focussing largely on research and development and test track facilities.

 

  • Co-founder of the Benetton clothing firm, Gilberto Benetton, has died at the age of 77. Benetton founded United Colors of Benetton in Italy, with brothers Luciano and Carlo and sister Giuliana, in the 1960s. Considered as one of the most powerful families in Italy, Benetton himself is credited with diversifying the clothing company into a multi-billion euro giant. United Colors of Benetton is known for its provocative advertising campaigns which have previously featured images of prisoners sentenced to death in America and, more recently, displayed images of migrants being rescued from the Mediterranean.

Commuting to Edinburgh saves you £82k on house prices, says Bank of Scotland

A recent analysis by the Bank of Scotland finds that buyers can expect to save an average of £82,088 when commuting from towns outside of the capital. 

The research pitted average wages in the centres of Edinburgh and Glasgow against average house prices in their respective commuter towns.

The results show how much you might save travelling into the countries two biggest cities rather than living in their centres.

Edinburgh fared the best with commutes from 30 to 60 minutes outside of the city on average saving you over £80k on property values. North Berwick, Dunbar and Livingston were some of the towns cited but Kirkcaldy was the most affordable, with house prices just 3.2 times the average yearly salary for workers in Edinburgh.

The average savings for Edinburgh were said to be enough to pay for 35 years of commuting into the city at current rail fares.

Kirsty Mengham, a 23-year-old Property Manager working in the Bruntsfield area south of the city, recently bought a property in Fife, deciding to commute.

Speaking on the benefits of going further afield, Kirsty says the value is worth it and that she still sees the move as being good for her in the long term.

“I feel like a lot of people are being pushed out of Edinburgh by high property values, so it’s still a sound investment”.

Although there is money to be saved in commuting, there are still other issues associated with time lost and stress with lengthy commutes to and from satellite towns.

“It can be bad sometimes, taking an hour or more getting home, but I’m looking long-term, rather than at the short-term sacrifice,” Kirsty said.

While the benefits are very clear in the east, the west is a different story. House prices initially dip but then rise, and eclipse inner city prices the further you go outside of Glasgow.

Towns like Paisley, just 15 minutes outside of Glasgow see buyers saving an average of £50k over city prices.

Interestingly, however, as you get further afield to areas like Dumfries and Perth – with a 60-minute commute to Glasgow – the trend goes sharply in the opposite direction, with house prices rising to an average of £52k more than what you might pay without the commute.

One thing to keep in mind though is how commuting needs efficient transportation services to be an option. Read more on how Edinburgh Waverly is servicing passengers;

Edinburgh Waverley station worst in Scotland for delays and cancellations

 

 

 

Charity calls for ‘Right to Rehab’ in Scotland

Jane-Claire Judson Chief executive Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland delivers speech. credit to Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland

The Chest, Heart, and Stroke Scotland charity has published a report calling for more funding and accessibility for rehabilitation services in Scotland, claiming that many people lack access to the services.

The One in Five Report highlights what life is like for the estimated one in five people who live with the effects of chest, heart or stroke conditions.

The charity said ministers needed to invest in physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech and language therapists to match demand.

They carried out an extensive report on suffers of ailments such as asthma, COPD, heart disease and strokes. They have found that a vast number of patients have little or no access to any after-care. Many find that after their direct medical treatments, they are left to their own devices in terms of rehabilitation and psychological support.

A survey of 1164 respondents revealed that many people who have experienced these illnesses feel their mental health was affect as a direct result of it.

Jane-Claire Judson, Chief Executive Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, said,

“Too many people are struggling to cope with the impact of their chest, heart or stroke condition. This is unacceptable in modern Scotland.

“Opportunities are being missed to support people to live life to the full and current services need to rise to the challenge. That’s why we are urging the Scottish Government to commit to and invest in establishing a universal ‘Right to Rehab’ so everyone affected by these conditions can rebuild their lives.

“This report should serve as a call to action to all of us. All services need to be better connected. We need to be doing things differently and working together to make sure that there is no life half lived in Scotland.”

“Action on this is a matter of life and health.”

The figures speak for themselves:

  • People with COPD are up to 10 times more likely to have panic attacks
  • After a stroke, people are 2-3 times more likely to have depression
  • One half or respondents suffering from heart conditions say their confidence is expecting

The report also highlights how sufferers with lower incomes are even more vulnerable to mental and physical decline because they are less likely to be able to access personal private healthcare, attend rehabilitation classes – because they may be too far away to commute to or too costly, or receive psychological support from friends, family or professionals:

  • In the most deprived areas of Scotland the mortality rate from stroke is 39.5% higher than in the least deprived
  • 20% of people after a stroke have resorted to paying for private treatment

According to the report, there is not enough availability for rehabilitation services and not enough people are being made aware of the services available to them:

  • Only 9000 out of 69000 people can access pulmonary rehab for chest conditions.
  • 29% of people who have had a stroke want more access to therapists such as physiotherapists, occupational therapists, or speech and language therapists.
  • Around 1 in 5 people say they simply don’t know what support is available to them locally, which suggests that they are not being properly signposted to it.
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Debbie Matthew, stoke survivor from Perthshire describes her struggles. Credit to Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland

Debbie Matthew, from Perthshire is a stroke survivor with a young son. Debbie had a stroke at just age 40. She faced the additional struggles of living in a remote area and feeling unsupported as a result:

“After my stroke, I wasn’t able to drive for nearly a year and because I live in a remote part of Scotland without a regular bus service it meant getting anywhere was really difficult. Transport is only available to the over 65s in my local area so because I was in my early 40s when I had my stroke, the only options for me were to rely on taxis which were really expensive or the goodwill of family and friends. Neither of these options were good for me.”

 

Behind the Red Door

Twenty miles outside of Scotland’s bustling capital lies a place with a vibrant community of close to 20,000 people, where the Union canal divides the neighbourhoods at the hilltop and the High Street at the foot, which leads to the birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots. In many ways, the Royal Burgh of Linlithgow is a worthy equal to Edinburgh.

However, the recent launch of Red Door means the West Lothian town may steal the limelight from the big city when it comes to showcasing local music. On the high street, hidden between the eleven pubs, small cafes and local shops, there is a red door which many people often walk past without noticing  — the entranceway to St. Peter’s Church. In the close future, following the work of three musical enthusiasts, this red door will signify the portal to a new venue which could bring the community’s music scene to life.

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The recent renovations transformed the heart of the 90-year-old church into an unexpected Greek-orthodox style kirk with a Cycladic style dome, gifting the upcoming venue with perfect architectural acoustics which further enhances the intimacy of the venue, which will fill a void in the community’s arts scene.

Although the town hosts an annual folk festival which draws in big crowds and has a jazz club which puts on regular shows, it lacks a venue fit for these types of events. For years, local musicophiles and art-lovers have had to hop on trains to travel to the neighbouring cities Glasgow and Edinburgh to see touring artists or leftist, specialised (music) events. As big venue spaces in the capital, such as Studio 24 on Calton Road, Grindlay Street’s Citrus Club, and Market Street’s Electric Circus closed up recently, this is the perfect time for Red Door to attempt to provide an eclectic mix of talent for the town’s inhabitants to enjoy right on their doorsteps.

Red Door as a brand is the brainchild of Stewart Veitch, a solicitor and trustee of the church, Robin Connelly,  who has a background in promoting small-scale events and jazz gigs at St James’ Church in Leith, and Rob Adams, a journalist and music critic. One of the co-creators, Stewart Veitch, explains how this will change both the church and the community: “I suppose it is about creating an identity, because for many people in the town, the church is just a red door on the high street, they don’t know what lies behind it, so this is an invitation for them to look behind it and see what is there.”

Red Door drew its first big crowd in with Richard Holloway’s book launch of ‘Waiting for the Last Bus’. The former Episcopal bishop of Edinburgh, who is also a broadcast journalist and author, was the first to baptise the church as a cultural venue to explain his exploration in prose of our fear of death. The event was organised in collaboration with Far From The Madding Crowd, the town’s local bookshop which was awarded  ‘Independent Bookshop of the Year for Scotland’ in 2017.

Sally Pattle, who owns the bookshop, commented on the collaboration: “At Far From The Madding Crowd, we are really excited about Red Door and what it means for Linlithgow. There is already a vibrant cultural scene here in the town, but Red Door are offering something slightly different in that there will be regular events for people to look forward to.”

Following this successful partnership, both local entities have decided to put their hands together once again for a music-cum-literary event. On Saturday, October 27, two of the most distinctive jazz guitarists in the UK, Don Paterson and Graeme Stephen, will help inaugurate Red Door as a musical venue. Aside from the concert, which will see the adventurous alliance explore melody and musical invention in a whole new setting, includes the book launch of Paterson’s latest book ‘The Fall at Home — New and Collected Poems.’

This event will be followed by an intimate gig with BBC Folk Award-winning singer-songwriter Chris Wood, whose first stop of his tour is the little burgh, and a look into different cultures with Jyotsna Srikanth, a superb violinist, who plays in the (Indian) Carnatic tradition. Veitch explains the importance of including touring and world-music artists: “We are setting up what we think are high-quality artists, who seem interested in being involved, almost to establish this as another gig on the circuit for similar acts. We are keen to see how these artists will respond to this place as well as how the local community will view it as an audience.”

Starting next year, the Red Door team is hoping to incorporate spoken word into its program, including hosting an event with Shore Poets, the main poetry collective in Edinburgh. When asked about how Red Door will establish itself from here on, Veitch added: “The initial splash of events are close together and we are hoping that, by doing so, we will establish an audience quite quickly. We want to draw in a listening audience and create social space to gather people, get them away from Netflix.”

Red Door is hosting events on Saturday October 27, Thursday November 8 and Wednesday November 28.

Consumer confidence in Scotland lowest in over a year

Consumer confidence levels in Scotland have dropped to the lowest it has been in over a year, and below the UK-wide average, new research indicates.

According to the latest Deloitte Consumer Tracker, Scotland’s consumer confidence results have dropped to a net balance of  -9%, which is lower than the UK average of -7%.

Scotland’s result has dropped a whole four percentage points since the last quarter. This is the lowest it has been since the second quarter of 2017.

Some local business owners in Bruntsfield, Edinburgh responded to the research, and were surprisingly optimistic about their customers, despite the recent findings.

Gavin Elden, A La Carte owner, said: “Even when times are tough, people just want to have treats, so we haven’t noticed too much of a change.

A La Carte on Bruntsfield Place. Credits to Daisy Smith

“However, there has been a huge change around here, and lots and lots of shops have changed hands.

“It is hard to tell with Brexit. I think the whole country is just uncertain at the moment about everything. It could be fantastic or it could be a disaster.”

Clementine Home and Gifts worker, Monica, said: “I would definitely think Brexit will have an effect. Everyone is talking about it and I will probably be affected because I am from Poland.

Clementine on Bruntsfield Place. Credits to Daisy Smith

“My friends are all concerned and it definitely has an impact on how people view their future here and spending as well because people are saving instead of spending just in case.”

Cat Anderson, Edinburgh Bookshop worker, said: “I was talking to the boss the other day and she is really impressed with how much people are shopping and she puts it down to Brexit.

The Edinburgh Bookshop on Bruntsfield Place. Credits to Daisy Smith

“People are just like we don’t care anymore, we are going to live regardless, we don’t know what is coming next so we might as well just enjoy ourselves.

“I have certainly seen a massive increase in food prices and have changed my shopping habits accordingly. Brexit is definitely having an impact.”

In Scotland, five out of the six measures of confidence dropped compared to the last quarter. The measure which grew in confidence was regarding job opportunities and career progression which rose by four percentage points to -4%.

The main reason for the downfall in consumer confidence was plunging levels of optimism regarding general health and wellbeing. This category dropped 18 percentage points down to -16% since the previous quarter. This was closely followed by a steep drop in levels of confidence around household disposable income which fell to -24%.

Levels of confidence fell in all six categories for the UK-wide results. The sharpest decline was in the category regarding disposable income and personal debt.

Deloitte chief economist Ian Stewart, related the downfall to Brexit and said: “The reality of higher inflation and August’s interest rate rise has dented optimism about spending power.

“Meanwhile uncertainty and the manner in which the UK exits the EU in less than six months’ time is creating an additional headwind for consumers.

He added: “That such consumer-friendly conditions have failed to boost confidence testifies to the headwinds from inflation, interest rate rises and Brexit.”

 The survey was carried out between September 21 and 29 and involved 3105 consumers across the UK, with 371 being in Scotland.

 

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