Countdown to Brexit

Experts aim to illustrate what lies ahead.

Edinburgh University. Photo Credit: Graham Millar

This evening provides an opportunity for anybody who is confused about Brexit and its latest developments to put their questions to a panel of experts on the complex issue.

The event organised by the European Union Society at the University of Edinburgh, hopes to shed some light with an expert panel of various backgrounds as they aim to bring some clarity, one week before the UK Parliament votes on the provisional deal. Their intention is to consider the state of Brexit in general and where are the politics headed at such a crucial time…

The President Emeritus of the European Union Society, Anthony Salamone,  who is also a member of the panel said,

“I think Brexit is confusing, even for people who follow European politics, British politics and Scottish politics. It can sometimes be difficult to keep pace with the developments and I hope the members of the audience will bring their questions and get some analysis and some insight into all the noise that’s going on around us.”

The President of the European Union Society, Robert Jacek Wlodarski, who will be chairing the discussion said,

“I want to cover a wide range of topics as possible. The last time we talked about Brexit with the Economic Society, many speakers were talking about theories, about philosophies and the EU – what they liked what they didn’t like – and we ended up with a fascinating debate but very little practical meaning to it.”

The event takes place at the Playfair Library, Old College, University of Edinburgh at 1800-1930 hrs.

Anthony Salamone discusses the members of the panel

 

Fizzy drink health crisis?

A report released by Cancer Research UK revealed children’s shocking fizzy drinks habits, but is this the full story? 

Newspapers are no stranger to doom and gloom,  just today we were told that every day Scottish children consume 600,000 fizzy drinks a day. However this isn’t the full story.

The report released by Cancer Research UK looked at the diets and obesity levels of Scottish children. They found that 1 in 4 were obese, with fizzy drinks being a contributing factor.

Despite consumption of fizzy drinks being high sugary fizzy drink consumption has actually fallen by 21%.

Researchers have been calling on the Scottish Government to further the limit the advertising and sale of junk food special offers. despite the average Scot consuming 12 kilocalories less in fizzy drinks everyday, the consumption of junk food such as confectionery biscuits and cakes has been steadily increasing since 2010.

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Fizzy drinks currently on the market.

There are calls for the Scottish Government to do more when tackling the obesity with suggestions that restrictions on multi-buy offers on junk food and fizzy drinks which could limit children’s intake.

However, the government is holding a consultation for restricting the advertising of unhealthy food. Members of the public have until the 9th of January 2019 to take part.

Families in danger as Edinburgh fire station forced to close over staffing crisis

Fire stations are struggling to stay open.

Marionville Fire Station closed on Saturday due to there not being enough staff to man one fire engine, a union warned.

The fire station, which covers the Restalrig and Craigentinny areas of the city is only one of the many fire stations which have been affected by the staffing crisis.

Fire stations across the city have had their fire engine numbers halved, and specialist roles such as water rescue and major crash response have also taken a hit.

Emergency services are vital to the safety and security of the people living in the community and are at risk due to the lack firefighters.

Ex-Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale blamed the SNP for the staffing problem:

Edinburgh residents have also expressed their disappointment:

Report reveals marginalised Scots hardest hit by tax & spending plans

By Graham Millar

Lone parents, black families and those with three or more children are the biggest financial losers as a result of the tax, spending and local services reforms, a new study has suggested.

With the UK Government’s commitment to the deficit reduction strategy, devolved governments have had to re-shuffle spending and taxation. The report, titled ‘The Cumulative Impact on Living Standards of Public Spending Changes’, and published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, shows how the Scottish Government’s decision to slash higher and further education budgets, as a means to cope with stricter targets, has caused this detrimental impact.

As a consequence of these cuts, those among some of the lowest household incomes are losing around £450 per year with richer households enduring an even higher loss. By 2022, it is estimated that spending on schools, higher education and further education will have reduced by between 30-50%.

The report also discloses how black households experience the largest overall spending cuts in cash terms, while white households lose less than other ethnic groups. In terms of their final income, lone parent households (predominantly female) are the most greatly impacted than any other demographic.

John Wilkes, Director of the Commission in Scotland, said:

“The findings show just how stark and unequal the combined impact of the recession, austerity and public spending cuts have been. Using this new approach to assessing the combined impact of tax and spend policy reveals that it is the most marginalised who have suffered the most.”

Compared to England and Wales, Scotland’s “pro-poor” policy has led to more positive results. There are various reasons for this, such as population growth – England has outgrown Scotland at a considerable rate – and different spending decisions.

The author of the report, Howard Reed, said:

“This research shows  that the combined impact of tax and social security reforms since 2010 has hit the poorest households in Scotland hardest.” He added, “The Scottish Government’s own spending choices have mitigated some – but not all – of the adverse consequences of the tax and social security decisions made by the UK Government in Westminster.”

The report calls for the Scottish Government to review its spending on the higher education and further education where the greatest cuts have taken place. It also recommends that the UK government should consider mitigating the vast negative changes to reduce disproportionate impacts on some groups in our society.

Missed today’s headlines?

Liam Mackay and Emer Harrison have today’s front page round-up.

Read about Nicola Sturgeon’s £200,000 pledge.

 

Foodbank usage set to rise as Universal Credit rolls out in Edinburgh

Foodbanks in Edinburgh have raised concerns over the controversial roll out of Universal Credit as over 10,000 local tenants are set to be moved to the new system.

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Foodbanks prepare for the incoming rush of service users

The Trussel Trust, who funds a network of foodbanks, have recorded an increase by nearly a fifth of all users in areas where universal credit has recently been rolled out across the country.

Despite the Scottish Conservatives maintaining a positive attitude towards the introduction of Universal Credit, December is predicted to be one of the busiest months on record for local foodbanks.

What is universal credit?

Universal Credit is a combined payment of six different kinds of benefits;

  • Working tax credit
  • Child tax credit
  • Income support
  • Housing benefit
  • Income based job seekers allowance
  • Income related employment and support allowance

Why is it now a problem?

Since the roll out of this new benefit system, people have had to wait up to five weeks for their first payment.

Consequently, this has left families unable to pay for basic living costs and leading them to fall further down the poverty line.

Despite the government claiming there will be funds in place to support the roll out, recent evidence that more people are falling into poverty has triggered several MP’s to call for it to be paused.

Bethany Biggar, operations manager at Edinburgh North West Foodbank, claims all foodbanks in the local area are prepared for the worst.

‘We are expecting to see an increase in both young people and families since the Trussel Trust have reported an 18% rise in usage around the country.’

‘As of yet, since the roll out only began on the 28th here, I couldn’t comment on a rise but we are certainly hoping for the best and prepared for the worst.’

With Christmas time known to be a difficult time for those living in poverty, many will claim the roll out is poorly timed and an unnecessary strain on already struggling families.

 

Local News

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Care home work blamed for air pollution rise

An increase in harmful particle matter was blamed on the construction of a care home on Queensferry Road. The council’s air quality annual progress report reveals that “long term trends show concentrations are going down for both nitrogen dioxide and particles.”

But the findings also show there are still “a number of hot spot areas where legal standards are breached.”

Environmental campaigners have called for an ambitious Low Emission Zone to be set up to tackle the “toxic, illegal levels” of air pollution. The Capital currently has six Air Quality Management Areas – five for nitrogen dioxide and one for particle matter.

 

Free football boots to be given out by charity for kids in Edinburgh

Kids who can’t afford football boots will not be held back from playing sport after Sporting Start charity, launched in memory of passionate sportsman Martin Macari, announced funding for its first two causes. The first project is in partnership with Spartans Community Football Academy and will support the north Edinburgh-based football charity’s “Street Football in a Safe Place” programme. The money will go specifically towards establishing a “boot bank” to ensure primary school children have the opportunity to take part by borrowing appropriate footwear. Cash will also fund a community coach to support Granton Primary School with Saturday morning sport.

 

Edinburgh Fire Station left empty

Families are being put at risk because the fire service has too few firefighters to staff all of its engines, a union has warned. Fire Stations across Edinburgh have been reduced from two to one engines in recent months, while specialist roles such as water rescue and major crash response have also suffered.

On Saturday, long-term sickness meant two firefighters were off work at Marionville meaning the remaining three colleagues had to be redeployed elsewhere, as they were unable to operate the station’s one engine.

 

A rhino was rescued by firefighters after becoming stuck in a tyre at Edinburgh Zoo

Qabid, a two-year-old male rhino, managed to get his head and leg trapped. Firefighters who were called out on Sunday evening used cutting gear to free the stricken mammal.

A Scottish Fire and Rescue Service spokeswoman said: “One zookeeper said the fire service were their last hope.”

Firefighters from Sighthill attended at around 5.45pm on Sunday and used specialised cutting equipment to free the stricken animal. The young rhino had been trapped with his leg and neck stuck in the tyre since 4pm.

 

Craig Levein calls out referee Bobby Madden after losing to Rangers

Hearts manager Craig Levein took a swipe at referee Bobby Madden after losing 2-1 to Rangers on Sunday, saying “it was like playing against 12 men.”

Levein was upset by Alfredo Morelos’ winning goal, which was scored from an offside position.

He also questioned the treatment of the Rangers striker, who was involved in a number of clashes with Hearts captain Christophe Berra.

Hearts started brightly and got the first goal thanks Gareth McAuley’s own-goal. But Rangers hit back with Connor Goldson equalising from close range and Morelos delivering the decisive goal from a free-kick before half-time.

 

See the front page roundup by reporters Emer Harrison and Liam Mackay here.

 

By Rory Hill

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.

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

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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.

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.

 

 

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