Loganair steps in to take over four routes from Edinburgh Airport previously run by Flybe

Scottish airline Loganair has taken over four routes from Edinburgh Airport that were previously operated by the defunct company Flybe.

The routes to Manchester, Exeter, Cardiff and Newquay will commence from Monday March 16, the company announced.

Flybe went into administration on Thursday after hopes to boost the airline through fresh financial support collapsed.

Loganair will also be creating 100 new jobs across its four Scottish bases – Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee – and the company has said it will be prioritising applications from former Flybe staff for all of the roles.

Loganair’s chief executive Jonathan Hinkles said: “By stepping in quickly with a comprehensive plan, Loganair is aiming to maintain essential air connectivity within the UK regions to keep customers flying, and to offer new employment to former Flybe staff members who are facing an uncertain future.”

The Flybe desk at Edinburgh Airport has closed (Credit: EN4 News)

As well as the Edinburgh routes, Loganair have taken over an additional 12 routes from Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee, and will be running an additional 400 flights a week.

In a statement sent to EN4 News, Scottish secretary for transport Michael Matheson, said: “It is very disappointing that Flybe has gone out of business. The carrier was an essential part of our domestic transport network, connecting cities for business and tourism around the UK, as well as providing employment at the main airports in Scotland.

“My officials have spoken with AGS Airports, Edinburgh Airport and Highlands & Islands Airports this morning to discuss how we can best ensure connectivity is maintained. We have also spoken with Loganair, who are preparing to take up a number of Flybe’s former routes to help maintain connectivity.”

Forth Bridge Experience: South Queensferry residents express safety concerns over parking plans

The Forth Bridge Experience will allow visitors to access a platform 110m above sea level – but South Queensferry residents have raised concerns (Photo courtesy of Network Rail)

 

Traffic congestion caused by a new tourist attraction on the Forth Bridge could lead to safety concerns in South Queensferry, local residents have said.

The Forth Bridge Experience was approved by Edinburgh Council earlier this week, but updated plans for the project came with a provision to reduce the number of parking spaces by half.

The community group Forth Bridge Experience Concerns says that the measure will contribute to more traffic congestion in the town as visitors to the attraction could be forced to park in narrow side streets if the reduced lot is full.

“We were just really disappointed,” campaigner Jeana Gorman told EN4 News. “We were there at the meeting and it sounded like they had real concerns about the car parking. South Queensferry has severe problems with parking, so we were concerned about that to start with.

“The condition they came back with was a new plan for the parking, basically halving the number of car spaces, so that’s just going to spill onto sides streets.

Gorman also claimed that despite Edinburgh Council encouraging people to use more environmentally means of travel, such as by bike, train or walking, it isn’t always possible for them to do so.

“People will chance it and bring their cars and there won’t be spaces, so they’ll park on side streets which will cause all sorts of safety concerns. If ambulances or something are trying to get through and the streets are busy, then they are not going to get through.”

The Forth Bridge Experience will see a bridge walk installed on the 130-year structure. Visitors will be able to access a platform over 100 meters above sea level. Plans will also see a visitor centre built on the South Queensferry side.

Edinburgh Council approved the plans at a planning committee meeting on Wednesday and were backed by planning convener Neil Gardner.

He said to EN4 News: “The committee added a number of conditions to the planning permission to ensure that road safety is protected and improved.”

“We are keen to encourage use of public transport, walking and cycling, whilst promoting visitor spend in Queensferry. The proposal includes welcome investment in public paths to the railway station and connections to the High Street through the rebuilding of Jacob’s Ladder and other improvements which will be useful for local residents and visitors alike.”

Conservative councillor Joanna Mowat was among those on the committee to vote against the plans.

“I regret that the Committee voted to reduce the parking numbers – reducing 30 parking spaces won’t save the planet but will increase the parking problems and have a negative impact on the lives of the residents,” Mowat told EN4 News.

“Councillors will all be familiar with the problems caused to residents and businesses from unrestricted parking and it is a nonsense to add to that problem when the negative impacts of a great new attraction could have been mitigated.”

Decision delayed on council funding for Corstorphine Community Centre

A decision of whether Edinburgh Council should fund the rebuilding of Corstorphine Community Centre has been delayed until after the UK budget next week.

The centre’s future has been stuck in limbo since the original building was left devastated by a fire in 2013.

Last year the hub had been assured £750,000 of funding for a new building would be made available, however a report released in December highlighted a £13.6 million shortfall in funds for repairing community centres across the city, causing plans to collapse. But further money could become available following the UK budget, which will be confirmed on Wednesday, March 11.

However, Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors have urged that the £750,000 should be met from unallocated council cash reserves.

Jeremy Balfour, Tory MSP and former councillor for Corstorphine, told EN4 News that he was “very disappointed” with how the community has been treated following the latest delay.

“It has been an issue that’s gone on for a number of years since the building burned down,” Balfour said.

“The council gave guarantees they would help on this and money would be put aside… and now they’re no longer going to help and rebuild it.

“It is the only facility that the community can use. The community have been fundraising really hard and they’ve been let down at this very late stage.”

The decision as to whether funding should go to the community centre has been postponed until after next week’s UK budget, but Corstorphine locals are hopeful the money will be secured.

Tommy McLean, funding co-ordinator for the Community Centre told EN4 News: “We are appreciative of the council as they are trying to find the money, and hopefully after we look at the award from the government that they will be able to allocate funding. We think is a good deal for the community.”

Growth of Edinburgh Fringe audience concerns event organisers in annual report

 

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival has vowed to adjust the way the event is advertised after concerns over the impact of its growing audience.

After releasing the annual Fringe review for 2019, organisers have acknowledged that a new strategy managing the city during peak periods needs to be taken.

Shona McCarthy, chief executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, said: “We still have work to do. Our world is changing rapidly, and at the Fringe Society, we’re changing how we do things.

“As I’ve said many times, we don’t have a growth agenda for the Fringe; our audience development strategy is based on the mantra of ‘one more show, not two more feet’, encouraging those already here to engage more with the festival.”

Last summer’s event attracted over three million to Scotland’s capital and was classed as one of the world’s over-tourism hotspots last summer.

As well as admitting that better approaches need to be taken to handle tourism constraints, the Fringe has also pledged to make the event more sustainable during the climate crisis.

“Maintaining the Fringe’s global outlook while minimising the festival’s carbon footprint is a challenge, but we will ensure that sustainability is embedded across all our activities,” McCarthy explained.

This eco-friendly approach has seen a reduction in the printing of Fringe programmes from 395,000 in 2017 to 350,000 in 2019, with a plan to invest in digital alternatives in the future.

“We have used technology to engage with artists around the world and reduce the need for travel, developing our online FringeCasts, a series of live streamed advice sessions for prospective Fringe artists,” McCarthy added.

“The series has massively improved our ability to reach participants abroad, with viewers tuning in from 51 countries and every continent on earth except Antarctica.”

McCarthy continued to explain that these improved approaches will require a lot of work, but by working on a shared agenda with Fringe venues, artists and fellow Edinburgh festivals, they will collectively make a difference to future Fringe Festivals.

Sticking by last year’s aim of strengthening community links across Edinburgh, McCarthy said they are “committed to finding a balance of deepening local roots and celebrating our position as one of the greatest celebration of arts and culture on the planet.”

Living Rent protesters call out ‘immoral’ event which claims to help Edinburgh landlords ‘maximise their profits’

 

Campaigners from tenants’ union Living Rent have branded an Edinburgh workshop which claims to help landlords maximise their profits as “immoral”.

Dozens of activists from the group protested outside of the ‘Making Money From Property’ seminar, which took place inside the Doubletree hotel on Bread Street on Thursday evening.

Protesters pointed to rising rent and the lack of affordable housing in the city, which they say has resulted in a rise in homelessness in the city.

“The event talks about maximising profits, which means maximising rent and parasitically extracting rent from students and tenants across Edinburgh,” campaigner Rufus told EN4 News.

“There’s 12,000 people on the waiting list for a single bedroom council house in Edinburgh alone and about 3,000 people on the streets.

“And so refusing to recognise that this housing crisis is part of this broader landlord movement to increase profits and extract more and more rent from people is immoral.”

Members from the union also repeated calls for the Scottish Government to introduce rent controls.

“The government needs to be held to account. It feels like the wild-west for landlords right now, and I think we need serious rent controls,” Jessica told EN4 News.

“There is a massive homelessness and housing crisis [in the city] and in the fifth richest economy in the world that’s not acceptable in any way.

“Seminars like this where people come and they’re like, ‘just buy a bunch of houses and make a bunch of money’. Houses are not there for you to make money, they’re for people and families to live in.”

Protesters at ‘Making Money From Property’ event (Credit: EN4 News)

Data from the letting agency CityLets shows that Edinburgh has seen the biggest rent rises in Scotland over the past 10 years.

The average rent in the city is £1,131 according to the figures, up from an average of £734 four years ago. In the same period, the average rent in Glasgow increased from £571 to £802.

Although the city’s homeless population has fallen by 20% over the past five years, according to figures published in April 2019, the number of homeless people in Edinburgh remains over 3,000.

The ‘Making Money from Property’ seminar was advertised by BBC presenter and property expert Martin Roberts, although the Homes Under the Hammer star did not attend Thursday’s event.

(Credit: EN4 News)

 

On its website, the event claims to help would-be landlords buy new property at auction, as well as advice on “rental and capital growth strategies” and tips on “how to maximise your profits”.

The organisers of the event have been approached by EN4 News for comment.

Protesters from Living Rent met outside the Cycle Republic shop on Morrison Street before marching to the Bread Street hotel.

Campaigner Eve added: “Housing is a fundamental human right and until you can guarantee that every tenant has a safe place to live, isn’t forced into poverty because of their rent and is protected for a series of legislative rights, then we can talk about pricing.

“But those should come first because it’s about human rights.”

Listen to campaigners explain to EN4 News why they were protesting the event, below. 

Scottish SPCA launch urgent appeal to find homes for eight Edinburgh snakes

A Scottish animal welfare charity has launched an appeal to find homes for eight snakes residing in Edinburgh.

Mike Flynn, chief superintendent of the Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), said that the eight rescue snakes, which are currently in the care of the Edinburgh Animal Rescue and Rehoming Centre, would require specialist care.

He warned that the reptiles’ long lifespan makes them a lifelong commitment and any prospective owners must have the correct setup.

“If the snakes become ill, then they will need to be seen by a vet specialising in exotic animals,” Flynn said. “Of course, our staff are always happy to give advice and support to new owners, especially if it’s their first time owning a reptile.”

The team at Scottish SPCA also note that regular human interaction is key to these snakes making great pets.

The eight snakes, named Stu, Steve, Scout, Smith, Grace, Scorch, Coto and Clarence, are all corn snakes, a species of rat snake. Originally from North America, corn snakes are commonly kept as pets due to their docile nature and moderate size.

Clarence the snake (Credit: SPCA)

Many people often overlook snakes as pets, which is why many need a home, explains Diane Aitcheson, manager of their current residence.

“The majority of people coming to the centre are generally looking for a more traditional furry companion, not necessarily a snake,” Aitcheson told EN4 News.

“Poor Clarence has spent almost 1,300 days in our care. He’s feisty and a fussy eater, so he’s looking for an experienced owner who can monitor his weight.”

Many of the snakes found at the centre have been injured and therefore require great care and careful handling by any future owners.

(Credit: EN4 News)

“Scorch was found as a stray with an injury which sadly resulted in him having the tip of his tail amputated,” Aitcheson went on to say. “This hasn’t held him back, and he’s incredibly friendly, happily slithering in and out of your fingers before resting over your arm.”

“All of these snakes could make brilliant companions for the right owner. We always say rescue pets make great pets and these corn snakes are no exception,” she concluded.

For more information on rehoming any of the snakes, contact the Scottish SPCA’s centre in Edinburgh on 03000 999 999.

 

Roadworks cause bin controversy in Stockbridge

Stockbridge residents have accused Edinburgh Council of “making excuses” for not collecting overflown rubbish bins on schedule.

The council released a statement this week explaining that the ongoing gasworks in the area have resulted in them being unable to collect the kerbside bins due to lorries being too large to fit alongside the construction work.

Local residents are disgusted by the overflow, with black bags spilling out onto the pavement in some places, and multiple reports of rats being spotted.

Overflowing bins (Credit: EN4 News)

“It’s just the council making excuses again,” said Eleanor McBride, who has lived on Raeburn Place for over 30 years.

“Other big vans and lorries can get down the street just fine so why can’t the bin lorries?”

Companies that have their rubbish collected by private companies have been largely unaffected despite using bin lorries that are much the same size as those used by the council.

Nadine Watson, manager of Holland & Barrett, whose bins are privately collected said: “Even though our bin isn’t being emptied every day now, it’s still being picked up maybe every two or three days.”

While the ongoing works have caused some disruption for businesses, the impact has not been as destructive as initially expected, some local shops have told EN4 News.

Privately owned collection lorry in Stockbridge (Credit: EN4 News)

Jennifer Feeney, assistant manager of pet store Just Dogs, explained that the company was braced for drastic losses, but that sales have been “about the same as usual for this time of year.”

The works on Raeburn Place are set to continue for another 20 weeks, and traffic will continue to be disrupted, with westbound traffic diverted for the remainder of the construction.

EN4 News have contacted Edinburgh Council regarding the issue and are awaiting a response

Scottish budget “timid, not transformative”: Greens respond to release of the year’s financial agenda

The Scottish budget has been described as “timid, not transformative” by the co-leader of the Scottish Green Party.

Responding to yesterday’s budget speech, co-leader of the Scottish Green Party, Patrick Harvie, said: “The finance minister must change tack if she wishes to secure our support for her budget.”

Co-convenor of the Scottish Greens Patrick Harvie MSP (Credit:Twitter.com)

The Scottish National Party has relied on the support of the Scottish Greens to pass the budget in the last few years.

Within the 2020-21 Scottish Budget the SNP announced a package of funding to accelerate Scotland’s transition to a net-zero economy, including £1.8 billion of investment in low carbon infrastructure which will help reduce emissions.

Speaking in the chamber yesterday, Harvie criticised the budget.

“I can find no evidence of a shift away from the damaging traffic inducing projects that the government has been supporting up until now,” he said.

Yesterday’s budget speech comes after the release of the government’s public engagement programme about climate change ‘Big Climate Conversation’, which saw the Scottish Greens call for the SNP to start “listening to the public.”

Scottish Green environment spokesperson, Mark Russell, said:
“The Scottish Government need to take on board what we have been telling them. Building a world call, affordable public transform system that busts congestion has to be the top goal.”

SNP MSP, Kate Forbes, during the question and answer session in the chamber yesterday, said that she is “willing to be very constructive. My door is open and I’m willing to listen to all parties.”

Kate Forbes MSP
(credit: Twitter.com)

In a statement by the Scottish Green’s, the party said:

“Scottish Greens have made a number of constructive proposals, which would protect local services and begin to tackle the climate crisis, unfortunately the Scottish Government have so far failed to engage in constructive negations to deliver the transformative change required.”

The Budget will also see a new £120 million heat transition deal and a total investment of £151 million in energy efficiency.
In total, £461.8m will be spent on the environment, climate change and land reform – an increase from £426.6m.

Chris Stark, Chief Executive of the Committee on Climate Change, welcomed the budget:

“Scotland has committed to reaching Net Zero emissions by 2045, five years earlier than the UK as a whole.”

In November, Glasgow will play host to COP26, The United Nations Climate Change Conference.

 

Derek Mackay: John Swinney defends SNP’s handling of scandal involving former finance minister

The Scottish National Party has defended how they handled the breaking story around former Finance Minister Derek Mackay.

The graphic story containing his texts to a 16-year-old boy was released by the Sun newspaper yesterday.

In the wake of Mackay’s resignation, John Swinney released this statement defending the Government’s handling of the scandal:

“The government became aware of these allegations at about 6pm on Wednesday night, and we simply – because of the significance of what was being put to us – asked for information to give us the veracity and the substance of the points that were being put to us.”

“We saw nothing in writing until we saw the first edition of The Sun later on Wednesday evening, so we were simply asking for the detail that we would ask in any situation where allegations are being put to us so that we can be confident about the detail that is being asked.”

Mackay resigned from his position yesterday after the Sun released a report about him sending 270 messages to a schoolboy.

The messages include him calling the schoolboy “cute” and inviting him to dinner.

Now, more accusations of harassment have come out about the ex-minister.

An SNP activist, Shaun Cameron, has claimed that Mackay sent him messages for years during his time as an activist.

After the scandal broke, the other parties in Holyrood were quick to make statements about the recent resignation. Scottish Greens parliamentary co-leader Alison Johnstone said:

“Derek Mackay’s behaviour and conduct towards a 16-year old has been utterly unacceptable.”

“His persistent and unwanted approaches represent an abuse of power, and the impact on the family cannot be overstated.”

“It is therefore entirely correct that he is no longer in his position as finance secretary and suspended from his party. The individual and family must receive all the support that they need.”

Mackay resigned from his position after the scandal broke, just hours before the release of the new Holyrood budget.

Scottish lecturer strike looms due to an “unacceptable” reduction of salary

“Unacceptable” pay has led to lecturers from six Scottish universities voting to go on strike, the joint secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) has told EN4 News.

EIS claim that lecturers have seen a 20% deduction in the value of their pay over the last decade.

Edinburgh Napier is among five other Scottish universities – Aberdeen, Strathclyde, Abertay, West of Scotland, and the Glasgow School of Art – set for strike action.

“We have, over the last 10 years, had to put up with sub-inflationary pay rises,” Anne Keenan from EIS told EN4 News.

“[The universities] are sending a very clear message that this is the time to make a stand and say that this is not acceptable.”

The industrial action will be the first instance that staff from Napier have gone on strike since 2013.

EIS is still hopeful that strike action will be avoided, and that the Universities and Colleges Employers Association will return to discussions with what they see as a meaningful solution to these issues.

“Strike action is the last resort of any trade union,” Keenan added.

“We have repeatedly tried to engage the employer in discussions around pay and bring them back to the table.

“Even in this late stage, we are hopeful they will return, and more importantly, be ready to discuss the matter of pay.”

Spending on senior pay has increased by 11% in the last year, which has led to outrage from lecturers.

The strikes follow the University of Edinburgh’s decision to take industrial action over 8 days in November last year.

Details of the strikes are set to be released within the next week.

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