Today’s local news: March 8th

Daisy Smith brings us today’s local news from Edinburgh and the surrounding areas.

BREAKING: Teachers’ strike ballot called off

 

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Scotland’s largest teachers’ union has called off its planned strike ballot after an improved pay offer was made.

The ballot of EIS (Educational Institute of Scotland) members was due to take place on Monday. However an offer from the Scottish Government was discussed by the union’s national council and they are expected to urge members to accept it.

The EIS is calling the development “a significant success for Scottish teachers.”

The new offer is:

  • A 3% pay rise effective from last April
  • A 7% rise this April
  • A further 3% rise next April

This represents a compound increase of 13.51% over three years.

The EIS received a letter outlining the new offer this morning, following a campaign which has continued for more than a year.

EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said: “The EIS launched the Value Education, Value Teachers campaign in January last year, with the aim of securing a fair pay settlement for Scotland’s teachers.”

Education minister John Swinney welcomed the decision to suspend the ballot. He said: “This landmark agreement brings together a partnership with local authorities and professional associations to tackle critical issues, in tandem with a settlement on pay.”

Increase in number of Modern Apprenticeships

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(Credit: paisleyscotland)

The Scottish Government has increased the number of Modern Apprenticeships available to young people, in a continued effort to support youth employment.

Modern and Graduate Apprenticeships are jobs which allow people to work and learn, mostly targeted at those who have just left school, or will be leaving soon. They are a way to gain skills and qualifications, and be given the opportunity to start a career, without having to study full-time.

Fair Work Minister Jamie Hepburn announced that more than 29,000 people will benefit from Modern Apprenticeships next year. The target includes Modern and Graduate Apprenticeships and means Scotland is on course to reach its longstanding commitment of 30,000 new apprenticeships each year by 2020. The 2018/19 target of 28,000 new Modern Apprentices is on course to be achieved, with 27,145 people starting Modern Apprenticeships in 2017/18, surpassing the initial target of 27,000.

Mr Hepburn said: “It is vital we continue to develop Scotland’s young workforce to meet the emerging needs and opportunities of our employers and economy. That is why we are expanding the number of Modern Apprenticeship places available to 29,000 next year, meaning even more people can access a wide variety of work-based learning.

“Apprenticeships are a fantastic way for all employers to invest in their workforce and provide the skills the economy needs now and in the future. The Scottish Government are funding more apprentices than ever before and we remain firmly on track to achieve our ambitious target of 30,000 new apprenticeship starts by 2020.”

Around 1,300 Graduate Apprenticeships will be available across 13 different subject, with 5,000 Foundation Apprenticeships available for secondary school pupils to choose alongside their other school subjects. Scottish Apprenticeship Week (which ends today) is a nationwide campaign aimed at encouraging employers to take on apprentices. The year’s theme is ‘Skills for the Future’, recognising the importance of investing in the workforce.

If you have an interest in becoming an apprentice, click here for information on applying.

Inquiry into Glasgow school of art fire should be held, say MSPs

The Glasgow School of Art was destroyed in a 2018 fire (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

A public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the Glasgow School of Art fires should be launched, MSPs have said. 

Holyrood politicians on the Culture Committee made the calls in a highly critical report into the 2018 fire, published today.

The report scrutinised what fire prevention methods were introduced between the first fire in 2014 and the second, which totally destroyed ‘The Mack’ building in central Glasgow, in June 2018.

The report criticises the Glasgow School of Art board and makes a recommendation that the building be placed in the care of a trust in the future.

“The Committee is not convinced that the GSA gave sufficient priority to the safeguarding of the Mackintosh Building” the report concludes.

“The Committee considers it would have been desirable for there to have been more specific expertise at Board level which reflected the importance of the Mack.”

‘The Mack’ before the 2018 fire (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The Glasgow School of Art building is known as ‘The Mack’ because it was designed by renowned architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

It first opened in 1909 and was widely considered a world class example of the Art Nouveau style.

The building stood for over 100 years before being almost totally destroyed in a fire in 2014.

Reconstruction was nearly complete when in June 2018 another fire broke out causing even greater damage than the blaze four years earlier.

The cause of the 2018 fire has not been conclusively proven, as the damage to the building and surrounding Sauchiehall Street was so severe. Much scrutiny has been focussed on the contractors, Kier Construction, although no liability has been established.

Stephen McKenzie, the independent fire, security & resilience advisor to the Holyrood Committee gave evidence to the report, saying:

“I suggest that there is a potential need for a full, detailed forensic investigation of not only the fire ground, but all the project documentation, roles and responsibilities. As in 2014 and 2018, because of the complexity of these hearings, I press upon the committee that there may be a case for a public inquiry”.

The full report can be read on the Scottish Parliament’s Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee website.

Should school uniforms be gender neutral?

A bill has been proposed that would make all school uniforms gender neutral. (Credit: Luka Kenyon)

Layla Moran, Liberal Democrat MP, has introduced a bill to the House of Commons that would require school uniform policies in the UK to be gender neutral.

In a piece for Metro, Moran wrote, “I want gender neutral uniforms to be law because what children wear doesn’t affect how they learn.”

She added, “From the day a child starts primary school, gendered uniform policies send the message that boys – who get to wear trousers –should be running around and playing sport, but a girl made to wear a skirt should not.”

Moran has introduced this bill to mark International Women’s Day, asserting that the Liberal Democrats want school children to not be confined by outdated gendered norms.

But what is meant by gender neutral uniform? What clothing options would this policy include?

We asked some students what they think about the proposed policy.

 

1919 – 2019: A century of women’s success

In celebration of International Women’s Day, and to reflect on Women’s History Month, this timeline highlights ten major changes which have made the world a better place for women over the last century.

1921: Edith Wharton becomes the first woman to win Pulitzer Prize

Wharton’s novel The Age of Innocence examined the narrowness and bigotry of the upper class in turn-of-the-century New York. Wharton rewrote history as she became the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for her novel. She followed this success by becoming the first woman to receive an honorary doctorate from Yale.

1932: Amelia Earhart flies solo across the Atlantic

Earhart became the first woman to fly non-stop across the Atlantic and is the only person since Charles Lindbergh to do so. In her famous red Lockheed Vega, she flew from Harbor Grace in Newfoundland, Canada and landed near Londonderry in Northern Ireland 15 hours later. Proving she was both a brave and capable pilot, Earhart became an overnight worldwide phenomenon.

Amelia Earhart in airplane

Amelia Earhart in airplane (Credit: Wikipedia)

 

1941: Women serve in the armed forces for the first time during World War II

As most British men were defending their country on foreign soil, the women back home took on a host of jobs traditionally done by men during the Second World War and many ended up in the armed forces. By 1943, there were over 640,000 women in the army which included The Women’s Royal Naval Service, the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force and the Auxiliary Territorial Service.

1955: Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a bus to a white man

When Parks, a black seamstress, refused to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Alabama city bus in 1955, she set in motion a course of events that would change history. Through this spontaneous act, she sparked the civil right movement in the United States. Leaders of a local black community organised a bus boycott, which eventually lasted 381 days, on the same day Parks was charged with violating segregation laws.

Rosaparks

Rosa Parks (Credit: Wikipedia)

 

1963: Valentina Tereshkova becomes the first woman to fly to space

Tereshkova was a Soviet cosmonaut and was the first woman to travel into space in June 1963. During three days, she orbited the Earth a total of 48 times. It was her only trip to space and she later toured around the world to advocate for Soviet science. Inspiring women everywhere, she once said: “If women can be railroad workers in Russia, why can’t they fly in space?” Tereshkova still remains active in the space community.

A protrait of Valentina tereshkova

A protrait of Valentina Tereshkova (Credit: Wikipedia)

 

1979: The United Kingdom elects its first female Prime Minister

Margaret Thatcher was the first female Prime Minister in Britain and served from 1979 until 1990, making her the longest-serving British Prime Minister of the 20th century. However, Thatcher was a controversial figure, often criticised as she reduced the influence of trade unions, changed the terms of political debate, scaled black public benefits and privatised certain industries.

1988: Julie Hayward becomes the first woman to win a case under the amended Equal Pay Act

Hayward was a canteen cook in Liverpool whose work was valued less than her male colleagues and was paid less. Supported by the GMB union and the Equal Opportunities Commission, she took her case to the House of Lords and eventually claimed equal pay for work of equal value.

1994: The United States Congress passes the Violence Against Women Act

The Violence Against Women Act is a landmark piece of legislation brought in by Bill Clinton that expanded the juridical tools to provide protection to women who had suffered violent abuses. It improved criminal justice responses to sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking in the United States, passing with an exceptional $1.6 million budget.

2010: Kathryn Bigelow becomes the first women to win an Oscar for Best Director

The 2008 film The Hurt Locker picked up a total of six Oscars in March 2010 as well as the Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director. But it was the American director Bigelow winning an Oscar for Best Director for the film that made the headlines. She was the first woman to take home the award and triumphed over her ex-husband, James Cameron.

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Kathryn Bigelow (Credit: Wikipedia)

 

2018: Corinne Hutton becomes first female quadruple amputee to climb Mount Kilimanjaro

At 48, Hutton completed her ascent of the highest free-standing mountain in the world and is believed to be the first quadruple amputee to do so. After losing both hands and feet to sepsis in 2013, she set up Scotland-based amputee charity Finding Your Feet to offer peer support to all amputees in all stages of their life. Through her climb, she raised nearly £40,000. Hutton became the first Scottish double hand transplant recipient at the start of 2019 and now has two hands.

 

Universities express concern over student visa plans

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The University of Edinburgh (Credit: Kim Trainer)

Scottish universities are demanding urgent changes to student visa plans in the event of a no deal Brexit.

The Home Office has said it will offer EU students temporary leave to remain in Britain for up to three years, which has come under fire from the University of Glasgow.

University Principal, Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli said the plan was “crass” as Scottish degrees can take four years to complete.

Scottish universities are already worried regarding Brexit, as it may make it harder for them to attract European students, staff and funding. Student recruitment may be hampered if there is a no deal departure due to the three year plan.

Sir Anton said: “I think it could be really serious. I think for a lot of students it could put them off.”

Roughly nine percent of Scottish university students are from EU countries, with more than 4,000 enrolled through UCAS.

In a statement, the Home Office said: “We recognise there are a number of students on courses longer than three years, including at some Scottish universities. For these students, in the event of a no deal there are options available to enable them to remain in the UK for the entirety of their studies.”

Whilst visiting Glasgow University, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “The Home Secretary is looking at that very closely and we want to make sure that our immigration policy works with the Scottish education system, as it does for the rest of the UK.

Stay tuned for EN4News reporter David Paul’s Brexit round up coming later today.

Facial palsy awareness: Freya’s journey to a smile

Freya Beaumont was born without a smile, and now she is helping to shine a light on facial palsy as part of an awareness week.

20-year-old Freya has unilateral congenital facial palsy, which affects the nerves and muscles in the left side of her face.

Her condition meant that she couldn’t smile or close her left eye, and in essence had no movement on the left side of her face at all. When she was younger, she underwent two surgeries in London with the intention of giving her a smile, and it worked.

Now, she, and others who have facial palsy, are raising awareness of the condition, and have launched a petition asking the government to do more to support those affected.

Key messages they are hoping to share are the difficulties people have accessing healthcare, the psychological impacts of the condition and the day-to-day struggles faced.

Over 100,000 people are thought to have facial palsy in the UK. However, there aren’t many nationally funded investigations for treatments or cures, so support is limited. There are over 50 causes of facial palsy, and it can happen to anyone at any time in their life.

Previous campaigns have shared the message that people can be happy without expressing it as a lot of people with the condition are unable to smile.

This week they launched a Twitter campaign called ‘#facemyday‘ for people to share their own experiences.

The condition seriously affected Freya’s confidence and self-esteem when she was growing up, and school was not an easy experience for her. She said:

“It hasn’t always been easy. When I was little I didn’t appreciate that my face was any different from other children’s faces, but when I started school, it soon became more apparent.

“Other children would tease, point, stare and laugh at me. I felt like I didn’t fit in. At secondary school, I was bullied a lot about my appearance and I struggled making friends. I would go home crying.”

Sharing her personal experience to help shine a light on facial palsy is important to Freya, and she wants more to be done in the country:

“I have always wanted to raise awareness of facial palsy because I want to help others who have facial palsy so that they do not feel alone and insecure about themselves.

“I have also just written a petition and letter to my MP to raise more awareness by asking the government to encourage greater awareness of the impact of facial palsy in the UK.”

The campaign hopes to not only raise awareness, but also help people with the condition. Freya’s advice for anyone who is facing similar issues is that they are not alone and being different is a good thing because it makes you unique. Her final message is to not measure beauty by your external appearance because real beauty lies within.

The petition for the government to do more with awareness and support of  facial palsy can be found here.

Plastic road firm opens new factory in Lockerbie

A company that uses plastic waste in road construction has just opened a new factory in Lockerbie; the first of its kind in Scotland.

Plastic recycling firm MacRebur’s new factory takes used plastic waste from landfill and turns it into small pellets which can then be used to create road surfaces; a potential milestone in road production and waste recycling in the UK.

MacReburs roads being laid (Credit: Clay10)

Though the true mix for making these plastic surfaces is a well-hidden secret, the pellets replace a percentage of the bitumen used to bind roads, which helps to form a harder and more durable road surface. This could make the roads up to 40% stronger, and greatly lowers the chance of potholes appearing.

The company has already laid roads all around the world, including several sites in Scotland and England. They also have them located in New Zealand and Australia, with several roads being trialled in Bahrain, the United States and Slovakia.

“This could make the roads up to 40% stronger, and greatly lowers the chance of potholes appearing.”

One of the positives of the plastic roads is that they can be laid anywhere that asphalt is laid, as it uses the same process as regular asphalt.

MacRebur says that each kilometre of road laid uses the equivalent weight of 684,000 bottles or 1.8 million one time use plastic bags. 1 tonne of the mix also contains the equivalent of 80,000 plastic bottles.

The founders of MacRebur; Toby, Nick and Gordon (Credit: Clay 10)

Analysis

What do these roads do right?

It is clear that this process could potentially revolutionise the way that we deal with our plastic waste, and with the strength of our roads. MacRebur says that the roads “have been extensively tested and monitored for the over the last three years”, which shows that this isn’t some fairytale; they already have the plans in place.

The CEO of the company, Toby McCartney, says he got his idea on a trip to India, where locals collected plastic waste from landfill, placed it into potholes in the road, and used fuel to melt it in place. On his return, and seeing the state of roads in the UK, he decided to take action. If the plan works, the fate of British roads could be altered forever.

The roads have several benefits:

  • The mix strengthens the road, making it last longer and removing those pesky potholes.
  • The material can also be used in other ways, such as pavements.
  • It is cheaper than the conventional bitumen mix.
  • They are better for the environment.
  • They are stronger than regular roads.
  • The maintenance cost of these roads is almost nil.

The location of MacRebur’s factory in Dumfries and Galloway is also important for Scotland, as it can now be the poster boy for the plastic road industry.

MacRebur’s factory is located in Lockerbie, Dumfries and Galloway (Credit: Clay10)

The Future 

There are some that aren’t quite convinced yet. The main concern with these roads are the long-term implications. With little knowledge about what would happen to them in the long term, at this stage it is hard to say whether they have the lifespan that we are told. Regardless of how much testing you do over three years, you cannot test for weather and car damage over time. The main reason our roads get so damaged is because of over-use and the great British weather.

“The main concern with these roads are the long-term implications. With little knowledge about what would happen to them in the long term, at this stage it is hard to say whether they have the lifespan that we are told.”

Another possible side effect of the roads is the re-use of plastic. There are some that say all we are doing is taking plastic and turning it into another type of plastic, which doesn’t entirely solve the issue of the planet having an influx of plastic in its waters and in a landfill.

Again, India has been trialling plastic roads for many years, and many have been placed around the country. The process is much the same:

(Credit: Interesting Engineering)

In terms of whether it will be coming to Edinburgh, the future hasn’t been decided. Transport and Licencing Media Officer at Edinburgh Council, Rebecca Gordon, said that “Edinburgh isn’t currently trialling this”, but did go on to say that “we are aware that some other local authorities are, and will take note of the outcome of any trials”. She didn’t specify what other councils were carrying out the trials.

MacRebur’s factory has created 12 new jobs, and they are hoping to expand into other area of Europe in the future, a sign that plastic road building is here to stay for the foreseeable.

If you want to hear more about MacRebur’s work, and about the process of plastic road building, we interviewed the company’s Chief Administrative Officer, Nick Burnett.

Have a listen here:

 

 

BREAKING: Airshow pilot found not guilty of manslaughter

A pilot who crashed a plane onto a public road in 2015, killing 11 people, has been found not guilty of manslaughter. 

Andrew Hill, 54, was taking part in the Shoreham Airshow near Brighton when he lost control of his ex-military plane after attempting to perform a manoeuvre.

Mr Hill was charged in The Old Bailey in London with 11 counts of manslaughter by gross negligence, which he has denied.

His lawyers argued Mr Hill suffered from “cognitive impairment” at the time of the crash.

It has emerged that one of the jurors was discharged during the proceedings after stating that he would never consider convicting anyone over the Shoreham crash, according to reports from The Telegraph.

The judge presiding over the trial, Justice Andrew Edis, said: “just to say to the families, I am enormously impressed and grateful for the dignified way you have all behaved.”

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