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.

 

Sturgeon offers cash injection to combat climate change

Nicola Sturgeon has pledged £200,000 to fight climate change ahead of her appearance at Poland climate change summit.

The money will be given to the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action – the body responsible for enacting the Paris Agreement strategy.

It is hoped that the funding will help all levels of Society to come together to reduce climate change. The first Minster said this about the funding.

“We have a moral responsibility to do what we can to prevent, and mitigate the effects of, global climate change.

“Scotland has been widely praised internationally for our work to tackle climate change, and I am absolutely determined that there will be no let-up in our efforts.”

“It requires everyone in society – individuals, businesses and governments – to play their part in changing behaviours, and I’m pleased that the Scottish Government is able to support the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action in its work.”

David Attenborough kicked off the conference with a speech about climate change being humanities greatest threat.

The conference has came under fire for being hosted in Poland’s coal country with the Polish Government have announced the opening of a new coal mine next year near the conference centre.

The conference will run from the 2nd to the 14th of December.

International News

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Sir David Attenborough’s climate change warning from Poland

The naturalist Sir David Attenborough has said climate change is humanity’s greatest threat in thousands of years. The broadcaster said it could lead to the collapse of civilisations and the extinction of “much of the natural world”.

He was speaking at the opening ceremony of United Nations-sponsored climate talks in Katowice, Poland. The meeting is the most critical on climate change since the 2015 Paris agreement. Sir David said: “Right now, we are facing a man-made disaster of global scale. Our greatest threat in thousands of years. Climate change.

 

Casualty in Marseille following fuel protests

An 80-year-old woman has died last night after being hit by a tear gas canister at her window during Saturday’s fuel protests in the French city of Marseille. The woman, who lived in an apartment near to where the protests were taking place, was hit in the face while closing the shutters. Protests over fuel tax have grown into general anger at higher living costs. The woman was taken to hospital, but died during an operation after suffering shock, local media report. Three other people have been killed in the protests since demonstrations started more than two weeks ago, police said on Sunday.

 

900-year-old treasure discovered in Israel

A collection of gold coins believed to have been hidden 900 years ago has been discovered by archaeologists in the city of Caesarea in Israel. The rare cache was found in a bronze pot between stones in the side of a well. The hoard of 24 coins appears to have been hidden by someone who hoped to retrieve it, but never returned. Archaeologists say the owner may have died when the city’s inhabitants were massacred by a Crusader army in 1101. The discovery, which specialists have identified as belonging to the end of the 11th Century, was made during an excavation and conservation project at the Caesarea World Heritage site.

 

Houthi Rebel evacuation in bid to build trust

A plane carrying 50 wounded Houthi rebel fighters has left the Yemeni capital Sana’a in a critical confidence-building measure before peace talks can get under way in Stockholm. The evacuation on a UN-chartered plane to Muscat, Oman, represents an essential building block to the talks starting.  Previous talks planned for September in Geneva failed when the Houthi delegation did not leave Sana’a, arguing that the UN could not guarantee their safe return. They also accused the UN of failing to secure the evacuation of wounded rebels to Oman.

 

Trump praises former aide

Donald Trump has praised his former aide Roger Stone’s repeated pledge not to testify against the president.

Trump said on Twitter:

“This statement was recently made by Roger Stone, essentially stating that he will not be forced by a rogue and out of control prosecutor to make up lies and stories about ‘President Trump. Nice to know that some people still have ‘guts!’”

Trump went on to discredit Robert Mueller again, claiming the well-respected investigator “is a much different man than people think.”

See the front page round up with reporters Emer Harrison and Liam Mackay here.

By Rory Hill

National News

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UK should be allowed to change its mind on Brexit, says top law officer

According to a top European law officer, the UK should be allowed to cancel its withdrawal from the EU.

This was claimed by the European Court of Justice’s advocate general.

The advice from the advocate general Manuel Campos Sanchez-Bordona, comes in the wake of the final five days of deliberations on Britain’s final Brexit deal.

In a written statement, The European Court of Justice said his opinion was that a country should have the power to change its mind during the two-year exit process if it chooses to leave the EU.

 

Guardian investigation on name discrimination

A Guardian investigation found that inquiries from a person with a Muslim name about flat share ads received significantly fewer positive responses. In a survey of the private flat share market carried out as part of the Bias in Britain series, expressions of interest were sent from “Muhammad” and “David” to almost 1,000 online advertisements for rooms across the UK. The Guardian found that for every 10 positive replies David received, Muhammad received only eight. Muhammad was twice as disadvantaged compared with David as he was more likely not to receive a response (44% of the time compared with 36%), and when he did receive a response it was more likely to be negative (25% of the time compared with 18%).

 

Sturgeon urges Prime Minister to have Brexit plan B

Sturgeon has made a last-ditch appeal to the Prime Minister to put forward a second Brexit plan just days before the final vote on the UK’s terms for leaving the EU. The First Minister met Theresa May for a second time in a fortnight for face-to-face talks on Brexit ahead of the start of MPs’ deliberations on the Prime Minister’s deal with Brussels.

The First Minister said that next week’s vote “cannot – and must not – be a false choice between a proposed deal and a no-deal outcome, which threatens to be utterly disastrous for jobs, business and living standards”.

 

Death in Buchanan Galleries

An unidentified man has fallen to his death from the top floor of Glasgow’s Buchanan Galleries yesterday afternoon

The incident happened at 4.20pm. It is understood that the man plummeted from the area at the top of the centre’s elevators.

Police Scotland said the incident was not thought to be suspicious. He was pronounced dead at the scene by police. The area has been cordoned off, with a white tent erected at the scene. The centre has been closed to the public while investigations are carried out.

 

Scotrail plan to end free travel for children

Free travel for schoolchildren is set to be ended by ScotRail after Christmas. The operator’s Kids Go Free scheme has allowed an adult to take up to two children between the ages of five and 15 on return journeys for free. But the initiative will be scrapped from 2 January, with a £1-a-child charge to instead be levied.

The rebranded scheme has been called Kids for a Quid.

Scottish Labour’s transport spokesman Colin Smyth described ScotRail as “Scrooge” given the timing of the decision.

“With Christmas less than a few weeks away, it’s sad to see bosses at ScotRail acting like Scrooge by taking free rail travel away from children across Scotland,” he told STV.

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

By Rory Hill

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.

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

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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.

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.

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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.

 

 

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