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.

Edinburgh school to have dual ‘Gaelic medium’ campus

Liberton High School (Credit: EN4 News)

Council chiefs are to push forward proposals to rebuild Liberton High School that could see a dual campus being built, which would include a dedicated Gaelic secondary school.

The council believes that the dual campus is the only deliverable option. It’s hoped that the new building could open its doors in 2024, however, the project carries a hefty £75 million price-tag.

A Liberton grandparent, Charlie Shields, said, “They should get a new school because they’re all getting new houses up there, so why not give the kids a new school building too?

“I’ve been here 48 years and it’s been here the whole time. It’s time for a new building.”

The proposal for a new building has been met with open arms by people in the area. The current school building has been in place since the school’s establishment in 1959. In 2014, a prefabricated wall fell and tragically killed Keane Wallis-Bennett, a 12-year-old pupil at the school.

The decision to make a new dedicated Gaelic school is one that has divided opinions. “I think it’s a waste of time. We all speak English here, so why would we start teaching them Gaelic,” said Charlie Shields.

However, there does seem to be more support for the Gaelic-speaking institution than there is opposition. Another local grandparent, Derek Carlin, said, “It’s too late for me to start now, but I think we should all learn Gaelic. It’s a good idea; it’s our national language. We learn French and Spanish, surely we could learn our own native language.”

There is a clear resurgence of Gaelic throughout Edinburgh, with the city’s first dedicated Gaelic school opening in 2013, Bun-sgoil Taobh na Pàirce. Comann nam Pàrant Dùn Èideann also operates throughout the city, giving support to pupils of Gaelic schools as well as their parents.

EN4 News spoke to Sally Swanson, who was educated at a Gaelic medium school, about her outlook on the introduction of more Gaelic schools after her own experience.

“It’s great that we’re trying to strengthen our connection with our roots.” Overall, I’m 100% for Gaelic schools; they’re so important, especially at this time in politics when it feels like we need to cling to our Scottish-ness!”

“The argument that Gaelic is a dying/dead language is completely redundant. It really isn’t – it’s still thriving in a lot of places, and only moves like this (to create fully Gaelic medium spaces) will continue to help strengthen it.”

The Western Isles council recently announced that they are going to introduce a controversial ‘Gaelic first’ policy, which would mean all children would be taught Gaelic as their first language to try and encourage children to be more bilingual.

As Gaelic is being reintroduced in schools all over the country, could Liberton one of many Gaelic Medium schools to appear in Edinburgh?

Edinburgh woman who became youngest female to ski solo to the South Pole shares her story

 

The youngest female in the world to ski solo to the South Pole returned to her hometown of Edinburgh this week, and has told EN4 News about the decision to attempt the gruelling expedition on her own.

At 29 years old, Mollie Hughes became the youngest ever female to successfully travel from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole with no support or resupply.

Mollie Hughes on her journey across Antarctica to the South Pole (credit: Mollie Hughes)

The original plan was to reach the South Pole by New Year’s Day but the trip was almost derailed due to severe weather. She faced headwinds of more than 55knots, temperatures of -45C and an eight-day whiteout, but still managed to push forward and claim her second world record.

Mollie posted the news on Twitter after having reached the Geographic South Pole on Friday the 10 January, saying: “After 58.5 days of skiing I am standing at the Geographic South Pole as the youngest woman EVER to ski solo from the coast of Antarctica to the Pole.”

Having began the journey on Wednesday 13 November, she travelled 702miles in 58.5 days. Dragging all of her food with her on a sled weighing 105kg, she skied alone for between 10 to 12 hours a day, 650 hours in total.

EN4 News spoke with Mollie about her trip and she told us that she never considered taking support, it was always planned to be a solo trip.

“On Everest and when you’re climbing you really need to have a team around you for safety and for motivation. I’d always had amazing teams, amazing guides on Everest and in the Himalayas but I thought in Antarctica, I really wanted to test myself and to see if I could cope on my own.”

To sustain her energy levels, Mollie consumed around 4,500cal per day, more than twice the daily amount for a woman. Despite this, she lost around 15kg during her expedition.

As well as the obvious physical demands, we asked what her biggest challenges were during her expedition.

“Psychologically, being solo was hard. You’ve got to be so confident in each decision you make. There’s no one to cheer you up, no one to tell you tomorrow is going to be a bit better, no one to give you a hug. Learning to cope with all that was hard, but I got there.”

After recuperating at a camp in the South Pole, she spent a few days resting in southern Chile before receiving a hero’s welcome from her friends, family and sponsors back in her hometown.

Taking the world record from previous holder, Vilborg Gissuradottir from Iceland, who completed the challenge in 2013 when she was 32, Mollie now has two world records to her name.

In 2017 she achieved her first record as the world’s youngest person to have successfully climbed both the North and South sides of Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak, at just 26 years old.

“It was probably a good year and a half before I started thinking, ‘what’s next?’” Mollie told us. She said it took her a long time to decide to take on a challenge of this scale after her second victory on Everest.

“I knew a lot of people who had been to Antarctica and the continent just really intrigued me. Travelling from the coast all the way to the pole is probably one of the best ways to see the whole of the continent.”

When she isn’t undertaking record breaking expeditions, the Edinburgh-based mountaineer puts her energy into motivational speaking and of course, climbing.

Mollie fell in love with the mountains at the age of 17 after she joined a school expedition to climb Mount Kenya. For the rest of her time in education, Mollie would save up as much money as she could in the year and then spend it all on an expedition over the summer.

“[The school expedition] opened my eyes to seeing the world. The first few years were more about travelling and climbing at first and as the big trips kind of came into it, it was more about pushing myself a little bit and working out ways to inspire other people as well.”

Mollie has been delivering motivational speeches to schools and corporate events since her first Everest expedition in 2012 and is planning to deliver an array of speaking engagements about her most recent feat now she has returned.

Her first talk will be given exclusively to Cancer Research UK, the charity that she raises funds for, in Glasgow on 30 January.

Credit: Mollie Hughes

Mollie Hughes in the South Pole after completing her expedition (credit: Mollie Hughes)

It’s only been a matter of days since her feet landed on home ground, but Mollie is already planning things she wants to do in the future.

“I plan to do a lot more motivational speaking and share this story with people all around the world, especially young people and young girls. I want to set up a business that takes young girls on adventures, write books, so many things.”

It’s no wonder she has yet to plan another adventure of this scale, but Mollie plans to inspire many as she conquers the world, one record at a time.

Waverley Mall to be visited by pest control following pigeon infestation

Pigeons in mall as customers eat (Credit: EN4 News)

Waverley Malls’ food court is due to be visited by food safety inspectors following an infestation of pigeons in and around the mall.

The managers are to meet with the food inspectors to discuss steps forward and control plans.

The issue began when last winter, while the station was undergoing maintenance to widen its entrance. There were no doors to the building- allowing a flock of pigeons to enter.

Pigeons are free to roam
(Credit: EN4 News)

There was a plan to use high-frequency sound technology to drive the birds out but the plan was discontinued following complaints from the public that the frequency affected people’s hearing aids.

After exhausting all avenues to deal with the birds humanely, managers have asked pest control to step in.

Little Maestro employee Joanna Barnes told EN4 News: “It never really affected business for us but we did notice less and less people eating in.”

Anime Republic employee Rebecca Paxton shared a similar view on the pigeons saying that the birds being there has made no real difference.

She said: “We don’t really have much interaction with them.

“They’ll come inside sometimes and fly around but they always kind of just make their way back out.

Pigeons in mall as customers eat
(Credit: EN4 News)

“A lot of customers eye them but there’s not really any major difference with them being here or not.”

Mrs. Paxton also went on to describe how the pigeons actually enter the shops.

“Yeah they come in. There has only been once that they’ve come all the way in, but most of the time they’ll just come to the till area and have a wee nosy and walk back out.”

The pigeon problem has continued to escalate in recent times with as many as eight pigeons being seen in the mall at any one time. Managers and pest control are now hoping to deal with the problem sooner rather than later.

Further details of Jo Swinson’s loss in Dunbartonshire East.

The SNP’s Amy Callaghan has won the seat with a majority of 0.3%.

SNP – 19,672

Lib Dems – 19,523

Conservatives – 7,455

Labour – 4,839

Green – 916

Independent – 221

UKIP – 208

https://en4news.com/2019/12/13/26922/

Jo Swinson has lost her seat in Dunbartonshire East. The Lib Dem leader suffered a defeat of just under 150 votes to SNP’s Amy Callaghan.

https://en4news.com/2019/12/13/26909/

Election Night So Far

The Conservatives are on track to win an absolute majority in this year’s general election. As it stands, Boris Johnson’s party have gained 2% on their current majority. Key marginal wins in Blyth Valley and Chingford exemplify the success of this election for the Conservatives.

It has been a disastrous night so far for Labour, seeing a loss of 9% over the course of the night. Despite a typically strong performance in the Northeast, Jeremy Corbyn’s chances of walking into Number 10 look slim.

The SNP have had a successful night, winning almost every seat in Scotland to this point. Nicola Sturgeon has seen her party take seats from Labour in Midlothian and East Lothian, as well as gains from Conservatives, such as Angus and Renfrewshire East.

The Lib Dems have won three seats so far, with leader Jo Swinson in serious jeopardy of losing her seat in East Dunbartonshire. At the start of this election campaign, Swinson had hopes of becoming Prime Minister, but she may not even be a Member of Parliament by the end of the election.

Elsewhere, Sinn Fein have won four seats, while the DUP have three. The Alliance also have one seat in Northern Ireland, as Plaid Cymru have held three seats in Wales.

 

 

02:01

SNP has gained Angus with a majority of 49.2%

SNP- 21,216

Conservatives – 17,421

Lib Dems – 2,482

Labour – 2,051

https://en4news.com/2019/12/13/26830/

First SNP seat in Scotland

SNP win their first seat of the night in Rutherglen and Hamilton West with a majority of 9.7%.

This seat was previously Labour but Margaret Ferrier, the SNP candidate, has won the seat with 44.2% of the vote.

 

 

%d bloggers like this: