Leith Chooses funding allocated

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Leith Chooses funding reduced to £44,000 this year (Credit: Leith Chooses)

 

Leith Chooses has only been able to award a small amount of good causes this year after their government funding was pulled, leaving a pool of just £44,000 be distributed.

Leith is the most densely populated area in Scotland with charities and social enterprises based within the community leading the way in helping the area’s most vulnerable. This year, the focus was on ‘food and equality’, with the introduction of the ‘booster vote’, put in place this year to improve the chances of projects that have been unfortunate in previous years.

One of the Leith charities awarded was Sikh Sanjog who received £3,000. They have been actively involved with Leith Chooses since it begun nine years ago and this was the first time their application has been successful.

Their award will go to a girls group which will be breaking down barriers surrounding cultural issues.

Speaking to EN4News, Sabrina Tickle, Youth Development Manager at Sikh Sonjog, gave her thoughts on the current financial situation.

 

Peter McColl, of Nesta, who attended the event referred in his speech to the Participatory Budgeting ongoing in other European cities. He said: “In 2014, the proposal from the Mayor of Paris through her Participatory Budgeting process, which is called Madam Mayor – I have an idea. The proposal was they would spend half a billion Euros over six years.

“The outcome of that process has been massive engagement. The most popular proposal was to have vertical green walls to clean the air in Paris as there is a problem with pollution. You can use vertical green walls with plants growing out of them to cleanse the air and that is the most popular with 21,000 votes.

“They’re beginning to shift the way in which they make decisions at a local level in communities towards this participatory process and what that’s doing is engaging many many more people in the process. It’s engaging people who perhaps can’t vote because they’re immigrants or too young to have the vote in politics and making political decisions and that’s a really important lesson.”

You can listen to Peter McColl’s opinion on how local communities in Scotland can benefit from participatory budgeting here:

 

 

 

Soundtracks in, symphonies out?

Wizards, witches and even muggles are invited to watch as the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) bring the music from Harry Potter to life.

The Music of Harry Potter, which will include the scores from all eight movies, will be bringing magic to Edinburgh’s Usher Hall on March 15th.

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The Music of Harry Potter will take place in the Usher Hall on March 15th (Credit: Kevin Rae)

Richard Kaufman, a Grammy award winning Hollywood conductor, will lead the orchestra in exploring John William’s music from the iconic franchise, including Hedwig’s Theme, Hogwarts Forever, and Nimbus 2000.

The audience will be left to imagine Hogwarts, though, as no movie footage will be screened. To encourage a more magical feel to the concert, people attending are encouraged to dress in their House robes or as their favourite character with prizes for the best dressed.

For more information on this event and to purchase tickets, click here.

However, this type of event – an orchestra playing scores of successful movies – is not new, and it’s a trend that doesn’t seem to be disappearing any time soon.

The Usher Hall will also be the setting for the RSNO’s The Music of John Williams and Back to the Future in Concert.

Recently, it was announced that the BBC’s Blue Planet 2 would be brought to the stage, following the success of the BAFTA award winning television series.

The 13 date tour will be accompanied by film sequences from the TV series, which began raising the public’s awareness of the fragility of the planet when the programme was first broadcast in 2001.

On the tour’s page, it states:

“The live concert adaptation is an extension of that striking visual and environmental narrative.”

But why has the orchestra, which was typically entertainment for the upper classes, started to play the soundtracks of much-loved movies?

In a sense, the ensemble might be adapting – or maybe evolving is a better word – to how music is created, listened to, and loved by the public today.

Over the past few years, movie soundtracks have become more of an indicator for how worthwhile the film will be. This might have been similar in the past, but iTunes and Spotify have made listening to scores simple. A quick download, and the soundtrack for Guardian of the Galaxy is on your mobile. A press of a button and Shazam has found your favourite song from The Breakfast ClubThe Greatest Showman soundtrack was so popular that it was released again, with chart-topping artists performing the songs. 

There is no denying it – soundtracks are strong right now, and that seems to have created an opening for the orchestra. But lifestyle-related issues could have also effected this change.

Songs most people listen to now are short – four or five minutes at the most. In comparisons to classical music, this is a minuscule length of time, especially as Beethoven’s Symphony No.9 goes on for over an hour. People do not have the time or patience now to listen to something that length, even if it is one of the most celebrated pieces in music history.

The cost of making the music, as well as how people relate to the music, might even factor into why soundtracks are in and symphonies are out – it appears to be yet another change society has gone through.

To see upcoming events at the Usher Hall, click here.

Leith businesses fear lack of support over tram extension

 

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Leith Walk  businesses preparing for the worst. (Credit: Graham Millar) 

 

Traders on Leith Walk voiced their concerns today about proposals to extend the tram-line, which they fear will ‘lead to years of fresh disruption’ to the daily running of their businesses.

Should Councillors vote in favour of the project estimated to cost £207m – equating to £69m per mile, businesses are already foreseeing financial problems as well as the potential infrastructure layout.

A manager of a charity organisation, who asked not to be named, spoke to EN4 News regarding the the loading bays that are directly in front of their shop, which they worry will be removed. Unlike businesses on Princes Street who have entry points on Rose Street for deliveries, etc, those on Leith Walk do not have a second entry point. The manager said:

“They’re going to put a few parking spaces around the corner (on Manderston Street) so that it will mitigate the affect on us to an extent but anybody with any donations will have to park round the corner and bring their donations to us, whereas at the moment, we’re able to have loading and unloading right outside the shop.

“With the road being narrowed to two lanes, the roadworks themselves and putting in the structure, it’s going to affect everybody. I do appreciate the authorities trying to put in measures to lessen the affect on businesses but it will have a massive impact to businesses on Leith Walk. 

“When the information about the trams first came out, we did get the impression there was going to be cash compensation for companies and businesses but I don’t believe that’s going to be the case, therefore, if what the council do offer doesn’t help at all then we’ll just have to live with what’s happening.”

However, the parking situation on Manderston Street is already tight, with motoring businesses that have been based there for over 40 years battling the logistics throughout time and the tram route is expected to bring further difficulties. A worker at Dunwell Coachworks said:

“We’ve always got cars (parked), cars that are either waiting be picked up or get done. You got to park them somewhere but there’s yellow lines all over the place – where do you put them? I believe there’s gonna be traffic lights at the end of the street. I think they should make this a one way street and if they’re gonna put traffic lights there they may put double yellow lines here. We’ll have less parking, I know that…”

 

Mark Gibson of Folly Antiques wrote a letter to the council listing the reasons for the Council not to approve the tram line, one section of it reads:

‘”At a time when many high streets are dying and many more consist of little more than chain stores, charity shops and vacant lots, Leith Walk is bucking the trend. Why?”

Speaking to EN4News, he said:

The final decision by councillors will be made on March 14th.

 

‘Suspicious item’ found near mosque in Edinburgh

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Police officers have sealed off part of Annandale Street, to the east of the city centre, after a suspicious item was found near the Annandale mosque.

The alarm was raised at 11:50 this morning after the discovery of the item, with bomb disposal experts from the Royal Logistic Corps attending the scene with a robotic vehicle to examine the object.

The police have asked people to stay away from the area and have since evacuated homes in the neighbouring area, and postponed a funeral that was taking place. Witnesses have been describing the scene, with around eight to ten police vehicles in attendance.

A police spokesperson said:

“Police in Edinburgh are currently in attendance following the discovery of a suspicious item in the Annandale Street area. Officers are currently investigating the circumstances at the scene and the public are advised to avoid the area where possible.”

Update: 

The Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team carried out a controlled explosion of the device at around 2:50pm. The police reopened the road at 4:30pm.

Petition launched to help local artist

A petition has been launched to prevent local street artist Michael McVeigh from losing his “patch” in which he sells prints of his paintings.

The artist, who sells his prints on Saturdays behind Marks & Spencer on Rose Street, claims selling art is is his only source of income. However, Edinburgh City Council believe that nearby construction and vehicle movement in the area conflict with the street trader. They concluded that McVeigh’s display will cause “a severe risk to public safety”

The petition, available on change.org, has currently been signed by 315 people, with organiser Daniel Smith urging more to sign. One overseas supporter wrote:

“I live in Canada and have a few of his prints. I’m complimented on them all the time. I’ve given them as gifts. Scotland should be proud of this fellow. He’s a treasure.”

McVeigh, whose art has been displayed in galleries throughout Edinburgh and Glasgow, has been selling his art on Rose Street for over 20 years. The artist will find out the fate of his trading license next month, when the city council decide whether or not to revoke his permit.

For more on art in Edinburgh, try these articles:

Another Country exhibition: a topical subject meets remarkable artwork

Queer Artists Exhibition

Artist Zac Hughson on gender norms, working in retail and haircuts

 

 

 

Today’s local news: March 1st

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

Motorists to face new parking prices in the capital

Edinburgh City Council plan to charge for parking on a Sunday (Credit: David Paul)

Edinburgh motorists are to see an increase in parking fees across several of the city’s busiest parking areas, as well plans to charge to park on a Sunday for the first time.

The charges for on-street parking will increase from between three and 20 percent sometime in the 2018/19 financial year, and Sunday parking charges will be rolled out from April.

As part of the councils ‘Parking Action Plan‘, parking permit holders will also see an increase, with those living in the Central Zone paying up to 8.5% more, which the council says “will cover 50% of the anticipated £150,000 additional enforcement costs, in line with the current contribution to enforcement costs made by permit holders across the central parking zones”.

 

The path to success is to take massive, determined action.

Map Infographic (Credit: David Paul and Jade du Preez)

 

Transport and Environment Convener, Councillor Lesley Macinnes, said: “As Scotland’s capital, parking here is, unsurprisingly, in demand so restrictions are necessary for keeping the city moving, while also ensuring residents have enough space to park their own cars.”

Parking in the city is “in demand” (Credit: David Paul)

Local business leaders have slammed the plans, saying that it could drive people away from visiting the city in the future. Many businesses rely on passing trade and free Sunday parking, and many could be affected.

Ms Macinnes commented: “By deterring all-day parking and leading to the frequent turnaround of spaces, businesses can experience a higher footfall, while also maintaining visibility and space for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.

“Importantly, any income raised is invested straight back into our transport infrastructure, helping us to improve roads and pavements but also contributing to better pedestrian, cycling and public transport facilities, in turn encouraging visitors and residents to consider alternatives to the car where possible.”

Some local residents expressed their feelings on the proposed changes:

National Museum celebrates Chinese New Year

The National Museum of Scotland launched its new East Asian Exhibition today as part of a number of events across the Capital celebrating the Chinese New Year.

The exhibition follows Chinese New Year on Tuesday, and is part of a series of celebrations across Edinburgh which culminates with an official concert on Saturday 9th of February.

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The Exploring East Asia, Ancient Egypt Rediscovered and The Art of Ceramics open on the 8th of February, concluding the Museums 15 year long, £80 million redevelopment.

Bruce Minto, Chair of National Museums Scotland said:

“This is a truly historic moment in the life of a great museum. The transformation of this iconic Victorian building on time and on budget is an achievement of which the nation can be rightly proud.”

“Our outstanding collections help us to tell a vast range of diverse and fascinating stories from across the globe highlighting the many Scots involved in invention, innovation and discovery.  These stories have engaged our many supporters who have given generously to help us achieve our ambitions and to whom I am extremely grateful.”

The Celebrations aim to draw in more tourism from China. This comes as Edinburgh City Council decides to back a £2-a-night tourist tax.

Images credit: The National Museum of Scotland.

 

Edinburgh tram extension budget rises to over £207 million

(Credit: Edinburgh Council)

The cost of an extension to the Edinburgh tram lines has risen by 25% to £207.3 million.

The proposed 2.8 mile extension to Edinburgh’s trams would go from the city centre to Newhaven. The initial estimation was for a total cost of £165 million.

After a “thorough tendering process” the operation has been allocated a budget of £196 million and with a “significant additional risk allocation” of 6%. The total budget eclipses the previous estimation,  a 25% rise.

The council claims that the project will be funded by future tram fare revenues, with the projected number of passengers for the first year being 16 million. However, the original project to reintroduce trams to Edinburgh cost twice the original estimation and is subject to an ongoing inquiry.

The final business case was tested against previously completed tram projects by the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School and they found the project is “more likely than not to be delivered within budget” but also recommend an extra £50 million to cover all eventualities.

The soaring budget estimate has had a mixed reaction from the public on Twitter:

The final business case is to be reviewed by councillors in March following the opening of a special data room in the City Chambers today.

Council Leader Adam McVey said: “All Councillors will be taking the opportunity to examine in detail the FBC and associated documents in detail so that we can collectively make as informed a decision as possible come 14 March. If Council moves ahead with this project, we’ll be working hard to make sure we deliver this project on time, on budget.”

Depute Council Leader Cammy Day said: “A tram to Newhaven would not only provide a direct link for the people of Newhaven and Leith to the city centre and out to the airport, but would connect residents and visitors to major employment and travel hubs along the route.

Construction is planned using a “one-dig” approach closing each site only once and opening only when all works are complete. This approach reflects on lessons learned from the previous tram project.”

 

Today’s local News

Emily Hewitt brings us today’s local news from Edinburgh and the surrounding areas. 

Read more on storm Erik here

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