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:

 

 

 

Committee approves £128m contracts for trams to Newhaven

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The trams to Newhaven project set for next week’s crucial vote as contractors appointed (Credit: Graham Millar)

Contracts have now been approved by the Finance and Resources Committee for the two contractors for the potential Trams to Newhaven project totalling £128m, should Councillors vote in favour of the scheme next Thursday.

The Committee endorsed awarding a “Swept Path Contract” to Morrison Utility Services Ltd (MUS Ltd) costing £22m and an “Infrastructure and Systems Contract” to Sacyr, Farrans, Neopul Joint Venture (SFNJV) worth £106m. However, this could soar due to the fact that contractors are currently unsure of the actual workload.

Under the Swept Path Contract, the Council is acquiring the services of MUS Ltd to clear all underground obstructions, expected to be around 1200 obstacles. SFNJV will then commence the next stage, which is to carry out the construction work for the tram line.

There were four bids for the Infrastructure and Systems contract during the tender process, however, two withdrew due to “internal governance approval for the responsibilities and liabilities” of the project.

The contracts are subject to the full Council’s final ruling on the Final Business Case next Thursday.

See our infographic video for the key points of the Final Business Case:

(Credit: Jade du Preez)

Both contractors are delighted with the prospective awards. Peter Carolan, Director at MUS Ltd, said:

“Morrison Utility Services are really excited at being approved as the Swept Path contractor and look forward to the opportunity to work with the City of Edinburgh Council and the Sacyr, Farrans, Neopul JV to deliver the Trams to Newhaven project, if it’s given the green light by the Council.”

SFN Project Director, Alejandro Mendoza Monfort, said:

“SFN JV (Sacyr, Farrans, Neopul JV) are delighted at the news to be recommended for full award of the Infrastructure and Systems Contract for the Edinburgh Tram York Place to Newhaven Extension. 

Our teams have worked meticulously through the tender process set out by the Council and we now look forward to a positive outcome at the business case review by councillors on 14 March.”

Despite the Final Business Case being published, a lot remains in the abstract which has led to uncertainty among those who will be directly affected by the potential construction work.

STEC have also called for the project to be halted until the Lord Hardie Inquiry recommendations have been published, as well as understanding the full impact of the £20m dividend from Lothian Buses which is a crucial part of the financial case for funding for the project.

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.

 

Beating the boobie blues

Three local artists help to raise awareness of breast cancer

Left to right: Kathleen Moodie, Jennifer Colquhoun and Beth Lamont.

Step 1: Touch. Step 2: Look. Step 3: Check. T-L-C. While there is no definitive method for checking your breasts for signs and symptoms of breast cancer, UK charity Breast Cancer Now are asking you to try a little TLC. Early detection is crucial in treating and beating the disease – most cases of breast cancer are first found by women themselves.

This October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and fundraising events have been taking place across the country to support this issue. On 19th October, three Edinburgh-based artists got together at Custom Lane in Leith to raise money and awareness for a disease that one in eight women in the UK will develop in their lifetime.

The collaborative project, Boobzapalooza, headed by knitwear designer Kathleen Moodie is a ‘month-long celebration of all things breast’. Together with scientific illustrator Jennifer Colquhoun and ceramic jewellery designer Beth Lamont, they have designed limited-edition boob-related art that will be sold throughout the month with 40% of the proceeds going directly to Breast Cancer Now.

The Boob Arc Necklace, K.Boobs Booble Hat and The Boob Print are all for sale throughout October.

What made you choose this particular breast cancer charity?

Kathleen Moodie: “I have a friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer at 24 and she’s an ambassador for Breast Cancer Now and she suggested to go for them. Partly because they are registered in Scotland as well, so the money is coming from Scotland and staying in Scotland, that for her is something that is really important. It was something that none of us had thought of. We just thought, ‘oh, yeah we’ll pick a breast cancer charity and it will be great’, and Victoria said, ‘you’ve got to make sure it’s a Scottish one’ and it makes so much sense.” 

Breast Cancer Now is the UK’s largest breast cancer charity.

The event is about making breast cancer less scary and approaches the disease in a fun and direct way. Why is that important?

Jennifer Colquhoun: “Last year, I found a lump in my own breast and I was terrified. I thought that was me because a few years ago my aunt died of breast cancer, so it was in the family. But it turns out mine was a fibroadenoma which is a benign tumour. It’s also commonly known as the breast mouse which I thought was hilarious. I really wanted to do a picture of the breast mouse but nobody really knew what I was talking about.”

A customer tries on Kathleen Moodie’s Booble Hat.

Why do you think the arts is a good way of talking about and addressing big issues such as breast cancer?

Beth Lamont: “I guess it just gives it a tangible thing. You can still donate money, but you get to take something away. The next time someone is wearing their pink necklace someone can be like, oh I like that’ and you can be like, ‘oh it was actually for this charity’ and you talk about it again. Though they are only on sale for the month that conversation will hopefully keep on going because of that product, that piece of art, that hat, is not going to go away.”

The Boobzapalooza event held at Custom Lane, Leith.

The limited-edition pieces are available throughout October and can be purchased online here.

 

Hate crime has no place in Scotland

With “Leith Stands Up To Racism” planned for the 27th of October, Michaella Wheatley takes a look at the latest campaigns to combat hate crime.

Scotland is known for many things such as kilts, whisky and haggis. It’s even known for providing some of the greatest talent – Billy Connolly, Ewan McGregor, and Karen Gillan. People come to see Edinburgh Castle, Kelvingrove Art Gallery, and even the Glenfinnan Viaduct.

However, on the 24th of September, Scotland added one more attraction to the list, and this one seems to buck the trend.

The country is putting a stop to hate crime. It will no longer be home to hatred.

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The “Letters from Scotland” campaign hopes to end hate crime in the country. Credit to One Scotland.

It’s been declared on walls, radio, and TV, that no type of hate is allowed in the country. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you believe, Scotland will not stand for hate against anyone.

The “Letters from Scotland” campaign, founded by One Scotland, is the latest force to put a stop to the hate crime that has increased throughout the country. With so much uncertainty, last year’s terrorist attacks and the country’s vote on Brexit are still fresh in people’s minds and there is a concern that hate crimes could flare drastically.

In Edinburgh, only one type of aggravated crime was reported to have decreased, as stated by the Procurator Fiscal Office. Below are the statistics of hate crimes reported:

Edinburgh's aggravated crime

But One Scotland has faith in its country, as the website reads:

“Scotland believes in equality for all. No one should be denied for opportunities because of age, disability, gender, gender identity, race, religion or belief, or sexual orientation.”

It’s only been a month since the message was first displayed, but the campaign has already made a large impact. It would be no surprise if the campaign becomes one of the strongest against hate crime in Scottish history.

There is almost no escaping the words on the letters,  as soon as you read “Dear…” or hear a strong Scottish tone, you know what’s about to happen.

Following One Scotland’s lead, the Scottish Government and Police Scotland have also shown support for the campaign.  In the last year, more than 5,300 charges of hate crime were reported to the Procurator Fiscal in Scotland. However, it is believed that several incidents go unreported. The campaign is hoped to raise awareness, as well as the need to combat the issue in a positive manner.

Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Humza Yousaf, said, “As somebody who has faced Islamaphobic and racial abuse over the years, I know how upsetting being a victim of hate can be. Hate crime and prejudice are completely unacceptable and we are absolutely committed to tackling it.

“We all have a role to play in stamping out prejudice and I would ask anyone who witnesses a hate crime to play their part and report it.”

The Cabinet Secretary for Justice also commented specifically on the campaign on Twitter last month:

The trend to stand up against hate crimes goes further than this campaign, with “Stand Up To Racism Edinburgh” organising a march to take place on the 27th of October. The event, which will start at 11am on Balfour Street, will be in response to recent hate crimes in the city.

“Leith Stands Up To Racism” will declare that migrants and refugees are welcome in the capital.

Stand Up To Racism Edinburgh stated on Facebook that “Last month, over 300 people came out to support a peace vigil in response to the firebombing of the Sikh temple in Leith, which the police are treating as a hate crime.

“Earlier this year, two young Polish men were physically attacked in Davidson Mains, and Shabaz Ali, a young Syrian refugee, was stabbed six times in a racially motivated attempted murder attack in the Fountainbridge area.”

A number of film screenings were held across Edinburgh between October 2017 and March 2018. “Syrian Voices”, a short film focusing on three refugee families living in Edinburgh, was also shown at Edinburgh University on the 10th of October.

There is no question that Scotland wants to put an end to hate crime, and these campaigns and events might be the turning point to make it happen.

So, if you witness an act of hate, do what’s right and report it – because as One Scotland said:

“There’s no place for hate crime in Scotland. It’s everyone’s responsibility to challenge it.”

EN4News were lucky enough to chat with Steve West, who was promoting the Leith Stands Up To Racism march. Watch the video below:

 

Police in search after attempted murder in Leith area

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Police are now looking for witnesses after a 24-year-old man was left with serious injuries last night when two youths attacked him in the Leith area.

The attack occurred on a bike path near Connaught Place and was described as an attempted murder.

The attack was apparently motivated by an attempt to steal the mobile of the victim, who was then left with injuries to his arms and abdomen.

It remains unclear how the attack was carried out by the youths.

Detective Inspector Kevin Harkins said: “This was an unprovoked and brutal attack that has left the victim with serious injuries.”

The victim was taken to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary where police say his injuries remain serious, but he is in a stable condition.

Edinburgh Police launched their appeal on its Facebook page asking locals to come forward with any information they might have on the attack.

Harkins said: “I am eager to hear from anyone who may have been in the area close to Connaught Place last night and who saw what happened.”

“Similarly, anyone who has any information to assist with our inquiries into this incident, and in tracing those involved, is asked to contact officers immediately.”

Anyone with information should contact the Police on their non-emergency number at 101 with the incident number being 3438, October 8th. Witnesses may also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

PODCAST: The Importance of Theatre in Scotland + Interview with Leith Theatre

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Jessica Mercer talks the arts scene in Scotland, the future of Scottish theatre and more with Ian Webb, venue manage from Leith Theatre.

 

Vote to be held on Tram extension

Edinburgh councillors will vote tomorrow (Thursday) on whether to extend Edinburgh’s current tram network to Leith and Newhaven.

Despite  work on the original tramlines concluding only two years ago, Labour are believed to be strongly in favour of the controversial plans which would cost a further £162 million and have an estimated completion date in 2021.

The plans also have the backing of Scottish business and transport leaders with the Scottish Council for Development and Industry and Transform Scotland both releasing statements in favour of the work.

A spokesman for Transform Scotland said:

“Now is the time to take the next step towards a comprehensive network by extending the line to Newhaven and so joining up development in Leith and Newhaven with the developments at the St James Quarter, Edinburgh Park and Edinburgh Airport. This will send positive signals that Edinburgh is following the worldwide trend of developing sustainable transport infrastructure and intends to keep pace with its competitor cities across the Continent.”

The SNP are believed to be strongly against the extension plans which would cause further disruption to local businesses in the capital.

The difference in stance between the two parties is threatening to jeopardise the current coalition with 18 months still left before the next council elections.

The trams have come under extreme scrutiny following failures of the initial project which lasted for six years and came in well over budget, leading to an inquiry being launched.trams

Photo courtesy of Craig Murphy /Flickr

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