Loose masonry in Edinburgh is home owners’ responsibility, says local stonemason

An Edinburgh stonemason has told EN4 News that the increase in falling masonry in the city is due to home owners not doing “proper maintenance”.

The Edinburgh Evening News reported this week that there were 179 reports of falling stonework from old tenement buildings in Edinburgh last year, with the number rising dramatically in recent years. Only 33 reports were made in 2008 regarding falling masonry, however within ten years there has been nearly 1,000 cases reported.

Edinburgh based IMC Masonry owner, Iain Mcarthur, also said that there is a longstanding issue with Edinburgh Council, accusing them of being “difficult to deal with”.

Edinburgh Evening News Editor Iain Pope tweet showing areas of where falling masonry was reported.
-Source Twitter @iainpope73

– Edinburgh criticised for inaccessible buildings

– Edinburgh Sick Kids Hospital has ‘thousands’ of issues

Edinburgh Council responded to the Evening News’ story on Twitter by saying that it is the property owner’s responsibility to maintain their masonry and that they “strongly advise” that home owners get their properties surveyed.

Conservative MSP Graham Simpson explained to the Evening News that Edinburgh has the highest number of listed buildings in Scotland.’ He explained that this meant that Edinburgh has ‘probably got the oldest property stock.’

The Evening News’ story prompted reaction on social media. One Facebook user said: “Everything gets left up on roofs from old aerials, cables to satellite dishes just dumped it’s a ticking time bomb however trying to convince home owners to agree and take action especially shared repairs is hard.”

Edinburgh Council added: “Please note we will make safe buildings that are in a dangerous condition and pose a threat to public safety.”

Townsend ‘expects’ backup plan for crucial Japan game after Rugby World Cup hit by Typhoon Hagibis

Scotland Rugby head coach Gregor Townsend says the Scotland camp expect World Rugby to put “contingency plans” in place if their crucial final World Cup Pool A fixture against Japan is called off.

The fixture faces being cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis, which would leave Gregor Townsend’s side in third place in their pool and eliminated from the tournament.

Two matches on Saturday – New Zealand vs. Italy and England vs. France – have already been cancelled due to the typhoon, with each team awarded two points as a result of a draw being declared.

With a decision on Sunday’s game in Yokohama not being made until the same morning, any rescheduling seems unlikely.

 

In a hastily arranged press conference on Thursday morning, Gregor Townsend reiterated Scottish Rugby’s hopes that going ahead with the fixture will be the preferable plan of action.

“We have to have faith in the organisers that the game will be played even if it’s behind closed doors or at a different venue,” he said.

He added: “What do we need? We need officials, we need players. The way I read the rules was that you can’t change days but you could change venues and contingencies would be in place.

“I’ve since been told there is force majeure (measures in the rules) and things can change because of exceptional circumstances.

“If that means Monday because it takes a day for things to be put back in order then who knows. But right now, I think they’re planning on it going ahead on Sunday.

Journalist Rob Robertson told EN4 News: “The Scotland team have been told the typhoon will reach its peak on Saturday – the eve of their game against Japan – and they have to stay inside their hotel all day for their own safety.”

This will in turn affect the team’s training schedule and could see them go in to the game on Sunday without having had a captain’s run to finalise their game plan before facing the hosts Japan for a place in the quarter finals.

An SRU statement, released earlier in the morning, read: “We are in regular dialogue with World Rugby at all levels to work to ensure our fixture against Japan on Sunday can be played as planned. Public safety is the clear priority.

“Scottish Rugby fully expects contingency plans to be put in place to enable Scotland to contest for a place in the quarter-finals on the pitch and will be flexible to accommodate this.”

World Rugby also released a statement regarding the issue, with no clear indication of postponement or an alternative to Sunday’s fixtures.

“Every effort is being made to ensure Sunday’s matches will be played as scheduled,” World Rugby said. “A thorough assessment of venues will take place after the typhoon has passed before a final decision is made ‪on Sunday morning.

“The decision to cancel matches has not been taken lightly and has been made in the best interests of public, team, tournament personnel and volunteer safety, based on expert advice and detailed weather information.”

 

Have you tried this week’s sports quiz yet?

 

 

Scotland set to become first country in UK to ban smacking

By Heather Miller and Caitlin Gallagher

Scotland is set to become the first country in the UK to make it illegal for parents to punish their children with physical force.

Parents within Scotland are currently allowed to use “rational” physical force to discipline their children. The Scottish Parliament is holding a vote this afternoon regarding the ban on all physical punishment which is predicted to have large support in giving children the same level of protection from assault as adults.

If the bill is passed, Scotland will become the 58th country to introduce the legislation to parliament.

Green Party MSP, John Finnie, proposal leader of the Equal Protection Bill had this to say ahead of the debate this afternoon:

“Today the Scottish Parliament has the opportunity to pass vital legislation to protect children.

“It’s staggering that the only people not afforded legal protection from assault are our smallest and most vulnerable citizens and now is the time to change that.

“This Bill will take Scotland into line with international best practice, other countries have recognised that physical punishment has no place in the 21st century and it’s time we did too.

“This evening we take an important step towards putting an end to it for good.”

Conservative MSP Miles Briggs disapproves of the ‘Smacking Bill’, stating:

“The Scottish Conservatives believe that we should not replace good law with bad law. The current law already protects children from violence and it works well.

“It allows “reasonable chastisement” from parents, while preventing assault and disproportionate punishment of children.

“ The reality is that a majority of Scottish people are against this Bill as it would criminalise loving parents.”

Currently in England and Wales parents can face charges if children are left with marks or injury. However, Wales are close to following Irelands legislation that was passed in 2015.

‘The Big Yin’ – 250,000 marchers estimated to storm Edinburgh for last independence march of 2019, organisers claim

By James Hart and Lewis Robertson

From a crowd of 300 people in 2015 to an estimated 250,000 people due to march in Edinburgh this Saturday it is evident that the case for Scottish independence is not ready to go away.

Final preparations for the latest pro-independence rally set to hit the streets of Edinburgh, this Saturday, are underway, with event organizers ‘All Under One Banner’ (AUOB) estimating 250,000 to attend the march – doubling last year’s numbers.

AUOB was founded on the 12 October 2014 and have organized many events across the country to show solidarity and campaign for a second referendum.

Police Scotland and Edinburgh City Council claimed that there were only around 20,000 supporters at last year’s rally. However, event organizers stated that the real estimate was far higher, at over 100,000.

SNP councilor group leader for Inverclyde Christopher McEleny, West has been invited to speak at the event. McEleny has spoken at various pro-independence events and says that he is really looking forward to “standing shoulder to shoulder with people across Scotland” and hopes that the demonstration will ensure Scotland’s voice is heard.

Speaking to EN4 news McEleny said: “The Scottish Government has a mandate for an independence referendum, everyone marching supports our right to be given a choice on the future we want, whereas we have a feckless Franco in number 10 Downing Street who doesn’t want to give the people of Scotland a choice.”

Marchers from the last year’s event in Edinburgh

AUOB founder and Saturdays march organizer Neil Mackay said in an interview with EN4 News this was the 21st march that the group had coordinated and spoke highly of bringing the event back to Edinburgh, saying that Edinburgh would be a ‘beautiful’ place to conduct the latest march.

The march comes at a time when the independence movement has suffered a major blow after an Independence poll found that the majority of Scots will vote to remain part of the United Kingdom. The poll found 59% of Scottish people would vote to remain part of the union and the question posed to voters was ‘Should Scotland remain in the United Kingdom or leave the United Kingdom?’

Speaking on the case of independence Mr. Mackay said: ‘I think it’s becoming a lot less subversive an idea Scotland getting independence, a lot less contentious’. He later added that he believes that an independence referendum ‘is a referendum that will bring Scotland together’.

When asked if he believed that another referendum would further fragment Scotland’s political climate, Mr. Mackay said that ‘everyone is divided anyway on well, you name it!’ and dismissed the notion that a referendum would add to more division.

When questioned on what this march meant, Mr. Mackay said: ‘ It’s a clear sign to Westminster Parliment  that Scottish people want independence’.

Various public figures will be speaking at the event on Saturday such as comedian Jane Godley, controversial political figure Tommy Sheridan, and Charlotte Ahmed the founding member of stand up to racism and unite against fascism in Scotland.

The response on social media to the March has been mainly positive with one Twitter user saying: ‘ On Saturday I will be so proud to marc. I will be marching for a fairer more equal future for my children and grandchildren. Join us and share the love.’

A Twitter user reacts to the news of the Independence march this Saturday

One Facebook user added ‘I wish I could join you all but I’ll not be in Scotland until the 26th. I’ll be watching though. So will the rest of the world. The message will be very clear. It’s time!’

 

More social media reaction, this time from FacebookThe march will mean yet more road closures for the Edinburgh’s busy streets. The city has been affected by recent closures and diversions with filming of ‘Fast and the Furious 9’ taking place as well as ‘Eurovision’, starring Will Ferrell.

Closures will take place between 12.30 and 6.30. Roads affected include Queen’s drive, George IV Bridge and the High Street with traffic on North and South Bridge held by Police.

A City of Edinburgh Council spokesperson said “The safety of the public is of utmost importance to the Council and we have worked closely with organizers, Police Scotland and other partners to agree a route and conditions for this march which aim to ensure its smooth passage through the city.”

Sober October brings in its first million of 2019 – is Scotland in dire need of a break from alcohol?

Sober October is back to challenge people to take a month off the booze, however latest government reports show that a month may not be enough to tackle Edinburgh and Scotland’s toxic love affair with alcohol.

From the 1st of October until the 31st of October 64,329 people (and counting) will embark on the yearly challenge of taking a month away from alcohol to raise money for charity.

Beginning in 2013, Sober October was created by Macmillan Cancer Care in partnership with Australian fundraising campaign Dry July to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. This year’s challenge has seen the campaign raise more than £1.2 million in total. The challenge itself says that the benefits of an alcohol free lifestyle will give participants a ‘clearer head’ and a ‘sense of achievement’ for taking part.

Sober October may come at a time when many Edinburgh residents might want to reconsider their drinking habits due to a report published by the Scottish government that found that the capital had the highest number of hazardous drinkers in Scotland. A report by the Edinburgh Evening News found that 33% of Edinburgh residents drank more than 14 units of alcohol a week.

The Scottish Government’s Monitoring and Evaluating Scotland’s Alcohol strategy report for 2019 found that 23,494 people in Scotland were admitted to hospital with an alcohol related diagnosis. This is four times higher than it was in the early 1980s.

 

Monitoring and Evaluating Scotlands Alcohol strategy report figures showing that Scotland still sells a high amount of Alcohol per adult compared to the rest of the UK.

The report also stated: ‘in the most deprived areas of Scotland, rates of alcohol-specific deaths were more than seven times higher and alcohol-related hospital stay more than eight times higher when compared with the least deprived areas.’

The report was not all negative for Scotland, as it found that only 23% of alcohol was sold in Scotland for less than 50p. In contrast with 51% in 2015, it is clear to see that the Scottish government is trying to combat Scotland’s difficult love affair with alcohol. Despite this, it will take more than just one Sober October to iron out the issues highlighted in the Scottish governments latest report.

Jonny Gray set to make 50th cap for Scotland

Jonny Gray

Gray excited for Wales clash (Credit: David Ronney)

Glasgow Warriors lock, Jonny Gray will start against Wales on Saturday and will join an illustrious club of players who have racked up a half century of caps for Scotland rugby team.

The 24-year-old made his first full debut for the national side back in November 2013 and since then has impressed spectators with a number of solid performances. He is quickly catching up with older brother, Richie Gray, who has 62 national caps and one for the British and Irish Lions.

So far this tournament Jonny Gray has played 134 minutes making 15 carries and 37 tackles as part of the first line of defence against Ireland and France.

Jonny Gray is proud of his achievments but was quick to emphasise the weekends match will be a team effort. Wales are currently the only unbeaten team in this years Six Nations tournamnet.

“It’s not about me. This week is huge, last week was very tough to take.

“To be here is such a special feeling. It’s something I never thought that I would do when I was younger. To be here I’m very lucky.”

Even though Scotland can no longer challenge for the championship title, Gray insisted that playing for the country was an honour.

“When you are playing for Scotland there is always something to play for.”

 

Scotland welcome Grand Slam chasers Wales to the capital – The Six Nations Preview Show

Greig Laidlaw

Scotland captain, Greig Laidlaw is dropped to the bench for home match against Wales. (Credit: David Ronney)

Following back to back defeats in this Six Nations Championship, Scotland prepare for their last home match of the tournament against Grand Slam chasers, Wales.

With Scotland at terms with themselves out of the running to win the competition, they’ll be looking to upset the Welsh party with a win against the visitors.

David Ronney is joined by Bryce Donaldson and Fraser Munro for The Six Nations Preview Show.

Watch it below:

Mary Queen of Scots documents uncovered after almost 100 years

It’s International Women’s Day and one unlikely woman is in the lime light this year.

A group of documents believed to have been signed by Mary Queen of Scots have been uncovered after sitting in storage since 1920.

The handwritten documents give insight into the busy commercial life of Edinburgh in the 16th Century. During the inventory and conservation process, it was discovered that two of the documents have watermarks that can only be seen when held up to the light. One of these water marks features a goat while the other is a hand holding a flower.

 

Vicky Garrington, History Curator at Museum of Edinburgh said:

“The documents provide us with an amazing bridge to the past. It’s incredible to think of Mary Queen of Scots reading through these documents before carefully applying her signature. We all know the story of Scotland’s Queen, her eventful life and eventual execution, but in these documents, we see a different side to Mary. Here, she can be seen carefully managing the everyday affairs of Edinburgh and Scotland. These documents help us to better understand her reign”.

The documents are very fragile and can’t currently be displayed to the public, so have been made available online to view. Councillor Donald Wilson, Culture and Communities Convener at City of Edinburgh Council said:

“Museum & Galleries Edinburgh hold thousands of historic treasures on behalf of the City and its visitors, many of which are on display in our venues. However, some items, such as these documents, are too fragile to be on long-term display, so putting them online is a great way to showcase them and tell their stories.”

The documents were donated to the Museum in 1920s but were lost in storage, Frank Little, Service Manager for Cultural Venues, Museums & Galleries in Edinburgh is optimistic that more treasures will be found in the archives:

“Our hope is that ongoing inventory work within Museums & Galleries Edinburgh will turn up new treasures. We are constantly reviewing, caring for and researching our collections, and look forward to sharing more of the City’s rich heritage with residents and visitors through our programme of exhibitions and online activities.”

The full collection of documents can be found here.

 

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.

Wilson: Scotland can bounce back against Welsh

Matt Taylor

Danny Wilson is confident Scotland can put on a good performance in front of a home support (Credit: Bryce Donaldson)

Scotland Rugby Assistant Coach, Danny Wilson, believes his side can return to Edinburgh with a win against Wales after a disappointing 27-10 defeat in Paris.

The Scots will face off against a grand-slam hopeful Wales on Saturday at BT Murrayfield.

A number of key players have returned to the squad in the past week and many in the Scotland camp are quietly confident they can cause an upset and delay celebrations in Cardiff.

Wilson said: “We know we didn’t do ourselves justice in France but we need to bounce back this weekend.

“We had a blip in performance, and we have to make sure that we raise our performance to a level where we can put Wales under huge pressure.

“There is no better opposition to bounce back against. The motivation levels should be through the roof to play a side that is coming [to BT Murrayfield] and looking for a grand slam.”

Scotland will undoubtedly start the match as underdogs but Wilson doesn’t believe this is necessarily a bad thing.

He added: “From my experience, when Scotland have been underdogs they have been pretty dangerous and have produced some outstanding performances against some of the best opposition out there. That’s what this weekend is about.

Finn Russell and Greig Laidlaw

Finn Russell comes back into the Scotland lineup while Greig Laidlaw has been dropped to the bench (Credit: David Ronney)

“This is an extremely passionate group of players. As a collective, coaches and players, we weren’t happy with our performances at the weekend against France and we have come back very keen to make sure we put that right this weekend. That starts first and foremost with a performance full of identity and passion.”

Scotland currently sit fifth in the table, above only a pointless Italy.

Should Wales be triumphant at the weekend they will still be on course for their first Grand Slam since 2012, whilst a Scottish victory (and a favour from Ireland) could see them leapfrog last weeks opponents. To do that, Wilson knows the importance of home form.

He said: “The pressure of playing in front of a home crowd is an important one, a driving one and we will want to put in a performance that will make that home crowd proud.”

If Scotland are able to live up to what they claim they are capable of it will restore confidence in the squad after back-to-back defeats.

Though Scotland are out of the running for the championship there is still a chance for silverware. Their reward, regardless of result, is sure to be a contentious final game at Twickenham against England to defend their title as the current holders of the Calcutta Cup.

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