No-deal could be detrimental to Scottish businesses

As Britain prepares to leave the EU, figures published by the Confederation of British Industry claim the fall-out of Brexit could cost Scotland £14 billion. 

While politicians across the country try to negotiate ways to leave the EU with a solid trade deal, recent analytics predicting the effect of Brexit on Scotland’s businesses paint a bleak picture.

On January 15, the Prime Minister suffered a historic defeat after 232 politicians voted against her current deal. After escaping a no-confidence vote on January 16, May has vowed to continue with “what the British people voted for” and finalise negotiations.

However, on January 23, First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon criticised Theresa May of being more concerned with “winning support of the DUP”, than trying to compromise with fellow cabinet members on a better deal.

“The future effects of Brexit on Scottish business and trade are largely unknown, mainly because the terms of the deal itself are still fluid. What we do know, however, is that Brexit will be bad for the economy, with businesses fleeing to other countries and trade becoming far more regulated.

“In recent polling among Scottish businesses, only 8% felt fully ready for Brexit, and 18% reported that they did not feel ready for it at all. These figures are deeply concerning with only two months remaining to a no-deal Brexit,” SNP MSP, Colin Beattie told EN4 News.

Despite the prime minister’s reassurance that Scotland’s welfare is being acknowledged, researchers are already predicting increased food and beverage prices, higher tariffs and business owners leaving the UK to avoid ‘outside’ EU regulations and taxes.

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Infographic by Jade du Preez for EN4News

In their annual year-on report, CBI anticipated an 8.1% decrease in Real Gross Value, amounting to £14 billion in Scotland, by 2032. This echoes earlier figures released by the Scottish Government which estimated Brexit would cost £8 billion by 2030.

The damning figures came after May previously assured the public in November 2018, that Brexit would be “good for Scotland” and would provide a “free-trade area with no tariffs” while on a tour to visit farmers in Renfrewshire.

Similarly, a Scottish Licensed Trade Association survey found that out of 500 outlets, 17% believed they were already experiencing issues related to Brexit, with a further 40% anticipating the loss of staff from European countries.

With conflicting reports on trade deals, there appears to be growing concern from businesses such as the Scottish Whisky Association, who stated on their website that leaving the EU could have a “fundamental impact on our industry.”

The owner of Greek restaurant Ola Kala in Edinburgh also shares similar concerns on the impact of a no-deal Brexit.

“We’re going to be affected obviously because most of our products are imported from Greece, so if there’s going to be borders, taxes or delays we’re definitely going to be affected, but I don’t think I’m the only one.

“The bad thing is, if there’s a Brexit with no rules it will be pretty serious. If there’s an organised Brexit, like we all hope, then I think things will be smooth, but if there’s going to be a crash Brexit, then things will definitely be difficult.”

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s national news

Final talks on teacher’s pay offer.

Council leaders are set to meet today to decide whether or not to make an improved pay offer which still falls short of what the teaching unions want.

The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) teaching union are campaigning for a 10% pay rise and are threatening a strike ballot.

If the EIS vote against the improved pay offer then strike action will be planned.

The revised offer was decided upon two weeks ago, but council leaders still need to meet to decide if they are going to offer it to the teachers union.

The proposed wage rise will be funded by the Scottish Government.

Read more about this story here.

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Special Needs Drivers striking in solidarity. Credit to GMB

 

Nurse convicted of dragging elderly patient by ankles

A nurse has been ordered to carry out unpaid work after being convicted of dragging an 88-year-old patient down a hospital corridor by her ankles.

Steven Campbell, 50, pleaded not guilty to assault but was found guilty after his trial by sheriff Mary McCrory.

His crime was reported by relatives visiting another patient in the Glasgow’s Gartnavel Hospital after they saw him pulling patient Jessie Colquhoun along the corridor and into her room.

Campbell’s victim had dementia, a heart condition and arthritis.

 

Aberdeen’s Deputy Provost resigns in wake of sexual assault charge 

Deputy Provost Alan Donnelly has quit his role after being charged with sexual assault.

The incident allegedly took place in Trinity Hall in Holburn Street last November.

Donnelly was suspended from the Conservative party earlier this month and reported to police.

Police Scotland said a 64-year-old man had been charged and a report would be sent to the procurator fiscal.

 

Changes to food labels proposed after the death of 15-year-old girl

More descriptive food labelling has been proposed following the death of 15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse.

Natasha collapsed on a British Airways flight after she had an allergic reaction to sesame seeds on a Pret a Manger baguette in 2016.

All packaged food such as sandwiches and salads could be required to list the full ingredients.

Under current laws, the company was not required to publish allergen information on the product which caused Natasha to go into cardiac arrest.

 

Scotrail passenger satisfaction falls to 45%

Consumer satisfaction for Scotrail has hit a six-year low as it drops to 45% according to consumer group Which?, with one in four passengers complaining trips are ‘regularly stressful’.

Only 45% of those asked said they were happy with the Scottish train operator’s services, which is down 6% from last year.

Scotrail was voted 23rd out of 30 British train services, although the survey only provides a small glimpse of public opinion, with only 143 respondents.

 

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Scotrail’s ironic slogan. Credit: Scotrail

 

Human bone found in Primark socks

Police are investigating a human bone which has been found in a pair of Primark socks in Essex.

Essex police say the socks were bought in a Colchester store and the bone does not appear to be a result of recent trauma.

Police said the socks were bought on December 10 and was reported to police on January 2.

Police said without further testing, they could not determine the age or origin of the bone.

 

Research Inquiry highlights food insecurities among Children

 

Photo by: Epsos de

A report coordinated by the Food Foundation this week has disclosed some of the biggest concerns and issues in regards to tackling the dietary and nutritional problems some young people currently face on a daily basis in the UK.

The workshops which were carried out by charity, Fixers, consisted of interviews with over 300 children ages 11-16 years old from all parts of the country, which aimed to discuss their food insecurities in all daily aspects of their lives. It is the first time that the subjects of a report has been solely young people, which has therefore been able to offer a unique insight into understanding just how complex the issue of living and eating healthy actually is for those among the future generations.

The children highlighted some key challenges regarding school dinners, such as a lack of time at breaks due to long queues and then having little or no time to eat which results in some going without any food at all to sustain them for the afternoon. This may cause alarm considering recent studies have proven the connection between improved academic performance in students when eating healthy.

62% of those interviewed felt that the responsibility to provide nutritious meals lay with their parents. However, for some of the children the burden belongs to them as some are full-time carers, as well as the hectic schedules of parents often prevent them to prepare fresh meals and as a consequence, the children must cook for themselves in order to eat at an appropriate time causing additional pressure.

Advertisements like these are to be targeted by the government

The report also revealed how the constant advertising of fast food chains such as McDonalds, KFC and Dominoes made them want to eat that as opposed to healthier and cheaper options. This is an issue the Scottish Government are trying to address as part of their 10 year strategy which calls for the banning of such TV ads until after the watershed, however, these measures can only be introduced by Westminster, with the consultation of this ongoing. What is also to be addressed is the fact fast food chains advertise on everyday items such as bus tickets which means children are constantly targeted which was also a raised concern.

Other food related adverts had detrimental effects too such as Marks and Spencer which aim to entice the viewer. Parents were said to become “depressed” as these were foods that were difficult to afford on a budget.

Dr. Anna Gryka-McPhail of the Royal College of Physicans’ and Surgeons’ and who is also the Policy Officer for Obesity Action Scotland said,

“Whatever actions we’re suggesting to improve problems in public health and problems with food insecurities especially within children in Scotland, it seems to be quite big and I think the best place to start is to speak to the young people themselves if we are to find solutions that will work. So we very much welcome this report.”

With this report highlighting changes that are needed in the home, education and popular media, this may lead to a new perception of how policy is developed in going forward. The findings of this report are to be discussed at Scottish Parliament next week.

 

 

 

 

Nicola Sturgeon rally for IndyRef2 amid Brexit turmoil

First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon announced she is working on plans for a second independence referendum, which will be released “in the coming weeks.”

Sturgeon is waiting for the Brexit chaos seen in the last week to dissipate before making a move on independence. She said she would forward with the plans even if the March 29th Brexit deadline was to be extended.

Fears of leaving the EU had been a common reason for voters to back the No campaign in 2014. Scottish voters had then backed the Remain campaign by 62% in 2015. Despite the support, it mattered little when the UK voted for Leave. This didn’t sit well with Scottish voters and sparked renewed interest in another independence referendum.

In an online post, Sturgeon said: “Scotland cannot be left at the mercy of a dysfunctional Westminster government.”

She added that “the interests of Scotland haven’t even been an afterthought” for the Government during the Brexit negotiations.

The SNP had called on May to extend the March 29th deadline for Brexit to no avail.

Sturgeon said the loss to Scotland neglecting independence has “never been clearer.”

Bruce Springsteen announces UK return

Springsteen is know as the “the Boss”. Photo Credit: Craig O’Neal

Legendary singer Bruce Springsteen has confirmed he will play a string of concerts across the UK in 2019.

Though no confirmed shows have been announced as of yet, Springsteen recently announced it was “time to get back to my day job”, confirming his return to musical form with a new studio album with his E Street Band.

A new studio album would mean the first new material released by the artist since 2014’s “High Hopes” however “Springsteen on Broadway”, a greatest hits performance covering Bruce’s mammoth 46 year career will premiere on Netflix December 15th.

Springsteen last toured the UK in 2016, which included a stop at Glasgow’s Hampden stadium. Known for his mammoth performances, the singer played for over three hours at the famed football stadium.

Bruce and the gang will be well rehearsed for next year’s dates, currently playing five nights a week as part of the Broadway shows in New York City. Though Springsteen turns 70 next year, it seems the iconic American hero is showing no signs of slowing down any time soon.

1p and 2p coins could be scrapped thanks to a rise in electronic payments

The penny could become a thing of the past, thanks to the rise in contactless and digital payments.

Phillip Hammond has told of his controversial plans to get rid of the 1p and 2p coins, as well as the £50 note, in the Autumn budget.

This comes after the Treasury revealed that 60 percent of all 1p and 2p coins are used only once before being put away into savings. It was also revealed that in eight percent of cases these coins are just thrown away.

According to the Treasury’s consultation document, the government and the Royal Mint have:

“needed to produce and issue over 500 million 1p and 2p coins each year to replace those falling out of circulation.”

One of the strongest criticisms of these changes comes from charities, who believe they will be strongly affected by these changes.

1p coins may be scrapped due to proposed changes made by the Treasury | Image Credit: Gizmodo

According to Karl Wilding, Director of Public Policy Volunteering at the National Council of Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), although there has been a massive rise in electronic payments, the majority of donations to charities are given in cash.

He said:

“Giving by cash methods remains, by some distance, the most popular way of giving to charity. 58 percent of donors give to charity using cash.

“Giving coins to charity is the starting point on a journey for lots of people. Direct Debits bring in more money to charities, but giving loose change underpins Britain’s culture of giving.

If we are going to scrap coins and notes then we need to think about ways to give smaller charities different ways to get people on the journey of giving to good causes.”

He added:

“Perhaps we should be thinking creatively about how we can encourage people to give them to good causes instead.

“As society moves from cash to digital payments we particularly need to help small charities get ready as the people who give pennies today are the people who give pounds tomorrow.”

Members of the public have taken to Twitter to express their concerns about the possible changes. Twitter user Jay believes that arcades, charities and homeless people will feel the impact of the scrapping of one and two pence coins.

 

Twitter use @wallin_08 believes that these changes will have a negative affect on many industries | Image Credit: @wallin_08 on Twitter

On the other hand, some believe that this could result in people donating higher amounts to charities instead, giving 5p or 10p coins instead.  Twitter user Alexander believes that “charities stand to benefit from this.”

Some members of public believe that getting rid of low value coins may result in charities receiving higher donations | Image Credit: @Xandyballs on Twitter


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Facebook bans Britain First

Britain First deputy leader Jayda Fransen and leader Paul Golding have both seen their pages banned

Facebook has removed the pages of the anti-Islamic Britain First group as well as its leaders profiles.

This action was taken after the social media company said that the group had repeatedly violated its community standards policy. Ignoring its final warning.

The Britain First Facebook page before it was shut down.

Just earlier this month, Britain First’s leader and deputy leader, Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen, were jailed after be found guilty of religiously aggravated harassment.

The groups Facebook page has over 2 million likes. The pages of its two leaders also had a huge following.

The group will not be allowed to create any further pages to serve as a replacement.

Facebook judged that several of the posts were designed to promote both religious and racial hatred against Muslims.

Just a few of the antisocial posts include:

  • A photo of the top leaders of the group with the caption “Islamaphobic and Proud”
  • A caption of Muslim immigrants with animals.
  • Multiple videos and images posted with the aim of inciting hate against Muslims

Facebook said that it is an open platform that allows free expression of people opinions but any political views should be expressed without hate.

These actions come after much public outcry for the page to be shut down.

Facebook’s community standards document says “Organisations and people dedicated to promoting hatred against these protected groups are not allowed a presence on Facebook.”

Twitter suspended the accounts of Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen, after its new anti-abuse rules came into force last December.

Previously President Donald Trump has come under criticism for retweeting anti-Islamic videos posted by Jayda Fransen.

 

 

Pre-Historic Briton Breakthrough

Scientific analysis shows a Briton’s remains from 10,000 years ago had dark skin and blue eyes.

Academics from London’s Natural History Museum extracted DNA from Cheddar Man-Britain’s oldest full skeleton-was discovered in 1903. College  researchers used the succeeding genome analysis for facial reconstruction.

The research reinstates the fact that the lighter skin characteristics of the more recent Europeans is a modern phenomenon. This analysis provides important insights into the very first people to resettle Britain after the last Ice Age.

The research into the Cheddar Man’s genome – the “blueprint” for a human, contained in the nuclei of our cells – will be published in a journal as well as feature in a Channel 4 documentary The First Brit, Secrets Of the 10,000-year-old Man.

The museum’s research leader in human origins, Prof Chris Stringer said:

“I’ve been studying the skeleton of Cheddar Man for about 40 years, so to come face-to-face with what this guy could have looked like – and that striking combination of the hair, the face, the eye colour and that dark skin: something a few years ago we couldn’t have imagined and yet that’s what the scientific data show.”

This is the first genome analysed from a prehistoric Briton of this age.

Updates to Follow.

The Hedgehog Problem Spikes

The furry garden friend of every UK home continues to be under threat.

At least half the population of our native hedgehogs have been lost from the British countryside over the last two decades, warn two wildlife charities in a report issued today.

The State of Britain’s Hedgehogs 2018, published jointly by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) and People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), is the only comprehensive review of the status of Britain’s hedgehogs.

Hedgehog Sightings Continue to Fall in the Countryside. Image : Mental Floss

Hedgehog Sightings Continue to Fall in the Countryside. Image : Mental Floss

A spokesperson for BHPS-Emily Wilson-highlighted many reasons why Hedgehog’s are in difficulty:

“The intensification of agriculture through the loss of hedgerows and permanent grasslands, increased field sizes, and the use of pesticides which reduce the amount of prey available, are all associated with the plunge in numbers of hedgehogs in rural areas.”

With approximately 70% of land in the UK managed by farmers, Wilson went on to suggests that “farmers play a vital role” in helping protect and maintain Hedgehogs habitat.

However the report was not all doom-and-gloom for Sonic and suggested some positives for urban furze-pig’s.

Although the species has declined by a third in urban areas since 2000, the rate of decline appears to be slowing. Sightings have increased by 20% since 2014 in an annual survey of 600 urban gardens by PTES.

It has been suggested that this is because of the more than 4,500 hedgehog highways creations since 2015. The highways involve cutting holes in the bottom of fences, linking over 9,000 gardens, as part of the Hedgehog Street project and is extremely beneficial to an array of furze-pig.

Hedgehog Highways Prevent Segregation in Urban Habitats. Image : Animal Facts Encyclopedia

The State of Britain’s Hedgehog Report also illustrated the importance of ‘Hedgehog Champions’.

PTES and BHPS launched Hedgehog Street in 2011 to inspire the British public to help hedgehogs and other wildlife that depend on their gardens and, so far, over 47,000 volunteers or Hedgehog Champions have signed up to help.

Emily Wilson continued by pinpointing the importance of volunteers stating:

“Urban and suburban areas are becoming increasingly important for hedgehogs, so we need more people in those locations to sign up as Hedgehog Champions.”

For more on how to become a Hedgehog Champion and help your furry garden neighbour, visit www.hedgehogstreet.org

James Bulger killer sentenced for indecent images

Jon Venables, one of the killers of toddler James Bulger, has been sentenced to 40 months in prison for possessing images of children.

Appearing via video link at the Old Bailey, Venables pleaded guilty to possessing more than 1,000 indecent images of children earlier this morning and has since been sentenced.

Previously released on licence in 2001 after serving eight years in prison for the murder of the two-year-old, he was sent back to prison in November after he was caught with the pictures. Appearing via video link from custody during a hearing at the Old Bailey in London, he admitted to having indecent images of children and possessing a manual teaching how to have sex with children “safely”.

Prosecutor Louis Mably QC told the court:

“The manual is a disgusting and sickening document which falls far below any recognisable standard of morality.”

As he was being taken to a police station, the court heard that Venables admitted he had “let people down” and told officers he had “stupid urges”.

Mr Mably told the Old Bailey that Venables had software on his computer to browse the dark web and admitted downloading the material from there.
James parents, Denise Fergus and Ralph Bulger, were in court to hear the proceedings.

It is the second time Venables has been caught with such images, having been jailed for two years in 2010 after admitting charges of downloading and distributing child pornography.

The court heard that a report had found that Venables was a “high risk of real harm to children” in the future.

Edward Fitzgerald QC on behalf of Venables said: “He has asked me to apologise to all those he has let down. He apologises to the family of James Bulger for the renewed distress he has caused by his renewed offending.”

He said that the “relapse” had been quickly detected, adding: “Jon Venables still has the capacity for good and a capacity to change.”

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