10/06/23 – 16/06/23
Should the NHS advertise? Have LEZs caused unintended problems? And is there a Rural Idyll?
Edinburgh Holiday Lets Ruling Unlawful
The Court of Session has ruled parts of Edinburgh’s plans to curb short-term lets ‘unlawful’, in particular its presumption against granting short-term lets in tenement blocks, but also its lack of provision for temporary licences and the requirement for some hosts to supply floor coverings.
Tenants’ union Living Rent is incensed that ‘….a small group of people can use their money and power to weaponise the legal system to their advantage’, saying that the profit of short-term let operators has been put before the need of tenants, residents and communities’, with campaigners saying an ‘overwhelming majority of people in this city support tighter restrictions’.
Greens putting the Fear into Householders
Not content with stopping gas boilers being installed in newbuilds, Patrick Harvie has tabled legislation which would require EXISTING gas boilers to be ripped out of houses. Or what? Would we have midnight raids from the Gas Police to inspect properties, complete with hit squads to rip the offending equipment out on the spot?
Patrick, however, is content for his own tenement to continue with a gas boiler. If anyone could afford such an expensive commitment it would be a government minister.
Instead he suggests heat pumps and district heating systems as an alternative. Wonderful, except heat pumps are often not as efficient or as warm, they are loud and unsightly, and the cost is prohibitive. A government grant of £7,500 (£9,000 in rural areas) barely covers the cost of a basic heat pump, but installation costs are the same amount again, and ground source heat pump installation costs up to £45,000.
The Scottish Invasive Species Initiative
covers the mainland of Scotland north of Perth, finding species which are environmentally harmful like American mink, which threatens native water voles, which have disappeared from 94% of their former habitats. Mink also prey on ground-nesting birds and their eggs, and are controlled by trapping and humane killing.
Rhododendron, brought to the UK from Spain or Portugal around 1793 is the biggest threat to native woodlands, along with deer, according to Woodland Trust in Scotland. Rhododendron spread extremely fast and stop the spread of lichens and bryophytes, a particular problem in Scotland’s west coast rainforest. To clear 11,000 hectares of rainforest on the west coast cost £13.5 million.
Police Scotland generally allows accused persons to self-identify for police records, but that should not happen if biological sex is a factor in the crime, which it obviously is for rape, which cannot be committed by a woman. Enquiries with police confirmed that offenders could only change their gender designator on Scottish criminal records if there was a clerical error, not if it was factually incorrect! Now they are moving towards changing gender designation on issuance of a Gender Recognition Certificate, which is one of the many reasons women opposed self-ID.
This will greatly slew rape statistics, and if rape cannot be committed by a woman, would any male identifying as a woman be convicted? Maybe of sexual assault, but that isn’t the same.
Despite the Adam Bryson case, legal authorities seem to prioritise men’s feelings that they are women over women’s knowledge that they are actually women.
Women’s Health Champion
Recently appointed Professor Anna Glasier wants women who develop pre-eclampsia in pregnancy to be monitored lifelong for heart attacks and strokes, as they are four times more likely to have a heart attack in the decade following pre-eclampsia and remain at higher-than-average risk for the rest of their lives. Women with high blood pressure have higher risk of heart disease and heart attacks and strokes, with ten women dying every day in Scotland. Fifty percent of women who have heart attacks are misdiagnosed an are less likely to survive them than men.
But Professor Glasier will not deal with the mesh implant scandal, her immediate remit being menstrual health, menopause and heart health. Professor Glasier still faces criticism for her four-days-a-month role, although she says she works more than that and has an able team behind her.
Roughly 98% of Scotland is rural but only 17% of the population live there, but life is often more difficult in rural and island areas.
Forty Rural Schools have been closed or mothballed in recent years due to falling pupil numbers, 20 mothballed and 20 shut permanently, since April 2018, according to The Ferret, although Scottish government figures have 12 rural schools closed and 21 mothballed, with some merging and seven opening. A plan to tackle depopulation will be considered this autumn following the government’s 2021 Population Strategy.
An unexpected effect of the Russian invasion of Ukraine has been a spike in raids on Scottish farms for their equipment. Some will go to Russia to beat the sanctions which prevent that country from legally importing it. Demand is high for Global Positioning Systems (GPS), as well as demand for good agricultural machinery and technology, doubling in the first part of 2023 compared with last year, with £500,000 worth of equipment stolen in the first 3 months of this year. Drones are helping criminals target equipment, and is believed to involve organised crime gangs.
Everyday essentials cost more in rural areas, with weekly food costs 13% more for island communities and 4% higher for remote rural Scotland compared to urban areas, and incomes are often lower. Some suggest a ‘weighting allowance’ for rural and island areas to offset higher costs, possibly from the Scottish government. Supply is more restricted in rural and island areas, with some retailers raising costs to reflect higher transport costs, although the Coop says it absorbs higher costs and keeps prices consistent throughout Scotland.
is bearing the brunt of the ongoing ferry crisis. With just 130 residents, they rely on up to 200 day trippers, but numbers have plummeted due to losing the twice-weekly ferry service, which is now going to and from Kennacraig. Healthcare needs are seriously impacted, with only the most serious cases helicoptered out. Hospital appointments depend on ferries and it is more difficult to get blood tests, with only one boat a week to take medical samples to the lab in Oban in ordinary working hours. People must often stay overnight or for days for appointments which may last 15 minutes.
Colonsay’s airstrip is too short for the Twin Otter air ambulances. Some feel Colonsay is in competition with Tiree and Barra. Thursday is the day for flights, and recently Argyll and Bute Council announced extra Saturday flights through Hebridean Airways (Airtask) for Colonsay through the summer. It remains to be seen if this will halt the number of young people leaving Colonsay.
LEZs and Unintended Consequences
Some exemptions were granted in Glasgow for a year to blue badge holders, emergency vehicles, motorbikes and mopeds, as well as LEZ residents, but not emergency workers. Women’s safety has been impacted by falling taxi numbers, with reports of women being hassled by men at bus stops. Public transport has not responded to the increased need.
St Andrew’s Ambulance and Homeless Project Scotland are two charities impacted by the new LEZs. St Andrew’s First Aid is headquartered in Glasgow’s LEZ and requires £300,000 to become LEZ-compliant. The Homeless Project Scotland is struggling, despite a two-month LEZ exemption, forced to spend precious funds on a new van and fundraising for three other vehicles to continue its work near Central Station.
Do LEZs penalise just the poor? Despite the undoubted health benefits of cleaner air, 2021 research by the University of Liverpool and Imperial College, London, shows poverty is 70% more likely to influence asthma development. And those who must live in the LEZs are often those least able to afford a vehicle upgrade, even with council grants. But a third of Glasgow City Council’s own fleet breaks the LEZ rules, including all the trucks they use to remove vehicles guilty of parking offences, meaning they must hire private contractors to support enforcement in the LEZ.
Cash-strapped NHS Scotland, facing a shortfall of £940 million this year, about to sell advertising space on hospital screens, leaflets, lampposts and in car parks, but only to select advertisers. You can’t advertise junk food, political parties, guns or sex, but funeral directors, will-writers and florists will be allowed! And you’ll also be out of luck if you are a legal firm litigating against the NHS !
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is paying £15,000 a year to a private firm linked to Cambridge Analytica. US firm Meltwater’s investigation software was used to monitor widow Louise Slorance (and for mentions of her dead husband Andrew) on social media, after she raised hospital safety concerns. The monitoring has since stopped, but couldn’t the money have been better spent?
Minimum Alcohol Pricing
has failed to address the drinking habits of those with serious drinking problems. While overall alcohol consumption fell slightly, it is unlikely the promised benefits of a 39,000 reduction and 2000 fewer deaths in 20 years will materialise, nor the £200 million NHS saving and £50 million saved by reducing crime, 1300 problem drinkers returning to work, road accident reductions, and the figure of 350,000 problem drinkers remains.
The legislation will now be re-debated by MSPs thanks to a ‘sunset clause’ to examine its effectiveness. Elena Whitham MSP claims 150 deaths and 400 hospital admissions have been avoided thanks to the 2018 legislation.
Previously designated as a ‘functionally extinct’ species, with only about 35 left altogether, wildcats may be making a comeback. Twenty-two wildcats bred in captivity have just been released into the Cairngorms National Park. They became endangered due to loss of habitat and cross-breeding with domestic cats. Those released will be monitored by GPS radio collars, and the Saving Wildcats Partnership aims to release 60 wildcats in total over the next 3 years.