07/01/23 – 13/01/23
The Stone of Destiny
The ISP is calling for Scotland to refuse to let the Stone of Destiny go to London for Charles’ coronation. Stolen by Edward 1 of England in 1296, it was placed underneath the coronation chair in Westminster, signifying English domination over Scotland. On Christmas Day 1950 four Scottish students removed it from Westminster Abbey and in April 1951 it turned up at Arbroath Abbey covered in a Saltire, but it was not permanently repatriated to Scotland until 1996. Next year it is due to be moved from Edinburgh Castle to Perth.
The Stone symbolises Scotland’s nationhood. We believe it belongs in Scotland and should remain with the Scottish Crown Jewels in Scotland. Please copy the attached letter to your 8 MSPs. All your MSPs and MPs can be contacted via the website ‘WriteToThem’. We must first make representations to MSPs before being able to set up a Petition to the Scottish Government.
Disabled waiting for Housing
Over 24,000 Scots are waiting for suitable social housing, with one person having waited almost 60 years, although Edinburgh City Council say this person is in a household which already has a home. This is a rise of 150% in 5 years, and these are the figures from only 23 of Scotland’s 32 councils, so may in fact be higher.
At the same time, almost 67,000 properties, 55,000 of them domestic properties, are lying empty. The Scottish government gives disabled applicants priority access to the government low-cost scheme for first time buyers, including open market shared equity. As the Scottish government has built 113,000 affordable homes since 2007, over 79,000 of them for social rent, why are there currently nearly 25,500 live housing applications with local authorities?
have put 300 jobs at risk in Faulds Park, Gourock, with their announcement of the closure of their ‘fulfilment centre’ there. Since 2004 Amazon has been a main local employer. Those affected will be offered work at other Amazon outlets, but opportunities are limited in Scotland. Conversely, Amazon are creating as many as 2500 new jobs in the next three years in two new centres in the West Midlands and County Durham.
Should Amazon now refund £2million taxpayers’ money it received between 2005 and 2011 to establish and expand the Inverclyde distribution centre it is now closing? £1.655m was from Scottish Enterprise Regional Selective Assistance, which is not being reclaimed as the conditions were met by creating a certain number of jobs for a defined period. A separate project obtained £107,000, and Amazon got a further £375,000 grant in 2011 to expand. Amazon is cutting 18,000 jobs worldwide.
In the first three weeks of December, nearly 800 people were taken to hospital in Scotland with hypothermia, defined as a core body temperature less than 35 degrees, the highest number being in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde with 170 admissions, then Lothian at 121, Grampian at 80, Lanarkshire 76 and Ayrshire and Arran 74. Fewer than 5 each were admitted in Orkney and Shetland, and only 7 in the Western Isles.
How Low Temperatures Affect Us
Professor Damian Bailey of the University of South Wales took an in-depth look at what happens to the body when temperatures drop. At 18 degrees, the hairs on your arm stand up to conserve body temperature. When the temperature falls to 10 degrees Celsius, effects on the heart, lungs and brain are profound.
Blood flow to the brain falls by 20%, taking less oxygen and glucose to the brain, making it harder to do mental exercises. Breaths increased from 9 per minute to 12, with core body temperature staying at 37 degrees, although extremities fell by 2 degrees. Mean blood pressure (systolic and diastolic) increased from 99 to 110, heart rate increased from 55 to 65 beats per minute, and the body burned more carbohydrates.
But increased heart rate and blood pressure increase the risk of stroke and heart attack by thickening the blood, raising the risk of a dangerous blockage. More heart attacks and strokes occur in cold weather than in warm, and flu, pneumonia and viruses thrive in cold weather.
Well-insulated clothing like woollies, gloves, socks and a hat, eating a higher carb diet, and moving around more all help, but poverty limits
what you can buy. And now people appear to be shunning ‘warm banks’, feeling stigmatised at admitting they can’t manage. Shouldn’t government cap energy prices more instead?
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Energy Cut Off to the Poorest
About 400,000 people in Scotland had their energy cut off by suppliers last year because they could not afford to top up their pre-payment meters according to Citizens’ Advice Scotland, spending at least 24 hours without gas or electricity, unable to heat their homes or cook a meal. Over 600,000 people across the UK were forcibly moved to pre-payment meters last year, with another 160,000 expected to be moved this winter.
This can be life-threatening for the disabled who rely on machines, the old, and the very young. This has happened even to those who suppliers are not allowed to force onto meters, like the disabled.
Those on pre-payment meters should have got vouchers to get the government discount. Each is worth £66 and is valid only for 90 days, so the ones sent in October are due to expire. Those with smart pre-payment meters are credited directly in the first week of each month. Although energy companies should work to exhaust all other options before putting people onto pre-payment meters, not all appear to do so, and over 20% of UK adults have had to rely on family help to get by in the last 3 months.
The A83 Rest and Be Thankful
has been shut for the last 4 days due to fears of a landslip, with vehicles diverted in a convoy system onto the single track Old Military Road running through Glen Croe. High hillside saturation levels were blamed for the most recent closure, but we are some way from a permanent solution.
Lockdown and children’s speech
A survey by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists found that 90% of early years practitioners found increased numbers of children aged between 2 and 4 struggling to talk or understand basic language since the pandemic, including limited vocabulary and reluctance
to talk, possibly due to reduced socialisation with other children and extended family. Long waiting lists for speech therapy are worsened by 10% of speech and language therapy posts going unfilled. Lockdown babies starting nursery suffer attachment problems, and struggle to interact with other children, play on their own and lack confidence.
Nearly half the £227 million paid out to windfarm owners in constraint payments went to just two offshore windfarms, Moray East and Beatrice, both on the Moray Firth, who together receive £100 million annually. Operators must turn off the turbines during high winds or just because the high concentration of turbines means the national grid just cannot cope, and then switched on again at the destination point. Constraint payments are part of the reason that standing charges on energy bills have doubled (that and subsidising companies who take on new customers whose previous supplier failed).
Infrastructure has not kept pace to allow increased transmission from Scotland to England. It is not being used to subsidise Scottish energy bills, but operators can simultaneously get a constraint payment and then sell the power to another purchaser, all quite legal.
Oil and Gas production
‘will end in 20 years’ according to Michael Matheson, who wants to speed this up. He advocates a presumption against new oil and gas developments, with ‘more robust climate compatibility checks’ for new fields licensed but not yet developed.
If Bifab and the first ScotWind leasing round are anything to go by, Scotland will not benefit. Neart na Gaoithe off the Fife coast will have
54 turbines manufactured by a Spanish firm, with Norwegian, Belgian and Italian companies involved. The windfarm itself will be owned by EDF of France and the Republic of Ireland’s ESB.
have registered over £1 million donations during the current parliamentary term since the end of 2019, with only 12 MPs not logging any donations. Some have outside earnings, including Philippa Whitford, who works as a cancer specialist for NHS Ayrshire and Arran, with others like Stephen Flynn and Dave Doogan working for local councils. Many obtain funding and benefits through their membership of All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs). Patrick Grady of Glasgow North registered the most outside interests at 52.
Is ‘good’ whisky just a PR stunt? Yes, according to a Scottish government document good PR is all that separates a good malt from other alcohol. Exports of whisky are worth £4.5 billion, or 22 bottles per second from over 140 Scottish distilleries. But the government’s consultation on alcohol marketing suggests banning billboard adverts and phasing out sport sponsorships, with retailers restricting the promotion of alcohol in-store, and even banning merchandise with distillery or brand logos from distillery gift shops.
Whisky experts have hit back, saying a ‘Macallan 50-year-old is not the same as a blended Tesco value whisky’, and it is hard to believe that problem drinkers have a stash of 50-year-old malt. Gin and craft-beer producers are also unhappy at the suggestion they are essentially all the same.
The Scottish government cites Scotland’s appalling relationship with alcohol, which result in 700 alcohol-related hospitalisations and 24 deaths per week. The consultation period is ongoing and no changes will happen immediately.