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September 2nd – September 8th, 2023

02/09/23 – 08/09/23

Should police bother with break-ins?  Tourism wars, football .. but first ….

Disability Kills

            Glasgow Disability Alliance (GDA) recently claimed the disabled are ‘dying of poverty’ with people unable to get personal care like help with using the toilet and shower as they cannot afford it.  GDA leader Tressa Burke says she is now attending the funerals of those unable to cope, some of whom have taken their own lives.

            Accusing the SNP of excluding the disabled from its plans to eradicate child poverty, and implement self-directed support and 20-minute neighbourhoods, she laments no state accountability for local decisions to cut social care budgets, like Glasgow cutting £21.5 million, leaving many allegedly without any social care.  Glasgow simultaneously increased client charges to 75% of income over a certain threshold.

            Claiming that many families with children include at least one disabled person, the GDA says it is illogical to help children but not the disabled, and are calling for the SNP to honour a previous manifesto commitment to abolish care charges altogether.

            The GDA recently met Humza Yousaf and voiced their opposition to Scotland’s proposed Assisted Dying legislation.  He said GDA opposition was ‘incredibly strong’ as they feel the sick and disabled may feel pressurised into it.  Yousaf and several members of the government are opposed to it, including Health Secretary Michael Matheson.

HBs in the North-East? Police won’t care

            Chief Superintendent Graeme Mackie, North-East Scotland divisional commander, says his officers will no longer investigate every crime reported, abandoning housebreakings, thefts and other crimes which have no leads or CCTV footage, to concentrate on ‘more pressing issues’ and local priorities.  Why aren’t housebreakings a local priority?  Why doesn’t the devastation to occupiers count?

            With lower numbers than ever before, maybe the police should instead stop dealing with mental health crises which should return to the NHS.  Police could then investigate …. crimes.

Police Scotland do not even have body-worn video yet, which they will get in the next two years. 


            One critical measure in the Programme for Government will be the  amendment its illegal definition of ‘woman’ in the Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act 2018.  This follows a judicial review which struck down the Scottish government decision to widen the definition of ‘woman’ to include those who are not female.


What about a Campervan Levy?

            One response to the Scottish government consultation on a tourist tax has suggested a vehicle-based levy. ‘Tourism: But Not At Any Price’ by Robin Pettigrew says the overpromotion of the North Coast 500 (NC00) has increased the number of irresponsible tourists parking on verges, setting large bonfires, littering and even defecating in the open.

            Recently, more than 200 bags of litter were picked up by volunteers in Glencoe, and Glencoe National Nature Reserve wants to ban campfires, which damage trees and risk wildfires.

The NC500

            is now regarded is one of the most dangerous routes in the UK.  Police recently identified 60 vehicles committing various traffic offences, including speeding, over a 48-hour period, prompting the SNP’s Ian Blackford to call for a code of conduct for motorhome drivers in Scotland.  He points out that drivers may not realise how much bigger and more unwieldy these vehicles are compared to cars, and how difficult the NC500 is to navigate over what are often single-track roads.

Shetland’s Short Crossings Project

            is at an advanced stage, planning four tunnels to connect Mainland to Yell; Yell to Unst; Mainland to Whalsay; and Mainland to Bressay.  The islands council is meeting with the Scottish and UK governments and has itself committed up to £700,000 on the project.

            Various islands are also exploring the possibility of subsea tunnels, with a number of crowd-funders running to conduct feasibility studies.

Orkney is Buckling

            periodically under an onslaught of day tourists disgorged by cruise liners, up to 7000 some days.  Many end up milling pointlessly around sites like the standing stones at Brodgar with hundreds of other tourists, waiting to re-board the cruise ships, and the council is forced to close popular shopping streets for fear of crushes.  Some feel Orkney is becoming a theme park, yet ironically tourists may fail to see the sights they wish due to them being block booked for the whole summer.

            In October Orkney Islands Council (OIC) is considering introducing a ‘cruise liner booking policy’ to limit the number of daily visitors. Limits exist in many European tourist venues.

            The street closures hit retailers, with no exemptions allowed, forcing vulnerable people to walk long distances to taxis, or shop owners to carry their stock to cars.

Ending Tax Breaks for Private Schools

            The SNP conference will consider ending private schools’ charitable tax breaks, and call for a new levy on each pupil place in the private sector.  The sector lost its eligibility for charitable relief on business rates in April 2021, but were allowed to keep their charitable status.

            In 2018, over 70% of people supported the institutions being stripped of charitable status.  Only 4% of Scottish pupils attend private school, but are disproportionately represented in professions like law, and form 20% of the cohort of MSPs.


Should there be a Social Energy Tariff?

            Ironically Scotland as an energy supplier cannot give cheap rates to its own residents.  Energy prices are set in tandem with high European prices.  MP Kenny MacAskill is calling for a ‘social tariff’ in line with many European countries.  Ofgem do not object but it must be sanctioned by UK ministers.

            Keeping warm by putting on another jumper does not work. More clothing can make you immobile and cold.  Ambient temperature must be high enough for it to make a difference to our bodies, and is needed for the fabric of the house.

            People need to wash and iron school and work clothes, power devices to keep children and adults in touch with school and work, and for the expensive equipment needed to keep some disabled people alive.

Homelessness Rise

            New figures showed nearly 30,000 households are in the homelessness system, up 10% from last year and 2% higher than pre-pandemic levels.  The largest number are in Glasgow despite being 7% lower than last year, and Edinburgh had the largest numerical increase, with a 28% rise.

            The new Housing Bill will oblige public bodies to work to prevent homelessness, but charities Crisis and the Cyrenians both emphasised the need for long-term resourcing.

            Rough sleeping has also increased to nearly 2,500 households, it is taking longer to close homelessness cases and 275 applications were from a Ukrainian household.

            Rent arrears have risen by over £43 million since the pandemic, with rent debt in social housing rising by over £20 million in the last year.


Should there be exemptions on short-term let licences?

            A third of the MSPs who are calling for a pause on the short-term lets scheme have interests in the housing and rental sector, eight as current landlords, four former landlords, and over 40% of them have declared an interest on the parliamentary register.

            Many feel the new regulations are too wide-ranging, encompassing old-style B&Bs which should be exempt.

            The Scottish Conservatives have said they will hold a debate and force a parliamentary vote before the October 1st deadline.  

Employee Ownership

            Two firms recently became employee-owned, making overall 200 firms in worker ownership in Scotland.  Steel stockholder Alexander (Scotland) & Co, and Glen Drummond Chartered Accountants both feel the model offers more resilience in difficult times, engages workers and communities, ensuring long-term prospects and increasing worker security.

Football Fans Demonised

            Fans are united against new UK government proposals to extend to Scotland draconian travelling rules for away fans. Buses would require prior police permission to stop within 10 miles of the destination club stadium, and alcohol would only be available with a substantial meal.  They would not be allowed unauthorised stops or pickups and dedicated football officers (DFOs) would be appointed, among other things to police instances of hostility on grounds of race, sex, and so on.

            The legislation only applies to football fans, with some saying it is an infringement of human rights, and could possibly apply to friends hiring a minibus. The SFA, SPFL and SWPL are all against the proposals.

            The measures are subject to consultation on the UK government site until November 24th, so make your views known.


            Following Highland Council’s refusal of compensation to local residents and businesses for ferry breakdowns, and further delays to the return of the MV Corran and relief vessel the MV Maid of Glencoul, local residents are looking to buy their own ferry.  Highland Council Head of Transport and Roads Tracey Urry apparently viewed the compensation request as an attempt to get the council to ‘subsidise residents and local businesses’, which is a bit insulting given that they want compensation for a failed service from Highland Council, not a subsidy. The council said it is working hard to restore the service but is looking more to a fixed link as a long-term solution.

            Drivers face an 86-mile detour or using a temporary foot-passenger only service from Corran to Ardgour.


Uproar as Christie Clock demolished overnight

            MPs and MSPs are demanding answers from Stirling Council leader Chris Kane about the overnight demolition last weekend of the iconic Christie Clock, which had stood for 117 years.  It appears matters only became urgent after a safety inspection on Tuesday last week, but by the early hours of Saturday the column and clock were in pieces on the ground.

            The council said the pillar was found to be unstable after starting work, although local residents claimed there was not much attempt made at restoration before a demolition machine brought the monument crashing down, leaving only the plinth in place.

            The council said it is investigating the circumstances of the ‘botched’ restoration and hope it will be repaired.  But not as fast as it was demolished.

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