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September 9th – September 15th, 2023

09/09/23 – 15/09/23

Should (some) Scots have booed the English Anthem?  Justice on Trial  ….. but first….

The Ozone Paradox

            Levels of ozone in Glasgow’s Low Emissions Zone have soared since the advent of the LEZ, with monitors registering an average 55 micro-grammes per cubic metre in the first three months of the LEZ’s operation, up from the previous figure of 48 micro-grammes, causing more problems for asthma sufferers whose lungs and airways are particularly affected by ozone.

            This is apparently a known possible side-effect of reducing some pollutants, and occurs because as nitrogen dioxide levels decrease, ozone levels can increase, but this does not seem to have been publicised much beforehand.

Another Driving Tax

            Glasgow City Council is in discussions with the Scottish government about introducing a congestion charge for motorists entering the city centre from East Dunbartonshire and East Renfrewshire, saying that those who come in and use the city services ‘free, gratis’ (according to Glasgow City Council depute leader Ricky Bell) should be asked to contribute to service costs.

            What if those coming in work in the city?  Aren’t they contributing by working? How do you put a price on for example social care services they provide residents? If they buy lunch or a coffee, aren’t they helping businesses?  If they go out shopping, they are contributing.  What exactly are they getting ‘free, gratis’?

            Edinburgh City Council said it had considered a congestion tax in the past but was not currently revisiting it.


Grouse Licensing

            Four hundred businesses are urging the Scottish government to reconsider what they call ‘disastrous’ plans for licensing grouse shooting.  The government wants to implement many recommendations of the 2019 Werritty Commission to change grouse moor management and regulation of traps. They object to the licence being issued for only a year at a time.  It is also concerned about the wide range of offences which could lead to suspension or revocation of licences.

and NatureScot

            has difficult questions to answer about having issued licences which allowed the killing of nearly 50,000 wild animals from 84 different species between 1st June 2019 and 15th June 2023, including declining species and the Scottish mountain hare.  Humza Yousaf has promised a government investigation into the matter.


Housing Rent Cap

            Patrick Harvie has indicated to the Local Government, Housing and Planning Committee at Holyrood that he will extend the rent cap for the private sector for a final time until 31/3/24, with rent increases limited to 3% (or 6% in exceptional circumstances which landlords have to apply for) and evictions will remain largely suspended.

            He also indicated that when the present measures expire on 31/3/24 the Scottish government has the power to put rent adjudication procedures in place to prevent landlords immediately making large increases, although the details are not yet available.  Harvie says that a significant reduction has occurred in the number of private tenants making homelessness applications (down from 2990 to 2200), although the Scottish Conservatives said there had actually been a 74% increase in homelessness applications in 2022/23 due to rent arrears, according to Freedom of Information requests released earlier this month.


            Twenty-three out of Scotland’s 32 councils breached legislation meant to prevent people being placed in unsuitable temporary accommodation on more than 11,000 occasions in a year and a half, despite it being a legal obligation. Nicola Sturgeon stated in 2019 that breaches of the Unsuitable Accommodation Order ‘should not be tolerated’ and would consider sanctioning guilty councils. Since then the number of breaches have risen from 750 in number to over 11,000, with over 6000 in Glasgow alone in the last 18 months.


Sentencing Guidelines Controversy

            The Lord Advocate is to challenge the sentencing of a triple rapist to only one year for raping his first victim. The sentencing guidelines for under-25s have proved controversial as they have resulted in even child rapists escaping jail. Sentencing guidelines see prison as a last resort, but lenient sentences were not meant to apply to serious crimes, and are to be reviewed after public outrage, although any changes will not apply retrospectively.

            In this case the second victim was attacked while he was released on a ‘tag’ for the abuse of his first victim. His first victim was very well-known to him yet he left her blood-spattered after an ordeal lasting hours when she feared she would die.

            Prosecutors have admitted that ‘diversion from prosecution’ will remain as an option for anyone under 18, even if they are accused of rape, as to do otherwise would breach the UN Convention on Rights of the Child.  But victims and their families will not view this as justice.

Recorded Police Warnings

            Police are increasingly using Recorded Police Warnings (RPWs), even sometimes for assaults and sexual offences, despite this measure originally being intended for low level crimes only.  Police will not make public the guidelines they follow in using them, saying it would ‘allow offenders to circumvent the law’!  Both police and Crown Office said their use would allow the courts to focus on more serious crimes while giving a swift response to lower-level crimes.

            Critically, accepting a RPW is not an admission of guilt and the warning is not recorded as a conviction, but details are held for two years and can be taken into account if the person ‘re-offends’.  Police are apparently keen on rolling the scheme out, with research by policy collective Murray Blackburn Mackenzie (MBM) showing that between 2018 and 2021 RPWs have been issued across every crime and offence category.

            MBM say the use of RPWs implies an equivalence to the level of offending between all offences which can be dealt with in this way, but women were outraged recently when an incident where a woman was punched twice while demonstrating for women’s rights was only deemed to be worth a RPW.

            Use of RPWs is meant to keep cases from clogging up the Crown Office, but an unintended consequence of this is that when Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain was asked whether the punching incident was within her RPW guidelines, she could not answer, as a report never went to the Crown Office.  This is a worryingly circular way of shutting down any criticism. The police won’t explain further, referring inquirers to the guidelines, but then the Lord Advocate has no information either.

            RPWs are the single most-used disposal/penalty in Scotland.  They considerably shorten the time police and Crown Office spend dealing with offending, but in anything which lessens punishment there must be public accountability and there is none.  Do offenders get 2 punches free before they are properly punished?

Scottish Women’s Football

            The women’s squad led by Rachel Corsie has dropped its inequality case against the SFA after reaching a deal with them just minutes before their case was due before an employment tribunal.  They were calling for parity with the men’s squad on training facilities, hotels, travel, kit, medical and nutritional resources.  SFA Chief Executive Ian Maxwell has reiterated the SFA commitment to equality regarding commercial appearances, prize money and resources, but exact details are impossible to find due to them signing a Non-Disclosure Agreement. 

Wind Turbine Disposal

            More than 80 giant turbine blades from Scotland’s first wind farm at Hagshaw Hill near Douglas in Lanarkshire may end up in landfill as Scottish Power Renewables seeks to replace them with ‘fewer, larger turbines’ in its replacement site.  The blades are difficult to recycle due to the glass fibre or carbon fibre materials which were necessary to be robust enough for Scotland’s weather.

            Initially the blades will go into storage, but SPR have not clarified how much can be recycled.  Environmental group Zero Scotland said 5500 turbines will be needing decommissioned by 2050, so it is a problem we will be revisiting.

Safe Room Drug Users

            Following the approval of the Lord Advocate, safe drug room users won’t be criminalised under a pilot scheme due to be rolled out in Glasgow.  Humza Yousaf was concerned the UK might move to block it, although this will now apparently not happen.  The Lord Advocate moved to quell public concerns by saying it did not amount to an exclusion zone with regard to just any criminal activity, but extends to simple possession offences only, committed within a safe consumption facility.

Should Scots supporters have booed ‘God Save the King’?

No – it’s rude in itself, and England were visiting Scotland as guests;

Yes – it’s at least understandable because: England treats Scotland with contempt in parliament; calls Scots scroungers; says we are subsidised; ignores devolution; refuses Scots democracy; and one verse in the so-called ‘national’ anthem speaks of crushing rebellious Scots.

            In any case isn’t it supposed to be the anthem of the whole of the UK (whether Scotland wants it or not?).  Maybe England should pick another anthem?  And while they are at it, another flag, instead of commandeering the union flag (including Scots and Irish emblems) as the English one?  If they think it looks a bit bare without the Scottish blue, they could add a dragon or two for Wales.


            Congratulations to Stonehaven dance group Rhythm Nation who were recently named world champions at the World Street Dance Championships in Blackpool, beating off competition from round the world.  Their youngest competitor was aged only 4. 

            They came back to Scotland with over 20 trophies in all.  Not bad for a group started only in 2019, and which only moved to its present Stonehaven studio in 2021 after a year-long fight with the local council.

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