Third for Forth

Memories of recent celebrations over the centenary of the Forth Rail Bridge have soured for South Queensferry residents with the announcement by the Secretary of State of a feasibility study into a second road bridge over the River Forth. Locals are concerned about increased traffic congestion to the west of Edinburgh. as well as the detrimental effect a new bridge would have on the environment. pollution levels and. subsequently. house prices.

Most of the £400 million it would take to build the bridge and a series of improved link roads would be raised privately through bridge tolls. The toll on the existing bridge would rise from 40p to £1.25. despite the fact that charges were expected to be abolished when the bridge cleared its debt in a few years time.

Environmentalists and opponents of

! vehicle-orientated transport policies

; believe that the money would be better spent building park-and-ride facilities

; on both sides of the river, with a

: substantial light rail or rapid transit

5 system operating to the city centre. The

feasibility study does include such measures. but the emphasis is undoubtedly in favour of the car lobby. The Secretary of State indicated that the precise nature of expanded rail services would be in the hands of ScotRail. thereby raising fears that.

with ScotRail one of the first franchises

to be offered in the move towards rail privatisation. the necessary investment would not be forthcoming.

Should the plan go ahead. construction on a third bridge across the Forth would begin in two or three years. with completion early next century. (AM)

Knife clampdown

Strathclyde has until the end of February to surrender its knives before police begin an intensive crackdown on anyone carrying offensive weapons. Operation Blade, launched last week, is encouraging people in the region to ‘save a life, bit a knife’ by dumping weapons in receptacles in police stations without fear of recrlmination. Last year, Glasgow Royal Infirmary dealt with over 250 cases of serious knife attacks, while the region as a whole saw blades used in 47 murders, 201 attempted murders and 1135 serious maults.

Several months of high-profile enforcement will follow the knife- surrender period, with police hoping in secure legislation which would increase their ability to stop and search suspects without a warrant. This will coincide with a campaign targeting pubs, clubs and discos, licensing boards, schools, parents ant retailers. ‘Operatlon Blade is not just an enforcement and surrender period, said Strathclyde Police’s Chief Constable Leslie Sharpe. ‘We’re trying to stimulate self-regulation and changes in the law which will do something to get to the bottom of this problem. it’s certainly not police

4 The List l2—25 February 1993

public relations and it’s certainly not policing by television.’

Oespite Chief Constable Sharpe’s comments, Operation Blade has already been criticised as a cosmetic exercise and has been compared to a similar campaign in Easterhouse in 1968, when the singer Frankie Vaughan’s plea for gangs to lay down their weapons was widely reported bu had a limited effect in curtailing knife attacks. it is feared that too many young people in Strathclyde housing schemes will ignore Operation Blade, claiming that to surrender their weapons would leave them

‘defenceless’. The new clampdown 5 needs to address the social

background to the problem and the emergence of a ‘criminal underclass’ with a nothing-to-lose mentality,

; which has resulted in a spate of

indiscriminate attacks on innocent

i victims across the country.

Nevertheless, the early days of Operation Blade have been quite encouraging. in the first few days, 27!

5 weapons - including regimental g swords, axes and cut-throat razors - were handed in to the region’s police


stations. But Scotland’s average of around 20 knife assaults a day remains the same. (AM)


j A new organisation for women in

; Scotland has been launched to

g coincide with the 75th anniversary of the suffragette victory in securing the i exploitation, low pay and women’s vote for women. But the board

members of EliGEliOEll believe that history has shown that more than enfranchisement is needed to increase the power and influence of

5 women in their personal, political, : economic and social lives.

EliGEliOEli aims to complement and

work alongside other women’s

organisations to build a strong lobby

on relevent issues, and to set up a research base, an information network and a meeting place for women. ‘We see the need for a women’s movement which is responsive to the needs of women in Scotland,’ said Margaret Macintosh, a member of the board. ‘In


l i


I Gender on the agenda

the early years of this century, women were campaigning on the issues of domestic violence, sexual

exploitation at work - just as we have to do today.’

The organisation grew out of frustration at the way such issues are handled in Scotland, both by the government and the opposition. The suffragette anniversary is somewhat tarnished by the fact that only five MPs in Scotland are women and 67 men in the EC, only Greece and liorthern Ireland have a poorer record - leaving women under-represented or all key decision-making bodies. Further information on EliGEliOEii is available c/o Scottish Women’s Aid, 13/9 liorth Bank Street, Edinburgh Elli 2Ul. (AM)

Movies at the Mercat

Exactly a year after Orumchapel’s

Mercat Theatre appeared on the scene

with a St Valentine’s Day variety special, the venue is branching out into the world of cinema. Starting on Friday 19 February with sparkling Australian comedy Strictly Ballroom, Movies at the Mercat will screen a film a week, with additional Saturday matinee programmes for kids.

The ZZO-seat theatre now boasts a 10ft video screen of such sharp

quality that the enterprise has won the

backing of the Scottish Film Council. And audiences can rest assured that this is no amateur outfit but a ‘professional cinema experience’, complete with adjacent cafe-bar, hotdogs and ice cream. In fact, the

Mercat’s record speaks for itself: since it opened as a theatre, it has hosted 111 performances attended by 14,000 people, and ran off with the Glasgow Herald’s Spirit of the Mayfest award for its programming during Glasgow’s annual cultural bash. Future plans include the formation of a special film society and a video news service - along the lines of the old Pathe newsreels carrying local items before the main feature. Anyone wishing to hire the Mercat’s facilities for private screenings, or any local filmmakers with short works that could be included in the programmes, should contact George Thomson on

041 9441788. (AM)

:- Life of leisure

So you live in or around Glasgow and you‘ve always wanted tojoin the East Kilbride Organ Club. Glasgow Hammer Dulcimer Group. Kirkintilloch Scrabble Club. West of Scotland Fly Dressers‘ Guild. Friends of Kilgore Trout. Glasgow Zen Group. Pollok ln- Betweenies or Culture City Kids. or possibly all of them. but those index cards in the Mitchell Library. useful though they can be. don‘t give you enough descriptive information and are occasionally out of date. Fret not, socialites. The City Council‘s Department of Performing Arts has recently published Hike It Up.’. a close- to—definitive guide to those amateur groups and societies in the city without

- a religious or political bent.

‘It was really anything that was a leisure activity.‘ says Lisa Carey. who

had the idea for the guide in the first

place. ‘We realised that there was no information available on activities at an amateur level. I haven't seen anything before that's been produced as a magazine with accurate information

and a description of the group.‘

The initial print-run only extends to a limited 2000. but there are plans to make Take It Up.’ an annual publication. with supplement sheets in between to update the directory a ' must. not simply because no other guide of its nature is available in Scotland. but became the first supplement features details of how to join the Mongolian Gerbil Society. And: it‘s the gerbils that are Mongolian, not the club members.

But the organisers didn‘t find it easy going: ‘The classic one was we phoned up the number that we'd been given for the Magic Circle to be told they'd disappeared!‘ (Fiona Shepherd)

Take It Up.’ is available for reference in Glasgow and Renfrew District Libraries, or priced £2.50 from the Ticket Centre. Candleriggs. 227 5511. However. readers of The List can purchase a copy for £1.50 on producing this coupon at the Ticket Centre.


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