Tory threat to

student unions

Teviot Row Union: services under threat The Govemment moved closer to dismantling Britain‘s student union structure this month. as Education Secretary John Patten announced plans to allow ‘students themselves to decide what collective involvement they want'. However. student leaders are convinced that this ‘voluntary principle‘ will destroy many welfare services that the unions provide.

The spectre of voluntary student unions has been lurking on the horizon for some time now. but the publication of the long-awaited consultation paper on the funding of campus unions. with a bill expected next session. makes the threat more concrete. The reforms will limit the services on which Government funds can be spent to ‘a core of essential campus services' namely welfare and advisory services. catering, sport and representation in internal matters. All other campus union activities will be on an opt-in. voluntary subscription basis. The Government claims that this move will stop public funds being used by campus unions for affiliation to the National

Union of Students and other campaigning organisations. and will make student unions more accountable to their members.

Patten‘s speech to the House of Commons was met with criticism from opposition parties, and the paper has also been attacked by university vice- chancellors and students. By publishing it immediately after universities and colleges broke up for the summer vacation, the Government has avoided much ofthe vocal opposition it would have received from the general student body.

it is clear that the main target ofthe reforms is the NUS itself, long disliked by the Conservatives because of its openly left-wing campaigns against Government policies on student issues. However. a reduction of funding to all further and higher education institutions whether NUS-affiliated or not will undoubtedly restrict the ability of student union leaders to represent their members and lobby on a wide variety of political issues. from improved grants to campaigns against racial and sexual harassment.

The publication ofthe paper came only days after Further and Higher Education Minister, Tim Boswell, had announced an increase of over £2 million in Access Funds to help students with severe financial difficulties surely an indication that students are indeed suffering more hardship than ever before. Despite Government assurances that the student union reform paper resulted from ‘an extended period of consultation with students, universities and colleges’. and that further consultation will begin shortly, its contents show that not enough attention is being paid to the real poverty faced by many students across the UK. Giving money with one hand, but taking away more with the other, will only lead to a worsening of the situation. (Alan Morrison)

Water authority reforms

While political storms look likely to rage ior months to come over the Secretary oi State’s proposals ior Scottish council reiorrn, the shake-up also seems to have stirred mud into the country’s water supply.

The on-going consultative period begun last year regarding the iuture oi Scotland’s water and sewage services has so iar dealt out a resounding ‘no’ to the idea oi privatisation. llowever, a section in the White Paper on local government - while iorrnally ruling out the option oi outright privatisation - outlines the establishment oi three public water authorities covering the north, east and west oi Scotland. Because the majority oi the £5 billion needed by these bodies to bring standards up to EC regulations will be sought irorn the private sector, Limpenents believe lan lang’s latest

proposal is really just a convenient step up the ladder towards iull privatisation.

Dne oi the iirst critics was Bob Could, leader oi Strathclyde Region, which is looking into the ieasibility oi a national reierendum on the issue. ‘The move may be being dressed to give the impression that it is being

'retained in public ownership, but the

reality is that the people oi Scotland will have no say in the running oi water and sewage,’ he claimed.

Details in the White Paper oi the iorm and size oi the new water authorities are vague, although it does indicate that their members would be appointed by the Secretary oi State, rather than run by elected councillors, as in the past. Councillors from any party could, at course, be among those appointed. (AM)

_ _ Access all airs

Scotland will get its iirst speciiically gay radio programme when Festival FM, the 24-hour community radio station returns to Edinburgh ior the Festival period. From 8 August to 4 September the station will be airing Fruit Sundae every Sunday evening, as well as once again providing a mix oi Festival and Fringe reviews, previews and listings with music-based programmes, comedy quizzes and celebrity specials.

‘We aim to be truly “access” radio,’ says the station’s Celeste iieill, ‘breaking down the door ior young people desperate ior radio experience. This year we are looking especially ior

iemale presenters willing to try their

talents at live broadcasting.’ She wants a presenter to join the likes oi Jo Brand, Rona Cameron and lynn Ferguson, although they would have the 11pm-2am music-based slot.

Budding radio stars are not only required tor the late nights, however. Reviewers, reporters and record jocks oi all genders will be needed at all times oi day and night, and ileill has yet to iind a iemale presenter for Fruit Sundae. it you’re interested, send a 15 minute tape oi yourseli presenting ‘in a style you’re comiortable with’ to Barry Quinn, Festival FM, 45 iliddry Streeet, Edinburgh Elli 1L6. (Thom Dibdin)

_ Arts policy

Quality. access and diversity are the three key principles contained in the Scottish Arts Council‘s Broadcasting Policy. published last week. The policy aims to ‘increase and enhance’ the opportunities for Scottish artists and arts organisations in television and radio.

‘The Charter for the Arts called on SAC to produce a Broadcasting Policy. and highlighted three roles for broadcasting in relation to the arts: as an educator. in raising public awareness and as a cultural medium in its own right.‘ said SAC Depute Director Christine Hamilton, who drew up the policy. ‘The policy recognises that the

broadcasting companies are major cultural patrons and employers of artists in Scotland. There are. however. significant gaps both in stations and in artforms. SAC will be pushing for these gaps to be filled. including the lack of visual arts and dance in broadcasting and music programming on TV.‘

in order to fulfil its objective of improving the relationship between artists and broadcasters, SAC has devised a framework that will allow it to work more closely with the broadcasting companies. This will include research into the relationship between the arts, broadcasting and audiences. and encouraging programme makers to develop strategies of their own for improving the output of arts programming. (AM)

_ Waste lines

A major new recycling initiative using waste industrial materials and textile oiicuts took its iirst step towards realisation last week when the Lothian Creative Recycling Initiative received support irom the Region’s Education Department ior its application ior Urban Aid iunding.

Unlike many recycling projects such as those ior glass and paper, the Initiative does not seek to re- constitute the original material, but to re-use waste materials ior new applications. This tits in neatly with the Lothlan Region Charter ior Action on the Environment by stopping valuable resources getting dumped in landiill sites. Projects in Dundee and Strathclyde are already doing this in a small way, providing materials ior playgroups.

‘We’re looking ior oii-cuts, rejects, errors and surplus materials,’ says the lnitiative’s Ceorge Baxter, who has two years experience working with a similar project in Sydney, Australia. ‘These will be collected in a central warehouse where user groups can come and get what they need, and we’ll also provide an outreach service to Urban Ald areas.’

The lothlan initiative would be run as

Creative Recycling at 'cnuurv' in mm

a non-profit making business, which Baxter hopes will have a wide enough user base to be seli-ilnanclng aiter iour years. ‘We eventually aim to supply something like 300 diiierent types oi material to about 500 groups,’ he says. Users will pay a sliding scale oi charges, according to their ability to pay and whether they are in an Urban Aid area. (Thom Dibdln) Creative Recycling Initiative can be contacted c/o LAYC, 7 Boroughloch Lane, Edinburgh EiiB our.

4 The List rel—2'9 July 1993