:— Political model
lt‘s hard to imagine something you‘ve never had: that‘s the problem facing supporters of a Scottish parliament who believe the idea has not captured the imagination of an electorate more concerned with the ‘bread and butter issues‘ of tax.jobs and health. Plans put forward by the Coalition for Scottish Democracy to establish a senate to act as a ‘working model‘ in the old Royal High School building will be discussed in Edinburgh this week. This is the ﬁrst time the High School has been used for a major event since it was bought recently by Edinburgh District Council from the Scottish Ofﬁce for £1.75 million.
The proposed senate would be made up of Scottish ‘civic life‘ - including trade unions. local authority representatives. churches and voluntary organisations — which is regarded as
having had its influence reduced by the centralisation of power in Westminster and its self-appointed agencies. Members of the senate would debate major issues affecting Scotland‘s political. economic and cultural life and try to influence decision makers such as the Grand Committee of Scottish MPs. which the Government has indicated
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‘The senate would act as a voice for civic society in Scotland for those excluded from the political process who have become disenfranchised and disillusioned.‘ says civil rights lawyer Alan Miller. who drew up the senate‘s draft constitution. ‘lt would whet the appetite for a parliament which doesn't just debate but also has power.‘
Likely representatives of the senate will consider the draft constitution and
founding declaration which states as an aim to: ‘Stimulate public debate in a nonpartisan manner and seriously inﬂuence the political agenda and direction ofour country.‘ This will be followed by an open discussion. led by a panel which includes Scottish commentators Tom Naim and Neal Ascherson. It is hoped to have the senate up and running by the autumn in the hope of making it an established voice in Scottish politics by the next general election. The senate would be non-party political. though MPs and MEPs could act as observers. ‘We think there is a broad consensus on a whole range of issues and there is a great need for civic society to have a strong and respected voice.‘ says Miller. (Eddie Gibb)
Tlte Coalition for Scottish Democracy conference on establishing a senate is on Saturday 18 June at I 0am in the Royal High School. Regent Road. I’ublic observers are welcome. A public debate organised by Common Cause and Scotland On Sunday is at the same venue from 2pm. Tickets/rota SoS Politics Desk. 20 North Bridge. Edinburgh.
Glasgow clubs: curfew continues Optimistic clubbers who thought that Glasgow’s curfew was a bit of tinkering the licensing board would soon tire of, are now lacing up to the fact that it’s here to stay. But at least club doormen should become better trained.
Despite all sorts of speculation during the week that the board was considering licence renewal applications by the city’s nightclubs, the result was no change. It’s still in by 12.30am and out by 3am. The only fresh demand by the board was that all clubs should send bouncers, sorry, ‘door stewards’ on training courses, which are expected to be run by Glasgow Caledonian University.
The course is still ‘very much in the development stage’, according to the university, but the core curriculum is likely to include drug awareness, crowd management and communication skills.
John Conlin of HTS Security Services, which supplies doonnen for Glasgow nightclubs, is in favour of the idea of training but wonders whether a university course is what’s needed. ‘Vlhat experience do they have of
L stewardlng?‘ he asks. (llon Weller)
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The billion-pound nuclear industry is a formidable opponent but growing numbers of ‘kitchen table’ campaign groups have been taking it on and, in some cases, getting results.
Dissatisfied with the official information they were receiving on issues such as leukaemia clusters, radiation monitoring groups have been springing up around Britain since the Chernobyl accident in 1986. Volunteers, who often have no technical background, have been taking to the beaches to monitor radiation levels. llow the nuclear industry is finding it increasingly difficult to ignore their findings.
The Conference on Low-level
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Radiation and Health, which is held in Glasgow for the first time next week, was started ten years ago to enable people concerned about possible links between radiation and illness to share
information. This isn’t an anti-nuclear campaign, but organisers believe the public should have access to better information about the risks.
‘Many of the original concerns expressedat the early conferences, particularly about the raised incidence of leukaemia around certain nuclear sites, have been established as mainstream rather than marginal,’ says organiser Margaret Crankshaw.
This year the conference will discuss new evidence about: radiation levels around the Solway Firth; possible links between electro-magnetic fields from overhead power lines and cot-deaths, and the impact of major nuclear disasters such as Chernobyl. Scottish lluclear will outline its plans for dry storage — regarded by many as safer than Tharp-style reprocessing - at llunterston and Torness. (Thom Dibdin) The conference is at the City Chambers, Glasgow on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 June. Details on 0292 316008.
Adapting to change
Disabled visitors to Scotland‘s museums and art galleries are still being ushered in through back doors and hampered by poor planning. according to a recent report by ADAPT — Access for Disabled People to Ans Premises Today. In a survey of46 Scottish museums and art galleries. the campaigning group found many lack adequate amenities for the disabled.
Glasgow‘s Museum and Art Gallery at Kelvingrove was criticised for failing to provide ramps at its public entrances and diverting wheelchair users through a goods entrance. Disabled visitors were then faced with a precarious wooden ramp. a maze of crowded rooms and a goods lift.
Since the research was completed. alterations have been made at the
gallery. but publicity officer for Glasgow's museums Vincent Taggart admits there are still problems.
‘Disabled people enter through the staff
back door. not a goods entrance.‘ he says. ‘Then they go through a short corridor -- they don't have to go through a maze at all — and there‘s a lift 20 yards away. We wouldn‘t say we're totally happy with it. but it‘s as good as we‘re likely to get.‘
Kelvingrove. like many older museums and galleries. is listed. which means alterations like wheelchair ramps are restricted. or even forbidden. Recognising this as a common problem. Robert Pickles of Disability Scotland praised Kelvingrove for its ()pen Museum initiative - an attempt to take exhibitions to those often denied access. ‘lt‘s not just about bricks and mortar. ramps and lifts. there are other things which can be done.‘ he says.
The picture for disabled an lovers is not all bleak. says Pickles. lle praised Edinburgh‘s new Festival Theatre and Glasgow‘s showpiece. the Royal Concert Hall for ease of access and
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progressive thinking. Many of Scotland‘s older galleries and theatres are ﬁghting to overcome physical barriers with enlightened outlooks. he says. ‘lt's generally getting better. but it's a slow process.‘ he adds. (Kathleen Morgan)
The Adapt Trust is on 0383 623166.