Calls for scrapping of Scotland Against Drugs
NATIONAL DRUGS AWARENESS week has been thrown into turmoil by splits between the groups working to tackle Scotland’s drugs problem.
Remarks by Scotland Against Drugs (SAD) campaign director David Macauley have infuriated organisations which aim to reduce the harm drugs cause by educating young people about their effects.
Macauley described some agencies as ‘peddling a myth that you can take drugs safely’ and went on to accuse them of ’peddling death'.
However, Macauley insists he has no regrets about his comments, which have led to calls for SAD to be disbanded and charges of hypocrisy.
Harm reduction agencies such as Glasgow’s Enhance Recreational Drug Project have been among those backed by the challenge fund which SAD administers.
’As a parent, I don’t want people who don’t represent my view telling me all they can do is tell youngsters how to use [drugs] safely,’ Macauley said. He claimed certain agencies are not giving a clear enough anti-drugs message.
Macauley's critics say the ’just say no’ approach to drugs has failed, while harm reduction agencies have been more successful at reaching young people. Macauley disagrees: ’We have seen a huge increase in the problem. All this advice is not actually working.’
Controversially, Macauley claims the safe usage approach was implicated in the death of Andrew Woodlock, the thirteen-year-old from Lanarkshire who collapsed recently after taking three Ecstasy tablets. ’Harm reduction suggests people can use safely,’ said Macauley. '[Andrew] thought he could dabble and, that if it went wrong, water was an antidote to Ecstasy.’
However, Macauley still says harm reduction has a part to play in SAD’s work: ’You can’t just tell a seventeen- year-old to stop taking drugs. My concern is that many groups are almost promoting the drug culture.’
Founder member of Edinburgh publishers Rebel Inc and author of the
forthcoming book Drugs And The Party Line, Kevin Williamson is among those who have called for SAD to be replaced.
’It is a waste of public money and should be disbanded completely,’ he said. ’It is completely unrepresentative of people working in the drugs field, who know the problem.’
He condemned what he described as a ’knee jerk reaction from media types’ and claimed a new approach is needed. ’You could have read the same editorials when Leah Betts died, and nothing has changed,’ he said. 'We have been calling on people to stamp on the dealers for so long, the boots are worn out.’ (Stephen Naysmith)
Hogmanay to tackle crush problems
EDINBURGH’S HOGMANAY street party should put ’peOpIe before profit’ and tackle fears over safety at last year’s event, according to a new report.
In three years, Edinburgh’s new year celebrations have become among the largest in the world. However, a review group of officials and councillors from Edinburgh City Council and Lothian and Edinburgh Enterprise Ltd. (LEEL) has recommended significant changes.
Safety Concerns last year centred on the huge attendance and crowd control problems in key areas. An estimated 300,000 people thronged in the city centre, with the Mound a particular trouble-spot. Railings collapsed and there were 580 casualties, including 35 with crush injuries.
The 1997/8 event now seems likely to be ticket-only, with city centre streets made restricted access. Live big-name bands should not perform at street venues, the report adds. The review group insists that the idea of a street party should not be abandoned, but points out that bringing about the changes required will add £400,000 to the event’s cost.
Keith Geddes, leader of the City of Edinburgh Council, said safety would come above expense and the event would continue.
Lothian and Borders Police also welcomed the proposals. Many police officers at last year’s celebrations reported that they were unable to intervene in situations which developed when crowds were at their peak.
Event contractor Unique Events will now have to find a way to make the changes without losing the character of Edinburgh's Hogmanay. ’Ticketing a city centre is complex. We believe it has never been done before on this scale,’ a spokesman warned. However, he insisted the challenge would be met. ’It will still be the best Hogmanay
Party in the world. But, like all good things, you’ll need a ticket.’ (Stephen Naysmith)
4 TIIELIS'I’ 13—26 Jun 1997
Rezerection succumbs to domino effect
SCOTLAND'S HIGHEST-PROFILE all- night dance promoter, Rezerection, has emerged as the main victim of the liquidation of the ticket agency TOCTA.
As reported last issue, the agency, which handled ticket sales for a wide range of events across Scotland, has gone into liquidation with estimated liabilities of over three quarters of a million pounds. Although future events such as T in the Park will go ahead, Rezerection’s most recent dance event at lngliston had already occurred when the agency went down.
’A considerable part of our income for the party at the end of May disappeared when TOCTA went into liquidation,’ said Paul Ludford, director of Kitchenware, the family run, Newcastle-based company behind Rezerection.
This left Kitchenware unable to meet the bills they had incurred for hire of the venue and lighting as well as staff and publicity costs.
Ironically, it was Ludford’s professionalism and use of agencies such as TOCTA which allowed Rezerection to survive while other rave organisers went to the wall. Kitchenware is now in liquidation, and all future Rezerections have been canceHed.
Ludford, who has worked in the music business since 1980, has promoted over 60 Rezerections at lngliston over the last seven years. During that time, Rezerection has become a standard of best practice in running all-night events for audiences of over 5000 — attracting observers from police forces from all over the world.
’Over the last seven or eight years I have gained an awful lot of experience in this particular type of event,’ says Ludford, ’I wouldn't like to see that wasted. I think it is important that the invaluable information we have gained is still used positively.’
Meanwhile, Big Day Out, the promoters of T in the Park, said that TOCTA’s demise left ’a considerable hole' in the funds due to the festival. 'This would mean that the event promoters, through no fault of their own, would be asked to let people in whose ticket had only been partially paid for,’ a spokesman explained.
He added that, thanks to the festival’s suppliers and sponsors, a solution had been found which enabled it. to go ahead. ’We are delighted that we have been able to achieve this and are very appreciative of the support that T in the Park has received,’ he said.
Rezerection: the dance event's future is bleak after TOCTA’s collapse
Lefties red-faced as Yanks go home
AN ANARCHIST COALITION has planned a demonstration outside the US consulate in Edinburgh for 4 July — when the building will be closed for Independence Day celebrations.
Bemused officials at the embassy said their complaints would be falling on deaf ears. ’They will have a tough time demonstrating. There Will be no-one in,’ said a spokesman.
The group say their actions are part of an international day of protest against the death penalty. A statement released by the ad hoc Coalition Against the Death Penalty said: ’The death sentence is a barbaric, racist, anti-working class tool of the US
government. It must be stopped'.
Organisers from the Autonomous Centre of Edinburgh (ACE) put a brave face on the situation and told The List: ’Our aim is to put pressure on the US government to have a moratorium on the death penalty and a cessation of all sentences of death, not just a stay of execution’.
Their spokesperson added: ’We think it is an achievable aim. The US government are very sensitive to international agitation against them’.
However, the American Consulate spokesman pointed out that the burlding was always closed on 4 July for Independence Day He refused to
comment on plans announced by the group to burn the American flag.
America's use of the death penalty has come under growmg criticism from human rights groups in Britain. From January to March this year, eleven prisoners have been executed, and by the end of September 1996, over 3000 prisoners were under sentence of death.
Amnesty International, which is not involved With the demonstration, said it had raised the issue of the death penalty in the US at last year’s Olympics in Atlanta, where they described it as ’racist, arbitrary and unfair’. (Phil Miller)