Councillor attacks anti-begging ‘antics’

A LEADING EDINBURGH COUNCILLOR has warned colleagues to disregard a press campaign aimed at ridding the city of beggars.

In an internal memo to members of a council working group, Brian Cavanagh, convener of the social work committee, described the campaign as ’deranged' and added: ’the key issues which [the working group] decides on must be informed by consultation and research and not by newspaper headlines or editorials’.

The working group is considering the possibility of new laws to tackle begging. The Edinburgh Evening News has presented the council with a model bye-law which it argues 'would wipe

out all aggressive beggars from our city streets within a few months’.

However Cavanagh's memo adVises councillors to support the city's Rough Sleepers Initiative, which has recently been allocated European funding of £8 million, ’rather than responding to the uninformed antics of the Evening News’.

Laurie Naumann, director of the Scottish Council for Single Homeless (SCSH), we|c0med Councillor Cavanagh’s stance, and said: 'We are deeply disturbed by the way this campaign is being handled. For certain sections of the press to reinforce stereotypes is irresponsible and serves no purpose.’ He pointed out that

Scots learners to sample virtual driving

EDINBURGH LEARNER DRIVERS are among the first in Britain to be offered 'virtual' driving lessons, at a new centre which opened this week.

The British School of Motoring (BSM) is launching the first commerCial learner driver simulator, which it claims will let novice motorists develop basic skills before getting into a real car.

Computer technology will allow learners to sit behind the wheel of a simulation based on the Vauxhall Corsa, with all the normal controls, but with a screen replacing the open road.

The BSM Centre will also offer interactive computer testing on the driving theory. Edinburgh users are the guinea pigs along with drivers in seven other UK cities, with plans for more simulation centres if the idea takes off.

’It takes away those nervous moments when you are sitting in the driver's seat for the first time,’ said BSM chief executive Richard Glover.

’Once you master the controls, you can drive off into a virtual world to practice anything from emergency stops to steering on a slalom course.’

Perhaps the most interesting development on offer is the interactive challenge which puts drivers into typical accident situations. According to BSM, newly qualified drivers are twice as likely to be involved in accidents because of their inability to identify risk situations.

Driving instructors, renowned for premature aging, have for some reason been reluctant to include this useful feature in their real-life sessions. (Stephen Naysmith)

I Shoppers will be able to try the

technology free of charge when a BSM roadshow visits the St. James Shopping Centre on Sat 73 Sep.

4TllELl8T 12—25 Sep 1997

police powers already existed to deal with troublesome beggars whose behaViour breaches current laws.

Meanwhile, a group of Edinburgh beggars responded to the newspaper campaign by forming their own ’right to beg’ committee, and sent a delegation to a recent council meeting. A spokesman for the committee, James Clarkson, said: ’The Evening News speaks for itself, not for the general public. As for incrdents of aggression from beggars, we would like to see the police statistics. We believe they don’t have any.’

The editor of the Evening News was contacted by The List, but was unavailable for comment (Maria Mason)

Cavanagh: warning

Doubts over Sootlanil’sfirstfi private prison

PROBLEMS LIE AHEAD for Scotland's first privately run prison, according to watchdog organisations, after the Government announced its intention to give the project the green light.

The prison at Bowhouse, near Kilmarnock, Will be bUilt by Premier Prison SerVices (PPS), a subsidiary of Wackenhut, one of America's biggest operators of private prisons

PPS already operates Doncaster Prison in England, but the Prison Reform Trust (PRT) has warned of trouble ahead unless the company modifies its practices.

'During the first eighteen months of operation, private prisons in England, espeCIally Doncaster, have experienced serious problems,’ said Nick Flynn, PRT’s deputy director.

After the prison opened in 1994, a series of incidents thrust the prism into the headlines, including a mini- riot which saw staff lllJUlC’d by prisoners hurling snooker balls.

Glasgow's newest landmark was launched in apt fashion this week when it hosted an international gathering of travel agents.

The £38 million 'Armadillo’ building, designed by the architect Sir Norman Foster, is an extension to the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC) at Anderston Quay.

The striking design Will clearly be used to help lure vrsnors to the city, With the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) the first to use it.

The building’s nickname came from its resemblance to the shy, nocturnal armour-plated South American mammal, but the SECC is keen to pOint out that there is more to it than looks.

Designed from the inside out, the aim was to maximise acoustics and have the best possible sight-lines for audiences at

’When Doncaster opened they introduced prisoners in what they call "the Wackenhut way",' Flynn claimed. ‘lnstead of phasing them in, they filled the Whole prison at once.’ He said the incetive was to fill the prison as QUlely as possible. ’A full prison means more money for them,’ he explained.

Premier Prisons also prefers to recruit and train its own staff. According to Flynn, this re3u|ted in inexperienced staff dealing With prisoners well-versed in the system. ’We Will have to wait and see Whether they have learned from their mistakes,’ he said.

DOnc‘aster Prison has operated relatively smoothly since then, and recently received a glowrng report from prison inspectors.

A spokesman for the Scottish Prison Serwce (SPS), said the Government had opted to go ahead With Bowlio'.ise to relieve prison overcrowding

’The intention is that any future prisons Will be With private money

‘Armadiiio’guésisroii up for launch

concerts, conferences and exhibitions. An integral fly-tower Will also allow the building to stage large-scale operas and musicals.

According to SECC chief executive Mike Closier, the ’Arniadillo' Will bring business to Glasgow, and help make Scotland a key world conference destination

’The building has already fired the imagination of conference organisers from all over the world, re5ulting in bookings and enqurries which c0u|d generate over 750,000 bednights for local hotehers,’ he said.

Among the first events at the new 3029 capacny Clyde Auditorium Will be Shelia/lion, a new dance and music event, and concerts from The Lighthouse Family, 88 King, Bjorn Again and Lowse. (Stephen Naysmith)

but staffed by public sector staff,’ he said, adding that contract negotiations were aimed at preventing teething - problems.

A spokesman for PPS said disruption at Doncaster Prison had lasted for only six months. ’We do not anticipate any such problems with Bowhouse Prison,’ he said. (Stephen Naysmith)


In an Agenda article on student fees, published last issue (number 314) a quote was wrongly attributed to Mr Mark Given, Vice President of Communications at Strathclyde Students' Association.

The List would like to apologise for the error and make clear that Mr Given did not criticise the commitment of senior members of the NUS.

Louise: playing the Armadillo