WITH A DECISION on the site of the new Scottish Parliament expected from Scottish Secretary Donald Dewar later this month, Edinburgh councillors fear his choice will be at odds with local opinion.
The options are a site next to the new Scottish Office buildings in Leith, or the old Royal High School at Calton Hill, with Morrison Street car park at Haymarket a less likely contender.
The Scottish Secretary is believed to favour the Leith site, which may be easier to complete within the specified £40 million budget. A spokesman for
the Scottish Office said: ‘Donald Dewar is currently being advised by Scottish Office officials and is talking to parties representing the three main options.’
This is in contrast to the City of Edinburgh Council who last month voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Calton Hill site.
Labour leader Keith Geddes asserted, ‘In terms of profile and access it has to be the city centre. It offers the possibility of establishing a first class Parliament building that is fully accessible.’
Decision expected on site for parliament
David Begg, Edinburgh’s transport convener, is particularly opposed to a Leith location which he fears would increase traffic congestion.
He pointed to statistics that indicate only 25% of journeys into the city centre are by car. The rate travelling by car increases to 75% for destinations outwith the city centre.
However, one Edinburgh councillor spoke out against the consensus although following the council vote, he was not willing to be named. 'Leith offers exciting opportunities for a modern purpose-built premises and is
the focus of lots of exciting development which would enhance and be enhanced by the new Parliament building,’ he said.
An early decision is necessary if the new Parliament is to be fully operational by early 2000. But Liberal Democrat MP Donald Gorrie has warned against rushing the project.
’All the indications show an overwhelming support for Calton Hill,’ he claimed. ’Mr Dewar must consult genuinely with the political parties and the people of Scotland.‘
Report says job seekers get raw deal
ON THE ANNIVERSARY of the introduction of the Job Seeker’s Allowance (ISA), a report on its impact in Scotland has criticised the system and the way it is implemented.
Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) compiled the report on the basis of its work helping those affected by the system, which replaced unemployment benefit and income support on 7 October last year.
It argues that ISA is inflexible, arbitrary, and has caused inequality and difficulties for its clients. The report also raises instances of applicants being wrongly advised by Job Centre staff and treated unfairly.
A CAS spokesman said Citizens Advice Bureaux in Scotland had found themselves offering advice and information to ’a high number of clients who were unable to obtain clear advice from the Job Centre’.
’Throughout the lifespan of the benefit, Citizens Advice Bureaux have advised clients who have been given inappropriate advice and inaccurate information,’ a spokesman added.
The report particularly highlights problems faced by under-25$ who receive lower payments, those who are too ill to claim JSA, but not ill enough to qualify for incapacity benefit, students who take a year out for medical or financial reasons and elderly clients near retirement age who are still expected to be actively seeking work.
Chairman of CAS John Crotch said: ’It is essential that an urgent assessment of this benefit is made, to ensure that those who are unemployed are not unfairly penalised.’
A spokesman for the Department of Social Security in Scotland said it had not seen the report. ’Unfortunately, we have not received a copy of the report and are unable to comment,’ he said. (Stephen Naysmith)
"IIEIJST 10 Oct-23 Oct 1997
Success means In The City will return
THE IN THE CITY music event which was held for the first time in Glasgow this year will return north of the border, after being hailed as a resounding success.
With Scottish bands scoring significant successes in the unsigned band contest, and the organisers delighted with the reception they received at the event in Glasgow, it seems likely the event will return regularly to Scotland.
’There is no doubt we will come back — this was the biggest and best yet, which was down to Glasgow,’ said Tony Wilson, a director of In The City.
There were few hitches, although some delegates complained that schmoozing in the Hilton hotel was cut short by doormen, who refused entry to anyone arriving after 12.30am at night. 'They were being a bit jobsworth, which made it difficult for us,’ Wilson admitted. ’It was just a communication breakdown.’ However he praised the
hotel's conference and banqueting facilities.
The unsigned bands competition was won by lowdown scuzzy hip hop group Tam, originally from West Lothian. Tam Coyle, promoter and manager of local bands, including The Starlets, said. the event been 'brilliant’ for local bands. ’Compare the time and expense involved in hiring a van to put on a showcase in London for four men and a dog, with this - where young unsigned Glasgow bands get to be seen by the whole A&R community,‘ he enthused.
The event had a direct impact for Edinburgh-based outfit Annie Christian. The week before they played, the band were signed to new imprint Equrpe Ecosse, part of Richard Branson’s V2 label.
Ronnie Gurr, managing director of Equipe Ecosse, who previously signed Kula Shaker to Sony Records and The Stereophonics to V2, explained: ’We
Tam: ‘scuzzy' winners
wanted to make sure they were signed before the world of A&R men saw them. We did the deal in nine days, the quickest deal I've ever done.’ (Stephen Naysmith)
Edinburgh braced for Commonwealth meeting
Edinburgh is preparing to host the Commonwealth Heads Of Government conference (CHOGM) later this month, which will entail a massive security operation as well as a host of public events.
The meeting is the largest moving conference held anywhere in the world and on previous visits to the UK has never been held outside London. Running 24-27 October, it will see 51 heads of state visiting the city, including Nelson Mandela, along with more than 2000 representatives of the international media.
While the conference is closed to the public, organisers are stressing the variety of satellite events, from the Commonwealth gala concert at the Queen's Hall, to an exhibition of new work by the photographer Sebastiao Selgado and even a Scotland vs the Commonwealth basketball challenge.
’We wanted to make sure the people of Edinburgh got something back,’ said a spokeswoman for Edinburgh City
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Police: aerial team will watch from the skies
Council, who are working with the Government's Foreign and Commonwealth Office to help ensure the event's success.
Other partners in planning the conference include Lothian and Borders Police, the Scottish Tourist Board and local businesses. For the police, the
event is being seen as an important test of their ability to deal with the kind of security that will be increasingly necessary once the new Scottish parliament is established in Edinburgh.
There will be 1800 police officers on the streets each day of the conference — compared with the usual figure of 50—60.
Manpower has been boosted by the biggest mobilisation of volunteer special constables in Scotland since World War II. Lothian and Borders police have also trained a team of air observers, who will monitor events from a surveillance helicopter and an airship on loan from millionaire businessman Richard Branson.
Letterboxes will be sealed off, and many roads in the vicinity of the EICC will be closed for the duration of the conference. (Stephen Naysmith)
I Events /istings will appear in the next issue of The List. Details of road closures are available from a police helpline, now open on 0131 31 l 3502.