Ayr residents hit out at ‘harrowing’ living conditions in flats they want ‘knocked down’ – Daily Record

An Ayrshire community is in turmoil with furious residents saying they have been forgotten.

Wallacetown in Ayr has been plagued with problems for years with those who stay there calling for urgent action.

Now community leaders have issued a damning statement of “harrowing” and “intolerable” living conditions, as they call for the flats, known locally as White City, to be flattened.

Chair of Fort Seafield Wallacetown Community Council Norman McLean has called for urgent investment and resources to be ploughed into dealing with “chronic” issues.

It comes after we told of horror flats within the community, with residents at a block on MacAdam Square having to deal with horrendous scenes of drug use at their front door.

But Norman has accused South Ayrshire Council of turning a blind eye to “rampant” drug abuse and anti-social behaviour.

The community councillor told Ayrshire Live: “It is reported in the national press that Wallacetown is one of the most deprived areas in Scotland.

“Drug abuse and anti-social behaviour are rampant and require a continuation of multi-service action as an immediate priority, prior to substantial investment being made in the entire area. The general environment created by poor maintenance and lack of investment makes the above behaviour inevitable.

“The chronic issues appear to have been side-stepped by officials and the administration for years in that there has been no material improvement that is in any way apparent.”

In February 2020, Wallacetown was regarded as the 22nd most deprived area in Scotland which was revealed by The Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation.

Norman feels council chiefs should prioritise Wallacetown to ensure it is liveable for tenants.

He added: “The council should use the same zeal to address the Wallacetown issues. This misdirection of resources must be challenged as it cannot be right.”

Resident of Wallacetown and community councillor Alison Logan stays in a block of flats on MacAdam Place.

In the four years she has stayed there, the 54-year-old has dealt with having no buzzer or secured entry to her flat.

Scottish independence isn’t like Brexit. It would be a real disaster – The Spectator

A sure sign of paying too much attention to politics is when the arguments of your own side begin to grate as much as those of the opposition. Currently number one in my personal sources of ennui is the frequent damning of the SNP by comparing them to Brexiteers, with their claims of self-determination, demonisation of the ‘other place’ (Westminster/Brussels, delete as appropriate), a certain unwillingness to face hard facts, and a tendency to be slightly economical with the actualité. And, of course, there is more than a grain of truth to the accusation.

Understandably, the SNP would reject the suggestion. After all, it is only the rank injustice of Brexit which has converted Nicola Sturgeon, a member of the SNP for 35 years, to the cause of Scottish independence.

But just because it winds up the cybernats doesn’t mean that it’s helpful to the Unionist cause. For one thing, it immediately validates the SNP grudge. It tells them their grievance is justified. Once you start down the path of ‘We can all agree that Brexit is terrible…’ you inevitably provoke people into working out ways to escape Brexit. The fact that the commentator class in both Scotland and England leaned heavily Remain is highly relevant here. Many of them really can’t think of a worse insult to attach to a political campaign than to compare it to Vote Leave. But that’s not a universal sentiment, not even in Scotland.

For one thing, 38 per cent of the Scottish electorate voted to Leave, including a third of SNP supporters. Why ignore or insult them? Also, while Brexit has proved problematic for specific industries and regions of the UK, on the whole it hasn’t been a total disaster. For most people, things have remained much the same. By inviting people to compare Scottish independence to Brexit, even if you suggest it will be worse, you are actually downplaying the impact. The degree of economic and social disruption would be incomparable, far more than just a somewhat larger knock to GDP.

Many observers also regard it as the height of hypocrisy for the likes of Michael Gove and Boris Johnson to argue against Scottish independence. How can they possibly support self-determination for the UK but refuse it to Scotland? It would be understandable if this case was being made by the nationalists, but the unionist cause is hardly going so well that it is free to spurn support from wherever it is offered. However, let’s examine the merits of the argument.

Just because something is good does not mean that more of it is necessarily better. For example, you might think that belonging to the EU is a noble act of pooling sovereignty with others to prevent war and promote harmony among nations. Does that mean that you would also welcome the pooling of sovereignty with Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco in a vastly expanded EU? Or why not just a single world government, where Europeans will have votes proportional to their 10 per cent of the population? You wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of history, would you?

Alternatively, if you favour independence, why not independence for Orkney, Shetland, the Borders, the Kingdom of Strathclyde, Glasgow, or even Sauchiehall Street? Surely you wouldn’t cruelly deny them the right to self-determination? You might regard these as ridiculous propositions but in each of these cases there is a point on a sliding scale that you regard as optimum. Just because you put your preferred point in a slightly different place than other people doesn’t imbue you with some sort of moral superiority.

And so, if a person happened to strongly believe in the United Kingdom as presently constituted, it is perfectly coherent for them to neither want it to be subsumed into a supra-national organisation nor for it to be broken up into its constituent parts. In fact, a Leave/No voting combination is the most authentically pro-British position.

It is also surely less coherent to believe that the UK is in some way special but also that it could be absorbed into the EU project without any degradation of that uniqueness. Here we may get dragged kicking and screaming into a debate about British (or English) ‘exceptionalism’ and its deleterious effects, but if you wish to argue that remaining within the UK is the right course of action for the Scots, then it must be because the UK offers something more than any alternative option. And so logically you must be open to the proposition that the UK is special in a way that, for example, the EU is not.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the UK is an objectively better country than any other, but if the Scots had to choose to remain alongside anyone, it is surely hard to think of two more similar countries than Scotland and England. As James I and VI put it:

Hath not God first united these two kingdoms, both in language, religion, and similitude of manners? Yea, hath He not made us all in one island, compassed with one sea, and of itself by nature so indivisible?

We still share a language, religious observance is similar, and the British Social Attitudes Survey confirms that our ‘similitude of manners‘ is still high, regardless of what the SNP say. To which you might add that we use the same currency, have the same Armed Forces, the same model of health provision, watch the same TV programmes, listen to the same radio, cheer for many of the same athletes, and any number of other similarities, with the deep family ties and history that befit a 314-year-old union.

But the view of the SNP is that somehow Scotland would more comfortably sit in the EU than in the UK? In which case I would challenge anyone to name an EU member state that is more similar to Scotland than England. (For those tempted to identify Ireland, government spending in the UK is 36 per cent of GDP compared to 24 per cent in Ireland and 45 per cent in Scotland; visits to the GP cost €65, and when did you last watch a programme on RTE or tune into the Gaelic football?)

Also, back in the EU, Scotland would wield a mighty one per cent of qualified majority voting rights. Some nationalists like to boast of being able to wield a veto, on a par with Germany and France, which displays nothing more than a brutal misunderstanding of how power is wielded. When Greece was being economically water-boarded and asset-stripped by the Troika, where was its veto? If the Scots feel ignored by Westminster, wait till they’re being ignored by Brussels, Paris and Berlin.

It’s understandable that people are still sore about Brexit. But membership of the EU is such an incomparably trivial matter compared to being an essential part of the United Kingdom. If that is something you believe, maybe it’s time to lay off the Brexiteers?

Poverty, deprivation and drug abuse is legacy of 14 years of SNP rule in Scotland – Daily Express

PEOPLE in Scotland are considerably worse off after 14 years of SNP rule because the SNP is so intent on convincing people of the need for Independence that they have failed to focus on policies that would have made the lives of Scottish people better.

Far from improving the lives of Scots, the SNP reigns over the worst drug death rate in Europe, declining education standards and questions over the disappearance or misuse of hundreds of thousands of pounds. Nicola Sturgeon says she “took her eye off the ball”. That isn’t an excuse, and it isn’t good enough. There should be no greater focus than on improving the lives of the people you represent. It is completely unacceptable that in this day and age we have escalating and out of control levels of poverty and deprivation in Scotland.

In Nicola Sturgeon’s Scotland honest, hardworking people are struggling to get by and many are even having to resort to using food banks to feed their families.

Anyone who saw the long line of people who had to queue, in the snow, during a pandemic, for a food bank in Glasgow will be unlikely to forget the scene.

It is time to act. We must stop accepting the need for food banks; we must stop accepting that older people die in winter because they can’t afford to heat their homes.

We’ve experienced decades of policies that promote the rich getting richer, with the suggestion that perhaps wealth at the top will magically filter down and benefit the rest of society.

The reality of our experience reveals the reverse is true. Rather the rich salt their gains away in offshore tax havens and benefit no-one but themselves. We must reverse those policies and give people at the bottom of the wealth pyramid far greater disposable income.

Through mechanisms, such as Universal Basic Income, and changes to income tax and corporation tax, we can create greater disposable income among a far greater number of people; people who will then spend more on leisure activities, going out, doing up their houses, shopping and many other activities that will help to stimulate the economy and in turn help to circulate wealth more fairly around society.

If Nicola Sturgeon has concentrated on eradicating poverty, we would have seen hugely positive impacts throughout our society.

People would have been able to spend more money on healthier food and sporting activities, which would help to fight our epidemic of obesity and the conditions associated with it.

It might even have had an impact on Scotland’s Covid-related death figures, which are shocking. It might also have started to reverse the decline in life expectancy that Scotland has seen in recent years.

The SNP’s record on education is appalling. Another ball they took their eyes off. If we are to compete on a global stage, we need to ensure we have a well-educated population ready to take advantage of the opportunities that are coming our way thanks to changing technologies.

Standards of educational attainment have been declining and we must end that now before we have completely failed a generation in Scotland.

It is clear that Nicola Sturgeon has ‘taken her eye off the ball’ on the issues that are under the control of the devolved administration and would make a tangible difference to the people of Scotland.

In fact, it seems increasingly clear that the one ‘ball’ she has ‘had her eye’ on is Independence.

Perhaps if Nicola Sturgeon really wanted to convince Scottish voters that they’d be better off in an Independent Scotland under her leadership, she should have taken the opportunity the Scottish voters have given her to show how much better she could have made life for people in Scotland.


SNP accused of letting down patients in most deprived parts of Scotland – Daily Record

The SNP has been accused of letting down patients living in the most deprived parts of Scotland during its 14 years in power at Holyrood.

Research shows Scots living in the least well-off neighbourhoods are more likely to suffer from serious illness and less likely to survive a cancer diagnosis.

The figures, collated by Scotland in Union, highlight 14 measures where Scots in the 20 per cent most deprived areas are affected – one for every year the SNP has been in charge of the NHS.

The pro-union campaign wants Nicola Sturgeon to focus on Scotland’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic after Thursday’s election and to ditch plans for an IndyRef2.

But the SNP accused Scotland in Union of being “shameless” for trying to use long-standing deprivation in some parts of the country as a “political tool”.

People in the fifth Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation quantiles are three times as likely to be admitted for mental health treatment and less likely to be given a free eye test.

Stroke rates and emergency hospital admissions are higher too, while cervical cancer screening is lower in areas of deprivation.

The gulf in healthcare impacts children too, with young people in poverty more likely to experience dental decay, at higher risk of childhood obesity and less likely to receive the HPV vaccine in school.