Type-31 Frigate Key to U.K. Royal Navy’s Growth – USNI news

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Steel for the U.K. Royal Navy’s first new Type 31 frigate was cut on Sept. 24, raising hopes that the service may secure a larger fleet of frontline warships in the long term.

With the fall in the total number of in-service frigates and destroyers in the Royal Navy, the service is expected to reach a record low of 16 to 17 hulls by the mid-late 2020s. The five Type 31 ‘Inspiration-class’ frigates are part of the drive to push the total back to more than 19.

The first ship, to be named HMS Venturer, is due to launch by 2023, with the next four on a drumbeat of one per year starting in 2024. Deliveries of all five ships are expected to be completed by 2028. Prime contractor Babcock is building the ships at its facility in Rosyth, Scotland.

During the steel cutting event, Second Sea Lord Vice Adm. Nick Hine tweeted optimistically: “They said we couldn’t do it – together with Babcock, conceived as part of the National Shipbuilding Strategy, contracted in 2019, steel cut in 2021 and all 5 delivered in under a decade.”

Given that most defense procurement programs experience some kind of cost increase and schedule delay, the projected timeline may not come to fruition. However, the Type 31 has made good progress in the last two years given the troubled start of the project – it failed its first attempt in July 2018, when no bidders could meet the $336 million unit price.

The Type 31 was conceived in the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) once the U.K. Ministry of Defence realized it could not afford to replace all 13 of its Type 23 Duke-class frigates with the new specialist anti-submarine warfare Type 26 City-class. Instead, it split the buy and only ordered eight Type 26 ships, with the five Type 31 designated as general purpose frigates.

The National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS) that Hine referred to is the U.K. MoD’s attempt to move away from relying on a single naval construction company in BAE Systems. BAE Systems is building the Type 26 and has delivered most of the Royal Navy’s existing inventory, but the increasing cost of the Type 26 and the earlier Type 45 Daring-class destroyer led the MoD to try and diversify the industrial base.

The £1.25 billion contract with Babcock for the Type 31 was awarded in November 2019. The contract still has a unit price of $336 million, but with the more costly equipment requirements removed. The actual price per ship is likely to be much higher.

SNP: Gaming The System – Mark Irvine (blog)

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Mhairi Hunter and Jennifer Layden are both senior councillors in Glasgow whose roles are regarded as a full-time commitment because of their additional responsibilities over a backbench councillor who is paid at two-thirds of the full time rate.

The full-time rate can vary depending on the nature of the role and according to Glasgow’s Register of Interests Jennifer is paid a salary of £35,000 while Mhairi receives £26,000 – around £15 and £20 an hour respectively.

Yet both SNP councillors have other paid jobs – Jennifer works in Humza Yousaf’s office having previously enjoyed a similar role in Margaret Ferrier; while Mhairi has a role in none other than Nicola Sturgeon’s office and a separate paid commitment as a member of Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board.

Now I have no problem with councillors being properly remunerated – I was a member of the independent (SLARC) committee which recommended a new salary structure for elected councillors in Scotland in 2006.

Yet the SLARC regime is now being abused because no one has been scrutinising the system since the former SNP finance minister, Derek Mackay – who resigned in disgrace of course, decided that independent oversight was no longer necessary and that the SLARC committee should be disbanded.

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Scotland ‘needs to stop peat-burning to reach net zero by 2045’ – STV news

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Scotland needs to urgently halt nearly all peat-burning or risk failing to meet its ambition of net zero by 2045, a report has indicated.

Current “muirburn” practices, the controlled burning of vegetation in moorland areas, typically to promote new growth, are “incompatible” with the Scottish Government’s climate ambitions, said the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Scotland (RSPB).

The conservation charity said peatlands are key centres of carbon storage and when burned can rapidly release stored carbon, whereas healthy wet peatlands continually store the atmosphere-damaging element.

Peatland is estimated to cover nearly a quarter of Scotland, and last year the Scottish Government announced £250m over 10 years for restoring peatlands, with a target of restoring 250,000 hectares of degraded peatland by 2030.

Nearly 200 Scottish care homes took in mainly untested patients – BBC news

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In the early days of the pandemic more than half of elderly hospital patients discharged to nearly 200 Scottish care homes had not been tested for Covid.

Data obtained by the BBC from Public Health Scotland (PHS) provides the clearest picture yet on which homes took in untested and positive patients.

A lawyer acting for bereaved families at an upcoming inquiry called the data “explosive evidence”.

Aamer Anwar claimed it was proof that people’s lives had been put at risk.

The figures, which were released 11 months after BBC Scotland had asked for them, focus on hospital discharges between March and May 2020 – which was the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The PHS data, released under freedom of information laws, appears in this interactive dashboard and shows every hospital discharge by individual care home in Scotland.

It reveals what proportion of people discharged were untested or positive and what proportion of beds might have been occupied by discharged patients.

Although the data cannot be used to link discharges to outbreaks or deaths in any given home, solicitor Mr Anwar believed it proved that lives had been put at risk.

He is acting on behalf of members of Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice and told BBC Scotland: “The data supports what many bereaved families have always suspected, that elderly patients were discharged without any regard for a duty of care owed to them, or to residents and care home staff.

“Many of the grieving families I represent describe what took place in our care homes as a massacre that could have been avoided, had a simple test taken place prior to discharge.

“The data makes for explosive evidence for a pending Scottish Covid-19 Public Inquiry.”

Glasgow named among most dangerous cities in Europe in new poll – Glasgow Live

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The city joined the likes of Donetsk (Ukraine), Kyzyl (Russia), Mitrovica (Kosovo) and Marseille on the list, which noted how the murder rate in Glasgow accounted for 19% of all homicide cases in Scotland between 2019 and 2020.

Glasgow has been named among the most dangerous cities in Europe in a new poll.

Scotland’s biggest city came in at number 10 in the list, published by Toronto-based bilingual digital media website Que Pasa, which has over 100,000 followers on Facebook and 60,000 on Instagram.

Joining Glasgow on the list is Donetsk (Ukraine), Tbilisi (Georgia), Kyzyl (Russia), Sofia, Tallin, Grozny (Russia), Mitrovica (Kosovo), Bradford and Marseille – which is regarded by the website as the most dangerous city on the continent.

Introducing the list, the website wrote: “Smuggling and street crimes, such as robberies, are some of the problems that plague the cities of Europe, affecting the prosperity of companies and the community in general.

“In terms of homicide rates, European cities may be safer compared to those in the United States, however, some of them face public order problems that directly affect the economy, ranking as very harmful and unsafe cities to live in. and even to visit.”

And in naming Glasgow in 10th place, they noted: “The murder rate in Glasgow accounts for 19% of all homicide cases in Scotland. The murder rate stands at 5.1 per 100,000 people, which is the highest in Scotland and by extension one of the highest in Europe.

“In Glasgow crime figures are still too high relative to other cities, which is a shame, because Glasgow is a port city in Scotland known for its incredible architecture.”

The most recent homicide statistics released by the Scottish Government back in October last year confirmed that Glasgow City had the highest number of homicide cases (12) in 2019-20,, representing 19% of the Scottish total.

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ScotRail ticket offices under threat to help fund staff pay increase – The Scotsman

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Some ScotRail ticket offices could be closed or downgraded to help fund a pay rise for its 5,300 staff, The Scotsman has learned.

Other options believed to be being considered are cutting catering on trains, which has only been partially reinstated after being suspended due to the Covid pandemic.

They come as ScotRail’s four unions today rejected a 2.2 per cent increase tied to efficiency savings.

The Rail Maritime and Transport union (RMT) announced a strike ballot over pay on Wednesday.

Engineers in the Unite union started industrial action last Friday.

There was speculation that ticket offices under threat of closure could include Burntisland, Kinghorn and Cowdenbeath in Fife and Easterhouse in Glasgow.

Others could see their opening hours reduced, but staff would be redeployed as ScotRail has a no compulsory redundancies policy.

An industry source said ScotRail’s ticket offices had not been reviewed for at least 15 years and some were very little used.

They said the number of closures might be “very small”, perhaps as few as three.

In a report published in August, Professor Iain Docherty of the University of Stirling, the country’s leading transport academic, questioned “whether legacy business activities such as the provision of ticket offices is viable in future”.

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Why is the SNP gagging charities? – The Spectator

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The SNP handles criticism as well as the Incredible Hulk handles irritation. It’s why the party’s own parliamentarians are banned from making critical comments. The Nationalists are an independence-first organisation and rely on two important psychological tools. The first is projecting Nicola Sturgeon as the ‘Chief Mammy’ (her own term; ‘mammy’ being Scottish slang for ‘mother’), a national figure more akin to the Queen than the Prime Minister. The second is framing any institutional or organisational dissent not as standard, democratic debate (in the way that businesses, unions and charities routinely take the UK Government to task) but as something more controversial, political — even unpatriotic.

As such, it is entirely unremarkable to Scottish eyes to read that charities funded by the SNP government in Edinburgh are being made subject to a ‘gagging clause’. Readers living in normal countries, however, might think the situation revealed in the Scottish edition of the Times not wholly ideal. The paper relays that charities, including Shelter Scotland and Victim Support Scotland, ‘are being silenced by ‘gagging orders’ that prevent them from criticising SNP policies or backing rival campaigns as part of contracts to receive state funding’. The letter received by Victim Support reportedly includes the line:

‘No part of the grant shall be used to fund any activity or material which is party political in intention, use, or presentation or appears to be designed to affect support for a political party.’

The opposition believes the non-political clause will prevent or discourage charities from supporting draft legislation put forward by the Tories, Labour, or any backbencher who doesn’t belong to the SNP or the Greens, the two parties who rule Scotland in a nationalist coalition. Scottish Tory chief whip Stephen Kerr said it appeared the administration was ‘handcuffing charities and third-sector groups on the sly by preventing them from backing bills or campaigns by anyone other than the government’.

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