Why the SNP must stop hoarding power in Edinburgh – The New Statesman

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As Glasgow prepares to host global leaders at COP26, the eyes of the world are turning towards the city for the first time since the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

The pressure is on, and Susan Aitken, the SNP council leader since 2017, is bearing the brunt of complaints about what critics say are dirty streets, the many gap sites and the authority’s troubled relationship with trade unions. In a recent, excruciating television interview, she was repeatedly challenged to admit the streets were “filthy”, finally admitting the place could do with a “spruce up”.

For the past year, as November’s COP26 summit has drawn nearer, Aitken has occupied an elevated status among her fellow regional and urban leaders. She has addressed the World Bank, formed close relationships with the mayors and administrations of many of the world’s great cities, and worked closely with England’s directly-elected mayors such as Andy Burnham and Sadiq Khan. She has also held discussions with private investors, and would like the UK government to stand behind the multi-billion-pound borrowing Glasgow and others need to renew their municipal fabric and create green infrastructure. She sees COP26 as an unmissable opportunity to accelerate the city’s economic resurgence and improve its global profile.

Aitken admits Glasgow isn’t what it could be. Covid, economic challenges, and strained relationships with the unions have all had an impact. And in important ways her hands are tied, not by international institutions or the UK government, but by Nicola Sturgeon. It’s generally accepted that Scottish local government is among the most circumscribed in Europe. Devolution to Holyrood has not been accompanied by devolution from Holyrood, where instead the SNP administration has overseen centralisation of power to Edinburgh.

A council’s ability to raise funds is greatly restricted. Scottish council taxes have been frozen then capped by successive SNP governments, while non-domestic rates are set centrally, collected locally, sent back to the centre then redistributed. Local authorities face criticisms from local people for challenges and cuts they have little power to address.

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The ‘unhackable’ phones given to prisoners by Scottish Government – which were hacked to buy drugs – ITV news

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So-called ‘unhackable’ mobile phones given to prisoners in Scotland during lockdown by the Scottish Government at a cost of £3 million are now being used for drug deals and other criminal activity, ITV News has learned.

During lockdown when prison visits were restricted, 7,600 inmates in Scotland were issued with their own mobile phone by the Scottish government.

But these supposedly tamper-proof phones were almost immediately hacked by inmates, and, according to the Scottish Prison Service, 728 have been found since August 2020 to operate with illegal SIM cards, used for drug deals and other criminal activity.

ITV News has been given exclusive access to Scotland’s largest prison, Barlinnie, where addiction is described as “worse than ever before.”

John McTavish, Prison Officer at HMP Barlinnie told ITV News: “You give a prisoner a phone, and they’re very, very ingenious. If they put their mind to something, they can do anything at all. Within hours, the tamper proof was gone.”

The prison officier estimates about a third of phones have been tampered with.

“I checked the phones in one of the halls here in March time, and of the 300 prisoners that were there, it was probably about 100 phones tampered with altogether.”The drugs bought with these phones are often simply thrown over the prison walls, but inmates are finding ever more complex and covert methods to smuggle in drugs, including legal letters soaked in drugs that the prisoner then dissolves in water and drinks.

Glasgow is filthy and kids are begging on the streets. A good look for the SNP before COP26

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MOST folk think those phoney street fronts in old Western movies were just a ruse thought up by Hollywood set designers to fool punters in the cheap seats. In fact, what’s known as “western false front architecture” has its roots in real life.

Historians of the Old West say that when pioneers built settlements, and the first local dignitaries arrived, they’d erect a fake town to “project an image of stability and success”.

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Revealed: ‘Shocking’ carbon footprint of COP26 venues – The Scotsman

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Two flagship venues hosting the upcoming COP26 climate change summit have received the second lowest possible rating for energy efficiency, with work yet to commence on a raft of legally binding improvements issued by assessors in order to reduce CO2 emissions.

The SEC Armadillo in Glasgow has been graded F by inspectors, who said its owners should consider installing renewable energy sources as well as new insulation and lighting in order to curb its carbon footprint.

The SEC Centre, the sprawling conference venue which will form the epicentre of negotiations, also has an energy performance certificate (EPC) rating of F. Assessors told its owners in 2012 they should consider investigating the use of low and zero carbon technologies.

Nine years on, neither it nor any of the other SEC properties have renewable energy sources installed. Cumulatively, the venues, chosen by the UK government for the summit, along with Glasgow Science Centre, are pumping around 6,659 tonnes of CO2 a year into the atmosphere.

For more news on the environment, click here: https://www.scotlandmatters.co.uk/environment-matters-2/

Glasgow and Lanarkshire worst Covid hotspots in Europe – STV news

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Glasgow and Lanarkshire are the two worse hit corona hotspots in Europe, according to the World Health Organisation.

The rate of Covid-19 cases per person in the two Scottish regions are significantly higher than elsewhere in the country, the United Kingdom and the continent.

Lanarkshire’s seven-day rate of cases per 100,000 people was more than 1111, with Glasgow’s higher than 1014.

The regions with the next worst levels of Covid-19 are Kosovo and Israel with rates of 734 and 718 respectively.

Is this the worst council leader in Britain? – The Spectator

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asgow: the second city of the Empire, onetime shipbuilding capital of the world, home of Adam Smith, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and John Logie Baird. But for a great metropolis which gave us television, ultrasound and Alex Ferguson’s football genius, the city’s leadership has all too often failed to live up to its illustrious past.

The council’s current leader Susan Aitken is a perfect case in point. Swept to power in 2017 on the SNP tidal wave that engulfed Labour’s last bastions, Aitken’s four-year reign has been characterised by arrogance, incompetence and mismanagement. Such follies were perfectly encapsulated last month by the city’s waste crisis in the wake of bin collection cuts and bulk uplift charges, which left giant dead rats floating in bins and rubbish piling high in streets.

After GMB general secretary Gary Smith warned that Glasgow is ‘crumbling’ and ‘filthy’ ahead of November’s COP26 summit, Aitken likened such criticisms of Glasgow’s dirty streets to the ‘far right’. Asked about whether she was ’embarrassed’ by the state of her city she replied:

I’m not embarrassed, I’m more angered people are using that kind of language for political purposes. There’s a real echo of the language that some far-right organisations have used about Govanhill for a long time. It’s the same kind of words. It’s a scapegoating and a targeting of Glasgow.

Unsurprisingly Smith was not too pleased about being compared to fascistic goons and responded by calling the embattled leader ‘desperate and disgraceful.’ But it’s not just on bins where Aitken has failed: cuts mean the city’s libraries have remained closed since March 2020 with nine still awaiting a reopening date owing to the city’s dire finances – despite her party leader’s professed love of reading and books.

Shocking footage of rotting waste at illegal Glasgow dump site as fly-tipping branded ‘horrendous’ – The Scotsman

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Piles of trash, including countless household items such as fridges, washing machines, baths and toilets, as well as doors, windows, furniture, building rubble and bin bags, can be seen strewn across the ground beneath the M8 in the Blochairn area of the city.

Organised crime gangs are thought to be behind systematic illegal dumping at the site, near Alexandra Park.

Glasgow ‘in no fit state’ to host COP26, claim councillors – STV news

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Scotland’s shocking drug deaths rate is FIVE times worse than England & Wales – The Sun

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Revealed: MSPs kept silent on human rights abuses while seeking £1.3bn for new hospitals and motorways from Qatar – Daily Record

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