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

Please click on the image below to read more:

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.

For political news, click the link: https://www.scotlandmatters.co.uk/politics-matters/

SNP official under investigation over ‘threatening phone call’ claim – Daily Record

Please click the image below to read more:

An SNP official is under investigation after claims he made a threatening phone call to a new business owner.

Ian McPherson, a staffer for Westminster MP Allan Dorans, admitted making a “terrible error of judgement” in his call to Ayr painter Craig Hainey.

It followed the opening of Mr Hainey’s new business in Ayr’s North Harbour, to which he had invited Tory MSP Sharon Dowey.

He then claims to have received a call from McPherson asking why Ayr MSP Siobhian Brown had not been asked along instead.

Mr Hainey, who has opened Pro Paints, claims McPherson warned him: “I hope this doesn’t affect your business”.

The SNP worker this week admitted making the call and said he had been “trying to clear up confusion between list MSPs and MSPs”.

For political news, click here: https://www.scotlandmatters.co.uk/politics-matters/

Ambulance bosses blame Covid delays after leaving elderly woman to lie in Ayr town centre for four HOURS – Daily Record

Click the image below to read more:

An elderly woman was left lying on a busy town centre street for more than four hours while she waited for an ambulance.

Horrified members of the public rushed to the lady’s aid on Wednesday after her fall in Ayr’s Newmarket Street.

But despite suffering a head wound, she was forced to wait the entire afternoon for a mercy crew.

Shocked eyewitnesses told how it was left to the public to treat the woman while she endured her marathon wait.

Ayrshire’s emergency services call for end to violence against staff after hundreds assaulted at work – Daily Record

Click the image below to read more:

Ayrshire patients ‘lying in agony’ as health chiefs urged to fix operations ‘log-jam’ – Daily Record

Child poverty rising in every council area, campaigners warn – STV News

Child poverty has risen in every Scottish council area since 2015, even before the impact of the pandemic is considered, campaigners have warned.

The End Child Poverty coalition points to research from Loughborough University which shows estimates of children living in poverty in each local authority have increased.

Child poverty rates for 2019-20 range from 15.8% in the Shetland Islands to 32.2% in Glasgow, though figures were calculated before the onset of coronavirus.

At 24%, Scotland has lower levels of child poverty than England (30%) or Wales (31%).

Holyrood has unanimously passed legislation requiring the Scottish Government to ensure fewer than 18% of children are living in poverty by 2023/24, on course to less than 10% by 2030.

Campaigners say there can be no complacency if these targets are to be met.

Speaking on behalf of the End Child Poverty coalition, John Dickie said: “Solid foundations have been laid in Scotland for future progress on child poverty, not least the introduction of the Scottish Child Payment and an increasing focus on action at local level.

“But this new data is a stark reminder that child poverty was still rising in every part of Scotland, even before the pandemic struck.

“The challenge now is for government at all levels to use every power they have to boost family incomes and reduce the costs that struggling parents face.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “While child poverty levels remain lower than in England and Wales, we are not complacent and are doing all we can to tackle and reduce child poverty in Scotland.

“We are providing support worth about £5000 by the time a child turns six through the Best Start Grant, Best Start Foods and Scottish Child Payment.

“This payment, worth £40 every four weeks, is already reaching thousands of families on low incomes – we are working to deliver it to all eligible children under 16 by the end of 2022 and doubling the value of the payment by the end of this Parliamentary term.

“The 2021-22 Scottish Budget commits further investment to tackle child poverty, including £100 million to support struggling families through new Pandemic Support Payments and £49.75m for expanded free school meal support.

“These statistics highlight that, even before the pandemic began, the challenge of negotiating the UK’s welfare system has left many people in desperate need of help.

“The UK Government must act now to match our action and commit to making permanent the £20 uplift to Universal Credit, and extend this to people on other benefits.”

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.

Arran ferry woes costs island businesses thousands – BBC news

Tourism businesses on Arran have said they are losing tens of thousands of pounds after one of two ferries serving the isle was diverted to another route.

The ferry is being used to support freight services between Stornoway and Ullapool following the breakdown of that route’s Loch Seaforth last month.

Holiday accommodation providers on Arran said the move had led to booking cancellations.

Ferry operator CalMac said it was endeavouring to maintain services.

The Loch Seaforth – the largest and fastest ship in CalMac’s fleet – had to be removed from its route between Stornoway on Lewis and Ullapool in the Highlands because of an engine problem.

It has been undergoing repairs at a yard in Greenock and the work is not expected to be finished until 17 May at the earliest.

CalMac has had to move ferries from other routes to help maintain services to the Western Isles.

This has included using one of Arran’s two regular summer season vessels, leading to a temporary reduction in sailings between Ardrossan in North Ayrshire and Brodick on Arran.

CalMac said it had made extra provision available at the north end of Arran between Lochranza and Claonaig on the Kintyre peninsula in Argyll and Bute.

But Arran businesses bosses said accessing those sailings involved longer journey times, and would not suit visitors planning short stays on the island