A fire was discovered this morning in Hazelbank Terrace and Lothian and Borders Fire Service had more than 40 firefighters deployed to the scene earlier today. We have a report here.
Scotland’s Football Team are congratulated by STV Local for winning the World Cup – that is the Homeless World Cup. Pity our regular teams cannot do just as well!
The Mela Festival is on this weekend in Edinburgh, just one of the things that we will be highlighting in our Guide to what’s on in September which will be published tomorrow.
And so a timely announcement from University of Edinburgh that they are instituting a chair of Contemporary Indian Studies.
Interesting article in the New Scientist about Edinburgh Zoo today, where the humans are in the pens…yes all part of a Fringe show. Yet another one which in the thick of so much other news in Edinburgh, has passed The Reporter by.
The competition, which runs from 31 August until 14 October has a theme of ‘Forests and trees’ reflecting that 2011 has been declared International Year of Forests by the United Nations.
The aim is to encourage entries looking at the importance of trees and woodlands to our local environment. Entrants are asked to think about what trees and forests provide us with. They can write in prose or poetry,about a tree at the bottom of their garden, some woodland in a nearby park or rainforests they have seen or read about.
Participation is invited through local libraries, schools and the Council website www.edinburgh.gov.uk/greenpencilaward where more can information is available.
Over 1,000 entries were received in 2010 with last year’s overall winner, Owen Richards from St Mary’s RC Primary School, winning the prestigious Green Pencil Award Trophy for his entry ‘The City is Wild’.
In addition to the trophy there are various prizes for the winner and their class mates / friends at the awards evening on Friday 25 November 2011 at the Central Reference Library on George IV Bridge.
The main supporters for 2011 are: The Scottish Book Trust, The Scottish Poetry Library, UNESCO City of Literature, The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, Countryside Ranger Service and Forestry Commission Scotland.
Helping launch the 2011 competition, Ron Butlin, Edinburgh Makar (Poet Laureate) said: ‘Youth and creativity are a quite unbeatable combination. Green Pencil is a really marvellous project, and an important one - for the future of us all.’
Councillor Deidre Brock, Culture and Leisure Convener for The City of Edinburgh Council said: ‘The competition presents a wonderful opportunity for our young people to demonstrate their creative writing skills and to show how much they know and care about protecting their environment. I look forward to seeing another excellent range of entries from children throughout the city.’
The £2.6m refurbishment of the city’s Kings Theatre took an important step forward today with the appointment of the main contractor, H&J Martin Ltd.
The main contract, covering the first two phases of a three-phase investment into the building, was awarded following a formal procurement process during which five contractors were shortlisted and invited to submit tenders.
Phase one, consisting of external stone and roof repairs, will begin in mid-September and is expected to take nine months. It has been scheduled to minimise any disruption to the existing events programme between October 2011 and January 2012, including the period when the Christmas Pantomime is on.
Once the Pantomime has finished its run, the building will close to allow phase two to be carried out. These internal works, such as improved disabled access, better ventilation, decorative improvements and a new box office will all enhance the theatre-goer’s experience from June 2012 – the scheduled date for reopening.
Councillor Deidre Brock, Culture Leader for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “This essential investment will ensure that audiences of all ages can continue to enjoy the shows at our much-loved theatre, from its spectacular annual pantomime and amateur productions through to superb Edinburgh International Festival performances, for many more years to come.”
Pat Weller, CEO of Festival City Theatres Trust, added: “As the ‘Old Lady of Leven Street’ approaches her 105th anniversary, we are grateful that the City of Edinburgh Council and Historic Scotland are funding a programme of works which will allow us to offer customers a more comfortable experience.”
The third and final phase, to renew the seating within the stalls, is subject to a separate tendering process, which is currently underway. It is anticipated that these works will take place during the final month of the refurbishment.
A fire broke out early today in Hazelbank Terrace in a row of colonies in the Shandon area of the city. When The Reporter arrived the smell of smoke was thick in the air and Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service were still on the scene, along with Lothian and Borders Police. Traffic was being diverted away from the Shandon Place and Slateford Road junction.
More than 40 firefighters have been battling the large scale fire in the row of terraced properties since the early hours.
Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service were alerted to the blaze at 37 Hazelbank Terrace in the Shandon area of the city at 5.20am. On arrival they found a ground floor flat well alight with the fire spreading to neighbouring properties.
Six pumping appliances and a height appliance were mobilised to the scene with supporting command and specialist vehicles also in attendance.
The blaze quickly spread into the roof space of the two storey houses as ten firefighters wearing breathing apparatus and using three lines of hose fought to get the fire under control.
By 7.30am, three properties in the row of colony houses were affected and the roof of one of the buildings had collapsed, partial roof collapses were also reported in the two other affected houses.
A spokeswoman for Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service said: “Firefighters have been working very hard in challenging conditions to bring this large scale fire under control. There are no reports of casualties at this stage. The fire spread into the roof space and we have seen the roof collapse in one property and a partial collapse in two others houses affected by the fire. The damage to all three properties is significant. We expect to be at the scene for some time and would advise people to avoid the immediate area whilst firefighting operations continue.”
A new multimedia campaign launched this week is aiming to tackle a shortage of foster carers in Edinburgh. Carers from all backgrounds are needed but The City of Edinburgh Council wants to double the number of foster carers from black and minority ethnic backgrounds (BME).
There are very few BME carers in Edinburgh and the aim is to try and increase numbers so that children from different cultural, religious and ethnic groups can live with foster carers who share similar backgrounds. Matching children with carers from the same background isn’t always essential but, in some cases, it can help a child to cope with their situation.
City Children & Families Leader Councillor Marilyne MacLaren said:-
“We need people from varied backgrounds and different walks of life to become foster carers. It’s important that this crucial service reflects the cultural make-up of our city and that children who need care get the care that best suits them.
“Our foster care team work extremely hard to encourage potential carers and our campaign highlights the impact that their support can have on a child’s life. It’s a very special role and a foster family can help towards a happy future.”
Information events will take place during the Edinburgh MELA this weekend and at McDonald Road Library on Thursday 1st September and 8th September from 10am to 1pm.
The BME recruitment campaign is part of a wider ongoing campaign to promote foster care in Edinburgh called ‘Foster Me Foster Us’. There continues to be a severe shortage of foster carers in Edinburgh and more carers are needed to provide children with safe and caring homes while they are unable to live with their own families.
Planned works due to start across the tram route in September have been put on hold following last week’s Council decision to implement the first phase from the airport to Haymarket.
This includes the planned remedial programme for Princes Street which was due to start this weekend. The Council reports that a decision on this package of works has been delayed for one week.
This means that the traffic diversion planned for this Saturday will not go ahead. However, there will be a diversion implemented on Sunday morning to accommodate the Festival Fireworks that evening. This will be for a period of around two hours in the morning and then a further three hours in the evening.
The Scottish Government announced today that:-
“Her Majesty the Queen has been pleased to approve the appointment of 10 new Queen’s Counsel, on the recommendation of First Minister Alex Salmond.
Seven of the appointees are members of the Faculty of Advocates. They are Eugene Creally, Keith Douglas Stewart, Simon Geoffrey Collins, Kenneth John Campbell, Mark Stanley Hunter Lindsay, Lorna Allison Drummond and John Robert Anderson Hamilton.
Also appointed are Sir Angus Grossart and Sheriff William Dunlop, who are former members of the Faculty of Advocates, and John Dominic Scott who is a Solicitor Advocate.
Each individual was nominated by the Rt Hon Lord Hamilton, the Lord Justice General. With the agreement of Lord Hamilton, John Neilson QPM acted as an observer of the process and provided the First Minster with a separate report on his findings.
The rank of Queen’s Counsel is generally reserved for those who have distinguished themselves in practice in the Supreme Courts. Advocates and Solicitors with Rights of Audience in the Supreme Courts are eligible to apply to the Lord Justice General, Scotland’s senior judge. Before making recommendations, the Lord Justice General consults other judges, the Lord Advocate, the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates and the President of the Law Society of Scotland.
On this occasion the Lord Justice General recommended Sir Angus Grossart to be awarded an Honorary QC and that Sheriff William Dunlop, currently a serving Sheriff, be appointed to the rank of QC.
The Honorary QC rank is made to individuals who have distinguished themselves in public life and this honour has previously been bestowed on Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the Earl of Selkirk and the late John Smith. There is also a precedent in relation to the appointment of a servicing member of the judiciary.”
Ministers are now of the view that this represents a fundamental change to the basis on which the Scottish Government originally agreed to contribute up to £500 million.
Finance Secretary John Swinney said:
“The Government had the obligation to give the tram project a further £72 million. Ministers have made clear to the City of Edinburgh Council today that in light of the council’s decision last Thursday, which takes the project far, far away from the original concept that ministers committed funding towards, that we’re not prepared to make that money available.
“It’s time for the council to think long and hard about where it’s going with this project. What’s clear is the Government will not be funding a project that just goes to Haymarket. It is now down to the council to come forward with new proposals, which will be considered on their merits.”
Read the letter issued to the City of Edinburgh Council by Transport Scotland.
Tramadrama is back on the agenda this Friday at the City Chambers. Somehow the administration has found a reason to bring the trams back to the table, notwithstanding that this is an extremely rare, perhaps unique, move. It is usual that decisions made at full council are not revisited for 12 months unless there are special circumstances. So the legal team at the council must have been working all weekend to work out why, and how, to bring this back for more consideration by the councillors.
We will be at the meeting on Friday and will bring you a blow by blow account in the form of a Liveblog.
The council’s Finance and Resources Committee meets this morning to discuss plans to revamp the style of working among council staff and much more.
The Forest Cafe fights on to stay in its premises on Bristo Place, even though it seemed that all that could have been done had been done. STV Local has the story on the fight by volunteers to retain the community arts centre for the future, perhaps by raising mortgage funding.
A play written by Scottish writer Alasdair Gray was performed at the Book Festival last night to close the proceedings for 2011. AL Kennedy and Ian Rankin were among those who took part according to the Press Association. So all we have now is the official festival and then the fireworks on Sunday evening…..
And in the spirit of looking forward, we move to Hogmanay, when we are told that Primal Scream will headline the events in Princes Street Gardens. We are interested to see that the festivities will centre on the gardens again – what about the permanent seating structure at the Castle? Is that not going to be used at all?
Edinburgh Council has today given notice of a special meeting of the Council which has been called by the Lord Provost, to be held on Friday 2 September at 10.00am. The meeting is to discuss the funding arrangements for the Edinburgh Tram Project to enable Council officers to implement the arrangements required by the Council decision of 25 August 2011.
The Council is currently legally committed to a contract to build the tram line to Newhaven and negotiations have been ongoing since mediation to amend the contract to deliver a truncated line as far as St. Andrew Square, as approved by Council on 30 June 2011.
The Council Chief Executive has met with senior representatives of Bilfinger Berger UK (Civil) and Siemens. On behalf of the consortium they have acknowledged the Council’s position as a result of last week’s decision and advised that they will respond to the Council formally before the 31 August deadline which was agreed by all parties at mediation.
The Council has also noted the public statement by the Scottish Government of its intention to review the business case for the shortened route to Haymarket and to consider its position with regard to the outstanding balance of £59.5m currently payable under the Council’s grant agreement with Transport Scotland and which is also due for renewal.