Community News

Midlothian MSP hits out at bedroom tax remark at Holyrood

Midlothian Advertiser - Thu, 21/02/2019 - 15:44
Midlothian North MSP Colin Beattie has hit out at Scottish Conservative welfare spokesperson Michelle Ballantyne after she claimed today that the Bedroom Tax did not exist.

Changes to the law will make these 10 things illegal in a relationship

Midlothian Advertiser - Thu, 21/02/2019 - 13:58
New laws on domestic abuse will now make emotional abuse within a relationship illegal.

Sheriffhall news welcomed by Midlothian North MSP

Midlothian Advertiser - Thu, 21/02/2019 - 07:10
Midlothian North MSP Colin Beattie has received an update on the long-awaited Sheriffhall Roundabout plans.

Midlothian Council leader’s anger at SNP

Midlothian Advertiser - Thu, 21/02/2019 - 06:53
The Midlothian Labour Group has called on the SNP to join them in working to address financial problems at the local authority.

MSPs have their say on Midlothian Council budget

Midlothian Advertiser - Thu, 21/02/2019 - 06:49
Local MSPs have had their say on Midlothian Council’s budget for 2019/20, which was approved last week.

Scottish Borders sickness absence costing £3m+ a year

Midlothian View - Wed, 20/02/2019 - 14:37

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Joseph Anderson

Staff absences at Scottish Borders Council are costing the local authority more than £3m a year, new figures reveal.

Over the last three financial years, employees taking sick days have cost the council £9.74m, and last year alone £3.33m was spent on sick leave.

A previous freedom of information request to the council found that Scottish Borders Council loses more than 45,000 days to sickness absence each year, with the most common reason for absence being anxiety, depression, or stress.

In between 2013 and 2017, employees of the council took 45,982 sick days due to mental health issues, an average of 9,196 days a year.

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A spokesperson for SBC said: “The council remains committed to the health, wellbeing and professional development of all our staff and making sure they feel valued, supported and provided with the right environment, training, skills and knowledge to do their job effectively.

“Scottish Borders Council continues to work in partnership with our occupational health provider to support employees who are unwell and to assist staff in staying at work or helping them to return sooner.

“We also have a helpline which is provided by our occupational health provider and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide support and guidance on health issues. An immediate referral is made if an employee is absent from work because of stress or mental health issues.

“Staff with personal/work related stress are supported through the council’s attendance management policy, which recognises the need for a consistent approach to managing absence while also supporting employees. The council offers a range of training opportunities to all staff to aid managing mental health wellbeing.

“It is worth noting that the overall number of days lost to employee sickness has reduced by over 40 per cent in the last five years, while the number of days lost to staff suffering from anxiety, stress, depression and other mental health issues reduced by almost half in the same period.”

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Scottish Borders Council currently employs 4,400 people, meaning each employee takes an average of 10.2 sickness day each year.

According to the Office for National Statistics, an estimated 137.3 million working days were lost due to sickness or injury in the UK in 2016. This is equivalent to 4.3 days per worker.

This means that Scottish Borders Council employees take more than twice as many sickness days as the average UK worker.

Furthermore, the most common reason for sickness absence in the UK is minor illnesses, such as common colds, as opposed to Scottish Borders Council, where the biggest cause of sickness absence, in terms of days lost per year, is mental health problems.

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Categories: Community News

SNP group respond to Labour “finger pointing”

Midlothian View - Wed, 20/02/2019 - 09:08

The Midlothian SNP group have responded to the Labour group article yesterday, Midlothian Labour call on SNP to stop playing games.

“It is highly convenient of Labour to point fingers at anyone but themselves as a distraction tactic to their own austerity max budget – voted through with support of the Tory Provost.”

“Whilst Midlothian was rightly angry about cuts to music tuition, Labour was plotting cuts to anti social behaviour teams, our children’s sports activities, school budgets and cutting jobs.”

“The SNP Group worked hard to find a consensus agreement with the Labour group, despite themselves only having access to the Labour budget on the day of the meeting.”

“This is simply smoke and mirrors to hide the enormous, almost 5% increase to Council Tax that will be falling though letter boxes shortly – a tax hike the SNP Group strongly opposed in the Council Chamber.”

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Categories: Community News

Pastures new for top Midlothian cop

Midlothian Advertiser - Wed, 20/02/2019 - 06:56
Midlothian Local Area Commander Chief Inspector Kenny Simpson has this week left his role to join the Police Scotland National Brexit Team.

Midlothian coach company to pay death damages

Midlothian Advertiser - Wed, 20/02/2019 - 06:42
A widower, whose wife died after she was struck by a tour bus, has been awarded undisclosed damages from a Midlothian coach company.

Conservatives call to scrap tram extension

Midlothian View - Wed, 20/02/2019 - 06:33

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, David Bol

Conservatives are calling for the city council’s tram extension “vanity project” to be scrapped to free up £90m for public services as part of alternative budget proposals.

The Tories’ budget motion, which will be tabled at tomorrow’s full council meeting, includes capping council tax rise at two per cent, saving nursery teachers from the axe and binning the £25 garden waste charge.

The spending proposals include £70m of additional revenue being made available by halting plans to extend the Capital’s tram line to Newhaven. The council’s tram extension business case is based on borrowing, with future ticket sales paying off the debt. But Conservatives say without the extension to pay for, the future ticket sales revenue from the existing tram service can be ploughed into improving public services.

The Conservatives claim that scrapping the tram extension plans would also free up a £20m dividend from Lothian Buses, currently set to help fund the new tram-line, for other public transport investment.

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The SNP-Labour administration is yet to publish its final budget proposals ahead of tomorrow’s meeting.

Conservative group leader, Councillor Iain Whyte, said: “With the council facing financial crisis due to the SNP Government’s budget cuts, the SNP and Labour councillors have fallen into a tail-spin of disagreement, delaying their budget announcement while they continue to fight within their groups and between their parties over where the axe should fall.

“Against that background, we Conservatives have drawn up plans that show how our city could be much better run by concentrating on delivering better core services and cutting out waste.”

He added: “Our budget would limit the council tax increase to two per cent to give a break to hard-working families in the city. It would also make a badly-needed additional fund of £90m available to improve public transport while accelerating the school building programme, all by rejecting the costly tram extension to Newhaven.

“This would deliver better services for residents with new schools not trams, improved care services, staff resource redirected to front-line services and more funding to repair our crumbling roads and pavements.

“Edinburgh deserves so much better than this minority coalition are giving it. They have no strategic plan other than the hugely expensive trams vanity project which they use in an attempt to disguise their failings. If they would rather squabble about minor cuts that’s fine but we want to show how to deliver for our citizens – the people that matter.”

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The Conservatives also propose a £300,000 cull of the most senior managers at the authority in a bid to make savings. The alternative budget plans include a £3m boost for under-pressure health and social care services, Sunday parking charges scrapped and proposed budget cuts to Marketing Edinburgh reduced.

Conservatives finance spokesman, Councillor Graham Hutchison, said: “Last year’s administration’s budget was unrealistic, particularly in health and social care where it failed to deliver £6m of promised savings and given the depth of the cuts coming from the SNP Government, we expect this year to be no different.”

Council leader, Councillor Adam McVey, said: “Today we’ll publish our budget proposals for the city. We’ve worked hard to prioritise inclusive public services and have listened to Edinburgh citizens.

“The overall financial picture is still difficult but by working effectively with partners across Edinburgh we can deliver our programme to share the success of the Capital across our communities. In the coming years I’ll continue to have in depth discussions with partners, citizens and our workforce about how we continue to invest in our ambition for our city and improve core public services.”

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Categories: Community News

New Easthouses Primary School approved on former Newbattle High site

Midlothian Advertiser - Wed, 20/02/2019 - 06:23
Councillors last week agreed to a new primary school on the site of the former Newbattle High School in Easthouses.

Edinburgh council tax rise could pay for homeless accommodation

Midlothian View - Tue, 19/02/2019 - 19:41

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, David Bol

Edinburgh council tax could rise by four per cent next year to funding housing for the Capital’s homeless families as the city’s coalition partners are locked in a “budget deadlock” ahead of Thursday’s crunch meeting.

On Thursday, city councillors will agree the 2019/20 budget – amid having to cut up to £41m from spending plans.

The SNP-Labour coalition is yet to publish final proposals ahead of the meeting, but one partner is calling for plans to increase council tax by four per cent to support homeless families in the Capital.

The Scottish Government has now given councils the power to raise council tax annually by more than the current three per cent cap – but the SNP group at City Chambers has a manifesto commitment to keep the rise to three per

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A council insider has revealed that the Labour group is set to propose raising council tax next year above the previously committed three per cent. The source said a four per cent increase would amount to £1.10 extra per month for a Band D property and will give the authority £2.5m of additional funding.

The proposal would see the funding “ring-fenced for housing projects” – including borrowing additional money to build 160 homes to “get families out of temporary accommodation”.

Another proposal, yet to be signed off by the coalition, is to “protect nursery school teachers” by halting plans to remove qualified staff from early years institutions across the city in a bid to save £350,000.

But the SNP group has rejected the claim that a proposal has been tabled by their coalition partners to raise council tax above three per cent.

A SNP source said: “There was no proposal that came from the Labour group to the SNP to raise council tax to end the the use of temporary accommodation.

“Whoever leaked this is living in a fantasy land and not engaged with the process.”

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Labour group leader Councillor Cammy Day said he was “keen to use the powers we have been given in council tax” and that any increase “may fund essential services for local communities” subject to public consultation.

In West Lothian, the minority Labour administration agreed to hike council tax to the maximum allowed in order to “protect vital local services and minimise job losses”.

Council leader Councillor Adam McVey could not be contacted for comment.

The post Edinburgh council tax rise could pay for homeless accommodation appeared first on Midlothian View.

Categories: Community News

Midlothian Labour call on SNP to stop playing games

Midlothian View - Tue, 19/02/2019 - 18:56

Written by Midlothian Labour

The Midlothian Council Labour Group has called on the SNP Councillors to reject the cynical game playing and join them in working to address Midlothian’s serious financial problems.

Speaking after the Council’s budget meeting last week, Council Leader Derek Milligan said:-

“At Tuesdays Council meeting the Labour Administration proposed a budget that ensured that many of our vital front-line services would be saved, at least for now.

Labour Councillors rejected a number of measures put forward by Management aimed at dealing with the £9.739m budget gap resulting from the lack of fair Government funding, which would have cut vital services and led to many more job losses.

Amongst the measures avoided were:

– stopping Instrumental music tuition and creative arts service
– closure of libraries, closures of Danderhall, Newtongrange and Gorebridge Leisure centres
– stopping Active schools provision
– stopping free swimming lessons for primary 4 pupils
– cuts in ASN learning assistants
– removal of school crossing guides
– removal of Police Community Action Teams
– closure of public toilets
– closure of Penicuik recycling centre
– stopping all supported bus travel and community transport.

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The SNP finance spokesperson, on the other hand, appeared content to play games with people’s services and livelihoods, proposing that a decision be put off for another month to allow talks to take place, when they have failed to engage on this issue before now. Another month of uncertainty for our service users and staff.

She poured scorn on the warnings from officers and the Labour Administration that Midlothian needs to address its serious financial problems, suggesting that they would be pushing to limit the Council tax rise to 3% and that they would re-introduce free music tuition, all of which would have added another £1million to the budget gap.

At the end of the discussion, what did the SNP group do? It voted against the Labour proposals to save all the services mentioned above. Yes that’s right THEY VOTED AGAINST saving services and jobs, despite having posed for the camera just an hour earlier expressing their solidarity with those protesting against the cuts outside the Council chambers.

The SNP group had clearly focussed on closing the budget gap by making the hard-working Council house rent payers pay the bill, robbing the housing account of the money we need to build much needed housing for the 5000 families on our housing list. When that move was ruled incompetent, which they were well warned of, they had nothing left to offer apart from more childish game-playing.

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Midlothian Labour will continue to call the Scottish Government to account for their lack of adequate support for our services and will continue to call for the other SNP councillors in Midlothian, who do care about our people and our services, to join us in the fight to make sure that these cuts are not simply put back on the table next year.

We also have to remember that, while we have avoided some of the cuts to front line services, there are a number of measures we have had to accept that will lead to service reductions and job losses.

We need to put aside our political difference and focus on resolving these issues permanently. We all owe this to our constituents and our County.”

The post Midlothian Labour call on SNP to stop playing games appeared first on Midlothian View.

Categories: Community News

Workplace parking levy could cut air pollution levels

Midlothian View - Tue, 19/02/2019 - 18:54

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, David Bol

Campaigners have called for city councillors to get behind proposals to introduce a workplace parking levy in order to help tackle an “air pollution crisis”.

The Scottish Government has opened the door for proposals for councils to charge employers who allow workers to park at work around £400 a year per space.

Nottingham City Council, the only UK authority to introduce a workplace parking levy, said the policy has slowed traffic growth – despite congestion in England and comparable cities increasing since 2012. Between July 2014 and July 2015, Nottingham was the only core city in England to experience a reduction in journey time per vehicle mile on locally managed A roads in the morning peak period.

Although it can’t be wholly attributed to one factor, nitrogen dioxide pollution in Nottingham has reduced by 36 per cent since 1998, believed to be in part down to investment in greener public transport, supported by the workplace parking levy.

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The City of Edinburgh Council will bring forward plans for its low emission zone and city centre transformation later this year – which will all attempt to reduce pollution levels in the Capital. Campaigners have called for councillors to embrace the proposals as part of a network of ideas to reduce levels of air pollution in the Capital.

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s air pollution campaigner, Gavin Thomson, said: “By encouraging people to think twice about using the car for everyday journeys, this levy can relieve the congestion and pressure on our streets.

“The new low emission zone details are still to be finalised but the urgency of the air pollution crisis means that it must keep out the most polluting vehicles. Edinburgh has some of the worst pollution levels in Scotland, with four sites breaking the law year after year. Air pollution endangers everyone in our city, but it is most harmful to young people and those with existing health problems. Action to cut traffic on our streets will bring benefits for us all.”

A national lung charity has also called for all options to be left on the table, but has warned about potentially penalising vulnerable people.

Joseph Carter, head of British Lung Foundation Scotland, said: “A workplace parking levy has considerable potential to reduce car use and improve air quality, but we are also conscious that, for some people, cars are the only transport option available. For example, people living with lung disease who are using oxygen therapy might need to use a car to transport their medical equipment to their place of work, enabling them to continue in employment.

“In designing the workplace parking levy, Edinburgh Council must strike a balance between tackling the harmful health effects of air pollution and ensuring that vulnerable people are not penalised for needing to have access to a vehicle for medical reasons.”

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Transport and environment convener, Councillor Lesley Macinnes, said: “The introduction of a workplace parking levy could be a very positive step in tackling poor air quality and congestion in the city.

“This is about encouraging modal shift, and by raising revenue a levy would let us further invest in expanding and enhancing our public transport system, as well as pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, giving commuters the choice to leave their cars at home.

“Any proposals to introduce a workplace parking levy would, quite rightly, require a period of in-depth research and consultation with businesses and organisations in order to ensure any solution strikes the best balance for the people who work and live in Edinburgh.”

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Categories: Community News

Rosslynlee gets go-ahead

Midlothian View - Tue, 19/02/2019 - 18:45

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

Plans to build more than 400 houses at a former hospital site have been given the go-ahead, despite developers refusing to make any of the houses affordable.

The owners of Rosslynlee Hospital, which has lain empty in Roslin since 2010, want to develop and restore its historic building, as well as building housing and commercial property on surrounding land.

However, a previous planning meeting of Midlothian Council sent its planning officers to renegotiate with the developers after their contributions towards public services fell short of the usual requirements.

They offered to fund just 58 per cent of extra classroom spaces which would be needed for new families moving onto the site and provide fewer than 50 social housing units – well short of the 25 per cent of all housing the council asks of developers.

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At a planning meeting this week, officers came back to say that developers had agreed to meet the full cost of providing extra classrooms for families who move to the site in the future.

However, they have withdrawn any offer to contribute towards community facilities, public transport or the Borders Railway.

And they had also said they would no longer make any of the housing affordable or offer the council alternative land.

Councillor John Hackett described the offer as “intolerable”, urging the committee to reject the plans, as recommended by their own officers.

However, Councillor Peter Smaill warned that the alternative would be to watch a historic building go to “rack and ruin”.

Mr Hackett asked if the contributions had increased under the new offer or simply had a “rejigging” and was told: “Both.”

He said: “I would love to see this building restored, I think it would be fantastic; however, there is the question of who pays.

“What I see before me is a set-up which is asking council taxpayers to foot the bill for parts of this project and that element of it I find quite intolerable.”

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However, Councillor Smaill said it was about the trade-off and warned that rejecting the plans could lead to an appeal to the Scottish Government reporter, which could prove difficult as the land was earmarked for housing in the council’s own local development plan.

Mr Smaill said: “It really distils down to the affordable housing being dropped.

“If we don’t agree to this, a number of things can happen; either we go to the reporter, where our position is difficult because some of this land is zoned, or alternatively the project is abandoned because it is not viable and if that happens we won’t have any affordable housing either.

“We will end up with nothing and the largest listed building in Midlothian by one of Scotland’s most famous architects will be at risk of going to rack and ruin because the project cannot proceed.”

The committee voted by 10 members to four to approve planning permission in principle for the development.

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Categories: Community News

Sharp rise in Midlothian drug charges

Midlothian Advertiser - Tue, 19/02/2019 - 15:00
The number of people caught with illegal drugs in Midlothian rose dramatically last year, with police recording nearly 70 per cent more possession charges.

Celebrating equality and diversity in Midlothian

Midlothian View - Tue, 19/02/2019 - 14:22

Celebrate the contribution that different groups make to their communities by getting involved with Equal Midlothian Week, 4-9th March 2019.

The purpose of Equal Midlothian Week is to raise awareness of equality issues and to promote a more equal Midlothian.

A range of organisations working on equalities issues will be holding events during the week to highlight the work they do to create a fairer, more inclusive Midlothian. This includes sessions about cultural awareness, disability, mental health, kinship care, domestic abuse and LGBT issues.

The week culminates with the Midlothian Mela event in the The Gorebridge Beacon (Hunterfield Road, Gorebridge, EH23 4TT) on Saturday 9th March. This annual event features music, dance, artistic performances, workshops and food. There will also be activities for adults, young people and children. Come along to this family friendly event and celebrate the work people do on equalities in Midlothian.

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Midlothian’s Equalities Champion Kelly Parry said:

“Find out more about equalities work in Midlothian by popping in to some of the free events being held during the week. Not only will you get to find out more about Midlothian’s diverse population but you will also have an opportunity to meet new people. The highlight of the week is the Mela which has become a popular annual fixture. This event for all ages and interests provides a great opportunity to socialise.”

You can see the full programme at

Equal Midlothian Week in Midlothian is supported by the Midlothian People’s Equality Group and Health in Mind.

For more information on Equal Midlothian Week, please contact Erin Cuthbertson on: 0131 271 3358,

The post Celebrating equality and diversity in Midlothian appeared first on Midlothian View.

Categories: Community News

Young People Invited to Jobs Roadshow

Midlothian View - Tue, 19/02/2019 - 13:58

Young people and their parents from across Midlothian are invited to attend a free jobs roadshow at the Corn Exchange (10 New Market Road, Edinburgh, EH14 1RJ) in Edinburgh on Wednesday 6th March, 9-4pm.

The event will offer S4 – S6 pupils, young college leavers and those who have left school within the last three years with an opportunity to meet employers with current vacancies, apprenticeships and intern opportunities. The event slogan is ‘informed, inspired and hired’.

The roadshow has been organised by Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) Edinburgh, Midlothian and East Lothian, with support from Midlothian Council. Organisations such as Skills Development Scotland will be in attendance at the event to offer guidance to young people on interview skills, applications and CV’s.

Over 50 organisations and companies will be attending to inform about opportunities including NHS Lothian, Scottish Government, Arnold Clark, HMRC, Edinburgh Airport, Apex Hotels, Ingenza, FLB Lettes, and HMRC.

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Working with DYW and other partnership agencies is vital in helping Midlothian Council achieve their goal of ensuring every young person in Midlothian moves into a positive destination after leaving school.

Councillor Jim Muirhead, Midlothian’s Cabinet Member for Education, said: “We want to support all our young adults to find their ideal educational and career paths. Events like the DYW jobs roadshow are a great way of helping young people meet employers and find out about the range of opportunities available to them. Employers benefit too as they get to meet talented young people face to face. Many young people have been able to move directly on to a positive destination after attending a roadshow. I would encourage any young person or parent/carer wanting information on the opportunities available, to go along.”

Fourth, fifth and sixth year pupils in Midlothian have been booked to attend the roadshow and transport into Edinburgh has been arranged for them. Anyone else who wishes to attend can just turn up on the day.

For more information on this event please contact the DYW team at or give them a call on 0131 221 2999 option 9.

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Categories: Community News

Midlothian Council: MCAT curfew arrests

Midlothian Advertiser - Tue, 19/02/2019 - 13:18
More than 30 people have been reported to the procurator fiscal for breaking a court-imposed curfew after community police officers carried out routine bail checks.

Funding boost for Midlothian GP practices

Midlothian Advertiser - Tue, 19/02/2019 - 06:49
GP practices in Midlothian will receive a funding boost this year, the Scottish Government has announced.

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