Tag Archives: Scotland

First Minister opens the 2014 Ryder Cup

Opening the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles with a crowd of spectators of around 20,000 the First Minister Alex Salmond said:

“This is only the second time that the Ryder Cup has come to Scotland, the Home of Golf.

“But in a very real sense the Ryder Cup is coming home to Gleneagles.

“For it was here in 1921 that the very first intercontinental challenge match was played which became the forerunner for tournament we have today.

“In 1921 there were two native born Scots in the British team. There were four native born Scots in the American team – allowing Scotland to claim victory regardless of the outcome!

“In 1921 the tournament was played for a prize fund of 1000 guineas.

“Four score and thirteen years later, 24 of the finest players in the world will play for no monetary reward whatsoever.

“They will play instead for love of country, continent and respect for the game of golf.

“That ladies and gentlemen is what makes the Ryder Cup special – the greatest golf tournament in the world.

“It is therefore right and proper that over these next three days these great players will compete over a course designed by Jack Nicklaus, the greatest golfer in history.

“But as he would be first to acknowledge while Mr Nicklaus designed the course, it was God who designed Gleneagles.

“So, in this special place at this special time let me say this.

“On behalf of the Government, our outstanding partners in the European tour led by George O Grady and the people of Scotland.

“To both captains and to both teams, welcome to Gleneagles. Welcome to Scotland”.

Call for bike hubs for Scotland

FREE PIC- Bike Hubs Demand 01

Activists from Scottish transport campaigning group Transform Scotland this morning called for a nationwide network of interchange bike hubs across Scotland.  

Transform Scotland has today launched a new report, ‘Interchange’, which sets out how cycling can both increase the reach of Scotland’s public transport networks and help meet the government’s ambitions for increased levels of cycle use.

The ‘Interchange’ project analysed 19 bus stations, rail stations and ferry terminals in ten towns and cities across Scotland, from Aberdeen to Mallaig, and from Inverness to Glasgow. The final report sets out three key recommendations:

* Firstly, that ‘Active Travel Hubs’ — centres that would provide a variety of services to bike users (e.g. bike hire, bike repair, or advice on cycle routes) — be established at key transport interchanges.

* Secondly, the establishment of an ‘Active Travel Friendly’ Standard, an award given to consistent and well thought-out facilities.

* Thirdly, the appointment of an ‘Active Travel Architect’ for the design of new or redeveloped major public transport facilities to ensure best practice is met.

In the report, which has been published in partnership with Sustrans Scotland, Transform Scotland encourages groups, individuals and transport operators themselves to carry out audits of stations and terminals using the ‘Interchange Toolkit’. These results can be used to make the case for improving integration between cyclist journeys and public transport.

Scotland already features two successful Cycle Hub projects, the Stirling Cycle Hub and the facility at Pollokshaws West station in Glasgow.  The Scottish Government has highlighted ‘Active Travel Hubs’ as a potential future area for investment and Transform Scotland thinks this should now form a key area of investment. In July, the UK Department for Transport announced a £15m fund for improving rail-cycle integration and Transform Scotland thinks that a similar fund should be established in Scotland in order to provide for better integration between public transport services and cycling.

Transform Scotland head of research Jolin Warren said: “Our project conducted audits of major transport interchanges across the country. This revealed the need to ensure consistent high standards across Scotland and to develop a network of Active Travel Hubs. These hubs would serve cyclists and pedestrians, providing routes, repairs, parking, and other amenities.

“Our Interchange Toolkit is available for public use, and we are urging local groups to audit their local stations or terminals, and push for improvements around the country.”

John Lauder, National Director of Sustrans Scotland, welcomed the publication of the new Interchange report saying: “The Cycling Action Plan for Scotland sets a vision for 10% of trips to be by bike by 2020. In order to achieve this it is essential that we do as much as possible to encourage and enable people to cycle for more of their everyday journeys.

“One way to do this is to get more people cycling as part of longer journeys that involve another form of sustainable transport – trains, buses and ferries.  Facilities for cyclists at rail stations, bus stations and ferry terminals must be convenient, safe and secure in order to encourage people to cycle to them.

“The audits conducted by Transform Scotland show that while there is a lot of good practice in terms of cycling provisions at various interchange points, there are also a number of key issues that need to be addressed.”

A number of transport operators assisted with the Interchange project. Transform Scotland was pleased to have the assistance of ScotRail, who have long been working to improve the passenger experience at its stations across Scotland through its ‘Adopt A Station’ programme. Commenting on the ‘Interchange’ report, ScotRail External Relations Manager, John Yellowlees said:

“By investing in cycle facilities at stations, ScotRail would aim to become a more cyclist friendly organisation. These facilities can range from providing better or more space on trains, limiting conflicts with other passengers, to investing in secure parking facilities.”

Transform Scotland have also launched a video illustrating the project:

Pictured at Pollokshaws West rail station – the site of an up-an-running highly successful bike station and cycle cafe.

Transform Scotland activists (from left) Morgan Reilly, Janice Fenny (correct) and Lotti Lancaster.



Colin Hattersley Photography 

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National Collective supporting independence



National Collective was founded by a small group of artists and writers based in Edinburgh in 2011. Since then it has grown significantly across Scotland. It is the non-party movement for artists and creatives who support Scottish independence.

The organisation was founded with the aims of arguing the positive case for Scottish independence and imagining a better Scotland.

This is what they say:-“We support independence because of the opportunity that comes with the ultimate creative act – creating a new nation. And we believe that to get there, we need to inspire and engage the people of Scotland in a way that has never been seen before.

“We have local groups growing in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Stirling, Inverness and Aberdeen.

“National Collective believes that the power of art and culture to inspire, the power of new technology and social media to transform communication, and the power of local activity to engage citizens, can change the debate for the better.

Our branches in Glasgow and Edinburgh hosted successful launch events and our groups in Aberdeen, Dundee and Stirling have cultural events planned in the new year.”

With this approach, National Collective aims to provide an open, fun and safe route to engage with politics. The organisation is also supported by some of Scotland’s top artists including Liz Lochhead, Alasdair Gray, Elaine C. Smith and Karine Polwart.

You can find out more on their website.

Cooperative Bank expands in Scotland

The Co-operative Bank has reinforced its commitment to the voluntary sector by expanding its specialist charity and social enterprise operation. The Bank has created a new Scottish-based team and doubled its North of England operation located in Manchester.

Alongside a team based in London, the two offices will give the Bank a broader nationwide presence as it seeks to offer voluntary organisations a compelling alternative to the traditional banks. The Bank believes its relationship approach, co-operative model and position as the UK’s only high street bank with a clear Ethical Policy will appeal to the sector. It is an established provider to charities and social enterprises of all sizes and offers banking services to some of the UK’s most well-known groups such as Christian Aid and Amnesty International.

Debbie Wheeler, Head of Charity & Social Enterprise Banking team said: “Our ethical approach and the commitments we make to society as a co-operative have long been aligned to the voluntary sector.

“We put great emphasis on close working relationships and hope that our supportive approach will appeal to groups in the sector at a time when they are coming under pressure through impending reductions in grant funding and people cutting back on donations during tough economic times.

“This expansion now provides the platform for the Bank to become a major force in banking to charities and social enterprises.”

The Bank provides organisations with turnover of more than £1m per year tailored banking solutions supported by a dedicated relationship manager and support team. For those with turnover under £1m free banking is available through the Community Directplus account.

The Bank has received a number of recent accolades that reinforce its responsible approach to banking. These include the ‘Best Charity Account Provider’ at the 2010 Business Moneyfacts Awards; and being named ‘World’s Most Sustainable Bank’ by the Financial Times and International Finance Corporation (IFC), part of the World Bank, ahead of 110 banks from 44 countries.

Holyrood to examine The Scotland Bill

The Scottish Government has moved quickly to enable scrutiny of the Scotland Bill by the Scottish Parliament.

In a Ministerial Statement to the Scottish Parliament, External Affairs Minister Fiona Hyslop announced that a legislative consent memorandum has been lodged today, giving Parliament the maximum amount of time to consider the Bill.

Detailed work will be undertaken by a Parliamentary Committee, but the whole Parliament will have the opportunity to debate the changes proposed.

The memorandum sets out the Scottish Government’s analysis and position on the Bill and its recommendations for making improvements.

Ms Hyslop said:-“The Bill requires consent of the Scottish Parliament, so we have moved quickly to enable full scrutiny to commence without delay.

“As we have made clear, we welcome many aspects of the Scotland Bill and the further devolution of powers it provides. However, overall, this is a missed opportunity that does not meet the ambitions this Government – nor indeed the majority of the people of Scotland – have for this country.

“The key test for this Bill should be whether it delivers the priorities of the people of Scotland – to grow the economy, to protect jobs and to ensure proper investment in public services. We do not believe the Bill as it stands will deliver on those priorities, and indeed may hinder them. Careful scrutiny is vital to achieve the improvements that we believe should be made.

“We are particularly concerned about the unanswered questions on the financial proposals which would reduce the resources available for public services in Scotland. Unfortunately, the UK Government has so far failed to give the information that will allow proper consideration of this vital element of the Bill.

“The UK Government expects the Scottish Parliament to foot the bill for implementation of the measures in the Bill. The UK Government’s partial Regulatory Impact Assessment, published today, confirmed that Holyrood will be expected to pay these costs, but provides only indicative costs of £45 million to set up HMRC systems and another £4.2 million per year to operate the flawed income tax proposals. The people of Scotland already pay for the costs of running HMRC through their taxes levied by the Treasury, now the UK Government wants them to pay a second time through the money provided in the Scottish Budget for vital public services.

“We urge the Scottish Parliament to consider the proposals very carefully and to ensure the final Bill is one which everyone can say with confidence will be better for Scotland. We will support the Parliament’s process fully and work to ensure the Scotland Bill evolves into a package of measures that delivers for Scotland.”

In the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey (January 2010), 69 per cent of respondents favoured significantly more powers for the Scottish Parliament. On tax (59 per cent) and welfare benefits (60 per cent), a majority want the Scottish Parliament to make the decisions for Scotland.

GPs out of hours should be better coordinated

Scotland’s GPs called today, Thursday 11 November 2010, for better coordination of out of hours services for patients.

In light of the Scottish Parliament’s debate on rural out of hours services, Scotland’s GP leaders have called on the Scottish Government and NHS Scotland to do more to establish better quality standards and coordination of services to deliver real improvements for patients. They also underlined that none of this requires a renegotiation of the GP contract.

Dr Andrew Buist, Deputy Chairman of the BMA’s Scottish GP Committee said: “There is a perception amongst politicians and the public that the problems with out of hours care stem from the introduction of the GP contract in 2004. This is not the case. In many areas, such as Greater Glasgow, the service that operated prior to 2004 is the same service that continues to operate, albeit the service is now directly managed by the NHS Board.

“The BMA recognises that there is a need to improve some elements of out of hours care. This is a priority for GPs as well as politicians. Involving GPs and other service providers in the planning and co-ordination of services can deliver real improvements for patients. None of this requires a renegotiation of the GP contract.” The new contract, which allowed GPs to transfer responsibility for providing out of hours care to the local NHS Board, was designed to combat a crisis in general practice and ensure the sustainability of out-of-hours care for patients. Before the new contract was introduced, morale was at an all time low, GPs were planning to retire early and recruitment was becoming impossible.

Dr Buist added: “Doctors were working excessively long hours, and rural communities in particular were at risk of losing daytime GP service at the expense of out-of-hours availability. There is no going back to the old ‘Dr Finlay’ model of general practice. In today’s modern service much more complex care is provided to patients in hours and there needs to be a comprehensive out of hours service that does not rely on over-tired GPs bearing the brunt of the work.

“NHS 24 has improved over the last few years, but more needs to be done to educate patients as to who to contact out of hours. Patients continue to receive high quality health care round the clock. However, it is by no means perfect. Improving out of hours care is a priority for GPs as well as politicians.

“Out of hours care encompasses all aspects of the health service: general practice, secondary care and community care, all of which can be accessed by first contacting NHS 24. More should be done to promote NHS 24 to the public as the first point of contact for non emergency calls out of hours.”