How do visitors manage travelling around Scotland?! Despite the very friendly and efficient Traveline Scotland service, where real people with local accents answer your call, the job of going from place to place is really complicated. That’s for me as an indigenous Scot! So what it is like for a visitor speaking English as their second or third language and using a mobile phone?
Frustrating is the first word that comes to mind. Having tried to organise a group of people from Glasgow to Inverkeithing Highland Games recently, I spent, in total, more than two hours on the phone trying to get answers to simple questions: What time do we leave? What time do we arrive? What time can we travel back? What does it cost?
I’m finding the same complication arising for a journey to Mugdock Country Park. this is the place where the West Highland Way starts. But oddly enough, no bus stops anywhere on the perimeter of the Park. The best option is to go to Milngavie by train from Glasgow then register for a local bus service which will slot you in with other bookings, like a taxi company.
At every point, people are helpful and polite. But at every point they come to the end of the information they are able to provide and offer a phone number for the next link in the chain of information. It is costly in phone calls and in time. And I fear to think what confusion this could cause someone speaking hesitate English.
Traveline Scotland is a good service – don’t get me wrong. I use it a lot and it works well. But when the friendly folk at the end of the line need to give more than simple information – bus number X will be at bus stop A at such a time and will arrive at bus stop B at that time – their system can’t cope.
Surely we can offer a more comprehensive, integrated travel information service to make life easier for visitor and local alike?
If you have recent experience of travel information frustration and want to tell air that on this website, please email us on: email@example.com
Around 2700 homes in East Dunbartonshire are entitled to an average of £250 each to help with fuel bills. Local MP Jo Swinson urged residents to call the Home Heat Helpline to check out if they qualify for the funding. Advice is free. She said: ‘Anyone who is concerned about staying warm should call the Helpline. I would also ask people to look out for neighbours, friends or relatives who may be in difficulty and make sure they are aware of the Home Heat Helpline.’
The number is: 0800 33 66 99 or visit www.homeheathelpline.org.uk. The free service provides independent advice to people on low incomes on how to get help with their gas and electricity bills, and access grants for insulation or a new boiler.
The campaign is backed by Dragon’s Den star Hilary Devey who has spoken of her struggles to keep her home warm before she became a successful businesswoman.
Trained operators at the Home Heat Helpline can advise on energy consumption and ways to reduce it. They can also provide eligible callers with information on discounted home insulation, rebate schemes and a Priority Service Register for elderly or disabled people to assist them to get the information they need in a convenient and secure way.
East Dunbartonshire MP, Jo Swinson, met a delegation from the Human Rights in The Gambia Campaign before the holiday season. She heard how politicians, journalists and citizens of all backgrounds are living in fear under the regime of President Yahya Jammeh who took over with a military coup in July 1994.
Recent elections returned him to power and question marks have been raised by international monitoring organisations about the fairness of the November election process. Opponents were given 11 days to campaign in advance of polling day. Several were detained before and after the election. The media and the judiciary are almost exclusively controlled by the Government.
According to an Amnesty International report of 2008, there was a ‘climate of fear’ in the West African country which is part of the Commonwealth. A follow up report published earlier this year, said that the enforced disappearances of people, unlawful killings and torture in The Gambia indicated a ‘deteriorating human rights situation.’
The Lib Dem MP said she was surprised to learn some of the detail and raised questions on the economics of The Gambia and its relationship to Europe, the UK, the USA and the Economic Community of West African States. She said she would consider the information with a view to raising a cross party Early Day Motion in the House of Commons.
She is Parliamentary Private Secretary to Business Secretary Vince Cable in the Conservative/ Lib Dem coalition Government in London and a long standing member of Amnesty International.
Chief Superintendent Andy Bates has been appointed Strathclyde Police Divisional Commander for Glasgow South and East Renfrewshire, following the retirement of Chief Superintendent Robin Howe.
He was Deputy Divisional Commander of the area from December 2006 to November 2008.
Said Chief Superintendent Bates: ‘I am privileged and genuinely delighted to be appointed. Over the last five years, under the leadership of Chief Superintendent Robin Howe, the Division has performed well. Crimes of violence have reduced year-on-year; instances of antisocial behaviour, acquisitive crime and road crime have also decreased making it one of the top performers in the Force. I look forward to building on this success and exploring new ways to develop the policing services our communities expect and deserve.’
Chief Superintendent Bates has worked in a variety of operational and strategic roles. From May 2004 to December 2006 he was Sub Divisional Officer in charge of policing East Dunbartonshire. Most recently, he led on the force-wide development and introduction of Community Policing and the Integrated Service Delivery Model. He is married with two children.
A message from Chief Superintendent Bates can be read at: www.strathclyde.police.uk/your_community/Glasgow_South_and_East_Renfrewshire/Divisional_Commander/
by Lynsay Keough
Anne McLaughlin MSP has welcomed the fact that the Small Business Bonus Scheme delivered average savings of more than £1,400 for companies in Scotland last year. New figures reveal that in her own area of Glasgow, it delivered, on average, £1800 of savings in 2009-10. The scheme was launched in 2008 to provide non-domestic rates relief in Scotland for small businesses.
In Aberdeen, East Dunbartonshire, Edinburgh, Inverclyde and South Lanarkshire, small companies benefiting from the scheme saved more than £1,700 on average in 2009/10. In Glasgow and North Lanarkshire the figure was over £1,800 pounds.
The new findings follow recent figures showing that the number of Scottish small business properties benefiting from business rates relief packages had risen by 18 per cent over the year to around 110,500. Of these, 74,000 were business properties that paid zero or reduced business rates due to the Small Business Bonus Scheme in 2009-10 – up from 64,000 recipients the year before.
Welcoming the new figures, Anne McLaughlin, SNP MSP for the Glasgow Region said:
‘Glasgow’s small businesses will be vital in the economic recovery. It is such businesses which will really drive economic growth as they seek to expand and develop. That’s why I’m proud that the Scottish Government’s Small Business Bonus Scheme is making such a difference to Glaswegian business people. We all recognise the difference that having thriving small businesses makes to our city’s streets and communities.’