by Alastair Brian
In the first law of its kind in Europe, the Scottish Parliament voted to introduce a minimum price of 50p per alcohol unit this week.
It will come into force in April next year and aims to cut alcohol consumption to save lives and cut the adverse impact alcohol misuse and over consumption has on health, crime and the economy. Four cans of lager will then cost a minimum of £7.92, a bottle of win will be from £4.69 and a bottle of vodka will retail for at least £13.13
Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said the move would have ‘a significant and historic impact.’
It was passed by 86 in favour, 1 against and 32 abstentions.
Labour Party MSPs abstained. Their Shadow Public Health Minister and former addictions specialist, Dr Richard Simpson MSP, said: ‘Scottish Labour offered to support the Bill if the SNP Government accepted our positive proposals to recoup the massive £125 million windfall this generates for big supermarkets and invest that money in tackling the root causes of alcohol misuse and dealing with its consequences.’ He went on: ‘By refusing to reverse its opposition to Scottish Labour’s progressive proposal, the SNP Government has thrown away an opportunity for the whole Parliament to be united in support of minimum pricing. Communities that suffer alcohol-related, anti-social behaviour, will be left wondering why – at a time when budgets across the public sector are tight and the alcohol misuse budget is being cut by SNP by over £3 million – the SNP has voted to stuff the pockets of supermarket shareholders with gold, instead of ploughing the £125 million windfall back into our police and health service that are left to deal with the effects of alcohol misuse.’
The one vote against the new law was a mistake by SNP’s Rosanna Cunningham who admitted she pressed the wrong button in a tweet, later.
However, the new law puts question marks against the authority of Scottish Labour Leader, Johann Lamont. It appears that while she and the Scottish Labour Party in Holyrood opposed the Bill despite their amendment, Scottish Labour MPs are expected to support such a minimum price policy at Westminster.
Bob Doris, SNP MSP for Glasgow, commented: ‘The fact that Labour’s Scottish MPs – including their Deputy Leader Anas Sarwar – support the policy as part of the Westminster Labour group, makes a mockery of Johann Lammont’s claim to be leader of all Scottish Labour. She had one last chance to put Labour’s dreadful politicking of the last few years, behind her and back a policy which she knows is in the interests of the people of Scotland.’
The minimum pricing measure is part of the wider strategic approach to tackling alcohol misuse set out in’Changing Scotland’s Relationship with Alcohol: A Framework for Action.’ Research shows that since 2000 enough alcohol is sold annually in Scotland to enable every adult aged over 16, to exceed the sensible male weekly guideline of 21 units every week. Scottish per capita alcohol sales are now almost a quarter (23%) higher than in England and Wales. While sales have fallen by around 8% from a 2005 peak in England and Wales, there has been no similar decline in Scotland.
In 2009-10 more than 100 people were discharged from hospital each day following alcohol related illness and injury. These discharge figures have more than quadrupled since the early 1980s.
Mortality figures, based on cases where alcohol use is considered to be the direct cause of death, may significantly underestimate the true scale of the problem. Now it is estimated that 1 in 20 deaths in Scotland is alcohol linked. This is almost twice as many as previously calculated. A quarter of male deaths and a fifth of female deaths in the 35-44 year age group, are thought to be alcohol attributable.
Scotland has one of the fastest growing rates of chronic liver disease and cirrhosis in the world, leading the Chief Medical Officer to add alcoholic liver disease to the list of ‘big killers’, alongside heart disease, stroke and cancer.
Families who care for vulnerable people in Glasgow’s East End say they are ‘gutted’ by the outcome of talks between Glasgow City Council and Scotland’s First Minister.
The families who use the Accord Centre in Dalmarnock as a day centre for adults with complex conditions such as Down’s Syndrome and Autism, have been told they will have to use the Banbury Centre which is about ten minutes away from the present facility.
‘That was rejected months ago,’ said Grace Harrigan a spokesperson for more than 30 families. ‘I cannot believe this is happening. The Council are prepared to dump us anywhere. ‘
Some of the group visited a Lifestyle Centre in Cambuslang to see what South Lanarkshire offered its vulnerable community members. ‘I wept when I saw it,’ said Grace. ‘It was everything we could wish for. There was a swimming pool, gyms, film room, cafe, art rooom and facilities for people with special needs like our sons and daughter. But it was also open to the public in a way that was safe for the vulnerable users but integrated with the general public.’
She said that the Banbury Centre was in the middle of a deeply divided community where there was a lot of police activity because of the trouble there. ‘It is not a safe place to take vulnerable people into on a daily basis.’
The Accord Centre is to be demolished to make way for a coach park for the Commonwealth Games. The day after Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond visited the establishment, the special needs facilities such as softball play area and trampoline, were taken out of the building. ‘The place was stripped,’ says Grace.
Following Mr Salmond’s visit, he met face to face with Gordon Matheson, Glasgow City Council leader to
discuss the situation.
Both Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government have been asked for comments on the latest phase of the Accord saga and their responses are awaited as we send out the weekly ENEWS.
Detectives at Pollok Police Office are appealing for witnesses following an incident in Pollok on Saturday 18 September 2010.
Around 2310 hours, a 31 year-old woman was at her home address in Haughburn Road, Pollok with family, when an object was thrown through her front window. A second object, which had been set alight, was thrown at the entrance door causing minor fire and smoke damage.
Nobody was seriously injured, however, the woman’s son, 5, was taken to Glasgow Southern General Hospital to be treated for minor cuts from glass. He was later discharged following treatment.
Police are treating the incident as attempted murder.
Detective Sergeant Wilson Davidson at Pollok CID is continuing enquiries and appealing for witnesses. He said:
“Our investigation is at an early stage and we are currently working to establish a motive for this reckless and mindless act which could have had far more serious consequences.
“We believe that a group of male youths may have been responsible, however, we are not clear exactly how many were involved – all we know at this stage is that they were wearing dark clothing and described as aged between 20- 25 yrs of age.
“I would appeal to any local residents or anyone who was in the vicinity of Haughburn Road that night around 2310 hours who may have seen or heard a disturbance, or may have seen a group of male youths hanging around prior to the incident or running off afterwards, to get in touch with police as a matter of urgency.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact Detectives at Pollok CID on 0141
532 5616. Alternatively, information can be passed to CRIMESTOPPERS on 0800
555 111 where anonymity will be maintained.
The people and businesses of Woodlands are fighting back after a summer of anti-social behaviour that has plagued their streets.
On Thursday morning one local resident found his car windscreens smashed when parked on Arlington Street, outside The Arlington Baths Club.
Now local business groups and residents are calling for heightened security to halt the vandals in their tracks.
A resident of Arlington Street, a woman in her 60s, who asked not to be named, said: ‘Smashed glass, damage to property and noise on the street has got worse and worse recently. But enough is enough.
‘It seems some of the young people who come to this area don’t have enough to occupy them in the evenings, but this just isn’t on.
‘We won’t stand for it.’
Scottish Green Party Councillor, Martha Wardrop, says a holistic approach is needed to address the issue.
She said: ‘I am very concerned about property being damaged by vandals in the area and will seek additional patrols by local community police.
‘Increased support should be provided to local groups who are seeking to improve the area through food growing projects, local sports programmes and recreational activities based within Woodlands Millennium Park.’
The Arlington Baths Club has dropped leaflets round the local houses calling for the community to help the police by reporting any suspicious or threatening behaviour they see.
And it would appear these calls are being responded to.
Inspector Craig Linton, Communities Inspector at Glasgow West End Police Office says they are already cracking down on the vandals.
He said: ‘We are fully aware of several reports in the last few weeks regarding anti-social behaviour by groups of young people in the area around Arlington Street, including vandalism to two cars.
‘In partnership with Glasgow Community and Safety Services, we have already undertaken to increase patrols in this area and deal robustly with any disorderly behaviour.
‘I would urge anyone with information regarding those responsible to contact Glasgow West End Police Office – 0141 532 3500.’
A school for children with severe learning difficulties was burnt to cinders in what Police believe was an act of heartless arson on Thursday 29 April.
Hampden Primary in Toryglen burst into flames around 7pm. Luckily, the 37 pupils who attend the school were already finished for the day and there was no one in the school.
Strathclyde Detective Sergeant Jim Leckie, heading the investigation, said: ‘This fire was set during the hours of daylight in a school which was very popular and at the heart of the community.
‘Enquiries have revealed that the fire was started deliberately. I’d like to speak to anyone who has any information that could help trace the person or persons responsible.’
Contact Gorbals CID on 0141 532 5300 or CRIMESTOPPERS on 0800 555 111.
Firefighters tackled the blaze for five hours. Repairs will cost an estimated £500,000. Much of the special equipment that the pupils rely on was left ravaged by the flames. (see picture of burned out wheel chair)
Hampden caters for children with a variety of complex learning difficulties and with six weeks of term remaining there is no chance of pupils returning to the building.
The school was due to close in August when pupils were to have moved to Richmond Park School, in Oatlands. Now they have been split up over three schools and are adjusting to new school environments at Hazelwood near Clarkston, Linburn in Hillington as well as Richmond Park.
Glasgow City Council has vowed to help ease this transition. ‘Officers will ensure the interruption to the children’s schooling is kept to a minimum,’ said Councillor Paul Rooney, Executive member for Education.
Lynne Shinie, a teacher at Hampden School who has worked in the intensive support unit which gives one-to-one assistance to pupils, told the LOCAL NEWS: ‘This is a great school to work for. The children are billiant. It’s a tragic shame that all the children’s work has been lost through this fire.’
Castlemilk man, Willie McQueen is a parent whose son Carl (10) has Downs Syndrome and has been attending the school for nine years. Said Willie: ‘It is unbelievable the work that this school did with my Carl. It’s sickening what has happened. I just wish I could find the people who did it.’ Another parent, Liz McCafferty from Govanhill has her daughter Cara (7) at the school. Cara also has Downs Syndrome. Said Liz: ‘ This is one of the best schools in the whole of Glasgow. The work they do with the children is absolutely amazing. I am gutted by what has been done. It is shocking and a real disgrace.’
Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) has announced that it booted 31 drug dealers out of its properties last year.
Another 30 convicted dealers quit their GHA homes after being threatened with legal action by the landlord.
GHA said one tenant was found with a kilo of amphetamines, while another had 70 cannabis plants growing at his home.
A citywide drive by GHA has resulted in eviction order victories at Glasgow Sheriff Court against sellers of crack cocaine, heroin, diazepam and valium.
In 2008, the association kicked out 27 drug dealers, while there were 10 evictions in 2007 and nine the year before.
GHA is the only social landlord in the UK to have a specialist drugs officer liaising with police.
Backing the GHA strategy, Superintendent Iain Findlay, of Strathclyde Police, said: ‘Reducing the harm of illegal substances, and the demand for them within communities, is crucial, and Strathclyde Police is contributing towards this drive.’
Jim Sneddon, GHA Executive Director of Regeneration, added: ‘We will not tolerate any form of antisocial behaviour in and around our properties and we will use whatever means necessary, including eviction, to communities are kept safe and secure.’
Police in Govan are calling for assistance from the public in tracing relatives of a man found dead in his home on 9 January.
John MacDonald, of Mosspark Drive, aged 76, is believed to have a sister called Cathy Allsop, who may live in the Castlemilk area. Mr MacDonald is also believed to have a brother, whereabouts unknown.
Anyone with information on Mr MacDonald’s family is asked to contact Constable Belinda Rafferty at Govan Police Office on 532 5400 or 532 5540.
British Transport Police invited LOCAL NEWS to spend an evening with officers at a major event. Reporter Martin Graham met up with Constables Alisdair Burnie and Davy Price on the evening of Rangers’ Champions League match with Stuttgart to get a feel for their city beat and see community policing in action.
Later that evening, they would be policing around 2000 Stuttgart fans on their way to and from Ibrox Park. First on Alisdair and Davy’s agenda was a meeting at the City Chambers with young people and council representatives to discuss services and activities for young people in the city centre.
We are joined by Sergeant Arlene Wilson of the Glasgow Central Neighbourhood Policing Team and head to the City Chambers.
The meeting is to discuss how best to look after the groups who congregate in the city centre at weekends. Councillors and members of Visible Fictions theatre group are there to listen. Young people are there to be heard.
Dominique Barclay, 16, described being attacked in George Square by an older man.
She said: ‘There are lots of gangs and intimidation. I got hit in the face with a sharp object and had to go to hospital because I was bleeding. It’s incidents like this which drive young people to seek safe environments to socialise.’
At one time, they hung around the Gallery of Modern Art, but were told they were not welcome. The young people now tend to socialise at Central Station, but this, too, has become untenable, due to the numbers of people involved.
The young people make it clear that they appreciate being consulted on what they want, and Sophie Ochojna from the theatre group recruits several of them to help with marketing and promotion of an arts and music event at the Arches.
As the meeting at the Chambers ends, word comes on Alasdair’s radio that there is bother at Buchanan Street subway station.
Before I know it, the three officers are off and running. I follow and head down the ramp from Dundas Street. It is packed with fans, mostly Rangers, and the general chatter is that there has been a fight in the station.
I push my way to the front and am just in time to see two or three Stuttgart fans being marched out of the station by policemen.
I catch up with Arlene and Alasdair. They tell me that some of the Stuttgart supporters had tried to rush the barriers in an attempt to get to the subway.
The troublemakers were ejected. Just after this, the remaining fans on the platform swarm up the stairs and out of the station – they have refused to follow instructions and were ejected from the station. You can see footage of this at the link below;
These are the Ultras element of the Stuttgart support, similar to UK casuals. This type of fan is intent on causing trouble, has earned himself a long walk to the game and a close police presence for the evening.
Arlene tells me that the policy is to disperse rather than to arrest such fans.
By the end of my four hours with the cops, I have been impressed by their friendliness and openness, and also by their fast reaction when trouble flared.
British Transport Police are keen to hear from people about their experiences of using public transport, and how they can feel safer in doing so.
Transport Police can be contacted directly at their offices in Central Station, Queen Street Station, and in St Enoch Square.
You can call them on 0800 40 50 40 and visit the website at www.btp.police.uk.
Police investigating the murder of radio presenter Nasim Jamil have renewed their appeal for information after it emerged her assailant’s clothes may have been bloodstained in the attack.
The Awaz FM agony aunt, 54, died as a result of severe head injuries she sustained in the ‘brutal’ assault at her home, 128 Byres Road, Hillhead, on Wednesday, 9 December.
Detective Chief Inspector Louise Raphael, officer in charge of the investigation, said:
‘We believe she attended a doctor’s appointment nearby around 1.30pm. I would urge anyone who saw Nasim anytime between then and early evening to come forward.
‘Byres Road is always busy with shoppers, pedestrians and motorists, and I appreciate that it may be difficult to remember seeing someone entering a close. However, I am interested in speaking to anyone who saw anyone leaving the close at 128 Byres Road on Wednesday.
‘Did anyone notice someone running from the area or someone behaving in a suspicious manner? It may well be that the person responsible’s clothing will have been bloodstained. It is important that we speak to any person who could provide that little bit of information that could prove vital to our investigation.’
Any members of the public with information can contact the Police incident room on 0141 532 3559 or call Crimestoppers freephone number 0800 555 111, where anonymity can be maintained.
Police officers and colleagues from the High Court in Glasgow have raised more than £3,000 through a sponsored bike ride from Edinburgh to Glasgow.
The money was split between the Erskine Hospital and the Moira Jones Fund. Constable Alan Thompson said: ‘We had the idea of raising some money through a bike ride and the idea just grew as more people got involved.
‘We ended up with 12 cyclists and a mini bus for support for the trip. It took us around seven hours because the wind was in our faces the whole way, but it was worth it.
‘We want to make it an annual event. I have suggested twice round Millport for next year!’
The bike ride was organised by Sergeant David Callander. The initial plan was to donate to the Erskine fund but the conclusion of the Moira Jones murder trial in April and the fund created in her memory inspired the group to donate to that cause as well.