Mar 242017
 

On March 12th, in California, a Trump Golf course was vandalised by protesters. By contrast, in this very British protest, the important issues were discussed over a cup of tea!

Dr Jo House, University of Bristol with Ms Yashinee Aulum, TIGLS.

With thanks to Martin Ford.

On Saturday 18th March, climate scientists travelled to Trump International Golf Links, Scotland (TIGLS) to present a copy of The Ladybird Expert Guide to Climate Change, authored by HRH The Prince of Wales, and a statement on the importance of science and evidence in climate change policy making issued earlier this week by the Royal Meteorological Society.

The climate scientists wanted to highlight concerns that recent rhetoric and decisions from the Trump administration are contrary to the overwhelming evidence base on climate change and how it needs to be addressed.

Unexpectedly, they were offered the opportunity to discuss their concerns over a cup of tea!

The Head of Hospitality and Guest Services for TIGLS, Ms Yashinee Aulum, was pleased to receive the presentation. TIGLS is a business greatly affected by day-to-day weather, and one potentially at risk from future climate change.

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The visit to TIGLS followed a public science meeting at the University of Aberdeen entitled ‘Science and climate change in an alternative facts world’ which was held as part of British Science Week. The meeting was chaired by Prof Jo Smith (University of Aberdeen), and talks were given by:

Prof Piers Forster, University of Leeds,
Prof Terry Dawson, Kings College London,
Prof Pete Smith, University of Aberdeen,
Dr Jo House, University of Bristol,
Cllr Dr Martin Ford, Aberdeenshire Councillor.

Before the meeting, Prof Pete Smith, University of Aberdeen, who has served as Convening Lead Author for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said:

“Climate change, and the way to deal with it, has been accepted by 196 countries at the Paris Climate Agreement, but Mr Trump has appointed a climate denier as the head of the US Environmental Protection Agency, and has previously pledged to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. The fact is, we need the US to cut its greenhouse gas emissions in order to meet the ambitious targets set out in the agreement.

“We all share the same atmosphere, so misguided actions in the US will not only affect Americans, it will affect everyone on the planet. We cannot allow decisions based upon ideology to replace those based on scientific evidence – and that is why we are holding this meeting today, during British Science Week – to urge Mr Trump’s administration to take the advice of its own climate scientists, and stick to US commitments under the Paris Agreement.

“The US will benefit from this. Failing to act when you don’t have the evidence is in some cases understandable – but failing to act when you are in full possession of the facts, which amounts to wilful ignorance, is inexcusable, and will cause great damage to the world we leave for our children and grand-children.”

Prof Piers Forster, Director of the Priestley International Centre for Climate, University of Leeds said:

“The US is a democracy that I am not part of so they are entitled to pass what ever crazy laws they want. If they want to burn more coal it upsets me but it is ultimately not my call.  However, I worry when their policies threaten science.

“The US administration are really contradicting themselves, saying there is not enough evidence that carbon dioxide causes global warming, then promptly threatening to cut agencies that collect the evidence. Scientists around the world depend on NASA and NOAA satellites and on the efforts of many US colleagues. More than ever we should be basing decisions on evidence rather than ideologies, and I hope the US administration wakes up and realises this.”

Prof Jo Smith, University of Aberdeen added:

“The lives of people in low income countries are already challenged by extreme weather events; climate change will make this worse. We can’t gamble with their lives. Climate change will mean more droughts and floods, and more people will die. The science is clear, so climate policies must be based on this evidence.”

Prof Terry Dawson, Chair in Global Environmental Change, Department of Geography, King’s College London commented:

“This year, the United Nations predicts the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II with several East African Countries being severely affected by drought. The lack of rain has contributed to massive livestock deaths, food and water shortages, acute malnutrition and widespread famine.

“Future climate change is expected to increase the magnitude and frequency of extreme climate events, such as droughts or floods and it is the poorest people in society that are most vulnerable to its negative effects.

“Climate change is a serious risk to poverty reduction and we, as scientists, feel a moral imperative to urge our political leaders act now – inaction or delay is inexcusable.”

Dr Jo House, Cabot Institute, School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol said:

“The Trump administration is choosing to ignore or deny the overwhelming scientific consensus on dangers of climate change to people’s health and well-being already, as well as in the future, and the urgency of putting in place long-term plans.

“We are affected in the UK by America’s emissions, but I have no voice there. Sadly similar denial or lack of action is taking place in our own country from a small number of newspapers, businesses and politicians.  UK governments since Margaret Thatcher have been at the forefront of climate action, as they, like the 196 governments who just signed the Paris Agreement, listened to the evidence and understood its importance.

“Climate change has recently slipped down the agenda of the Government. Many countries, states, and businesses have managed to slow or reduce their emissions while still increasing profitability. I am taking part in this meeting to stand up for evidence and for action, not just in America, but here at home.”

Aberdeenshire councillor Martin Ford said:

“Mr Trump is an environmental disaster. We knew that from his actions in Aberdeenshire over the last ten years, but now he can take decisions with global consequences. Mr Trump’s denial of climate change science will make progress with tackling the biggest threat facing the world immensely more difficult.”

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Mar 242017
 

Aberdeenshire’s Democratic Independent and Green Group (DIGG) councillors – Paul Johnston and Martin Ford – have welcomed a report on ‘Augmented provision for young people’ being considered at a meeting of their Council’s Education and Children’s Services Committee. 

The report recommends how to use the additional £100,000 for ‘youth work’ included in Aberdeenshire’s 2017/18 revenue budget passed on 9 February.

The DIGG included £70,000 for youth work (re-allocated from within the community learning and development budget) in its draft 2017/18 budget proposals published last November.

Following budget discussions, £70,000 of new money for youth work was included in the Aberdeenshire administration’s 2017/18 budget proposals published on 2 February.

The amount for youth work was then increased from £70,000 to £100,000 after the Scottish Government announced additional funding for councils on 2 February and further discussions took place between the DIGG and the administration regarding the extra Government grant.

The DIGG argued that new Council funding for youth work was required to support activities that now fall outside the scope of community learning and development, and suggested either direct provision by the Council or grants to community groups would be appropriate.

Both direct provision and grants are now being recommended by officers. 

Cllr Martin Ford said:

“The DIGG identified funding for youth work as a budget priority and we are very pleased £100,000 has been included in the 2017/18 revenue budget.

“The report to the 23 March meeting of the Education and Children’s Services Committee means a decision can be taken on how to use the additional money before the financial year starts at the beginning of April.”

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Mar 242017
 

Stewart Stevenson, has contacted ALDI to voice local residents’ concerns re. new store.

With thanks to Banffshire & Buchan Coast SNP.

Concerns from local residents over the apparent lack of any visible progress in developing the former Kirkburn Mills site in Peterhead have prompted local SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson to contact ALDI Stores.

ALDI secured planning permission to build a store on the site but, to date, this prominent piece of land on the approach to Peterhead Town Centre remains undeveloped.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“I am pleased that ALDI have confirmed once again their commitment to Peterhead and it does appear that work is going on in the background in order to get to a position where construction on the site can start.

“This site on the main approach to Peterhead Town Centre has lain vacant for too long and has been a source of vandalism around the perimeter hoardings.  ALDI recognise that the local community is keen to see this move forward and I trust we can see some evidence of this on the ground before too long.”

In his letter to Mr Stevenson, ALDI Managing Director Richard Holloway said:

“Having recently received planning consent, we are now undertaking a series of complex tests to fully assess the works required to build a store on the site. We are of course working to start construction as soon as possible and understand from previous engagement that the community are eager to see the store opened.”

Peterhead North & Rattray SNP councillor Anne Allan added:

“I’m grateful to Stewart Stevenson for keeping the pressure on ALDI. With the council having granted planning consent, I think everyone in the town is keen to see progress made and the site developed in the very near future.”

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Mar 242017
 

With thanks to Aberdeenshire SNP.

Local resident Heather Coull has been selected by SNP members in Westhill & District ward to join Councillor David Aitchison in seeking election to represent the ward on Aberdeenshire Council.

Councillor Mandy Allan, who has represented the Ward since 2007 is stepping down at the forthcoming election owing to work commitments.

Heather Coull was born in Aberdeen and has lived all her life in Aberdeenshire. Heather, aged 38, is married and is the youngest daughter of two school teachers.

Heather is committed to lifelong learning. She studied at RGU where she successfully achieved both BA and MSc degrees. 

As a former oil and gas industry worker, Heather has the experience and background to identify with a large number of residents in and around the Westhill area.

A member of Westhill & Elrick Community Council, one of Heather’s main priorities and areas of focus if successful in being elected will be in supporting and championing community groups in Westhill and the surrounding villages to achieve their ambitions via community choice budgeting.

Commenting, Heather Coull said:

“I am delighted to be selected as an SNP candidate for the Westhill & District ward and if elected I aim to carry on Mandy Allan’s good work and work together with David, and indeed the other Westhill councillors, as a strong team for our local area.”

David Aitchison was elected as a councillor at the 2012 election and was formerly a surveyor in the civil service. David who is married with 3 children grew up in Eyemouth and worked in Edinburgh, Nottingham and Durham before moving to Westhill over twenty years ago.

Since being elected David has served on the Infrastructure Services, Scrutiny & Audit and Education & Children’s Services Committees. Since June 2015 he has been Chairman of Aberdeenshire’s Infrastructure Services Committee and Vice-Chairman of NESTRANS, the North-east transport partnership.

Commenting on his selection David Aitchison said:

“It has been a privilege to represent Westhill & District and I am delighted to be a candidate to represent the ward again.

“In my two years as an administration senior councillor I have been able to oversee policies on regeneration, planning and economic development which will benefit Aberdeenshire.

“Westhill is now at a crossroads in terms of its development. It is time to consider what we want our community to look like in the future. If re-elected I will continue the dialogue that I am already having on this issue and work with partners and residents to create a vision for the future which Westhill deserves.”

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Mar 172017
 

Aberdeen Climate Week events will include talks, debates, walks, films and exhibits.

With thanks to Erik Dalhuijsen.

Aberdeen Climate Action will be asking us all to make a change for climate change during this year’s Climate Week North East.
The 3rd Climate Week will be taking place from the 18th-25th March and promises to be bigger than ever, featuring lots of fun and thought-provoking events across Aberdeen City and Shire.

With events ranging from panel discussions, rangers walks & bike rides, children’s storytelling, tours of the Donside Community Hydro, films, talks and exhibits, zero waste cafes and much, much more, Climate Week North East is designed to showcase the inspiring action happening here in the North East and elsewhere, demonstrate what each of us can do to help, and inform along the way.

One highlight of the week will be a showcase of the community initiatives taking place around the North East at the Central Library on Wednesday 22nd March at 6.30pm.

The events come at a key time for Aberdeen following the downturn in the oil and gas industry when residents are looking for new jobs in new industries and calling for a more diversified economy within the North East. It is also set against a backdrop of increased need for action on climate change.

Alison Stuart of Aberdeen Climate Action said:

“The effects of climate change such as extreme weather conditions affect us all, last winter saw terrible flooding in parts of Aberdeenshire which left us with a bill well over £1.3 billion.

“All of us can do something individually to help reduce climate change, reducing the amount of waste we produce, recycling what we can, eating more local produce and walking, cycling or taking the bus instead of a car. But together we can do so much more, whether acting with our communities or bringing up climate change with our politicians to get support for the big changes needed.

“We have some excellent events on including a discussion panel with Professor Pete Smith of the IPCC and Aberdeen University and other prominent scientists as well as a host of events across Aberdeen City and Shire making this the best Climate Week in Aberdeen yet. 

“This is a great opportunity for anyone who would simply like to know a little more or for those that really want to get more deeply involved. Aberdeen is at a crossroads and I hope that this event can help to spark real change and help people to see the value of greater diversification within the local economy to more towards a sustainable and stable green economy.”

Erik Dalhuijsen of Aberdeen Climate Action said:

“Climate Change has massive impact on Aberdeen, its people and the world at large. The oil economy will end, agriculture and society will see increasing cost and challenges from flooding, worldwide access to fresh water will reduce, diseases spread. It is absolutely worth doing our utmost to prevent escalation of Climate Change.

“Aberdeen, city and shire, are well placed to be a part of the solution. Our week of events looks at many aspects of climate change with talks, debates, walks, films and exhibits to get people thinking and inspire them to take action. It especially focuses on local input, highlighting what is being done here and elsewhere driven by locals, showing what people, business and governments can do to reduce emissions, improve green transport, and make our entire society more pleasant, healthy and future proof.”

Full list of events here: http://www.climateweekaberdeen.org/programme.html

More on Aberdeen Climate Action here: www.aberdeenclimateaction.org

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Mar 172017
 

With thanks to Martin Ford.

In an initiative by Aberdeenshire’s Democratic Independent and Green councillors Councillor Martin Ford is asking Aberdeenshire Council to ‘give consideration to the feasibility of creating a significant visual arts, museum or other cultural facility as part of its redevelopment of the Harlaw Road site in Inverurie’.

Cllr Ford’s call comes in a notice of motion he has submitted for debate at the next meeting of Aberdeenshire’s Education and Children’s Services Committee on 23 March.

It has only been possible to submit notices of motion for debate at Aberdeenshire Council’s policy committees since 27 January this year when the Council’s new scheme of governance was introduced (previously notices of motion were restricted to Area Committees and full council).

Cllr Ford’s notice of motion says:

“Aberdeenshire Council shall give consideration to the feasibility of creating a significant visual arts, museum or other cultural facility as part of its redevelopment of the Harlaw Road site in Inverurie. The consideration process shall include seeking public views, establishing what external funding sources might be available and discussions with potential partners who may want to be involved (e.g. the local universities).”

Committee chair Cllr Alison Evison has confirmed Cllr Ford’s notice of motion will be included on the agenda for next week’s Education and Children’s Services Committee meeting.

Cllr Ford said:

“The motion doesn’t commit the Council to anything beyond an exploratory process. But it’s an exploratory process we should do, and we need to do it now before the site is master-planned.

“Essentially, the motion asks the Council to think about the possibilities, and have discussions with others. Why would it not do that?

“The motion is deliberately not prescriptive about the kind of facility. That needs to be discussed and a decision emerge from consultation and dialogue.

“Personally, I rather like the idea of an ‘Aberdeenshire Museum’, but that’s clearly just one possibility. I want to see what comes out of the discussion and consultation that I hope results from the motion I have tabled.

“The point is, who would have predicted the V&A going to Dundee? Someone had to suggest it, against all reasonable expectation, and it happened.

“There is certainly room on the Harlaw Road site.

“A major cultural facility would bring significant benefits for the Aberdeenshire economy and tourism. It would also contribute to the quality of life for residents and raise the profile of the area.

“Clearly, funding will be an issue – which is why the motion asks the Council to look at external funding possibilities and open discussions with potential partners as part of an initial exploratory process.”

Cllr Paul Johnston said:

“This is a good idea. At this stage, agreeing the motion does not commit the Council to expenditure, it only opens the door to exciting possibilities.

“The Council should be keen to hear the public’s views.”

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Mar 102017
 

With thanks to Martin Ford.

The confidence and supply agreement between Aberdeenshire’s Democratic Independent and Green Group (DIGG) councillors – Martin Ford and Paul Johnston – and their council’s Partnership administration has delivered significant benefits for Aberdeenshire residents. That is the view of both the DIGG and the Partnership.

The agreement was struck in 2015. The DIGG remained an independent opposition group but guaranteed limited support to the minority Partnership administration, allowing it to take office and bringing stability to the Council.

In return, the Partnership committed to supporting a range of specific policies and other changes put forward by the DIGG. 

The agreement has worked well and been adhered to by both sides. It is the first such arrangement in Aberdeenshire.

One provision in the agreement is that an annual, objective, assessment of progress with it be requested from the Council’s chief executive. The assessment for 2017 has now been received. 

The assessment shows the specific provisions in the confidence and supply agreement have either been delivered or are ‘work in progress’.

In addition to the policy changes in the confidence and supply agreement, the Partnership has adopted suggestions from the DIGG in the Council budget put forward by the Partnership.

Cllr Paul Johnston said:

“The DIGG’s aims in reaching a limited agreement with the Partnership were to bring stability to the Council at a time when no grouping could form an administration by itself, and to secure policy changes and service improvements for residents.

“The DIGG has remained an independent opposition group – but one that has been able to deliver significant policy change. I’ve been particularly pleased that the Council has taken steps towards genuine budget consultation and is working towards further improving links with the third sector, charities and voluntary oganisations.”

Cllr Martin Ford said:

“The cross-party co-operation between the DIGG and the Partnership has brought some significant progress. There have been been specific improvements, such as the investment in active travel.

“The adoption of the carbon budget is a governance measure of genuine significance – a Scottish first – that should deliver long-term benefits, and may provide a model for other councils.”

Council co-leader Cllr Richard Thomson added:

“The willingness of the DIG Group to offer political support to the Partnership where they could and constructive criticism where they couldn’t, has made this an extremely effective administration. Their willingness to engage and negotiate has shown just what can be achieved where politicians decide to concentrate on meaningful outcomes rather than just headlines.

“I hope that Aberdeeenshire is able to continue benefitting from this constructive approach to politics after May’s elections.”

Council co-leader Cllr Alison Evison said:

“We have fundamental aims in common with the DIGG – to provide quality public services to all residents in Aberdeenshire and in consultation with residents, and to develop effective partnership work with others in order to achieve this.

“Our agreement with the DIGG has in particular helped us to develop links with local credit unions. It has enabled our aspirations to develop more cycling and walking routes to become real projects.

In 2015 it was crucial for services in Aberdeenshire, and for the people dependent on these services, that we were able to form a stable Administration after a long, unsettled period. The Confidence and Supply Agreement secured this.”

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Mar 022017
 

Stewart Stevenson MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast has pledged to work with the Arrhythmia Alliance and its sister organisation, AF Association, to demand the creation of a national screening programme for people over 65 at risk of AF. Currently, one in three of all people with AF have not even been diagnosed and are at an increased risk of suffering an AF-related stroke.

Stewart Stevenson at the Arrhythmia Alliance event in the Scottish Parliament.

At a Know Your Pulse event held in Holyrood hosted by the Arrhythmia Alliance and AF Association, Stewart Stevenson MSP supported our call upon the Scottish Parliament to debate the need for an AF screening programme for people over 65 in Scotland.
This event raised awareness of the importance of a simple manual pulse check in helping to detect AF, Parliamentarians who attended had a pulse check and an ECG hand-held recording.

Trudie Lobban MBE, Founder & CEO, Arrhythmia Alliance, who hosted the event, said:

“Manual pulse rhythm checks are a simple, cost-effective way to identify people with irregular heart rhythms, such as AF, which is why we are calling for a debate in the Scottish parliament on the value of screening for AF.

“A manual pulse check, is so simple to do, takes less than a minute and does not cost the NHS – but the benefits in preventing AF-related strokes and unnecessary deaths are enormous. Everyone needs to be aware of their pulse and how to manually check for an irregular rhythm.”

Stewart Stevenson MSP added:

“I was shocked to hear about the numbers of people walking around today completely unaware that they have AF and who could be at risk of a debilitating or life-threatening AF-related stroke.

“I fully endorse the work of the Arrhythmia Alliance and AF Association and their call for a national debate on AF screening in Scotland. The pulse check I had taken showed just how simple and easy it is to identify someone who may have AF.”

AF is the most common heart rhythm abnormality, and is associated with a third of ischaemic strokes, which are typically more severe and debilitating for the patient. Data from stroke registries show that both unknown and untreated or under treated AF is responsible for most of these strokes.

The tragedy is that most could be prevented if efforts were directed towards detection of AF before stroke occurs, through screening or case finding, and the provision of oral anticoagulant medications to prevent clots being formed in the heart, dislodging to be carried to an artery of the brain, blocking the circulation and causing an AF-related stroke.

For more information about the Arrhythmia Alliance and AF Association, please go to: www.heartrhythmalliance.org

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Mar 022017
 

After battling with necrotizing fasciitis, Robin Grant ran in the Ness 10K in 2016 and will return in 2017.

With thanks to Eoin Smith, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

An Aberdeenshire man who suffered from a rare flesh-eating bacteria has recovered to discover a passion for running.

After battling with necrotizing fasciitis, Robin Grant has developed a love of exploring the great outdoors on foot and will compete in the Baxters River Ness 10k in September.

It was an ordinary day at work in August 2014 for Robin (43) – originally from Old Rayne in Aberdeenshire and now living in Inverness – when he began to notice the first symptoms of the illness.

He says,

“I suddenly felt an intense pain in my arm. It felt like I had overstretched and trapped a nerve in my shoulder – only multiplied by a hundred. But after about half an hour, the pain went away and I thought I was okay.”

For Robin, a visit to the doctor is usually out of the question – but as the pain returned and the severity increased – he had little option.

He continues,

“The pain came back and it was excruciating. Although I don’t usually visit the doctor – I wasn’t even registered at the GP – I walked up to casualty and was given some painkillers.

“The next day I visited the GP who gave me some more painkillers. I had to register, but I could barely lift my arm due to the pain and they had to fill in all the forms for me.

“As the week went on I got progressively worse, to the point where I couldn’t get to the end of the road without feeling violently sick.”

Struggling on his own, Robin’s father took him to the family home in Aberdeenshire to offer some support. But over the weekend, Robin’s condition deteriorated.

Robin says,

“I was getting worse and worse, so my dad took me to see his GP in Insch. He took one look at me and asked, ‘Have you got transport or do you need me to call an ambulance?’”

Robin was rushed to A&E in Aberdeen where, after just four hours, he was taken into surgery. He was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis – a rare condition that is known as a flesh-eating bacteria. The illness causes tissue death in affected areas, resulting in incredible pain.

Robin explains,

“When I came out of surgery, I was in intensive care for about two weeks and on a ventilator for a week. The only way to treat the bug is to cut it out – the flesh is essentially dead – so I also required plastic surgery.”

Frustrated by the constraints of his hospital bed, Robin’s thoughts turned to an old hobby – running. He says, “For me, hospital was an incredibly boring place. I signed up to take part in a local 10k event while I was still admitted, and completed it the next year.”

Six months after his ordeal in hospital, Robin was back in Inverness and back at work as driver supervisor at Arnold Clark Car and Van Rental. But he couldn’t shake his passion for running – despite having to adapt to new limitations. Robin explains,

“I had to develop a different style of running. My right side was hit hard by the bug – I lost my shoulder muscles and part of my bicep – so it really affected my balance. I couldn’t swing my right arm, and I still can’t lift it properly to this day.

“I noticed that I had begun to compensate with the left side of my body, but I actually feel like I’m running better now than I ever did before. It might be because I’m running more now, but I think that I’m also improving because I’m thinking more about how I need to run.”

After his first race, Robin began to enter a number of 10ks across the country – including the River Ness 10k, part of the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running. And despite having run in some incredible locations across the country, Robin counts his local race as one of the best.

He says,

“I was back living in Inverness and decided to run the River Ness 10K. It was tough – it was roasting hot that day – but I absolutely loved it. The course is great, and the energy around the whole event is really uplifting.

“This year I’m looking to up my distance and run a few half marathons. I’d run a few before I was ill, but this will be the first time I’ve attempted it recently. And I’ll definitely be back to run in the River Ness 10K. The year wouldn’t feel complete without it.

“I’ve got my sights set on the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon, though. One day soon, you’ll find me on the starting line.”

The River Ness 10k takes place on September 24, and is part of the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running. The event, which draws thousands of people from across the world, also comprises the title marathon, 10K Corporate Challenge, River Ness 5K and a Wee Nessie fun-run for pre-school children.

The finish line is based around the Event Village at the Bught Park in Inverness, where runners and spectators can enjoy the Baxters Food and Drink Fayre, a Sports Expo, live music and activities for children.

Entries are still open at www.lochnessmarathon.com The event is also active on Facebook at facebook.com/lochnessmarathon and on Twitter @nessmarathon

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Mar 022017
 

A landmark law to tackle violence against women passed its Third Reading in the House of Commons on Friday with an overwhelming majority of 138 in favour to just 1 against. With thanks to Banff & Buchan SNP.

Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP with campaigners and MPs after the vote.

Local MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford’s Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Ratification of Convention) Bill 2017, requires the UK government to ratify the Istanbul Convention – a far-reaching new law that puts legal obligations on the state to prevent violence against women, protect
women and prosecute the perpetrators.

The Convention encompasses many forms of sexual violence and domestic abuse including stalking, harassment, sexual assault and rape, physical and psychological abuse by a partner, forced marriage, forced abortion or sterilisation and female genital mutilation.

The UK signed the treaty in 2012 but has yet to ratify it to make it part of UK law.

The SNP MP for Banff & Buchan, who is the party’s Westminster spokesperson for Social Justice, secured cross-party support for her Bill, which has been championed by women’s equality organisations including IC Change, Women’s Aid, Scottish Women’s Aid, Rape Crisis Scotland, White Ribbon, End Violence Against Women, Scottish Women’s convention, NUS, Girlguiding, and the Fawcett Society.

The Bill also received strong support from the actor and UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador, Emma Watson, who this week wrote to all MPs urging them to vote for the Bill.

Commenting after the Bill passed its Third Reading, Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“I am delighted that this landmark legislation to combat gender-based violence has received such overwhelming cross-party support and now looks set to become UK law.

“This is a huge and historic step forward in efforts to tackle violence against women and has the potential to transform the lives of thousands of women right across the country.

“Women’s equality organisations and activists have been campaigning for the UK government to ratify the Istanbul Convention for many years now – so today’s vote is a cause for celebration and a testament to their sustained efforts.

“The Istanbul Convention is the most comprehensive and far-reaching framework that exists to tackle violence against women in its many forms and manifestations, and critically, it provides the legal apparatus to hold governments accountable for their progress. This is a powerful vehicle for improving policy, practices and services on an ongoing basis.

“Sexual violence and domestic abuse are neither natural nor inevitable. We can prevent it, we can challenge it and we can hold perpetrators to account. We need to do all these things if we are to end this systematic abuse of women’s basic human rights, and ratifying the Istanbul Convention is a big step in the right direction.

“We have travelled some distance in this struggle but we still have such long way still to go and we need to recognise that Ratification of the Istanbul Convention is a milestone on the journey to equality and justice for women, not an end point.”

Further reading:

 Emma Watson backs SNP MP’s bid to combat domestic abuse.
 Theresa May urges MPs to back Whiteford bill and stamp out violence against women.

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