Face-to-face with Colin Mackay: Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie

STV will host a series of interviews with the main political party leaders ahead of May's Holyrood election.

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Over the coming weeks STV will be hosting a series of exclusive interviews with the main political party leaders taking part in May’s Holyrood elections.

Next up is co-leader of the Scottish Greens, Patrick Harvie, who sat down with political correspondent Colin Mackay to outline the party’s message and vision for the country.

Colin Mackay: Patrick Harvie COP26 is coming up, what’s your big sell on the climate at this election? 

Patrick Harvie: Well, very clearly, this is an election where our future really depends on the decisions that are going to be made, not just across the river from this studio at the climate conference, but in the Scottish Parliament as well. Scotland has set its climate targets and repeatedly missed them. The current Scottish government really does need to take responsibility for the fact that in areas like transport emissions are going up, they’re going in the wrong direction. It’s not just the progress is too slow; we are going in the wrong direction.

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So, we need to take that bold transformative approach. We need to say a just transition begins right now, instead of thinking oil and gas extraction lasts for another generation. We need to be investing in public transport that will meet the needs of every community across Scotland, and do that affordably. By doing these things, we will have the economic recovery from the pandemic as well, that will generate the jobs of the future.

So if we believe in that kind of optimistic future of Scotland. We need to vote, like our future depends on it.

CM: Depending on what voters decide on May 6, and it’s entirely up to them, would you consider going into a coalition, after the election?  

PH: Well I’ve seen various folks in the media speculate about this. We don’t speculate about this. We focus on winning people’s trust, inspiring people with a positive vision about Scotland’s Future. 

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CM: I heard you say this week that you aspire to being a party of government at some point. Why not now? 

PH: The Greens, including in many other countries in Europe have been in government, and I absolutely hold that aspiration for my party. Very clearly, we’ve got six seats in the last election; some of the polls suggest that we could double that, at this election. 

CM: So if you do that, would you consider going into government? 

PH: Well, you know, we would look at the arithmetic in the next parliament, and if the leading party that has to form the next government wants to speak to us, I suspect most of our party would be willing to talk. There are really big differences though, between ourselves and the SNP on a number of issues like oil and gas, like public transport… 

CM: But you’ve been accused of being the little helpers in the last parliament. Five budgets and two conference votes you backed them on… 

PH: You’ve been reading too many Tory leaflets. There’s a narrative that some on the right of politics like to create. In reality, the Tories have voted with the SNP on a number of issues… 

CM: But in the key votes you voted with them in terms of the budget. And in terms of the confidence votes…

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PH: It was Green pressure that got the government to stop working with the Tories to bail out the landlords and start bailing out tenants in the private rented sector… 

CM: Because you bailed out the SNP… 

PH: Because we put pressure on the SNP. We always do that by putting positive, constructive ideas on the table. I wish other opposition parties would do the same.

CM: Could you do that in government then, and if you did, what are your red lines for negotiations? 

PH: I think clearly there are clearly substantial differences that we would have to talk to any other party about. We’ve shown in the last five years…

CM: So what are your red lines? What’s non-negotiable for the Greens? 

PH: We’ve shown for the last five years, that bringing constructive opposition can get results. I’m really proud of that track record, and I would have no worries about continuing to make an impact to make a difference for the people of Scotland, in that way, in the next session, whatever the parliamentary arithmetic was.

CM: So you don’t think you’ll be in government then? 

PH: If the party that’s in government is the biggest and wants to talk to us. I suspect that most of us will be very comfortable about having that conversation. But it would be a tough conversation in terms of things like wealth taxes, in terms of things like investing in public transport, instead of multi billion pound road building programme. That would make our climate crisis, worse, not better… 

CM: One of your big issues is rail transport; you’re talking about £22bn of investment, where’s that money coming from? Is that scrapping all the roads investment?

PH: It’s a 20 year programme that would involve redirecting from road building, which makes not just climate emissions, but also congestion and pollution worse, not better. So it would involve redirecting. But there’s also recognition… 

CM: Redirecting all of it?

PH: There’s also recognition across all parties that the Covid recovery, the recovery from this pandemic needs to be investment led. It can’t be left to the market. It leads the role of the state, including with borrowing powers to invest in the priorities of the future, and if we’re willing to do that, we will not only reduce our emissions, not only have economic recovery, but will create the sustainable prosperity that will last for the 21st century.

CM: Isn’t duelling the A77 in the southwest of Scotland to the ports, isn’t completing the duelling of the A9 crucial services for the people of Scotland? 

PH: There are certainly areas of our road network that needs maintenance, and that needs safety improvements. But building evermore capacity in the road network is a self-defeating policy. It generates more traffic, which generates more pollution, more ill health, and doesn’t help the economy in the long run. It leaves people spending more of their money to spend more of their time stuck in traffic jams. 

CM: You want to build a rail tunnel under the Forth. I haven’t heard anybody saying that that was something which was necessary at all, only the Greens…

PH: Well that’s one element of a 20 year programme…

CM: It’s a big element, £6bn?

PH: If we were in the position of being able to deliver that whole programme each element of it would be subject to scrutiny. But the scrutiny of transport policies in Scotland at the moment simply doesn’t add up.

CM: It sounds like a vanity project. I’m not hearing anybody from the rail network demanding it, everybody likes the bridge across the Forth. Why do you need a tunnel?

PH: Well, the Rail For All report that you’re talking about was done by industry experts so that’s not just our ideas. It’s the views of people who have been rail experts for many, many years.

But look, if Scotland aspires to what many of our European neighbours have, a world class public transport system that’s affordable, that’s run in the public sector and in the public interest and that serves every part of our Scotland we need to be bold about it.

CM: And what about the North Sea oil and gas industry you want to close it down. When?

PH: Very clearly what we should be starting with is no new exploration licences… 

CM: But you actually want to close them down don’t you?

PH: Revoke the undeveloped licences and with the existing operational fields, set a timescale for winding them down. 

CM: So what is your timescale?

PH: Well it’s, it would be up to assessing each individual operational field right at the moment, and we’re saying no new exploration licences and revoke the undeveloped ones.

CM: But what’s your target for closing them down?

PH: The critical target is our climate change envelope, the window of opportunity we have. We have three times more fossil fuels in existing reserves than we can afford to use. So the transition away from fossil fuels needs to be on that timescale. It needs to be making sure that we’re no longer using fossil fuels by the time we reach that maximum envelope.

CM: Is nine years your target for closing down the North Sea?

PH: I think that would, it would be realistic to develop the alternative industries that the communities that are currently dependent on a dying industry, fossil fuels, they’re going to need those alternative industries. We can invest in that. Let’s not leave it to chance. Let’s not leave it to the market. That failed Scotland in previous waves of deindustrialization. When you see economic change coming yeah the plan for it, you have to invest in what’s going to be needed into the future.

CM: Something else you have to plan for if you’re in the Green Party is another independence referendum. What would be a mandate for that in the next parliament?

PH: Simply a majority of the votes in the next Scottish Parliament. If the people of Scotland choose to elect a pro-independence majority in the next Scottish Parliament, then that’s a mandate for that Parliament to decide…

CM: But a mandate was given in the last parliament and it hasn’t delivered has it?

PH: Well we believe that the continued opposition, after yet another pro independence election if that’s the result that people in Scotland choose, the continued opposition to that democratic principle is politically unsustainable, and potentially open to legal challenge as well so we’ll assert that case, that Scotland has the right to make its own choice.

CM: Did you ever get the million signatures you promised for another independence referendum?

PH: I think you are going back to way before the Brexit referendum…

CM: 2014 is not that far ago, we can all remember. Did you get the million signatures? 

PH: That was our position before the Brexit referendum. We certainly changed our position on that because Brexit has changed everything. Brexit is a betrayal of the democratic wishes of Scotland. Scotland’s not only Scotland, but also the people in Northern Ireland and the people across the island of Ireland have been betrayed. Scotland has been betrayed by Brexit. It’s deeply harmful position that we now find ourselves in, and it is at odds, it’s directly at odds with the promises that were given in 2014 with a Better Together campaign that said the way to protect our position in Europe is to vote no. Well that wasn’t true, it changes the game, and it certainly changes our position on what would justify and require another independence referendum. 

CM: You talked earlier about wealth taxes and other taxes, how much tax does Scotland need to increase to cover the costs of what you’re promising in terms of what your manifesto will offer?

PH: The really big challenge on tax is not to try and put the figure on it right now, and I don’t think any party that does that now would be honest. The Finance Committee, at the Scottish Parliament just toward the end of the last session, said that we need a deep re-examination of our tax base, not just how much tax to raise but how to raise it…

CH: You’re not going to tell the voters how much you’re going to put up their tax in the next parliament?

PH: We’ve said that now isn’t a reasonable time to be raising income tax, except perhaps an additional wealth tax for the very highest, you know a millionaire’s tax. There’s a case for that. There’s a case for a pandemic profiteers tax for some of the big companies, global companies that have profited massively from the pandemic, a windfall tax on them would be reasonable. Not income tax at the current time, but we also clearly need to reform our local taxation system which is broken, out of date and deeply unfair.

CM: Patrick Harvie thanks for joining us on Scotland Tonight.

PH: Thank you. 

Join the Scotland Tonight team again next week for the third part in the series of leader interviews ahead of May’s elections.


Who’s in charge as Glasgow becomes UN territory at COP26?

Everything you need to know about the law, policing and security during the crunch climate summit.

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Police Scotland officers can only enter the blue zone with UN agreement.

The COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow is being hosted by the United Nations, which means the venue will come under its control.

The summit will take place across two sites – the ‘blue zone’ at the Scottish Event Campus and the ‘green zone’ at Glasgow Science Centre.

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The blue zone is a UN-managed space that hosts the negotiations, bringing together delegations from 197 countries. It will become an international territory subject to international law, in the same way the UN headquarters in New York and its offices in Geneva and Vienna are not subject to domestic law.

The UN will have administrative control of the Scottish Events Campus and will be responsible for security during COP26. While it will be supported by Police Scotland, the UN will remain in charge of all security in the blue zone.

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Police mounted units have been training for COP26.
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Police Scotland may only enter with the consent of the UN secretary general, a standard arrangement for such conferences.

‘Complete freedom of expression’

UN officials, representatives and experts all have immunity from legal process – including prosecution (diplomatic immunity) – inside the blue zone.

Natasha Durkin, a senior associate in Shepherd and Wedderburn’s regulation and markets team, told STV News: “It is a foundational principle of the UN that its property is ‘inviolable’, meaning that UN property is immune from any legal interference wherever it is situated.

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“The main reason for this is to allow the UN full control of its international functions and activities without interference, and reflects the immunities UN personnel have from legal process.

“One important aspect of the blue zone is that it allows the UN to guarantee complete freedom of speech to those participating in UN meetings, regardless of the (possibly restrictive) laws applying in the host state.

“Complete freedom of expression for participants is agreed in Article 2 of the COP26 agreement.”

Year of planning

Police Scotland has been planning and preparing for over a year, alongside the United Nations, UK Government and Glasgow City Council.

Assistant chief constable Bernard Higgins said: “We have engaged with the United Nations and this is common practice for UN conferences.

“In consultation with a range of partners, our policing plan takes into account all factors to ensure an appropriate response will be delivered.” 

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Police carry out a training exercise on the ‘Squinty Bridge’ in Glasgow.
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All attendees within the blue zone must be accredited by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Ms Durkin said: “Consistent with having full control of the blue zone, the UN is ‘in charge’.

“However, the COP26 agreement (and again, as is standard) requires the UN to cooperate with UK authorities to ensure the proper administration of justice and to prevent any abuse of the blue zone. 

“In addition to the UN being required to cooperate with the UK in relation to the administration of justice, and to prevent abuse, the secretary general of the UN can waive any immunity applying to the blue zone. 

“As such, if an offence is committed, there are mechanisms for both cooperation between the UK and UN, and the possibility of waiver of immunity. The disposal of an alleged offence committed in the blue zone would ultimately depend on circumstances.”

So what is the green zone?

The green zone is managed by the UK Government and is a platform for the general public, youth groups, civil society, academia, artists, business and others to have their voices heard.

It will host events, exhibitions, workshops and talks promoting dialogue, awareness and education.

Normal domestic law applies there.

No return of Covid restrictions as NHS ‘faces more pressure than ever’

The First Minister was giving an update on the state of the pandemic in Scotland in Holyrood on Tuesday afternoon.

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There will be no immediate return of Covid restrictions despite health care being under more pressure than ever, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The First Minister was giving an update on the state of the pandemic in Scotland in Holyrood on Tuesday afternoon.

She said that the health and social care sector was “arguably under more pressure now than at any stage of the pandemic” with NHS boards across the country in high alert.

NHS Lanarkshire has confirmed it is at the highest risk level (black) due to “critical occupancy levels”.

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The health board along with NHS Borders and NHS Grampian has called in the British Military to ease pressure on services.

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Nicola Sturgeon at Holyrood on Tuesday.

Sturgeon said that the Cabinet had agreed not to make any changes to current coronavirus mitigations but that the situation “remains fragile”.

She warned that pressures on the NHS and social care were likely to increase in the coming months.

The prospect of healthcare workers facing another winter under a state of emergency is “exceptionally frightening”, representatives said this month.

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Sturgeon said: “Across the country, hospitals are at, or close to, capacity.

“The social care system is also under pressure and reporting an increase in the number of people requiring care packages.

“These pressures are, of course, likely to intensify during the winter.”

The First Minister announced an investment of £482m in the NHS and care sector.

More than £120m of the funding will go towards bolstering Test and Protect with another £130m supporting the vaccination programme – 87% of all those over-18 fully vaccinated in Scotland.

On Sunday, October 31, the UN climate summit officially begins with 30,000 delegates expected to visit Glasgow along with thousands more protestors and activists.

Professor Devi Sridhar, who sits on the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 advisory group, said coronavirus restrictions may have to be reimposed in the aftermath of the climate conference.

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Prof Sridhar’s comments echoed those of another Scottish Government adviser, Professor Linda Bauld, who said last week that holding the large-scale event was “risky”.

But health secretary Humza Yousaf previously said he believed the government could take the necessary steps to counter a potential spike caused by COP26.


Obituary: Ex-Rangers and Scotland manager Walter Smith

Walter Smith was one of the most successful Scottish football managers of all time.

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Walter Smith, the former Scotland and Rangers boss and one of the most successful managers in Scottish football history, has died aged 73.

Smith’s career in professional football spanned 45 years, taking him to international level and cementing a position among the elite of the club game.

As manager of Rangers over two spells, he won ten league titles, five Scottish Cups, six League Cups and guided his side to the UEFA Cup final in 2008.

Smith was also awarded an OBE in 1997 for his services to association football.

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Born in Lanark in 1948, his football career started in earnest when the defender signed for Dundee United in 1966 after a spell in Junior football. Smith played for the Tannadice club over two spells, and also had two years at Dumbarton, the highlight being a Scottish Cup final appearance in 1974.

By the time he hung up his boots in 1980, Smith had already begun a coaching career that would far surpass the success of his playing days.

Starting out at Dundee United under the guidance of Jim McLean, the young coach combined his duties at Tannadice while working with Scotland’s Under-18 team. He was alongside Andy Roxburgh when Scotland won the European Youth Championship in 1982, the country’s first international title at any level.

His growing reputation as a coach grew and he was appointed manager of Scotland’s Under-21 side, and then acted as Sir Alex Ferguson’s right-hand man at the World Cup in Mexico in 1986.

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That year brought another pivotal moment in Smith’s career, when he moved to Ibrox to become assistant manager at the club he supported as a child. Acting as assistant to Graeme Souness, he was a central figure in a dramatic and impactful time at the club and in Scottish football as Rangers brought in high-profile players from England and targeted success at home and abroad.

Smith was alongside Souness as Rangers won three league titles and four Scottish Cups and, when Souness suddenly left Glasgow to return to Liverpool in 1991, the Ibrox club made the decision to elevate the assistant to the top job. It would prove to be a move that delivered one of the most successful spells in the club’s history.

Under ambitious owner David Murray, Rangers spent big and won big. Smith signed a number of the best players from across Scotland and supplemented them with stars from across Europe, including Alexei Mikhailichenko, Brian Laudrup, Basile Boli and Paul Gascoigne.

Rangers had won the previous two titles under Souness, and Smith delivered seven more, dominating the domestic game as Rangers equalled rivals Celtic’s record of nine successive league trophies. Three Scottish Cup wins and three League Cup wins in that time added to the trophy haul, but Smith’s tenure was also marked by some big moments in European football, including a run in the 1992-93 Champions League that saw them beat English champions Leeds United and go unbeaten in the group stage, missing out on a place in the final by a single point.

Smith stepped down in 1998, his final season seeing Celtic win the league title on a dramatic final day, and Rangers lose to Hearts in the Scottish Cup final.

He returned to management shortly after his Ibrox departure, succeeding Howard Kendall at Goodison Park. Though his four years in charge didn’t bring success, Smith was a steady hand at the wheel as spending at Everton was restricted while rival clubs splashed the cash.

After leaving the Toffees, Smith had a brief spell at Manchester United, reuniting with Alex Ferguson as assistant at Old Trafford, but he was soon to return to front-line management.

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Scotland needed a change of direction after the tumultuous Berti Vogts era and Smith answered the call, taking the manager’s job in 2004. Though the team missed out on qualification for the 2006 World Cup, the Scot brought marked improvement to the side and a climb up the world rankings was proof of his success.

Smith and Scotland were part-way through the Euro 2008 qualifiers when Rangers asked him to return to the club in January 2007 after Paul Le Guen left Ibrox.

The second spell at Rangers saw Smith underline his iconic status with the Rangers support. Three further league titles, three League Cups and three Scottish Cups added to his formidable trophy haul, but a European run against the odds was the highlight in 2008.

Smith’s side began the season in the Champions League but could only finish third in a group that pitted them against Barcelona, Lyon and Stuttgart. That brought the consolation prize of a place in the knockout stage of the UEFA Cup and Rangers took on that challenge and excelled.

A disciplined side with a miserly defence saw off Panathinaikos, Werder Bremen, Sporting Lisbon and Frioentina, conceding only one goal along the way, to reach the final.

At the showpiece match in Manchester, Smith’s side came up against Zenti St Petersburg, but fell short in a 2-0 defeat.

Smith retired in 2011, having amassed 21 domestic trophies as Rangers manager, second only to Bill Struth in terms of silverware at Ibrox and with his prominent place in the club’s history books assured.

He later had brief spells as a director and chairman at the club but also offered guidance and advice to those who came after him as Rangers boss.

Rangers chairman Douglas Park said on Tuesday: “It is almost impossible to encapsulate what Walter meant to every one of us at Rangers. He embodied everything that a Ranger should be. His character and leadership was second to none, and will live long in the memory of everyone he worked with during his two terms as first-team manager.”


Queen will miss COP26 climate conference on doctors’ orders

The monarch has said she is 'disappointed' that she will no longer attend the climate event in Glasgow.

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Queen: The monarch has been advised to rest.

The Queen has pulled out of hosting a major reception for world leaders at the COP26 climate change summit, Buckingham Palace has confirmed.

The 95-year-old monarch was due to travel to Scotland for the high-profile engagement on Monday November 1.

A palace spokesman said: “Following advice to rest, The Queen has been undertaking light duties at Windsor Castle.

“Her Majesty has regretfully decided that she will no longer travel to Glasgow to attend the evening reception of COP26 on Monday, 1st November.

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“Her Majesty is disappointed not to attend the reception but will deliver an address to the assembled delegates via a recorded video message.”

The head of state faced preliminary tests in hospital on October 20 during her first overnight stay at a medical facility in eight years.

She has been resting following medical advice to cancel her two-day trip to Northern Ireland.

But she returned to work on Tuesday, carrying out virtual audiences from Windsor Castle – her first official engagements in seven days since she was ordered to rest by doctors.


Drug guidance change has ‘no bearing on spiking’ incidences

Crown Office says new warning scheme does not apply to possession of controlled drugs with intention to supply.

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Police forces across the UK are investigating reports of 'spiking' at nightclubs.

New powers for police officers to hand out warnings to people in possession of drugs have not had a bearing on increased incidences of “spiking” in recent months, according to the Crown Office.

It said new guidance introduced last month “does not apply to possession of controlled drugs with intention to supply them to another”.

Dorothy Bain QC, who was appointed Scotland’s most senior law officer in June, told MSPs last month she had decided to implement an extension of recorded police warning guidelines.

That means people found in possession of Class A drugs for personal use can now be issued with a recorded police warning instead of facing automatic prosecution, following a review of guidance by the Lord Advocate.

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The Crown statement released on Tuesday comes amid reports of young women being injected during nights out in cities across the UK – including Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee.

COPFS posted on Twitter: “The Lord Advocate’s guidance that police officers may choose to issue a warning for simple possession of drugs has no bearing on ‘spiking’.

“The warning scheme does not apply to possession of controlled drugs with intention to supply them to another. Such behaviour constitutes a specific, separate offence under S.5(3) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

“Under the warning scheme police officers always retain the ability to report appropriate cases to the Procurator Fiscal for consideration of prosecution.”

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Victims of spiking say they have been pierced with a needle in their leg, hands and back and woke up to no recollection of the night.

They are left with a pinprick mark – surrounded by a giant bruise – with risks of shared or unclean needles being used, posing threats of HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C.

Club bosses in Scotland say they are implementing precautionary measures, including body searches, bag searches and ensuring no drinks are left unattended.

A campaign by the group ‘Girls Night In’ is calling for a boycott of nightclubs and bars in a demand for the ‘epidemic’ of drink spiking to be tackled.

The group has asked women to avoid major city bars on Thursday, October 28, in protest at safety concerns not being taken seriously.

The recorded police warning scheme enables officers to deal with a wide range of low level offences by issuing a warning on the spot or retrospectively, in the form of a notice.

Bain said last month the move does not amount to decriminalisation for the possession of Class A drugs, which include crack cocaine, cocaine, ecstasy (MDMA), heroin, LSD, magic mushrooms, methadone and methamphetamine (crystal meth).

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The guidelines previously permitted the police to issue such warnings for possession of Class B and C drugs.

Officers retain the ability to report appropriate cases to the procurator fiscal, while accused persons retain the right to reject the offer of a warning.

Forbes ‘sincerely hopes’ strike can be averted in council pay dispute

The finance secretary said she would continue to encourage both sides to reach a deal to avoid industrial action.

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Forbes: Finance secretary hopes workers can reach a deal.

The finance secretary says it is her “sincere hope” that strikes can be averted in the dispute over council workers’ pay, but said the matter is between local authorities and unions.

Kate Forbes said she would continue to encourage both sides to reach a deal to avoid industrial action in more than half of Scotland’s councils.

Workers in a number of different professions are set to strike during the COP26 summit, which takes place in Glasgow in November.

School cleaning, catering, refuse and recycling workers are among those who could strike.

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At the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, Forbes responded to an urgent question from Scottish Labour MSP Mark Griffin.

He asked what the Scottish Government was doing to help agree a pay deal acceptable to workers.

Griffin said: “Over half of local government workers earn below £25,000 a year and the current offer doesn’t even bring the lowest paid up to £10 per hour.”

He said the Scottish Government had intervened in pay negotiations for NHS workers and teacher despite not being their direct employers.

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Forbes said the local government pay negotiations were between Cosla and the trade unions.

She said: “We have continued to do everything that we can to ensure that there is a fair settlement for local authorities despite the challenges of the pandemic and the constrained fiscal position.

“I will continue to engage and would hope that progress can be made to avert industrial action but also to ensure that there is a fair pay deal.”

Griffin then said the industrial action in November could be the beginning of a “long winter” of school closures and disruption to waste and recycling services.

Forbes said frontline workers were “critically important”, saying the Scottish public sector pay deal was “far fairer” than south of the border.

She said: “I sincerely hope that a resolution is found through the SJC (Scottish Joint Council), which is obviously based on negotiations between the trade unions and Cosla.”


Scotrail will ‘prioritise key routes’ if strikes happen during COP26

Members of RMT union are due to begin strike action on November 1 during UN climate conference in Glasgow.

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ScotRail is facing prospect of strike action during COP26.

ScotRail will only be able to run trains on several key routes if strike action goes ahead during the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow.

The firm’s operations director told STV News the line between Edinburgh and Glasgow would be prioritised, along with routes linking Glasgow city centre to the Scottish Event Campus, where the summit is being held from October 31 to November 12.

The RMT union is the final holdout in the action, which is set to cause major disruption to the event.

Up to 30,000 people will descend on Scotland’s largest city over a two-week period and the strikes would hinder their ability to commute to and from the conference hall.

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David Simpson, operations director for Scotrail, said: “The reality is if the strike goes ahead there will be very few routes with train services. We’ll look to prioritise key routes like connecting Glasgow and Edinburgh, and the route through Glasgow city centre that links to the COP26 summit.

“To run much beyond that is very challenging so that’s where our effort is currently being focused. We’ll be able to publicise more about that over the next day or so as those plans come together.

“We have made it very clear to RMT that the deal that is on the table is a good deal, it’s worth a lot to members and it’s as far as we can go. We’ve improved it twice over the last few days in an effort to seek a resolution.

“The other three trade unions have accepted the deal very positively and we look to RMT to do the same. There’s just no more money to make the deal better, it doesn’t exist given the revenue the industry sees and the gap in passengers since the pandemic.”

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The Scottish Liberal Democrats said on Tuesday that transport minister Graeme Dey should resign if the strikes go ahead during COP26.

Dey said on Tuesday he was “not optimistic” of a resolution by the deadline, set for 5pm on Wednesday.

He told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “This is a situation that we have tried extremely hard to avoid.

“We find ourselves in a perplexing and deeply disappointing situation.”

But union leaders described the offer as “pitiful”, claiming it came with conditions that could cost jobs.

Lib Dem transport spokeswoman Jill Reilly said: “We are talking about delegates from around the world being unable to attend the most important climate summit of all time.

“Hotels in Edinburgh and elsewhere are booked out for this conference but their guests are unsure if they will even be able to reach the venue.

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“The travelling public have now had six months of reduced services on the railways, it’s not like this has come out of the blue.”

Reilly went on to point to the resignation of former transport secretary Stewart Stevenson, after a failure to prepare for snow disrupted roads.

“A rail shutdown would be a failure of equal magnitude. If the trains don’t run smoothly and on time for the duration of COP26, then Graeme Dey should resign.

“The eyes of the world will soon be on Scotland. Ministers need to stop grandstanding and hammer out a deal that gets the trains running.”

Dey added: “RMT keep moving the goalpost. If there are strikes during COP26 then we have to prepare for that.

“Not just to move delegates, but for the wider travelling public who will be disrupted by this.

“We have contingency plans ready and we have to pivot towards implementing those plans in detail, and the deadline tomorrow was simply set to allow everyone to know where we stand so that we can inform the delegates, the travelling public, what will be on offer in the way of services next week.”

In response, RMT Scotland organiser Mick Hogg said the union would be available “morning, noon and night” to resolve the disputes, but added that the comments of the transport minister were “absolutely nonsense”.

“The goalposts were never there to be moved in the first place – we have been stonewalled for the last 18 months,” he said.

“No talks have ever taken place, albeit we’ve been in a dispute for the last eight months on a separate dispute over rest day working where no trains have been running on a Sunday.

“Then all of a sudden because of COP26 there’s a rush to get around the table in order to find a resolution to the current disputes.”

Hogg added: “We remain available morning, noon and night, anytime, anywhere, in order to get a settlement – that’s our position.”

He said the sticking point was that “efficiency savings”, which he claimed would lead to job losses, were conditions of the most recent offer.

Cleansing workers welcome support from ‘inspirational’ Greta Thunberg

The GMB trade union has welcomed the teenage activist's support for striking workers.

Adam Berry/Stringer via Getty Images / STV News

Cleansing workers who are due to strike in Glasgow next month have welcomed support from Greta Thunberg and hailed the teenage activist’s words as “inspirational”.

The 18-year-old Swede revealed on Monday that she would be joining a protest march through the city on November 6 and called on the striking workers to “join us”.

Trade union GMB, which represents the council workers, have returned the message and said climate justice and social justice is “when no one is left behind”.

Speaking to STV News, GMB’s Chris Mitchell said: “I thought it was absolutely fantastic, so much so we have sent a message back this morning in solidarity and camaraderie.

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“Her words where fantastic. A climate justice and social justice is when no one is left behind and to invite us to the rally at George Square, I think is absolutely inspirational.

“Not just that but to march down to George Square in camaraderie and solidarity, and you know what, we all stand together as one.”

Thunberg will speak at the rally that will go from Kelvingrove Park to George Square as world leaders gather in the city for COP26.

And Mr Mitchell says he has been inspired by the last four weeks, as he helped launch a giant inflatable rat in protests against Glasgow City Council.

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He said: “At the end of the day everyone has a right to make a stance.

“I think with Greta she perceives that and we do the exact same thing. We like to stick up for our members and I think what has been happening over the past four weeks has been absolutely inspirational.

“We have been touring depots, gathering support and gathering momentum, and I have never seen so much people stand shoulder to shoulder. And if you look at it, climate change, climate emergency, we deal with recycling in the city, we want a cleaner and sustainable future for the city and cleansing is part of that.

“Cleansing workers have been the fabric of society for years and I think during Covid it just showed the importance of the role that these workers play.”

More on:

Cash reward in hunt for firebomb culprits who struck councillor’s home

Graeme Campbell's South Lanarkshire house has been hit with repeated attacks over the last three years.

STV News
Councillor Graeme Campbell's home was targetted in May 2019.

A £3000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of those involved in a series of firebombing attacks at the home of a South Lanarkshire councillor.

Graeme Campbell’s property has been the target of three incidents in the past three years.

In the early hours of May 20, 2019, Campbell, his wife Fiona, a teaching assistant, and their then 18-year-old son were asleep when their home and car Fortrose Gardens, Strathaven, were petrol bombed during the night.

The family were woken when a passer-by knocked on their door to tell him their car was on fire after an explosion.

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The blaze spread to the house, destroying parts of the property as well as their neighbour’s home.

About 15 months later, on August 16, 2020, the couple were woken when a man smashed a ground floor window at 3am.

CCTV footage shows the man getting out of a car before wiping a corrosive substance onto BMWs belonging to the councillor and his wife.

The latest incident happened around midnight on Friday, June 18 this year when emergency services were called the Campbells’ home after two cars were set on fire and the blaze spread to the house.

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It is understood that the suspects may have sustained burn injuries and it is likely there will be people in the community who are aware of their involvement.

Some of the damage suffered to windows and cars in 2020.

This time, Campbell said, the family lost nearly everything with their kitchen and bedroom destroyed.

“The attack on our home in June 2021 left Fiona and I homeless for nearly three months and now living in an undisclosed location; in fear of our lives and trying to get our house re-built,” he said.

“As soon as the work is complete, we plan to sell and move on. I cannot begin to tell you the absolute pit of despair we found ourselves in being [refused] again, again, and again when it came to trying to rent a temporary place to live.”

Campbell announced he would not be standing for re-election in May 2022 having serviced as the South Lanarkshire member for Avondale and Stonehouse since 2007.

Police Scotland
Police have released CCTV images of a man they want to trace in relation to the 2021 attack.

Crimestoppers is offering a reward of up to £3000 for anonymous information the charity exclusively receives – via its website or by phone on 0800 555 111 – that leads to the conviction of the person or people responsible for the series of attacks.

Angela Parker, Scotland manager for the charity, said: “Our charity believes in safe communities and these attacks on a family home have caused great distress to those involved and also to people living in the wider area.

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“We need to have whoever is involved held to account. If you know who was involved, you can tell us completely anonymously by calling our charity’s Contact Centre which is open 24/7… or you can use our easy and secure anonymous online form.

“Please do the right thing. You’ll be following hundreds of thousands of Scots who have trusted our charity with their anonymous information since we began in the late 1980s.

“Whilst being independent of the police, we support the public to speak up by passing on anonymous information we receive that helps keep people and communities safe from harm.”


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