Parliamentarians to hold public meeting on local rail concerns

Iain Gray MSP and Martin Whitfield MP are holding a public meeting to provide a further opportunity for rail users to highlight ongoing problems with the service on the North Berwick Line.

The local parliamentarians have decided to hold the meeting following continued widespread frustration and complaints about the issues that have dogged the line, such as serious overcrowding, frequent delays and cancellations, and problems with ticketing, including broken ticket machines.

The meeting will take place on Thursday 3rd May at Prestonpans Town Hall starting at 7pm. The ScotRail Alliance has been invited to send a representative to help answer questions from those who attend the meeting.

Iain Gray MSP said:

I have spent years campaigning for the kind of safe, regular and reliable rail services that people in East Lothian need. Sadly, despite various promises and warm words from successive SNP Government Rail Ministers and ScotRail bosses, little progress has been made.

Indeed, I continue to receive a regular flow of complaints from local rail users about their poor experience on the North Berwick Line. Frequent overcrowding, sometimes to the point where passengers have felt unsafe, delays and cancellations cause huge frustration to those using the line.

This is unacceptable and must change. Martin and I intend to use this public meeting to reiterate the strength of feeling on the issue and relaunch our local #RailChange campaign for improvements in local services.”

Martin Whitfield MP said:

Last year I helped to organise Prestonpans’ community council’s public meeting on local rail services. That event was well attended and provided an opportunity for local rail users to make their feelings known and quiz ScotRail about the numerous problems they were experiencing.

Some commitments were made at that meeting around delivering improvements on the North Berwick Line. However, I think it’s clear to anyone who uses services on the line that very little has changed over the last 12 months.

This ongoing misery for commuters in East Lothian is simply not good enough. We need to see real action from all partners to remedy the problems and deliver a reliable service for local rail users. This meeting will provide another opportunity to push for that change.”

ScotRail Alliance launches new £400,000 Cycling Fund

The ScotRail Alliance has launched a £400,000 Cycle Fund, as part of its ongoing commitment to improving access and facilities for cyclists at Scotland’s railway stations.

 Over the next four years, £100,000 a year will be made available to local councils and community organisations. This funding will be used to deliver projects which contribute to the ScotRail Alliance’s vision of providing a ‘doorstep to destination’ journey for customers, whilst reducing congestion and pollution. The fund will provide up to 50% of project costs.

 The fund can be used to support projects which will:

 ScotRail Alliance Cycling Manager Kathryn Mackay said:

“We’ve delivered an unprecedented investment in cycling in recent years, with the provision of Bike & Go at 12 stations, and over 1,200 extra cycle spaces.

 “The £400,000 Cycling Fund will allow us to continue this investment by delivering our vision of a seamless ‘doorstep to destination’ journey for customers. We are encouraging councils and local community groups to take advantage of this great opportunity. It’s all part of our plan to build the best railway Scotland has ever had.”

 Transport Scotland Head of Rail Franchising Andrew Mackie said:

“The Scottish Government is committed to getting more people to make active travel choices by encouraging modal shift wherever possible.  The Cycle Fund offers organisations the opportunity to work with ScotRail to deliver enhanced cycling infrastructure and encourage as many people as possible to integrate cycling into their everyday journeys. 

 “This is all part of our core vision to make the railway as accessible as possible and jointly supports the Scottish Government’s vision to increase the number of people using rail, and the proportion of journeys made by bike”.

 

NOMINATIONS OPEN FOR 2018 ‘HELPING IT HAPPEN’ RURAL AWARDS

People across East Lothian are being urged to highlight the work done by local estates and land-based businesses to help their surrounding communities flourish, as nominations for the Helping It Happen Awards 2018 get underway.

Following a successful inaugural year in 2017, Scottish Land & Estates has declared the Helping It Happen Awards 2018 open for business. The national awards, which aim to recognise the role of estates, farms and rural businesses in enabling and supporting success in rural areas, will once again be sponsored by The MacRobert Trust, with entries being considered in the following nine categories:

  • Rural Business Award
  • Tourism Award
  • Rural Housing Award
  • Education Award
  • MacRobert Trust Award for Working with Communities
  • Conservation Award
  • The Iver Salvesen Green Business Award
  • Innovation in Farming Award
  • Enhancing Our Environment Award

    To nominate, people are being asked to share how their local estate, farm or rural business has made a positive contribution to their area.  Entries can be submitted via the Helping It Happen website – www.helpingithappen.co.uk – before the closing date of 13 July 2018.

    To celebrate the launch of the 2018 awards, David Johnstone, Chairman of Scottish Land & Estates, visited Luss Estates at Loch Lomond.  Together with Drimnin Estate, Luss Estates were joint-winners of the Rural Business category at the 2017 Helping It Happen Awards.

    David Johnstone said:

    “We want to highlight and celebrate the significant positive contribution land-based businesses make in rural areas throughout Scotland – in particular, the ways in which they add value to the local economy and the environment for the wider benefit of the community.  We were incredibly pleased with the success of the augural awards in 2017 and are building on this in 2018 through the creation of additional categories to celebrate innovation in farming and environmental enhancement.

    “We urge people up and down the country to submit their entries for this year’s awards – the quality of entries last year was exceptional, and we are looking forward to receiving this year’s crop of stories. I am sure the judges will have a tough task in narrowing down the shortlist once entries close in July this year.”

    Simon Miller, Luss Estates Chief Executive Officer said:

    “Our main task is to preserve and enhance the area for future generations. Crucial steps in order to achieve this are to provide economic and employment opportunities and create new family housing. This is at the forefront of what we do, by investing in and developing our own enterprises, and encouraging others to invest in the local area and live here.”

    Entries for the Helping it Happen Awards 2018 will be reviewed by an independent judging panel with three finalists selected in each category.  The winners will be announced at the Awards ceremony which will take place at The Balmoral Hotel, Edinburgh on 3 October 2018.

(Not so) Random Acts of Kindness in East Lothian (and beyond)

Love the idea of carrying out Random Acts of Kindness but stuck for ideas?  An A-Z of Guerrilla Kindness might look something like this:

Action for Happiness@actionhappiness helps people take practical action for a happier and more caring world. And guess what? Being kind makes you happy.

Bus Shelters – Bus shelters are the perfect places for random acts of kindness.  East Lothian has its own tweeting bus shelter @PPansBusShelter where it is rumoured you may catch a glimpse of tiny people waiting for the 124.   With a rather larger budget that the Prestonpans prankster, Pepsi created an amazing augmented reality stunt at a bus shelter:

Next time you’re going for a bus, why not leave a pair of gloves, a joke or a book…or a chair? The Guerrilla Upholsterer a.k.a. @mick_sheridan leaves beautifully restored chairs in bus shelters.

Change the World for a Fiver –  Change the World for a Fiver is a book, priced at a £5, which is packed full of ideas on how to change the world for a better place.  Buy two and give one to someone.  Better still buy your copies from Hive, the network of independent bookshops.

Deeds – You’ve heard the expression, Actions speak louder than words.  It’s true.  Social Media makes it easy for us to say kind stuff, retweet kind stuff and like kind stuff but don’t forget to DO the kind stuff. (Having a Digital Detox every so often is really good for you and frees up some time too).

Effect – The side effects of kindness include happiness and healthiness.  Read more here.  The Science of Kindness – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4ALRY5LyBM

Flashmobs – A flashmob is a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and seemingly pointless act for a brief time, then quickly disperse, often for the purposes of entertainment, satire, and artistic expression.  Who can remember the Puffin Flashmob outside the National Gallery?  Take a look at this Mannequin Mob…would something similar work in East Lothian?

Guerrilla Gardening@guerillagarden Guerilla Gardening is the act of cultivating a neglected area.  This could include setting up a community garden growing vegetables or planting up a neglected roadside verge with brightly coloured flowers.  A side shoot is Incredible Edibles which includes projects in Dunbar.

HugsFree hugs is a social movement involving individuals who offer hugs to strangers in public places.  You might not be entirely comfortable making physical contact with a stranger, but would this ball pit experiment work here?  

Improv Everywhere@ImprovEvery is a New York City-based prank collective that causes scenes of chaos and joy in public places.  Check ’em out they’re freaking hilarious.

Jokes –  Jokes, pranks, silliness, high jinx and tomfoolery – when good-humoured, and made with the intention to make the ‘victim’ laugh as much as the prankster – can really lift a person’s spirits. Take a look at these daft ‘memorial’ bench plaques.  rogerCuthill Park in Prestonpans played a trick on locals when it announced the installation of a plaque to commemorate ‘physicist’ Avril Fish.  Yes, it was an April Fool’s joke.

KidsFree cakes for kids is a community service to families who find it difficult to provide a birthday cake for their child.

Little Free LibraryLittle Free Libraries build and install Little Free Libraries across the UK with the aim of increasing access to books for children, young people and their families.   Find them on Twitter @LtlFreeLibrary. If you like this idea you will love the Athelstaneford Book Nook.  On a similar vein is Bookcrossing.  the practice of leaving a book in a public place to be picked up and read by others, who then do likewise.  Why not leave a note inside a library book for a stranger to find.

Microfinance@Kiva is a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world. Learn more about how it works. Sign up here.

Nice Graffiti – No, we don’t mean illicit artworks in that beautiful French city (if that’s what you want, look here) we mean, uplifting non-destructive, temporary kind using chalk (see here)  or moss (see here)

Moss-Graffiti-–-How-to-Do-It12One Action@takeoneaction is Scotland’s global action cinema project linking audiences, movies, campaigners and communities.  See the change you want to be in the world!

Pay it Forward – if you’re lucky enough to be the recipient of kindness or good fortune, pay it forward.  The vision for Pay it Forward UK is to assist people to have the opportunity to give to others – particularly those less fortunate than themselves.  One good deed might not seem like much, but if everyone did something good for someone else, then the cycle of generosity and kindness can help us to become better people. @PayitForwardDay is on April 28th this year.  East Lothian charity, Walk With Scott Foundation has raised over £215,000 and supported 31 charities over the past 5 years.

QR codes – Environmentalists have used QR codes to great effect to sticker products and give consumers information that companies prefer to keep quiet.  As well as being used by activists, an enterprising person has linked QR codes with kindness and sell kindness ‘tokens’ with a QR code on that ‘tracks’ the journey of the token.

Random Acts of Kindness – – Kindness Day is held on 13th November every year. It is a day to celebrate and promote kindness in all its forms from giving out chocolate at train stations to flash mobs. In February this year, a mystery Samaritan left cash to pay for a parking fine while the car owner was in Edinburgh’s Sick Kids. The recipient was so moved by this act of kindness that has paid the favour forward with a fundraising drive for the hospital.  That’s how kindness works, like a ripple in a pond. Still stuck for ideas? Look here >> https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/kindness-ideas

Subtervising & Stickering –   are ‘improving’ certain prominent adverts in their own sassy way.  Although technically illegal, a similar guerrilla stickering campaign on the LondonReduction_of_expanded_play_opportunities Underground has brightened up many a commuter’s morning.  Make Magazine produced a series of stickers which could be stuck on some products in toy stores to highlight how playtime is becoming an endangered activity.

#ThisIsThoughtful@Thtfl is a magazine, studio & creative community on a design-driven mission.  Read about their Penny for your Thoughts project here.  #ThisIsThoughtful is a little experiment…

Walk Raleigh Mount_Urbanism -It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that big cities and towns and unfriendly, uncaring places and wee villages have a wonderful sense of community.  A group of North Carolina residents mounted walkable direction signs around their town. What changes would you make to your town to make East Lothian a wee bit more pleasant for residents and visitors?  Public bike pumps? Vegetable vending machines?  Check out some of the improvements that three designers made in Paris. If you want proof that cities can be caring places, read these examples.  Better still, be the example.

Voice-activated – You know how it is, you have a new label maker, you’re feeling a bit mischievous and next thing you know, there are confused shoppers trying to operate a ‘voice activated’ trolley.  No? Just me then.  Also works well on doors and hand dryers.  Have fun.

Weird and Wonderful – Using materials found in the local environment and some basic artist supplies such as clay and paint, Mark Buckman crafted unique quirky pieces and placed them back on the Littlehampton beach where he had found them for beach visitors to discover.  Perhaps you’ll find something at Dunbar’s Stone Stacking Championships in April 2018….

X – X is for Crossing -Would Remi Gaillard’s famous prank work in East Lothian?  And where should we carry it out?

Yarnbombing and craftivism – Crafty members of @musselburgh2016 decorated the Honest Toun with all sorts of creations to foster interest in the Riding of the Marches – and kept on going.  You can see their  work on Twitter.

Zzzzz – that’s it.

Be kind to everyone you meet, not because of who they are but because of who you are!

Scottish Seabird Centre seeks future conservation leader

In celebration of Scotland’s Year of Young People, conservation and education charity, the Scottish Seabird Centre, seeks a young person to join the Board of Trustees for the duration of one year. The Seabird Centre recognises the importance of the themed year and the need to engage the next generation, who can bring invaluable insight, experience and ideas to further enhance the work of the charity.

Applications are sought from those working in the conservation, environmental education or the wildlife tourism sector who are aged between 18 and 35 years. The appointed applicant will contribute to building on the Centre’s success and its exciting plans for the future, working with the diverse and experienced Board to create a world-class facility and activity programme dedicated to marine conservation and education.

David Windmill, Chair of the Scottish Seabird Centre, said: “We are keen to diversify our focus beyond that of seabirds and the local environment, to explore the wider marine environment and wildlife: life above and below the waves. We want to highlight the many threats that our wildlife now face and what needs to be done to help.

“Our Board of trustees is central to this vision for the future and we envisage the appointed person bringing skills and expertise that will contribute to delivering our aims. Not only that but as an education charity, we want to contribute to the learning and development of a talented individual who has aspirations for the future.

Tom Brock OBE, Chief Executive of the Scottish Seabird Centre, adds: “From appointment, the successful applicant will have a position on the Board for one year. This will involve attending meetings in North Berwick and actively contributing with ideas on engaging and attracting young people to the Centre now and in the future.

“The successful applicant will act as an ambassador for the Scottish Seabird Centre, attending events as required throughout the year. It is an amazing opportunity for a young person and we are very keen to demonstrate our ongoing support for Scotland’s Year of Young People.

The Scottish Seabird Centre’s Board of Trustees is responsible for the overall management and governance of the charity. It sets the strategic direction of the organisation and monitors performance.

Trustees have a wide range of skills and experience required for the various areas in which the charity operates. They are recruited against a matrix of skills, knowledge and experience which is regularly reviewed. All trustees are interviewed and approved by the Board.

For more information on the Board: https://seabird.org/people/trustees/46/207

For more information on the Seabird Centre’s YOYP activities: https://seabird.org/visit/what’s-on/year-of-young-people/10/23/226

Application process and deadline

  • CV and covering letter should be sent to info@seabird.org by 12noon Friday 23 February 2018
  • Applicants should be aged 18 to 35 on this date
  • Interviews will take place with David Windmill, Chairman, and Tom Brock, CEO
  • The first meeting the successful candidate will attend is Wednesday 21 March 2018.

Our Outdoors – Your Views Wanted

CHANGES Community Health Project has been contacted by the Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy
(SCPHRP) at the University of Edinburgh in partnership with the UK Medical Research Council
(MRC).

They are looking for people to participant in their research project. The project team are passionate about working with the public to improve health and wellbeing.

What is the ‘Our Outdoors’ Project?

‘Our Outdoors’ is a citizen science project which has the long-term aim to understand the impact urban and rural outdoor spaces have on health and wellbeing.  The project will also explore whether
spaces impact people’s health and wellbeing differently and if so, why?

Why is this information being collected and what will it be used for?

People are becoming increasingly aware of the link between the places we live and spend time in and our health. However, it is unclear which spaces positively or negatively affect health and wellbeing and what populations benefit from these spaces and why.  CHANGES want to work with the public to develop a questionnaire and collect data to understand how different outdoor spaces impact on health and wellbeing.

The information that is collected can be used by local community groups, researchers and policymakers to understand the positive and negative effects of local spaces on health and wellbeing. The
information may be used to develop better shared outdoor spaces.

What will the workshop involve?

During the first phase of the project, the project team are looking for people to help develop a questionnaire to collect data on shared outdoor spaces.

The project team are working with CHANGES to run a half day workshop where you will take part in fun and creative small group activities to explore:

  • How outdoor spaces make you feel when you are in them (both positively and negatively).
  • If some elements of a spaces affect you more than others.
  • Whether you are interested in becoming a citizen scientist in this project and what you would need (resources, training, support, incentives) to do so.

The workshop is about hearing your and others’ ideas and experiences. You can participate as little or as much as you would like and the project team will be there to help you with whatever you need.

All participants who take part in the workshop will be given a £15 shopping voucher as a thank you.

Drinks and food will be provided throughout the day and if you bring receipts we can reimburse your travel.

Information Session

If you would like to attend a short information session about this piece of work please come along on
Wednesday 14th February 2018, 4 pm – 4.30 pm
Annexe Lounge, Fisherrow Centre, South Street, Musselburgh, EH21 6AT
Please telephone Heather on 0131 653 1080 or email healthyliving@changeschp.org.uk if you would like to attend.

If you can’t attend the information session but would like to find out about the workshop, please also get in touch.

‘Poetry in oor Ain Scots Tounge’

Poet Peter M Mcculloch has recently self-published his fourth book this one, of Scots verse.
Peter describes ‘Poetry in oor Ain Scots Tounge‘ as “some a bit of fun and creative and perhaps a wee bit poignant.  Others a touch of rustic.”
Frae pipe bands, tae talkin’ yowes,
Tae ferm hands, wae horse an plough,
Tae schuil days, frosty an cauld,
Frae a meenister wi lost property frae his Fauld.
Peter has been reading his verses to schoolchildren in the county, most recently at Compass School Haddington.
Poetry in oor Ain Scots Tounge‘ is on sale in Kesley’s bookshop Haddington priced £7.99

Annual Police Plan 2018/19

Police Scotland is currently developing the 2018/19 Annual Police Plan which will be laid before the Scottish Parliament at the end of March.

The plan has been shaped around the areas of focus within the Policing 2026 strategy ‘Serving a Changing Scotland’ of prevention, protection, communities, knowledge and innovation.  It sets out the policing priorities for 2018/19 and summarises the planned activities to address these priorities.

 Police Scotland are keen to engage with the public and offer the opportunity to comment on extracts from the draft plan via the following Citizen Space survey:

https://consult.scotland.police.uk/consultation/annual-police-plan/

 Please provide feedback by 21 February 2018.  Your feedback will be very useful as we develop the final version of the plan in March 2018.

 If you have any queries regarding this engagement phase, please contact Sergeant Keith Forrester via strategicplanningdevelopment@scotland.pnn.police.uk.

It’s going to be a braw January!

Happy New Year from Loopy Towers!

We’ve finally packed away the Christmas tree, eaten the last mince pie and already broken a few resolutions.

2017 – the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology – flew by, and seems to have re-generated into the Year of Young People quicker than Peter Capaldi turned into Jodie Whittaker.

On 30th December, 17, 000 torchbearers processed from Edinburgh city centre to Holyrood Park to spell out “#BRAW” herald the forthcoming #YOYP2018

In these still short, dark, dreich days of January, it can be hard to imagine anything being braw but there’s much to look forward to…

Routine

If you don’t like change, you’ll appreciate the return to normal opening hours, TV schedules, refuse collection and regular public transport timetables.

Keep Calm and Coory Doon

The cold weather is an excellent excuse for wearing big jumpers, watching old movies, curling up with a good book and getting snuggly on the sofa.  If you’re looking for that ‘hygge’ feeling beyond your own home, we hear that Zanzibar in North Berwick has very good hot chocolate while the Tyninghame Smithy is the cosiest place in East Lothian and The Bothy at East Saltoun even supplies blankets!

Recycling old Christmas cards

Cards with glitter and/or foil can’t be recycled so why not send the front half of these to Women in Prison, Elmfield House, 5 Stockwell Mews, London SW9 9GX.  Next December, female prisoners will be able to make cards for their children and families.

Sales

The only thing better than bagging a bargain in the January sales is bagging a local bargain so support local independent business such as Secret Boutique (formerly The Merry-Go-Round) in Gullane.

Prefer online shopping? Both Ardmoor country clothing and The Nordic Edit Scandinavian interiors are run by East Lothian based folk.

Dunbar-based cruised holiday business gocruiseandstay.com has a Buy One, Get One Half price deal on cruises booked between now and 5th March.

Unusual visitors

No, we’re not talking about the human variety, frankly, we’ve had enough of them over the festive period.  Keep an eye out for snow buntings and waxwings and follow @birdinglothian for sightings.

The Sky at Night

January’s clear skies are great for stargazing and on the 31st you will be able to see the second full supermoon of the month.

Thank You Cards

Everyone loves receiving ‘real’ mail don’t they? This year, ditch the texts and emails and help bring back the lost art of handwritten thank you notes.  If nothing else, it will be good practice for National Handwriting Day on 23rd January.

Do Good, Give Blood

According to Action For Happiness, our generosity is hard-wired to the reward mechanisms in our brains. When we give our time, energy and kindness to others it not only helps them, it’s also great for our wellbeing too.

They have produced a Happy New Year Calendar of suggested actions to help you be happier yourself – and bring more happiness to others too.

If you are able, why not make one of your actions to donate blood?  SNBTS aims to retain 6 days of stocks at any time in order to meet the requirements of patients in Scotland.  On 3rd January, levels of A- blood type were considerably below that.

During January, you can give blood at donor sessions in Longniddry (11th), Tranent (14th) and Haddington (17th) – see more details here.

#YOYP2018 takeover over of @LothianLoop

We’re looking for young people with an East Lothian connection to take turns tweeting from @lothianloop.

We’re working out the mechanics of this and, like a new Doctor Who, we don’t know what it doing to be like but we’re sure it’ll be braw…

In the meantime, if you wish to register your interest or have any ideas please get in touch.

Short online taster course offers insight into Dispute Resolution programme

Queen Margaret University is developing a short online taster course for people interested in developing careers in dispute resolution and conflict management.

Conflict arises in many contexts – at work, at home, and in personal relationships. QMU will run a free online taster course which will provide an insight into how conflict can be resolved. It will cover topics such as ‘understanding conflict, ‘conflict escalation’ and ‘resolving conflict’.

QMU’s Consumer Dispute Resolution Centre has an established reputation as a centre of excellence for research and education in dispute resolution and consumer policy. The centre runs the MSc Dispute Resolution and the short online session is designed to give people a taste of the subjects covered in the Master’s programme, for example, looking at the reasons why conflicts can spiral out of control.

Carol Brennan, Director of QMU’s Consumer Dispute Resolution Centre, explained: “This taster session is ideally suited to individuals interested in the issue of conflict and how conflict situations can be resolved. Students who have studied the full MSc Dispute Resolution have gone on to pursue interesting careers in dispute resolution associated roles, with some graduates working as complaint handlers, arbitrators and mediators, and others holding positions within Ombudsman schemes.

“The master’s level course is also suitable for recent graduates who wish to develop their career in this increasingly important area of specialism, as well as those whose job already involves resolving areas of conflict, for example within human resource management.”

Carol confirmed: “We believe that the course will provide a helpful snapshot of the full MSc Dispute Resolution programme, allowing people to dip their toe into the water to see if the Master’s course may be a good fit for them. It also provides the opportunity for people to experience online learning and to become part of QMU’s growing online community of learners.”

Nial Vivian, Lecturer in Dispute Resolution at QMU, spent several years working for Ombudsman schemes and in other dispute resolution roles. He has studied the MSc Dispute Resolution, which led him to career opportunities in academia. He explained: “We know embarking on a full Master’s degree is a significant commitment and it’s helpful for people to be sure that they are investing their time and energy in something they really wish to pursue. The online taster course will help ensure people are better equipped to make an informed decision about studying at Master’s level, and to whet their appetite for study in the fascinating area of conflict resolution.”

Our short taster will run online for four weeks between Monday 19 February and Friday 16 March, and will involve participants in group discussions with students and lecturers, reading, viewing video presentations, and interviews with conflict resolution experts.

Find out more about the online taster course, and sign up, at https://goo.gl/GdXTqE

For further information on the MSc Dispute Resolution visit: https://goo.gl/EbFmoK