Edinburgh's plan to avoid the deluge of LEZ fines seen in Glasgow
Plus: West Edinburgh masterplan set for go-ahead; another Good Omen for Lothians film industry; and businesses in 'do no harm' plea to government
Capital aims to avoid flood of fines seen when Glasgow launched its city centre LEZ
Warning letters would be sent to motorists driving older diesel cars and vans into the city’s Low Emission Zone (LEZ) as early as April under plans to avoid a torrent of thousands of fines.
Driver taking non-compliant vehicles into the city centre LEZ will face escalating fines, starting at £60 (reduced to £30 for prompt payment) and rising to £480 for a fourth offence within 90 days, from 1 June.
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The warning letters would be issued to motorists in the weeks leading up to the zone’s ‘go live’ day. The cash-strapped city council is asking the Scottish Government to fund the issuing of thousands of letters in an effort to avoid a repeat of the experience in Glasgow.
Glasgow’s fines rush: Scotland’s LEZs are intended to effectively ban more polluting vehicles from city centres rather than generate cash by hitting motorists with a daily charge like London’s version. However, the one in Glasgow has confounded expectations by issuing almost £500,000 worth of fines in its first four months.
Cleaner air: The zone is expected to cut levels of harmful nitrogen dioxide by up to half, taking the Capital - which currently meets Scottish Government legal requirements - closer to World Health Organisation targets for cutting air pollution.
Diesel cars and vans: Compliance with the standards imposed by the LEZ is generally high among most vehicles, including taxis and buses, but the biggest issues are with older diesel cars - around 50% still don’t comply - and vans, with roughly a third falling below standards.
YOUR EDINBURGH BRIEFING
A GOOD OMEN: Get ready for more star spotting in around the Capital after Amazon gave the go-ahead for a third and final season of its hit series Good Omens. David Tennant, Michael Sheen and a host of co-stars - including the possible return of Jon Hamm - are expected to resume filming at Bathgate’s Pyramid Studios and on location in the city in the New Year. Written by Neil Gaiman, originally in collaboration with Terry Pratchett, the series follows the adventures of the angel and demon Arizaphale and Crowley.
MASTERPLAN FOR WEST EDINBURGH: The masterplan for new 20-minute neighbourhoods of up to 11,000 homes in the west of Edinburgh is set to be approved by Edinburgh councillors tomorrow. The planning committee will consider a vision for a swathe of land close to the airport which includes energy-efficient homes, limited car parking provision, new bus routes, a new tram stop, an emphasis on open spaces, working spaces, leisure spaces and more walking cycling paths. The document will serve as guidance for developers wanting to build in the 190 hectares and will come into effect when the council’s City Plan 2030 – which is with the Scottish Government for approval - is adopted.
CELL, CELL, SELL: Police Scotland has announced that several police stations in and around Edinburgh – including the former Lothian & Borders HQ at Fettes – may be sold as “surplus to requirements” as the force looks to make and reinvest savings into policing in the face of anticipated cuts in the Scottish Budget. Other than Fettes they are Balerno, Leith, West End and Portobello.
P-AWSOME OR BARKING MAD? Dalkeith now has a unique canine claim to fame. Emma Willats is today opening her Temple of the Dog grooming business with a difference. She will be offering pooch owners the chance to enjoy matching hair-dos with their pets through a combination of styling and dyeing. Howl it go? We can’t help wondering…(sorry)
PAVEMENT PARKING: Thousands of letters are being sent out to warn residents about Edinburgh’s pavement parking ban which will be enforced from next month. The ban will see £100 fines (reduced to £50 for prompt payment) for parking on pavements as well as for double parking and parking beside crossing points and dropped kerbs. The letters are going to 3,300 households in the worst affected streets.
FILMHOUSE MILESTONE: The crowdfunding campaign to help reopen the city’s beloved Filmhouse has passed the £200,000 mark as it moves towards reopening. In total, including public funding and philanthropy, the appeal has secured close to £750,000.
CRAFTY MOVE: Craft beer company Brewdog has announced plans to open at Edinburgh’s Waverley train station, after submitting plans to the city council. The new 70-seat venue would replace the Beer House in the station’s main building. The company has a bar at Waterloo Station in London, but if successful this will be their first station bar in Scotland.
HISTORIC RAIL LINK: The £15m new East Linton Station has been formally opened by Transport Minister Fiona Hyslop, marking the first time in more than 60 years the East Lothian village has been connected to the national rail network. More than 130,000 journeys are expected to be made from the East Coast Mainline station in its first year.
TREES PROTECTED: Councillors have agreed to place protection orders on trees on land designated for housing in Leith despite concerns they may be sued by the land owners in response. Campaigners have been fighting for protection for ponds on the Western Harbour site which has become a haven for wildlife after being left undeveloped for many years.
SING OUT: It's bound to take root and grow! The Royal Botanic Garden is launching the Botanics Choir for everyone from choir enthusiasts to first-time singers, all are welcome. No singing experience is required and you do not need to audition or read sheet music. The Spring 2024 term starts on Tuesday 20 February and runs until Tuesday 30 April, with a break over Easter.
ARMY HACKED: The Royal Regiment of Scotland has had its Instagram account hacked. Instead of sharing images promoting events and activities connected to Scotland’s five regular and two reserve regiments it was displaying an advert for a Brazilian furniture store and other enterprises.
Scotland’s Budget will be under scrutiny
Edinburgh businesses will be watching with keen interest tomorrow when Scotland’s Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Finance Shona Robison delivers her budget speech. With an estimated £1.5 billion chasm to bridge, she faces a difficult balancing act and has already warned of the need for savings in the public sector.
Chambers of Commerce have set out three key priorities to incentivise businesses, investment and job creation to break the cycle of low growth. Replicating the 75% discount on business rates for retail, hospitality, leisure firms in Scotland as recently extended by the UK Government in England & Wales. Rule out any further divergence on income tax bands from the rest of the UK. No anti-business regulatory policies to be introduced for the remainder of this Parliamentary term.
Joanne Davidson, Director of Policy at Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, said: “Edinburgh Chamber has been arguing for some time that our policy-makers must, at the very least, do no harm by adding even more regulation or red tape that adversely impacts on business – either on its own or cumulatively. A clear demonstration of real commitment to help businesses would be matching in Scotland the 75% discount on business rates for retail, hospitality, and leisure firms recently extended by the UK Government south of the border. This would show genuine support for a sector which supports tens of thousands of jobs in this city.”
There is speculation the Scottish government will introduce an additional 44p rate on incomes between £75,000 and £125,000, in an effort to help fill the financial black hole, but the Fraser of Allander Institute say it is likely to raise only £41m and there are business concerns this would make Scotland less competitive in some high-earning sectors – such as finance and technology – key employers in Edinburgh.
HOSPITALITY PLEA: More than 400 hospitality businesses and workers signed an open letter to First Minister Humza Yousaf, urging him to save Scottish hospitality. The Scottish Hospitality Group’s Save Scottish Hospitality campaign has warned that without new support, many Scottish hospitality businesses will struggle to survive. The letter warns: “without support from the Scottish Government at the Scottish Budget, we will see our much-loved local hospitality venues disappear forever.”
CHANGES CONTINUE AT ABRDN: A reduction in the benefits it offers to employees is the latest step taken by asset manager Abrdn continues to reduce costs and rebuild the business. From January redundancy payments are being halved to two weeks and a 52-week cap is being introduced, while the length of paid parental leave is being cut from 40 to 26 weeks. The changes are part of an effort to restoring growth to a company which reported a pre-tax loss of £169 million for the six months to June, and a £615m loss for its previous financial year.
PHARMA PARTNERS: Edinburgh-headquartered Kelso Pharma has agreed collaboration agreements with PharmaPath and Valpharma, just weeks after the business took the first steps in its European expansion strategy by agreeing to acquire Italian firm Velit Biopharma. Kelso said the partnerships will add a new therapeutic area to the product portfolio of Kelso Pharma and its UK subsidiary, Stirling Anglian Pharmaceuticals.
BOYLING POINT: Buckle up – comedian Frankie Boyle is to perform a one-night show in Edinburgh as part of his 'Lap of Shame' tour. The controversial, no-holds-barred Glasgwegian will be coming to the Edinburgh Playhouse on March 30, 2024. We wouldn’t usually work this far in advance, but tickets are going fast. Frankie Boyle | Sat 30 Mar 2024 19:00 | Edinburgh Playhouse | ATG Tickets
MASSED CHOIRS: James Gillespie's High School and associated primaries Bun-sgoil Taobh na Pairce, James Gillespie’s Primary School, Preston Street Primary School, Royal Mile Primary School, Sciennes Primary School, and Tollcross Primary School hold their annual Christmas Concert at the Usher Hall on Wednesday at 7pm. Around 700 pupils are involved. Tickets are almost gone, so be quick Create booking | Usher Hall
SCOTTISH ROOTS: Skerryvore are enjoying a breakthrough moment with their first UK Top 40 album and their latest release also going straight to number one in the Folk and Scottish Album Chart. They bring their Tempus tour, including their new festive track Angel of Christmas, to the 02 Academy on Friday, 29 December.
OLA!: South American-style ‘churrasco’ dining will come to Edinburgh when a new restaurant opens its doors in the new year. Brazilian Steakhouse brand RIO will take over the former Jamie’s Italian site at the Assembly Rooms on George Street early in 2024.
SUNDAY BEST: The Ox on London Street has won high praise from The Times, which has named the Edinburgh gastropub a national favourite, with their Sunday Roast being picked out as one of the best in the UK.
SOME EXTRA DIARY DATES FOR YOU
TURNER TREAT: No matter how many times you have seen them, the magnificent and imposing Turner seascapes in the national collection remain one of the great art experiences to be found anywhere in the worlds. The Royal Scottish Academy at the National Galleries on the Mound will open once again throughout January - starting at 10am on New Years Day - for its traditional free Turner in January exhibition.
ANIMATION FEST: The Manipulate Festival brings an eclectic programme of animated film, puppetry and visual theatre back to Summerhall and the French Institute on February 1-11. With celebrated international shows, contemporary Scottish performances, workshops from leading artists and a range of events, including the chance to watch from the comfort of your own home, there promises to be something for everyone.
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