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Edinburgh city council has just announced that the city’s hugely popular Christmas festivals will not go ahead this year, because further coronavirus restrictions mean “it is now clear that the best place to experience Edinburgh’s Christmas and Hogmanay will be from home”. The world-famous Hogmanay street party had already been cancelled in July.
Stating that public health is their number one priority, council leader Adam McVey said: “Following the latest restrictions and through the development of plans, it became apparent that activities for Christmas were not going to be possible.” The festival normally attracts tens of thousands of visitors to the city and make millions of pounds for events organisers and local businesses.
McVey added: “Whilst we understand the absence of popular events will bring some disappointment, we want to be clear that Edinburgh’s Christmas isn’t cancelled and our businesses right across the city will be offering their usual festive cheer for us to take advantage of. We look forward to announcing details of an innovative digital 2020 programme soon to help in these celebrations.”
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Businessman launches fresh legal challenge against lockdown rules
Simon Dolan, the businessman who is challenging the legality of the government’s emergency Covid-19 regulations, is seeking an injunction to halt the latest lockdown laws.
Working with the wedding venue operator Cripps Barn Group Ltd, Dolan served papers on the government today and asked the high court for an urgent judicial review of the legislation.
If the injunction is granted, Dolan said, and public officials attempted to impose the lockdown laws they could be in contempt of court which is ultimately punishable by imprisonment.
The court of appeal is expected to hear Dolan’s separate appeal at the end of this month against an earlier decision that secondary legislation imposed under the Public Health (Control of Infectious Disease) Act 1984 are proportionate and legitimate.
Dolan, who has raised £300,000 for the case, said:
With 16m people now under draconian local restrictions, and everyone facing harsh fines for contravening rules they can’t even understand, the tide is turning. More and more people believe, like us, that the government cannot be allowed to do what it likes with no thought to the consequences of its actions.
The new legislation has been sneaked in using a legal loophole without scrutiny from parliament. That is why the country is in a total mess and a state of confusion. Businesses are being driven into the ground and lives are being ruined. The prime minister himself had to apologise for getting confused by his own laws and his own father did not know to wear a mask.
Mark Henriques, managing director of Cripps & Co, said:
The latest round of lockdown restrictions, introduced through the back door without any parliamentary scrutiny, are absurd and contradictory. They are devastating the hospitality industry and all its support businesses. We are asking the courts to halt the new restrictions at least until they have been properly debated.
There was a furious exchange between Nicola Sturgeon and Ruth Davidson, at FMQs as the Scottish Tory leader pressed the first minister repeatedly on the escalating dispute over the Scottish government’s refusal to release papers to the Holyrood committee investigating the botched inquiry into misconduct claims against Alex Salmond.
Yesterday MSPs on the committee appealed to the courts to help break an impasse that threatens to derail their investigation, as tensions over the investigation boiled over in the Holyrood chamber. Oliver Mundell, a Scottish Conservative MSP, accused Sturgeon of lying to parliament and was then ejected when he refused to withdraw the advice.
Davidson repeated the substance of Mundell’s accusation yesterday, that Sturgeon had not stuck to her repeated pledges that every document would be released to the inquiry. But the first minister reacted angrily, insisting that she had submitted evidence, but “I can’t be responsible for the fact that evidence I’ve submitted hasn’t been published ... the committee can call me [to give evidence] anytime it likes.”
To laughter from opposition benches, she said: “The idea that the Scottish government is trying to obstruct the committee doesn’t bear scrutiny.”
The government and Salmond have both refused to release some legal papers, citing confidentiality or court orders, and have been slower to release others that they pledged to provide. Peter Murrell, Sturgeon’s husband and SNP chief executive, has been accused by the committee of offering minimal help.
Following the exchange, a member of the committee, the Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton, said that members had not yet seen Sturgeon’s submissions, because they are supposed to be included with other submissions.
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Archbishop of Canterbury says all families on universal credit should get free school meals
The archbishop of Canterbury and the bishop of Durham have urged the government to extend free school meals to every child whose family is on universal credit, and expand holiday provision to all children on free school meals, saying the number of families who could be destitute by Christmas is “harrowing”.
The food bank charity the Trussell Trust says 46,000 food parcels will need to be provided by their network to people in crisis between October and December 2020 – an increase of 61% on last year. It estimates an additional 670,000 people will be destitute by the end of the year.
Writing in TES, Justin Welby and Paul Butler say:
All schools must have the appropriate resources to be able to address issues of child hunger and poverty and expand their role as places of security for children who are at risk, whilst maintaining safety at school.
This includes the expansion of free school meals to every child whose family is on universal credit, and the expansion of holiday provision to all children on free school meals.
At present, beyond infant school, free school meals are strictly means-tested, and only available to universal credit claimants with a household income of less than £7,400.
A single alert to public health officials in Cornwall from the national NHS test and trace service led to the identification of 170 Covid-19 cases at a food factory.
The vast majority of workers at Pilgrim’s Pride Ltd in Pool who proved positive did not have coronavirus symptoms and had no idea they had the virus.
Cornwall council’s public health team, along with Public Health England SW and the NHS, is working with the factory to try to stop the outbreak spreading into the community.
Meanwhile, the 2021 World Pilot Gig Championships on the Isles of Scilly have been cancelled.
The event attracts thousands of rowers but the organisers said in a statement:
Our cautious optimism of a month ago has evaporated in the light of the current deteriorating situation with regard to Covid-19. There is nothing on the horizon which gives us reasonable confidence that the championships can go ahead next year. Therefore, it is with great regret that we have decided to cancel.
The event had been due to begin at the end of April.