Motoring groups hit out at plans for bus lane cameras

By Martin Graham

MOTORING groups have hit out at council plans to fine motorists £100 for driving in bus lanes.

Councils in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen have demanded the right install cameras on bus lanes and issue fines to drivers who use them to escape city gridlock.

Monitoring of bus lanes is currently done by the police, but they rarely fine drivers for using them.

Now local authority bosses have asked Scottish ministers to amend the law so that councils can install cameras, prompting accusations that they are just trying to make money from stray motorists.

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Government job scheme under fire

By Cara Sulieman

THE GOVERNMENT has come under fire for only handing out employment funding to TWO Scottish firms.

The job creation fund has splashed £30 million on grants in Scotland but private firms has received just a fraction of that cost – with most going to local authorities.

They have been criticised for handing taxpayers’ money from one section of government to another and not supporting struggling private businesses.

The £1 billion Future Jobs Fund gives employers up to £6,500 to take on a young person aged 18 to 24 for six months.

But of the 10,328 grants handed out in Scotland, just 462 have gone to private businesses.

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Costly price of education

 

It's not just science lessons that are causing chaos in Scotland's schools.

It's not just science lessons that are causing chaos in Scotland's schools.

By Cara Sulieman

COUNCILS across Scotland have shelled out a whopping half a million pounds in compensation claims in the last three years.

Although some of the accidents are serious, many raise questions about the safety of children and staff in the country’s schools.

Bizarre accidents have resulted in huge payouts for local authorities and added to the claims bill.

In North Ayrshire an employee cracked their ribs when they were pushed into a shelf by an opening door. The claim is still ongoing but expected to pay out a large sum of money.

And in South Lanarkshire a staff member successfully claimed an undisclosed amount after swallowing a piece of glass that was in their canteen food.

Glasgow City Council paid out £ 1,659.75 to a pupil who was struck on the head by a child-size garden hoe.

The amount of money spent on these claims has been criticised, with critics saying that money is being wasted.

Joining the ranks of the outraged is Mark Wallace, Campaigns Director at the Taxpayer’s Alliance.

He said: “It’s ridiculous. The compensation culture has got so out of hand that some people some happy to claim such large amounts of taxpayer’s money.

“Now compensation claims have become so popular councils have a responsibility to be tougher and to take more care of taxpayer’s money.”

And politicians have also spoken out against the payouts.

Murdo Fraser MSP, Scottish Conservative Deputy Leader, is worried that this sort of behaviour will lead to financial problems for the authorities in the future.

He said: “At a time of severe pressure on the public finances, local Councils need to be extra careful with the money they have.

“Councils need to develop a robust approach to spurious claims which will help deter them and, in the end, save the taxpayer money.”

But local authorities have defended themselves, saying that although they try to reduce accidents, they have to take responsibility if they have been negligent.

A COSLA Spokesman said: “Councils take the health and safety of their employees and people in their care extremely seriously and take every opportunity to reinforce a ‘safety first’ message. Every council has in place robust systems to ensure compliance with the Health &Safety at Work Act.

“There is significant investment in Health & Safety planning and training and risk assessment. Accidents in the workplace are required to be logged and the causal factors are fully investigated. Occasionally an injury will occur and will result in a claim for compensation and where appropriate this will be met.”

Pain of compensation hits councils hard

By Cara Sulieman
COUNCILS across Scotland have shelled out over £30,000 in compensation to children who have trapped their fingers in school doors.

Over the past three years, six children have claimed compensation for the common childhood accident, with many blaming ‘self-closing’ doors.

The largest single payment was a whopping £14,083.12 paid out to one pupil in the Highland Council area for the damage caused.

The lowest payment was still a significant £2698, paid out after an incident in a West Lothian school.

Other local authorities wouldn’t release such detailed records of compensation claims, meaning that the real cost of this common accident could be much higher.

As the number of claims rises, councils are having to fix safeguards in order to satisfy health and safety officials.

A number of local authorities have since installed hinge covers on their school doors. A plastic strip is attached over the gap in the hinge side of the door, preventing little fingers from getting trapped.

Starting from £6 each, the hinge covers themselves add to the council’s budget

Mark Wallace, Campaigns Director at the Taxpayer’s Alliance is shocked by the amount of cash spent on these claims.

He said: “It’s sad. The compensation culture has got so out of hand that some people some happy to claim such large amounts of taxpayer’s money.

“Now compensation claims have become so popular councils have a responsibility to be tougher and to take more care of taxpayer’s money.”

Highland Council has taken safety measures to ensure that the number of claims are reduced, installing hinge guards on all doors in the council’s schools.

A Dumfries and Galloway Council spokesperson said: “The council already fits “fingerguards” to doors in new and refurbished school nurseries and has done so for some time.

“We now plan to retro fit these to all other existing nurseries and lower school areas (P1 and P2). A report to Education Committee next week seeks approval for an additional £20K to fit safety features on all doors within Early Years areas of primary schools.”
The childhood mishap hit the headlines in 2007 when a six-year-old girl in Warsop had the tip of her finger chopped off when a school fire door slammed shut.

Notts County Council is yet to agree the compensation amount with Kaitlin Gregson’s family but it is likely to be substantial.