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Archives for July 2009

Kenny MacAskill taking your calls

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Graham Stewart | 15:13 UK time, Thursday, 30 July 2009


Kenny MacAskillJustice Secretary Kenny MacAskill will be taking your calls on Friday's Morning Extra.

Two of the most talked-about subjects on Morning Extra are sentencing and reform of Scotland's laws on alcohol. So we thought it was about time we got Mr MacAskill into the studio to answer your questions directly.

It's a timely visit what with the Scottish Government's criminal justice bill currently making its way through parliament and new laws coming into force this September to tackle Scotland's booze culture.

So call Kenny MacAskill with your questions on 0500 92 95 00 from 8am tomorrow. We're on-air from 9, but do call early as it's likely to be a busy one!

Licensing reform stories
Licensing reforms progressing well, says Government (heraldscotland)
Tourist shop fears over drink law (30 Jul 2009)
MacAskill postpones part of reform to drinks law (The Herald, 27 Jul 2009)
Clubs ban cheap drink promotions (6 Apr 2009)
Scottish alcohol plan at-a-glance (2 Mar 2009)

Sentencing stories
Short jail terms 'cause problems' (30 Jul 2009)
Project to 'turnaround' offenders (23 Jul 2009)

Should we have more respect for Christianity?

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Graham Stewart | 09:43 UK time, Thursday, 30 July 2009


Bible protesterWhen a Glasgow museum decides it's fair game to deface a bible, is this an insult to believers, or a valid expression of art? And would we be so disrespectful of the Koran or other religious texts? That was the topic on today's Morning Extra.

The artist, Jane Clarke, herself a Christian, had said she wanted people who felt marginalised to be able to write their stories back into the Bible. But the exhibit, which part of an exhibition about sexuality at Glasgow's Gallery of Modern Art, has been the subject of protest after Christian groups complained that visitors were writing obscene messages.

The Bible has now been placed in a glass case and the public will be able to write their comments in another book alongside.

Has Edinburgh lost its sheen?

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Graham Stewart | 07:59 UK time, Wednesday, 29 July 2009


Edinburgh bins overflowingFirst its banks crashed, then there was the disruption of the tram project... and now, piles of uncollected rubbish are mounting even higher as the capital city's bin men continue their work-to-rule. So what's going on in Auld Reekie?

I want to hear from you if you're a resident of Edinburgh, or if you've been known to visit the city over the years. Have you witnessed a decline? Or is this a temporary blip on an otherwise great city?

Plenty of interesting comments about this on today's Morning Extra. Do listen back and leave your thoughts here.

Bin dispute stories
Rubbish uplift four weeks behind (28 Jul 2009)
Labour fears cost of bin dispute (25 Jul 2009)
Council bin offer 'falls short' (24 Jul 2009)
Politicians wade into rubbish row (23 Jul 2009)
Warning of 'summer of discontent' (8 Jul 2009)

Tram stories
Trams will be late says new boss (20 May 2009)
Key tram section to be year late (8 May 2009)
Contract row derails tram project (20 Feb 2009)
Tram bosses apologise for 'chaos' (1 Oct 2008)
Project risk sees tram cost rise (15 May 2008)

Who do you want in the hotseat?

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Graham Stewart | 12:06 UK time, Monday, 27 July 2009


HotseatWe talk about a wide range of subjects on Morning Extra and the decision-makers do listen. But do you ever wish you could put a question directly to those in power? Over the months we've had a few guests in the studio taking your calls for the entire hour — and we're keen to do more. So far we've had:

* The four main Scottish party leaders — Alex Salmond, Iain Gray, Annabel Goldie and Tavish Scott;
* Scotland's chief medical officer, Dr Harry Burns, taking your calls on swine flu;
* the Scottish director of the Big Lottery Fund, Dharmendra Kanani.

There's already a bid in with the Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill. But who else would you like to question? Let me know by leaving your thoughts below.

Railways a mess? / Are the 2012 Olympics worth the cost?

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Graham Stewart | 08:51 UK time, Monday, 27 July 2009


Are our railways a mess? A committee of MPs think train companies are taking advantage of passengers in the good times, and asking for government bail-outs in the bad times.

Plus we've also been discussing whether the cost of the Olympics is really worth it?

Rail fares and franchises (HTML / PDF)

Olympics links
London 2012
Poor 'pay most and get least out of lottery'

Are motorists being taxed too much?

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Graham Stewart | 08:35 UK time, Friday, 24 July 2009


Car tax disc expiring 2009Do you think road tax is hammering the motorist unfairly? MPs say drivers don't trust the government and the reasons it gives for raising taxes. Instead, they've suggested a voluntary 'pay-as-you-drive' charging system. Is that the answer? And should revenues be spent on other projects such as cutting carbon emissions or improving public transport, or do you believe your money should only be re-invested in the roads?

Thanks for all your calls on this morning's show. You can, of course, continue the debate here.

Taxes and charges on road users - House of Commons Transport Committee report (PDF)

How do we tackle persistent young offenders?

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Graham Stewart | 09:03 UK time, Thursday, 23 July 2009


Prison bars
A good, lively discussion on today's Morning Extra. We're not talking about serious sexual or violent offenders here. We're talking about young men who continually commit what we used to call "petty offences". You know the sort of thing - housebreaking, car crime and shoplifting - crimes which are often committed to feed a drug habit.

Young men usually aren't locked up for individual crimes, but for the kind of repeat offending that blights so many of our communities. And typically a cycle develops where they commit their offences, they're put in prison on a short-term sentence and within a few months are back out in the community committing more crimes.

It's clear that a lot of these short-term sentences aren't working. So that's why the Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill is visiting a new residential centre in Paisley today.

The Turnaround project will offer 10 young men help to tackle the reasons behind their offending over an eight-week period. If successful, the £1.5m scheme could form part of the Scottish Government's attempt to end short-term jail sentences.

Since he was put in charge of justice, Kenny MacAskill has always said that short-term prison sentences don't address the underlying causes of offending and that a lot of these young lads are "sad" rather than "bad".

Has he got a point? Are short term prison sentences failing young offenders?

Internet links
Press release on the Justice Secretary's visit to the Turnaround centre
Turning Point Scotland - body behind the new centre in Paisley
Apex Trust Scotland - tries to reduce re-offending by getting young offenders into work, education or training.
Venture Trust - works to give young people in care confidence and motivation.

Should a young alcoholic be denied a life-saving transplant?

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Graham Stewart | 07:40 UK time, Tuesday, 21 July 2009


Gary ReinbachA young man who began binge-drinking at 13 has died after being denied a life-saving liver transplant. Gary Reinbach, 22, from Dagenham, was given only a few weeks to live after developing cirrhosis of the liver.

Specialists denied him a donor organ because applicants must prove they can remain sober outside hospital for six months before the operation. Tragically for Gary, his condition was so severe that doctors were unable to discharge him — preventing him from fulfiling the criteria for the surgery he longed for.

Gary is one of the youngest people in the UK to die of advanced cirrhosis brought on by bingedrinking. His parents split up when he was 11 and just two years later he turned to booze after falling in with a bad crowd.

Do you think he should have been given a second chance instead of being left to die? And why are so many young people dying prematurely after drinking too much?

The Investigation: festivals under threat

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Graham Stewart | 19:40 UK time, Sunday, 19 July 2009


Festival tentsIt's summer — it's festival season, but will your local festival still be around next year?

BBC Scotland's Arts correspondent Pauline McLean has been hearing warnings from the industry that the credit crunch will hit our festivals next year, when arts budgets are squeezed and sponsorships run dry.

Whether it's the annual Edinburgh extravaganza, your local civic week or the weekend of rock concerts you go to every year, our festivals are worth millions to the economy and also play an important role in shaping our communities. But with increasing competition in the market and less funding to go round, will our festivals survive?

You can hear Pauline's Investigation at 09:00 on Monday and I'll be taking your calls after her report. I want to hear from you if you're worried about the future of local festivals. Maybe you're involved in organising one, or you regularly attend them. Call me on 0500 992 95 00 from 8am on Monday morning.

Is the BBC in Scotland doing a good job?

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Graham Stewart | 12:10 UK time, Thursday, 16 July 2009


Jeremy PeatOn Friday's Morning Extra, I'm giving you the chance to put your views about how the BBC performs in Scotland to the man who represents your interests as licence payers.

Jeremy Peat (right) is the BBC's National Trustee for Scotland and chairs the Audience Council Scotland (ACS). The ACS is there to engage with the public and advise the Trust on the BBC's performance and how well it's meeting the needs of licence payers in Scotland.

So anything related to our radio, television or online output — not just in Scotland but also UK-wide — Jeremy wants to hear your opinions.

And there's been a lot in the press about BBC Scotland in recent days following the publication of the latest Annual Review for Scotland on Tuesday. Do have a read of it if you can before calling us from 8am on Friday.

News stories
At a glance: BBC annual report 2008/9 (BBC News)
BBC is attacked for 'marginal and shallow' news coverage in Scotland (The Herald, 15 Jul 2009)
Watchdog calls for better BBC Scottish content (The Scotsman, 14 Jul 2009)
BBC spent £35m more on programmes in past year (The Guardian, 14 Jul 2009)

* The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

Other links
BBC Scotland Annual Review 2008/2009
How Trust members like Jeremy are appointed
About the Audience Council Scotland
ACS Meeting Summaries

Should Sundays be sacred?

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Graham Stewart | 10:10 UK time, Wednesday, 15 July 2009


Caledonian MacBrayne ferry
Do you think working on Sunday has destroyed our way of life? Caledonian MacBrayne has confirmed it intends to introduce Sunday ferry services from the mainland to Stornoway on Lewis from this weekend.

The leader of Western Isles Council, Angus Campbell, was on Morning Extra today defending the sanctity of Sundays and he said that it's not just about religion: it's just as much about preserving a way of life that a majority of the islanders support. Is he right? Is unbridled commercialism destroying family life?

Or should people have the right to choose to work and travel on a Sunday if they so choose? Let me know what you think.

Previous BBC News stories
Council opposes Sunday sailings (5 June 2009)
Legal opinion over Sunday sailing (3 June 2009)
Resignation over Sunday sailing (2 June 2009)
Society to fight Sunday ferries (19 May 2009)
War of words over Sunday sailings (15 May 2009)
Sunday ferry sailing 'inevitable' (14 May 2009)
Sunday ferry makes first sailing (9 Apr 2006)

Should more vulnerable kids be placed in care?

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Graham Stewart | 08:46 UK time, Tuesday, 14 July 2009


Are we too reluctant to put vulnerable kids into care? It's often assumed the best place for a child is with their family. But, as a BBC Scotland investigation reveals, social workers in the community are struggling under massive caseloads. Is it now time to face the difficult choices?

We've discovered that in six areas of Scotland social workers dealt with more than 30 vulnerable children, twice the number recommended by the inquiry into the death of Victoria Climbie.

The Scottish Government says the percentage of children under local authority care has risen steadily in recent years and that shows that social work departments are getting support to those young people who needed it.

The government also said recent figures had shown that the number of social workers in children's services was at its highest since records began - up by more than 500 since 2003 - which it said demonstrated its commitment.

I want to hear your stories this morning. Phone lines open from 8am on 0500 92 95 00.

* You can watch Samantha Poling's investigation, Home is Where the Hurt Is, on BBC1 Scotland tonight at 22:35.

Do you back the UK's mission in Afghanistan?

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Graham Stewart | 08:48 UK time, Monday, 13 July 2009


Do you back the UK's mission in Afghanistan? A BBC/Guardian poll suggests public opinion is evenly split, but support is rising. Of 1,000 people questioned, 47% said they opposed the British operation, while 46% said they supported it. Compare that with a similar poll in 2006 which found 31% backed the UK's action while 53% opposed it.

It comes as British troops in Afghanistan hold a private memorial service to remember the eight men who died last week in a single 24-hour period. Three of them were just 18 years old.

Do you think the fight is worth it? You can continue today's Morning Extra debate below. Meanwhile, there's a specially-extended edition of Newsnight on BBC2 Scotland at 22:30 tonight which is asking the question some of you raised this morning: Why Are We In Afghanistan?

BBC News: UK Troops in Afghanistan — mini-site with lots more information
British fatalities in Afghanistan
Afghanistan: Key facts and figures

Ask the expert: swine flu

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Graham Stewart | 08:53 UK time, Friday, 10 July 2009


Harry Burns (small)This morning, your questions on swine flu will be answered by the man in charge of the nation's public health — Scotland's chief medical officer, Dr Harry Burns.

He'll be taking your calls, texts and emails on the handling of the crisis, the precautions to take and how the spread of this virus is likely to pan-out.

Should we make life harder for young drivers?

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Graham Stewart | 08:55 UK time, Thursday, 9 July 2009


The vast majority of drivers think we need to toughen-up the process of learning to drive in order to save young lives. A survey by the charity Brake shows 87% want learner drivers to gain a specified minimum level of experience behind the wheel before they can take their test.

First of all, drivers want to see pre-test rules tightened:

* 9 out of 10 are in favour of statutory on-road experience, and
* 59% want learners to have compulsory lessons with an instructor.

Then, once learners have passed their test, 81% of British drivers think there should be a probationary period with certain restrictions, including:

* a zero drink-drive limit;
* a ban on driving powerful vehicles;
* a curfew on night driving;
* a ban on driving on motorways;
* and a ban on carrying lots of passengers who are not family members.

Many of these restrictions are already enforced in other countries. Three out of four drivers in favour of restrictions (75%) said they should be imposed until a driver was at least 20 years old.

What's perhaps most interesting about these findings is that while older respondents were more likely to be in favour of restrictions on young drivers, a large proportion of young drivers themselves are also in favour of restrictions. Even among the youngest age group surveyed (aged 17-24), more than half (54%) thought restrictions should be imposed.

What is the government planning to do?

The Government is planning to roll out a road safety pre-driver qualification that can be taught in schools. From October 2009 this qualification will count as a partial credit towards the theory test for car drivers. But Brake's survey shows almost four in five (79%) say the Government should go even further and make road safety a compulsory school subject.

Facts about young and newly-qualified drivers

• One in eight UK car drivers is under 25, 1 but one in three drivers who die on UK roads is under 25.
• Three-quarters of drivers passing their driving test each year are under 25.
• People who start driving aged 27 are about 30% safer than people who start driving aged 17.
• One in five new drivers has a crash within six months of passing their test.
• The average 17-year-old who passes their driving test is more than 50% safer after one year and after two years is two-thirds less likely to have a crash.
• Many newly-qualified drivers still identify areas where they need to improve their own performance.
• Employers do not feel that newly-qualified drivers are sufficiently trained to drive for work.

Naked crime

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Graham Stewart | 08:20 UK time, Tuesday, 7 July 2009


Naked scene in Glasgow pub

Put it away! I'm not sure this scene of naked people in a Glasgow pub is the best advert for naturism. But is nudity a crime?

French activists are in Scotland today to lend support to the Naked Rambler, who's spent the last three years in prison for baring all. Has society got an irrational hang-up? Or do you think there's already too much nudity on TV and in adverts?

Call me now on 0500 92 95 00.

BBC H2G2 - Naturism
A guide to naturism, including getting started, how to spot a naturist and FAQs
More jail time for naked rambler (18 Dec 2008)
Naked rambler cleared of breach (14 Nov 2008)
Naked Rambler free for six steps (18 Jan 2008)
Naked bar scene artwork unveiled (27 Jul 2006)

Investigation: Scotland's landslides

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Graham Stewart | 09:23 UK time, Monday, 6 July 2009


landslide_damage.jpgLandslides are a naturally occurring geological event, and Scotland experiences more than any other area in the UK because of its rugged landscape. Landslips pose an obvious danger to life and limb, though (by good fortune alone) there have been no fatalities in recent years. The more commonplace impact is on the economy. Road closures and diversions affect businesses that rely on transport links — and feelings run high on this issue!

That's the topic of today's Investigation, and I want to hear your thoughts and experiences on 0500 92 95 00... or by posting your comments here.

In the meantime check our our collection of photographs on landslides.

Is the Queen still relevant in a modern Scotland?

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Graham Stewart | 08:29 UK time, Friday, 3 July 2009


The Queen in Scotland 2009Her Majesty may have been stood-up by a third of MSPs this week, but is republicanism as strong as it used to be? When even an SNP government sees mileage in retaining a monarchy, is it the case that Scotland loves its Queen?

That's what we were talking about on Friday's Morning Extra. Please continue to leave your comments here.

MSP 'snubs' Queen to read e-mails
Queen hails Holyrood 'innovation'

Has rail privatisation failed?

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Graham Stewart | 07:42 UK time, Thursday, 2 July 2009


National Express East Coast HST

The Edinburgh to London line is being taken over by the government after National Express threw-in the towel. So on today's Morning Extra I want to hear whether your experience of the railways has been better or worse since the old days of British Rail?

Call me on 0500 92 95 00 after 8am.

East Coast rail to be state-run
BBC business editor Robert Peston's analysis
Q&A: National Express and East Coast line
National Express East Coast (external website)

Have we fallen out of love with our Parliament?

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Graham Stewart | 09:37 UK time, Wednesday, 1 July 2009


Scottish Parliament exterior

The Queen is marking the 10th anniversary of Scottish devolution this morning by visiting the Holyrood parliament. But has the Parliament lived up to your expectations? That's what we were asking on today's Morning Extra.

It comes as a BBC Scotland survey suggests a majority of Scots either think the Parliament's made no difference at all (46%), or believe it was a bad thing (9%). Nonetheless, 41% do think it's been a good thing. Don't knows were 3%. (See the full findings and the question we asked here.

What do you make of the poll results? And, more importantly, what do you actually think about the success or otherwise of the Parliament a decade on?

(The poll was conducted for BBC Scotland by ICM. They interviewed 1010 people between 22 and 24 June.)

Poll links
The full poll results
Devolution backed by 41% of Scots
Backing for more Holyrood powers
Scots 'want an independence vote'
Salmond 'more popular' than Brown
Analysis by BBC Scotland's political editor, Brian Taylor

Background links
BBC Scotland's Decade of Devolution mini-site
What has devolution done for us?
Look back: Covering the '97 poll

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