Re-elect Peter McColl!

As many of you will know I am the serving Rector of Edinburgh University. I want to continue working for a fairer, more sustainable University, as I’ve done during my 3 years as Rector.

As your Rector I think I’ve made a real difference to the University for students and staff. Campaigning for free education, a better deal for staff and fairer accommodation has helped create a better University community. I want to continue making that difference.

I have supported and led campaigns for:

• A better deal for international students – freezing fees through course of your degree;
• Fairer housing – a landlord accreditation scheme and 106-bed housing cooperative;
• The new student housing just opened and nearing completion;
• Better feedback for students;
• A more sustainable University – withdrawing money from the arms trade;
• Better conditions for postgraduate tutors and demonstrators;
• Living wage for staff and an end to unfair zero hour contracts.

I am running for a second term to continue the fight for staff and students:

• Opposing fees: free, fair and funded education for all;
• A rent cap and tenants’ union – fairer housing;
• Investment in teaching quality and feedback;
• Ethical investment of University reserves.

If you want to get in touch, please do so below.

Vote Peter McColl #1 for Edinburgh East

I am standing for selection to be the Scottish Green Party’s candidate for Edinburgh East in the 2015 General Election. This election gives us the opportunity to build on what was our best ever result in Scotland in the 2014 European Elections. Whilst we did not get a Green MEP elected, we did reach a range of new voters who showed their support for our message of a just and welcoming Scotland. We must build on this electoral advance, securing our place as the Party that stands up for public services and workers, immigrants and the vulnerable, and for a Scotland that builds peace in the world.

Edinburgh East is the best opportunity for a Scottish Green MP. I am well known in Portobello and Edinburgh University, two important Green areas of the constituency. I am a local candidate who can deliver a big Green vote here.

I will use the campaign to:

  • Fight for action on climate change and biodiversity;
  • Oppose austerity, cuts, and attacks on social security;
  • Build Edinburgh Greens ahead of Holyrood election;
  • Combat inequality.

As a community activist in Portobello I have been:

  • Founding board member – PEDAL-Portobello Transition Town;
  • Community Councillor;
  • Campaigner to keep Castlebrae High School open;
  • Council candidate twice, increasing the vote substantially.

As Rector of Edinburgh University I:

  • Campaigned for Fossil-Free University investments;
  • Won fixed international student fees;
  • Created a 106-unit student housing cooperative;
  • Fought against £9000 fees.

I will be a high-profile candidate with the ability to generate momentum. The exciting European campaign attracted support and I will ensure our Westminster campaign repeats this.

I have a long record in the Green party:

  • Former Edinburgh Convener and longest-serving committee member;
  • 2014 European campaign co-convener;
  • Council, European and Holyrood candidate.

For a local candidate who can deliver the Party’s message to a range of voters, select Peter McColl #1 for Edinburgh East.

Neil Chapman obituary

Neil Chapman, who died last week lived a life devoted to music and family. Born to a farming family in Underberg in what is now KwaZulu Natal in 1933, the youngest of five children, his family moved to Pietermaritzburg while he was young. After school at Merchiston Preparatory School and Maritzburg College, where he was Dux, he trained as a mathematics teacher. But his real passion was music, and he used the money he saved while teaching to fund study in Europe, with a view to a career in music. He studied in Vienna and later in Italy.


As an accomplished pianist he was an expert accompanist, he also excelled as a voice coach and conductor. His career took him to a role as Head of Music for the South African Broadcasting Corporation. At this time he met the love of his life, Emma, whom he married in 1971.

On one of their earliest dates, he took her to a concert which he was conducting. Afterwards Emma accompanied him to an after-party where he lay on the floor for a sleep, leaving her alone with a house full of musicians she didn’t know. Such was his charisma and loving nature this didn’t matter. His eldest daughter, Catherine was born in 1976. Having had enough of the internal politics of the SABC and seeking a better quality of life he started a new chapter of his, and his young family’s life with a move in 1978 to what is now Harare, Zimbabwe. While the liberation struggle was still going on, this may have seemed a risky move, but it was one that he never regretted.

His younger daughter Margaret (Maggie) was born in 1979 and he enjoyed the majority of two decades as head of the Zimbabwe College of Music in Harare. He was central to much of the musical life of the country, running the City of Harare Orchestra with his characteristic precise but un-showy conducting. He became a Chevalier of the Legion D’Honneur for services to music, and was commended for his work on the new national anthem. He also created courses on the traditional Shona and Ndebele music of Zimbabwe and on enthnomusicology.

The Chapman house was a centre of recitals, after-concert parties and what Neil would describe as “all manner of conviviality”. One of my abiding memories is enjoying listening to Chopin waltzes played on the piano and filling the house. An imposing but humane man he was incredibly proud of his two daughters and two grand-daughters.

After retiring from the College of Music he enjoyed his garden, traveling to see his daughters in the UK and his continued teaching of piano and voice. He particularly enjoyed several productions at the Edinburgh Festival, and took great pride in the role Maggie played on the Edinburgh International Festival Board.

He died after complications from an operation. He is survived by Emma, his two sisters, his daughters and his grand-daughters.

Nelson Mandela Day – book collection

What are you doing for your 67 minutes on 18th July, 2013?

Books for Children in South Africa — Can you help?

The United Nations has designated Nelson Mandela’s birthday every 18th July as Nelson Mandela International Day, when people throughout the world are encouraged to give 67 minutes of voluntary service to the community in whatever way they choose, to help change the world for the


On that date this year ACTSA Scotland (Action for Southern Africa) is asking people to use their 67 minutes to sort out and bring us children’s books to be sent to school libraries in Nelson Mandela’s home Province of Eastern Cape, with which Scotland has a particular link.

What are needed are children’s books of all kinds, in English, to encourage reading for fun. This helps to develop fluency in reading English which is vital for all parts of the children’s education. (Their mother tongue is mainly Xhosa, but education is mostly in English).

Story books or factual books, for all ages from pre-school to teenagers, are welcome — Books that will amuse, absorb, inform and catch the imagination of young readers.

They must be in good condition, please — no loose or taped up pages, or badly damaged covers, and factual books should not be too out of date.

Any help with the cost of shipping the books to South Africa would also be very welcome — A container holds 1000 boxes, costing £3.50 each to send.

On 18th July a number of collection points in towns and cities across Scotland will be open to receive donations of books. Contact ACTSA Scotland at the

ACTSA Scotland, 52, St. Enoch Square, Glasgow G1 4AA

John Nelson


(Please don’t bring books to this small unstaffed office — Contact us first

Nelson Mandela International Day. In 2012 ACTSA Scotland, the Scottish Government, the Scottish TUC and Glasgow City Council joined forces to hold the first celebration of Mandela Day in Scotland, including dispatching ACTSA Scotland’s ninth container-load of books from George Square in Glasgow.

For 2013, those same bodies have linked up with others to widen the scope of the Day in Scotland. Voluntary organisations of all kinds are inviting old and new supporters to carry out voluntary work that day, in their own particular fields. The 67 minutes figure is a reflection of Nelson Mandela’s 67 years of service before his final retirement from public life. There is, of course, no compulsion to stop work at the end of 67 minutes — nor to serve only on this day!

ACTSA Scotland’s appeal is for help with gathering books for South Africa, but we are glad to encourage voluntary service of all kinds, through any organisation or none, and with or without any connection with South Africa.

The Book Appeal

ACTSA Scotland has been collecting and sorting books for school libraries in Eastern Cape since 1995, and has sent some 450,000 so far. The donated books are sorted and packed in the basement
of Hillhead Library in Glasgow (thanks to the hospitality of Glasgow Life) and stored there until roughly 1000 boxes are ready to fill a container. As well as donated books, help with sorting and packing is always welcome, as are offers of help with fetching books from donors
across Scotland, or with fundraising for the shipping costs.

ACTSA Scotland co-operates closely with Community HEART, a Manchester-based charity which gathers books from all over the U.K. for all parts of South Africa. It was founded by Denis Goldberg, a colleague of Mandela.

ACTSA Scotland

ACTSA Scotland (Action for Southern Africa) is the successor organisation to the Anti-Apartheid Movement Scottish Committee, which was deeply involved in the campaign for freedom in
South Africa and for the release of Nelson Mandela during his long years in prison for fighting apartheid. We were glad to help bring him to Scotland in 1993.

Since 1994 we have worked for solidarity between Scotland and Southern Africa through creating links of all kinds, of which the Book Appeal is one practical example. We have a particular connection with Eastern Cape.

Sponsored walks in Eastern Cape in support of community organisations there, selling crafts on a small scale from community producers in Southern Africa, campaigning for democracy in Swaziland and Zimbabwe and for justice for South African miners with silicosis, and meetings and
lectures on where South Africa has come from, are all part of ACTSA Scotland’s work.

The following places have kindly agreed to accept donations of children’s books for ACTSA Scotland on Mandela Day – Thursday, 18th July.

Five are trade union offices arranged for us through the STUC and the sixth is the office of an ACTSA supporter, and we are grateful to all involved. You will see that there are many towns plus Aberdeen city which aren’t covered, and we would welcome offers of further collection points.

Kimberley Buildings,
38 Whitehall Street

35 Young Street North Lane

333 Woodlands Road
G3 6NG

UNISON Highland Area Resource Centre
53 Shore Street,

9 The Foregate

Independent Financial Advice Centre (Glasgow) Ltd.,
67, Causeyside Street,

Edinburgh World Justice Festival

One of my favourite memories of Edinburgh is the sea of people dressed white on the Make Poverty History protest in 2005 marching through Edinburgh. It’s one of my favourite memories because it was about something positive – making the world a better place. Normally when we march we are trying to stop overseas wars or cuts to vital public services. On this occasion we marched with the hope of creating a better world.

That event inspired some people in Edinburgh to continue the focus on making the world a better place. Since then, they’ve organised the Edinburgh World Justice Festival to promote these issues.

This year’s festival has a whole range of events that will be of interest to anyone who wants to know how we can change the world.

Among the highlights for me will be the Forceswatch event on the 11th October. They’re looking at what can be done to stop military recruitment in schools. Councillor Maggie Chapman, who is a long-time advocate of ending military recruitment in Edinburgh’s schools will be speaking.

You can see the full programme here.

BREAKING: Castlebrae High School recommended for closure

A letter sent home with children at Castlebrae High School today as follows, giving no assurance that the school will be open for the next academic year. I hope that the intention to create a new school goes ahead, but this is nonetheless a sad day:

“Dear Parent or Guardian

Castlebrae Community High School

You may be aware of recent speculation about the future of Castlebrae Community High School. I realise this is very unsettling for everyone connected with the school and I am writing to you directly to explain what is actually happening just now.

We are very concerned about the very low number of pupils attending Castlebrae Community High School. The roll has been falling for a number of years and it is clear that most parents living in the catchment area now choose to send their children to other schools. This year we have seen our lowest S1 intake ever at the school with only 21 pupils starting in August and a school roll of just 200.

It is now nearing a position at Castlebrae where the school cannot keep operating in the same way as it will not be able to offer pupils a full curriculum which can meet their needs.

Every young person in Edinburgh should have the chance to do as well as they can at school. This means that they need to be given the right opportunities; ones that will suit them as individuals and will help them reach their potential. It is the Council’s duty to make sure that every child gets the education and support that they need to do this.

The situation at Castlebrae has now reached a critical point and I believe the current position is unsustainable. There is significant spare capacity in other schools in the local area which could accommodate Castlebrae’s pupils and I intend to take a report to the Education, Children and Families Committee on 9 October requesting permission to consult on the possible closure of Castlebrae Community High School.

However I must assure you that the school will remain open for the whole of the 2012/13 school year. No decision has been taken to close the school, the proposals would be subject to full public consultation and no closure could take place until summer 2013 at the earliest.

There is no doubt that the Craigmillar area will need a new high school in the longer term. As the regeneration continues, more new housing will bring more new pupils to the area which will mean that secondary school capacity in the area (were Castlebrae to close) would be insufficient to cope with demand. We still need to fully understand what the timing for this would be as it will be very dependent on when new housing development happens; at present it would appear to be around 2020 when this need would arise.

A new school will be central to the regeneration of the Craigmillar area and would be built to reflect up to date approaches to education and seek to combine technology with top class facilities to offer superb and creative spaces for learning, teaching and community use.

Crucially, we would want the new school to be one to which local parents will want to send their children. The local community will be very important to the success of a new school and we will ensure there are real opportunities for everyone to have a say in how plans take shape and to build a shared ‘vision’ for it.

I do appreciate that there can be no good time to hear this sort of news but I do believe that is important for you to be told directly what is being considered rather than having to rely on rumour and conjecture. I am sure that you will understand the importance of providing children with the best possible education and why we need to consider better options for the short to medium term.
I will take a report to the Education, Children and Families Committee on 9 October outlining all of the issues in a lot more detail. My report will be available from

3 October on the Council website. Copies will also be available from that date in the school or you can phone 0131 529 4214 to request a copy. I will write to you after the committee meeting to confirm their decision and, if the committee agrees, I would aim to consult on our proposals between late October and Christmas during which period you would receive more detailed information.

Following the completion of the consultation period, I would then take a further report and final recommendations to a Council meeting in March 2013 which means the earliest any closure would go ahead would be at the end of the school year in July 2013.

Yours sincerely

Gillian Tee
Director of Children and Families”