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National Focus: Stories from Scotland

Storm Babet Causes Devastating Flooding

On Thursday, 19 October, a rare red weather warning, which indicates a potential threat to human life, was issued in Scotland as Storm Babet made landfall. The storm caused mass power outages, evacuations, and flooding.

Angus was hit particularly hard. Over 350 homes were advised to evacuate and one woman died after being swept into the Water of Lee in Glen Esk. By Friday, 20 October, parts of the county were only accessible by boat.

Deputy First Minister Shona Robison said, “We are working with partners across the country, including emergency services, the voluntary sector and energy companies, to make sure that we mitigate disruption as much as possible.”

Council Tax Rates to be Frozen Across Scotland

On 17 October, 2023, First Minister of Scotland, Humza Yousaf, announced in his speech at the #SNP23 Conference that the council tax rates will be frozen across Scotland next year. Mr Yousaf stated, “We will make sure councils are funded by the government for that council tax freeze.”

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) said that the announcement had been made without agreement from councils. A spokesperson for COSLA’s presidential team said, “It has been shown that previous council tax freezes have been regressive, having no impact for the poorest in society and eroding the council tax base, compounding councils' ongoing underfunding.

"We are clear that local taxation and particularly council tax should be left for democratically elected councils to determine."

Yousaf Calls for UK to Take in Palestinian Refugees

Humza Yousaf, First Minister of Scotland, called on the UK government to accept Palestinian refugees in a speech at the #SNP23 Conference on 17 October. He said, “I am calling on the UK government to take two urgent steps. Firstly, they should immediately begin work on the creation of a refugee resettlement scheme for those in Gaza who want to, and are able to, leave. And when they do so, Scotland is willing to be the first country in the UK to offer safety and sanctuary to those caught up in these terrible attacks."

Mr Yousaf’s own in-laws are currently trapped in Gaza. He has been critical of British support for Israel following the attack by Hamas, and stated that Israel is breaching international law by engaging in collective punishment.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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