THE news that Wallace Land Investments is to submit a proposal to the city council’s planning committee to build 3,600 new homes, including 900 affordable ones, on greenbelt land will no doubt be greeted with dismay by many whose desire to protect the greenbelt from development has remained undiminished over the years despite Edinburgh’s housing problems being well documented, discussed and in need of a solution.
The latest proposals not only comprise the housing element but will include a primary school, health centre, a community hub and the provision of 80 hectares of open space, which yesterday’s Evening News pointed out is three times the size of The Meadows.
With the latest figures estimating that Edinburgh will need to build 50,000 new homes over the next 12 years to meet demand, it is inevitable that eyes will turn to the west of the city to help provide the required land.
Councillors will be all too well aware of the importance of the greenbelt and the part that it plays in making Edinburgh a great city, but the housing crisis is not an issue that will just disappear.
People need to live in houses and the provision of suitable, affordable accommodation for its citizens must be a priority for any local authority.
The provision of new homes in the greenbelt will not be universally popular but councillors cannot duck the issue.
The trick will be to ensure that the impact on existing local communities will not be too severe. It will not serve any useful purpose in solving one problem by creating another.
No one said it was easy!
Teachers need more training for autistic kids
Last year I wrote about World Autism Awareness Week, in particular the problems faced by school pupils with autism when confronted by teachers who are ill-equipped to deal with issues that arise.
Autistic pupils are three times more likely to be excluded from school as pupils with no special education needs, with the most common reason given by head teachers being physical assault against an adult. Disruptive behaviour can sometimes be attributed to pupils’ autism (and therefore disability) and excluding a pupil exhibiting such behaviour could amount to discrimination arising from a disability, which is unlawful.
Obviously the ability of pupils with autism to be educated to the same degree as others could well be under threat if facing the prospect of exclusion through no fault of their own, which is unacceptable.
All the more reason, therefore, for teachers to be adequately trained in how to deal with pupils who have autism.
I know that Edinburgh City Council does provide such training but the statistics show that there is more work to be done.