Grass Cutting – Partial Resumption

West Lothian Council

Grass cutting to resume in priority areas only
Essential grass cutting tasks are being reinstated on a prioritised basis by West Lothian Council following the COVID-19 outbreak.

The work is being undertaken to protect key open space assets, with a number of other councils in Scotland carrying out similar work.

Ground Maintenance was not considered as a key service during the initial lockdown process and many staff members were either redeployed to other essential service areas or are self-isolating.  However the council has inspected a number of its open spaces and believes it is important that some grass cutting and other essential maintenance tasks are reinstated on a phased basis as soon as possible.

The main reason to reinstate grass cutting in some areas is to ensure minimal maintenance is carried out to prevent irretrievable asset deterioration.

Maintenance will resume on council owned golf courses and bowling greens, school grounds, football pitches and large parks, roadside verges and other large grass areas across West Lothian.

All cutting will be carried out in line with guidance on social distancing to protect staff and members of the public.
The council has stressed that this is not a complete return to normal standards.

The council will put measures in place to ensure that the service is delivered in line with guidance on social distancing for staff and members of the public.

Weed management operations remain suspended, but will reviewed on a weekly basis, with a limited service an option where essential.

Staff recruited for the Garden Maintenance Scheme, which was due to start on 6 April, have been re-deployed in Waste Services and the scheme remains suspended.

PPE for Unpaid Carers


Provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to Unpaid Carers and Personal Assistants (PAs) in West Lothian

West Lothian Health & Social Care Partnership is working with Carers of West Lothian to make PPE available to Unpaid carers or  Personal Assistants providing personal care.If  the person being cared for is in the shielded category, or if the carer normally uses PPE in their caring role but are struggling to obtain it then PPE is available to protect them or the person they are looking after.  Individuals can check whether they are eligible and  place an order, by contacting Carers of West Lothian on 01506 448000.

Guidance on a range of issues including PPE for unpaid carers and PAs is available on the Scottish Government website at:  


Scottish Government Phase 2 Business Support Fund Now Open


Business Support Fund Phase 2 now open

Phase 2 of the Coronavirus Business Support Fund Scheme from Scottish Government is now open for applications.

The Scottish Government Coronavirus Business Support Fund is being administered by Local Authorities. It consists of the Small Business Grant Fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund.

Eligible business ratepayers can apply for these grant funds until 31 March 2021. The grants are aimed at helping to keep small and medium-sized companies in business and keep productive capacity so that they can recover.

Ratepayers must have been in occupation of the non-domestic property as at 17 March 2020.

Further details on the scheme and application forms can be found online at


Far From the Madding Crowd Back in Business

We’re back in business!

We are thrilled to announce that from Tuesday 5th May we are reopening for contactless home deliveries and postage to anywhere in the UK.
We have literally thousands of books in stock, covering most genres and suitable for all ages. We also have an extensive range of stationery, cards, educational games and toys. You can check out our stock in real time on our website here.
For books we don’t currently have in stock, we’re taking orders on an individual basis as many of our suppliers are either closed or running a slow service, we will do our best to source books for you however!
There will be someone in the shop between 10-2, so if you would like to speak to a human for recommendations, advice or information, please ring 01506 845509 during that time. Otherwise, we’re accepting orders by email: or via our social media channels on facebook and twitter.
We hope everyone is keeping safe and well and we look forward to happier times soon!

Copyright © 2020 Far From The Madding Crowd, All rights reserved.

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Business for Scotland – COVID-19 Survey

Scottish Ministers Welcome BfS COVID-19 Survey

355 responses and counting

The survey BfS has been running for the last two weeks has already generated 355 responses and I have shared the provisional survey results on the phone with Scottish Ministers. As a result, the survey has already influenced the Scottish Government’s thinking on developing business support policy. Personally I felt some of the survey statistics and stories were astounding and so they are vitally important for the Scottish Government to understand.
Ministers will receive the full report and our policy recommendations early next week – IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY DONE THE SURVEY – please take a few minutes to  (confidentially) complete this important survey on how your business has been impacted.
PLEASE also pass the survey link on to any business owners you think would be willing to participate, the Survey closes Sunday, May 3rd at noon.All information collected will be treated with the utmost confidentiality – we will not ask you for any information that identifies your company nor will we present any information supplied individually / not as part of the whole, so you can answer frankly and candidly in all confidence. The information will be used solely to advise policy makers.
Please hit Submit My Results at the end of the Survey or we won’t receive your answers.
Complete the survey here.  
Getting this update via a friend you can join our mailing list here:

Scam Share – Neighbourhood Watch

Local Business Grants – thanks to West Lothian Council

Hyslop Thanks Council Staff as 1,416 Businesses are Supported through Covid Crisis

Local Linlithgow Constituency MSP, Fiona Hyslop, has thanked West Lothian Council Staff for their hard work in processing 1,416 Scottish Government grants and ensuring that over £16m of support reached our local businesses during the current Covid 19 pandemic.

A total of £16.13 has been awarded through Scottish Government Schemes to support small businesses and the retail, hospitality and leisure sector. This grant support is worth over £1 billion to business across the country and is part of the wider business support package worth £2.3 billion.

Commenting, Fiona said;

“This is an exceptionally difficult time for businesses across West Lothian. This Scottish Government funding is designed to support firms and ensure that our economy is on the best possible footing when we get through this health crisis.

“I know it has been a challenge for local authorities to process these grants in such a short space of time and so I want to extend my thanks to the staff at West Lothian Council who are working tirelessly to ensure that Scottish Government money is reaching businesses and helping to support the local economy.

“I would encourage all businesses across West Lothian to ensure that they are receiving the support they are entitled to.”


Canal Fun Day – No Fun this Year!


Latest casualty of Social Distancing & Lockdown

Linlithgow, West Lothian, April 26, 2020: Linlithgow Union Canal Society have taken the understandable, but unprecedented, decision to cancel this year’s Annual Fun Day at the canal basin, which as all locals know includes the “world famous” cardboard boat race. The event which normally attracts huge crowds was due to take place on the 16th August, but given the current lockdown situation, the decision has been taken at this early stage to cancel the popular event.

Mike Smith, Vice Chair at LUCS commented, “it is indeed unfortunate that the Fun Day and Cardboard Boat Race has been cancelled.   I cannot remember this happening previously.   But so much preparation is required leading up to the event, not only by LUCS volunteers and membership, but the many other charities and community organisations who participate in the event, not forgetting the Cardboard Boat Race entrants who are already designing and building their craft, it is only fair that we give everyone as much notice as possible”

“The Cardboard Boat Race historically attracts interest from far and wide, with teams using all their ingenuity to design their boats, in the hope of staying afloat long enough to complete the timed course and challenge out in the depths of the basin”

The Society is not accepting bookings for the current season.   Refunds or vouchers for next year are being offered to anyone who has made reservations for this year.

Mike continued “while this is all very unfortunate, and we would like to be out on the water enjoying our wonderful canal, the most important thing is to ensure the health and safety of our members and customers.   We hope everyone follows government guidelines and stays safe.


Contact: Stuart Rennie: Phone :  07847 611398; Email :; Web :;  Twitter : @LUCS_canal

Newsagents’ 60 years in Business

Hyslop Congratulates Local Newsagent Owners on 60 Years of Service

Local Linlithgow MSP, Fiona Hyslop, has written to Jean and George Wilson, owners of Linlithgow’s Wilson’s Newsagent at the Vennel congratulating them on being in business for 60 years this month. (April 2020) Fiona wrote to the couple offering her congratulations and sincere thanks for their service over the years.

Fiona commented,

“Wilson’s Newsagents in Linlithgow is an important and well known business both locally and outside of Linlithgow, many of those who use their services can recall doing so throughout their lifetime as Wilson’s now mark 60 years in business.

“I was delighted to write to them and thank them for their years of service, particularly during these difficult and testing times, and to wish them every success for the future.”

Instrumental Music Tuition – Democracy in Action – A Parent’s View

When West Lothian Council announced it was to cut free strings and percussion tuition in schools – but keep brass, woodwind and piping lessons – a group of concerned parents got together to lobby the council’s Education Policy and Development Scrutiny Panel – where the proposal was being assessed. Yvonne Hall – whose daughter Eilidh is taught the violin at Linlithgow Academy – was one of the protesters. Here she explains why the protesters feel the plan is unfair – and what she thought of her first taste of local democracy in action:

“My daughter is in fourth year at Linlithgow Academy and plays violin and guitar – she has to play two instruments for her Music Nat 5 and Higher, which she is committed to doing. We pay for her guitar and she plays violin through the school – she’s had the same teacher since she was in P5.

We got involved when the paper came out of the council and we saw it on the Linlithgow Facebook page. We knew there were going to be cuts but I don’t think anyone expected it to be just certain instruments. There’s always been this great camaraderie at school; they are all musicians first and what instrument they play comes second. Suddenly there is this big divide and that’s been quite difficult for a lot of kids.

I am not normally someone who gets involved in these things. I’m not political or anything like that but this just feels unfair. We can pay for her violin tuition to get her through her exams – we’re lucky, others can’t – but at this important time she’ll have to start with another teacher. And she’ll be taking her exams alongside students who have an advantage because they chose to do brass.

She also plays in an orchestra so she’ll miss out on the group aspect; the social side but also the team experience of working together towards a common target. There aren’t any other options for string players, whereas there are other brass groups like the Linlithgow Reed Band.

The council say they’re keeping brass as there are more children from disadvantaged families playing brass but we don’t think that’s right, and piping because of its tradition in Scotland – but the fiddle has been in Scotland for longer. They’ve also only looked at disadvantage, they haven’t looked at gender or ethnicity – there are more girls who play strings. It doesn’t stack up. It’s not very logical.

We found out about it on the Wednesday night and the meeting was on the following Tuesday so we didn’t have a lot of time although, as we knew something was coming, we had been finding out what happens in other council areas.

We started a petition which got 2000 signatures within the weekend. Phil Cunningham signed it and Nicola Benedetti Tweeted it. Lots came to the meeting in Livingston on the Tuesday, including children playing their instruments outside– many of them had never played together before, they were from different schools but there was a great feeling of camaraderie.

This committee looks at papers and decided whether to take them forward to the education committee. They do have the power to say they don’t want to put something forward and rethink it. We hoped by going along and offering them an alternative, they would be prepared to do that.

There were obviously a lot of people who had taken time off work to come to the meeting. It was point ten on the agenda and one of the councillors asked to bring it forward so that people could get away and they said No. It was almost like when the guy said No, you thought, oh, OK, it’s going to be like that. Some people had to leave before it got to that point.

You have to apply to have a slot at the meeting. One of our group, Gordon Struth, pulled together a paper on the alternatives and how much money they could raise by charging parents for tuition. With the majority of other councils in Scotland, music tuition isn’t free unless you are on a low income. We just wanted them to look at that model. Those who need free lessons would still get free lessons. We were suggesting £5 a week for children during terms which would be cheaper than going for private tuition. Obviously it would be great if we had a world where we could keep it free but we realise they have to make financial cutbacks.

He only had five minutes, right at the start, and he said that we’d come up with alternatives, that this wasn’t about just not cutting it. He then wasn’t allowed to speak again and there was about an hour’s debate. We found that really frustrating, there were times things were said that were inaccurate but we weren’t allowed to speak to correct them. It was really difficult to hear; although we kept asking them to speak up, they weren’t very obliging.

There was also a big gap, £300,000, in their figures. The provost, Tom Kerr, did ask a lot of questions about the numbers but the paper went through to the education executive with a sort of “oh, we’ll sort that out later” attitude. That worries me, if they have that hole, what else isn’t there?

I didn’t feel they were interested in what I had to say. I certainly didn’t feel they were representing me. My personal overall view was that they used the rules to hide behind. One of the girls after the meeting said it was like when you’re asking your mum and dad something and they’ve already decided to say no and they’re not really listening – and she is a second year.

There was a teenager from St Kent’s, who had been standing at the edge all through the meeting, holding her violin. At the end she put her hand up and said she hadn’t understood what she had to do to speak but she would really like to say something quickly now – and they said No. She was left crying. I get that they can’t have people just coming off the streets and saying whatever but they need common sense and flexibility.

Now we are preparing our own paper to send to all 33 councillors. They have a rule that a proposal can’t be changed for six months unless there is a big change of circumstances – we think our alternative is that. If they don’t agree, if we have to wait six months, then because of the timing of the academic year, it will be too late.”