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Celtic Radio Community > Scotland > Contemporary News From The Highlands

Posted by: englishmix 07-Jan-2010, 01:29 AM
Let's make this forum thread for any local or regional - even national - contemporary news from Scotland.

Doesn't have to be controversial or even really interesting. Just a place to learn about what's going on over there. Others could start a thread for Ireland or Wales or even England if they so desire.

So you Scottish newspaper readers and web searchers, post away!

Posted by: englishmix 09-Jan-2010, 01:33 AM
Ferry boss to retire

Hebrides News
7 January 2010

Lawrie Sinclair, Chief Executive of the David MacBrayne Group, which includes ferry operators CalMac Ferries Ltd and NorthLink Ferries Ltd, has announced he is to retire from his post at the end of June 2010.

Mr Sinclair was at the helm of the ferry company when it controversially launched Sabbath sailings between Leverburgh and North Uist - a move seen by some as paving the way for a Sunday ferry into Stornoway.

Prior to its major restructure in October 2006, Mr Sinclair had been Managing Director of Caledonian MacBrayne Ltd since 2000, and oversaw its separation into Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd and CalMac Ferries Ltd. He then led the company’s successful bids to provide lifeline ferry services for both the Northern Isles and the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services contracts.

His contract was due to end in April 2010, but he has agreed to extend it by a few months to manage the handover to his successor.

David MacBrayne Chairman, Peter Timms, said: “For the last 10 years Lawrie has successfully steered the company through some of its most challenging times, and has done much to transform it into a modern commercial business which puts the needs of its customers first.”

Lawrie Sinclair said: ”My time with CalMac has been one of the most challenging and rewarding times of my life, and I leave with very mixed feelings. However, I do believe that as we approach the retendering of the contracts for both the Northern Isles and Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services, the time is right to pass the baton onto someone else to take the David MacBrayne Group forward.”

Prior to joining CalMac, Lawrie enjoyed a successful career in shipbuilding and repair, culminating in being appointed Managing Director at three different yards from 1981 to 2000.

Peter Timms added: ”The search for Lawrie’s successor will begin immediately with advertisements being placed in the national media from this week.”

Posted by: englishmix 09-Jan-2010, 11:51 AM
Fantastic news, in my book, as an avid CORRIES fan!

12:11 GMT, Saturday, 9 January 2010
2010 Commonwealth Games team picks new Scots anthem: Flower of Scotland

Scotland the Brave was played when Caitlin McClatchey won gold in 2006
Scottish athletes have voted overwhelmingly for Flower of Scotland to be the official national anthem at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

Scotland the Brave had been used as the anthem for Scottish competitors who won gold medals at previous games. But the athletes voted by 211 to 15 in favour of Flower of Scotland to be adopted for this year's event.

A shortlist of four songs, which also included Loch Lomond and Highland Cathedral, had originally been chosen. Athletes due to compete at the Delhi games were then asked to choose between Flower of Scotland and Scotland the Brave, which had been the two most popular tunes from the shortlist in a vote taken in November.

The competitors from 17 different made their decision after gathering for a camp at Stirling University. Flower of Scotland has been used by the national football and rugby teams since the early 1990s, but the Commonwealth Games team had continued to use Scotland the Brave, which was first adopted as its anthem in 1958.

'Team spirit'

Before 1958, the Robert Burns-penned Scots Wha Hae had been used to mark Commonwealth Games success. Commonwealth Games Scotland had feared the lack of a recognised anthem created confusion amongst the athletes, team members, spectators and television viewers. Michael Cavanagh, chairman of Commonwealth Games Scotland, said they were aiming to deliver the best prepared team possible to excel at the Games.

"The excellent team spirit in Melbourne was a major factor behind our success and today's camp provides an excellent opportunity for potential Delhi athletes to build a strong team unit right from the start, reinforcing the team's unique position of '17 Sports, One Team'," he said.

"Being held at the turn of the year, the camp marks an important milestone in the countdown to the games. With just 10 months to go it will focus the whole team on the exciting times ahead, and hopefully inspire our athletes to strive even harder to achieve the selection targets set for their sport and secure a seat on the plane to Delhi."

The Commonwealth Games is the only multi-sport event in which Scotland competes as a separate team.

Posted by: englishmix 09-Jan-2010, 08:10 PM
May the Lord prosper and protect this man of God.

Harris minister quits Church over gay preacher row
Hebrides News, 14/7/09

► Island churches rebel against Church of Scotland

Harris man Rev John Macleod has quit the Church of Scotland after the furore of its stance over supporting gay clergy. Mr Macleod who belongs to Northton has officially resigned as the minister of St Andrew's Kirk in Nassau, Bahamas. He will now work his notice and depart the denomination around the end of this year. For the previous eight years he served in Aryshire.

Mr Macleod and his wife Carol - also of island connections - plans to seek an alternative Scottish Presbyterian denomination they are comfortable with. Others within the Church of Scotland are also uneasy over its supportive stance on appointing gay ministers rammed home by the induction of openly homosexual Rev Scott Rennie into Queen's Cross Church in Aberdeen.

Popular minister Rev Tommy Mackinnon, formerly of North Uist, resigned last month from his post in protest but Rev Macleod is the first to make a clean break with the denomination over the row.

Rev Macleod may look to shift to the Free Church of Scotland and continue his vocation as pastor.

Posted by: englishmix 16-Jan-2010, 12:53 AM
Gaelic bard to be brought home 76 years after he died
13 January 2010

SOLDIER, policeman, crofter and Gaelic bard. Iain Archie MacAskill was all these, yet he died in poverty and was buried in a pauper's grave on the other side of the world, longing for his Hebridean home.

Now, 76 years after his death, his wish will be fulfilled. Alina MacAskill Simpson, Iain's great niece, has arranged for his body to be exhumed from a grave in Western Australia and returned to his beloved Berneray, where he will be laid to rest next to his parents.

Aged 27, MacAskill left his native island of Berneray off North Uist on New Year's Day 1925, hoping to succeed as a farmer in Western Australia. He died nine years later, the victim of drought, illness, poverty and homesickness. During that time he wrote prolifically, especially songs and poems in which he poured out his pain about being unable to return home.

Ms MacAskill Simpson, 31, began researching MacAskill's life and work after using his poetry as part of her course while she was studying Gaelic in Glasgow.

She had hoped to be able to repatriate his body last year, the 75th anniversary of his death and the Year of Homecoming, but is now on course to have it returned by April this year. The Australian authorities have granted permission for the exhumation, which is due to take place in March and Ms MacAskill Simpson has raised half the £6,000 needed.

She said she became intrigued by her great-uncle's life and set out to piece together his story. "Through the legacy of his many published poems and songs and speaking with family members, I unravelled his unfulfilled wish to come back to the island he loved. It will be closure for the family and it will mean his memory will live on. My biggest concern was he would be forgotten by the next generation."

MacAskill was born in Berneray in 1898, the second son of Donald and Ann MacAskill. In 1914 he lied about his age to enlist in the Cameron Highlanders and was one of the pipers who led the 5th Camerons into action in the Battle of Loos in 1915. From 1919 to 1923 he was a constable in the City of Glasgow Police and a prizewinning piper, before he returned to Berneray to work on his father's croft and began to write.

He was later persuaded by a government scheme to try to better himself by taking on a large farm in Western Australia. But the venture went bust during the depression and he ended up burdened by debt and working for other people in miserable conditions, before dying of kidney failure aged 35.

In 1983, Dr John MacAskill, from Fort William, Ms MacAskill Simpson's late uncle, traced the unmarked grave near Perth, Australia, and erected a headstone. Ms MacAskill Simpson said: "When we heard the Australian authorities had agreed to the exhumation, we were delighted. I will be going to Karrakatta Cemetery in Western Australia with some other families to be there for the exhumation."
The story of Ms MacAskill Simpson's quest is being filmed for BBC Alba.

Posted by: valpal59 20-Jan-2010, 06:09 PM
I just wanted to let you know that I am enjoying this topic.

Thank you,


Posted by: englishmix 21-Jan-2010, 04:43 PM
Perhaps it would be a good idea to allow all citizens to give politicians the legal right and assistance to kill them... if you know what I mean. Anyway, my faith gives me courage and patience to endure all things with hope. How sad others do not have that. Obviously people can kill themselves, but God forbid others be encourage to kill one another as a legal sanction.

Margo MacDonald launches bid to make Scotland first part of Britain to legalise assisted suicide

The Daily Record, Jan 21 2010

VETERAN MSP Margo MacDonald, who has Parkinson's disease, today formally launched her bid to legalise assisted suicide. The Bill would make Scotland the first part of Britain to change the law, which currently leaves Scots open to prosecution for culpable homicide. The End of Life Choices Bill, if supported by MSPs, will allow anyone aged over 16 to request help to die.

It stipulates that the person must be diagnosed as terminally ill or permanently physically incapacitated, and finds life intolerable. The person must have been registered with a GP in Scotland for at least 18 months.

Ms MacDonald, an independent MSP for the Lothians, said: "It's absolutely appalling that people should have to leave their homes and their families and friends and everything that's familiar to them, and end their life in a foreign country in what has to be a relatively clinical atmosphere. Dying is part of living, it's the last act of your life, and if we accept the responsibility of how we live our lives, then I really fail to see where there is any demarcation of how we should die."

Ms MacDonald drew attention to her arms, which were visibly shaking as she launched the Bill in the Scottish Parliament. She insisted that her attempt to change the law was not personal, adding: "There are many other people who have progressive, degenerative conditions that are much more vicious than mine. And they only have to look forward to a very, very, unhappy, unpleasant, undignified end of life experience. This Bill is meant to try and redress that unfairness, to give those people the autonomy to exercise some control over how they die, to give them the legal right to seek assistance and to protect the people that give assistance."

Ms MacDonald has already said she would like to be allowed to bring about her own death if her condition deteriorated. MSPs and Scottish Government ministers will be allowed a free vote on the Bill when it reaches its conclusion. First Minister Alex Salmond has previously said he is "not convinced" about the proposal.

Critics of the Bill include the Care Not Killing association, which urged MSPs to proceed with "extreme care and caution" when considering the Bill. Dr Gordon Macdonald, from the group, said: "Are we seriously to contemplate unleashing onto the public a law that would license relatives or friends to assist in the killing of people with terminal or degenerative illnesses or disabilities?"

Posted by: Patch 23-Jan-2010, 04:10 PM
I watch the show and as a photographer am familiar with the detrimental effect of the power transmission lines. It would be sad to loose the show.



Posted by: WallaceGal 24-Jan-2010, 09:29 AM
I too wanted to say that I'm really enjoying this thread! Thanks for posting these articles. smile.gif

Posted by: englishmix 26-Jan-2010, 11:09 AM
Macneil slams Labour plan to “tax crofters”Hebrides News, 26/1/10

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil has hit out at the Labour Government's latest proposals which could mean the crofting industry will have to in future share the costs with the Government for any animal disease outbreak.

Mr MacNeil has said that this is another heartless tax on rural communities and in particular the agricultural sector in Scotland, and is calling on the Leader of the Labour Party in Scotland, Iain Gray to distance himself from this latest Labour tax.

Mr MacNeil said: "This latest tax proposal to emerge from the Labour Government will be counter productive. It's another nail in the coffin for the livestock industry in Scotland, and added with the islands paying the highest costs of fuel tax in the UK, it shows Labours total disregard for crofters in the Hebrides. “Once again it shows a complete naiveity by a Labour Government which is intent on destroying rural areas."

This week for the SNP, the villages of West Harris are taking control over their own land, and an SNP Minister being the keynote speaker at a Crofting Conference in Stornoway, and amongst this good news we have reckless proposals from Labour to damage crofting.

"I will be tabling a question in the House of Commons on this issue, and I will also be writing to the Leader of the Labour Party in Scotland Mr Iain Gray asking that the party in Scotland distance themselves from this unnecessary and counter productive tax. So terrible has been Labour's economic record that they are now reduced to taxing crofters.”

Posted by: MacDonnchaidh 26-Jan-2010, 03:15 PM
This really has me flamed up!!

Councillor slams spending on Gaelic education

HIGHLAND Council's decision to spend over £1.5 million on developing Gaelic education in the Inverness area has been strongly criticised by a Sutherland councillor.

Labour ward councillor for East Sutherland and Edderton, Deirdre Mackay, claimed this week that it was an unnecessary expenditure in the current straitened economic circumstances.

And she also called into question Scottish Government legislation which forces local authorities to spend thousands of pounds on drawing up a Gaelic policy and promoting Gaelic language and culture.

She criticised it as an elitist policy which favoured the few rather than the many.

She said Highland Council had to meet the bill for Gaelic education, Gaelic development jobs and Gaelic road, street and bulding signs which were often erected to the opposition of local communities.

So strongly did Councillor Mackay feel that she claimed it should be a political issue at the next election.

She said: "It's fundamentally wrong. Even in times when Highland Council was awash with money, there were arguments against it.

"As a councillor, I am there to scrutinise council policy and to question it quite rigorously. This is political correctness - you don't challenge Gaelic. Well, it has to be challenged. This should be an election issue come the next Holyrood election."

Councillor Mackay took the opportunity to speak out at a meeting of Brora Community Council in the village's community centre on Tuesday night.

She said she was deeply "uncomfortable" at Highland Council's decision to spend over £1 million in expanding the new Inverness Gaelic School.

She was also very unhappy at plans to establish a new Gaelic medium unit at Glenurquhart Primary School, Drumnadrochit, which would cater for just four pupils out of a school roll numbering 123.

She pointed out that the expenditure would take place at a time when Highland Council was looking to make £60m savings during the next two years.

She said: "I think that this level of spending is a luxury that we cannot afford. It is for a very few pupils.

"We're going to have hard choices to make and I simply cannot support this policy any longer.

"In my ward every school building is classed as a Category C. There are four levels A, B, C and D which translates into very good, good, poor and diabolical.

"My conscience simply doesn't let me support this level of spend for a few children when other children are being educated in such poor conditions.

"Apart from the money, there is an equality of opportunities issue. Bilingual education, it is argued, is to be encouraged. Yes, but bilingual could be Spanish, or Urdu or Chinese. It shouldn't be just because it's Gaelic."

Councillor Mackay then widened the issue by criticising Scottish Government legislation regarding the promotion of Gaelic language and culture as flawed and "heavy handed." She said it emanated from the top rather than from grassroots level.

She said: "Highland Council was compelled to develop a Gaelic plan. That was developed within the Gaelic committee and was never debated by the full council, but just came before them as a document. There is a democratic issue there."

She took serious issue with the free transport provided to pupils attending Gaelic Medium Schools; the proliferation of Gaelic development jobs; and the requirement for public bodies to provide Gaelic speaking staff and erect Gaelic signs.

She said: "A number of parents in my ward are in the Golspie High School catchment area yet have chosen to send their children to Dornoch Academy. These parents have to supply their own transport.

"But if parents elect to have their child attend a Gaelic Medium Unit which is outwith the catchment area, then that child is transported there by taxi. It is fundamentally wrong."

Councillor Mackay continued: "If you phone Porterfield Prison, the first thing you are asked is 'Would you like to speak in Gaelic?'

"NHS Highland are having to introduce bi-lingual signs and the Gaelic wording has to be above the English wording."

She also criticised the proliferation of Gaelic development posts.

"We recently lost our community education officer, Lawrence Jamieson. Yet, at a time when posts like his were being cut, there were posts being created in Gaelic.

"The government does give funding towards these posts but it deteriorates over three years and after that, Highland Council has to absorb the costs into the main education budget."

Councillor Mackay then explained why she had chosen to use Tuesday's community council meeting as a platform to air her views.

"I think people ought to know a whole lot more about how the Gaelic plan is being delivered and how much it is costing and the equal opportunities issue."

East Sutherland Rotary Club chairman Alistair Risk, who was present at the meeting, commented: "I have two relations who have sent their children to the Gaelic Education unit in Stirling.

"They haven't been sent there because they have a desperate desire to learn Gaelic, the reason they go is because the class sizes number ten or less and they get a better education. It just so happens they have to put up with Gaelic at the same time."

Brora community council chairman Kathleen Cunningham told Councillor Mackay: "The message from round this table is definitely one of support for you."

[email protected]

* Is too much money being spent on Gaelic education in the Highlands? Go to 'The Big Vote' to have your say.

Here to Vote

Posted by: WallaceGal 26-Jan-2010, 03:27 PM
The woman should be removed from Council!

Posted by: englishmix 26-Jan-2010, 10:41 PM
Aye, I hope they do vote her out. These types are always so willing to spend other peoples money on all kinds of foreign multiculturalistic projects and pluralistic nonsence, but when it comes to supporting the cultural heritage of the country and her citizens, then they really show their true colors.

Thanks MacDonnchaidh for sharing that interesting news! Say I did VOTE on the link - its 85% for Gaelic to 15% against.

Posted by: englishmix 30-Jan-2010, 05:26 PM
Adel goes extra mile to keep Olympic dream alive

The Press and Journal, Published: 30/01/2010

TWELVE-YEAR-OLD Burghead skater Adel Wilson is hoping that the top-class coaching she is receiving at Murrayfield ice-rink in Edinburgh will help her achieve her dream of taking part in the deaf Olympics. Adel and her nine-year-old sister Karina, who make the 350-mile round trip to Murrayfield accompanied by their mum Janet, have recently been awarded a £400 grant, £200 for each, from sportMoray to assist with coaching and travelling costs.

Adel, who is deaf in one ear and has 50% hearing in the other, is hoping that figure-skating will shortly be recognised as a deaf winter Olympic sport. She said: “I will be 13 next month and hope that by the age of 14 I will be good enough to take part in the deaf Olympics. Although they have not yet recognised skating as a sport, I have progressed so much with the coaching I have received from head-coach Alice Fell down in Edinburgh that when it is, maybe for Slovakia next year, or more likely in Vancouver in 2015, I will be ready. I really enjoy our weekly coaching sessions at Murrayfield. The ice-rink is a lot bigger than the Elgin one so we have a lot more room for skating and I don’t mind the travelling at all.”

Her younger sister Karina said: “I enjoy our practice in Elgin and our coaching in Edinburgh and we are both better skaters now.”

Proud mum Janet said: “Both Adel and Karina have come on leaps and bounds under Alice Fell, the senior coach at Murrayfield in Edinburgh. They have both progressed from beginners’ level into national level one which is very encouraging.”

Posted by: englishmix 30-Jan-2010, 05:31 PM

Jacobite rebellion mansion for sale at £1.75million
Bonnie Prince Charlie made good his escape to Skye from beach below Arisaig House
By Susan Welsh
The Press and Journal, Published: 29/01/2010

A MAGNIFICENT historic mansion, with links back to the days of the Jacobite rebellion, has gone on sale at Beasdale, near Arisaig. Arisaig House, which has a price tag of more than £1.75million, was designed by Philip Webb, an architect known as The Father of Arts & Crafts-style design.

Standing on one of the most scenic parts of the Atlantic seaboard, and just 10 miles from Mallaig, it is said that Bonnie Prince Charlie made good his escape to Skye in a boat from the beach just below the house. The B-listed 15 bedroom house was also used during World War II to provide training grounds for Winston Churchill’s Special Operations Executive, elite corps trained to carry out sabotage and subterfuge behind enemy lines.

Famed architecture writer Marcus Binney included Arisaig House in his 2007 book, entitled In Search of the Perfect House – 500 of the Best Buildings in Britain and Ireland. Tom Stewart-Moore, who is handling the sale for agent Strutt & Parker, said: “Not only is the house fantastic but the setting is, quite literally, breathtaking.”

The house, built in 1864, is set round a traditional courtyard with outbuildings, and the sale includes a thriving letting business of three apartments and four estate cottages. It was originally owned and commissioned by Francis Dukinfield Palmer-Astley who bought the 18,000-acre estate, on which the property is built, in 1848.

Badly damaged by fire in 1935, Arisaig House was largely reconstructed to plans by Scottish architect Ian Hamilton. Fully modernised in 1981, the house was converted into a small hotel by the current owners, Ruth and John Smither. It ceased trading as a hotel in 2002.

With magnificent gardens and woodland stretching to more than 18 acres, spectacular views of seas and mountains and a private jetty providing access to the sea, it ticks all the boxes for those looking for a unique home.

Mr Stewart-Moore said: “Arisaig House will attract both lifestyle buyers looking for a spectacular residential estate and commercial buyers interested in the property from a business point of view.”

Read more:

Posted by: englishmix 31-Jan-2010, 01:06 PM
Weather brings chaos to Mearns
Commuters hit by lengthy tailbacks

The Press and Journal, Published: 30/01/2010

COMMUTERS faced travel chaos yesterday as parts of the main A90 south of Aberdeen ground to a standstill. Accidents on the A90 Dundee-Aberdeen road left commuters stuck in tailbacks stretching from Portlethen to the Muchalls junction in the morning, with further tailbacks south of Stonehaven heading towards Laurencekirk.

The northbound jam was caused by a car which had slid into a barrier close to the Portlethen slip road. The carriageway was reduced to one lane at times as the vehicle was recovered. Police said they had attended “a spate” of accidents across snow-hit Aberdeenshire throughout the day.

Commuters faced more misery after another accident at about 3.50pm. A 10-vehicle collision on the A90 near the Lumgair junction, near Stonehaven, caused 2 The ambulance service said there had been one minor injury as a result.

Parts of the dual-carriageway were reduced to one lane due to drifting snow. A spokeswoman for Bear Scotland, the agency responsible for trunk roads, moved to reassure drivers that teams had been deployed to plough and treat the A90 dual-carriageway “around the clock”.

Teams are preparing for the possibility of further snowfall over the weekend, an Aberdeenshire Council spokesman said.

Posted by: englishmix 01-Feb-2010, 12:17 PM
'Massive thud then whole flat shook'
By Jackie MacKenzie
The North Star, Published: 28 January, 2010

A DINGWALL woman this week described how her block of flats shook when a passenger train derailed as it approached the town's railway station. More than 70 passengers escaped serious injury after the two-coach train came off the rails around 100 yards south of Dingwall station on Friday evening.

Several passengers had been getting ready to alight at Dingwall when the front unit of the Inverness to Ardgay train began bumping along the sleepers before grinding to a halt. Rosemary Shaw, who lives in Cambrai Court, said: "I live in a top floor flat and I was watching TV around 5.45pm when I just heard this tremendous thud and I knew something horrible had happened. I thought there had been some kind of explosion. I got a fright because the noise was so loud and I actually felt the whole flat shake with the vibration. I looked out of the window and I could see the train about 70 yards away to the right hand side of the flats with the engine running and the lights on. Everything seemed calm and I couldn't work out what had happened. I think the noise must have been the train coming to a shuddering stop."

Ms Shaw, a home economics teacher at Alness Academy, said: "It was then that I heard a chorus of sirens and saw flashing lights. I was absolutely amazed at the response time of the services. They were so quick it was absolutely brilliant. The police were first on the scene. There were three fire engines outside my flat and ambulances. The firemen cut the fence along the railway line and I heard someone on a radio saying to take the passengers into Cambrai Court.

"First ScotRail staff were also on the scene very quickly. Everyone was so organised. I know they're trained for emergency responses but it was still very impressive."

One woman who was slightly injured was taken to hospital as a precaution after the accident but nobody else was hurt. Ms Shaw said: "I was so relieved to hear that nobody had been badly hurt because some of the passengers said they had been standing up at the time, waiting to alight. It's just a blessing that the train was going so slowly."

A British Transport Police spokesman said: "Both carriages remained upright and the rear wheels of the second carriage remained on the track. The train was travelling at about 20mph." He added: "Inquiries into the cause of the incident are on-going and the Rail Accident Investigation Branch and Office of the Rail Regular have been informed."

[email protected]

Posted by: englishmix 01-Feb-2010, 12:25 PM
County stun leaders at Dens
Dundee 0, Ross County 1

The North Star, Published: 01 February, 2010

PAUL Lawson's wonder strike sunk Irn Bru Division One leaders Dundee at Dens on Saturday – and made Ross County their main rivals for the title. The former Celtic youth midfielder's deflected long-range shot on the stroke of half-time was the only goal of the game and left the Dark Blues fearing a potential challenge from Dingwall.

The result moves Derek Adams' side six points behind the Taysiders – but, vitally, with three games in hand. The win was thoroughly deserved as punchy play, attacking verve and style went in unison with an unwavering battling spirit which Dundee could not cope with.

The home fans let rip at their manager Jocky Scott at full-time and it's maybe a sign that as we enter February a strong challenge from the North is being felt by the long-term leaders. The surprise in the team-lines was that Dundee's top scorer Leigh Griffiths was left on the bench, although he was thrown on at the start of the second half.

County, in their red change kits, flew out the traps as Garry Wood went close from distance before Paul Di Giacomo's effort was scrambled away by Colin McMenamin. Dundee soon settled and goalkeeper Michael McGovern got down well to hold on to a stinging shot from Gary Harkins, who looked impressive on the right in the early stages.

Scott Morrison, one of many key figures for the Staggies this season, then forced a save from Rab Douglas and Lawson saw his dipping drive just rise above the bar from distance. However, Lawson's moment arrived on 44 minutes when he collected a weak clearance from a County corner and lashed a fierce drive into the net via a slight deflection from a Dundee stopper.

Griffiths' appearance after the break lifted home hearts, but County ensured he never popped up in the danger zones.

Indeed, it was the Dingwall side who could have grabbed another when Martin Scott went down in the box from a Brian Kerr challenge but referee Mike Tumilty waved away the appeals. Keeper McGovern had a huge hand in County leaving as the winners when he reacted smartly to stop efforts from Richie Hart and Harkins.

After the six minutes of stoppage time, the visiting bench and players celebrated what could well be a crucial win at Dens Park.

Douglas, Paton, Lauchlan, Malone (Benedictus 52), Forsyth, Hart (Shinnie 70), Young, Kerr, Harkins, McMenamin, Clarke (Griffiths 46).

Ross County:
McGovern, Miller, Boyd, Keddie, Morrison (Watt 86), Brittain, Gardyne (Vigurs 80), Lawson, Scott, Di Giacomo, Wood (Kettlewell 54).

Referee: Mike Tumilty.

Attendance: 4912.

Posted by: englishmix 01-Feb-2010, 04:52 PM
Prestwick businessman fined for blowing nose in stationary car
Jan 29 2010 by Lisa Boyle, Ayrshire Post

A RESPECTED businessman faces a criminal conviction for blowing his nose. Michael Mancini decided to clear his sinuses while he was stuck in stationary traffic along Ayr High Street. But nearby police didn’t take kindly to it and slapped Michael with a fine and penalty points on his licence.

The officers claimed he wasn’t in control of his vehicle when he produced a tissue and blew his nose. The dad-of-two has refused to pay the £60 fine – so Michael faces a trial at Ayr District Court later this year. He explained: “Kyle Street was closed at the time, so traffic was being sent down the High Street. The traffic was stopped all the way up, nose to tail. I decided to blow my nose, so I put my handbrake on and took it out of gear. I noticed four police officers standing near the Wallace Tower. Then when I looked up one of them waved me over. I still had the tissue in my hand and was totally stunned when he said I was getting a fixed penalty notice for not being in control of my car. Surely it would have been more dangerous to drive with a blocked nose struggling to breathe.”

Michael, 39, who runs a furniture restoration business with his brother Philip, has had a licence for 32 years and has never had a driving conviction. He continued: “I thought it was some kind of Beadle’s About moment, a wind up. I could see the officer’s point if I was on my phone or something, but I wasn’t. The traffic was at a complete standstill and I had my handbrake on. I tried to explain that to the officer but he wouldn’t listen. He didn’t know what the code would be on the fixed penalty so he had to ask his colleague. Then he just went through the procedure and that was that.”

In June last year, Stewart Smith was issued with a fixed penalty notice by the same police officer when he dropped a £10 note in the street. The officer believed the Dalrymple man was littering. But Stewart said he simply missed his back pocket and dropped it by accident. Prestwick man Michael is still baffled by the October 26 incident and has taken legal advice on the matter.

His lawyer, Peter Lockhart, has written to the procurator fiscal saying it “beggars belief” that this happened. But prosecutors are adamant they will be using their resources to put Michael through a trial. Michael continued: “I’m really angry about it. It’s doubtful that I’ll get legal aid so this could potentially cost me thousands of pounds in legal fees. But I won’t be paying the fixed penalty.”

Mr Lockhart added: “We will be contesting this and fighting it all the way.”

A spokesperson for Strathclyde Police said: “We can confirm that a 39-year-old man is the subject of a report to the procurator fiscal in connection with an alleged traffic offence on October 26, 2009.”

Posted by: englishmix 03-Feb-2010, 12:04 PM
Police want victims to come forward to flush out flasher
Edinburgh Evening News, 03 February 2010

POLICE today urged more women targeted by a serial flasher who has struck at least five times in two upmarket city streets to come forward.

The flasher, who is believed to be aged between 18 and 24, has targeted women heading to work in the Grange area. All five reports have come from Grange Road and Kilgraston Road, and taken place between 6:30am and 7am. But detectives are appealiADVERTISEMENTng to any victims who have not reported the incident to police to come forward.

Officers are studying CCTV from the area in a bid to identify the suspect, who has preyed on victims in the neighbourhood where former RBS chief Sir Fred Goodwin, TV presenter John Leslie and ex-Scotland football boss George Burley have homes. Some of the victims have been women walking to work while others have been passengers on buses going past.

In the latest attack, the flasher exposed himself to a young woman on Friday morning. Another indecent exposure took place six days earlier on 23 January, while a separate report was made on 19 January. The first sighting was made on 23 October last year, with another incident following on 18 December.

The suspect is described as 5ft8in tall, and of medium build. He usually wears a dark hooded top, with the hood pulled over his face, along with dark-coloured trousers and shoes.

PC Margaret Tulloch, from the force's Amethyst unit, which investigates sex offences, said: "We have descriptions from the victims, but they tend to see the suspect then look away quickly when they see what he is doing. There may be other victims who have not reported the matter to police and we would ask them to contact police."

Officers would not speculate on why the flasher was targeting the same streets at similar times on each occasion, but said they were following "lines of inquiry".

Detective Constable Mark Petrie added: "This behaviour has been directed at young professional people on their way to work and it has caused upset to those involved. This might have been the kind of thing that some people put down to a prank, but these are crimes, this is unacceptable behaviour and it is criminal behaviour."

Posted by: englishmix 04-Feb-2010, 09:55 AM
Okay, this isn't in Scotland, but its interesting nonetheless...

UK man's castle won't be his home, court says

By GREGORY KATZ, Associated Press Writer Gregory Katz, Associated Press Writer – Wed Feb 3, 1:30 pm ET

LONDON – A man's home is his castle — but not if British authorities say it has to be destroyed.

That's the situation faced by Robert Fidler, a farmer who lost a High Court bid Wednesday to protect the once-secret castle he built 40 miles (65 kilometers) south of London and kept hidden from planning authorities. The adverse decision means Fidler's roof must come down. He has one year to comply unless an appeal is successful.

To keep prying eyes from noticing his unauthorized abode, Fidler placed bales of hay and tarpaulin around his dream home in Salfords, Surrey, authorities said. The court ruled he could not benefit from his deception.

Mike Miller, a chief planner with the Reigate and Banstead Borough Council, said the council was delighted with the decision, which it viewed as a vindication of the decision to challenge Fidler in court.

"This was a blatant attempt at deception to circumvent the planning process," he said, adding that Fidler now has one year to destroy the castle, remove the ruins and return the property to its original state.

The unusual castle, complete with cannon, ramparts and stained glass, was completed in 2002 and Fidler lived there with family for more than four years before the authorities started legal action against him.

Fidler, who has had disagreements with planning authorities before, anticipated that his request for permission to build the castle would be denied, so he tried to take advantage of a rule that allows a structure to be legalized if it has been lived in for four years.

Fidler's lawyer, Pritpal Singh Swarn, said the decision will go to the Court of Appeal because it raised important planning issues. A further appeal to European courts is possible if British courts again reject Fidler's bid to legitimize his castle.

He said Fidler was extremely disappointed with the ruling and no local residents had complained about the castle. "It has been pursued at the expense of the taxpayer which we find deeply regrettable — but Mr. Fidler will continue to fight for the right to live in his home," the lawyer said.

Authorities said he incorporated two grain silos into the design, covering them with material to give them a castellated appearance. "Mr. Fidler made it quite clear that the construction of his house was undertaken in a clandestine fashion," the court ruled.

Posted by: englishmix 05-Feb-2010, 03:11 PM
Whisky collection set to raise more than £500,000
3,000 bottles of rare malts sold at auction

The Evening Express, By Sally McDonald, Published: 05/02/2010

COLLECTOR: Willard Folsom has a passion for rare malt whiskies.

WHISKIES from the Aberdeen area are being auctioned off as part of a Californian man’s huge collection of rare malts. The whisky collection of Willard Folsom, who died in 2008 aged 64, has so far netted more than £400,000 in sales held by London auctioneers Bonhams.

And industry insiders reckon the 3,000-bottle whisky collection – some of it from distilleries in the Aberdeen area – is likely to burst its half-a-million pound target when the last of the malts go on sale.

Whiskies from the Aberdeen area in Mr Folsom’s collection included a 40-year-old malt from the Glenfiddich Distillery in Banffshire’s Dufftown and a 50-year-old malt from Stonehaven’s Glenury Royal Distillery.

Read more:

Posted by: englishmix 06-Feb-2010, 02:09 PM
Pope urges Scots bishops to tackle 'the increasing tide of secularism'

The Scotsman, Date: 06 February 2010

SCOTLAND is a country plagued by sectarianism and struggling with a rising "tide of secularism", the Pope has declared, in an address to the country's Catholic bishops in Rome. He ended months of speculation when he confirmed he was to visit Scotland later this year.

But in remarks that contrast with those of John Paul II, the last pope to visit Scotland, Benedict XVI attacked proposed new laws, and said the country was battling with sectarianism as a result of a "great rupture" with its Catholic past. The Pope urged his Scottish bishops to "grapple firmly with the challenges presented by the increasing tide of secularism in your country".

He also used his speech to condemn euthanasia – comments widely interpreted as a criticism of Margo MacDonald's attempt to pass an assisted suicide bill at Holyrood. "Support for euthanasia strikes at the very heart of the Christian understanding of the dignity of human life," the Pope said.

He also drew attention to Scotland's Protestant-Catholic religious divide when he looked back to the Reformation of 1560. "The Church in your country, like many in Northern Europe, has suffered the tragedy of division," he said. "It is sobering to recall the great rupture with Scotland's Catholic past that occurred 450 years ago."

He acknowledged that progress had been made to close the divide but stressed that sectarianism remained a Scottish problem. "I give thanks to God for the progress that has been made in healing the wounds that were the legacy of that period, especially the sectarianism that has continued to rear its head even in recent times," he said.

The Pope also paid tribute to what he said was the role played by Scotland's Catholic schools in overcoming sectarianism – an analysis that will not be shared by critics of schooling along religious lines. But in a statement that accepted his views were not shared by all, he said: [I]"All too often, the Church's doctrine is perceived as a series of prohibitions and retrograde positions, whereas the reality, as we know, is that it is creative and life-giving, and it is directed towards the fullest possible realisation of the great potential for good and for happiness that God has implanted within every one of us."[/I]

The Pope's willingness to embrace contentious subjects has prompted concern that his trip will not be met with the rapture that greeted the previous papal visit. His predecessor John Paul II's pastoral trip in 1982 prompted euphoria among the hundreds of thousands of people who flocked to Glasgow's Bellahouston Park and Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh.

Even before yesterday's remarks, Benedict XVI's visit to the UK was already set to be highly controversial. He is likely to meet a wave of demonstrations across Britain after he condemned Labour's equality laws earlier this week. Humanists, gay groups and academics joined politicians in criticising his unprecedented intervention in domestic politics.

In a lecture to English Catholic bishops in Rome on Sunday, the Pope described Harriet Harman's Equality Bill as "unjust", a restriction on religious freedom and a violation of "the natural law" – in other words, Christian teaching.

Benedict XVI's attack came as Ms Harman tries to convince Christian leaders that the Equality Bill will not damage their rights to refuse to hire homosexual staff.

In Scotland yesterday, the Pope was urged to "relax", following his lament that Scotland was losing touch with religion. Patrick Harvie, the leader of the Green Party, said: "I agree Scotland is a more secular society, but I think that's a very good thing for equality in all its forms and for all religions. I would invite his Holiness to relax about this social change and enjoy it. I would acknowledge sectarianism is a problem, but there are other forms of racism that are bigger problems." He added: "Nevertheless, I think this is an interesting contribution, and maybe some people will find his words provocative."

His views on euthanasia were disputed by Ms MacDonald, the MSP who has been campaigning for terminally ill people to have the right to end their own lives. She said it was "logical" for Catholic bishops to discuss the issue at their meeting but added: "When the Pope refers to euthanasia, that is death brought about not on the wishes of the person concerned, but by another person who takes the decision. My bill rests on the autonomy of the person concerned, and their capacity to make their wishes known after medical examination and after satisfying witnesses they have not been coerced or persuaded to end their life. It appears as though the Pope is unaware of the difference."

The pontiff was invited to the UK by Prime Minister Gordon Brown during a private audience in February. A spokesman for the Church of Scotland said they "rejoiced" with Catholics over the fact the Pope was coming. "The last time a pope visited Scotland, it had a strong influence on ecumenical links and we hope this will be the case again," a spokesman said.

Posted by: englishmix 08-Feb-2010, 09:46 PM
High street fighting back
By Duncan Bick
Forres Gazette, Published: 03 February, 2010

FORRES is fighting back against the shoplifting which has been plaguing the High Street, according to several of the town's shop managers.

Back in November 2009 the "Forres Gazette" revealed that thieving in shops was a major problem, especially among charity shops, with one losing £1,500 worth of stock a year because of theft. Managers said that since the article appeared, thanks to a combination of vigilance from the town's people, changes in floor layout, staff effort and increased police presence, Forres has taken a step forward in tackling the problem.

British Red Cross shop manager Ken Thomson said he has noticed a reduction in the number of thefts from the shop. "After the article a number of people came in and said they just didn't believe people would steal from a charity shop," he said. "Our customers are now making things as uncomfortable as possible for people stealing things." He said that customers were now approaching staff if they suspected anybody of shoplifting. Mr Thomson also praised local police and said he had been visited by officers since November and had discussed setting up an "early warning" system with them.

"The problem will always be there," he said, "but it has now been brought to the attention of normal people." His comments were echoed by Neil Thomson, manager of Boots the Chemist. "The staff are a lot more vigilant," he said. "There have also been customers who have said to us 'Someone over there looks a bit funny', they are quite good in that way."

He applauded the police and said officers had made a good effort to be more visible around the High Street at busy times. Mr Thomson also said that coverage of the issue in the "Gazette" has helped deal with the situation. "It has made everyone aware that it is happening and let the people doing it know that we are on the case." He added that the shop floor had been rearranged with common shoplifter targets moved.

Chest, Heart and Stroke shop manager Sue Wood said that she had also seen a slight fall in shoplifting and felt this could be down to greater awareness of the issue. However, she also said the shop had been less busy since November and this may also be the cause.

The Co-operative supermarket's manager, Craig Milton, said he had also rearranged his shop floor to combat thieves. "Since just after Christmas it hasn't been too bad but we do still have two to three incidents a week," he said. "Touch wood, it hasn't been too bad lately."

Mr Milton also said the supermarket had increased staffing in the evenings when it was open until 10pm. At Forres' branch of Superdrug, manager Wendy Forrest said that they were alerted to theft mainly through the "buzzers" at the store's exit.

She repeated a call made in November for a 'ring round' system to be set up in the town. This would see each shop send out alerts to the others if they suspected somebody of shoplifting on the High Street. "We used to have one but it just fell by the wayside," she said.

Forres-based Police Sergeant Sean Jones said his force had a strong community focus and was aware of concerns about shoplifting in the town. "We increased the number of high visibility foot patrols in Forres town centre over the festive period, in particular at peak shopping times," he said. "It is a normal part of our community involvement remit to carry out foot patrols and we do try to do this as often as possible."

Sgt Jones praised the burgh's community beat officer, PC Kevin Skivington, who he said had been especially active in making foot patrols. "As this appears to have had an effect on shoplifting, every effort will be made to maintain the number of patrols," he said.

Sgt Jones added that the 'ring round' system was being updated and would be relaunched in the next few weeks.

Posted by: englishmix 10-Feb-2010, 02:00 PM
Loch Ness harbour designs to come under public scrutiny
Inverness Courier, Published: 09 February, 2010

DESIGNS featuring wood and glass and a structure resembling a modern-day broch are among the ideas which have been put forward for a new £2.3 million harbour at Loch Ness.

Now, members of the public are being asked to give their views before the final decision is made on the project, first unveiled last year by Jacobite Cruises. The company wants to develop a new harbour, car park, reception and visitor facilities on a four-acre site at Brackla near to the Clansman Hotel on the loch's western shores.

Following initial consultations with community groups, tourism professionals and other loch users, Jacobite briefed four Scottish design firms to present their ideas for the development.

Members of the public are now being invited to comment on the designs which can be seen on the project's website -

The company expects to announce in the next two weeks which of the four firms - Mckenzie Strickland, Gareth Hoskins, Cameron Webster and ANTA - has been successful. A planning application is then expected to be submitted to Highland Council in the spring.

The design for the new harbour and visitor facility by MSA Architects. Rod Michie, director at Jacobite, said the company hoped to create a tourism facility which enhanced the visitor experience for years to come. "We want local people to be proud of a facility that is iconic yet sympathetic to one of the best known and most beautiful tourism destinations in the world," he said.

Jacobite Cruises, which attracts more than 100,000 customers annually on its Loch Ness tours, last year won a Thistle Award for Going the Extra Mile.

Posted by: WallaceGal 10-Feb-2010, 03:04 PM
Ugh! They're sitting on the most beautiful loch in Scotland (IMHO) and they want to drop a cement block on it? UGH! If they're going to spend that much money on it, make it look historically accurate.


Posted by: englishmix 10-Feb-2010, 06:25 PM
Thanks WallaceGal for the post! I tend to agree with you.

At least they seem open to community and tourist input. In fact, on the link one can learn more and even submit feedback - yes even from us in USA and around the world.

Posted by: englishmix 10-Feb-2010, 06:36 PM
'Right to Roam' challenge to Alladale plans fails
The Northern Times, Published: 04 February, 2010

A BID by a local authority access officer to use Right to Roam legislation to prevent Alladale Wilderness Reserve from keeping wild animals in a secure enclosure has failed.

Highland councillors this week agreed to renew the reserve's Dangerous Wild Animals licence to keep 30 boar and four elk in a 500-acre fenced-off enclosure on the 23,500 acre estate. Sutherland's access officer, Matt Dent, had objected to the application under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, which establishes the right to be on land and to cross land.

But members of Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross Licensing Committee gave it the green light after hearing from their clerk and legal adviser, Donald Somerville, that the Right to Roam legislation was not relevant because the application was being made under the Wild Animals Act 1976.

Councillors declined to view a five-minute PowerPoint presentation prepared by Mr Dent on the grounds that it also was not relevant. Their decision further reinforces the view that the law governing the keeping of dangerous animals is in direct conflict with Scotland's Right to Roam legislation.

No representative from Alladale Wilderness Reserve, located near Ardgay, was present at Monday's licensing committee meeting which was held in the Community Centre, Helmsdale. But the committee heard from Mr Dent and also from area environmental health manager Chris Ratter who recommended the application be approved.

Mr Dent said he was generally concerned that the enclosure denied walkers and mountaineers their access rights. But his main concern was that the enclosure lies on a track leading to the 846metre Corbett, Carn Ban, at the head of Glen Alladale. He said it had been suggested that the animals be kept in a smaller enclosure, but this did not find favour with reserve managers.

Mr Dent said: "Keeping animals in itself is not a problem but the size of the enclosure has to be reasonable. The estate has 15 acres below the lodge that is fenced to the same standard as the larger enclosure and this could be used for boar and elk."

Area environmental health officer Chris Ratter explained that the wilderness reserve had been granted permission in 2007, under delegated powers, to keep 30 wild boar in a secure enclosure. That permission had now lapsed and Alladale was seeking to renew it with consent to keep four elk as well as the 30 wild boar. Mr Ratter said his department had consulted widely at the time the original application was granted and had received no objections.

Fresh consultation had taken place as a result of the renewal application and the only objection received had been from the access officer. Mr Ratter said: "I don't consider Right to Roam legislation to be relevant to the granting of this licence because the Land Reform Act did not amend the Dangerous Wild Animals Act. There is no amendment, thus I assumed it would stand on its own."

Mr Ratter reassured councillors that the estate had put up enough signs warning the public about the electric fence, which measures 5ft in height and over four miles in length, surrounding the enclosure. Mr Somerville commented: "It is my view that issues related to the Right to Roam legislation are not relevant for the determination of this application." Mr Somerville pointed out that even if the application was refused, there was no obligation on the land owner to disassemble the fence.

The committee chair, Councillor Alasdair Rhind (Tain and Easter Ross), said: "People still have 23,000 acres to roam about in anyway. The guidance we are getting is that we have to determine this today under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 and not against anything else like the Right to Roam."

Councillors unanimously agreed to grant the application with various conditions including that the 30 or so gates built into the fence should be locked. Meanwhile, Rob Gibson, SNP MSP for the Highlands and Islands, has called for urgent clarification of the law of access.

"Since the license for a fenced enclosure in 2007 the eccentric plans of Paul Lister were exposed in an embarrassing TV series. This showed a millionaire lording it over his private mountain kingdom with scant regard to public access and long established customary rights. I am concerned that the LibDem led Highland Council is allowing conflicting laws to clash. Which takes precedence? Do we have to bow to private whims and block access through wild country that could be a life and death issue for walkers in severe weather. I am astounded that the licensing board chair Cllr Alasdair Rhind showed scant regard for the physical dangers to walkers on the Alladale path. Access to the bulk of the estate is no excuse for blocking the long used Alladale path. I will raise the matter with the Minster, but meantime I hope to hear how Highland Council will review this unfortunate decision."

Posted by: englishmix 11-Feb-2010, 12:12 PM
Fashion designer Alexander McQueen found dead

The Herald, Published on 11 Feb 2010

British fashion designer Alexander McQueen has been found dead after apparently committing suicide at his home. The 40-year-old was discovered at his property in Green Street, in London’s West End, shortly after 10am today.

Paramedics were called but he was pronounced dead at the scene. Police said his death is not being treated as suspicious. A spokeswoman for Mr McQueen said: “Mr McQueen was found dead this morning at his home. We’re devastated and I hope you understand that out of respect to his family and his colleagues we’re not going to be making any further statement.”

The designer’s real name was Lee McQueen, but he was known as Alexander. His design company, also called Alexander McQueen, said in a statement: “On behalf of Lee McQueen’s family, Alexander McQueen today announces the tragic news that Lee McQueen, the founder and designer of the Alexander McQueen brand, has been found dead at his home.

“At this stage it is inappropriate to comment on this tragic news beyond saying that we are devastated and are sharing a sense of shock and grief with Lee’s family. Lee’s family has asked for privacy in order to come to terms with this terrible news and we hope the media will respect this.”

Alexandra Shulman, editor of British Vogue, said: “Lee McQueen influenced a whole generation of designers. His brilliant imagination knew no bounds as he conjured up collection after collection of extraordinary designs. At one level he was a master of the fantastic, creating astounding fashion shows that mixed design, technology and performance and on another he was a modern-day genius whose gothic aesthetic was adopted by women the world over.

“His death is the hugest loss to anyone who knew him and for very many who didn’t.” Designer Katherine Hamnett said: “He was a genius. What a terrible, tragic waste.”

Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw said: “Alexander McQueen made an outstanding contribution to British fashion. “His extraordinary talent and creativity mean that his designs are adored not just by followers of haute couture but lovers of great style everywhere. This is a great loss to one of Britain’s most successful industries and to the design world more widely.”

A silver Toyota Hiace marked private ambulance arrived shortly before 4.30pm. A man dressed as an undertaker went inside. A few minutes later, a stretcher was removed from the vehicle and was taken inside.

Posted by: englishmix 12-Feb-2010, 07:40 PM
Bodies of Scots soldiers return home

Corporal Johnathan Moore and Private Sean McDonald have been flown back to the UK after being killed in an explosion in Afghanistan.

STV, 12 February 2010 08:02 AM

The bodies of two Scots soldiers killed in an explosion in Afghanistan have now returned to the UK. Corporal Johnathan Moore and Private Sean McDonald were flown back to RAF Lyneham, in Wiltshire.

A private ceremony is being held at the base's chapel before the cortege passes through the streets of nearby Wootton Bassett. Hundreds are expected to line the streets in tribute as the Union flag-draped coffins are driven past the war memorial.

Cpl Moore and Pte McDonald, of The Royal Scots Borderers, 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, were killed in an explosion near Sangin on February 7. Cpl Moore, 22, was born in Bellshill, Lanarkshire, and grew up in Hamilton. He was commanding his section on a routine night patrol to the south of the company base that evening when an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) detonated, killing him and Pte McDonald.

Pte McDonald, 26, was born in Toronto, and went to school in Edinburgh. He leaves behind his wife, Jennifer, his mother, Jacqueline, brother, Darryle McDonald, and sister, Ceilidh Spratt.

Their commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Charlie Herbert, said Cpl Moore was "the perfect Scottish warrior" and that Pte McDonald "died a hero". The body of a third soldier Warrant Officer Class 2 David Markland - a bomb disposal expert – has also been repatriated.

WO2 Markland, 36, from Euxton, Lancashire was killed in another IED blast the day after Cpl Moore and Pte McDonald. Father of two and a Royal Engineer Search Adviser, he was part of a team clearing routes of explosives in Nad-e-Ali in Helmand.

Posted by: englishmix 12-Feb-2010, 07:44 PM
Just why are the new Torvill and Dean so unknown?

With the Winter Olympics looming, figure skaters John and Sinead Kerr are genuine medal hopes - but nobody talks about them.

By Neil Drysdale

STV, 11 February 2010 10:49 AM

They can walk down the streets of Glasgow or Edinburgh without anybody offering a second glance, but Sinead and John Kerr have imprinted themselves on the American consciousness during the last couple of years. Last summer, for instance, the sibling duo from Livingston appeared in two television specials for NBC and rubbed shoulders with such luminaries of the music scene as Smokey Robinson and the Backstreet Boys. They also recently featured in a colour spread in the renowned Sports Illustrated magazine and have amassed a sizeable fan base all the way from New Jersey to Tokyo.

So why aren’t they accorded greater recognition in their homeland? The Kerrs don’t have any glib answers, but part of the problem might lie with the fallow period for British skating which followed the retirement of Olympic champions, Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean in 1994.

Since then, the Scots have been forced to carry a whole sport on their shoulders, whilst grappling with financial constraints, which forced them into part-time jobs – he as a body double for Ally McCoist in the Robert Duvall movie, A Shot at Glory, she as a model for Alexander McQueen – and, now that they have decamped to the United States, where they are fine-tuning their Olympic routine with former world champion, Evgeny Platov, they are usually out of sight, out of mind.

Yet, that situation will be transformed during the next fortnight, as the Kerrs attempt to secure the medal which would be the shining jewel in their collection. They have already snaffled seven British national titles, gained bronzes at last season’s European Championships and became the first GB skaters to qualify for the prestigious Grand Prix final in December, where they finished fourth, agonisingly close to another podium.

But their imminent participation is Vancouver will bring with it the most pressure they have ever faced, because they were slightly below par while coming fifth at the recent European Championships in Tallinn. “We weren’t happy with our performance, because we were looking and feeling great in training, but we just didn’t produce it in the competition,” says John, at 29 the younger of the duo by two years.

“I think that if we had skated without mistakes, we would definitely have won a medal, but we didn’t do ourselves justice, so we have to make sure it doesn’t happen again. [The winners] Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin [of Russia] are not the team they were, mainly due to his chronic knee injuries, but they are still held in high regard by international judges.”

The Scots know the score in the marking stakes. Traditional skating powers such as Russia and the US tend to dominate most events and although Domnina and Shabalin were nowhere near their best in Tallinn, it seemed as if they were being judged on past performance rather than present-day reality. In Vancouver, the Kerrs will not only have to grapple with these formidable Russians, but also the French pair of Isobel Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder, despite the former having only given birth in the autumn.

Then there is the challenge posed by the hometown couple, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, and the Americans, Meryl Davis and Charlie White. It is a daunting assignment, even without being forced to worry about discrepancies in the judging, but Sinead and John have long since adopted the attitude that nothing matters except their own display.

“It will be very tough as Davis and White and Virtue and Moir have been in terrific form this season, and have been the ones posting the highest scores,” says John. “We know that we will have to be absolutely faultless in order to compete with these rivals, because they don’t make many mistakes, but we aren’t intimidated by that prospect. I think at our best, we are definitely top-five material, and once you are in that group, you are in with a medal chance.

“Taking part in the Olympics was always something we dreamt about when we were kids, so the thought of competing in them for the second time still gives us goose bumps. I reckon that Vancouver is going to put on an amazing Olympic Games and, hopefully, we can have our own memorable moment over in Canada.”

The Kerrs are an outside bet for a berth on the rostrum, but they resemble the fabled Duchesnays, who used to be more popular with spectators and dancers alike than those who adjudicate on the minutiae of artistic interpretation.

As they refine their movements to the accompaniment of the Johnny Cash standard I’ve Been Everywhere and the fast-moving, intricate Krwlng by Linkin Park, they will never be accused of providing lack of excitement on the ice. And perhaps the blithe brother and sister would have enjoyed even more success if they had been born Kerensky, rather than Kerr.

Posted by: englishmix 13-Feb-2010, 09:27 PM
Council leaders urged to discuss solutions

Dundee council leaders are being urged to sit round a table and thrash out the problems that led to scenes of uproar in the City Chambers yesterday

Evening Telegraph & Post, 12 February 2010

The finance committee, called to set the council tax for 2010/11, descended into near farce when SNP convener Willie Sawers refused to let Labour councillor George Regan propose a change that would have seen funding restored to the Dundee Employment and Aftercare Project (DEAP) on the basis that it was “incompetent” and that standing orders allowed him to do so.
This was met by shouting from both non-SNP councillors and members of the public.

Leaders of opposition parties and Independent Labour councillor Ian Borthwick met the council’s chief executive David Dorward today to question the legality of Councillor Sawers’ actions and complain about Mr Sawers’ alleged stifling of debate in the council chambers. LibDem group leader Fraser Macpherson said the outcome of the meeting with council officers was that Mr Dorward proposed an all-party meeting to resolve the differences.

Mr Macpherson said, “I welcome that. There’s a need to discuss the issues right across the political spectrum.” However, he added, “At this stage we remain very unhappy about what happened yesterday. Standing orders are there to ensure the good running of meetings and not to gag people, stifle debate or shut people up. We have to have open debate on the council and I would hope that the chief executive’s suggestion is taken up by the leaders. What matters most is the proper running of the council and that involves different opinions being heard.”

Labour leader Kevin Keenan said the legality of Mr Sawer’s actions would be raised at today’s meeting along with the broader issue of ensuring fair and open debate in the council chambers. He told the Tele, “There’s no democracy within the council. I feel for the people of DEAP whose jobs we were trying to save. They were treated very shoddily by the administration. We need to find a way that we can allow political debate within the chambers. What we are seeing is a stifling of debate by an administration that is determined never to lose a vote. Depending on the outcome of today’s meeting, I might have to go to Audit Scotland to let them know about the lack of transparency that went on yesterday. The SNP are hiding behind standing orders.”

Tory leader Rod Wallace described the way the meeting was handled as a “real disgrace”. He added, “I was absolutely appalled by Willie Sawer’s actions in immediately ruling a motion incompetent on what is a very emotive subject. I haven’t seen this kind of arrogance in the City Chambers for more than 20 years.”

Councillor Wallace said the amendment would have made no difference to the final council tax figure. He said the £102,000 cut from DEAP’s funding had simply been set aside as cash that would be tendered for by other companies providing similar employment services to DEAP’s. DEAP was also being invited to tender despite failings in the organisation having been identified by Mr Dorward.

“The SNP aren’t giving one of the biggest job providers in the city a fair crack of the whip,” said Mr Wallace. “If they have issues with the way DEAP is run, why invite them to tender for the work? As it is, 20 jobs will be lost from DEAP and there will be a loss of continuity in service.”

LibDem leader Fraser Macpherson said Councillor Sawers had “ridden roughshod” over the views of legal officers in declaring Mr Regan’s amendment incompetent. “It was made very clear to Willie Sawers that the amendment was competent and had been checked with legal officers,” he said. “His actions were completely high-handed and flew in the face of democracy.”However, Councillor Sawers accused opposition councillors of creating a row to deflect attention away from the fact they did not come up with an alternative budget themselves.

He said, “Their manufactured row simply seeks to hide their inadequacies. The SNP administration of Dundee City Council is determined to ensure the best possible support is in place to assist people back into work. To that end we are tendering for services to meet this demand. It is simply not tenable for the opposition groups on the council to attempt to overturn this tendering process, by the very next day, seeking to award the funding to one specific organisation. That would not be fair to other organisations who may be able to provide this service and, crucially, it would not be in the best interests of unemployed people in the city.”

Posted by: englishmix 13-Feb-2010, 09:49 PM
Upbeat Cameron fires election starting gun

By Steve Bargeton, The Courier, political editor

DAVID CAMERON yesterday fired the starting gun for the general election north of the border, urging his Tory troops to go out and fight for change. In his keynote speech to the party conference in Perth the Conservative leader said the election—widely expected to be held on May 6—was a straight choice between his party and Labour. “I would rather we attempt big, serious change and fail than fiddle around with footling, meaningless promises, limping through office and clinging to power for the sake of it,” he said.

“If we win the election we will get our heads down and get on with implementing the big changes I’ve spoken about today. You will not see endless relaunches, initiatives, summits—politics and government as some demented branch of the entertainment industry. You will see a government that understands that there are times it needs to shut up, leave people alone and get on with the job it was elected to do. Quiet effectiveness, that is the style of government to which I aspire.

Mr Cameron appealed to people who might be considering not voting because they believed there is no difference between the major parties. “Those people are wrong,” he said. “There is a choice for the voters. It’s a choice between the future and the past. It’s a choice between change to get the country back on its feet and five more years of Gordon Brown, a choice between broken politics with a centralising, secretive, unaccountable state and new politics of openness, accountability and power to people. A choice between armed forces that have been short changed and neglected and troops that are always revered…and equipped with everything they need. That is what this election will be about—big choices, a big difference and with just a few weeks to go it is up to us.”

The Tory leader said one thing the election was not about is the SNP. “Here’s a quick word for the man who thinks this election is all about him,” he said. “No I’m not talking about Gordon Brown, I’m talking about someone you’re going to see all over the TV and radio over the next few months plugging himself at every opportunity. So let me say this to Alex Salmond—this election…will be a British general election. It’s about the future this United Kingdom must build together. It’s not about you and your separatist agenda. And though we don’t know what will happen in this election, what the outcome will be, who will form the next government, there is one thing that is absolutely 100% guaranteed—Alex, it will not be you.”

Mr Cameron repeated his pledge, made to The Courier in an exclusive interview earlier this week, to respect Scotland. He said although he did not agree with Alex Salmond or much of what he has to say, he will do everything in his power to work with him. “If we win that election, then I promise you this: I will be a prime minister who works tirelessly for the whole of the UK. We must repair the relationship between the British Government and the Scottish Government.”

Posted by: englishmix 17-Feb-2010, 11:24 PM
Coming soon to a socialist progressive nation near you...

Inverness hotel boss hits outFears for future of Highland businesses
‘Horrendous’ rates increase threatens jobs across north

By Ian Forsyth
The Press and Journal, Published: 17/02/2010

Companies in the north and north-east could fold or be forced to cut jobs as they bear the brunt of a shock new Scottish rates revaluation. Anger is mounting among larger firms facing unexpected rises in their annual bills which could run into tens of thousands of pounds.

Last night the boss of one hotel business described the increases as “horrendous”. The new rateable values date back to April 2008 – when the Aberdeen oil economy was buoyant and before the north and north-east was hit by the downturn. The latest charges are due to be enforced from April 1.

Gus Stewart, a rating partner at commercial property firm Ryden in Aberdeen, said: “The Scottish Government has stated that 60% of companies will be better off – most of them outwith the north and north-east. This is hiding the fact that some enormous increases have occurred outwith the central belt and it also masks the fact that any non-domestic ratepayer with a rateable value of over £18,000 is likely to be facing substantial uplifts in their rates bill.”

The increases came as a blow to Tony Story, managing director of Patio Hotels UK, which owns the Doubletree by Hilton in Aberdeen city centre and the Kingsmills Hotel in Inverness. The Doubletree has seen its rateable value soar by nearly £300,000 to £670,000. Though companies only pay a percentage of rateable values, Mr Story faces paying annual rates of around £280,000 – up £100,000.

He said: [I]“This is absolutely horrendous. Someone should remind the assessor there has been a substantial recession since 2008 and it has affected our occupation levels and room rates in Aberdeen. This is not the time for draconian increases.”[/I] The businessman said the Kingsmills was also facing an increase in its rateable value of about 25% to £297,000.

“That will be an annual jump in rates of about £10,000 to £123,000 – not near the Aberdeen level, but still bad enough,” he said. The Kingsmills employs 90 people and is undergoing a £10million expansion.

Mr Story added: “This rates move will definitely affect incoming investment into Aberdeen. It could also put some firms over the edge into closure. People are already working hard to attempt to keep businesses solvent. This will also hit the north-east tourist market by pushing up the cost of rooms. If Inverness was facing increases as bad as Aberdeen, we would be thinking long and hard about going ahead with our investment in the north capital.”

It emerged last night that two other Aberdeen hotels have been hit with massive rates rises. Holiday Inn Express at Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre has seen its bill soar from £72,022 to £134,550 – an 86% increase. Holiday Inn Express in Chapel Street will now have to pay £267,030 – a jump of £160,331 or 150%.

Alan Wallace, of hotels operator European Development Company (Hotels), said businesses in Grampian were being exploited. He said: “It is quite incredible that in the current climate businesses like ours are being asked to find resources to pay these rates. How increases of this kind can be justified is open to question. Compared to the average rates increase central belt companies are faced with, businesses in the north-east are being hung out to dry.”

Sandy Roy, head of rating consultancy at commercial property expert FG Burnett in Aberdeen, said: “It is true the rate charged in the pound has been reduced by about 16%, which is fine if you are located in the central belt. With typical rateable value increases of 13-15%, many businesses there will pay less in 2010-11 than this year. It’s not such a rosy picture in areas like Grampian where the average increase is 25%.”

A flood of appeals against the new rateable values is expected.

Posted by: englishmix 26-Feb-2010, 05:53 PM
MPs hit out at snub to Scots origin of chessmen
British museum project on Lewis artefacts ignores place of discovery

The Press and Journal, By David Perry
Published: 26/02/2010

A motion which “deplores” the way the Hebridean origin of the fabled Lewis Chessmen has been airbrushed out of a major British Museum project has been put down in the Commons.

Western Isles SNP MP Angus MacNeil has secured the support of two SNP MPs and seven others for his motion, which complains that a poster campaign shows a picture of one of the chess pieces – found buried in sand dunes at Uig, Lewis – with the date AD 1150-1200 and the word “Norway” below it.

It “further deplores the fact that references to Lewis or the Hebrides are nowhere to be seen” and “notes that the only thing certain about the chessmen . . . is that they are made from walrus ivory or whale teeth and that they were found on the Isle of Lewis in 1831”.

MPs backing it include Dundee East’s Stewart Hosie and Moray’s Angus Robertson.

Mr MacNeil has written to the British Museum demanding changes to the posters on the London Underground highlighting the project in conjunction with the BBC to make it clear the chessmen came from Lewis. Mr MacNeil said yesterday: “I was incensed. It is ridiculous. Why has the British Museum got this so spectacularly wrong?”

He has written to the museum demanding immediate amendments to the posters to make the chessmen’s Hebridean origin clear.

A British Museum spokeswoman said: “It is generally accepted that the chessmen were made in Norway. During this period, the Western Isles, where the chessmen were buried, were part of the kingdom of Norway, not Scotland.”

Mr MacNeil said: “The Hebrides may have been ruled from Norway but were not part of Norway, any more than India was part of Britain.”

A Western Islands Council spokesman said: “I don’t think anyone has established where the chessmen came from, but they were found in Uig. There is speculation they are of Scandinavian origin but there is also speculation they originated in Scotland and they certainly should be associated with Lewis.”
The chessmen will be on display in four venues in Scotland including Museum nan Eilean, Stornoway, between April 15 and September 12 next year.

The other venues are Aberdeen Art Gallery between October 7 this year and January 8 next year, and Shetland Museum and Archives from January 29 until March 27 next year.

Posted by: englishmix 28-Feb-2010, 02:53 PM
Eyemouth war veteran returns to India after 65 years
Berwickshire News, 24 February 2010
By Kirsty Smyth

A BERWICKSHIRE veteran who fought with the Indian Army in the Second World War has revisited the area he served 65 year ago. Ninety-year-old Tom Conway arrived back at his Eyemouth home last week following a three-week trip to India, funded by the Big Lottery's Heroes Return 2 programme. And now he is encouraging other veterans to take advantage of the scheme, which allows World War Two veterans from the UK, Channel Islands and Republic of Ireland to apply for travel and accommodation costs to visit the places where they saw active service.

War widows and widowers of veterans are also eligible for funding, which must be applied for by the end of this year (2010) and carers and spouses can receive funding to travel with veterans. Up to £5,500 is available from Heroes Return 2, depending on the number of people taking part and the destination.

"I read somewhere, I can't remember where but it was only very small, about Heroes Return celebrating the 65th anniversary of World War Two," explained Mr Conway. There was money from the Big Lottery available to provide some funds for those who served during the War to revisit where they served, so I applied for this. It provides for the person himself and his wife and a carer. It is actually quite generous.

We were already thinking of going back to India to attend a conference, then I saw this. We thought we could combine the two, the money we got from Heroes Return provided us with everything we needed. I was delighted my wife was happy to come with me to India, despite the fact she doesn't like travelling long distances! My brother in law has just retired as a regular officer in the army and he came as my carer. The grant was very generous."

Mr Conway served with the Indian Army for nearly seven years throughout the Second World War, spending three years in the Western Desert with his regiment, before moving to Burma. Following his return more than 65 years later, he said the country where he saw his active service had certainly changed.

"I would not say it's unrecognisable but there are huge differences," said Mr Conway. "Every student there now has very advanced mobile phones, in my day there weren't even radios. You get about in tuk tuks which are their form of taxis, they are all motorised and quick now. This is modern India, when I was there before they were all pulled by cyclists. Deli is producing spaghetti junctions and some wonderful buildings and things are changing in India very fast."
But although there has been an advance, Mr Conway said there is still terrible poverty in parts of the country.

The first part of the trip was spent on an organised journey throughout south India, when Mr Conway, his wife and brother-in-law joined 25 others, travelling from coast to coast over two weeks. "We went from coast to coast across south India on this little bus, staying at the best hotels," he said. "We all enjoyed it hugely, it was fantastic, a super experience and we just feel so grateful that we were able to do it." Remarkably, Mr Conway wasn't the only World War Two veteran on the bus tour.

"When I got the grant from Heroes Return they included this little navy blue bag saying 65th anniversary on it, with mosquito cream, sun cream and a water bottle," explained Mr Conway. "When we got off the plane in Bangalore, there was a man with the same bag! His son was with him as his carer, he was from England and had been a pilot in the air force in India. He was 88 and had come back on the same thing, on the same package as us, it was an incredible coincidence!"

Mr Conway divided his trip into two parts - after spending two weeks on the package tour, he attended a conference of the Indian University of the Third Age (U3A) in central India, which involved a very long train journey from Deli.

"U3A has many branches in the UK, including Berwick," he explained. "It's for elderly people who are interested in doing all sorts of things, teaching and learning from each other. We were representing Scotland at the conference, but there were delegates from South Africa, Singapore, Nepal, Australia and Iceland. This was the first major conference of the U3A in India so they invited everybody from around the world. We were the only delegates from Scotland."

On his return from India, Mr Conway described meeting a fellow veteran who didn't know about the scheme. "I met an ex-soldier in Berwick who knew nothing about this," he said. "We consider it very generous and I'm horrified that people would not know about it. You get funding to go where you served so people could go to France, the Phillipines, where ever they were stationed. There's money there which is not being taken as there are not so many of us left. I want people to know because it must be done by the end of the year - if people want to go they have got to get a move on! I do know there are ex service people who served in World War Two who do not know anything about it."
"It worked perfectly well for us, there were no great problems. People can apply to me if they have concerns, they should not be deterred, it's affordable within the grant. I think it would be a great pity if people who served in World War Two do not take advantage of this."

If you have any questions about the scheme and whether you are eligible, ring the application helpline on 0845 0000 121 or email [email protected]

Posted by: englishmix 10-Mar-2010, 05:00 PM
Fury as beer kegs dumped on graves

Greenock telegraph, by Rosemary Lowne
10 March 2010

A GRIEVING relative has hit out after 36 beer kegs were dumped on graves at Greenock Cemetery. A graveyard worker found the aluminium kegs strewn across graves near to the Bow Road entrance on Saturday and immediately contacted police.

Greenock man James Wilson, 59, who was laying flowers at a grave, said: "It's a piece of nonsense that someone would do that."

Posted by: englishmix 10-Mar-2010, 05:06 PM
An appeal from Australia
Greenock telegraph, by The Viator

PEOPLE who worked for the Greenock Dockyard Company in 1937 may be able to answer an appeal from Australia.

Heather Elliott has been in touch about something which has puzzled her father, Peter Robertson, for many years. The accompanying photograph shows Peter in the yard when he was around 14 in 1937. He is seen presenting flowers to a lady and it is almost certain she would have launched a ship on that day.

Peter was a time-keeper with the dockyard, known colloquially as Klondyke, and later became an electrician working on ships before and after the Second World War. Heather told me; 'My dad"s mother was Annie, nee Kay, and his father was John Robertson. My mum Matilda, nee Duncan, and dad married on 31 July, 1944 and, with my sister June and myself, migrated to Australia in 1952. We lived in Dempster Street, Greenock, before moving to New South Wales. My dad is 86 and not in good health. My mum is 84 and cares for him.'

Heather said her father would love to know who the lady was and which ship was being launched. Anyone with this information can give me a call on 726511 or email Heather at [email protected]

Incidentally, Peter and Matilda still keep up with Lower Clyde news as the Telegraph is sent to them on a regular basis.

Posted by: englishmix 10-Mar-2010, 05:12 PM
Lynsey wins top mum award
West Lothian Courier, by Marjorie Kerr
4 March 2010

A WEST Lothian woman has been named as a top mum in a national competition.

Lynsey Findlay of Livingston, has been presented with the Selfless Mum of the Year award in Tesco Magazine’s Mum of the Year awards, for her dedication and commitment to helping others.

The awards recognise the achievements of exceptional mums whose love, dedication, bravery or kindness has touched the lives of the people around them.

Lynsey, a mum-of-two faced tragedy when her mother died shortly after the birth of her son, Kerr. While coping with the loss of her mother, Lynsey also had to cope with the fact that Kerr was born with autism. Lynsey however, managed with the challenges of being a new mum brilliantly and Kerr began attending Pinewood School in Blackburn. And when she realised that the school was in need of a suitable playground for the children and that the council did not have funding for it, Lynsey recruited an army of volunteers to set about raising the money.

The team worked tirelessly giving out leaflets and rallying support everywhere they could. And in just one year, through hard work and dedication, Lynsey and her team raised £100,000 for the project which is now successfully up and running. Following this great success, Lynsey has now undertaken an even greater challenge of raising money for a new school minibus so that the children will be able to go on trips and outings.

Lynsey was nominated for the award by her mum-in-law, Isabel, and said she was shocked to discover she had won a title. Lynsey said: “The first I knew about it was in October when my mum-in-law phoned me and said she had nominated me in the Tesco awards and that someone from Tesco would be calling me to discuss it. Tesco called and asked me some questions and then called me back about a month later to say I had made it into the top 10, which meant I would get an award. I couldn’t take it in and whenever people tried to talk to me about it I felt a bit uncomfortable, because I’m just a mum from Livingston and the campaign at Pinewood is really a team effort.”

Lynsey’s prize saw her whisked off to London with her parents-in-law, Isabel and Len, and four-year-old daughter Abi. And as part of her prize, Lynsey was invited, with the other winning mums, to a special meeting with Prime Minister’s wife Sarah Brown, who helped judge the awards, at Number 10. “Going to Number 10 was quite surreal,” said Lynsey. “We had breakfast with Sarah Brown and had the chance to chat with her and Maggie Darling, the Chancellor’s wife, before we got a tour round the building.”

Lynsey received her award from ‘EastEnders’ star Patsy Palmer at the ceremony, hosted by TV presenter Fiona Phillips. And said she loved the experience, although she admits her nerves got to her. Lynsey said: “On Sunday we were on the go from 7am with make-up and stylists before the lunch and ceremony in the afternoon. It was a great weekend from start to finish, I just wish I hadn’t been so nervous.”

A spokeswoman for Tesco said the award organisers were delighted to present Lynsey with the award. She said: “Lynsey is a local hero and is held in extremely high regard by those around her who are inspired by the dedication that she has shown for helping others.”

Posted by: englishmix 19-Mar-2010, 08:24 PM

Security for former Prime minister
Protection should match threat level
The Press and Journal, Published: 19/03/2010

IT IS DISCONCERTING, although hardly surprising, that eyebrows are being raised at the £273,000 cost of providing security for former prime minister Tony Blair’s appearance in January at the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq War.

Mr Blair has become deeply unpopular among large sections of the British public who, increasingly, believe the war was illegal and that they were misled about the reasons for joining the American-led invasion.

Mr Blair’s evidence on January 29 did little, if anything, to erase those beliefs and the more vociferous opponents of the war are now openly criticising spending so much money protecting someone they view as a war criminal. They could not be more wrong.

Regardless of whether he was right, wrong or even duplicitous about the reason for invading Iraq, Tony Blair is a former prime minister of this country and, as such, is a potential target of terrorists who would view his scalp as a prize second only to that of George Bush. It is unthinkable that high-ranking police officers or politicians would sit around a table and determine security levels for individuals according to some ad hoc popularity chart.

Every person in this country is entitled to protection commensurate to the level of threat they face. Reviled criminals such as Soham murder accomplice Maxine Carr and, more topically, James Bulger killers Jon Venables and Robert Thompson were give new identities and lifetime legal protection because of fears that someone might target them on their release from prison.

In Tony Blair’s case, there is absolutely no doubt that he would be in extreme danger if the protection he receives was withdrawn to placate a baying mob.

Do we really want to be viewed as a nation that throws people to the wolves?

Read more:

Posted by: englishmix 19-Mar-2010, 08:29 PM

Farmer hits out at fly-tippers who dumped heap of broken asbestos panels on his land
‘I was worried when I found it, because I didn’t know what to do’
By Ryan Crighton

The Press and Journal, Published: 19/03/2010

AN ABERDEEN farmer has hit out at fly-tippers after panels of broken asbestos were dumped at his farm. Grant Williamson, of Broomfold Farm, Kingswells, woke up yesterday to find that asbestos was scattered over his land.

Last night he revealed that his land has become a dumping ground for fly-tippers who have been targeting farms around the north-east. He said: “Fly-tipping is becoming a real pain, because it keeps happening. Usually it is tyres or batteries, but never asbestos. The road here was closed for pothole repairs, so it would have been very quiet. I was worried when I found it, because I didn’t know what to do.”

Mr Williamson, 62, has now been told to bag the waste and take it to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) for disposal. The inhalation of asbestos fibres can cause serious illnesses. These include malignant lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis.

In January 2005, the European Union banned all use of asbestos.

Read more:

Posted by: MacDonnchaidh 28-Mar-2010, 12:20 PM
£100-a-bottle whisky is set to raise clan cash
Published: 19 March, 2010
THE launch a £100-a-bottle Ross-shire-produced malt whisky paved the way this week for ambitious plans which could see a seven-figure sum raised for a historic local landmark.

A new edition of The Dalmore Mackenzie malt was unveiled at a unique gathering of clan supporters and whisky buffs at the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh.

Only 3,000 limited edition £100 bottles of the Highland single malt are being released to mark a new era in the distillery's long affiliation with the Mackenzie Clan - and to help raise funds for the famous family.

The MacKenzie family, owners of The Dalmore distillery for almost a century, provides the inspiration for their iconic stag head logo and motto "I Shine, Not Burn", which is also the clan motto.

The launch will celebrate the single act of courage that an ancestor of Clan Mackenzie made when saving King Alexander III in 1263 from being gored by a stag, a scene that is depicted in the painting.

The partnership aims to raise funds to help refurbish and maintain Castle Leod in Strathpeffer, and to support a range of activities organised by The Clan Mackenzie Society of Scotland and the UK.

According to Dalmore's master distiller Richard Paterson, this is the first step of a long-term commitment.

The brand is hoping to raise a seven-figure sum in the next 10 years to help protect this piece of Scottish history.

The Earl of Cromartie with a bottle of the limited edition whisky.

He added, "Whether you are a Mackenzie or not, with only 3,000 bottles available globally, this is your chance to own a little piece of Scottish history.

"I have been nurturing casks at Dalmore and monitoring their progress for some four decades. The challenge to craft a whisky fit for the Earl of Cromrtie and all Mackenzies was an inspiration. I am proud to be able to help the clan by creating a whisky with a regal heritage and one which is truly fit for a king - as well as a clan chief."

Each limited edition bottle will be individually numbered and is adorned with the clan and the brand's iconic royal stag formed in molten metal. All purchasers can claim a print of the famous painting signed by the clan chief.

The Earl of Cromartie John Mackenzie said, "As the head of the clan I speak for all Mackenzies to say that we are really excited to be part of this special event which brings to life this iconic painting in more ways than one, celebrating a piece of history that forms the foundation of our joint heritage, as well as the dawn of a new era in our continued partnership with the distillery.

"I am delighted that The Dalmore are supporting the preservation of Castle Leod for not only me, but for the clan, and for Mackenzies around the world and, of course, for Scotland."

Posted by: englishmix 31-Mar-2010, 04:34 PM
Fantastic news. Fine whiskey is an art, indeed!

Posted by: englishmix 31-Mar-2010, 04:45 PM
Trust plans tribute to lost merchant seamen but details kept secret
Edinburgh evening News
Date: 31 March 2010

WHEN built it will be an iconic national memorial to 6,500 lost merchant seaman – but exactly what it will look like is a closely guarded secret. The Merchant Navy Memorial Trust has applied for permission to erect "a memorial of national importance" near Tower Place, at The Shore.

All going well, the £100,000 structure will be unveiled in November. However, the Trust has called for "a degree of secrecy and confidentiality" prior to the official publication of the plans and the launch of a public appeal next month to raise the required cash. The memorial is the brainchild of Professor Gordon Milne, 74, a retired company director from Kingsknowe whose family has a long association with the merchant navy.

He said: "The memorial itself will cost £100,000, funded largely by substantial private donations from benefactors who wish to remain anonymous, but we hope to raise around a quarter-of-a-million pounds through our public appeal for various projects associated with memory of the merchant seamen. There are precious few memorials to these brave men in Britain. There is the Tower Hill Memorial in London which commemorates the sailors of the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets during the wars, and a memorial to the Arctic convoys recently unveiled in the Orkneys, but there is nothing to mark the loss of the 6,500 Scottish merchant seamen who died in the first and second world wars, the Falklands War and other disasters." The drawings accompanying the plans show a plinth 4.5 metres high with a cloud obscuring the secret bronze statue at the top.

A series of bronze reliefs will also be attached to the plinth, but the nature of these are also secret. The works are being designed by renowned Edinburgh sculptor Jill Watson who created the red lion above the door of the Queen's Gallery at Holyrood House. She also recently completed a series of sculptures in the Borders commemorating the 125th anniversary of the 1881 Eyemouth fishing disaster.

The Trust's directors include John Menzies chairman William Thomson, heir to the company that ran Leith's famous Ben Line vessels which lost 18 ships during the Second World War alone. The directors also include Rear Admiral Roger Lockwood, chief executive of the Royal Lighthouse Board and vice-patron for Scotland of the War Memorials Trust.

Posted by: englishmix 31-Mar-2010, 04:48 PM
Drunk 'turned city pub into scene from a western' with attack on barman
Edinburgh Evening News
31 March 2010

A BAR in the Capital turned into "a scene from a cowboy western" when a drunk threw a bottle at the barman, because he thought the man had been staring at him. Mark Hay, 33, had been on a "bender" when he attacked barman Ross McLennan, in Carter's Bar in Morrison Street, Edinburgh, on 8 August last year.

When he threw the bottle the barman ducked and it smashed an optic worth £120. Hay, of Orwell TerrTace, Edinburgh, had admitted the assault at the city's Sheriff Court previously and sentence was deferred until today for background reports.

Fiscal Depute, Faith Currie, told Sheriff Derrick McIntyre that around quarter to one in the morning, Hay had gone into the bar, but left when he was told to stop being aggressive, otherwise he would not be served any more drink. He returned half an hour later carrying a bottle and about eight feet from the bar, hurled the bottle at Mr McLennan. The barman ducked and the bottle smashed a spirits optic on the gantry.

Solicitor Advocate, David Allan, commented: "This was completely unacceptable drunken behaviour. He had been on a bender and took the view the barman had been staring at him". He added: "It was more like a scene from a cowboy western".

Sheriff McIntyre ordered Hay to perform 150 hours of Community Service and to pay compensation of £120 at £50 a week. He added: "I must make it plain to you that if the bottle had hit the barman you would, very likely, have been going to prison".

Posted by: flora 31-Mar-2010, 04:56 PM
QUOTE (englishmix @ 01-Feb-2010, 05:52 PM)
Prestwick businessman fined for blowing nose in stationary car
Jan 29 2010 by Lisa Boyle, Ayrshire Post

A RESPECTED businessman faces a criminal conviction for blowing his nose. Michael Mancini decided to clear his sinuses while he was stuck in stationary traffic along Ayr High Street. But nearby police didn’t take kindly to it and slapped Michael with a fine and penalty points on his licence.

The officers claimed he wasn’t in control of his vehicle when he produced a tissue and blew his nose. The dad-of-two has refused to pay the £60 fine – so Michael faces a trial at Ayr District Court later this year. He explained: “Kyle Street was closed at the time, so traffic was being sent down the High Street. The traffic was stopped all the way up, nose to tail. I decided to blow my nose, so I put my handbrake on and took it out of gear. I noticed four police officers standing near the Wallace Tower. Then when I looked up one of them waved me over. I still had the tissue in my hand and was totally stunned when he said I was getting a fixed penalty notice for not being in control of my car. Surely it would have been more dangerous to drive with a blocked nose struggling to breathe.”

Michael, 39, who runs a furniture restoration business with his brother Philip, has had a licence for 32 years and has never had a driving conviction. He continued: “I thought it was some kind of Beadle’s About moment, a wind up. I could see the officer’s point if I was on my phone or something, but I wasn’t. The traffic was at a complete standstill and I had my handbrake on. I tried to explain that to the officer but he wouldn’t listen. He didn’t know what the code would be on the fixed penalty so he had to ask his colleague. Then he just went through the procedure and that was that.”

In June last year, Stewart Smith was issued with a fixed penalty notice by the same police officer when he dropped a £10 note in the street. The officer believed the Dalrymple man was littering. But Stewart said he simply missed his back pocket and dropped it by accident. Prestwick man Michael is still baffled by the October 26 incident and has taken legal advice on the matter.

His lawyer, Peter Lockhart, has written to the procurator fiscal saying it “beggars belief” that this happened. But prosecutors are adamant they will be using their resources to put Michael through a trial. Michael continued: “I’m really angry about it. It’s doubtful that I’ll get legal aid so this could potentially cost me thousands of pounds in legal fees. But I won’t be paying the fixed penalty.”

Mr Lockhart added: “We will be contesting this and fighting it all the way.”

A spokesperson for Strathclyde Police said: “We can confirm that a 39-year-old man is the subject of a report to the procurator fiscal in connection with an alleged traffic offence on October 26, 2009.”

Am I reading this right? He has had a "licence" since he was seven? How young can they start over there?

Wouldn't they have a heart attack over here for everyone that doesn't have control of their car while talking on a cell phone! biggrin.gif


Posted by: englishmix 01-Apr-2010, 08:16 AM
Free to drive at 7 years old, but unable to clear one's nasal passages without the government on your head! No wonder most left Scotland long ago!

In any event, that policeman needs a vacation.

Thanks for the post, Flora.

Posted by: englishmix 08-Apr-2010, 11:42 PM
National Health Service news

NHS workers could be offered redundancy
Board has to find £34 million savings

By Gavin Roberts
Evening Express, 07/04/2010

FEARING THE AXE: Staff at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary could be hit by redundancy measures.

HUNDREDS of health workers in the Aberdeen area could be offered redundancy packages to help save millions of pounds. NHS Grampian chiefs plan to ask the government for permission to offer staff members the chance to leave the health service.

But NHS Grampian chief executive Richard Carey also pledged frontline staff and nurses would not be among those to go. This came as NHS Grampian’s board approved its 2010-11 revenue budget which includes bridging a funding gap of £34 million.

Read more:

Posted by: englishmix 08-Apr-2010, 11:46 PM
Susan Boyle sings in North-east
SuBo sang Amazing Grace

By Gavin Roberts
Evening Express, 01/04/2010

SINGING sensation Susan Boyle performed a special tribute at a funeral service in the tiny Aberdeenshire village of Methlick. Britain’s Got Talent star Subo joined the family and friends of 84-year-old former Methlick primary teacher Molly Burnett to say their last goodbyes.

Susan Boyle travelled from her West Lothian home to Methlick to pay her own special tribute to Molly – mum of X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent vocal coach Yvie Burnett. SuBo sang a heart-rending version of Amazing Grace as the former Methlick Primary teacher was laid to rest in the village’s parish church.

Star Susan Boyle, 49, got to know Molly while she was working with Yvie at her home in Bedford last year. The moving funeral service in Methlick featured music from some of Yvie’s famous friends, who were unable to attend. They included Sarah Brightman, Britain’s Got Talent sensation Paul Potts and X Factor winners Leona Lewis and Alexandra Burke.

A family friend of Yvie said: “Susan not only attended the service but sang Amazing Grace and lot of the people in the church were moved to tears. Yvie had a very close bond with her mum and she said she read out a tribute, describing her as a wonderful mother.”

Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber also sent a personal message to Yvie and music from his most recent production Love Never Dies – a follow up to Phantom of the Opera – was played at the Methlick church. Yvie Burnett is known round the world for her role as vocal coach for top talent shows, including America’s Got Talent.

Read more:

Posted by: englishmix 13-Apr-2010, 08:04 PM
Hero teachers foil armed gang of illegal immigrants
Apr 9 2010
by Craig Robertson, Dumfries Standard Friday

THREE teachers fought off an armed gang of illegal immigrants who tried to hijack a school bus trip coming back from France. The masked raiders were trying to enter the luggage hold of the Annan Academy bus when it stopped for fuel 20 miles outside Calais at around 7am last Thursday. The armed group wanted to stow away and sneak into the UK.

But the brave teachers, who were accompanying the 43 fourth year pupils on the trip, saw what was going on and hauled them away from the bus. Their actions led to a stand-off in the middle of the forecourt with the three men who were armed with a knife, a chunk of wood and a fire extinguisher. An eye-witness told the Standard: “There were three of them initially trying to get in and there were another 15 or 20 of them waiting in the bushes. The teachers took no chances and pulled one of them out of the boot and away from the bus. One of the gang pulled out a knife and another had a piece of wood. One was threatening to spray a fire extinguisher in the teachers’ faces. The teachers kept on telling them to go away and the police were called."

“I don’t think they were expecting to be confronted they way they were. After that, the gang seemed to calm down and actually apologised. As soon as the driver had paid for the fuel, the bus headed toward the ferry port. The whole incident lasted only a few minutes."

The pupils, aged 15 and 16, had been visiting the Battlefields of France on the week-long trip and are set to return to classes next week after the Easter break. Yesterday, Annan Academy’s rector, Frank Davis, praised the actions of the teachers. He said: [I]“What they did was appropriate in the circumstances and I am very proud of the way they handled the situation. The teachers who were on the trip are very, very experienced and were able to sort out the situation with there being no risk to the pupils on the coach. At no point did they feel under threat. The illegal immigrants who had tried to get in the hold actually came back to apologise after the police were called. There were five teachers on the trip; two of them stayed on the coach and three were off the coach. The young people were kept on the bus and they were safe at all times. The police were called but the staff decided to get on their way to Calais to get back to the UK.”[/I]

Asked if he thought the teachers were heroes, Mr Davis said: “Yes, I think at the end of the day, they are able to be very proud of the action they took.” He added that there may now be a review of the risk assessments carried out before similar trips take place.

Posted by: englishmix 13-Apr-2010, 08:08 PM
Wedding dresses go on display at Dumfries museum

Apr 9 2010
by Julie Watt, Dumfries Standard Friday

ON-SCREEN wedding dresses worn by film stars including Meryl Streep, Keira Knightley and Helena Bonham Carter have gone on display in Dumfries. "Marriage in the Movies" exhibition opens today at the National Museum of Costume at Shambellie House in New Abbey.

The stunning costumes appeared in film and TV productions ranging from The Duchess, Pride and Prejudice and Madame Bovary to Howard’s End and Frankenstein. They will be used within the exhibition to illustrate many of the fashions and styles of the period they represent and to show the development of the wedding dress from the 18th century. Fashion fans will also be able to explore some of the country’s wedding traditions. And as part of a special offer to highlight the exhibition, the museum will offer free entry to anyone arriving wearing their wedding dress.

Museum open daily from 10am to 5pm.

By the bye, notice that no specific gender or sex required for the free admission offer above! This could be a stunning gala, indeed...

Posted by: englishmix 16-Apr-2010, 10:49 PM
Hotels and restaurants rally round for stranded travellers
Edinburgh Evening News
Date: 16 April 2010

EDINBURGH Airport officials said they were "overwhelmed" by the generosity shown to passengers stranded in Edinburgh when all flights were grounded by the volcanic ash cloud. Thousands of travellers were forced to abandon their plans when flights were cancelled but hotels and restaurants across the city responded quickly by offering cut-price accommodation, special food and drink offers and discounted entertainment.

Gordon Dewar, the airport's managing director, said: "We're overwhelmed by the generosity of spirit shown by Edinburgh citizens in helping those passengers stranded in Edinburgh. "When we put out the call for help for our passengers, little did we think that the response would be so full. The city has again demonstrated that warmth that makes it one of the world's leading destinations."

Passengers were able to take advantage of half-price admission to the Royal Yacht Britannia and discounts at the Playhouse and Seabird Centre, in North Berwick. And at some restaurants and bars customers could dine for half the regular price if they used a special password.

David Johnston, development director of Montpeliers Edinburgh, offered discounts at three of his establishments, including Indigo Yard on Charlotte Lane. He said: "It is terrible to get stranded, but there are worse places than Edinburgh. Of course there was a business angle, but there was also a genuine interest to help."

The city's major concert and conference venues were relatively unscathed by the flight cancellations, with only one lecturer due to appear at the Edinburgh International Science Festival last night having to catch a train instead of a flight to the city. Additional rail services were put on by East Coast to deal with demand, including an extra Edinburgh to London train at 4:30pm and extended London to Newcastle routes, travelling on to the Capital.

The city council's social work department also looked into assisting stranded passengers. Meanwhile, thousands of people hoping to leave Edinburgh on holiday were stuck, while many more face a wait today to see if their flights will run.

Mum Jennifer Kennedy, 42, was looking forward to a week in Majorca with her husband and two children, Mia, four, and Eve, three – the family's first holiday abroad. Ms Kennedy, from Corstorphine, said: "I was totally scunnered when I found out we might not get to go. The kids have been talking about the holiday since we booked it. You get the countdown – three sleeps to go, two sleeps to go. Mia said, 'only one sleep to go', and I had to tell her there was a possibility that we might not get to go."

Ms Kennedy, who works in the membership and communications department of Homes for Scotland, added: "There's a glimmer of hope that they might have lifted the restrictions by the time of our flight. But then we will have to contend with the chaos at the airport."

Posted by: englishmix 16-Apr-2010, 10:54 PM
Jacobites and Redcoats face off in Lothians
Edinburgh Evening News
Date: 17 September 2009

THE boom of cannon and musket fire is to be heard once again in East Lothian as Bonnie Prince Charlie and his Highland army prepare to defeat government forces. This time around, however, it will all be in the name of entertainment, as the reenactment of the 1745 Battle of Prestonpans swings into action.

Participants will set up an encampment at Cuthill Park from 3pm tomorrow, and at 4:30am on Saturday the Highlanders will begin their dawn march. They will have rather more to look forward to than their predecessors, however, with the march culminating in breakfast at the Prestoungrange Gothenburg pub.

There will be storytelling and weapons demonstrations through the morning, and the laying of wreaths at Gardiner Obelisk and Battle Cairn at 10am. Battle commences at 2pm in the Cuthill Park, raging for two hours, until the Redcoats flee to the beach at Morrison's Haven, making good their escape.

For full details of the programme see

Posted by: englishmix 16-Apr-2010, 10:58 PM
Restrictions on Scottish flights to be lifted
Edinburgh Evening News site.
16 April 2010

RESTRICTIONS preventing flights to protect aircraft from the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud are to be lifted from Scottish airports tonight. But in England and Wales the ban will remain in place until at least 7am tomorrow, it was announced today. Air traffic control company Nats said from 7pm today restrictions will be lifted from Scottish airports, Shetland, Orkneys and also Northern Ireland.

Nats said this meant that some North Atlantic services could operate to and from these points and that there might be an opportunity for some flights to operate from the north into Newcastle after 1am tomorrow.

As far as transatlantic services are concerned, Nats warned: "Please note these arrangements do not mean that all flights will operate. Anyone hoping to travel today or tomorrow should contact their airline before going to the airport."

The company went on: "We are looking for opportunities when the ash cloud moves sufficient for us to enable some flights to operate under individual co-ordination with air traffic control. Some aircraft were able to operate at Manchester this morning, although restrictions are now reapplied to Manchester."

Describing the situation as "dynamic and subject to change", Nats added that it would review further Met Office information and make a further announcement about flights at 8.30pm today. Nats said: "We continue to work closely with airports, airlines, and the rest of Europe to understand and mitigate the implications of the volcanic eruption."

This afternoon's statement at least provides some glimmer of hope for air passengers who have been largely grounded since noon yesterday following the eruption of Iceland's Mount Eyjaffjallajokull. Earlier, some flights were able to run in the Republic of Ireland and in Scotland, although Transport Secretary Lord Adonis warned it was "likely that significant disruption to most UK air services will continue for at least the next 48 hours".

One of those caught up in the travel chaos was the Duchess of Cornwall. She had to cancel a visit to a Polish cultural centre in London, where she was to sign a book of condolence for the late President of Poland, Lech Kaczynski, because she was unable to fly from Scotland.

One airport able to operate today was Newquay in Cornwall, where flights to and from St Mary's Airport on the Isles of Scilly were running. These flights operate outside controlled air space so are not subject to the Nats restriction.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown apologised to travellers, saying he was sorry there had been so much inconvenience.

Posted by: englishmix 17-Apr-2010, 09:54 PM
Queue for the last gravy train
Highland News
Published: 08 April, 2010

DOZENS of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) staff have jumped on the last gravy train leaving its Inverness headquarters.

For the Highland News can reveal employees were queuing up to take redundancy packages to leave the Cowan House HQ before changes in legislation kicked in which would see their entitlements slashed under new rules.

Posted by: englishmix 19-Apr-2010, 08:18 AM

Ash cloud to keep aircraft grounded for most of week
Fleet urged to rescue stranded Britons

The Press and Journal
By Ross Davidson
Published: 19/04/2010

Some of the stranded travellers evacuated from Calais arrive back in Dover after the Dunkirk-style rescue

The government was urged last night to send a fleet of ships to rescue Britons stranded abroad as experts warned the Iceland volcano ash cloud is likely to keep aircraft grounded for most of this week.

Gordon Brown held emergency talks with cabinet colleagues yesterday and minist-ers emerged from the meeting to say it would not be safe for flights across most of northern Europe today. The premier has called a meeting of the Cobra civil contingencies committee for today – and air traffic control company Nats said UK airspace would remain closed until at least 7pm tonight.

But there were growing signs last night that the airlines themselves were trying to increase the pressure on the authorities to relax restrictions which have now been in place for five days. British Airways (BA) chief executive Willie Walsh was on board one of the company's Boeing 747 jumbo jets as it carried out a test flight during the evening. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Air France, German carrier Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines also said they had successfully carried out test flights using empty planes.

Pilots have called for a banking-style rescue of the industry, claiming the financial impact on their employers “could not be more serious”. Dubai-based Emirates said the crisis had already cost it over £33million.

BA has cancelled all its flights scheduled for today, budget airline Ryanair said none of its services would fly from the UK, Ireland and more than 10 other European countries until 1pm on Wednesday, and easyJet will not run any service in areas affected by the restriction until at least 1pm today.

The Scottish Government said it was working to “deliver additional capacity in rail, bus and ferry services to aid passengers”. Finance Secretary John Swinney said after a meeting of the government's Resilience Cabinet sub-committee that the latest update showed that the Rosyth-Zeebrugge service had cabin and seat availability for sailings in both directions.

There was also additional capacity on ferries to Scotland's island communities and Northern Ireland, all rail operators were laying on additional carriages and services, and bus companies were adding extra coaches.

Mr Swinney said: “We are working to capitalise on any temporary windows of opportunity which would allow flights to take off and land, whilst co-ordinating alternative travel arrangements for those inconvenienced.”

The election campaign has also been affected – with Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems all forced to reschedule events north of the border. The Lib Dems planned to launch their Scottish manifesto in Shetland, but had to switch it to Edinburgh.

The Prince of Wales and Foreign Secretary David Miliband cancelled their journey to the funeral of Poland’s president Lech Kaczynski. They had been due to join global leaders for the ceremony in city of Krakow yesterday.

The Tories urged the UK Government to ensure border controls did not stop any Dunkirk-style rescue mission across the Channel to bring stranded Britons home.

They also called for the Royal Navy to help bring people back to Britain. The plea was issued after a rescue mission, launched by television presenter Dan Snow, to bring stranded travellers home from France was halted by French police. He set out with a fleet of speedboats to help those affected by flight cancellations – but the rescue was blocked in Calais.

Shadow transport secretary, Theresa Villiers, said it was “hugely worrying“ there was no end in sight for the flights ban. She said ministers should charter ships to bring people home, including troops stranded in Cyprus.

“With thousands of Britons stuck in airports overseas, it is hugely worrying that there is no end in sight for the flight ban,” she said. "This crisis is costing the economy millions of pounds every day and causing huge amounts of travel misery.”

Security Minister Lord West said the government was looking at possibly using the Royal Navy to try to bring people home. He said: “We clearly have a reasonable lift capacity within the Royal Navy for lifting people. That’s being looked at just now, to see what’s available, particularly in the amphibious force itself which can lift a whole brigade if necessary. But also we have the ability to take up ships from trade. All this is being looked at. And that does give us quite a capacity of lift if it’s needed.”

Lord West said one of the questions under consideration was which would be the best ports for any operations to take place from.

“It will just take a few hours to resolve something, to get something going if necessary,” he added.

Ministers also said Mr Brown was speaking to his Spanish counterpart to see if Britons stranded in North America could be got home via Spain.

Transport Secretary Lord Adonis added that European transport ministers would be meeting by video conference today. And Business Secretary Lord Mandelson said: “We will mobilise all possible means to get people home.”

Around 150,000 Britons have not been able to return home because of the restrictions on flights, travel association Abta said last night. A spokeswoman said the current problems were undoubtedly the biggest operational issue the industry had faced in living memory. “At no time in living memory has British airspace been shut down and affected this many people,” she said.

The Foreign Office has launched an advice line for callers in the UK concerned about the well-being of relatives stranded overseas. The number is 020 7008 0000.

Read more:

Posted by: englishmix 19-Apr-2010, 10:49 AM
Erupting volcano disrupts hospital appointments
Hebrides News

Hospital clinic appointments face serious disruption as consultants are stranded by grounded planes.

Flights have been grounded across Scotland because of the danger that the cloud of dust and particles spreading from the volcanic eruption in Iceland would choke plane engines. It has been impossible to travel by planes into the Western Isles since Friday as all island flights have been cancelled.

At this stage it is unknown if the travel chaos will continue into Tuesday. An update is expected around 4pm this afternoon. NHS Western Isles said: “Due to the disruption of flights, our visiting consultant clinics for the Western Isles Hospital and Uist and Barra Hospital have been affected, and some patient appointments have been cancelled.

Patient Services staff are working on contacting as many people as possible.

“People with an appointment this week should contact the outpatient department on 01851708217 (Western Isles Hospital) or 01870603602 (Uist and Barra Hospital) prior to your appointment.”

Meanwhile the Met Office said: "Eruptions from the Eyjafjallajökull volcano are weakening but, for the time being, weather patterns continue to blow volcanic ash towards the UK.”

National Air Traffic Services, which closed off the airspace and banned plans from flying said: “We continue to work closely with Government, airports and airlines, and airframe and aero engine manufacturers to get a better understanding of the effects of the ash cloud and to seek solutions.”

Posted by: englishmix 19-Apr-2010, 10:52 AM
Scottish Hydro election poster warning
Hebrides News

While it’s all very well wanting to get into power, Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution (SHEPD) is urging candidates for the forthcoming general election to avoid a pre-election shock, by resisting the temptation to cover electricity poles with campaign posters.

The wooden poles have been used to support individual candidates' promotional materials in previous campaigns, and SHEPD is writing to all the main political parties to remind them that using electricity poles as an extension of the campaign trail is a real danger to life should anyone come into contact with the overhead lines.

The 'Danger of Death' stickers on the poles are no idle threat, as the lines they carry can have voltages of up to 33,000 volts running through them. SHEPD is urging all parties to set an example to the rest of the population and not to use the poles to display their campaign posters.

The posters can also make it difficult for power engineers to climb the poles, while removing them and cleaning up their mess also takes up valuable time, which could otherwise be spent on network maintenance.

Lisa Doogan, Head of Operations for SHEPD, says: “We’ve all seen posters and flyers on electricity poles. With the election looming we’re taking this chance to remind all the main parties of the dangers of using our poles to display campaign posters, which pose a great risk to those sticking them up, and can hold us up as we go about our daily work.”

Posted by: englishmix 19-Apr-2010, 10:54 AM
Celtic Festival tickets released for sale
Hebrides News

Tickets for this year's Hebridean Celtic Festival are on sale from this morning. HebCelt 2010 offers a stunning line-up including headliners Runrig and a host of acts ready to help make for a memorable 15th anniversary.

Tickets are available online from
or by phone on
01851 621234
during office hours.

Posted by: englishmix 20-Apr-2010, 10:50 AM
Scientists launch hi-tech bid to save Scotland’s iconic wildcat

The Herald, Scotland
20 Apr 2010

The earliest fossils of wildcats date from 250,000 years ago while their descendants have been around these parts for only 9,000 years, and now a new project is giving the public a chance to see the survivors of the species in the wild.
Scientists are using specialist equipment including motion detectors, infrared technology and camera traps to trace the movements of this iconic species at secret locations in the Cairngorms National Park.

The work is vital as the wildcat’s survival is endangered – it is estimated there are fewer than 400 still at large in the Highlands with the classical wildcat fur and markings. This makes it rarer than the endangered species of tiger and, indeed, it is now known as the Highland Tiger. Some conservationists argue that if we cannot save it, we will be in no position to lecture other countries on the importance of protecting their indigenous species.

Our wildcat has been adapting separately from its European counterparts since the English Channel was formed at the end of the last ice age. There was a time when thousands roamed Britain. Centuries ago they were killed for their fur and to prevent them attacking livestock, but the progressive destruction of woodlands removed their natural habitat, and this, combined with agricultural development and road building, meant they were driven further and further north.

They became extinct in southern England by 1800, northern England in 1853 and Wales in 1862. By the late 19th century they were only really found in the Highlands, where the arrival of the Victorian sporting estate all but did for the wildcat.

Today the biggest threat is not from gamekeepers, but from inter-breeding with domestic and feral cats, according to Dr David Hetherington of the Cairngorms National Park Authority and The Cairngorms Wildcat Project. He said: “The project aims both to raise awareness of the plight of the Scottish Wildcat, and get gamekeepers, ecologists, vets, cat welfare groups and the public at large all pulling together to save a Scottish icon from extinction.”

He said the park project was working to encourage responsible domestic cat ownership, such as neutering and vaccinating pets, which would reduce the risk of hybridisation and the spread of fatal diseases. “We are also working to neuter the feral cat colonies around towns, villages and farms to reduce the likelihood of feral cats and wildcats interacting.”

He said that although they had a different temperament, they were closely related genetically to domestic cats so they could produce fertile hybrids. He added: “If that continues we are going to lose our pure Scottish wildcat altogether, which would be a tragedy. “So the camera traps are a very useful way for us to monitor where in the national park the wildcats are. They are very shy, secretive animals. They are active mainly at night and it’s really difficult for people to get close enough to watch them properly.

“These camera traps are an excellent way of us getting a much better insight into where wildcats live, when they’re active, and what habitat they’re using. We can also get an idea of where they don’t live and, of course, that’s also really important information.”

He said that a couple of wildcats had been captured by the cameras already, although the pictures would have to be studied carefully as they might have been hybrids. Otters, a pine martin and a golden eagle have also been photographed.

The Scottish Government has already thrown its weight behind efforts to save the Highland Tiger. When Roseanna Cunningham, the Environment Minister, launched the Cairngorm project last year she said it would be “an absolute tragedy if the Scottish wildcat was reduced to extinction”.

Posted by: englishmix 20-Apr-2010, 10:54 AM
Church to address gay minister debate
The Herald, Scotland
20 Apr 2010

Ministers and elders are to debate gay ordination at a special meeting tonight as the Church of Scotland moves to halt a split among its members. The Presbytery of Greenock and Paisley is to hold the historic discussion ahead of the Kirk’s General Assembly next month, which is almost certain to address the issue.

It comes after The Herald yesterday revealed to the wider public the crucial consultation document that is being used by the Kirk to find out more about members’ views. The paper details a strong division between traditional and revisionist thinking.

The issue of gay ordination threatens the greatest schism in the Church since 1843, when one-third of its body left to form the Free Kirk. A spokesman for the Presbytery said: “This historic meeting takes place as a result of the high-profile case which came to the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly last year.”

He referred to the case of the Reverend Scott Rennie, who is living in an openly gay relationship but whose call to a church in Aberdeen was challenged on the grounds that a homosexual lifestyle was not acceptable in the ministry.

Ministers and elders will discuss their views and complete a ballot paper.

The meeting is being held at 7pm at The Cornerstone, Bishopton, and is open to the public.


Now isn't this just positively gay! Voting on the LORD's Word... "Did God really say..." Genesis 2

Posted by: englishmix 21-Apr-2010, 02:52 PM
'Mayhem’ of wind farm trucks on South Ayrshire roads

Apr 16 2010 by Edwin Lawrence,
Ayrshire Post (main ed)

‘Mayhem’ of wind farm trucks on South Ayrshire roads

COUNTRY folk fear years of road hell in the name of ‘going green’. For a wind farm project is daily putting dozens more heavy trucks on their roads. And that’s before the wind turbines are even ready to go up. For trees are being cut down in a forest near Barrhill to make space for the turbines.

And there is a daily convoy of timber trucks – most headed north through the village of Pinwherry. “There can be 50 or 60 lorries a day,” said Peter Walker, chairman of Pinwherry and Pinmore Community Council. "They have smashed up the grass verges, and hit the bridges on the A714. Most of the drivers are not considerate, and it can be a terrifying experience if you meet one on the road.”

Quinten Fyfe, who lives near the Pinmore viaduct, said: “The road is very dangerous. It can be a scary experience just coming out of your drive.” Mr Fyfe added: “There’s a lot of homes and farms along the roadside between Girvan and Barrhill. So there’s a lot of access roads, some near blind corners. It can also be dangerous for anyone having to cross the road on foot, to catch a bus or visit a friend. I do a lot of cycling, and some of the lorry drivers don’t give you any consideration.”

A public meeting was due in Pinwherry Community Centre on Wednesday this week. And country people were waiting to hear what ‘green’ company Scottish Power Renewables is going to do to help them. Sadly a planned timber railhead at Barrhill was never built. So there is no chance of the timber cargoes going on to the railway.

Peter Walker said: “We are all used to lorries on our country roads, to a certain extent, as Barr Ltd has a large fleet. But, as a local company, Barr has worked with the community. And all its lorries are marked with a large letter and number – A3, B4, or something like that.”

Mr Walker pointed out: “Barr drivers are much more respectful. And one of the reasons has to be that their trucks are easily identified by the public and other drivers. We’ve suggested this to Farrans Construction, the main contractors at Arecleoch. But they say they can’t operate such a system.”

Farrans say it would be impossible, due to using a wide range of sub-contractors. But Mr Walker blasted: “We could be putting up with this roads mayhem for years to come. There is another wind farm planned for Mark Hill, near Pinwherry; and maybe yet another one, south of Barrhill.”

A spokesperson for ScottishPower Renewables said: “All transport movements associated with the building of Arecleoch and Mark Hill wind farms were agreed with South Ayrshire Council before construction commenced, as part of the planning process. We are just one of a number of organisations utilising these routes and we are working with our contractors to ensure the minimum levels of disruption to other road users and will continue to monitor this very closely.”

Posted by: englishmix 25-Apr-2010, 11:26 AM
Royal Bank of Scotland announces £3.6bn of losses

25FEB2010, BBC News

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has announced losses for 2009 of £3.6bn ($5.5bn), after struggling with billions of pounds of bad loans. Despite the losses, the bank is set to announce it will pay bonuses totalling £1.3bn to its staff. But the bank's head, Stephen Hester, said it had lost money by not paying big bonuses to retain productive staff. The UK taxpayer owns 84% of RBS after the government bailed out the bank at the end of 2008.

Chief executive Mr Hester told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We've had a small experiment in this respect... some of our best-performing people have been leaving in their thousands. The people who left us last year, I believe, would have increased our profits by up to £1bn beyond the ones that we've got." However there has been some criticism of the bonuses paid.

Liberal Democrat treasury spokesman Vince Cable said that making hefty payouts to individual bankers was "like a football team paying their striker for scoring when they've just been relegated". Meanwhile, shadow chancellor George Osborne said "unacceptable" pay levels throughout the sector must be tackled.
"The banking community needs to understand that the taxpayers were there for them a couple of years ago, because we had to keep the banking system going, but really it is unacceptable these very high levels of pay they get."

However RBS bonuses were approved by the Treasury, and Mr Osborne conceded he would not have blocked the payouts had he been in power. Mr Hester has decided not to take his own bonus, which would have been £1.6m.

The company's £3.6bn loss was lower than the £5bn many experts were expecting and is well below the £24bn it lost in 2008. However, the level of bad debts rose sharply to just short of £13.9bn, up from £7.4bn in 2008, although the bank says it thinks these have now peaked. Mr Hester said he expected the bank to return to profit next year.

The banks have been through a torrid time since the credit crunch struck in 2007, an event sparked by the banks' own unwillingness to lend to each other after the major lending spree they had been on started to turn bad. Added to that was RBS's unique heavy burden - its takeover of the Dutch bank ABN Amro in October 2007, just as the banking boom was about to turn to bust.

A consortium led by RBS paid 71bn euros (£49bn at the time) for ABN Amro in October 2007, but RBS then wrote down the value of the business by £17bn a year later. The Bank of England governor, Mervyn King, said bank investors had been living in a "fool's paradise", with people's money being used for risky activities while they themselves thought they were taking no risks.
He told the cross-party Future of Banking Commission that the case for simple, utility banks was "irrefutable".

RBS is the second major UK bank to report 2009 results, after Barclays announced profits of £11.6bn last week. Lloyds Bank, which is also partly state-owned, will report its results on Friday.

Aside from bonuses, one other controversial topic for the banks has been their role in lending to business and home buyers. RBS's management is taking steps to repair the balance sheet. RBS said that it was satisfied it was fulfilling both the letter and the spirit of its lending commitments, which were to make an additional £9bn available to the mortgage market and £16bn to businesses.

It said it had beaten its mortgage target, but had fallen short of its business lending target as many companies had been concentrating on reducing their debts and the recession meant that demand for loans had been weak.

RBS has shrunk massively in size over the year. In 2008 its assets stood at £2.1tn. It has been running down a vast portion of its business - mainly bad loans - and its assets are now worth £1.5tn. A bank spokeswoman said that was the equivalent of shedding an organisation the same size as the profitable US financial institution, Goldman Sachs.

Posted by: englishmix 30-Apr-2010, 06:32 PM
Turnberry Hotel’s Grand Tea Lounge awarded the equivalent of a Michelin Star
Apr 30 2010 by Yonnie McInnes, Ayrshire Post

TURNBERRY’S Grand Tea Lounge has been awarded the equivalent of a Michelin star in the tea world. The team has received an ‘Award of Excellence’ in the Tea Guild’s new and highly coveted Top City and Country Hotel 2010 Awards.

This comes only months after the reintroduction of elegant afternoon teas into the new Grand Tea Lounge at Turnberry. When Turnberry first opened in 1906, the heart of Ayrshire’s world famous hotel was the elegant tea lounge.

Now brought back to its initial glory, with views out to sea, it had already achieved Grade A membership of the Tea Guild of London. The judges awarded points for the variety, excellence and knowledge of the teas offered, together with the quality of food, service, décor, ambience, and presentation.

In addition to The Top City and Country Hotel Award a special Award of Excellence is given to those hotels across the country who were judged to be outstandingly good. Judges were so impressed with the quality of the afternoon tea served at the Grand Tea Lounge that they awarded them very high marks in every category.

Stewart Selbie, general manager, Turnberry Resort, said: “We’re delighted to have been awarded this prestigious accolade from The Tea Guild, which is considered to be the equivalent of a 'Michelin Star' of the tea world. It’s also a real honour to have received The Tea Guild’s first Top City and Country Hotel Tea Award awarded to a hotel outside London. At Turnberry, our guests can enjoy a truly memorable afternoon tea in an atmosphere of relaxed refinement. We take great pride in the attention to detail with which our afternoon tea is prepared and served - our tea sommeliers take guests through a choice of thirty or so teas, all brewed to order using a traditional samovar.”

Posted by: englishmix 30-Apr-2010, 06:35 PM
Beauty and the Bard promenade theatre debut at Burns National Heritage Park

Apr 30 2010 by Yonnie McInnes, Ayrshire Post

Beauty and the Bard promenade theatre debut at Burns National Heritage Park

A NEW promenade theatre show Beauty and the Bard will be presented at Burns Cottage this Saturday, May 1. And it’s been written by Hayleigh Barclay, 22, from Prestwick, as part of Show Scotland and directed by Chris McMillan of popular TV programme Relocation, Relocation.

The show explores Burns’ relationship with six of the leading women in his life. Hayleigh graduated from the University of the West of Scotland last year with a BA in broadcast production specialising in script writing and directing, and got involved with Show Scotland through the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum’s learning manager Dr Alison Burke who was looking for writers to get involved in the project.

Hayleigh said: “I love the element of romance and gothic drama in his work but also the level of comedy he added to more serious subjects such as his references to politics. I can relate to Robert Burns because he chose writing as a way to express himself and a way to escape his reality whilst at the same time reflecting true human nature - which I think all writers strive to achieve.”

Beauty and the Bard, begins at 7pm at Burns Cottage with Burns’ wife’s character, Jean Armour, greeting guests for the unique promenade theatre piece which will move through the Burns National Heritage Park before culminating in a gripping final scene at the Burns Monument.

It tells the stories of the relationships which Burns had with six very different women including his lover Highland Mary, Jane Armour, and even Cutty Sark. Each woman is given the chance to tell their version of their relationship with Burns before the bard puts across his side of the story, giving the audience the chance to make up their own mind on who was right, who was wrong and ultimately asking if art justifies all.

The show will be performed by Trust volunteers including trained actress and tutor for the Arches Theatre, Judith Milligan who is flying in from Paris especially for the performance.

Tickets, £2, for Beauty and the Bard must be booked in advance by calling the Burns National Heritage Park on 01292 443700.

Donations to the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, which will open in autumn 2010, can be made at:

Posted by: englishmix 30-Apr-2010, 06:41 PM
The Flying Doctors
BBC Highlands & Islands News
14:01 GMT, Thursday, 29 April 2010 15:01 UK

A helicopter emergency response service is to be rolled out to the whole of Scotland following a successful pilot scheme. Twenty-four lives have been saved as a direct result of the Emergency Medical Retrieval Service (EMRS). Consultants in emergency medicine and intensive care are flown to remote locations, where they provide rural patients with the level of care they would receive in an urban hospital.

These doctors are on call to respond to life threatening cases where they can fly in and stabilise critically ill patients. The scheme started with a group of doctors who were determined to bring critical emergency care to Argyll.

In June 2008 the Scottish Government funded an 18 month pilot programme covering the west coast. Between 2008 and November 2009 over 300 patients were helped and at least 24 lives saved. Following this success, it was announced in March 2010 that the service is to be rolled out across Scotland with the team doubling in size.

Ellen Brown, who lives on the island of Islay, was treated by the service after an insect bite inside her ear developed into septicaemia: "These doctors saved my life. They told me later had it been a paramedic that had come he couldn't have done what they were able to do to me. So, they definitely saved my life, if it hadn't been for the helicopter that night I wouldn't be here to tell the story today."

BBC Scotland's Dougie Vipond investigates the success of the scheme on Landward on 30 April on BBC Two Scotland at 1900.

Posted by: englishmix 30-Apr-2010, 06:44 PM
Digital TV switchover
BBC Highlands & Islands
15:18 GMT, Wednesday, 28 April 2010 16:18 UK

Digital UK is the independent body in charge of the switchover
The switchover to digital TV is a UK-wide scheme to replace all analogue TV signals with digital by 2012. You may need to check whether your TV can accept a digital signal. Use the postcode checker on the Digital UK website or call 08456 505050 for details of the switchover date in your area and your options for receiving digital TV.

Check the information for your local transmitter to find out how you will be affected. The Switchover Help Scheme helps those who are eligible with switching their TV to digital. You could be eligible if you are in the following categories: aged 75 or over; or get or could get Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance, Constant Attendance Allowance or mobility supplement; or have lived in a care home for six months or more; or are registered blind or partially sighted.

From 5 May 2010 transmitters in the region are due to switch to digital on these dates:

5 May - Bressay - Shetland Islands
12 May - Keelylang Hill - Orkney Islands
2 June - Rumster Forest - Caithness
7 July - Eitshal - Lewis, Wester Ross, North West Sutherland and parts of Harris and Skye
14 July - Skriaig - Skye, Harris, North Uist, Benbecula, South Uist and parts of Barra
4 August - Angus - Angus, Dundee, Perth and parts of Fife
1 September - Durris - Aberdeenshire
8 September - Knockmore - Morayshire, Strathspey and parts of Easter Ross
6 October - Rosemarkie - Inverness and the Great Glen

Posted by: englishmix 02-May-2010, 01:26 PM
Partick Thistle 1-0 Queen of the South
By Sandra Brown
BBC Scotland at Firhill

A late strike by sub Kris Doolan earned Partick Thistle a narrow win over Queen of the South at Firhill. The best chance in the first half came in 36 minutes when Queens' Jordan McMillan cleared a Bryan Hodge effort. After the break Derek Holmes hit the post, before Willie McLaren, David Weatherston and Sean O'Connor all had chances for the visitors.

But with the last kick, Doolan curled a left-foot, 25-yard winner into the top corner past David Hutton. On a poor surface chances were thin on the ground. Simon Donnelly cut along the box before hitting a left-foot shot wide and then Martin Grehan dragged another wide. With nine minutes of the first half left, Martyn Corrigan played Chris Erskine away down the wing, who did well to get the better of Craig Reid, dragging the ball along the by-line before cutting it back for Hodge whose left foot shot was cleared by McMillan.

Early in the second half Queens manager Kenny Brannigan introduced Weatherston and he almost made an instant impact. McLaren laid the ball across for the substitute, who was in the clear and looked odds-on to score but took a touch too many, knocking it too far in front of him and straight into the arms of Jonny Tuffey.

Two minutes later Weatherston cut the ball back across goal for Holmes and with the outside of his left foot he crashed the ball off the outside of the post. McLaren dragged wide and O'Connor's snap shot was well saved by Tuffey. At the other end, man-of-the-match Erskine took the ball round Hutton but the defenders did their job well and got back to cover.

The winner came with the last kick of the ball two minutes into injury time when Doolan was allowed to cut back inside before curling an unstoppable shot into the corner of the net.


Partick Thistle: Tuffey, Corrigan, Robertson, Maxwell, Conroy, MacBeth, Rowson, Bryan Hodge (Burns 71), Erskine (McGeough 83), Grehan, Donnelly (Doolan 62). Subs Not Used: Halliwell, Boyle.

Goals: Doolan 90.

Queen of the South: Hutton, Reid, Lilley, McKenna, McMillan (McAusland 56), Hamill, O'Connor, Quinn (Weatherston 52), McLaren, Harris, Holmes. Subs Not Used: Fox, McParland, Kean.

Attendance: 2,912

Referee: T Robertson

Posted by: englishmix 02-May-2010, 01:29 PM
Gaelic language resources for you

BBC South Scotland
Friday, 11 December 2009

The Gaelic language is most commonly spoken in the Highlands and Islands
Whether you're a native speaker, still learning or it's on your wish list of things to do, BBC Alba has something for you. The Gaelic version of this feature is further down the page and contains links which you may find useful.


Learning the Gaelic language is only a step away with the help of the Beag air Bheag website. It has simple words and phrases in written form which are also available in audio so you can hear how words should be pronounced. A test-yourself section at the end of each lesson and a phrase book are handy tools to help. Colin and Cumberland are on hand to help you through the irreverent learning games for beginners.

More advanced

If you're a little familiar with the language, the weekly 'Letter to Gaelic Learners' is available in text and download as a podcast. The 'Little Letter', is a simplified version of the 'Letter to Gaelic Learners'.

Gaelic speakers

There's a wealth of resources available on the BBC Alba website. Listen to Radio nan Gaidheal, watch Gaelic videos and browse through websites including Naidheachdan, Làrach nam Bàrd, Cuairtean, Strì gu Sìth, Na Daoine Beaga, Rapal and many others.

BBC Alba

Mas e fileantach no neach-ionnsachaidh na Gàidhlig a th'annad, tha measgachadh gad fheitheamh air làrach-lìn BBC Alba.


Le làrach-lìn Beag air Bheag, faodar Gàidhlig ionnsachadh ann an dòigh traidiseanta. Tha an làrach a' tairgsinn cànan bunaiteach agus abairtean làitheil le faidhlichean fuaim an cois na teacsa. Cuideachd, gheibhear deuchainn aig deireadh gach ìre agus leabhar abairtean airson do chuideachadh.

Tha 'Colin and Cumberland' a' tabhann gheamannan 's stuthan spòrsail mar dhòigh air Gàidhlig làitheil ionnsachadh.

Nas Leasaichte

Ma tha beagan eòlais agad air a' chànan, tha 'Litir do Luchd-ionnsachaidh' ri fhaotainn mar teacsa agus podcast gach seachdain. Tha an cainnt san 'Litir Bheag' nas sìmplidh na 'Litir do luchd-ionnsachaidh' agus mar sin nas freagarraiche do dhaoine aig tràth-ìrean.


Tha ultach de ghoireasan rin lorg air làrach-lìn BBC Alba. Èist ri Radio nan Gaidheal, seall ri bhidiothan Gàidhlig agus lorg fios mu phrògraman rèidio agus tbh BBC Alba. Gheibhear measgachadh de làraich eile cuideachd m.e Naidheachdan, Làrach nam Bàrd, Cuairtean, Strì gu Sìth, Na Daoine Beaga, Rapal is tòrr eile.

Posted by: englishmix 04-May-2010, 07:43 PM
Rutherglen church to be transformed into Hindu Temple
Apr 7 2010 by Will Henshaw,
Rutherglen Reformer

THE former Wardlawhill Church building is being transformed into a new Hindu Temple. The centre will be called the Sri Sundara Ganapathi Temple and will be housed in the former church on Hamilton Road in Rutherglen after the premises was mortgaged by the South Indian Cultural centre Of Scotland. Renovation work is currently being carried out in the aim of getting the centre ready for the end of April.

Roughly £10,000 has been spent transforming the venue which the group acquired six months ago through the Church of Scotland. The centre will be able to host language classes, dance classes, matrimonial services, marriage counselling, translation services and spiritual classes as well as a Yoga camp and many more facilities yet to be announced.

The temple will be open to all Hindus throughout Scotland; there are approximately 400 families on the organisation’s register. There will be a special inaugural celebration on April 25 to mark the centre’s official opening. Committee members Mr Jagannathan and Dr S Raman said: “Over the past five years we have gathered together every Sunday in Partick Burgh Hall to practice our rituals and traditions. The sense of community plays a large part in all our lives and The South Indian Cultural Centre of Scotland acts as a platform for community gatherings and allows us to be as one.

“Our vision was to have a dedicated and permanent place in Glasgow to serve all our cultural and social needs. Our future generation needs to know about our rich culture and heritage, our elderly people need a place to socialise and relax, and our younger generation need to learn more about our languages and arts, so that they can have a sense of their own identity in the Western world. All these desires will be met by having a place where we can come together and work together as a community.

“With this in mind and with the help of dedicated community members, we managed to get a place in Rutherglen which belonged to Church of Scotland. In future this will be an ideal platform to serve our community people who have various needs.

In particular, we would like to thank Mr Ian Duncan, a member of the Church of Scotland who was pivotal in helping us to secure this property. After four years of total dedication and hard work by the community we have made huge steps and achieved this milestone.”

Councillor Gordon Clark will attend the opening of the temple and welcomed the group to the community, saying: “I think it’ll be a good centre. It’s open to all minority groups, not just Hindu, and it gives a good balance in the community. I think our area has a centre for just about every minority group now. I know quite a few of the members, they’ve ran their stalls for the past few Landemer days. I’m looking forward to it.”

Posted by: englishmix 06-May-2010, 11:09 AM
Voters going to polls in election

BBC Scotland

Voting in the election takes place from 0700 BST to 2200 BST

Election results on BBC Scotland. Voters across the country are going to the polls in the 2010 General Election. Polling stations open from 0700 BST to 2200 BST, with 59 seats being contested in Scotland and 649 across the UK.

Most counting in Scottish seats is taking place through the night, with Argyll and Bute due to declare on Friday morning. There will be full results coverage starting at 2200 BST on BBC One Scotland, BBC Radio Scotland and the BBC Scotland news website.

Posted by: englishmix 06-May-2010, 04:36 PM
Nothing like putting a negative spin in the title on a positive gain for the conservatives...

Polls: Conservatives fall short of majority in UK

Associated Press Writers Paisley Dodds And Danica Kirka,

The Conservatives captured the largest number of seats Thursday in Britain's national election but will fall short of a majority — triggering uncertainty over who will form the next government, according to television projections based on exit polls. An analysis by Britain's main television networks suggested David Cameron's Conservative party will win 307 House of Commons seats, short of the 326 seats needed for a majority.

Polls gave Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Labour Party 255 seats, and Nick Clegg's Liberal Democrats 59 seats — far less than had been expected. Small parties got 29 other seats.

The result would bear out predictions that this election would not give any party a majority, resulting in a destabilizing period of political wrangling and uncertainty. Brown could resign if he feels the results have signaled he has lost his mandate to rule, or he could try to stay on as leader and seek a deal in which smaller parties would support him.

The parties immediately began jockeying for position. Theresa May, a senior Conservative Party lawmaker, said the exit poll result showed Labour's heaviest losses since 1931, and that the incumbent party had lost "the legitimacy to govern."

The projection suggests that the Conservatives will gain 97 seats, Labour lose 94 and the Liberal Democrats lose three. "I think we're going to see a very interesting night," Conservative Party chairman Eric Pickles said.

The Tories are hoping to regain power for the first time since 1997, when they were ousted by Labour under Tony Blair. After three leaders and three successive election defeats, the party selected Cameron, a fresh-faced, bicycle-riding graduate of Eton and Oxford who promised to modernize the party's fusty, right-wing image.

Whoever wins faces the daunting challenge of introducing big budget cuts to slash Britain's huge deficit.

Posted by: englishmix 11-May-2010, 08:04 PM
Mr Clegg is playing a dangerous game
The Press and Journal
Published: 11/05/2010

ANYONE who thinks politics is boring had better think again. To see Gordon Brown offering his head on a plate to Nick Clegg as the price of Labour clinging to power would have been an unbelievable scenario a week ago, but that is how it appears to be turning out as he revealed that the Liberal Democrat leader had requested formal talks with Labour.

It was reported widely over the weekend that Mr Brown reacted angrily when Mr Clegg suggested the premier would have to stand down before their two parties could work together in government. Mr Clegg has turned brinksmanship into an art form and Mr Brown has fallen over the edge.

People have been calling for fundamental change ever since MPs were caught out over their expenses. The three main leaders were repeating it like a mantra right up to the election. Well, they have certainly got it now. Politics and our relationship with MPs might never be the same again.

The bitter irony for Mr Brown was that he stood aside to let Tony Blair’s charm offensive establish New Labour before he took over the reins, but he never won the hearts of the public, or even many of his own backbenchers, and now he is being pushed aside.

As for Mr Clegg, he is walking a tightrope: if he delivers the holy grail of voting reform in a stable political partnership, which brings real change for the better, he will be a hero. If he fails, ends up with nothing and is held responsible for forcing another election, he will be the villain – and the Liberal Democrats could well be slaughtered at the polls. He is playing Tories and Labour off against each other, but it is a dangerous game.

Posted by: englishmix 11-May-2010, 08:17 PM
Gealic speech 'history at EU talks'

The Herald - Scotland
Last updated 12 May 2010 - 12:50 am

Scottish education secretary Michael Russell made a little bit of history when he became the first person to speak in Scots Gaelic at an EU meeting.

Seven months after a deal was signed on the use of the language in formal EU gatherings, Mr Russell made a speech at a meeting of ministers from all member states discussing education, youth and culture. Interpretation was provided for his colleagues as he spoke about youth policies in Gaelic before reverting to English.

Mr Russell said it was a great honour to be the first minister ever to deliver a speech in Gaelic: "The Scottish Government is committed to a sustainable future for the Gaelic language. I can think of no better way to promote the language within Europe than at a Council meeting which, by definition, encourages and promotes multilingualism. Gaelic is more than a language. It is an important part of Scotland's social, cultural and economic life. The economic benefits and potential of Gaelic are significant."

The EU has 23 "working" languages, into which all EU documents and debates are translated and interpreted. And although there are no plans for Scots Gaelic to become the 24th, it was granted new status in Europe by a "Memorandum of Understanding" signed last October by the UK's EU ambassador Sir Kim Darroch and by Donald Henderson, Scotland's EU Director in Brussels. The Memorandum established the technical arrangements to allow Scottish Gaelic to be used within EU institutions.

It meant not only that Scottish Ministers could speak in Gaelic in formal meetings with other EU ministers, but also that Gaelic-speaking citizens could write directly to EU bodies in their mother tongue if they wish and receive a reply in the language.

However, interpretation will only be provided from Scots Gaelic into English, and not from English into Scots Gaelic - and the cost of providing interpretation and translation must be borne by the devolved Scottish administration.

Posted by: englishmix 11-May-2010, 08:26 PM
David Cameron is the new Prime Minister
The Herald - Scotland
11 May 2010

David Cameron has entered 10 Downing Street after formally accepted an invitation from the Queen to form a new UK government and become Prime Minister. The news was finally confirmed after the dramatic announcement by Gordon Brown that he was standing down, bringing down the curtain on 13 years of Labour rule.

The Prime Minister said:

"One of the tasks that we clearly have is to rebuild trust in our political system. Yes, that's about cleaning up expenses, yes, that's about reforming parliament, and yes, it's about making sure people are in control and that the politicians are always their servants and never their masters. But I believe it's also something else - it's about being honest about what government can achieve.

"Real change is not what government can do on its own, real change is when everyone pulls together, comes together, works together, when we all exercise our responsibilities to ourselves, our families, to our communities and to others.

"And I want to build a more responsible society here in Britain, one where we don't just ask what are my entitlements but what are my responsibilities, one where we don't ask what am I just owed but more what can I give, and a guide for that society that those that can should and those who can't we will always help."

George Osborne is to be Chancellor and William Hague the Foreign Secretary.

After five days of uncertainty, Mr Brown finally accepted that he was unable to form a coalition with the Liberal Democrats. Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown had earlier said goodbye to the Queen tonight as his political career came to an end...

Mr Cameron arrived at the Palace around an hour after Mr Brown conceded defeat and drove to Buckingham Palace to tender his resignation as Prime Minister to the Queen. Moments after Mr Brown acknowledged the game was up, Liberal Democrat and Conservative negotiators emerged from the Cabinet Office after five-and-a-half hours of talks in which they appear to have reached agreement on a coalition government...

Mr Brown announced that he would stand down as Labour leader with immediate effect. He later flew back to his family home in Fife. Harriet Harman will be acting Labour leader until a successor is chosen.

Posted by: englishmix 14-May-2010, 02:44 PM
PM wants fresh start with Scotland

Evening Times
14 May 2010 - 9:10 pm

Prime Minister David Cameron has called for a "fresh start" in the relationship between Scotland and Westminster as he met Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond in Edinburgh for talks. The SNP leader described the talks as "extremely positive" and "constructive", but he also warned Mr Cameron, who has repeatedly vowed to govern Scotland with "respect", that he would be judged by actions and not words.

The First Minister said: "I felt the meeting was positive, constructive, detailed and substantive. I've also said, and let me repeat, that people will be judged by deeds, not just by words. I prefer a respect agenda to a disrespect agenda. I think the Prime Minister was right to pursue that agenda."

The meeting focussed on the economy and avoided areas of clear conflict - such as Scottish independence. But Mr Salmond did raise concerns over cuts to public spending and urged the release of Scottish funds held by the Treasury. He also called for further accelerated funds to help tackle the effects of the recession and repeated a request for knock-on funds from Olympic regeneration spending.

The First Minister said he had been "impressed" by Mr Cameron's awareness of the issues. Mr Salmond stated: "All in all, it was a good meeting, it was a more substantive meeting than perhaps I'd expected in terms of the examination of the issues, and I think the Prime Minister's to be commended for that."...

Just before the meeting Mr Cameron had said he was "open to listening to all of the arguments" the First Minister may put forward. But with tough decisions on public spending ahead, the Prime Minister said: "As for the issue of the UK budget deficit, I'm very clear we have to make progress with it."

Prior to meeting the First Minister Mr Cameron visited the Scottish Parliament, where he was forced to dodge hundreds of protesters who had gathered to greet him. About 200 angry demonstrators were chanting anti-Tory slogans and calling for an end to jobs cuts, but rather than enter through one of the main doors as expected Mr Cameron went straight in via the underground car park.

Mr Cameron had earlier told an audience of Holyrood staff, MSPs and journalists: "I want to see a fresh start in the relationship between the British Prime Minister and the Scottish First Minister. This relationship is important. However much we may disagree about issues we should try to work together for the benefit of the whole of the United Kingdom and for the benefit of Scotland as well. That is what I'm determined to do."

While he and Mr Salmond would have "disagreements" and "arguments", he insisted: "I will never give ground on my commitment to the United Kingdom, keeping our United Kingdom together."

Posted by: englishmix 14-May-2010, 02:48 PM
Scotland defends business rates
Evening Times
14 May 2010 - 8:10 pm

Changes to business rates have been defended by the Scottish Government after heavy criticism from political opponents. An official analysis showed 60% of rate payers will be "better or no worse off" after revaluation. Finance Secretary John Swinney said average savings amount to more than £1,300 per property, before the impact of rates reliefs and appeals.

It emerged earlier this year that some businesses, including hotels, are being hit with increases of 100%. Liberal Democrats have called for a cap on rates to prevent them from "crippling" firms. Labour called for a transitional relief scheme, similar to one in England, but the Scottish Government also rejected this.

Mr Swinney said: "By reducing costs for many Scottish businesses, we are allowing them to re-invest the savings, enabling them to make the fullest possible contribution to economic recovery and increasing sustainable economic growth." He said a transitional relief scheme in England led to savings of less than half the Scottish average. Such a fund would have forced private businesses to foot the bill for the public sector, he argued. "Our view was that in the current economic climate such outcomes would have been impossible to justify.

"Our clear focus is on delivering economic recovery and ensuring Scotland's recent return to economic growth is sustained and strengthened and we believe that, in all the circumstances, the decisions we have taken are the right ones."

Posted by: englishmix 16-May-2010, 11:48 AM
Body discovered in botanical garden
Ayrshire post
May 16 2010

A man's body was found in a botanical garden on Sunday, police said. A member of the public made the discovery at 8.55am.

Police said they were treating the death in the Botanic Gardens, Great Western Road, in Glasgow, as unexplained.

Posted by: englishmix 16-May-2010, 11:51 AM
Prestwick woman becomes national hero
May 14 2010 by Stuart Wilson,
Ayrshire Post (main ed)

SHE’S the fundraising queen who’s been crowned a national hero. But doting mum Eileen Granger is just thankful for having her wee boy around. The outlook was grim when little Ross, now a well-known face after his battle with kidney cancer, was first diagnosed. But he launched a brave fight against the killer disease and has just marked five years in remission with a huge party.

It’s no surprise that the theme of that day was raising money for CLIC Sargent, the charity which has been with the Grangers every step of the way. Now Eileen, who’s raised £236,000 over the years, has been named Scotland’s Fundraising Hero of the Year. She confessed: “I’m absolutely thrilled to win such a prestigious award. Just to be nominated was very special and there were so many amazing people at the awards ceremony who had done great things. But I’m now in a position that I can help other families through the nightmare of childhood cancer – and for as long as I’ve got a breath in my body, I will continue to raise funds for CLIC Sargent and help children with cancer.”

Eileen scooped her award at the Daily Record Our Heroes night attended by Scotland’s great and good. And she even met her idol Kenny Dalglish – but insists her biggest prize is seeing a smile on the face of little Ross.

Eileen, 40, said: “We held a party to celebrate his five years in remission and it was very emotional – I must admit to having a tear in my eye. The support we received from CLIC Sargent throughout Ross’ illness was tremendous. If it wasn’t for volunteers before me, we wouldn’t have got the support we needed. He’s now a handsome six-year-old and gets by with just half a kidney – and although the award means so much, his health is the most important thing.”

May Gilchrist, chief fundraiser at Prestwick’s Malcolm Sargent House, said: “Eileen is an inspiration to us all with her drive and determination. I’m so proud of her fundraising efforts and this award is richly deserved. Ross is someone we’ve all taken to our hearts at the charity and the whole Granger family have become part of the set-up here at the house. It wouldn’t be the same without them.”

Posted by: englishmix 16-May-2010, 11:57 AM
Power bill madness in Maidens
May 14 2010 by Edwin Lawrence
Ayrshire Post (main ed)

BRAND new dream homes have become a nightmare for tenants. For electric bills are sky high in houses fitted with devices that are supposed to reduce energy costs. Tenants in the seven-home Maidens development received bills averaging £700 to £800. And one – who doesn’t use her heating – has an astonishing Scottish Power electric bill for £1146.

“These massive bills have taken the joy out of life,” said Steven Cook, 49. Steven is full-time carer for wife Mary, 42, who has multiple sclerosis. “We have a lovely little community here, but we’re all traumatised by these ridiculous bills,” he added.

The smart little homes in Harbour Road and Turnberry Road boast solar panels and air-source heat pumps. They cost £1.2m to build and are the first new homes for rent in Maidens for over 30 years.

Steven and other tenants suspect the homes are not wired up correctly. Ewan Boyd, 36, who has an autistic son, says appliances and lights have blown in his home. And Helen Bannatyne said: “I’m on my third washing machine.”

Helen, 56, who has to take oxygen for breathing problems, has even started smoking because of the stress. Newly re-elected MP Sandra Osborne met the tenants this week. She said: “It was a very welcome development to have social housing in Maidens. So it’s very disappointing to see such high bills going out to people on fixed incomes.”

The Labour MP pledged to take up the tenants’ concerns with both Scottish Power and Ayrshire Housing. Ayrshire Housing director Jim Whiston said: “Wiring in the houses is being checked this week. And we’re doing an evaluation on the operating costs of heating systems.”

Mr Whiston added: “Obviously we are concerned, as the systems installed are designed to reduce energy costs.”

Mr Whiston said Ayrshire Housing would take up other tenant concerns with main contractor Ashleigh (Scotland) Ltd. These include both exterior landscaping and internal snags.

Posted by: englishmix 18-May-2010, 04:53 PM
Days-at-sea error compensation call
The Herald - Scotland
Last updated 18 May 2010 - 9:50 pm

Fishermen should be compensated for a blunder which forced them to cut the number of days allowed at sea, an MEP has said. Scottish Conservative Struan Stevenson hit out after the European Fisheries Commissioner, Maria Damanaki, accepted there had been an administrative error on quotas for the west of Scotland.

The mistake, previously denied by her predecessor, led to a cut from 280 to 252 days for catching cod. Mr Stevenson, the senior vice-president of the European Fisheries Committee, said: "West of Scotland fishermen have been up in arms about this blunder for the past three years. The commission's error slashed their days-at-sea allocation for catching cod from 280 to 252 days. This was at the time when fuel prices were going sky high and fishermen everywhere were struggling to survive. Losing 28 days of an already severely restricted allocation of days at sea was catastrophic for many cod fishermen on the west coast."

He welcomed the "breakthrough", and added: "Now that Mrs Damanaki has had the good grace to acknowledge the commission's mistake, I trust that immediate action will be taken to compensate the fishermen for the losses they incurred. I will be writing to Commissioner Damanaki to make this point."

European Commission Ombudsman P Nikiforos Diamandouros said data had been mistakenly switched between two columns of a table that served as a basis for fishing quotas in 2007, leading to a 10% reduction in fishing days. Mr Diamandouros said: "I am grateful to the new commissioner for recognising that there was indeed a mistake in this case. Errors occur in every administration. A good administration is willing to acknowledge its errors, to correct them if possible and to make sure they do not occur again."

© Press Association 2010

Posted by: englishmix 19-May-2010, 02:59 PM
Head for Bishopton to discover ‘Whodunnit’ May 19 2010 by Jeff Holmes,
Paisley Daily Express

MURDER, mayhem and mystery are set to hit sleepy Bishopton ... and there won’t be a cop in sight. Members of the Erskine and District Rotary Club will perform the play No Rest For The Wicked before serving afternoon tea.

The action takes place at Bishopton Community Centre in Gledstane Road and is the first event of Bishopton Week, the village’s annual celebration. The murder mystery, which will appeal to everyone, but especially fans of Miss Marple or Poirot, is set in a rest home where there has been a fire. Curtain up is at 2.30pm on Sunday, June 13, and entry is just £3, which includes afternoon tea.

People wishing to purchase a ticket should contact Rotary Club members Valery Willis on 01505 614738 or George Ross at 01505 864114.

The afternoon tea, which will be Fairtrade, will be provided by a collaboration of members of Erskine and District Rotary Club and the Bishopton Week Group. There is ample parking at Bishopton Community Centre and it’s only a five-minute walk from the railway station. George Ross, of the Erskine and District Rotary Club, said: “No Rest for The Wicked is suitable for all the family. I hope that people will come and enjoy it, put their thinking cap on and try to work out who done it.”

Ronnie Dukes, Chairperson, Bishopton Week Group, added: “Following on from the success of last year’s Murder Mystery play, we are delighted that Erskine and District Rotary Club has organised a new show for this year. After the performance tea and cakes will be served.”

For more information on Bishopton Week, visit

Posted by: englishmix 23-May-2010, 11:35 AM
Sea of tears and colour for teenager
Scottish News of the World
By Paul Thornton, 23/05/2010

HUNDREDS of mourners turned up in brightly coloured clothes yesterday to share laughter and tears at the funeral of tragic knife victim Jack Frew. Around 700 pupils and pals joined the murdered lad's family at a special memorial service in his school. During the 45-minute service, a group of friends sang "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" - one of Jack's favourite songs - wearing outfits of every shade in tribute to the flamboyant teen.

Afterwards around 300 went on to a private service at South Lanarkshire Crematorium. A spokesman for Duncanrig Secondary School in East Kilbride, Lanarkshire, said: "The young people showed maturity - they were very composed. But there was laughter and tears shed for their friend Jack who they have lost. It was very respectful and upbeat, remembering his life."

The funeral came a day after 17- year-old Jack's family were left reeling by the news that the body of his uncle Colin Ferguson (below) had been found in the River Clyde. The 46-year-old went missing on May 11, after visiting Mossneuk woods - where Jack died on May 6 - to look at floral tributes.

As they arrived for the memorial at 11am, Jack's mum Lorraine - Colin's sister - was supported by husband Robert, 51, Jack's brother Garry, 26, and 24-year-old sister Jemma. Pupils had begun pouring into the school from 9am.

Headteacher George Wynne led the service along with Reverend Kevin MacKenzie. The order of service described Jack as "Happy, smiley, fun loving, generous, kind, positive, funny, open, genuine, considerate." And a written tribute added: "Jack was all of these things and many more besides. He will remain in the hearts of those who have known him forever."

The poem "Remember" by Christina Rossetti was read before those closest to Jack went on to the funeral in Blantyre. Friends left the school crying and consoling each other but there was laughter as they shared favourite memories of Jack. Rev MacKenzie - minister at Westwood Church in East Kilbride - led the crematorium service, in which some of the teen's favourite music was played, including hits by Kate Nash and Katy Perry. And a poem called Me, written by theatre-loving Jack, was read, revealing his love of performing and of being noticed.

The poignant verse read: "The curtains open. The lights are shining on another dramatic day in the life of Jack Frew. Everybody's watching intensely, waiting for the performance to begin. By the end of the day I can guarantee there will have been a standing ovation alongside a wave of hisses - but in which order? What I do know is that every person who has had an impact on my life today - be it a crowd booing or an audience applauding - each and every one of them cares enough about me to make that echoed noise." Mourners went on to Carnbooth House Hotel in Carmunnock.

A post-mortem will be carried out on Colin but Strathclyde Police said: "There do not appear to be suspicious circumstances." Craig Roy, 17, appeared at Hamilton Sheriff Court on May 10 charged with Jack's murder.


Although it hardly ever appears newsworthy to the press, I sincerely hope the Gospel of Christ was proclaimed to the morners. Englishmix.

Posted by: englishmix 23-May-2010, 11:44 AM
Peter Tobin's three Bible John boltholes

Scottsih News of the World
By Nicola Stow, 23/05/2010

DETECTIVES probing Peter Tobin's horrific past have found chilling new links between him and Bible John. They've found that in the late 1960s Tobin lived close to where three women were snared, then slaughtered, by the notorious serial killer. And today we can reveal the streets where psycho Tobin stayed.

Jemima McDonald, 32, and Helen Puttock, 29, were both murdered after leaving Glasgow's Barrowland Ballroom (see No4 above) in 1969 with a slim young man - later dubbed Bible John. We can reveal that at the time Tobin, now 63, lived only two miles away in flats in Chester Street (No3), Vesalius Street (No2) and Old Shettleston Road (No1).

Also in the vicinity is MacKeith Street, Bridgeton - where the body of mum-of-three Jemima was found in a derelict building. And Tobin was only a short bus trip from the city centre, where nurse Patricia Docker, 25, was last seen alive in the Majestic ballroom in 1968.

The nurse's body was found a day later in a lane in Langside.

The old addresses were unearthed by Operation Anagram, a UK-wide inquiry into Tobin's crimes.

Last night the man who set up the probe, Det Supt David Swindle, 55, said: "I am Tobin's NIGHTMARE. He should be a frightened man. We will keep hunting until we uncover the whole truth about his life. So far we've neither confirmed nor denied Tobin's links with the 'Bible John' crimes. But we have identified he had connections with addresses in the East End of Glasgow in the 1960s."

DS Swindle hinted more homes could be searched and gardens dug up as the hunt for victims continues. The Strathclyde Police detective revealed: "We are receiving new information about Tobin every day. What we are looking for here is closure for the families of any other of this killer's victims. It is possible more searches will be carried out. We're very optimistic and are making good progress."

Evil Tobin will DIE behind bars after being convicted of murdering Dinah McNicol, 18, Vicky Hamilton, 15, and Angelika Kluk, 23. But police are convinced he could have killed DOZENS more women. DS Swindle said: "This guy is evil and cunning. We are talking about a guy who travels all over the UK, playing his own wicked killing game. A guy who killed a teenager in Scotland then buried it in England. To me, this is somebody who knew what he was doing. Somebody who has killed before. Tobin is a COWARD who has taken the lives of young, innocent women. He is extremely violent and has absolutely no respect for humanity. So it is our job to find out exactly what other crimes he has committed."

Tobin moved from Glasgow to Brighton in 1969. But he returned in 1977 to stay in flats in Merkland Way, Renfrew, and Moorpark Square, Paisley. He then disappeared off the radar until 1979, when moved to Shaw Street in Govan, Glasgow. And DS Swindle is desperate for information about Tobin's "missing year" - when employment records show he was working for North Farm Washington Limited, who were based in Sussex. He said: "It could have been a passing job or the company could have had other outlets elsewhere."

Operation Anagram was set up in November 2006 after Tobin was charged with the murder of Angelika. The Polish student's body was found battered, stabbed and gagged underneath the floorboards at St Patrick's Church in Glagsow. Information gathered by the Anagram team led cops to dig up the garden of Tobin's former home in Margate, Kent, where the bodies of Vicky and Dinah were found.

There are currently 11 police forces around Britain involved in the inquiry. Analysts have trawled through electoral rolls, tax documents, hospital and prison records. DS Swindle said: "We've had a great response since we went public with Anagram in December. What we are doing now is piecing all the info together. We're gradually filling in the gaps."

The Anagram incident room in a Glasgow police station is still a hive of activity. Plastered on the walls are photographs of Tobin at various stages of his life. There are charts with dates and timelines, which are updated as more details come in. On another wall are photos of Angelika, Vicky and Dinah - tragic reminders of Tobin's three known victims. It has been claimed the fiend has boasted of killing up to 48 women - but DS Swindle is certain he will NEVER get a confession out of the vicious brute.

The cop said: "When Tobin speaks to us he denies everything. It is all part of his game. This operation has been a very complicated one to piece together. It has definitely been the most complex I have worked on during my 33 years as a policeman. But we will keep going - we have to. Even if Tobin dies, our hunt to find out what he really did will continue."

Posted by: englishmix 25-May-2010, 10:18 PM

Edinburgh Evening News
25 May 2010 10:18 AM

By Ian Swanson

ALEX Salmond today announced Scotland will stage a second Homecoming celebration in 2014 to coincide with the Commonwealth Games, the Ryder Cup and the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn.

The First Minister unveiled the plan as he published an independent evaluation showing the 2009 Homecoming had exceeded its target for extra tourism revenue. The study, by EKOS, showed last year's programme, built around the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns' birth, attracted 95,000 additional visitors and generated £53.7 million, exceeding the £44m target.

Dozens of events were staged in the Capital, including the centrepiece event, The Gathering, which saw 50,000 people from around the world flock to Holyrood Park. There was also controversy, however, after it emerged The Gathering had lost £600,000, despite receiving £500,000 of public funding.

Despite this, today's report said it generated £154m of positive global media coverage for Scotland. Mr Salmond said: "In 2014 the eyes of the world will be on Scotland. In this year of celebration, repeating the remarkable success and benefits of Homecoming 2009 is an excellent opportunity to attract tourism and investment and showcase the very best of Scotland."

He also announced a new digital resource that will showcase Homecoming 2009 to audiences at home and abroad. The Homecoming Scotland Digital Archives and Exhibition Project, designed by Queen Margaret University, will use new Microsoft technology to allow users to learn more about the diverse events of Homecoming 2009 and increase interest in Homecoming 2014.

An archivist will collate Homecoming documents, brochures, articles and video, which will be digitised and made available online from January next year. A public exhibition will begin in the summer. Mr Salmond said: "The archive underlines our reputation for innovation and has the potential to become a model for the future. This groundbreaking new product will ensure that the success of the celebration of Scotland and its many contributions to the world will be available for everyone to enjoy for generations to come."

Dr Mike Cantlay, chairman of VisitScotland, said last year's Homecoming had sparked huge interest all over the world. "VisitScotland will once again seize the tremendous opportunity that Homecoming represents. Whichever country visitors are travelling from, I have no doubt they will leave with memories they will treasure."

Dr Petra Wend, principal and vice-patron of Queen Margaret University, said the Homecoming Archive presented an exciting opportunity to collect, catalogue and preserve materials associated with the Scottish Homecoming 2009. She said: "The archive will be of great use to all those involved in promoting tourism and economic development."

Posted by: englishmix 25-May-2010, 10:27 PM
Provost denies 150 mile trip to buy kilt a waste of money
The Edinburgh Evening News
04 May 2010

A FOOTBALL-LOVING Lord Provost has come under fire after making a 150-mile round trip to buy a kilt on expenses. Provost Adam Montgomery, pictured, racked up a £60 mileage claim to purchase the £890 garment from McCallum Highland Wear of Kilmarnock.

The kilt, designed for Kilmarnock Football Club, was also charged to the taxpayer. Mr Montgomery is Midlothian Lord Provost and today Midlothian Council's SNP group, led by SNP parliamentary candidate Colin Beattie, said his trip was excessive and wasteful.

But Provost Montgomery said he had "**** all" to answer for. He said: "I am the lowest paid Lord Provost in Scotland. I received my P60 last month and I earned a total of £15,300 last year. I'm allowed £2,000 in expenses for clothes. Edinburgh's Lord Provost is allowed £5,000 for clothing and his wife is allowed £2,000, whereas my wife gets nothing so I don't feel the need to explain myself. When I travel to international functions I have to pay to take my wife with me whereas Edinburgh's Lady Provost travels on expenses, which I think is perfectly acceptable, but it's a right that my wife and I do not enjoy. Have a look at what other Lord Provosts get and you will see that I am the lowest paid so I've got **** all to explain to the SNP group, and you can quote me on every word of that."

He said he had made the trip to a Kilmarnock kiltmaker as he wanted the Kilmarnock FC tartan – having been a lifelong supporter of the club – and it was the only place he could get it. And he insisted the kilt had been for official functions, including a twinning visit to France, and was well-within his clothing budget.

On the issue of charging for the trip, Provost Montgomery said that he had actually made two trips – once to get fitted, and again to collect the kilt – but had only charged for one of them. The issue is set to be raised at the next meeting of Midlothian Council, with opposition councillors claiming he should have used a local kiltmaker.

Provost Montgomery insisted he had done nothing wrong. He said: "I put in a shift every month for Midlothian so the SNP want to get a grip of themselves and grow up. "I needed the kilt for my visit to France to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the twinning of Saint Cyr L'Ecole with Bonnyrigg and Lasswade, and I will be wearing it to the 50th anniversary celebrations of Dalkeith's twinning with Jarnac later this year.

"I wanted the Kilmarnock tartan because I am a Kilmarnock supporter, I was born in Kilmarnock and it was the only place I could get the tartan. Where I was born and what colour tartan I wear should not be an issue. I could have chosen the Montgomery tartan, which would also have been appropriate, but I wanted something a little bit different."

Midlothian SNP group leader Colin Beattie has pledged to raise the issue of Provost Montgomery's trip, which took place in April last year, at the next Midlothian Council meeting in June. He said: "I don't have a clue what he needs his own tailor made kilt for. If it's coming out of the official expenses I assume it's for use in official functions but I've never seen him wearing a kilt. Also, if it's tailor-made to his measurements it will be no good to the next provost so it could end up having a very short official shelf life. It's a terrible waste of money during these times of austerity. I'm not arguing against the principle of a clothing allowance for the Provost, but did he really have to travel to Kilmarnock to buy it?

"There are one or two good kiltmakers in Midlothian. Why not go to one of them? You would think, as Provost, he would want to showcase the best of Midlothian rather than go elsewhere."

Posted by: englishmix 02-Jun-2010, 03:08 PM
Ayrshire yob Bit off pal's finger
May 28 2010 by Lisa Boyle,
Ayrshire Post (main ed)

A BRUTAL yob bit his pal’s finger off in a drunken brawl. Then when the pair made up, they blamed a passer-by who tried to help. The good Samaritan ended up being arrested and jailed over the bloody incident on Ayr’s Sandgate. And the innocent man spent Christmas in prison.

But justice finally caught up with the real culprit, 24-year-old Christopher Wilson. This week at Ayr Sheriff Court, he admitted the assault on pal Aaron Johnson. Depute fiscal Isabel Vincent told Sheriff Desmond Leslie that Wilson and Johnson had come to Ayr from Glasgow for a day’s drinking on November 19 2008.

When they ran out of money they began wandering around town centre streets. Then at around 8pm, the day out took a horrific turn for the worst. The men started arguing and Johnson pushed Wilson against a lamppost. Wilson then dug his teeth into Johnson’s right hand middle finger. He started screaming in agony for Wilson to let go. One man, who was in his Sandgate home at the time, heard the screams and went to split the fight up with two pals.

Moments later, a student nurse pulled over in her car to offer help. She noticed Wilson had blood around his nose and mouth and thought he had a broken nose. The woman also saw that the tip of Johnson’s finger was missing. Johnson told the woman they had been jumped by three men. Police attended and took Johnson and Wilson to hospital. The tip of Johnson’s finger was lost so he has been left permanently disfigured.

That night, the three men who helped split up the fight were all arrested. One of them was remanded in custody, accused of biting off the tip of Johnson’s finger.

Then in January 2009, Johnson told Wilson he was having flashbacks about the night and asked him if he was responsible. He admitted to his pal that he was responsible for biting the finger off.

Wilson, of Glasgow, pleaded guilty to assaulting Johnson by biting his finger to his severe injury and permanent disfigurement. Sheriff Leslie deferred sentence for background reports.

Posted by: englishmix 02-Jun-2010, 08:45 PM
Gaelic language pledges scrapped
Edinburgh Evening News site.
02 June 2010

A MAJOR promotion of the Gaelic language across the Capital is to be scaled back because of a shortage of funding. Proposals to include a Gaelic line on the city council's logo for use on all stationery are set to be downgraded and will only be included "on materials which are translated into Gaelic".

City leaders will also fail to give a commitment to creating bilingual "Welcome to Edinburgh" signs at the City Chambers and Waverley Court. There is also doubt over whether they will pledge to roll out road signs in English and Gaelic in key sites such as Tollcross.

• Is the council right to ditch plans to introduce gaelic road signs to Edinburgh? Vote here

News of the changes to the Gaelic Language Plan comes as the council prepares to formally submit its proposals to Bòrd Na Gàidhlig – the body set up to promote Gaelic – within weeks.

City leaders say that the amount it can do to promote the language is restricted by the tough financial climate. Council leader Jenny Dawe said: "What we have here is a recognition of Gaelic and a recognition that, as a capital city, we will do what we can to promote it. But I am not convinced that Bòrd Na Gàidhlig will be blown away by what is in here." She added: "I know there are different views on this. If it was ten years ago and the council had a lot more money we might have gone down a different route."

The council's original proposals went out to consultation and, over a two-month period, nearly 350 responses were received. More than two thirds of respondents said that the plan presented by the council did not reflect the right priorities for Edinburgh. A full report on how to address growing demand for Gaelic education in schools, particularly at Tollcross Primary and James Gillespie's High, is to be provided later this month.

Education chiefs are currently considering options including converting Tollcross Primary into a dedicated Gaelic school and sending non-Gaelic pupils elsewhere, or setting up a brand new school dedicated to the language.

Cllr Dawe said: "This is something that divides the Gaelic community. Some feel there should be full-blown Gaelic medium education, like in Glasgow. Others are quite content with the offer at Tollcross and Gillespie's. The children and families committee will look at that and if there are to be any changes at Tollcross or James Gillespie's, it will go through the full consultation."

Posted by: englishmix 05-Jun-2010, 07:18 PM
OPINION » Letters
Wick bearing brunt of recession
John O'Groat Journal
Published: 04 June, 2010

SIR – I recently travelled with my family for a short break to Pitlochry, a quaint Scottish town that has a thriving tourist industry. On touring the area I went to Aberfeldy that, although a stone's throw from Pitlochry, was in a far poorer state of affairs simply because it is off the main tourist thoroughfare. As someone who has spent many years away from Wick, it is more than apparent to me that the east of Caithness is bearing the brunt of this recession far worse as a result of having the A9 redirected.

In these difficult times it is hard to see how Wick's fortunes can be restored as the demise of the fishing industry has compounded the effects of a dwindling tourist economy. The developments around Wick harbour are very positive to our future and more efforts should be made to encourage and develop this as the mainstay of Wick's tourist industry. It is disconcerting to see voluntary agencies competing for funding as if they are commercially based, and a centrally-based facility will add further woes to the appearance of Wick as tourists will be presented with prime architectural sites that are run down in the town.

I think our councillors should put more effort into promoting ideas that improve the image of Wick on the Highlands and Islands stage as a prime fishing town with a great heritage and funding that is not currently available for this type of approach should be made more readily and easily available.

William E. Beattie, 3 Murray Avenue, Wick.

Posted by: englishmix 05-Jun-2010, 07:22 PM
Firm's expansion idea is a gem
John O'Groat Journal
Published: 04 June, 2010

A SPECIALIST manufacturer based in Wick which produces cameras for use in some of the most dangerous and inaccessible places on earth is focused on new opportunities after investing in cutting-edge equipment. Kongsberg Maritime Ltd (KML) has spent over £150,000 - including £61,000 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) - to install a diamond turning lathe and monitoring kit which will allow the firm to develop its own custom-built lenses.

The state-of-the-art tool means that the business will not have to buy in optical domes which form a key part of its cameras. The Wick factory, which employs 43 staff, is the production and development centre for KML Camera Group. Its high-specification cameras are used in the oil, gas, military and scientific fields to support activities like bomb disposal, offshore drilling, marine biology, nuclear decommissioning and environmental monitoring.

Bill Baxter, of KML Camera Group, said: "The addition of this new line of equipment will help our staff in Wick retain their reputation as world leaders in high-spec camera equipment. Manufacturing a whole range of optical housings in-house is an exciting new phase for us. We will make savings in time and money, and will enjoy greater flexibility when developing new products."

With the installation of the new equipment, KML Camera Group aims to expand into new products and create additional jobs. Keith Muir, account manager for HIE, said: "We are working closely with KML in Wick and are delighted to have supported them in this expansion. The investment brings benefits for the business, its staff and the wider community. The team is gaining extra skills and expertise in a highly-specialised, high-value sector. Their abilities will provide another valuable asset to the area's engineering supply chain as we gear up for delivery in the emerging renewable energy sector."

Posted by: englishmix 12-Jun-2010, 08:51 AM
Dunblane ponders Tesco move
The Stirling Observer
Jun 11 2010 by Iain Howie
News from Stirlingshire, Scotland

TESCO’S proposals for a new Dunblane store have provoked a mixed reaction.

Two out of the three options being considered to increase the supermarket giant’s presence in the cathedral city were shown to the public on Tuesday at the Braeport Centre. Visitors were shown diagrams of the two options, both of which would see the new supermarket built at Perth Road, and held discussions involving a possible third development site at Barbush.

The new shop would be bigger than the company’s existing Metro store but smaller than Tesco in Stirling. One of the Perth Road plans involves putting a petrol station in front of the shop. The project would also incorporate a pedestrianised public space. Organisers of the exhibition said the preferred option was for Perth Road

Questions were asked about the impact on the neighbouring golf course, the Darn Walk which connects to Bridge of Allan and also a lodge house, which was not visible in one of the sets of plans. Some visitors said Dunblane needs a filling station but were concerned about the loss of parking in the town, which already struggles with commuter parking. Visitors were asked to complete a questionnaire on their shopping habits and what they thought should go on the existing Tesco site at Springfield Terrace if the proposals are successful.

Doug Wilson of Tesco Stores Limited said: “Relocation to a larger store at Perth Road is a great opportunity to allow us to better serve our customers while freeing up our existing store up for other possible uses.”

A spokesperson for Vico Properties, which is involved with the proposals, said: “There is a clear need for a better supermarket to keep people shopping in Dunblane. We believe our site at Perth Road is the best possible location to meet this need, while also providing direct and easy access to the town centre.”

What do you think? Air your views in the Observer’s letters page by emailing [email protected] or writing to 34 Upper Craigs, Stirling, FK8 2DW. Or take part in our online "Does Dunblane need a new Tesco store?” poll at

Posted by: englishmix 12-Jun-2010, 08:59 AM
Sounds like a blast...

Kingdom set for crowning glory
The Stirling Observer
Jun 11 2010 by Iain Howie
News from Stirlingshire, Scotland

KIPPEN’S 31st annual street fayre takes place tomorrow (Saturday) and it is hoped many children sign up for the fancy dress parade leaving the school at 11am. The parade will be led by the Queen and her attendants with prizes awarded for the funniest, the most original, most topical, best group and best overall costume. The school is open from 10am and judging by Gary Gaulston and Bobby Wilson takes place at 10.30am.

After the crowning ceremony by the garage forecourt on Main Street, there are many stalls set up from the Cross to the school where childrens’ amusements – and later the dog show – will be based. Cafes will be operating in the school and the church with outside seating at both hotels and hot pancakes and the usual super beefburgers available.

A fly-past of microlites is set to take place at 1pm, followed by the prize draws, with splendid prizes again available at the fayre HQ tent by the garage forecourt – the tent is also the place to elect the King of Kippen. The centuries old Smiddy and shop at the Cross is open and at around 3.15pm the gunge auction completes the day.

Two years ago saw the village re-establish the tradition of crowning a King of Kippen and last year a Prince of Kippen was also crowned for the first time. Both the King and Prince fought off strong competition in trials of strength, courage and skill (and cracker-eating) so once again this year the village will be eagerly waiting to see who emerges the victors.

This year’s event is also being boosted by the artistic efforts of two Kippen Primary School children. Each year the school hosts a competition to draw a poster to advertise the event, with the winner’s effort shown around the village, but the runner-ups poster also being used as part of the event.

This year Harriet Patterson (9) of P5 scooped top prize with her colourful effort depicting people taking part in the fair. Her classmate Catherine Kerr was runner up. There is still time to book a stall at the Fayre by calling Lindsay on 01786 870609.

For more details on all the events at the Fayre visit the website

Posted by: englishmix 16-Jun-2010, 06:54 PM
Third of new jobless are north of Border
The Scotsman, Edinburgh
17 June 2010
By David Maddox

THE latest jobless figures have fuelled concerns that Scotland is more vulnerable to the recession than the rest of the UK. Scottish unemployment rose by 7,000 to 212,000 in the three months to April, a 35,000 increase on the year before. Figures rose 23,000 in the UK as a whole, so one in three of those will have lost their job north of the Border. And the Scottish unemployment rate of 8 per cent now stands above the UK average of 7.9 per cent.

The economic activity rate in Scotland, measuring those working or seeking work, fell by 40,000 over the quarter to 2,644,000, and fell by 48,000 over the year. This means Scottish economic activity rate is now also below the UK average.

CBI Scotland director Iain McMillan said the figures confirmed warnings he and others had made that Scotland was too reliant on public sector employment, and that, with cuts of up to £1.9 billion expected next year, the situation could only get worse. "We have been warning for years that there is an imbalance in the public and private sector that politicians need to address," he said. "These figures confirm, too, Scotland is going to take much longer to get out of the recession than the UK, and this is because the private sector is too small."

The issue was raised in the first Scottish questions of the Westminster parliamentary session, with shadow Scottish secretary Jim Murphy complaining about the government cancelling the Future Jobs Fund. But Lib Dem Scottish Secretary Michael Moore insisted employment and training were still being supported.

Labour also blamed the Scottish Government for the figures. Its Holyrood finance spokesman, Andy Kerr, said: "We are lagging behind the rest of the UK in employment rates, business start-ups and economic recovery. The SNP has cancelled essential projects such as the Glasgow Airport Rail Link, and over £2bn in investment has been lost, along with 30,000 construction jobs, because of its ideological objection to private finance."

But SNP enterprise minister Jim Mather insisted Scotland was continuing to see fragile signs of recovery. He argued that the UK government needed to reconsider its proposed cuts. "We cannot take risks with jobs and recovery," he said. "These figures reinforce the importance of the Scottish Government deferring further cuts in order to support recovery and maintain employment now."

Meanwhile, there were concerns about the overall UK unemployment rate as the figure crept close to 2.5 million. At Prime Minister's Questions, acting Labour leader Harriet Harman demanded that David Cameron pledge not to make any decisions that would lead to job losses, referring to further cuts expected in the emergency Budget next week. She accused the government of "talking down the economy".

Mr Cameron hit back:"Never mind talking the economy down, Labour did the economy down. They left this country with a £155bn deficit, the biggest in our peacetime history".

Posted by: englishmix 16-Jun-2010, 07:02 PM
Five years' jail for grandmother who kept father's wartime memento
The Scotsman, Edinburgh
17 June 2010

A WOMAN who claimed she had hidden a gun under her mattress to keep it away from her grandchildren was jailed for five years yesterday. Gail Cochrane, 53, said she inherited the weapon, a German military pistol, when her father died. He had served in the Royal Navy and the handgun was a "war trophy" which she held while thinking of him.

She told a court that she had been worried about her grandchildren discovering the gun when she kept it in a box in a wardrobe, and moved it to under her mattress. However, the judge, Lady Smith, said the claim "made no sense", and that Cochrane had no reasonable explanation for failing to hand in the gun to the authorities.

Lady Smith ruled that there were no exceptional circumstances to prevent Cochrane from receiving a mandatory five-year jail term for possessing the weapon. Police found the gun under a mattress in Cochrane's home in Morgan Street, Dundee, on 17 June last year, while they were searching for her son, who had failed to attend a court hearing.

Cochrane admitted having the 7.65mm Browning self-loading pistol without holding a firearms certificate or having the permission of Scottish ministers. Under laws introduced in the wake of the Dunblane shooting massacre, the offence carries a minimum five-year jail sentence unless a judge is satisfied there are "exceptional circumstances".

Cochrane said her father, John, died 29 years ago and a box of wartime belongings, including the gun, was found among his property. "I took the gun, for sentimental value. Sometimes I held it to think of my dad. I know it sounds stupid," said Cochrane.

She claimed she kept the gun in a box on a shelf in a walk-in wardrobe, but her grandchildren began to keep computers in the wardrobe and were forever "climbing about in there".

Cochrane denied she had been hiding the gun for anyone, and said she had never thought she might be committing a crime by holding on to it, or that she needed a licence. Lady Smith said she could accept with some hesitation Cochrane's account of how she first came into possession of the weapon. "However, if she wanted something to remember him by, a gun, particularly one she was not aware he possessed, does appear to have been an odd choice to make," said the judge. "I do not accept the reason for moving it under the mattress was to keep it away from children who had been getting access to her walk-in wardrobe. That explanation simply does not make sense."

She ruled that access to the gun had been open to Cochrane's son, who had "significant previous convictions". "I cannot find myself satisfied this is one of those rare cases where exceptional circumstances exist. The result is I have no alternative but to sentence Mrs Cochrane to a period of five years' imprisonment."

Her son, John Cochrane, 33, screamed abuse and stormed from the court as the sentence was passed.

Posted by: englishmix 16-Jun-2010, 07:09 PM
Laird's plan to build billionaires' Highland hideaway thrown
The Scotsman, Edinburgh
Date: 17 June 2010
By Frank Urquhart

AMBITIOUS proposals to transform one of the most remote stretches of Highland Perthshire into a £1.3 billion private playground for the world's super-rich lay in ruins last night. Members of Perth and Kinross Council voted at a special meeting to throw out controversial plans for the Dall Estate on the shores of Loch Rannoch.

Malcolm James, the laird, had boasted of developing his sprawling estate into a Highland "paradise" where only the "multi-multi-billionaires" of the world would have the exclusive right to relax in one another's exalted company. He announced that the minimum liquid net worth of clients using the estate would be set at £100 million, with membership fees of £2m and annual dues of £500,000.

But local groups, including the Dall Community Association, Rannoch and Tummel Community Council and the Loch Rannoch Conservation Association, had vigorously opposed development, claiming it threatened one of Scotland's most picturesque, unspoiled landscapes and the local tourism industry.

Senior council planners also recommended that the Loch Rannoch scheme should be rejected, claiming it would contravene both local and national planning policies. At yesterday's special meeting councillors votes 21-3 to reject the outline application. The three councillors who voted against refusal had moved that the application be deferred.

Ian Campbell, the Tory councillor for the Highland ward, moved that the application be refused. He said: "In my view the massive scale of the development is inappropriate for that area of Rannoch. I was also particularly concerned that, after years in the making, the applicant had been unable to respond to the concerns of virtually all the statutory consultees."

But Mr Campbell stressed: "It is still open for him (Mr James] to come back with a revised proposal."/I]

Alan Grant, the SNP councillor for Strathmore, seconded the motion to refuse. He said: [I]"My concerns were based on the potential, as I see it, damage to the environment and ecology of the south side of Loch Rannoch. I was also concerned about the arbitrary manner in which it appears the applicant thinks he can deal with public rights of way."

Mr James, the reclusive owner of the Dall estate, first revealed his plan to transform his sprawling property into the exclusive resort for the mega-rich in August 2009, sparking a storm of local and national protest. His plans included a luxury hotel with 104 rooms, two 18-hole golf courses and clubhouse, a state-of-the-art health spa, a concert hall, a "body-enhancement clinic" with surgery facilities, a retail arcade and a shore-side restaurant based on the design of a crannog.

He could not be contacted for comment on the council's decision.

And so the merry ole Scots, ever fearful of 'what-ifs', continue to grumble unrelentingly over their perpetual high unemployment with a beautiful view...

Posted by: englishmix 18-Jun-2010, 07:08 PM
Pet cat saved owners' lives as fire broke out in
Edinburgh Evening News
18 June 2010

A PET cat saved its owners' lives by waking them up while a fire tore through their house. Ken Page and Jenny Ferguson were sleeping in their home in Athelstaneford, East Lothian when the blaze broke out in their kitchen.

But thankfully their terrified moggy made such a commotion that it woke them up. The pair, both 64, were able toADVERTISEMENTcall the fire brigade before the flames got out of control.

Fire chiefs said the house didn't have a smoke detector installed, meaning that the cat's actions were the only clues of the growing blaze. The fire broke out at around 1am yesterday morning at the small cottage. Both Ken and Jenny were taken to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary suffering from smoke inhalation, with Ken also being treated for burns on his hands.

But yesterday afternoon Jenny returned to the home with a relative to clean up and collect her belongings before going to stay with relatives. She said: "I'm fine. My partner is okay, he's still in the hospital but he'll be fine. It was the cat making noises that woke us up. The cat is fine – she's been here in the back garden all morning. There is a lot of smoke damage. We can't live here. It is just the kitchen really but we can't stay here just now."

Jenny was too distressed to talk any more about what happened, but a neighbour said that the black and white cat had saved the couple's lives. The woman – who did not want to be named – visited the couple's home to see how they were after hearing about the fire on the news. She said: "I used to work beside Jenny but she left a few years ago to go work with Ken – he's a cook at the Conservative Club in Haddington. They have had a number of cats across the years. Seems like the cat saved their lives."

The village came to a standstill as emergency services arrived to deal with the fire. Colin Armstrong, who lives behind the couple's house, was woken by the noise and went to see what was happening. He said: "At around 1am all the fire engines were down there along with the ambulance and police. There was smoke everywhere. The fire brigade weren't away till about 4am – they didn't leave until they had made sure the property was safe. It really was quite atrocious. They took them to hospital – I saw her getting in the ambulance. They have been in the village a few years. I don't really know her very well but Ken's a nice man. I did hear the firemen say something about a cat, but I never saw one there."

A spokeswoman for Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service said that the couple had a lucky escape. She added: "Not everybody has a cat so finely tuned as this one clearly was, so a smoke detector is a must for every home. From what we understand, there wasn't any smoke detection device in the property. A smoke detector is the best way to give yourself a chance of an early warning. We will happily set them up for free in people's homes. Peace of mind for people to protect themselves and their pets costs nothing. We are really glad that the couple only suffered minor injuries, but it is important to get across the message that smoke detectors save far more lives than cats do."

Posted by: englishmix 18-Jun-2010, 07:14 PM
Lothian enjoys low rent
Edinburgh Evening News
19 March 2010

COUNCIL house tenants in East Lothian pay the second lowest rents in Scotland, a new survey has found. The average weekly rent is just £43.75, more than a third lower than Edinburgh's £69.61. The comparison, by Cosla, found that only Moray Council charged lower rents. East Lothian was well below the Scottish average of £54.65 a week.

Posted by: englishmix 20-Jun-2010, 12:35 PM

‘I learned my trade in Aberdeen’ says award-winning film-maker
Emma strikes gold at awards ceremony

Aberdeen Evening Express
By by Sally McDonald

A FILM-MAKER who learned her craft in Aberdeen is already on her way to making her first £1 million. Emma Brumpton has rubbed shoulders with international celebrities such as Bill Clinton and Usain Bolt, and has just landed a Gold Award from the Association of Colleges after being nominated by Aberdeen College.

Emma, 26, was “delighted” with her award, presented at the House of Commons last week. To find out who else Emma has rubbed shoulders with, pick up a copy of today’s Evening Express or read our digital edition now

Read more:

Posted by: englishmix 20-Jun-2010, 12:41 PM
Bottle of 1937 Glenfiddich whisky sold for £25,200
Drink sells for one of the highest prices ever
Aberdeen Evening Express
By Tim Sculthorpe

A BOTTLE of malt whisky produced in Dufftown has sold at auction for more than £25,000. Auctioneers at Bonhams in Edinburgh said the price reached for the 70cl bottle of Glenfiddich was one of the highest ever. Bonhams’ whisky specialist Martin Green said: “The moment I saw it, I knew we had something special.”

The bottle of whisky, one of 61 produced by the Dufftown distillery in 1937, was one of 10 released as a batch in 2001.

Read more:

Posted by: englishmix 01-Jul-2010, 04:21 PM
Queen's old racing yacht sails into Capital
Edinburgh Evening News
Date: 01 July 2010

A CLASSIC racing yacht once owned by the Queen sailed into its new home in the Capital today. The 63ft Bloodhound arrived in Edinburgh to join her "big sister" the Royal Yacht Britannia, now a popular tourist attraction in Leith docks. She will form part of a new exhibition on the Royal Family's passion for sailing after being bought by trustees earlier this year.

The Bloodhound was built for US huntsman Isaac Bell in 1936, and has an illustrious ocean-racing history. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh bought her in 1962. Two crew members who worked on the yacht during her royal ownership helped sail her into Leith today.

Chairman of the Royal Yacht Britannia Trust Rear Admiral Neil Rankin said: "It is with a great sense of pride that we welcome such an important part of royal sailing history to her new home, and just as we maintain Britannia for future generations to enjoy, we will similarly care for Bloodhound." The Bloodhound was sold to the trust earlier this year by Tony and Cindy McGrail, who spent four years restoring the yacht.

Her numerous racing victories include the Morgan Cup in 1936, the North Sea Race in 1949 and 1951, and the Lyme Bay Race in 1959 and 1965. The exhibition opens tomorrow, with visitors able to view the yacht from a specially-built pontoon.

Posted by: englishmix 01-Jul-2010, 04:28 PM
School's out for summer ..and forever
Edinburgh Evening News
Date: 01 July 2010

TODAY marks the start of the summer holidays, undoubtedly the favourite day in the school calendar for pupils across the Capital. But while every school will shut down until mid-August, four primaries in the Capital will never reopen.

From today, Royston, Drumbrae, Burdiehouse and Fort primaries will be consigned to the history books after serving their communities for a combined total of more than 220 years. As the four primaries closed their doors for the last time, the Evening News paid them a visit.

Opened: 1937
Capacity: 379
Current school roll: 110
Receiving schools: Granton and Forthview

WITH vuvuzela practice under way, pupil artwork adorning the walls and smiling, cheery staff, it's hard to imagine these are the final moments of Royston Primary School. Look behind the scenes, though, and piled-high boxes marked with teachers' names and the schools they will be sent to tell a different story. After 73 years, this is the end.

But staff have been determined to keep things as normal as possible for the children to the end, leaving packing until after home time and insisting that all resources such white boards are left until the final bell sounds. "Children are still learning and our children need the stability and structure, and we wanted to give them that right till the end," said headteacher Andrew Hunter

Since opening in 1937, the school has seen generations of pupils through its doors, with many taught by deputy headteacher Hazel Danskin, who has been at Royston for 24 years. She said: "I started in the nursery and a lot of the three and four-year-olds that I had then are back with their children. I feel quite proud that people want to bring their own children back to the school they went to. The closure is sad, but life is all about changes and we have to move on. That's the way of life."

The children, who were all given school sweatshirts last year thanks to the fundraising efforts of the parent council, have all had them signed by their classmates to mark the end of their school days at Royston. They have also all been presented with a school photo.

With just 110 pupils on the final school roll, the photo would have looked different to the one taken back in 1937, where almost 900 pupils would have had to cram in to be seen. Mr Hunter added: "It's always a sad time when a school closes, but the building is not the school – it's the people who make a school. The school always lives on in people's memories and hearts."

Opened: 1959
Capacity: 306
Current school roll: 59
Receiving schools: Clermiston and East Craigs

"I'm heartbroken because this has been my life for 24 years." The words of Allan Brown – one of only three janitors to have ever worked at Drumbrae – are echoed by pupils, teachers, families and the local community at the thought of losing their school forever.

As host to everything from Brownies and youth clubs to the Women's Guild and football tournaments, the closure is likely to hit all members of the local community hard. Children and staff were in tears during the final moments of their lives at Drumbrae – which they ended with a giant conga round the school grounds – and the fall-out will be felt for years to come.

Mr Brown, who has worked under six headteachers during his time at Drumbrae, said: "It's been the centre of the community for years. When there was a big stair fire 20 years ago, I opened the school up and brought in the residents for tea and coffee because that's the kind of community school it always has been. This has ripped the community apart."

Mr Brown, who lives in the house beside the school, added: "Packing everything away is the hardest part. Old photos and trophies are going into archive at the council. It's going to be heartbreaking to see it demolished. There are a lot of happy memories."

Opened: 1956
Capacity: 306
Current school roll: 92
Receiving schools: Gracemount and Gilmerton

ALTHOUGH it may be hard to imagine, the Burdiehouse area has its roots in the city of Bordeaux. It is said that when Mary, Queen of Scots came to Edinburgh and resided at Craigmillar Castle, her French ladies-in-waiting stayed in the Burdiehouse community, adapting the name Bordeaux House for their new surroundings.

As with the rather glamorous beginnings of the area, Burdiehouse Primary was also opened to a fanfare in 1956 by the Countess of Dalkeith. It had a capacity for 700 pupils, but had to bring in mobile units to cope with its popularity and ended up accommodating about 1,000 children.

But despite starting out as a thriving school, it has retained only 40 per cent of its catchment children in recent years. Myra Appolinari, who has been headteacher of Burdiehouse for almost eight years, said: "Unfortunately, Burdiehouse and Southhouse have a reputation – not the school, but the area – which has made a lot of parents send their children to other schools. That really has been the death knell of the school. In 2002, there was a regeneration of housing in the area and people moved out of the area and it never regained. It was still a viable school which provided high levels of support for the children and lots of space to work in – apparently we have got the largest playground in Scotland.

"Whilst we have always wanted to have more children, 160 was quite a good number to work with, but when it went down again in the past couple of years it became more challenging."

She added: "I think it will be hard for people. Parents will miss being able to come to concerts and open days and to have a local school. However, a lot of children have already been going to other schools and still feel part of that bigger community and I'm sure that will continue."

Opened: 1968
Capacity: 279
Current school roll: 80
Receiving school: Trinity

DESKS and chairs in tow, the pupils happily turned their back on their old school and headed forward to their future. But while the big move from the old North Fort Street Primary across the street to the brand new Fort Primary back in 1968 was the start of a new chapter, today brings a sad end to more than 100 years of schooling in the area.

Parents fought to save the school – and there were rumours they would succeed – but it was condemned by the council. Vikki Spence, of the Fighting For Fort campaign, said: "There has been a school on that site for over 100 years. People are still disappointed because the school has always been very central to the community because of the community centre and nursery all being in one place."

But headteacher Jacqueline Scott says with Fort House due for demolition, this is the right time to move forward. She said: "We are looking at this in the way of change being a good thing. The children are excited and aren't seeing it as a negative thing – it's more the parents and the community who are viewing it that way. A lot of families have lived in Fort House which is also coming to the end of an era, so it's about looking forward."

Both Fort and Trinity schools have been working with pupils to promote the idea of saying goodbye and moving on, with the example of a caterpillar changing into a butterfly used in an assembly. Children – as well as former pupils – have also been encouraged to write their favourite memories of the school on bricks and place them on a "memory wall".

Mrs Scott added: "This closure has gone as well as it possibly could. The children are all going to one school and they're excited."

"It is just a memory now, but a good one."
By Gina Davidson

I STILL have the red and white striped tie that saw me through seven years at Burdiehouse. I can still remember my mum tying it on my first day, the matching red ribbons in my hair.

That was 1976. Thousands have passed through the corridors since then. Yet now at Burdiehouse, at the school down the dip, the bell has finally tolled its last. No more British Bulldogs in the playground, no more sports days in view of the glass-fronted infant classes, no more music lessons behind the stage.

It all feels incredibly sad. For a long time Burdiehouse was a forgotten place. Not poverty-stricken enough to attract the do-gooders and European monies which Craigmillar and Wester Hailes did, but a place still blighted by drugs and unemployment.

Perhaps it's a rose-tinted view, but the school seemed to rise above it. The headmaster was William Chisholm and he still wore a black cloak. "Old-fashioned" values were instilled – respect for teachers, your surroundings, yourself – and parental involvement was encouraged.

Things did change towards the end of that decade. The area received public investment, council houses were improved, flats were replaced with private homes. But the school seemed to start to fail and the roll fell.

Parental choice has played its part. Sixty per cent of parents in the area send their kids to other schools. And yet, HMI reports are good and the teachers were working hard to turn things around.

Today, on the school's Facebook page are the words: "Burdiehouse is just a memory now". For me – and thousands of others – it's a good one.

Posted by: englishmix 03-Jul-2010, 04:58 PM
How about this tidbit from the local Scottish politbureau? Its just like a blast from the past of Lenin and Marx. If only we in the USA could have a government like this one!... wait, wait, don't tell me...

10 December 2009

The decline of the Scottish local newspaper industry will be put under the spotlight by the Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee with a call for evidence launched today. In light of declining local and weekly newspaper circulation in Scotland, the committee believes it is time to look at the reasons behind this decline and the impact on local journalism, the local and weekly newspaper industry, as well as local communities. The committee will also look at the opportunities arising from the UK Government’s Digital Britain report and the future of local news gathering and reporting.

The evidence will inform the committee ahead of it taking oral evidence from representatives and commentators on the industry in January 2010. Committee Convener Karen Whitefield MSP said: The Committee believe that the threats to the local and weekly newspaper industry in Scotland should be highlighted. That is why our evidence sessions in January will look at issues such as the consequence of the economic recession and the impact of digital media as an alternative news source and advertising medium. Equally important are the implications in reporting on local issues and for local and regional culture.”

The Committee will take oral evidence from representatives of newspaper publishers and journalism at its meeting on 13 January 2010 and from other commentators on 20 January 2010 Call for evidence on Scottish local newspaper industry... [see link above]

Posted by: englishmix 03-Jul-2010, 05:09 PM
New theory on baffling Stone of Destiny caper

Jul 2 2010 by Denis Brown
Perthshire Advertiser Friday

A NEW conspiracy theory may explain the baffling case of a bungled attempt to steal the replica Stone of Destiny from Scone Palace. In late April, palace staff and police were stumped following a bizarre overnight caper where crooks switched the replica with another fake.

Although intruders dumped the replica stone metres away from its plinth outside the Moot Hill chapel, they got clean away with a brass plaque. It reads: “A replica of the stone upon which the Kings of Scots were crowned on Moot Hill until 1296 when Edward I took the stone to Westminster Abbey.”

At the time, a clearly bemused palace spokesman said he didn’t have a clue as to a possible motive. “We’re just surprised that someone has tried to remove what is a 200kg stone that would have required at least four people to lift,” he said.

Tayside Police Detective Inspector Mike Pirie confirmed the puzzling case remained active and that the stone left by intruders had been examined by an archeologist and geologist.

“These experts confirmed it is a dense granite stone that would appear to have been obtained from a natural landscape rather than cut from a quarry,” he said. "I can't comment on the actual investigation, which is still ongoing."

But a former Perthshire man – who declined to give his name in fear of incriminating himself – believes he knows the identity of the culprit, a man in his 30s he shared a Perth flat with two years ago. One night, over a few pints, his flatmate told him a story that on face value sounded like a ripping yarn.

In 1998, the keen angler was fishing at the River Tay near Scone Palace when he accidentally unearthed part of a large stone. “He was a bit puzzled by the size and shape of the stone, but covered it up again, going back later to have a better look at it and convinced himself it was the real Stone of Destiny,” said the 27-year-old source, who now lives in Wales. "Over the years he often went back to examine it and only told a handful of people about it. I was sceptical, but he eventually took me down to have a look at it. I must admit I was a bit taken aback as I didn’t expect it to be so convincing. It was a big black shiny stone, uniform in shape. It wasn’t glowing like the entrance to the Stargate, but I was pretty intrigued.” After conducting research, he agreed with his flatmate that despite the absence of steel handles, the unearthed stone might actually be the real deal.

As legend has it, monks hid the real stone in 1296, duping English troops with a fake that was then installed beneath Westminster Abbey’s crowning throne. It now resides at Edinburgh Castle, although many believe the genuine Stone of Scone never left Scotland.

The former Perthshire man said he had contacted his old flatmate, who had indicated he was behind the attempted switch in April, apparently trying to restore the real stone to its rightful place. However, an authority on the subject, former Perth Provost, Alex Murray, downplayed the claim, insisting that the real stone – repatriated by Scottish students in 1950 and substituted with a fake – was “quite safe”.

“It was previously at Dull Church near Aberfeldy and only two people knew where it was and I was one of them,”
he said. “There’s an interesting story attached to it but you will have to read that when my memoirs are published posthumously.”

A Scone Palace spokesman said Lord Stormont had declined to comment on the latest revelation. “Lord Stormont feels it may prejudice any future court case,” he said.

Posted by: englishmix 03-Jul-2010, 05:19 PM
UK's oldest osprey is on the mend
Perthshire's Advertiser
Jun 28 2010

THE ‘Lady of the Loch’ appears to be out of the woods. After seemingly knocking at death’s door last weekend and distressing bird fanciers watching the drama unfold online around the world, the UK’s oldest breeding female osprey has bounced back.

Yesterday morning, Peter Ferns, manager of Scottish Wildlife Trust’s (SWT) Loch of the Lowes reserve, weary after days of split shifts maintaining a 24-hour vigil, said the 25-year-old marvel was now in fine fettle. "She seems to be out of the woods at the moment, no sign of any relapse, and going from strength to strength," he said. "She even saw off an intruder this morning, another osprey, while feeding her chicks."

Viewers of SWT’s ‘nest cam’, from countries such as China, Russia, Botswana, the US and Saudi Arabia, have been transfixed since Lady slumped in her nest last Saturday, leaving her mate to feed their two chicks. "The response has been overwhelming, so much so that our server crashed as it couldn’t cope with the amount of web traffic and needed to be upgraded," Mr Fearns said.

Having told the PA earlier this week that the final curtain for Lady was imminent, he said he now hoped that the much-loved osprey, against all odds, may live to breed another day.

"It’s still a wait and see situation, our vet thinks perhaps something neurological happened, or she picked up some kind of virus, but she’s now back on full feeding duties, so fingers crossed," he said.

Posted by: englishmix 04-Jul-2010, 04:28 PM
As much as I appreciate Scotland, and her history and heritage and land, I am still glad to be living in a land where the flag still stands for freedom...

Police denied suspects access to lawyers despite Scots ministers’ pledge to Euro court

The Herald - Scotland
Exclusive by Paul Thornton and Tom Gordon
4 Jul 2010

Scotland’s top police officers secretly ignored a Government promise to allow suspects immediate access to a lawyer, exposing the justice system to potentially catastrophic consequences. According to official records released under freedom of information laws, the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpos) told frontline staff it was “inappropriate” ever to allow lawyers access to suspects as soon as they were detained. “This effectively advises officers not to permit access to solicitors under any circumstances,” Acpos admitted in private.

The secret ban on legal access was in spite of a 2005 pledge to Europe by Scottish ministers that access would be granted unless there was an over-riding reason to deny it. The contradictory police advice, which came after the pledge was made, was withdrawn only last September, and could now cause major problems for the justice system.

The UK’s Supreme Court is due to rule in October on whether suspects in Scotland should have immediate access to lawyers. If, as is expected, the Court rules they should, thousands of old cases could be appealed if suspects gave interviews without a lawyer, even if they confessed to rape or murder. Those convicted on evidence from interviews without a lawyer could also seek compensation, while around 100,000 cases currently in the justice system would have to be reviewed.

Legal access has become a huge issue for Scotland since a 2008 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, known as Salduz, which said access to a lawyer was an integral part of a person’s right to a fair trial. In England and Wales, suspects have had immediate access to lawyers since 1985. However, in Scotland, the police can interview suspects for up to six hours prior to an arrest without a lawyer present. ...

After the Committee ruled UK suspects should have access to a lawyer “from the very outset of their deprivation of liberty”, the Scottish Executive “accepted in principle that if a detained person requests access to a lawyer, or vice versa, this should be allowed, unless there is good reason to deny such access”. It said the “extent of access” would be determined by the professional judgment of the police, who would “consider the matter carefully” in each case.

In June last year, after the Conservatives warned that the Salduz ruling spelled “impending disaster”, the police, prosecutors, court service and Scottish Legal Aid Board discussed the issue at a “hastily convened” meeting.

For more, go to:

Posted by: englishmix 06-Jul-2010, 10:52 AM
Parents 'cheated' by probe into head teacher
John O'Groat Journal
By Gordon Calder
Published: 02 July, 2010

A CASTLETOWN parent yesterday claimed that an investigation into an incident at the local primary school, which involved young girls having their underwear checked, was "dragged out" until the head teacher was due to retire. The mother, who wished to remain anonymous, was unhappy with the length of time it took for an inquiry by the Highland Council to be concluded and felt the matter could have been resolved earlier.

She spoke out after it was confirmed by the local authority that Sheila Malcolm is leaving her post as head teacher after just over nine years. The parent stressed that the inquiry came to an end just recently although the incident which sparked it occurred in December.

"We feel we have been cheated as we have been given no proper answers and never actually found out what happened. We feel the matter was dragged out until June when Ms Malcolm was due to retire anyway," she told the John O'Groat Journal.

The woman revealed that local parents received a letter from the head teacher explaining that she was retiring from her post and thanking them for their support and positive response to her and the school over the years. Ms Malcolm stated that she had stayed on in her post two years after her retirement age.

But the parent, who has a child at the school, said there was no apology for the concern that was caused by the incident six months ago. However, despite her misgivings about the way the investigation was handled, she felt school could "move forward" now that the head teacher is retiring.

Beth McKnight, another local parent, also expressed dismay about the time the inquiry took. "I think this investigation was dragged out. Sheila Malcolm has been allowed to retire and not been made to leave. What message does that send out? If a male head teacher had done this he would have been out of the school until the inquiry concluded," she said....

The Highland Council's area education, culture and sport manager for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, Graham Nichols, confirmed that the investigation is over and Ms Malcolm is to retire.

As previously reported, parents called for the inquiry after girls in primaries one to five had their underwear examined following what was described as "an extreme soiling" incident at a school toilet on December 21. Girls in primaries six and seven were not involved in the examination as they use a different toilet.

Parents were furious that the checks had been carried out and some threatened to take their children out of the school if Ms Malcolm was not sacked or suspended. They denied their actions constituted a witch hunt against the head teacher. They also expressed concern about the lack of communication between the school, the Highland Council and the parents, the length of time the inquiry was taking and the need to be informed about the decision.

But the local authority stressed that as disciplinary processes are strictly confidential, the parents would not be told the outcome although they would be advised when the process was concluded. A council official said the report would not be published just to satisfy a desire to know the outcome. "There are rules and regulations. It is an internal report and there are restrictions in employment law. An employee has a right to privacy, regardless of what people think," he added.

Posted by: englishmix 06-Jul-2010, 11:00 AM
Councillors say no to wind farm
John O'Groat Journal
By Iain Grant
Published: 23 June, 2010

PLANS for what would be the biggest wind farm in Caithness suffered a blow yesterday when it was opposed by Highland councillors. The 30-turbine development earmarked for grazing land near Spittal was recommended for approval by officials.

Had the Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross area planning committee given the thumbs-up, it would have been fast-tracked and almost certainly approved by Scottish ministers. But the opposition of the local authority means the £112 million venture tabled by Spittal Wind Farm Ltd will now go before a public local inquiry. Councillors backed Scottish Natural Heritage's objection that the turbines - between 100 and 110 metres to the top of their blades - would blight the open, expansive landscape.

At the meeting in Halkirk there was also a call for the Scottish Government to commission a study on just how many wind farms Caithness can accommodate. The 77.5 megawatt scheme attracted 1437 objectors and 1253 letters of support. Opponents claim the turbines would have an unacceptable impact on the landscape and adversely affect the day-to-day lives of nearby residents.

The proposal, they argue, would also be bad news for tourism and protected birdlife. Supporters highlight the scheme's contribution towards the Government's green energy drive and the economic spin-offs it will generate....

While the site is deemed unsuitable for wind farms in the Highland Renewable Energy Strategy, he said this document has been superseded by new planning guidance issued by the Scottish Government.

While the wind farm would be highly visible from many parts of Caithness, he did not consider it would be unacceptable. Nor did he think the presence of 17 or so houses within a kilometre of a turbine warranted rejection of the scheme.

Local councillor David Bremner said the council has to take heed of SNH's objection. He said: "For me, the most important aspect of this is the visual impact on a number of properties and the cumulative impact on them and the wider area." Mr Bremner supported SNH's view that the turbines would impact on the distinctiveness of the landscape. He said: "SNH is quite clear that this is a landscape which is of national importance and one which would be compromised by this development." Mr Bremner said that during the pre-meeting bus tour of the site, it was clear a number of single houses would be badly affected, as would residents of Spittal, who would be 1.2 kilometres from a turbine.

Taking issue with Mr Mooney, he claimed the existing wind farms at Causewaymire and Boulfruich "fit poorly" into their surroundings, especially when viewed from the north. Mr Bremner added that he has concerns about noise and shadow flicker from the turbines, both of which he said can be most appropriately addressed at an inquiry.

He said: "Spittal Hill is one of the highest points in Caithness. By the time you put turbines up there, it would be about the highest point, apart from Morven and Scaraben."

He said: "If you look at the schemes that are in the pipelines, Caithness is going to be covered in wind turbines. It's happening faster than we think. "I think it really is time the Scottish Government commissions a bit of work that will help assess the cumulative impact of wind farms in Caithness and just how many wind farms can be sustained in the county."...

As councillors arrived at the meeting at Halkirk's Ross Institute, they were met by placard-wielding objectors. After the meeting, Stuart Young, chairman of Caithness Windfarm Information Forum (CWIF), said: "We're obviously delighted with the outcome. It was particularly pleasing to see the change in stance of some of the councillors."

Tom Pottinger, director of Spittal Hill Windfarm Ltd, said he was disappointed by the outcome. "If this does not go ahead, it would deprive the local community of hundreds of thousands of pounds through community benefit and community ownership of turbines," he said. "Local businesses would also benefit by up to £20m through the construction and quarrying industries while our commitment to establish an archaeological centre at Spittal would help increase the number of tourists coming to the area."

Mr Pottinger, who farms at Westfield, regretted that the councillors failed to mention the benefits of the development in terms of carbon dioxide savings and the contribution towards energy security. He added: "We have got tremendous renewable energy potential here and we have got to look to realising it."

Posted by: englishmix 09-Jul-2010, 10:01 PM
Doune rallies in Callum’s memory
Jul 9 2010 by Iain Howie
Stirling Observer Friday

THE family of a Doune teenager who died suddenly have raised thousands of pounds for charity in his memory.

Friends and relatives of Callum Ferrier (16), who died of cardiomyopathy in 2008, raised £249 through a stall at Doune Gala.

That followed a ceilidh which raised £2500. Rangers and Celtic donated strips and Gargunnock Songsters and Skelpit Lug Ceilidh Band provided entertainment.

Callum's brothers Sean and Neil and friend Fraser Gallacher also ran the 10k at Bellahouston Park, Glasgow, on June 20.

All the money raised will go to the Cardiomyopathy Association.

A family spokesperson thanked everyone who helped at the ceilidh and everyone who went along.

Anyone who wants to donate to the fund can go to

Posted by: englishmix 09-Jul-2010, 10:09 PM
Taxi owners targeted in renewed terror campaign
Jul 9 2010 by Denis Brown
Perthshire Advertiser Friday

A TERROR campaign targeting taxi owners that saw six cabs vandalised and some drivers receiving death threats last year has flared up again. Over one night, a taxi owned by one of about 16 members of cooperative Perth Taxis had all its tyres slashed and bodywork spray-painted while it was parked outside a new driver’s Craigie home.

Owner, Henry Anderson, Perth Taxis’ chairman, said it was the first time his vehicle had been targeted but that he had previously received a death threat. “I got a call last year from this man saying if I stayed in the taxi trade I’d get my brains blown out,” he told the PA. “Our financial director Graeme Gorrie got a similar anonymous call threatening his life only 10 minutes before, about a week after his car was vandalised.Basically, someone has a vendetta and it’s really sad that in a small provincial town that this kind of thing is happening in what’s a mediocre trade where none of us are making a fortune.”

Mr Gorrie said the incident may have been triggered by Mr Anderson recently receiving an additional taxi plate from Perth and Kinross Council (PKC). Since the trouble began in November 2008, six taxis parked overnight at Perth locations have been targeted – one vehicle twice – with tyres slashed and in most cases, paint stripper thrown on bodywork.

Collectively the damage bill for the five different owners is estimated at more than £20,000, not including income lost while vehicles are repaired or skyrocketing insurance premiums. Although police have interviewed suspects, no charges have been laid, and since senior officers issued a stern warning to the wider taxi community last November, there had been no more incidents until Monday.

Chief Inspector David Barclay confirmed he had “laid down the law” at a November taxi forum, saying livelihoods were being threatened and criminal conduct would not be tolerated. Mr Gorrie said his taxi was off the road for three weeks after it was the first to be targeted in 2008 while parked in North Muirton. “Not long after that I got a call, the police say from a phone box in Fintry [Dundee],” he said. “This voice said, ‘listen Mr Gorrie, you’ve had your warning, next time we’re coming after you’. It scared the living daylights out of me.”

About 12 months later, paint stripper was lobbed at his car again. “So my insurance is sky high, up from £900 to £2500, and now I keep the car in a lock-up,” he said.

Speculation among members of Perth Taxis, established in January, was that culprits were rogue drivers with a grudge about a taxi rank arrangement at Perth train station. But he stressed perpetrators did not belong to any Perth taxi company, with all companies condemning the vendetta’s apparent resurgence.
“We just want this straightened out, to get on with our lives – our wives are now worried about their welfare,” he said.

Insp Ian Martin said while he hoped Monday’s incident was a one-off, a full investigation was underway, with officers liaising with British Transport Police and PKC, which issued taxi licenses. “We have brought in suspects, crime scene material is being examined and people named by various parties are being questioned,” he said. “If there is a dispute, we have to get to the bottom of it. Our investigation can’t be based on street gossip and hearsay, we need hard evidence and facts for the courts.”

Posted by: englishmix 12-Jul-2010, 04:40 PM
Piper wanted by National Theatre of Scotland for Black Watch role

Jul 9 2010
by Alison Anderson
Perthshire Advertiser Friday

THE National Theatre of Scotland has launched a nationwide search to find a piper for the critically-acclaimed production of Black Watch. Open auditions are being held in Glasgow next Friday (July 16) at the The National Piping Centre between 12.30pm and 7.30pm.

This is a unique opportunity for a Scottish bagpiper to join the cast of Black Watch and tour the UK and the USA. The successful candidate will be a Scottish male, aged between 18-30, physically fit, able to play the bagpipes to a high standard and be available from August 23 through to the middle of next year.

Candidates are asked to bring their bagpipes to the audition and be prepared to play The Black Bear. If successful they will progress to the next round and be asked to read a small section of script and sing a traditional folk song. The casting is being held by Anne Henderson, the casting director for the National Theatre of Scotland. All other roles have now been cast and this is an opportunity to play the part of Macca.

Black Watch is based on interviews conducted by Gregory Burke with former soldiers who served in Iraq. Viewed through the eyes of those on the ground, Black Watch reveals what it means to be part of the legendary Scottish regiment, what it means to be part of the war on terror and what it means to make the journey home again. John Tiffany’s production makes powerful and inventive use of movement, music and song to create a visceral, complex and urgent piece of theatre.

The production has now played to over 113,000 people across three continents and has garnered 22 awards. Most recently the production won four Laurence Olivier Awards for Best Director, Best Theatre Choreography, Best Play and Best Sound Design and the company won its first US award with the New York Drama Circle naming Black Watch Best Foreign Play.

Potential piping candidates are asked to visit
before attending for more information about the job.

If unable to attend the casting day, candidates can email a CV and photograph to [email protected], with Role of Macca in the subject line.

Posted by: englishmix 17-Jul-2010, 10:27 AM
Hundreds of Scots hit as holiday firm collapses
Evening Times
17 Jul 2010

Thousands of holidaymakers were hastily trying to rearrange their travel plans today after a tour operator collapsed. Around 16,000 tourists were abroad when Greece and Turkey specialist Goldtrail went into administration yesterday, the Civil Aviation Authority confirmed. An estimated 2,000 UK customers, including hundreds of Scots, were due to travel with the budget holiday company this weekend as the summer holiday season gets under way.

Authorities sought to reassure holidaymakers that they could claim back money lost on bookings while alternative flights and accommodation were also available. The CAA said it was making arrangements to fly customers home at the end of their holiday under its ATOL (Air Travel Organiser’s Licensing) scheme. But no outbound Goldtrail flights were running from UK airports and people planning to set off on holiday were advised to check first, it added.

In a statement issued on its website last night, the aviation regulator said: “The CAA has taken steps to protect customers booked with Goldtrail Travel Limited after the company ceased trading this evening.

We were pretty calm at the time but obviously a bit gutted. It was just really a shame for families. Goldtrail customer Mark Mclay “Goldtrail Travel Ltd, trading as Goldtrail Holidays, Goldtrail Travel and Sunmar, held ATOL licence 4684 and was based in New Malden, Surrey. It operated flights and holiday packages from many UK airports to Turkey and Greece. It sold mainly through travel agents. The CAA, under its ATOL scheme, is making arrangements for customers abroad to travel home at the end of their holidays.”

The majority of flights home from Turkey will operate as normal, the CAA said. However, holidaymakers in Greece were warned to expect changes to flights and are advised to check with representatives at local airports. The CAA said there were no more outbound Goldtrail flights and advised customers due to fly with the failed operator to check with their travel agent before leaving for the airport.

Goldtrail was a medium-sized independent tour operator with around 150,000 customers in total, according to Abta spokesman Sean Tipton. Those abroad should be able to continue their holidays as normal, he said, because the CAA will rearrange flights as well as hotels booked in a Goldtrail package under the Atol bonding scheme. “If you are due to travel it’s a different matter,” he said. “Anything you have booked through Goldtrail is cancelled. Money paid will be subject to a claim through the CAA.

“If people’s summer holiday has been cancelled they would need to rebook their arrangements. ut there is still some availability in Greece and Turkey. f people booked through an Abta travel agent they will probably be looking into that already.”

Holidaymakers bound for Turkey were stranded at Glasgow Airport after the collapse of Goldtrail.


Posted by: englishmix 17-Jul-2010, 10:30 AM
Rod Stewart offers troops tickets
Evening Times - Edinburgh
17 Jul 2010 - 3:20 pm

Rod Stewart is offering free tickets to UK troops for his summer tour to members of the Armed Forces and their families, it has been announced.

Soldiers, sailors, airmen and their families will have the chance to see the legendary hitmaker belting out chart toppers like Maggie May, Do Ya Think I'm Sexy and Tonight's the Night at the Sheffield Arena on July 20 and at the Glasgow SECC on July 26.

Tickets For Troops was set up last year to provide top tickets to sporting, musical and entertainment events to troops and their families. Patrons of charity include the Prime Minister's wife Samantha Cameron, Dame Vera Lynn, Andrew Flintoff, Gavin Hastings and Joss Stone.

Mrs Cameron said: "Tickets For Troops has been a massive success in terms of recognising the work and courage of our troops but it has also rewarded those families whose support and love is crucial in the frontline. I am delighted and privileged to support such an excellent cause."

Members of the Armed Forces and veterans medically discharged since 2001 should register for top tickets at

Posted by: englishmix 19-Jul-2010, 06:37 PM
Objection to Tyndrum gold mine plans
Stirling Observer
Jul 16 2010 by Gregor White

ENVIRONMENTAL objections have been lodged against plans for gold and silver mining at Tyndrum. Australian company Scotgold Resources has submitted a revised planning application for an underground mine to extract gold and silver, as well as a bridge and other infrastructure.

But environmental body the John Muir Trust has formally objected to the plan because of its possible impact on the surrounding landscape. The trust says the mine would be in high-quality wild land and would would detract from the feelings of wildness and remoteness in the area. It also objects to the impact on a landscape that lies within both the national park and the Ben Lui special area of conservation.

JMT policy officer Steven Turnbull said: “If Scotgold were to go back and demonstrate there will be no long-term deleterious effects on sensitive landscapes, recreational access to wild land or on existing tourist-based economies the trust may withdraw its objection to the planning proposal as it currently stands. However, we do not believe that sufficient information has been given by Scotgold to show how negative impacts will be avoided, nor has any compelling socio-economic reason been presented as to why this would be necessary.”

Planners say the Scotgold proposals are a major development which would be a significant departure from the development plan. Although the scheme is being recommended for approval, it must be determined by the whole national park board and not just its planning committee. A hearing and site visit are planned for August 17-18.

The site is around four kilometres south-west of Tyndrum and has been mined in the past. Investigation work on the extent and grade of gold-bearing ore are already evident on site, along with a gated access track from Cononish Farm, a mine tunnel entrance and other features, although portable office cabins have been removed.

Park officials say Scotgold wants to extract around 620,000 tonnes of ore from a quartz vein running through Beinn Chuirn which contains both gold and silver. If given the go-ahead mine construction would take about a year, they said, with Scotgold expecting the mine to be operational for eight years. “The restoration period would be a further year and this means the total period of works would be 10 years,” they said.

Plans for gold mining in the area were first given the go ahead by the former Stirling District Council to Fynegold in 1994, only for the plans to stall when bullion prices dropped. Scotgold took over Fynegold in 2007.

Posted by: englishmix 19-Jul-2010, 06:44 PM
Students hit by funding cutbacks

Stirling Observer
Jul 16 2010 by Iain Howie

STUDENTS at Forth Valley College could be hit by government cutbacks.

MSP Richard Simpson claims the college could struggle to meet demand for bursaries next year. And he says that some Scottish colleges are being forced to replace bursary payments with educational maintenance allowance (EMA) payments of £30 a week, while others have been dipping into other funds to help out.

He believes matters have been made worse after a recent announcement that the Scottish Government will only guarantee EMA awards until December. He says colleges are looking to reduce the amount of money offered in bursaries by 10 per cent and he accused education secretary Michael Russell of “standing by, just letting it happen”.

He said: “The fact that a greater number of students from the lowest-income families are to receive EMAs, which are only guaranteed until December, risks having a real impact on the ability of students in the most need to complete their studies. To see colleges plugging the support budget with other funds and some unable to afford materials for students without entering into hardship funds is very concerning indeed. The ultimate responsibility for this falls with the cabinet secretary and his SNP government and I would urge Michael Russell to take this matter in hand.”

Forth Valley College principal Linda McKay said: “Supporting our learners is at the heart of everything we do and bursary funding is a vital aspect to provide learners with the level of support they need throughout their period of study. In order to ensure this we have put measures in place to allow us to help as many students as possible, with the funding we have been granted. Our student support team is in contact with all of our learners over their individual circumstances.”

Posted by: englishmix 28-Jul-2010, 05:01 PM
Church records on show at Lecropt
Jul 23 2010 by Iain Howie
Stirling Observer

CHURCH records, including details of a witch trial from the late 16th Century, are to go on show at Lecropt Kirk this weekend. Rev Alison Britchfield said: “Lecropt Kirk has been part of the life of Bridge of Allan for centuries, and this is a wonderful opportunity for people to see some of our unique archival material.”

Stirling Council’s assistant archivist Jane Petrie said: “The exhibition will show everything from scandals and witchcraft allegations held before the kirk session to accounts, communion rolls and ordinations. These records show the crucial part the church has played in the community over the years. Stirling Council archives holds records from Lecropt Kirk from 1727 to 1974 and having the chance to explore such a rich treasure chest of local information to create the exhibition has been a real delight.”

The church is just off the A9 between Bridge of Allan and Keir roundabout. The exhibition will be open tomorrow (Saturday) and Sunday from 2-5pm and refreshments will be available from 2.30-4.30pm.

The exhibition was created by Stirling Council archives, Lecropt Kirk and the National Archives of Scotland to mark the 450th anniversary of the Scottish Reformation.

For more information call 01786 450745 or email [email protected]

Posted by: englishmix 28-Jul-2010, 05:06 PM
Tullibody man's message in a bottle is found 60 years later
Stirling Observer
Jul 23 2010

SIXTY years ago Tullibody man Gabriel Gilvear threw a bottle containing a message into the Lake of Menteith while on a fishing trip with his brother. The message said Gabriel would give the finder a reward and included his name and address. Now he has made good his promise – with the money being donated to charity.

Two weeks ago Lake of Menteith Fisheries manager Quint Glen found the sealed bottle six feet down in Gateside Bay while snorkelling. The bottle came from the former James Duncan lemonade factory in Drip Road, Stirling. It had a note in it from Gabriel Gilvear, asking the finder to call at 28 North Road Wood, Tullibody, for a reward.

Following an appeal in the Observer two weeks ago, Quint received a letter from Gabriel which included a £50 cheque. Quint explained: “He said that it must have been while accompanying his brother on a fishing trip around 60 years ago that the bottle was put in the lake.”

He hopes to meet Gabriel face to face soon, saying: “It would be nice to give him back his bottle and his note.”

The fisheries manager will donate the £50 to the Kavule Parents School for the Deaf in Uganda.

Posted by: englishmix 29-Jul-2010, 09:34 AM
Ship lost for more than 150 years is recovered
AP News
Wed Jul 28, 9:24 pm ET

TORONTO – Canadian archeologists have found a ship abandoned more than 150 years ago in the quest for the fabled Northwest Passage and which was lost in the search for the doomed expedition of Sir John Franklin, the head of the team said Wednesday.

Marc-Andre Bernier, Parks Canada's head of underwater archaeology, said the HMS Investigator, abandoned in the ice in 1853, was found in shallow water in Mercy Bay along the northern coast of Banks Island in Canada's western Arctic. "The ship is standing upright in very good condition. It's standing in about 11 meters (36 feet) of water," he said. "This is definitely of the utmost importance. This is the ship that sailed the last leg of the Northwest Passage."

The Investigator was one of many American and British ships sent out to search for the HMS Erebus and the Terror, vessels commanded by Franklin in his ill-fated search for the Northwest Passage in 1845. Environment Minister Jim Prentice said the British government has been notified that one of their naval shipwrecks has been discovered, as well as the bodies of three sailors.

Captained by Robert McClure, the Investigator sailed in 1850. That year, McClure sailed the Investigator into the strait that now bears his name and realized that he was in the final leg of the Northwest Passage, the sea route across North America.

But before he could sail into the Beaufort Sea, the ship was blocked by pack ice and forced to winter-over in Prince of Wales Strait along the east coast of Banks Island. The following summer, McClure tried again to sail to the end of the Passage, but was again blocked by ice. He steered the ship and crew into a large bay on the island's north coast he called the Bay of Mercy. There they were to remain until 1853, when they were rescued by the crew of the HMS Resolute. The Investigator was abandoned.

"This is actually a human history," said Bernier. "Not only a history of the Passage, but the history of a crew of 60 men who had to overwinter three times in the Arctic not knowing if they were going to survive."

Read the rest at:

Posted by: englishmix 12-Aug-2010, 08:28 PM
Scottish ambulance phone fault prevented 999 calls

BBC News Scotland

12 August 2010

The Scottish Ambulance Service was left unable to receive 999 calls for several hours because of a problem with its telephone lines, the BBC has learned.

The incident, on 21 July, meant no emergency calls were received by the service's three Scottish call centres for some hours. Callers were diverted to Belfast and the north of England. Ambulance bosses and BT insisted all calls were answered and patients were unaffected by the problem. BT provides the systems used by the Scottish Ambulance Service to answer 999 calls at its centres in Inverness, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Incident review

But, on the date in question, a technical fault in the switch at Glasgow had a knock-on effect on calls to the centres. The problem first affected the Inverness call centre at 0100 BST, hitting Edinburgh at 0942 BST and resulted in Glasgow only able to receive a limited number of calls from 0956 BST. Following action, all three centres were fully operational again by 1530 BST.

A BT spokesman, said: "A buddy system is in place in the event of any such failure and the contingency plan kicked in immediately, with calls answered by operators at the Northern Ireland and north west ambulance service as required.

For more, see the article at:

Posted by: englishmix 12-Aug-2010, 08:38 PM
Doubts cast over survey of Trident fishing boat wreck
BBC News Scotland
12 August 2010

Seven crew died when the Peterhead trawler Trident sank off Caithness in 1974. The survey on the Trident, which went down off Caithness, was carried out in the summer of 2006 by Subsea 7.

A panel of experts has criticised the underwater survey. Subsea 7 declined to comment. A sheriff's findings after the inquiry are expected later this year. A re-opened inquiry began in Aberdeen last year. Part of the evidence included a survey of the wreck carried out in June 2006.

They said Subsea 7 personnel on board the survey vessel the Fennica appeared to be "unprepared and ill-equipped" to remove nets and ropes from the wreck. Significant time was lost, they said, and there was also a lack of joined-up thinking within Subsea 7 management, and that reporting of operational information to the JPE was evidently a low priority. They said the management structure was weak and lacking proper hierarchy and the absence of appropriately experienced management on board was "surprising to say the least".

Finally they said functionality of equipment "frequently fell short of all promises and predictions". BBC Scotland approached Subsea 7 for comment, but they said they had no plans to make any statement at this time.

Jeannie Ritchie, who represents many of the Trident widows, said she feared the survey meant the JPE report had used incorrect measurements to calculate the vessel's stability.

The Office of the Advocate General, which was in charge of the re-opened inquiry, has made no formal statement, but it is understood it believes the quality of the survey was considered fully by the inquiry and is not thought to have had any material effect on it.

The inquiry itself ended last month and the findings are expected to be issued before the end of the year.

Posted by: MacDonnchaidh 24-Aug-2010, 04:40 PM
Pope's hi-tech Celtic altar
24 August 2010 By Stephen McGinty

IT IS the altar from which Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate the largest mass in Scotland for a quarter of a century. The design of the marble chair, lectern and altar to be used in the forthcoming papal visit to Bellahouston Park were unveiled yesterday.

In the Reid Carrara workshop in Glasgow, stonemason Neil Reid is working around the clock to complete the massive marble furniture, which has been designed by Glasgow artist Niamh Quail with the assistance of 21st century design technology.

The design of the altar, from which the Pope will say mass in front of an estimated 100,000 people, was rendered into a 3D computer model and presented to the Vatican in July for final approval.

The construction is being carried out by Mr Reid, who served his apprenticeship with Tom MacMillan, the stonemason who built the altar used by Pope John Paul II during the papal visit to Scotland in 1982.

Yesterday, Mr Reid said it was a "real privilege" to build the altar, which will be see by millions of people around the world. "I'm pernickety," he said. "Everything has to be just right, but I'm like that whether I'm doing a piece for a parish priest, Mrs Smith from around the corner or the Pope. It's a big job, but we're working around the clock and it will be ready in time. I can picture the altar in my head, but I can't wait to get it finished and see it being used by the Pope at Bellahouston."

The mass will take place on 16 September, the first day of the Pope's four-day state visit to Britain.

The altar, chair and lectern were designed by Ms Quail, 32, who said: "From the time I was given the brief, I only had about six weeks to design the altar, the Pope's chair and the lectern to show to the people at the Vatican. I couldn't have done it without the people at Strathclyde University's 'rapid prototyping unit'."

The team at Strathclyde University turned her designs into 3D images and allowed them to drop the Pope "in situ" behind the altar. The idea behind the design was to make the altar as uncluttered as possible as the Pope will be joined by as many as 170 people.

She said: "I was told to design a chair and that was about it. I wanted to keep it simple but also to have a Scottish and religious aspect to it as well.

The design is Celtic, incorporating a cross, within each of the four arms are three interwoven leaves representing the Holy Trinity, with the entire design having no beginning nor end."

Ms Quail added: "Normally, I would have one-dimensional sketches, but with the CAD (computer aided design], we were able to make 3D models of the chair, altar and lectern together.

"It was great to see them like that and we were even able to put a model of the Pope in there, too.

When the Vatican saw the models and all the work that had gone into it, they were really confident in what we were doing."

Yesterday, Father Andrew McKenzie, director of liturgy for the Papal Mass, thanked everybody who contributed to the design aADVERTISEMENTnd production of the items. He said: "Creating the Papal altar, lectern and chair has been a very enjoyable process, greatly helped by the generosity and technical abilities of all those involved.

"I would like to express my deep gratitude to all those who have contributed to the creative, technical and production stages of the project.

"I am certain that, together, we will be able to create a fitting environment in which the Pope can celebrate mass in Glasgow."


CANDLES, musical instruments and alcohol are on a list of banned items for pilgrims attending the papal mass at Bellahouston Park next month.

The list is on the official papal visit website, which encourages worshippers to bring sunblock, flags and folding chairs for the events in Glasgow, London and Birmingham, but says alcohol, gazebos and lit candles should be left at home because they "could pose a threat".

While it did not mention the vuvuzela, so popular among fans at this summer's South African football World Cup, the noisy monotone trumpet could be considered out of bounds under the category of banned instruments and whistles.

Bulky hampers are also prohibited - the website advises that hampers and cool boxes "should not exceed 20in x 13in x 8in". People are welcome to "bring a pilgrim picnic", though they should consider bringing non-perishable foods or "make arrangements to share picnics".

Up to 100,000 are expected to attend the mass on 16 September.

The design idea behind the entire altar was to keep it as clean and simple as possible to allow as many people as possible a clear view of the Pope.

The altar, lecturn and chair are made of carrara marble. The total weight of marble used is four tonnes.

The central design is Celtic, incorporating a cross, within each of the four arms are three interwoven leaves representing the Holy Trinity, with the entire design, like the concept of God, having no beginning or end.

The papal chair is two and a half metres tall at its highest point and also has the Celtic cross design at the top of the back piece, which is made of Scottish oak.

Posted by: englishmix 25-Aug-2010, 08:39 PM
Very interesting post, MacDonnchaidh. Thanks!

Posted by: englishmix 25-Aug-2010, 08:48 PM
Anyone ever been on this track of road? ....

Berriedale repairs are 'nothing short of a disgrace'
JOhn O'Groat Journal
By Jean Gunn
Published: 25 August, 2010

MOTORISTS face further delays at the notorious hairpin bend on the Berriedale Braes as replacement of the safety barrier - extensively damaged in a road accident over three months ago - finally gets under way.

However, concern has been expressed by local councillors as well as haulage contractors about the length of time taken for the work to be carried out. The barrier and wall on the north brae were damaged when a bus, carrying a group of young athletes from Orkney, crashed while trying to negotiate the tight bend on its descent of Berriedale. The members of Orkney Athletic Club, who were travelling to a competition in Inverness on the evening of Friday, May 7, narrowly escaped serious injury.

Following the accident a temporary barrier was put in place and traffic lights were established - causing delays for motorists and difficulties for heavy goods vehicles which have to stop and then restart on their way up the steep north brae. David Steven, the managing director of local haulage company D. Steven & Son, said: "It is just a disgrace, it should have been sorted the next day. It is causing a lot of inconvenience for lorries travelling north."

Commenting on the situation, Landward Caithness councillor Robert Coghill said: "The fact that it has taken from May to now to carry out repairs is nothing short of a disgrace. Having lorries stop on their way up Berriedale is ridiculous. It is unacceptable the way we are treated in the north by Scotland TranServ." The councillor said that he had received complaints about the traffic light system and felt more warnings should be displayed to alert HGV drivers about the dangers of the braes.


Chief Inspector Matthew Reiss, who will also be present at Friday's meeting, said: "The police have a statutory duty to protect life and therefore anything which improves road safety is actively encouraged by the force." He said police had been in close contact with those involved with the situation at Berriedale, adding there had been at least two lorries which had broken down at the bend since the lights were in operation. One lorry jackknifed as it attempted to negotiate the corner on its way north two weeks ago. The chief inspector added: "As soon as two-way traffic can be reinstated the better for everybody in the county. We hope that the work is completed before winter weather sets in."

Posted by: englishmix 27-Aug-2010, 10:36 AM

Shetland six prosecuted
Skippers’ damage may not be finished
The Press and Journal
Published: 27/08/2010

THE significance of the successful prosecution of six Shetland fishing boat skippers for illegally landing £15million of fish cannot be underestimated. It is, first and foremost, a satisfying end to a classic example of teamwork involving the Northern Constabulary and Grampian police forces, the Crown Office and procurator fiscal service, and Marine Scotland in a lengthy and highly-complex investigation. Unfortunately, the actions of the six skippers are likely to have far-reaching repercussions for the rest of Scotland’s pelagic fleet as it seeks to prevent Faroese and Icelandic boats from plundering mackerel stocks after their decisions to award themselves huge increases in their annual catch quotas.

At the same time as the six skippers were admitting their guilt to a High Court judge in Glasgow, Scottish Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead was attempting to negotiate a compromise with the Faroe Islands and Iceland, after two weeks of squabbling which culminated in a blockade of Peterhead harbour. His task in seeking a diplomatic solution has been made infinitely more difficult by the actions of the Shetland Six, for they have given the Icelandic and Faroese the ammunition to discredit pleas for fair play. Rarely have the actions of so few jeopardised the future wellbeing of so many.

Read more:

Readers' Comments
Sir. You are somewhat naive to think this is merely about the "actions of so few". This is just the begining of the court actions in this lengthy case. Eventually I think we will see approximately two thirds of all the Scottish pelagic vessels skippers charged with similar offences in the very near future.
Scomber Scomber

Posted by: englishmix 01-Sep-2010, 05:03 PM
Jack McConnell to stand down as MSP
Wishaw Press
Aug 26 2010
By Richard Mooney

FORMER First Minister Jack McConnell will stand down as Member of the Scottish Parliament for Motherwell and Wishaw at the next Holyrood elections. The announcement comes after weeks of pressure urging Lord McConnell to stand down after he was made a life peer in The House of Lords.

Last week the Wishaw Press reported of constituents' concerns that he could not be fully committed to his role as an MSP, whilst also working in the House of Lords. In a statement he said:

"I have tonight told the members of Motherwell and Wishaw CLP that I will not be putting myself forward for election at the May 2011 Scottish Parliament elections. My successor in the constituency, and the Scottish Labour Party campaign, will have my full support in those elections. I will be forever grateful to the many people locally and nationally who have helped me in the causes I have promoted, and the decisions I have made.

Together we have made Scotland, and the constituency, better than they were on my election in 1999. I have been an elected representative for most of the last 30 years and it is time to move on. I have been involved in national Scottish politics, including the creation of the Scottish Parliament and serving in Government, for most of those thirty years, and it is time for others to take Scotland forward now.

In my application to become a Labour candidate for the first Scottish Parliament elections I wrote that devolution would be judged not simply by the creation of the parliament, but by the ambitions we set out for Scotland and what the Parliament delivered for the people of Scotland. It is that focus on ambition for Scotland, and on making a real difference, that has driven me over the last 30 years and will continue to drive me as I seek new challenges beyond the Scottish Parliament.


"As Scotland’s longest serving First Minister I focused my efforts on creating the right conditions so that the people of Scotland could flourish.

"Growing the economy was my priority – moving Scotland on from the devastation of the 1980s to prosperity.

"I knew we had to tackle Scotland’s terrible health record – and that banning smoking in public was the right thing to do.

"I challenged outdated prejudices – such as sectarianism, and stood up against anti social behaviour.


"And I wanted Scotland to look outwards, away from the introspection of the past, to find our place in the world as a modern entrepreneurial and multicultural nation.

"When we left office in 2007, Scotland had more jobs, more people, and more confidence than could have been imagined a decade before. Services were better, economic investment was increasing, health was improving, our reforms were reducing crime and Scottish education was competing with the best in the world again.

"Older Scots were warmer, more mobile and better cared for. Younger Scots had more choices and more chances. And in building a modern multicultural nation, we had refreshed our international image, and our population was increasing not declining.

"As I enter the next decade – my 50’s - I look forward to new challenges.

"I will continue my work on peacebuilding – across the world post conflict reconstruction is the single biggest development challenge of our time.

"The partnership between Scotland and Malawi will remain at the heart of my work – the link between our two countries is precious and shows that people united under a common moral purpose really can change the world.

"I will continue to campaign to improve the life chances of vulnerable young people, whether here in Scotland or elsewhere.

"And I will promote the vision of a modern multinational and multicultural United Kingdom, and speak up for devolution and diversity in the House of Lords....

"I have made mistakes – we all do – but I believe I have served my country well and will continue to do my best in this new phase of my life. It has been the greatest privilege. Thank you."

Central Scotland MSP Alex Neil backed Lord McConnell's decision to stand down at the next election.

He said: "I wish Jack McConnell well ... His experience as Scotland's First Minister should help him persuade the powers that be in the House of Lords of the need to stop the savage cuts being imposed on Scotland and for the Scottish Parliament to be given complete control over our own resources.

Currently Lord McConnell pockets a £57,000 salary as the Labour MSP for Motherwell and Wishaw, in addition to a £39,000 a year pension for the period he served as First Minister between 2001 and 2007.

In his new role as Lord McConnell it is estimated that he will claim up to £30,000 each year in expenses. This means his total payment from the public purse would have been around £125,000 per annum if he continued to work in a dual role.

Posted by: englishmix 01-Sep-2010, 05:09 PM
Dalziel Rugby Club eke out opening day win
Wishaw Press
Sep 1 2010
by Andrew Weston

Dalziel Rugby Club

LAST-GASP Dalziel got their Premier Three league campaign off to an encouraging start on Saturday with a hard fought 11-10 away victory at Dumfries Saints. James Baxendale’s late try gave the visitors a narrow win in a match played in perfect underfoot conditions which was affected by a stiff breeze.

The game was a typical early-season clash with both sides struggling to break down some solid defences at Park Farm. However, what will encourage new coach David Wilson is the dominance of the forward pack if not his side’s composure from an attacking sense.

In a scrappy first half Robert Simpson’s solitary penalty strike on 20 minutes was enough to give Dalziel a 3-0 half-time lead. Dumfries suffered a first half blow when their new fly-half Bosman Du Plessis left the field with a broken arm.

The second half produced better viewing and on 50 minutes Dumfries forced a Dalziel defensive scrum backwards and Rory Steele pressurised the clearance before chasing the ball down and going over for the first try of the afternoon.

The conversion by Tom Hiddleston gave Dumfries a 7-3 lead.

Dalziel again were in the ascendancy but had to be satisfied with Simpson's second penalty of the day that narrowed the deficit to just one point.

Two minutes later Dalziel infringed and Hiddleston knocked over a difficult penalty from the touch line to take the home side’s lead to 10-6. Again Dalziel responded moving up a gear and eventually they had the composure to maximise their possession in the closing minutes.

Several forward rumblings towards the line allowed the ball to be eventually shipped to James Baxendale who went over for the decisive try out wide. In the windy conditions the conversion was missed but Dumfries were unable to regain possession and Dalziel held on for a priceless win.

This Saturday Wilson’s side take on Morgan at Dalziel Park where they will be hoping to make it two league wins from two in their first season of Premier rugby.

Meanwhile Dalziel’s second XV were beaten 19 points to 13 by Kirkcaldy at Dalziel Park.

Dalziel squad:
Barry Turnbull, Robert Simpson, Lee McWhinnie, Ross McAulay, John Harris, Ross Donnachie, James Baxendale, Kris Watters, Euan Stewart, George Sloan, Craig Simmonds, Crawford Reid, Fraser McKenzie, Jamie McAulay, Craig Lewis, Steven Findlay, Stephen Baird, Ian Adams.

Scorers: tries, James Baxendale; penalties, Robert Simpson (2)

Man of the Match: Crawford Reid

Posted by: flora 18-Sep-2010, 08:03 AM
I hope you don't mind this article Englishmix. I was doing research on Alladale Reserve and thought it was an interesting insight on the Highlands. With land such a precious commodity and the "right to roam" debate in Scotland, we tend to be spoiled here in America with the great expanses available to us.

Published Sep 16 2010 by Yale Environment 360, Archived Sep 16 2010

In Scotland’s search for roots, A push to restore wild land by Caroline Fraser

As Scotland asserts its identity and its autonomy, environmentalists are working to restore its denuded landscape – planting native forests, creating wildlife corridors, and reintroducing species that were wiped out centuries ago.
Ecologically, there is little left of Scotland. Lanced of danger, fully domesticated, the countryside has been kitted out as an English larder, a table laid with lamb and strawberries and clotted cream. Sheep and dairy cows crop the grass north of Hadrian’s Wall. Polytunnels full of “soft fruit”—raspberries and strawberries—gleam under the occasional sun. North of Flodden—where James IV and his Scottish troops were cut down by the English in 1513—fields of potatoes stand ready to be turned into chips, and waves of barley bow to the inevitable meat pie.
The last wolf in the British Isles was said to have been killed in Scotland in 1743. Auroch, the enormous wild bovine that once roamed the Isle, is extinct. The European elk—known in North America as the moose—was wiped out several thousand years before the Romans arrived; lynx and brown bear were gone by 500 AD; wild boar by the end of the 13th century. Beaver went missing 400 years ago. No one alive has seen the habitat where these creatures held sway: the great Caledonian forest of Scots pine, aspen, oak, and juniper that stretched across 3.7 million acres of the Scottish Highlands since the last Ice Age, whittled away to 35 isolated remnants. One percent of the original woodland survives.
The quintessential Scottish countryside has few trees and bare, short-grass hills.
But while no one has yet seen it, the vision of clawing back a bit of that Caledonian splendor is very much alive. Biologists, activists, and hill walkers dismayed at the monotony of the landscape, tantalized by tales of budding ecological restoration projects around the world, have seen it in their minds’ eye and are plotting its return. Plotting and planting: Unlikely as it may seem, sheep-loving Scotland has become a hive of restorationist fervor.
There are a few ruminants in the way. The coming of livestock created the landscape we picture as quintessentially Scottish—rugged, denuded hillsides covered in short grass. In the larger sense, hoofstock also wrought the country’s capitulation to its southern neighbor. In 1707, when the Scottish Parliament dissolved itself, voting for the Treaty of Union with England, it did so to preserve the market for hides, beef, and mutton. At the end of that century, the same class of landowners let loose their “factors,” property managers who drove smallholders off the land during the infamous Highland Clearances, burning their thatched huts, starving them out to create a sheep walk. Ecologically, the whole country is a kind of Culloden—the moor where British troops slaughtered Highland clansmen in a brutal 1746 rout—laid waste in an act of enforced national unity.
Thus, beneath the superficially peaceful surface of Scotland simmers a longstanding discontent. Politically, the country is roiled by nationalism, fully engaged in “devolution,” the process of hedged independence set in motion a decade ago, when citizens voted in 1997 to reawake their slumbering Parliament. On the ground, Scots are as restive with an Anglicized landscape as they are with Anglo rule. “Who owns Scotland?” cries Rob McMorran, coordinator of a group of activists known as the Scottish Wild Land Group. “Up until a few years ago, God owned Scotland. It was a feudal system of ownership.” It many ways—despite passage of land reform in 2003—it still is. McMorran is echoing the title of a popular book and website, Who Owns Scotland? which reports that a mere 343 private individuals own half the country’s 19 million acres. Scotland’s two national parks, also created in 2003, are not nationalized: The majority of land within them is owned and managed privately, with continued sheep grazing and commercial forestry.
As they struggle to break free of the past, Scots find themselves immersed in pitched battles of a modern kind: debating the wisdom of wind farms or massive hydro schemes on their lochs, grappling with a ballooning population of deer that routinely bolt in front of trains and cars, causing accidents and delays. They are resentful of disfiguring conifer plantations grown and cut by the UK Forestry Commission, symbolic of outdated policies favoring cheap paper and pulp. As for the Highland Clearances, they might have happened yesterday, so raw is the memory. Another act of the reconvened parliament was the restoration of the “right-to-roam,” allowing every citizen to walk freely across the country, unchecked by fences or gates. The land has been taken back, at least symbolically, by the Scottish people. But the question arises: What will they do with it?
Volunteers began planting seedlings at Carrifran in Scotland's southern Borders region in 2000.
In this intoxicating atmosphere, environmentalists are determined to see how far they can go. Environmental groups are buying hunting estates to reforest; private landowners are experimenting with native planting; beaver have been reintroduced after decades of debate. Many such projects fall under the rubric of “rewilding”—the conservation method of restoring core wilderness areas, maintaining corridors between them for wildlife to migrate and disperse, and reintroducing top predators. But not everyone agrees on how to accomplish these goals, especially when it comes to carnivores.
“Wolves and bears are not going to be on the agenda in our lifetime,” Philip Ashmole says calmly. That kind of practicality has characterized everything about the project he helped organize, Carrifran Wildwood, from fund-raising to restoration. A biologist and expert in oceanic island ecosystems, Ashmole taught at Yale for some years, exploring the American park system during vacations. When he and his wife Myrtle, also a specialist, returned to the U.K., they were dismayed at the comparative dearth of wild lands. By the mid-1990s, joined by friends who volunteered legal, real estate, and business expertise, they began searching for a valley in the southern Borders region that could be restored to its original suite of habitats, from native forest along the lower slopes to scrub and heath near the craggy summits. They wanted a complete catchment, and found it—along with some of the highest peaks in southern Scotland—in a narrow glen named Carrifran, “seat of ravens” in the ancient local language.
They helped to set up a dedicated group, the Borders Forest Trust, building relationships with established environmental groups and soliciting donations from committed supporters, including David Stevenson, past owner of Edinburgh Woollen Mill, who put up the money for half a million tree seedlings. Eventually the Trust raised 335,000 pounds to buy the land, and on January 1, 2000, Millennium Day, a hundred volunteers began planting the first trees. At 1,640 acres, Carrifran is one of the largest ecological restoration projects in Scotland, fully planted with 450,000 birch, yew, aspen, juniper, oak, pine, and hazel seedlings—many grown from seed collected locally in patches of surviving native woods. It is estimated to offset nearly 30,000 tons of CO2 over the next century. Patrolled by Wildwood’s “dirty hands” volunteers—its boundary inspected over a hundred times in the past decade by hill walkers—the Carrifran project has been hailed as a monument to community-based conservation.
Trees are taking hold beneath the grazed hillsides of Carrifran.
The saviors arrived in the nick of time: Slopes stripped by sheep and goats, Carrifran’s few ancient trees clung gamely to rocky promontories perched over the stream, or “burn,” that bifurcates the valley. The stump of one of the last hollies in the glen collapsed after a storm, but cuttings sent out suckers and roots, contributing to the resurrection. While no one alive will see Carrifran in its reforested glory, a process that may take several centuries, the valley is already a stunning sight, covered in a thick pelt of vegetation.
As Philip Ashmole and I crossed the glen this past July, we were up to our knees in new growth: dog rose, bird cherry, downy birch, alder, juniper, and holly, which were flourishing and producing seed. Bare grass had been replaced by stands of willow and groves of hawthorn and hazel. Rare species of fern and anemone have been found. Black grouse, declining elsewhere, have been heard drumming in two leks high on the slopes. Once scarce woodland birds such as willow warbler, chaffinch, blackcap, siskin, and grasshopper warbler have been flocking back. Badger, fox, stoat, otter, weasel, mountain hare, and field voles are now common, and peregrine falcons are on the prowl.
The project has faced daunting challenges. An outbreak of foot and mouth disease in 2001 required that tens of thousands of seedlings be quarantined for months before planting; many were lost. A 2003 fire burnt 10,000 newly-planted trees. The group had underestimated how bracken—ferns that colonize pastureland—suppresses regeneration, shading and crushing new growth; hand-cutting and spot-spraying of herbicides are dealing with that. Perhaps the most unexpected development occurred when residents of a nearby village protested the removal of feral goats. “They thought them part of their heritage,” Philip Ashmole said dryly. But Wildwood stood its ground, removing most goats alive, although three stragglers had to be shot. A deer “stalker” patrols once a week to ensure that no grazers penetrate fenced areas; sales of venison support the project.
With Carrifran maturing, the Trust has set its sights on the historic Ettrick Forest, where William Wallace rallied Scots to attack the British in 1297 and where the infamous Border Reivers—cattle rustlers—hid stolen herds in a glen known as the Devil’s Beef Tub. Grazed centuries ago, the Ettrick Forest is no more, but the BFT plans to do something about that, raising 700,000 pounds to buy a farm that includes the Tub. The property will forge a near-connection to Carrifran, less than two miles away, restoring three valleys and another major catchment.
In stark contrast to this carefully considered, incremental project is another approach, one that has been wildly controversial. In 2003, Paul Lister—English heir to a multi-million dollar furniture fortune—bought Alladale, a 23,000 acre Highlands estate. Scottish hunting properties have become a trophy acquisition for the super-rich. But Lister was different. Inspired by South Africa’s private game reserves, he brashly announced plans to turn Alladale into Great Britain’s first wilderness reserve, replanting native forest and reintroducing native predators, including the wolf. In 2006, he suggested the wolf reintroduction might be accomplished by 2009.
It hasn’t happened yet. Lister learned he would have to apply for a zoo license under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act, which he did late last year. But the plans remain mired in contradictory requirements: While EU regulations encourage reintroductions, the zoo licensure makes it illegal to keep predators and prey in the same area. Meanwhile, ramblers object to electrical fencing required to contain the animals, a violation of the roaming act. The British press has made a meal of it, gleefully reporting that locals call the place “McSerengeti.”
But Lister has remained unfazed, consulting with biologists at Oxford WildCRU (Wildlife Conservation Research Unit) and wolf specialists in Romania, creating 18 jobs at Alladale, said to be the most on this land since the Clearances, where workers have built an unobtrusive hydroelectric plant to power the fully-restored lodge. A herd of Highland cattle have stepped in for the extinct auroch, and an 800-acre enclosure houses an experimental group of boar. The boars’ rooting destroys bracken, improving soil quality, so WildCRU undertook a study to establish the size of their territories. Two bemused-looking moose, Hercules and Hulda—immigrants from Sweden—have settled into another enclosure. While a previous owner began small-scale reforestation, Lister has planted 150,000 native trees—Caledonian pine, rowan, birch, oak, willow, and aspen—with an additional 250,000 planned. There are restoration plans for capercaillie, Britain’s largest game bird, and red squirrel.
Alladale may seem the opposite of community-based, but the land—vast stark valleys cut by torrents of peat-black water rushing over stone—has already claimed the dedication of the rangers who work it. They tackle everything from tree-planting to deer stalking (halving the number on the estate), guiding groups of local children who have never had a chance to fish or hike on the property’s rugged expanse.
Innes MacNeill, Alladale’s lanky reserve manager, has spent 19 years working at Alladale, where his father and uncle worked before him. He passionately defended the restoration efforts. “The land’s been raped and that’s a fact,” he said fiercely, as we stood in the open door of the garage, watching rain pour from the sky. “I don’t want to wait for things to grow. The scientists, the boffins, they say it will regenerate naturally. But that’s bullshit. For me, it can’t happen quick enough. That’s why I’m big into tree planting.” While granting that true wolf reintroduction into the wild would not happen in our lifetimes, he praised “the boss” for challenging the status quo. “Wolves,” he said, staring across the property. “Put them out there tomorrow.”
Ronnie MacLeod, a soft-spoken ranger with thirty years on the estate, was no less invested. After a visit to nearby Croik Church—famous for the messages scratched into its windows by homeless crofters who sheltered there during the Clearances—he described tree planting as a kind of solace. Sitting in a wooden badger hide set into the bank above a stream—an area where he himself had planted thousands of trees—he said, “It’s very personal. On hard heathery hills you plant Scots pine. Aspen like to grow by the river. You’re creating a forest as you go along. It’s very, very satisfying.”
This is happening across Scotland. Trees for Life has bought 10,000 acres west of Loch Ness, where more boar are hard at work, rooting and repairing soil. At Glenfeshie, 45,000 acres within the new Cairngorms National Park, deer are being culled and restoration is under way. In the end, it may take every kind of approach—from Carrifran’s deliberate march to the radical challenge of Alladale—to achieve “Caledonia! stern and wild,” a place that was a fantasy even when Sir Walter Scott wrote it, in 1805.

Posted by: englishmix 19-Sep-2010, 01:04 PM
Good post, Flora. This is the place to share such news. I have been distracted lately, so I am really glad for the new post here!

Posted by: englishmix 19-Sep-2010, 01:14 PM
The Pope in Edinburgh: World was looking

Edinburgh Evening News
18 September 2010
By Ian Swanson

IT was the day Edinburgh was beamed around the world and city pupils found themselves pictured on the front pages of newspapers on the other side of the globe. The Pope's visit and his meeting with the Queen at the Palace of Holyroodhouse gave the Capital unparalleled international exposure. The Foreign Office said it estimated that around a billion people across the world saw television coverage of Benedict XVI in Edinburgh.

Dozens of papers from Europe to South America put the visit on their front page. Pictures of pupils from St Mary's Primary RC School in East London Street, presenting flowers to the Pope and the Queen at the palace, made the front of the Washington Times, La Stampa in Italy, The Jurnal in Romania, Dubai's Khaleej Times, two Austrian papers and Germany's Passauer Neue Presse, as well as the Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock, Arkansas, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in Wisconsin.

Professor Joe Goldblatt from Edinburgh's Queen Margaret University, who is conducting a study of media coverage and public reaction, said initial findings suggested it had been a big success. He said: "The city punched way above its weight - they had only five months to plan the kind of event which normally takes a year or 18 months - and anecdotally the response was very positive."

Councillor Steve Cardownie, the city's festivals and events champion, said: "If it helps to encourage even a small proportion of those watching to sample our great capital it will be a major boost for tourism." El Tiempo in Bogota, Colombia, carried a page-one picture of the Pope arriving at Edinburgh Airport. El Pais in Uruguay showed the Pope and the Queen in front of the palace.

An image of the Pope, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh coming out of the palace was the main image on the front of Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine. The BBC, ITN and Sky worked together to provide television coverage - including of the airport arrival, the drive to the palace, the meeting with the Queen and the cavalcade along Princes Street. Middle East news network Al Jazeera took the coverage live, as did 24-hour news programmes in a host of countries.

A Catholic church source said up to 2700 accredited media personnel from around the globe were in Edinburgh.

Posted by: englishmix 19-Sep-2010, 01:20 PM
Abduction fears spark massive search operation

Edinburgh Evening News site.
31 August 2010

A MAJOR police operation was sparked by fears a young girl may had been abducted from a Lothian play park. A police helicopter was drafted in from Glasgow, and dozens of officers joined local residents in scouring the area around Newton Village, Midlothian, for four and a half hours.

It came after police received a call from someone who was concerned that the girl, aged around six, had been led away from the play park by two men. However, police later said there was no evidence of an abduction and there had been no reports of missing children.

Yesterday, officers were visiting local primary schools in an attempt to trace the girl and appealed for witnesses who can help clear up the mystery. One local pub manager said the streets of Newton Village and nearby Danderhall were flooded with officers and dog teams on Sunday evening. He said: "There were about 12 police cars and a helicopter. The police were swarming everywhere looking for someone. We've heard it's a hoax but we've not heard from the police yet."

Many local residents speculated as to what had happened on Danderhall's Facebook page. One member, Stacey Maxwell, said: "I heard that she was taken up towards Monktonhall Colliery by 2 boys, 16 and 17." Another member, Neil Muirhead, added: "Just a wee msg 2 say that i hope they find the wee girl that wos taking from danderhall lastnite by a 2 men.hope she is found safe and well :-(".

The case has echoes of a situation in July, when police were forced to reassure parents that there were not child snatchers lurking in their area after internet rumours. Panicked parents in Midlothian fuelled the flames by posting updates on social networking sites.

A spokesman for Midlothian Council confirmed that police officers visited Danderhall Primary School yesterday in relation to the inquiry. He said: "The local community officer visited Danderhall Primary yesterday morning to reassure parents and the school that no incident of concern involving a child had been reported in the local area."

A spokesman for Lothian and Borders Police said: "Police were called to Newton Village at around 6.30pm on Sunday after concerns were raised over the welfare of a female child who was seen in the company of two males in a play park. A full police response was initiated involving search teams, supported by members of the local community. The Strathclyde Police helicopter was also deployed. In addition, door-to-door enquiries were carried out in the area, however, there was no sign of any of those involved, and no children have been reported missing. Enquiries are continuing in respect of the incident."

Posted by: Patch 19-Sep-2010, 01:21 PM
Ok, I enjoy your posts. Also I read the Inverness Courier and the Edinburg Evening News occasionally and will look for interesting articles to post.



Posted by: Patch 24-Sep-2010, 09:37 AM


MSPs sign up to save Inverness to London rail link
Published: 21 September, 2010

PRESSURE is growing on the UK government to retain direct rail links between Inverness and London, with two more Highland and Islands MSPs adding their voices to The Inverness Courier's campaign to save the Highland Chieftain.
[Click here to find out more!]

Labour's Peter Peacock and the SNP's Dave Thompson maintain the Chieftain, which provides a daily service between the Highland Capital and London, is vital to the region's economy. There are fears it could be axed, however, following a review of plans to replace Britain's ageing high-speed train fleet. It suggests a potential way to make savings is for long-distance routes to Inverness to be served by high-quality connecting trains from Edinburgh rather than through services.

With a decision on the review due to be announced next month as part of the government's comprehensive spending review, hundreds have signed the Courier's petition calling for direct links to be retained.

Mr Peacock said it would be a disaster, not only for Inverness but also the region, if the Chieftain was stopped.

"The key thing is that the spending review in October will be a significant moment as whether this train can be saved," he said.

"There is still a long way to go. We have to persuade the government this is vital."

Mr Thompson had been able to work while travelling on the Chieftain each Tuesday morning to Edinburgh until becoming the parliamentary liaison officer on the justice committee. However, due to a new working timetable, he now uses a Monday evening ScotRail Sprinter service which does not have the same space and facilities to work.

"I don't want others to be in the same position of having to think back to the good old days of the Highland Chieftain," he said.

"The situation is even more urgent for people who have to travel to and from London and I fear some might just not bother if this wonderful service is cut or reduced and that would have a damaging impact on the economy of Inverness and the wider Highlands."

Posted by: englishmix 27-Sep-2010, 10:41 AM
Thanks Patch for your post.

Owner of Segway Company Dies in Segway Accident
By Brian X. Chen
September 27, 2010

The owner of Segway died on Sunday riding one of his company’s electric scooters off a cliff and into a river. The 62-year-old millionaire Jimi Heselden crashed into the River Wharfe in Northern England while inspecting his North Yorkshire estate, according to multiple reports. Heselden was riding a rugged-country version of the Segway, which was also recovered at the scene, according to the Telegraph.

Unveiled in 2001, the Segway was invented by Dean Kamen, who dreamed of launching a transportation revolution. The scooter contains five gyroscopes linked to a set of computers to monitor a rider’s center of gravity. Heselden, chairman of Hesco Bastian and a former miner who earned millions from defense contracts, purchased the Segway company in early 2010.

Hesco Bastian this morning posted a memorial message and a photo of Heselden, below the jump:

Read More

Posted by: englishmix 27-Sep-2010, 10:47 AM
Explore the webcams of Scotland!

See Glencoe, Ben Nevis, Loch Alsh, Skye Bridge, etc...

Posted by: Patch 28-Sep-2010, 05:43 PM
Thanks, I also sent the link to my sister and she thanks you too!



Posted by: englishmix 03-Oct-2010, 12:39 PM
The Arbroath Herald
03 October 2010

SIX MEMBERS of Arbroath-based 45 Commando Royal Marines successfully completed a 137-mile charity run from RM Condor to Edinburgh Castle last Tuesday, raising £750 for the Woodlands Garden Trust in the process. The event had been organised by Marine Mario Gagliardini and the run took a total of 30 hours to complete. It was so gruelling that some of the marines lost over half a stone of their body weight.

The Woodlands Garden project is an ambitious under taking that seeks to convert part of RM Condor into a memorial garden for marines, families and wider friends of the Commando to contemplate, celebrate and remember the wounded and the fallen.

A number of the Commando's seriously wounded are heavily involved in the project. So far, over £30,000 of the £150,000 total needed to create the garden has been raised.

Donations are greatly appreciated and can be made using the following website:

Posted by: englishmix 07-Oct-2010, 10:53 AM
Glasgow's economy 'doing badly'
BBC Scotland
6 October 2010

The report claims Glasgow's previous economic lead has "disappeared" The economy of Scotland's largest city is "doing badly" and is being held back by ineffective public sector leadership, its has been claimed. A new report by economic consultant Tony Mackay states that "Glasgow now has the highest rate of unemployment" of any Scottish local authority area.

It also accuses the city council of "glossing over" problems. Glasgow City Council rejected the claim and said it had played an important role in developing a diverse economy. The report said the claimant count rate of unemployment in the city was "currently 6.4%" while the wider rate - which includes the economically inactive - was "a massive 11.6%".

It states: "Those are very depressing statistics. The number of people unemployed in the city has increased by 8.5% over the last twelve months, compared with just 2.3% in Scotland as a whole. The implication is that the Glasgow economy is currently doing badly and there is plenty of other evidence to support that conclusion."

The report said that five years ago, Glasgow's economic growth rate was "significantly above the Scottish average" but this advantage had "disappeared in recent years". It also highlights ineffective leadership in the public sector as one of the reasons for this decline.

"Unfortunately, both Glasgow City Council and Scottish Enterprise have gained reputations for glossing over the city's economic problems and "sticking their heads in the sand" like ostriches," the report said.

"There are many positive features to the Glasgow economy but the lack of reality and objectivity shown by these public sector bodies casts serious doubt on the effectiveness of public expenditure in the city, particularly some of the 'flagship' projects."

See full story at:

Posted by: englishmix 11-Oct-2010, 01:17 PM
Hostage Linda was just seconds from freedom

The Herald - Scotland
Monday, 11 October 2010

Scottish aid worker Linda Norgrove was seconds away from being rescued when her kidnappers detonated a bomb vest which killed her, it has emerged. Ms Norgrove is believed to have been alive when US special forces reached her in the eastern province of Kunar in Afghanistan, but she was killed by her captors before she could be led to safety.

It is understood that Ms Norgrove, 36, was either wearing the bomb vest or it was being held close to her when the explosive was set off by one of her kidnappers. Nato sources last night said the explosion occurred seconds before the troops reached her. Details of her death have now been confirmed to her parents John and Lorna, who spent yesterday in mourning at their home on the Isle of Lewis, supported by their younger daughter Sofie, who had travelled from her home on the mainland to join them.

The traditionally reserved atmosphere of the Sabbath in the Outer Hebrides took on a more sombre tone than usual as prayers were said and church-goers remembered Ms Norgrove.

Posted by: englishmix 15-Oct-2010, 10:51 AM
All eyes on Perthshire for Rally of Scotland
Perthshire Advertiser
Friday Oct 15 2010
by Johnathon Menzies

MOTORSPORT star Alister McRae will be among the racers revving-up at the Rally of Scotland start-line in Perthshire tonight. McRae (39), from Lanark, who is the younger brother of the late Colin McRae, will be joined at Scone Palace by newly-crowned Scottish and British champions, David Bogie and Keith Cronin.

Finnish star Juho Hanninen, favourite to become the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) champion at the end of the hotly-contested 12-race series, will also feature in a strong field.

The showpiece gets underway with two floodlit runs through the grounds of the picturesque parkland on the outskirts of Perth city centre from approximately 8pm this evening, before moving into the forests of the Big County and beyond over the subsequent 48 hours. A total of six high-octane stages will be held over sites in the Craigvinean, Drummond Hill and Errochty woodlands – near Dunkeld, Fortingall and Calvine respectively.

Competitors will then move through Stirlingshire before the winner is crowned at a ceremonial finish at Stirling Castle, the climax of the three-day extravaganza.

Proton team member McRae said: “I haven’t competed in front of the Scottish fans since last year’s rally, so it’s obviously going to be very special for me. It’s a massive sporting event for the whole country to come and enjoy, with a fantastic backdrop, great access for the public and some of the most demanding stages any rally driver will face. It’s going to be an awesome spectacle. I know most of the stages well from my earlier career which could be an advantage, particularly if we get a bit of drizzle – which is always a possibility at this time of year.”

Organisers have said that last year’s inaugural edition, which was beamed across the globe on satellite television, generated £1.2 million for the Scottish economy. Councillor John Kellas, convener of the local authority’s enterprise and infrastructure committee, said the rally will once again bring “huge benefits” to the region.

“Staging events like this is part of a conscious strategy to try to maintain a high profile for Perth and Kinross on the world stage, even in the tough economic times we now find ourselves in,” Cllr Kellas said. “The Rally of Scotland provides a huge boost to our tourism sector. It gets extensive courage on television and is a great showcase for the entire area.”

The event, presided over by the Royal Automobile Club Motor Sports Association, is the penultimate round of the high-profile IRC calendar. The championship will conclude after its 12th installment, to be held in Cyprus early next month.

Clerk of the course Iain Campbell praised the condition of the 800km weekend stages, but admitted preparations could have been thrown into chaos. He explained: “There was some concern that we might have to revise the opening stage in the grounds of Scone Palace after an historic 16th Century arch was recently destroyed by a contractor’s van. But I’m delighted we’ve been given clearance to run the section as originally planned.”

Spectators will be given the chance to donate to the Colin McRae Vision charity throughout the weekend.

A series of spin-off events and activities are also planned, including Perth-based car dealership Western Saab showcasing a limited edition Saab 9-3 Aero Carlsson at the start. The model bears the name of Scandinavian legend Erik Carlsson, who won the RAC British Rally in the Swedish vehicle 50 years ago.

Posted by: englishmix 15-Oct-2010, 10:54 AM
'Dirty protest' 72-year-old faces jail time
Oct 15 2010
by Greg Christison
Perthshire Advertiser Friday

A PENSIONER guilty of staging a filthy campaign against Perth and Kinross Council is facing a “holiday-like” jail term after vowing not to pay a recent fine. Peter Roy (72), who lives in a caravan at Madderty’s Craigmuir Farm, was warned earlier this week that he would face a 28-day prison sentence if he refused to stump up an outstanding £900 penalty.

Perth Sheriff Court was told that the pig farmer has not paid a single penny towards the fine, which was ordered in May after Mr Roy breached an Anti Social Behaviour Order. The ruling, which banned him from depositing containers of human waste by the roadside as part of a “dirty protest”, was infringed twice in September 2008 and again in February last year.

However according to Mr Roy, Sheriff Lindsay Foulis – who said that the fine could be paid in installments of £7 per fortnight – should have consulted a social worker in regard to his wife Catherine’s condition before making his decision.

“I think it is terrible,” he said yesterday. “There should have been a social worker there because I am the only registered carer for my wife. I phoned up the court this morning and was told that I am not allowed to appeal. They have just brushed it aside. I am not going to pay it. By the time I pay the bills, I have barely any of my pension left. There’s no way I can pay this fine. I don’t have £7 left and my bank has been emptied. I am prepared to go to jail, I’ve been before and it is like a Butlin’s holiday camp anyway.

“But if the police come and lift me, they will have to put another full-time carer here with my wife.”

The protest against PKC, which has led to several court appearances for Mr Roy over the past seven years, began in 1999 after the couple’s eviction from their Bairds View home in the village.

A court official yesterday confirmed that a query regarding the fine had been received and that it was being looked into.

Posted by: englishmix 27-Oct-2010, 07:59 PM
Kinloss axed... and maybe only weeks to save Lossie
By Chris Saunderson
Published: 22 October, 2010

SAVAGE defence cuts which this week signalled the end for RAF Kinloss as an air base and have left the future of RAF Lossiemouth in the balance, were a "bolt from the blue" for stunned service and civilian personnel in Moray.

The axe fell on RAF Kinloss after Prime Minister David Cameron scrapped the Nimrod MRA4 replacement programme. And a reduction in the Tornado fighter force has placed a huge question-mark over the future of RAF Lossiemouth. The Moray Task Force fighting to save it may just have weeks in which to try and win a reprieve.

Between them the bases support over 5,700 jobs and pump £160 million into the local economy each year. There is speculation that RAF Kinloss could be used to house returning Army units from Germany but its 71-year history as an air station will cease.

One RAF Kinloss serviceman admitted he and colleagues felt "absolutely gutted" by the decision which had effectively closed their base...

Community leaders and local business figures have described the bombshell as a devastating blow to the area which could rip the heart out of local communities.

The Nimrod airman, who could not be named, told 'The Scot' that families had been plunged into uncertainty overnight. "Many personnel at Kinloss are embedded in the community and treat Moray not just as a place of work but their home. I don't want to move my wife and family away from the area," he said. "I feel hugely disappointed both professionally and personally by the decision." ...

The Prime Minister said the Nimrod replacement programme had already cost £3.6 billion, was eight years late, the price for each plane had increased by 200% and the number of aircraft ordered reduced from 21 to nine, prompting the decision to cancel the contract. However, the airman said having already spent billions on the new aircraft, there was little to be saved from scrapping the project and closing the base.

"The loss of the capability given by the new Nimrod for anti-submarine warfare, overland intelligence and the most important role of search and rescue is worrying to say the least. It is difficult to understand why the Nimrod has been cut." He said there was no other aircraft in the RAF which could provide the same capability in the UK....

"It was not a great surprise. They (Government) have been telling us for years that the Nimrod MRA4 was safe but more and more people were reading between the lines. Leading up to the closure of RAF Kinloss we were fed a lot of misinformation," he added, "and I am concered that that does not happen with RAF Lossiemouth."

Moray MSP Richard Lochhead accused the Prime Minister of stabbing the service personnel and Moray in the back. "David Cameron has inflicted so much damage on so many families and the local community and we now face a call to arms with RAF Lossiemouth fighting for its future," he declared.

In the wake of the UK defence review, a public-private sector Moray Task Force has immediately launched a campaign to save RAF Lossiemouth....
"Not only are there strong strategic defence reasons to retain Tornados at Lossiemouth," he said, "the economic, social and political case for retaining the base is overwhelming. ... An emergency summit meeting in Elgin, called by the Moray Task Force on Wednesday, unveiled a cross-party, public-private sector campaign to retain RAF Lossiemouth....

"We must be confident that there is still a possibility of saving RAF Lossiemouth."

Posted by: Rhymer 28-Oct-2010, 07:39 AM
This is typical of Conservative thinking...they dont.They cant think things through aka the raiway closures in the sixties. it is also funny that they are looking for fairness in thses cuts. Once again it is the ordinary people that face the heaviest waves. Yes Lossiemouth must be saved I vote for that without a shadow of doubt. It is also very strange that all thses adverse descisons will lead to more voters seeking independance, I thought the Tories were for the union, makes one think!

Posted by: englishmix 28-Oct-2010, 08:49 PM
Queens thumped by Falkirk
Dumfries Standard
Wednesday Oct 27 2010
Kieran Westbrook

QUEENS suffered their heaviest defeat in four years as Falkirk thrashed them 5-1 at Palmerston Park. Five different scorers fired home for the ex-SPL side, with young winger Ryan Flynn involved in each of them.

Derek Holmes was out injured and replacing him up front was ex-Dundee striker Colin McMenamin as a trialist. He teamed up with David Weatherston in attack, but it was to be Falkirk’s forwards who deservedly grabbed the goals – and the headlines.

It didn’t look like being Queens’ day right from the start, with Falkirk taking the lead after just four minutes. Carl Finnegan opened the scoring, beating Bob Harris in the air and heading home from the Flynn cross. Queens had looked sluggish in the opening minutes, but sprang into life after going behind.

A low cross from McMenamin found Weatherston with his back to goal. He laid off Rocco Quinn whose first-time strike was blocked and sent wide for a corner kick. David Lilley connected with Bob Harris’ set piece, but failed to convert the good chance to level the match.

Quinn was again on the offensive after collecting a pass from Allan Johnston, but his strike was well held by Falkirk keeper Robert Olejnik. Weatherston was cynically scythed down by Brian McLean on the edge of the box – a challenge that could well have seen him sent off. But whistler Charlie Richmond preferred the colour yellow.

Queens enjoyed most of the possession and created the better chances in the first half, and would have been disappointed to go into half time behind. And they made the perfect start to the second half, scoring after four minutes.

Paul Burns took the ball past three players before shrugging off Brian McLean’s challenge and smashing the ball into the top corner with a great left-foot drive. It was no less than Queens deserved and the stage was set for a fantastic comeback.

But Falkirk had no intention of following that script. The Bairns’ second half goal glut started only three minutes after Burns’ strike. Jason Marr connected with another fine Flynn cross from the left, giving Falkirk the lead.

And this time they had no interest in giving it away again, with Finnigan adding another in the 74th minute. Sub Kenny Deuchar ended the game as a contest, chesting down a Flynn cross and bulleting the ball past David Hutton on 84 minutes before Marc Twaddle’s 25-yard free kick sailed into the net – emptying the stands of Queens fans.

The Doonhamers last suffered such a demolishing back in November 2006, when Gretna stuffed them 5-0. Four of the five goals Queens conceded had all come from the same side of the pitch, and Queens boss Kenny Brannigan was unhappy with how a number of players performed. He said: “I thought we could come and do something, but I just don’t know what goes on with defenders sometimes. They have to step up to the mark and do the right things and they never did it, especially second half. I was only asking them to defend – simple basic defending. I’m not happy with them at all. Today was a prime example of what happens when you lose Holmes. There was no-one there to hold the ball up the park for us. He was a massive miss today. But it was terrible defending which cost us the game.”

The defeat moves Queens down to fifth, with cash-strapped Dundee overtaking them.

Posted by: englishmix 28-Oct-2010, 08:54 PM
Sickness bug hits Infirmary
Dumfries Standard
Wednesday Oct 27 2010
Julie Watt

A HIGHLY contagious stomach bug outbreak has sparked emergency measures at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary. Several cases of vomiting and diarrhoea caused by Norovirus, which is more commonly known as the winter vomiting bug, were found at ward 12 at DGRI.

The ward, which treats medical, skin and stroke patients, has been closed to new admissions since Thursday. Health chiefs confirmed eight patients had been affected by the virus which causes uncontrollable sickness and diarrhoea and can leave patients feeling feverish. Only two patients continue to display symptoms, along with a member of staff.

Infection control doctor Martin Conner told the Standard: “Norovirus is particularly prevalent during the winter and it’s not unusual to see this type of infection in the community and also in healthcare settings. The first case was identified on Thursday and the latest case was identified today (Tuesday). Norovirus is extremely difficult to control which is why we have closed the ward to allow the virus to effectively burn out.”

The infection control team will continue to monitor the situation on a daily basis and strict infection control measures are in place. Dr Conner said: “Patients usually show symptoms for around three days but the virus is highly contagious which is why it spreads to other patients so quickly. We would expect the ward to remain closed for around nine days after the first case was identified.”

Health chiefs were forced to close several hospital wards and five care homes in January when the virus swept across the region infecting hundreds of people. But Dr Conner insists the latest outbreak is under control. He added: “The situation is relatively low key when compared to earlier in the year when around six or seven wards were closed due to Norovirus. General Practitioners are identifying more cases in the community which will undoubtedly have a knock-on effect at DGRI.”

Visitors who have experienced any symptoms of diarrhoea or vomiting within the last 48 hours are asked to stay away from the hospital. Dr Conner added: “It is important to remember that this virus is extremely common in the wider community and therefore we would like to remind hospital visitors of the importance of hand hygiene when entering and leaving hospital premises.”

Posted by: englishmix 28-Oct-2010, 09:03 PM
The continuing saga of the results of socialism...

Arts group faces 70 per cent funding cut
Dumfries Standard
Wednesday Oct 27 2010
Craig Robertson

A CASH crisis is facing the region’s leading arts organisation. A massive 70 per cent budget reduction will strip Dumfries and Galloway Arts Association (DG Arts) of funding for a series of major projects and could force job cuts, the Standard can reveal.

A council director has now cast doubts on the body’s future viability. And the association’s director, Susan Garnsworthy, yesterday admitted: “I’m worried sick.” She said the Scottish Government decision to scrap their main backer, The Scottish Arts Council (SAC), has meant a £200,000-a-year funding commitment has gone. And the arts council’s replacement body, Creative Scotland, has not made a similar committment.

Ms Garnsworthy told the Standard: The Scottish Arts Council provided us with 70 per cent of our core funding; that has gone. I am meeting with our board of directors on November 22 to set out a range of scenarios of what might happen. We currently employ 11 staff but some of them might have to be cut.”
She added: “It is £200,000 of core funding that we are not going to get.


“I hope that we might get some of that funding and I will be putting proposals to the board on how we would manage without that core funding and how we would manage with 20 or 30 per cent of it. “A 70 per cent cut is quite killing.” [Do ya think?]

As well as a series of community art schemes and festivals, DG Arts – which was behind the recent Burns Light festival – is also involved with major schemes such as the Gretna Landmark development, a healing project with the NHS and the Galloway Dark Skies project. Ms Garnsworthy said: “The hope is that Creative Scotland could provide some funding, tapering off, which could be for major projects. I am worried sick.”

Dumfries and Galloway Council met with representatives of Creative Scotland yesterday afternoon to discuss the future for funding to the arts in the region. The council has so far committed £90,000 of its own cash to the arts association for next year but it goes nowhere near the amount needed to fund all of their planned projects.

“We are going through challenging times; we don’t yet know what their overall funding structure will be.” ...

In April 2008, the council bailed out the arts association to the tune of £200,000 to help it avoid bankruptcy. It emerged there had been serious mistakes in accounts which saw income credited to the wrong financial years. This led DGAA to believe it was in surplus and it overspent.

Posted by: englishmix 04-Nov-2010, 07:05 PM
People of Moray respond to battle cry
The Northern Star
By Chris Saunderson
29 October, 2010

THE fight in Moray and across Scotland to save RAF Lossiemouth from closure is gathering momentum. A Save RAF Lossiemouth Action Group has been formed in the town to spearhead the community campaign. It hopes thousands of people from all over Moray will march through the town on Sunday, November 7 in support of the base.

First Minister Alex Salmond has already confirmed he will join local campaigners. Scots Conservative party leader Annabel Goldie, Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott and Labour chief Iain Gray will also stand shoulder to shoulder with marchers. 'The Northern Scot' this week launched a people's petition calling on Prime Minister David Cameron to save RAF Lossiemouth.

A Facebook Internet campaign spearheaded by an RAF wife has attracted worldwide support from almost 10,000 people. And a community website - - has been created to galvanize support and motivate campaigners. The community campaign will be bankrolled by a fighting fund established by Moray Chamber of Commerce with donations from local businesses, and it already stands at £17,500.

The public-private sector Moray Task Force fighting to save the base and secure UK Government investment to cushion the blow from the inevitable closure of RAF Kinloss had a high-level meeting with Scottish Government ministers in Edinburgh on Tuesday. The task force is due to meet again in Elgin today (Friday) to finalise a dossier detailing defence, economic and social arguments for retaining RAF Lossiemouth.

... "It is great news that all the Scottish political leaders are coming. That shows this is not just about RAF Lossiemouth or Moray, but it is also in the national interest." The First Minister said: "The march and rally in Lossiemouth on November 7 is an opportunity for the people of Moray to send a strong message to the UK Government and MoD that it is even more than the future of two RAF bases that is at stake - an entire community is on the line. The situation facing the bases in Moray is a national issue of national importance to Scotland. Moray is the most defence dependent community in the UK and the loss of both RAF bases would be catastrophic."" ... The Scottish Government insists a convincing case can be made for the Tornadoes to remain at Lossiemouth....

The Labour MSP called for three measures to help the Moray economy:
1) Creation of Assisted Area Status;
2) relocation of civil service/public agency jobs to Moray;
3) additional structural funding for Moray from Europe.


Posted by: englishmix 04-Nov-2010, 07:11 PM
Diligent digger changed face of Moray archaeology
The Northern Star
29 October, 2010

IAN Keillar, a well known local amateur archaeologist, has died aged 85. Born in Kinross in 1924, he attended Kinross Primary School and won a scholarship to Dollar Academy where he completed his secondary education. He joined the RAF in 1942 when he was 18 and was sent to various bases across the UK working on radio and night-landing equipment. After the war, he was sent to the Middle East and worked in Iraq, Dubai, Egypt and Palestine until he was eventually demobbed.

He then graduated from Heriot-Watt University in Electrical Engineering and joined Plessey who sent him to Kenya to install power lines, communication systems and substations. He considered emigrating but could not stand the racist attitude of the colonial elite.

He travelled to Norway and Spain before leaving Plessey and coming to Elgin to take up a role with the Hydro Board in 1964. However, it was his contribution as an amateur archaeologist that has added a tremendous amount to the knowledge of the archaeology of North East Scotland, especially to the Moray area. Mr Keillar dedicated his spare time and, after retiral, most of his time to the study of archaeology in the area.

He did this in selfless, modest, organised and scientific manner, which earned him the respect and admiration of both professionals and amateurs in this field. Through aerial survey, funded personally, he recognised the cropmarks which led to the important discovery of the Pictish Monastery at Portmahomack in Easter Ross. This site was excavated by Prof. Martin Carver and yielded much important information about early Christianity in Easter Ross.

He was also instrumental in the discovery of the equally important Iron Age site at Birnie which was excavated by Dr Fraser Hunter. During this excavation, two hoards of Roman coins were found, as well as other Roman artefacts, which proved that the Romans did indeed visit Moray.

Ian Keillar... a champion of local history.

This had been a long held belief of Ian's but one which he had difficulty in persuading many academics to accept.

In 1972, he was public relations officer for the Elgin Society (now the Moray Society) and fought the proposed relief road which was to be built through Elgin's historic heart. In this he was unsuccessful, but, at least, he ensured that rescue digs were carried out prior to the building of the road.

Mr Keillar had published many articles in prestigious scientific journals and books. He wrote a book - The Romans in Moray - The Evidence, and co-authored another with fellow amateur historian, Bill Bartlam entitled World War II in Moray.

He was a member of the Moray Society since 1967 and over a period of many years, served as public relations officer, vice president, president and curator of Elgin Museum. Probably his biggest honour was to be presented with the Dorothy Marshall medal by the Society of Antiquaries in Scotland. This medal is only presented every three years to an amateur archaeologist who has contributed much to the archaeology of Scotland. It is a very prestigious award and he was delighted to receive it in November, 2007.

At the time of his death on October 16, he had been nominated for an honour for services to Scottish archaeology but, unfortunately, died before this happened. With the passing of Ian Keillar, Moray and Scotland have lost a wonderful fund of knowledge about the history and archaeology of the area and he will be sorely missed by family, friends, neighbours and colleagues.

He is survived by his wife Kerstin, sons Harris and Peter, daughter Marie and seven grandchildren.

Posted by: englishmix 04-Nov-2010, 07:19 PM
Council gets sums wrong
The Northern Star
By Sarah Rollo
Published: 29 October, 2010

A SERIES of blunders by Moray Council has cast widespread confusion over just how much its budget options would save. Red-faced officials were forced to amend the administration's list of 131 saving options this week after a request for the financial breakdown of some of the proposals, made by 'The Northern Scot', highlighted the gaffe.

A spokesman for the authority confirmed gross figures, rather than net savings, were "inadvertently" used in the savings column for some of the potential cuts. The mistake was contained in a document made available to the public and distributed to local community groups in the run-up to public consultation over next year's budget cuts.

While a second incarnation of the online document rectified the error, it left the council's sums still not adding up. The authority said an updated introduction to the budget consultation gave the new overall lower and upper totals of between £4,907,000 and £10,926,000. However, an omission meant the total savings column in the detailed options summary was left unchanged.

Those numbers remained at between £5,155,000 and £11,165,000, which differed from earlier projections of between £5,213,000 and £11,233,000. A spokesman said the second omission would also be rectified.

Opposition group leaders and community representatives have rounded on the administration for confusing the public over the measures, which are designed to help plug a budget gap of at least £18 million over the next four years. Concern has also been raised that community groups, unaware of the changes, could be working to old numbers as they attempt to give the authority productive feedback on proposed cuts.

Aberlour Community Association's Hugh Fraser described the whole consultation as a shambles. "I'm not surprised at all that their figures are wrong because they really are absolutely incompetent. They are really needing someone in there to sort the whole thing out," he said...

Numbers for the closure of community centres, public halls, and libraries are among those which have now changed. Ms Macintosh said: "A lot of people are making their decisions and having discussions based on the information that they have already been given. Now, as far as I understand with consultation, we can't go in there saying blankly that we don't agree with some of the options. I believe it would be a lot more productive if we can offer suggestions by means of compromise. To do that, we need breakdowns and we need the numbers to be right. With the council's manpower, and eminently qualified people at their disposal, you would think this could not happen. It is not a simple error or a typing mistake - there are substantial differences in the figures," she said....

"As the SNP group leader, we will be doing everything in our power to ensure that the public do get the correct figures for making decisions on such crucial matters."

Posted by: englishmix 06-Nov-2010, 10:35 PM
Sicilian musician Pino Leto declares his love for Scotland
East Kilbride News
Nov 4 2010
Carla Callaghan

SICILIAN singer and musician, Pino Leto is taking Scotland by storm with his immensely popular gigs – and growing celebrity fan base. The singer moved from Sicily to Glasgow with his Scottish wife, Sharon and their son Sonny and settled in Cumbernauld.

Pino is so famous for his music throughout Italy that he gets stopped in the street there, and it would appear the talented musician is gaining more and more Scottish fans by the minute. The singer and dad-of-one has brought his array of songs to piano bars and restaurants all over Scotland which has proved very popular.

The 45-year-old even counts Simple Minds frontman Jim Kerr as a close friend. Supporting fellow Italian singer, Zucchero at his gig in Glasgow is one of Pino’s highlights of his career. He said: “I had the honour to support Zucchero, he is one of my favourite artists. I still couldn't believe it, even weeks after I did it - I talked to him and had dinner together which was fantastic, he is not a big diva - he is like one of the guys.”

Managing his 16-year-old son’s rock band Well Known Secret is also top of Pino’s priorities, but does admit he would love Sonny to follow in his footsteps: “It is a completely different genre for Sonny’s band - I would love for Sonny to do it, but I never push him into anything.”

Speaking about whether his fame in Scotland will reach the heights it has in Italy and Sicily, Pino said: “I am not under any illusion, if anything I will probably be more known at the piano bars - I am playing all over Scotland at the moment. They seem to like me, so that is good.”

Whilst on a trip to Sicily, Pino was introduced to Jim Kerr, who now resides there by a mutual friend. The pair are close companions and both are big fans of one another’s work. Speaking about Jim, Pino said: “I met Jim Kerr at his hotel in Sicily and we have become good friends, when I go back to Sicily I go and see him. He is a nice guy, another one who is not a diva. I would love to do something with Jim Kerr but I don't think I would be that lucky in my lifetime.”

Moving from sun-soaked Sicily to the rainy streets of Scotland would be hard for anyone, but Pino insists Scotland is his second home: “I love Scotland, the only thing I don't love about Scotland is the weather! I am like an adopted Glaswegian, I love Glasgow - it is my town now, I wouldn't change it for anything else.”

For tour dates and to hear Pino’s songs, please visit his MySpace page at

Posted by: englishmix 06-Nov-2010, 10:43 PM
Labour win EK West ward in by-election
Nov 3 2010
Andrea O'Neill,
East Kilbride News

LABOUR successfully defended the EK West ward at Thursday’s by-election when Alan Scott came out on top. The Calderwood dad-of-two polled 847 votes, giving him a majority of 276 over his nearest rival, Pat McGuire of the Scottish National Party.

It was a close contest for the SNP and the Conservatives, who were neck and neck throughout the night. Pat McGuire pulled in 571 votes to third placed Tory hopeful Ian Harrow’s 403 – a surprise surge in the vote share for the Tories.

Amid jubilant cheers from the strong Labour support at the count in St Kenneth’s Primary, Alan told the News: “I’m elated. As things go on to the latter count, you start to panic, and I took nothing for granted, so I’m absolutely elated.”
And, it was certainly a family affair with Alan’s wife Laura and daughters Heather, 12, and Eilidh, 8, by his side.

Analysis of 22 comparable by-election results saw a 2.2 per cent projected nationwide lead for Labour over the Tories.

Andy Kerr MSP was delighted with the result. He said: “This was a good result for Labour and I’m sure Alan will be a great addition to the team at South Lanarkshire Council. And, despite the poor turnout, it shows the Labour vote holds strong in East Kilbride.”

Losing candidates did not hide their dismay, and dejection, as the council’s returning officer Archie Strang revealed a mere 17 per cent of the electorate made it to the polls.

Pat McGuire said: [I]“The turnout was absolutely abysmal. If this is the reflection of how it’s going to go in the future, there has got to be something done. Our vote stood strongly throughout but I think we really need to find a way to get people out to vote. Either make voting compulsory or secure internet voting – there has to be a change.”[/I]

Conservative and Unionist candidate, Ian Harrow, blamed a lack of interest for the low polls but said their result was “worth the effort.” He said: “The turnout was awful. After a big election, I think people just aren’t interested – so in that sense it wasn’t a very good night.” EK West Tory councillor Graham Simpson was also despondent about the poor turnout, but took time to wish the new man well. Mr Simpson said: “I’m disappointed with the turnout overall; it was very poor. We all have to work harder to get voters interested. I’ve only just met Alan today but he seems a nice enough bloke and I’m happy to offer any help or advice so we can get the best for our constituents.”

Looking to the future, EK West’s new Labour councillor – who will serve Thorntonhall, Jackton, College Milton, Peel Park, Hairmyres, Gardenhall, Stewartfield and Mossneuk – along with Graham Simpson and the SNP’s David Watson – says he hopes his 20 years’ experience in local government will help bring a wealth of opportunity to the local community.

He said: “I want to make sure we’re getting the NHS into the area. We need a pharmacy and dental provision. I’m also right behind the new supermarket at Peel Park, with the 800 jobs it will bring to the area. I hope anyone who has an issue will come to me and I can do what they want or get in touch with who they want.”

The results for the first count were:

Alan Scott (Scottish Labour Party) – 847
Pat Mcguire (Scottish National Party) – 571
Ian Harrow (Scottish Conservative and Unionist) – 403
Raymond Burke (Scottish Green Party) – 82
Brian Jones (East Kilbride Alliance) – 71
Gordon Smith (Scottish Liberal Democrats) – 70


Posted by: englishmix 08-Nov-2010, 11:57 AM
Knights create merry hell at Drumlanrig medieval fayre
Jul 21 2010 by Sara Bain,
Dumfries & Galloway Standard

THE age of chivalry was found to be well and truly alive at Drumlanrig Castle on Sunday. Visitors to the 80,000-acre ducal seat near Thornhill were treated to a breath-taking display of fighting, medieval-style, during the estate’s Knights and Squires Medieval Fayre summer event.

The highlight of the day were the two displays by the Knights of the Damned. Brightly-coloured pennants snapped in the breeze as four fearsome armour-clad knights galloped onto the field, while the turf flew from the hooves of their equally caparisoned horses.

England’s best tilting champions pitted their skills against each other in a number of tasks set up on either side of the fence before the spectacular jousting began. The four knights showcased their martial strengths at the quintain before wowing the audience with their perfect horsemanship, plucking peasant heads from the ground from high up in the saddle and engaging in some deadly hand to hand combat.

In medieval times the tournament was a less than gentlemanly affair with peace-time knights squaring off on the field in a melée of bloodshed that would result in terrible wounds and often death. The joust itself would involve the warriors on horseback thundering towards each other on either side of a fence with the heavy lances raised at the last minute.

The object was to strike the other with the tip of the weapon and hit him. Points would be scored for unhorsing a rider or breaking a lance on his body or shield, and there were often huge sums of money involved (often from the losers’ ransoms).

Early lances were once sharpened at the point and the tourney was always a dangerous past-time with many men of honour losing their helmets and sometimes their heads against the powerful impact of an opponent's well-aimed weapon.

But Sunday’s tourney was a chivalrous affair, which did not involve so much as a flesh wound as Shropshire's talented stuntman and owner of the Knights of the Damned team, Justin Pearson (pictured right), pulled off a perfectly choreographed tourney to impress the crowds of adults and children who had come to the castle for the day.

When the knights were resting, visitors took the opportunity to amble about the castle grounds; browse the shops and attractions in the stableyard; or take a tour of the Duke of Buccleuch’s impressive 17th century castle. Frontline Falconry of Moffat provided some lunchtime entertainment with a spirited display by Geoff and three remarkable birds of prey that was enjoyed by children and adults alike.

Other events taking place this month at Drumlanrig will be a magical open air theatre performance of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice on Wednesday, July 28, at 5.30pm. Staged on the Oval Lawn in the shadow of the castle, this well-loved classic is performed by the highly regarded and established Illyria.

Further information from

Posted by: englishmix 10-Nov-2010, 11:49 AM
But they have a mandatory national health care system! They are living in utopia, right?...

Anger at silence over benefit cuts
Highland News
By Claire Doughty
Published: 04 November, 2010

AN Inverness man who only has one leg has won his latest benefits battle - but now fears having to do it all again for a third time. For disabled George McLean says he has been left in the dark about whether his payments will be under threat from the latest controversial welfare cuts after already being targetted twice.

And he told the Highland News the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) was unable to shed any light on Chancellor George Osbourne's proposals to slash £2.5 billion from the budget for long-term sickness benefits either. Mr McLean hit the headlines in March after the HN revealed he was TWICE told he was fully fit to work and his Employment Support Allowance (ESA) was slashed despite him only having one leg.

At the time local MP Danny Alexander was demanding a full inquiry into the case after learning of his plight. Mr McLean appealed the decisions and has just won for a second time. However, he now fears he will be forced to go through the same process again and again after the latest cuts.

The Chancellor's announcement that ESA - which replaced Incapacity Benefit - will be one target of the benefits crackdown led to indications that most recipients would lose it after a year. Mr McLean, of Lochlann Avenue, Culloden, accused the government of scaremongering, blasted the DWP for having no information on the changes, and said he was surprised Mr Alexander has remained silent on the issue.

The 52-year-old told the HN: "I have recently won my latest tribunal after I was once again deemed fully fit to work and now these announcements have been made that there could be major changes to ESA.

"I have tried to find out what these possible changes mean for me and I am getting nowhere. I spoke to the DWP but the staff said they didn't even know about George Osbourne's announcement - it is no use. I don't know how this will affect me and it's worrying. I think the government is scaremongering - they are trying to get those who abuse the system back to work, but it is not great for the genuine claimants. I am concerned I am going to have to go through the medicals again and again. I am scared my money is going to get cut."

Mr McLean, who lives with his wife Kathleen, said he was perplexed Mr Alexander, who is now Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has remained silent on the issue since joining the Cabinet. "Danny has got a new job since he was last backing my case, but he is still a local MP and he was so against the way the medicals were run. Now I have yet to read of hear anything in the media from himself on this issue. His silence is bewildering."

The DWP refused to comment on the matter.
[email protected]

Posted by: englishmix 13-Nov-2010, 05:58 PM
I've left NHS in great shape, claims £165,000-a-year chief as he quits

The Scotsman
13 November 2010
By Lyndsay Moss
Health correspondent

THE NHS in Scotland is in "great shape" to embrace the challenging times ahead, the outgoing chief executive has said. Dr Kevin Woods, who has led NHS Scotland since 2005, leaves the Scottish Government next week to become chief executive and director-general of health at New Zealand's Ministry of Health.

In his final annual report, Dr Woods highlighted the "significant achievements" made in areas such as hospital superbugs, waiting times and efficiency savings in Scotland. He told The Scotsman that the current financial climate meant the NHS faced challenges ahead, but insisted it was now "very well placed" to face them.

Dr Woods's report highlighted achievements such as hitting key targets ahead of the 2010-11 deadline, including a nine-week in-patient waiting time, a 54 per cent drop in cases of superbug Cdiff and 80 per cent of young children being registered with an NHS dentist. It also pointed out that all health boards achieved financial balance, with an underspend in 2009-10 for the whole NHS of £42 million. Efficiency savings of £521m were also reported, exceeding the target by £108,000.

"When I came in 2005, there was a lot of concern about waiting times. Since then, as the report shows, we have made an enormous amount of progress," Dr Woods said. "We are on track to deliver on the 18-week referral to treatment target and we have made significant strides in meeting our cancer access targets."

Thanking staff for their hard work, Dr Woods also said advances had been made with efficiency and productivity and the NHS was now in "great shape" to meet the challenges ahead.


Read the entire article on UK's bullshit National Health System which is coming soon to US (that's us) at:

Posted by: MacEoghainn 13-Nov-2010, 06:40 PM
A mere $265K a year. I wonder what the Kiwis are going to pay him?

Posted by: englishmix 14-Nov-2010, 01:20 PM
Like them "improved" wait times for receiving health care, eh? ... ohmy.gif

Posted by: englishmix 15-Nov-2010, 12:01 PM
Nairn tussle too close to call
John O'Groat Journal
By Alan Shields
Published: 12 November, 2010

ALL bets are off as Wick Academy travel to Nairn County for a game both management teams believe is too tough to call. Both sides are coming off the back of good results last weekend with the Scorries hoping to use the confidence boost to get their first away win of the season and the Wee County trying to keep their self belief up as they get closer to the top of the table.

At 11 games into the Highland League season, Academy have only twice before had as high a points tally (15) at this stage, and co-manager Ian Munro said that despite poor away performances the squad is approaching tomorrow's fixture with renewed confidence after seven of the players found the back of the net last Saturday against Fort William.

"Everybody is on a high from last weekend and hopefully we can continue that this Saturday," said Munro. There is a little bit of inconsistency when we've been going away this season but hopefully we can take the confidence from last week's win and get the right result this weekend."

Munro and co-manager Richard Hughes fondly remember their best away result of last season against Nairn, when the Scorries travelled to Station Park and came away with a 4-0 victory, a win they hope to repeat tomorrow.

"We had a really good game down there last year, especially as we also held them to a draw at Harmsworth," said Munro. "We go away to every game with the mind-set of coming back with three points, and if we can go down there this weekend and emulate last year's performance then that will be great for the club." He continued: "We've been a bit stop-start so far and obviously we would like to have more points, but we'll just keep looking to build on it."

Academy team selection is only hampered by two missing bodies for tomorrow with Alan Farquhar suffering from illness and Bryan McKiddie possibly out after just completing the New York Marathon. Both are expected to be assessed prior to the match, and the co-manager said that he and Hughes would make a late decision as to who and how they would play Nairn, after a 3-4-3 system was successfully adopted last week.

"We just have to wait and see who is available for the game and then we can address issues like formation. Nairn County are a very good team so there is a chance that we will do something a bit different," he said. He added that they were expecting a tough game but that he was confident Wick could bring the three points home.

Munro added: "Les Fridge has Nairn well schooled and they have some good players, like David Hannah, so it's a wealth of experience that they have. But, as we always say, if we play to our strengths then we fear no-one."
Meanwhile Nairn County manager Fridge is asking his players to keep the faith after staging a successful comeback last weekend against Keith at home.
"My primary concern is this Saturday. If we can continue to play with a bit of belief and confidence then it will be okay, it's that simple," he said.

With a very respectable 34 goals in 12 games, Nairn County have been edging closer to the top five in the league and Fridge said he is pleased with the all-round performance of his team.

"Our strikers are obviously working well but we've also been very fortunate to have been getting goals from all over the park, which has been very pleasing to see," he said. "Ideally I would love to see us take the three points on Saturday but it's going to be a tough game. Wick are coming here on the back of a very good result last week. They scored a lot of goals and I'm sure they will be coming down here with a lot of confidence."

Despite coming off the back of a win, the Wee County manager is wary of the threat that Academy pose, especially as he has been left with five players missing for tomorrow's game. Defenders Andrea Coletto and Steven MacKay are both out with injuries, Scott Barlow and midfielder Anthony Low will also probably miss the game due to work commitments, and there is also a doubt over striker John Cameron.

"We're down to the bare bones at the moment but there is not a lot we can do so we just have to get on with it," said Fridge. "If we can just keep playing in the manner we have been doing over the past couple of weeks then I'll be happy."

Posted by: englishmix 23-Nov-2010, 02:10 PM
Tay Link plan startles Strathtay locals
Perthshire Advertiser Friday
Nov 19 2010
by Greg Christison

STUNNED residents have organised an emergency meeting after learning that the construction of a busy highway is earmarked for their tranquil hamlet.

Several locals in Redgorton – five miles from Perth – have only learned of the plans in recent days, but have quickly mobilised to set up a website, Facebook page and meeting in response to the proposal.

Plans suggest the road will join the Fair City’s Western bypass, heading through Berthapark farmland, Redgorton and Luncarty, before crossing the River Tay at Waulkmill, which lies south of Stormontfield.

The route then meets the Perth to Coupar Angus stretch near the Balgarvie roundabout.

Outlined in Perth and Kinross Council’s Main Issues report, which was published in September, the option is considered as the “preferred route corridor” for the ‘Cross Tay Link Road’ (CTLR) project, which is regarded as “essential to relieve traffic congestion and the associated poor air quality in Perth city centre”.

A spokesperson for, the website which was launched on November 12, hit out at the scheme, which could ultimately cost £100 million.

“It seems to have been kept very quiet, with small exhibitions only advertised with very small notices and not in the areas that are going to be mainly affected,” he said. "There are two main issues here, the proposed building of the road and the removal of the greenbelt status of Luncarty and Redgorton.”

He claimed the project would impact on key Perth routes.

“It will impact on Crieff Road and Inveralmond. They are taking the problem away from Bridgend and putting it across the other side of the river,” he declared. "I have a suspicion that this is just an idea which will get rid of the greenbelt status in order to invite building on the rest of the land.

“We paid a premium price to live here in Redgorton. Until the council remove this proposed road from their plans, all of the properties here will certainly be unsellable. It is all well saying that it is pie-in-the-sky and it may never happen, but it could take years. Until then, our homes are worth diddly-squat. Even if the CTLR is scrapped, a further proposal has been submitted by a local builder to have Redgorton removed from the green belt, and developed it into an area with facilities including a garden centre and leisure centre.”

PKC’s enterprise convener and Strathtay councillor John Kellas said: “People will definitely be listened to and I will support them in ensuring that their views are put forward. But we do have to look at what is best overall. If we exclude this option then people will tell us that we are ignoring the problem of congestion and Perth’s future development.”

A PKC spokesman said no decisions had been made – and refuted claims about Redgorton’s status. “Every effort would be made to minimise potential impact when selecting a final route,” he declared. “At present Perth does not have a green belt, but there is an intention to designate one through the local development plan process.”

Monday’s public meeting takes place at Luncarty Bowling Club from 7.30pm.

Posted by: Robert Phoenix 23-Nov-2010, 09:39 PM
Here's one you might have missed. We've been talking about this over at the Brotherhood of the Kilt forum. I'm still pro choice in the matter but I can see their reasoning when it comes to rental kilts.

The Scottish Tartans Authority has decreed that refusing to put on underwear beneath a kilt is "childish and unhygienic".

It also warned that "going commando" flies in the face of decency.

Tartans Authority director Brian Wilton said kilt wearers should have the "common sense" to realise they should wear underwear beneath their country's national dress.

full story here

Posted by: englishmix 24-Nov-2010, 01:20 PM
Miss it, I did! Fantastic! Thanks for the post.

The Scottish Tartans Authority has decreed that refusing to put on underwear beneath a kilt is "childish and unhygienic". It also warned that "going commando" flies in the face of decency.

If they think this is unhygenic, then what in the blazes is sodomy which so many in this world want to embrace as healthy and normal. Eegads. I do wish, though, they would define what they are talking about when they say "going commando". Saalluuuuute! wink.gif

Posted by: englishmix 30-Nov-2010, 11:40 AM
Kasabian signed up for RockNess
Highland News
25 November, 2010

KASABIAN and The Chemical Brothers are to headline the monster three-day RockNess festival next June.

As recipients of one of Britain’s biggest and most respected awards – Q Best Act in the World Today, bestowed upon them at the prestigious Q Music Awards 2010, Kasabian are heading to RockNess for a Scottish festival exclusive!

Joining Kasabian is an act that can almost call RockNess home – The Chemical Brothers . Last time Ed Simons and Tom Rowlands played the festival, they unleashed a colossal visual and sonic assault that reverberated the length of the Great Glen.

The Chemical Brothers were winners of this year’s Q Hero Award. Speaking about their return to RockNess, Ed and Tom said “This will be the first time we have played in Scotland since 2008 and so it’s really exciting to be headlining one of our favourite festivals. RockNess is an amazing place to play and we can’t wait to be back there again”.

RockNess Festival Director Jim King commented “We said last year that we really wanted a big rock band and in Kasabian we have the biggest rock band in the UK today. They're going to take the roof off. As for The Chemical Brothers, they epitomise everything we ever dreamed about as a RockNess headliner. They are one of my favourite bands of all time, true pioneers and RockNess legends"

RockNess 2011 takes place 10-12 June, 2011 in the village of Dores, close to Inverness. More headline will be announced soon.

The festival won Line Up Of The Year at last week’s UK Festival Awards for its 2010 extravaganza which saw appearances from a raft of incredible acts including headliners The Strokes. Leftfield and Fatboy Slim.

Posted by: englishmix 02-Dec-2010, 11:57 AM
When a congregation of worshippers is an audience and God has nothing to say...

Church-goers treated to Bury FC football chants
Hamilton Advertiser
Nov 25 2010

A CHOIR at a Hamilton church last week stunned parishioners by swapping the hymn book for an altogether different kind of musical devotion... football chants. For 10 minutes, St Mary’s Episcopal Church, in Auchingramont Road, treated the congregation to the terrace tunes of Bury FC.

Little-known anthems of the Greater Manchester club – nicknamed the Shakers – featured in the "world premiere" of ‘Carillion, Derision, Paean’.It was a specially-written 10-minute organ work to mark the 50th birthday of St Mary’s rector Ian Barcroft, a lifelong Bury fan.

Mr Barcroft, sporting a Bury FC top, was among the choir of 30 as they acquainted the 40-strong audience with chants that poked fun at Bury’s local rivals, Bolton and Rochdale. Leeds United were ridiculed in one song as a ‘small team in Bradford’ and the discordant piece moved towards its conclusion with the choir singing: ‘Bury till I die, Bury till I die; I know I am, I know I am, I’m Bury till I die.’ A referee’s whistle was blown at the end of the work.

The piece was performed at the church on Saturday evening and followed a rendition of Faure’s Requiem – in Esperanto. Mr Barcroft said the homage to The Shakers, who are currently third in npower League Two, was written by the church’s organist and director of music, David Hamilton.

Mr Barcroft said: "I am a great fan of discordant music and David is an exponent of contemporary music and he came up with this piece for my birthday. He was asked to write something by my wife, Heather.

"It was an absolute hoot and went down well with the audience."

Posted by: englishmix 08-Dec-2010, 12:03 PM
Motorway Reopens After Big Freeze
BBC Glasgow & West Scotland
8 December 2010

A 20-mile stretch of the M8 motorway has reopened after being closed for 48 hours due to snow and ice. Scotland's busiest road had been closed westbound between the outskirts of Edinburgh and Shotts in North Lanarkshire since Monday afternoon. It was the last of Scotland's motorways to be opened after the transport network was brought to a standstill by severe weather two days ago.

Police were still advising drivers against travelling. Temperatures again plummeted overnight, with Edinburgh recording -14C and Glasgow dropping to -13C. Thick ice is still covering many roads and conditions are hazardous on most routes.

Glasgow City Council has announced that all its schools will be closed for a third consecutive day on Thursday.

Police are warning motorists not to return to cars they abandoned at the side of motorways.

The M8 westbound opened just before 1300 GMT after being closed for two days.
The M876 southbound reopened after being closed for two hours during the morning to prevent cars getting stranded. Almost 300 petrol stations in Scotland reported fuel shortages, after some hauliers said they were unable to reach the Grangemouth refinery.

The National Farmers Union Scotland have reports of diesel shortages in the Borders, Aberdeenshire and Moray

School closures continue across Scotland on Wednesday.

Weather is continuing to affect services at airports. Glasgow and Edinburgh airports are open but flights are disrupted Campbeltown and Wick airports have been forced to close due to the freezing conditions.

On the railways, train services are subject to severe delay and cancellations. There are severe problems with the Glasgow to Edinburgh train service, particularly at Glasgow Queen Street. Many trains were cancelled during the rush hour.

There is widespread bus disruption - services are running but remain unreliable.
Edinburgh City Council is in discussions with the Scottish government and the Army about bringing in soldiers to help clear snow from the city's streets.
Major snowfalls saw hundreds of people sleep in their cars or abandon them on the highway on Monday night as motorways and roads clogged up, particularly on the M8, M80, M9, M876 and A80.

The transport minister had to apologise for the gridlock after some travellers were stuck in their vehicles for more than 15 hours.

see full article at:

Posted by: englishmix 14-Dec-2010, 02:20 PM
Peter Nardini’s song about Larkhall slammed by politicans and church leaders
Hamilton Advertiser
Dec 9 2010
by Gary Fanning

RELIGIOUS leaders and politicians this week condemned a song written about Larkhall that is to be used in schools to tackle sectarianism. Peter Nardini’s song, called “Larkhall,” has been blasted for “ridiculing” the town and being insulting to its people.

The song was launched last week at the Scottish Parliament as part of an education package called “A’ Adam’s Bairns?” to highlight issues such as sectarianism, racism and prejudice, the slave trade and the Highland Clearances.

“A’ Adam’s Bairns?” aims to challenge the perceptions of pupils aged 10-14 using songs, stories and historical sources to examine Scotland’s diversity and the influences that have helped to shape the country today. The resource also covers Scottish identity and forms of prejudice, including the ongoing problem of sectarianism in Scotland.

In one module, pupils are asked to discuss the lyrics of “Larkhall,” described as a contemporary folk song about anti-Catholic bigotry in the town. But people are furious with the song that contains the lyrics, “Bigotry pours oot the drains like blue blood runs through the veins of princes” and “it really isnae a’ that bad at all as long as yer name’s no John Paul.”

Residents also hit out at the lyrics: “Where children learn what’s richt from wrang frae the words they see spray painted on the buildings, and then their ain children, grow up jist the same wi’ an attitude that’s never changes for decades...” Last April, 300 people marched through Larkhall in a bid to rid the town of its sectarian image.

One of them was Lindsay Schluter, minister of Trinity Church in the town’s Union Street. She says the song is not a fair reflection of the town. Rev. Schluter added: “Larkhall is being singled out in a way that is not helpful or fair. Larkhall residents are disgusted at the sectarian-inspired vandalism the town is subjected to on occasion.”

Councillor Jackie Burns said the song was insulting to the people of Larkhall. “Mr Nardini wrote the song with the full intention of making fun and ridiculing Larkhall. People here take exception to that. The tone is insulting. I think it is very unfair as there is a lot of work being done by schools and churches to build bridges in the community. The song is far from the reality in Larkhall. Larkhall is a mixed community and people live well together. People are proud of the town. The issue of Peter Nardini’s poem doesn’t contribute anything to the debate.”

SNP councillor Lesley McDonald has written a letter to Scottish Education Minister Mike Russell asking him why the song is being used as part of education material in schools. “It is appalling and disgraceful,” she said. “It is a slur on the town. People don’t deserve this. I have spoken to people of all denominations and they are aghast at it and that it has been put into print.”

The education pack was produced by Scotdec (Scottish Development Education Centre) in partnership with the National Library of Scotland and is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. It will be made available to all Scottish schools. Susan McIntosh, Scotdec co-ordinator, said: “The overall purpose of this resource is to give teachers strategies and ideas to explore the difficult issues raised by the songs and archive material, such as racism and prejudice. The context is at once Scottish and global, past and present.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Incidents of sectarianism, racism or prejudice have no place in modern day Scotland and we welcome any initiative that seeks to tackle these problems. Encouraging our young people to learn more about different cultures and backgrounds is a vital step in creating a more positive and inclusive society and we welcome this new resource."

Posted by: englishmix 17-Dec-2010, 11:57 AM
Nuclear power subsidies warning
Evening Times
17 Dec 2010

Plans to subsidise nuclear power could spark another row similar to the one over tuition fees, First Minister Alex Salmond has warned. The Liberal Democrats' decision to back increased fees for university students in England has already sparked a furious reaction, with massive protests against the measure.

And Mr Salmond said the UK Energy Secretary Chris Huhne could see a similar situation if he includes nuclear power in his subsidy package for low-carbon energy. The SNP leader said the Lib Dem election manifesto had been "absolutely clear" that "nuclear power would not be subsidised". However, Mr Salmond told BBC Radio Scotland that Mr Huhne's discussion paper on the future of low-carbon energy could lead to subsidies for nuclear power.

Speaking on the Good Morning Scotland programme, the First Minister said: "That would be total disaster. This would be a bottomless pit of subsidy. "All the wealth in the North Sea could not subsidise a new generation of nuclear power stations and the worst thing about nuclear power is the front end subsidy is not the end of it. In fact, it would be just the beginning.

"The real subsidy for nuclear power is taking on the massive cost and the risk of decommissioning. We have got multi-billion pound bills for the decommissioning of the first and second generation of nuclear power stations and it would be silly to take on another massive bill like that. The danger for Scotland is that money for renewable energy would be siphoned off in support of a new generation of nuclear power in England, and that's what we're determined to avoid. I don't want nuclear power subsidies to become Chris Huhne's tuition fees."

Posted by: englishmix 21-Dec-2010, 09:11 AM
Dec 17 2010
by Jennifer Buchanan,
Ayrshire Post

THIS dramatic scene unfolded on the frozen River Ayr when a dog walker tried to save his pet. The man balanced precariously on blocks of ice floating on the swollen river in a bid to haul the animal to safety. Emergency teams and onlookers branded his actions “foolish”, insisting it could have cost him his life.

And police revealed that children are also dicing with death by playing, and even cycling on the ice choked river. Chaos has reigned since the section of the river at the stepping stones and Dalmilling golf course was transformed into a sea of ice.

The natural phenomenon has brought hundreds of onlookers to the beauty spot beneath the A77. Post photographer Derek McCabe was on the scene when the man slipped on the ice while trying to rescue his dog. He said: “I don’t know if the dog had been on a lead or not but it ran out on to the ice and got into difficulty.
“The man called it a few times but started climbing down the banking to reach it. “He then slipped on the banking, went through the ice and into the water. This panicked his dog and the man had to wrestle with it to get it out. He managed to scramble out as well but if he had been half a foot further out it would have been a different story.”

Cars travelling past the river were causing traffic chaos as they slowed down or stopped to look at the icy spectacle. The country track that comes off the A77 at the river was jammed full of cars that had pulled in to get a better look. Police have been inundated with calls from concerned members of the public after children were spotted playing on the ice.

PC Mark Green from the community safety department at Ayr police office said: “We appreciate how much fun it is to play on the ice, however we would urge the kids not to play on the frozen river. “We don’t want them to become one of the unfortunate statistics of children drowning after falling through the ice.”

And Ronnie Younger from Ayr Coastguard warned: “The ice might seem thick round the river banks but it will be thin in the middle as that’s the last area to freeze. “Dog walkers need to be careful to keep their dogs on a lead. Dogs obviously don’t know the dangers and will just run out on to the ice . Nine out of 10 owners’ reaction will be to go after them. The results can be disastrous.

“The bankings are also very slippy so please don’t get too close. People think if they can swim they’ll be alright. But it only takes a matter of minutes in the water and your muscles will become paralysed, your body shuts down and you can’t move. It’s a beautiful sight down at the river just now but please, admire it from a distance and be safe.”

Stewart Brabs from the Ayrshire Rivers Trust explained that the spectacle occurred when melting snow ran into the river upstream forcing the water level to rise and ice covering it to break. He said: “The ice then got swept down river. The sheer quantity of ice moving has actually eroded sandstone rock along the banks. The sights could last for a good while as there is literally tonnes of ice now lying around the stepping stones area, the temperatures won’t be warm enough to melt it all for a good while. The wildlife shouldn’t be affected by the ice, the fish are deep enough in the river that it won’t harm them. But I would also urge people not to stand on the ice as it’s not stable and very dangerous.”

Posted by: englishmix 27-Dec-2010, 06:05 PM
Aberdeenshire 'best place to live'
The Herald, Scotland
27 Dec 2010

Aberdeen Harbour at sunsetAberdeenshire has been voted the best place to live for the second year in a row. The Bank of Scotland Quality of Life Survey ranked the area top overall in its annual poll.

Residents in the north east were found to enjoy good health, well-performing schools and low unemployment. Even the weather was said to be better than in other parts. The Shetland Islands came second in the survey, followed by East Dunbartonshire.

The results showed life expectancy in Aberdeenshire is a higher-than-average 78, with nine out of ten people (93%) reporting they were fit and well. Employment in the area was estimated at 80%. According to the poll, the level of school qualifications is above the national average, with 83% achieving five or more SCQF level 4 awards. Residents also enjoy less rainfall per year - 999 mm against the Scottish average of 1,295 mm, and slightly more weekly sunshine hours - 25.5 hours compared to 24.9 hours.

The Shetland Islands came top of the survey for jobs, with a reported 86.1% employment rate. The Western Isles had the lowest number of burglaries and Dundee saw the least rainfall.

Posted by: englishmix 29-Dec-2010, 11:48 AM
Miss Scotland Nicola Mimnagh at festive party for brave youngsters
Wishaw Press
Dec 22 2010
Graham Miller, Wishaw Press

MISS Scotland was among the celebrities who helped make it a special Christmas for brave youngsters at the annual festive party organised by charity fundraiser Les Hoey from Wishaw. Stunning Nicola Mimnagh put a smile on kids’ faces as she attended the party held at Fir Park, Motherwell.

Pantomime star Darius Campbell took some time away from the production of Aladdin at the King’s Theatre in Glasgow to make sure the children had a fantastic time. Many of the youngsters have life-limiting conditions and the party gives them an event to look forward to.

Wishaw schoolboy Colin McLaren, who suffers from the rare genetic illness adrenaleukodystrophy, had a great time and enjoyed the opportunity to meet famous faces.

His dad Grant said: “Once again we have to say a big thank you to Les for all his efforts. Colin and all the other youngsters had a wonderful time and every one of the celebrities and sports people who came along were great fun.” The party, in Fir Park’s Centenary Suite, was attended by celebrities including footballers and Scottish TV stars.

Everyone enjoyed a fun-filled day of party games and treats. Each child received a special present, with gifts including X-boxes and PlayStation 3s, TVs, iPods, BlackBerry mobile phones and concert tickets for Westlife and the X Factor tour.

Posted by: englishmix 04-Jan-2011, 12:03 PM
Vital hospital link among services cut to save cash
Evening Times
4 Jan 2011

Dozens of bus services across Glasgow and the Central Belt are to be axed or have major service reductions. First Group will make changes to at least 50 routes from January 16 to slash costs. Among those hit will be an evening service linking Glasgow city centre to Stobhill Hospital, which is used by relatives visiting patients.

The 6.30pm journey of the No 3 service to Stobhill – the last of the evening – and the 7.20pm and 8.20pm buses returning from the hospital will be cut. The X2 service from Cumbernauld to Glasgow will also be completely withdrawn. The 64 bus between Glasgow city centre and Carmyle/Halfway will be axed after 7pm Monday-Saturday and completely on Sundays, while the 43 between Glasgow city centre and Craigend will also be stopped daily 7pm.

First said the service changes were being made to “better match supply with demand”. The cuts were approved by the Competition Commission despite objections from Strathclyde Partnership for Transport.

Bus bosses are also scrapping the 165 service between the city and Cambuslang. The Sunday service of the 45A from Auchinairn to Govan will also be withdrawn, while the entire 230 Hamilton-Coatshill service and the X6 Glasgow-Bridge of Weir routes will also be stopped. The bus giant is also making modifications to a series of other routes. Instead of waiting 15 minutes to catch the X1 between Glasgow and Hamilton, buses will run every 20 minutes at peak times.

Other cuts include the 36 between Glasgow and Abronhill in Cumbernauld. It will stop at Muirhead on a Sunday and after 7pm during the week.

The X4 between Glasgow and Cumbernauld will also be stopped after 7pm. Other services with timetable revisions include the 31 from Glasgow to Lindsayfield, East Kilbride; the 119 between Glasgow and Baljaffray; and the 255, which links Glasgow city centre and Newarthill.

Some routes are being reduced to an hourly service, including the No 17 Govan-Paisley; the No 29 Mansewood to Shawlands and the No 32 Craigend-Parkhead.

A First statement said: “First in Glasgow is to introduce a number of changes to our bus service network across Greater Glasgow from January 16, primarily designed to better match supply with demand on routes in the city.

“While the majority of our customers are not expected to be impacted to any great degree by these changes, it will result in a number of services being reduced in frequency or, in a few cases, will see the withdrawal of a route.”

The routes that will be affected... [about70 routes]

Posted by: englishmix 05-Jan-2011, 11:49 AM
Muirton’s elderly imprisoned by deep freeze
Perthshire Advertiser
Tuesday Jan 4 2011
by Denis Brown

ELDERLY Perth residents who fear falling on icy pavements have been rendered virtual prisoners in their homes, a community councillor claimed yesterday.

Already livid about apparent inaction on frozen footpaths, last Friday’s PA report about Perth and Kinross Council spending its £2.8m winter maintenance budget pushed Sheila McIntyre over the edge. The incensed secretary of Muirton and North Inch Community Council said:

“I’m very angry because I think it’s absolute rubbish what council leader Ian Miller is saying. “I just don’t understand how they could have set their budget for clearing the roads and pavements at an inappropriate level. It’s not like the council weren’t warned about another bad winter, so wouldn’t it have been better to make proper provisions for it than leave things to chance? Cllr Miller says the council has contingency plans and people shouldn’t be concerned, well – too late.”

Mrs McIntyre painted a bleak picture of pedestrian mobility in Muirton, saying only one pavement along Balhousie Street had been cleared of ice, with many other footpaths untouched. Pedestrian access to Asda via Carnegie Place was a “sheet of ice”, with people forced to hang onto fences to avoid slipping.

“Okay, some pavements have been gritted, but not enough, and it’s practically impossible for anyone who’s elderly to walk to Asda – it’s like a suicide mission. A friend of mine who lives on Magpie Way is too frightened to go out, so a lot of people are prisoners in their own homes – and it’s just as bad in Letham and Fairfield.”

She said PKC was fortunate people falling on icy footpaths no longer had the recourse to seek injury compensation from the council, as total claims from this winter could be avalanche-like. “It’s actually safer to walk on the roads than the pavements – it’s just not good enough and I’ll be bringing this up at the next community council meeting.”

A pensioner in her 70s who lives on an elevated cul-de-sac in Letham’s Strathtay Road told the PA she had been too scared to leave her house for a fortnight. “I can't get any further than my gate because the pavements and the road are completely covered in ice,” she said. “I'm just very lucky I have family around as I don't know what I would have done. They've been bringing my groceries up in the car. I can't remember it ever being as bad as this and I'd like to know why the council haven't been up here to grit the pavements.”

In Friday’s PA, Cllr Miller said the prolonged severe conditions had devoured PKC’s winter maintenance budget for the third year running, with unforseen costs including a rescue centre to shelter stranded motorists. He said any financial shortfall would be drawn from reserves.

Last August, PKC cut its winter maintenance budget – down to £2.795m from last winter’s £2.888m – for the first time in four years, despite its total spend in 2009/10 reaching £5.085m.

During the big freeze, the PA has been inundated by residents slamming PKC’s snow and ice clearance efforts. Cllr Bob Band, however, argued PKC was facing an even bigger challenge than last winter. “We’ve never had conditions like this and in my time I’ve never seen so much snow frozen on the pavement in large piles,” he said.

A PKC spokesman said the council was doing all it could to clear roads and pathways of snow and ice with available resources. He explained the council operated a priority system and cleared the most well-used roads and footpaths first, which were then kept clear to ensure the two counties kept moving.


The continuing saga of "global warming" catastrophy in a "socialist" state.

Posted by: englishmix 13-Jan-2011, 11:54 AM
Chilly cops given nod to don beanies
Jan 7 2011 by Denis Brown,
Perthshire Advertiser Friday

COPS feeling the winter chill have been given the ‘heads up’ to wear beanies for the first time in the force’s history. A Tayside Police spokeswoman confirmed that Perthshire-based officers now had the option of ditching official hats during sub-zero conditions in favour of cosier beanie-type hats.

Meanwhile, in an effort to ensure continued police presence on the region’s snow and ice-encased roads, the force has drafted in a fleet of 4x4s from the private sector to supplement its own pool of vehicles. The spokeswoman told the PA that 13 Land Rovers had been hired in the lead up to Christmas from two dealerships, one based in Auchterarder and another at Killin. “These vehicles helped ensure that an efficient operational response was in place for officers across the force’s area during the extreme weather conditions,” she said.

On the topic of shivering cops being given the official nod to don beanies, she confirmed officers were now allowed to wear “plain black hats during adverse weather”. “It's impossible to say how many are wearing their hats at any given time as this is a personal decision,” she said.

Instead of being supplied with official police-issue beanies, cops are permitted to bring in their own warm hats, in a move that should avoid any fashion faux pas.

Controversially, back in 2006, Tayside Police was forced to return almost 1500 pairs of newly-issued trousers after the baggy cargo-style breeches sparked a revolt from cops who refused to wear them. Fashion-conscious officers complained that the flared ‘breeks’ made them look like they were stepping back to the ‘70s disco fever era, resembling fictional colleagues in hit BBC TV show, Life on Mars.

At the time, a police spokesman admitted the supplier had agreed to alter 1474 pairs of trousers at no additional cost.

“The description 'inconsistencies in sizing' is accurate, in that without measuring every pair of trousers it was impossible to ascertain whether the sizing was accurate,” he said. “It was considered that there was an excess of material at the knee or hem on occasions. No other defects were identified, and the manufacturer worked quickly with us when this was highlighted to rectify the problem.”

Posted by: englishmix 20-Jan-2011, 11:57 AM
Stolen paintings recovered from sale at city auctioneers
Edinburgh Evening News
20 January 2011

Stolen paintings worth more than £200,000 have been recovered by police after one of them was spotted for sale at an Edinburgh auctioneers. Wooded Landscape With Figures, by French artist Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, was spotted for sale in the Lyon & Turnbull catalogue in November by one of the senior curators for Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow.

Lothian and Border police investigated and removed the painting from the auctioneers, who told police they had also sold a landscape by post-impressionist painter Samuel Peploe, which had been put up for sale from the same source, who has not yet been named.

The Peploe, which had been bought by Ewan Mundy Gallery in Glasgow, was seized by Strathclyde Police on December 21. It has been reported that police also investigated at the home of the source and discovered a work by Italian Renaissance painter Federico Barocci, which was retrieved on Friday. However, a spokesman for Lothian and Borders Police was unable to confirm this today. The stolen paintings are being held by Glasgow Museums.

The spokesman confirmed that two paintings had been recovered and said enquiries were ongoing.

The investigation follows allegations made 15 years ago that art from Glasgow's publicly-funded galleries and museums was being sold on the black market. A confidential 1996 auditors' report into Kelvingrove Art Galleries, the Museum of Transport and Maryhill stores revealed concerns over alleged thefts from the museums and said arrangements for recording artefacts and their locations were unsatisfactory.

Glasgow City Council launched an inquiry after an anonymous letter claimed paintings were "being taken by at least one member of staff and sold on the black market" in an operation going on for "at least the past six years".

A spokesman for Glasgow Life, the agency which runs the city's museums, libraries and leisure centres, praised the curator for spotting the painting and said it would continue to work with police.

Posted by: englishmix 04-Mar-2011, 05:11 PM
Sheriff sets unusual bail conditions for Old Firm fans
BBC Scotland
4 March 2011

Three fans arrested during Wednesday's ill-tempered Old Firm Scottish Cup replay at Celtic Park have been released on unusual bail conditions.

The trio were told to sign in at local police stations during the first half of any match their team is playing in. Celtic fans Gerard Fulton and Barry Aird and Rangers fan Scott Faulds were also told not to enter any SPL ground or Hampden Stadium in the interim. They deny the charges against them and were released pending a later trial.

Mr Faulds, from Cambuslang, South Lanarkshire, is charged with breaching the peace by shouting sectarian remarks during the game. The 22-year-old is also alleged to have tried to punch a police officer.

Match arrests

Mr Fulton, 32, from Greenock, Inverclyde, is accused of shouting racist abuse at a police officer, assaulting a man and committing a breach of the peace.

Mr Aird, 28, from Knightswood, Glasgow, is also alleged to have breached the peace by shouting sectarian remarks.

Police made 34 arrests at Celtic Park during the match which also saw three red cards and several confrontations on the touch-line and tunnel.

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond has agreed to host a summit next week between the clubs and the Scottish Football Association in a bid to address growing police concerns about Old Firm-related disorder.

Posted by: Patch 07-Mar-2011, 06:50 PM
It would appear that the Scotts take their football seriously!!!



Posted by: englishmix 22-Mar-2011, 07:18 PM
Yea, perhaps a little too ...

Posted by: englishmix 22-Mar-2011, 07:22 PM
Litter problem as bad as ever, says villager
John O'Groat Journal and Caithness Courier
18 March, 2011

A LOCAL chef has criticised the thoughtless actions of people who drop litter in and around Watten.

Jim Cowie, who owns the Captain's Galley restaurant in Scrabster, said his efforts to clean up his home village have gone to waste. Mr Cowie grew so tired of seeing rubbish being disregarded in the area that, last year, he decided to do something about. He contacted the Highland Council to ask for the use of a litter picker and some bags so he could tidy up the litter.

However, despite his efforts, he said the problem is now as bad as ever. He told the John O'Groat Journal: "Last year, when I was picking up the litter around the village, I counted that I had picked up over 250 bottles and cans. I didn't want to criticise anyone, all I wanted to do was make Watten a better place to live. However, I see all the mess and I think to myself, 'what was the point?' I put in a lot of hard work to make the place look clean, but it looks like I had never made any effort at all."

On a number of occasions Mr Cowie has witnessed people throwing rubbish out of their cars, and he has hit out at motorists for showing a complete disregard to the environment. He still regularly cleans around the village and is asking for people to be more considerate when disposing of their rubbish and to take more pride in their surroundings. He said: "People come out to this area in their cars to look at the countryside and then drop chip papers and drink cans out of their window. I enjoy where I live and, by collecting the litter, I feel like I am giving something back to the community. I take pride in where I live and all I am asking is for people to do the same."

Keep Scotland Tidy has meanwhile launched its National Spring Clean initiative which will involve over 55,000 volunteers from 39 locations across the country in Scotland's largest co-ordinated litter pick. Valerie Carson, Keep Scotland Beautiful's National Spring Clean co-ordinator, said: "Some environmental issues seem too big for the average person to feel they can do anything about, but litter is something that we can all take simple action against by not dropping it and by helping with the mammoth task of clearing it up."

A number of events will be taking place in Caithness with the first at Lybster Primary on Thursday, March 31, at 12.30pm.

Posted by: englishmix 19-Apr-2011, 04:16 PM
Latest in plans to create luxury resort at Taymouth Castle
Apr 15 2011
Alison Anderson
Perthshire Advertiser

TAYMOUTH Castle developers have lodged plans to convert the A-Listed landmark and its 173-hectare grounds into a luxury, year-round resort. New Taymouth Estate owners Meteor Property Fund have now included a significant addition to ill-fated 2005 plans to create a six-star hotel and resort – an additional 71 luxury properties.

These will be built for sale, which the applicants assert is necessary to finance the castle’s renovation. If the planning process goes unhindered, the 173-hectare estate at Kenmore will be home to 167 properties, including 160 new builds – planning consent already exists for 89. Seven existing properties would be redeveloped.

Among a raft of proposals, the newly-submitted plans also seek planning consent for the formation of spa facilities, erection of a restaurant and a bridge, alterations to the golf course and modification to existing consent to allow a change of house type on the estate.

Meteor hope Perth and Kinross Council will grant planning consent in time to allow a summer start. Meteor’s development manager Martin Mortimer pledged responsible public access to the estate would continue.

“It is expected that responsible access to the estate will be allowed – beyond the statutory requirements – and Meteor is working with the local community to decide the best ways of policing this to ensure that everyone’s enjoyment of the estate is unspoilt, ” he said.

Remedial work to ensure the safety of a Chinese Bridge linking both banks of the River Tay has been completed.

Posted by: englishmix 20-Apr-2011, 10:27 AM
Murdered man’s headstone vandalised
Apr 14 2011
Leona Greenan
Hamilton Advertiser

VANDALS have desecrated the headstone of a Hamilton man who was murdered in Hillhouse just over a year ago. In an incident at Priestfield Cemetery, Blantyre, the gravestone of Kevin Black was defaced and a ceramic photo of him was removed and smashed. It is thought vandals struck between 3.45pm on Friday, April 1, and 4pm on Monday, April 4. A member of the public contacted Strathclyde Police to report the incident last Monday.

South Lanarkshire Council, who manage the cemetery, were also made aware of the vandalism. It is believed no other graves were attacked. A spokeswoman for South Lanarkshire Council said: “We can confirm there has been damage to the headstone of Kevin Black at Priestfield Cemetery, Blantyre.”

Meanwhile, police this week appealed for witnesses to the vandalism as their inquiries continued. Anyone with information is asked to contact Constable Gail Struthers at Hamilton police office on 01698 483300.

Kevin Black was killed in a flat in Dunkeld Place on March 1, 2010, by Paul Kiernan and John Crawford during a row over money. Last year the High Court in Glasgow heard that all three men were in the flat when tempers flared. The 34-year-old was stabbed five times. The fatal blow to the left side of his neck running from his ear to his throat and severing his jugular vein and carotid artery.

When police arrived on the scene they found Kevin’s body and beside it a Skean Dhu sheath and a broken Buckfast bottle. Kiernan (34), of Paisley, and 43-year-old Crawford, whose address was given as c/o Addiewell Prison, West Lothian, were convicted of the killing in March this year. They are facing life sentences.

Crawford’s son, also John Crawford, (20), from Larkhall, was convicted of attempting to defeat the ends of justice. He disposed of clothing worn by Kiernan and Crawford. Both murderers were also convicted of attempting to defeat the ends of justice by disposing of the knife or knives used in the killing. Throughout the trial they denied the charges against them.

Posted by: englishmix 30-Apr-2011, 11:19 AM
Earthquake felt on Argyll island
BBC News Scotland
29 April 11 07:19 ET

An earthquake has been recorded on the island of Mull in Argyll.

The British Geological Survey (BGS) said the 2.1-magnitude quake was felt on the island and in Oban on the mainland.

The earthquake was recorded at 2126 BST on Thursday and came just days after a 1.9-magnitude event was record east of Yell on Shetland.

In January, people in Inverness, Skye and Oban reported tremors when a 3.5-magnitude quake struck in Glenelg.

Posted by: englishmix 30-Apr-2011, 06:30 PM
SNP ahead of Labour in latest poll
Dumfries & Galloway Standard
May 1 2011

The SNP [Scottish National Party] is ahead of Labour in the race for Holyrood, according to a new opinion poll. The Scottish Mail on Sunday survey shows Alex Salmond's party in the lead in both the constituency and regional list vote with less than a week to go before the election.

According to the poll, carried out by Progressive Scottish Opinion, the nationalists were out front on 24% in the constituency vote with Labour on 19%. The Tories have 5% of the vote while the Lib Dems scored 3%. Scottish Socialists and the Greens both have 1%.

Posted by: englishmix 16-Aug-2011, 10:49 AM
Ordained bishop speaks of his ‘privilege and joy’
The Press And Journal
By Catriona Webster
Published: 16/08/2011

Hugh Gilbert is ordained as the north-east’s new Roman Catholic leader by Cardinal Keith O’Brien at St Mary’s Cathedral. Colin RennieA congregation of hundreds packed St Mary’s Cathedral yesterday to watch as the new Bishop of Aberdeen was ordained.

Hugh Gilbert, who spent 19 years as abbot of Pluscarden Abbey, near Elgin, was installed by Cardinal Keith Patrick O’Brien, leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland. He was nominated by Pope Benedict XVI as the 11th Bishop of Aberdeen in June, succeeding Bishop Peter Moran, who has served since 2003.

For the full story, pick up a copy of today’s Press and Journal or read our digital edition now

Posted by: englishmix 30-Oct-2011, 09:39 PM
Whisky sold to mark 110th birthday
Falkirk Herald
Published on Sunday 30 October 2011

The first of 11 special bottles of Glenfiddich whisky to be auctioned to mark the 110th birthday of the grand-daughter of the firm's founder is expected to raise at least £30,000.

Auctioneers at Bonhams have predicted interest from collectors across the world when the bottle of 55-year-old single malt goes - carefully - under the hammer in Edinburgh on December 14. The bottles of 55-year-old single malt are being auctioned around the world in the coming months to honour Janet Sheed Roberts, the oldest person in Scotland, and grand-daughter of William Grant, founder of the Glenfiddich distillery.

Proceeds from the sale in Edinburgh will go to Water Aid, the charity which campaigns for safe and clean water around the world.

Peter Gordon, chairman of Glenfiddich and great-nephew of Janet Roberts, said: "The Glenfiddich Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve is one of the rarest whiskies Glenfiddich has ever released and a real part of the family's history. My great-aunt has witnessed great change at the Glenfiddich distillery over the past 110 years, so it seems fitting to honour her remarkable life in this way."

Martin Green, of Bonhams, said: "It's not often a whisky of this nature comes up at auction. The rarity and quality of the liquid, the exquisite bespoke packaging and the story behind its creation makes this a collectible that is hard to value, but I wouldn't be surprised if it reaches in excess of £30,000."

Posted by: Vixie 16-Dec-2011, 08:21 AM
That is a fantastic idea...I just love Scottish ingenuity wink.gif

Posted by: englishmix 02-Jan-2012, 02:17 PM
Thanks Vixie for the post!

Posted by: Vixie 21-Jan-2012, 05:34 PM
Thanks once again, Englishmix, for posting such informative stories! The last story was very good, but the last line in the article raised my hackles a bit (I know, you're just posting, not taking sides wink.gif ) If you'll bear with me, I'd like to toss my two bits in.

The Scottish independence movement is gaining momentum, and quickly. Word is getting out about the slant the BBC puts to their newscasts (even BBC Scotland) towards keeping Scotland in the UK. Efforts are being made by many different Scots groups to get the facts out to the people amid the British propaganda, so more and more Scots are losing their fear of independence.

Some recent facts brought to light in direct contrast to BBC reporting:

--Unlike BBC run polls, the Wishaw Press reported 84% of Scots support independence.

--Scotland contributes 4 billion to the defense budget, yet only 2.6 billion is spent directly in Scotland. As an independent nation, Scotland could spend 3.5 billion on its own defense (at a half-billion savings from what it is spending now) and be spending more than Portugal, Denmark, Switzerland, Finland, and others.

--Scotland's population comprises 8.4% of the union, but financially contributes 9.4% in tax revenue. That's an extra £1,000 for every man, woman and child in Scotland.

--Unionists claim that an independent Scotland would not retain EU membership, one of their biggest and most compelling arguments to deter Scotland from seeking a divorce. However, legal and constitutional experts, including Eamonn Gallagher, a former director-general of the European Commission, and Lord Mackenzie-Stuart, a former president of the European Court of Justice, both confirmed that an independent Scotland would continue in EU membership if it so desired.

--Another argument from England is that Scotland would not be able to support itself, having "relied" on Tory coffers for 300 years. One of the biggest sources for Scots financial stability is North Sea oil. According to the chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry, the oil reserves in the North Sea (Scotland territory) will last another 100 years, and at the moment, only half of the potential is being drilled for. Add to that the whisky trade and tourism, and Scotland can look forward to a black ink future.

It seems to this outsider that England's true motives for retaining Scotland in the union is financial. Perhaps, once England bankrupts itself, Scotland will make a bid to unionize her!

The Wishaw Press
Herald Scotland
The Telegraph
Newsnet Scotland

Posted by: Robert Phoenix 16-Apr-2012, 07:31 PM
To comment on the above Scottish indepence story. A friend of mind who is really big into the whole goverment conspiricy thing always says follow the money. I'm guessing some of those who oppose Scottish independence are looking at those oil fields and are thinking alot about the profit those pull in. But one has to wonder how much will Scotland get out of those. Which big oil company owns the rights to those fields and are they willing to work with a independent Scotland?

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