Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 572

Issue # 572                                                  Week ending Saturday 3rd October  2020

Who Wants to See More of the Really Rude Puppets? I Think We Should Have A Show of Hands
by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

If reports from America are to be believed, the billionaire president Donald Trump only paid $750 in federal taxes in 2016 and 2017. Being self-employed myself, I know how my tax bill can vary when I’ve had considerable work-related expenses. However, although I bought a new computer, a printer and printer ink that year, even I paid more than $750 in 2016 - a heck of a lot more. Maybe I should also mention that I am not a billionaire. You probably wondered.

Such people have huge earnings but they take almighty risks and can suffer big losses. The average annual tax bill for both Barack Obama and George Bush was not unadjacent to $100,000. Who knows the reasons for the difference? Actually, I do. Hidden in those figures from the New York Times is an entry that goes some way to explaining them. Unlike myself, Mr Trump claimed tax back for his “hair styling”.

If he had not claimed for his occasional trim, his tax bill would be $70,750. He claimed $70,000 a year for what the girls at The Barbers on Kenneth Street, opposite Stornoway Free Church, charged me £9 for. I think that price may have gone up a bit after lockdown, but not by enough to change your expenses by much. So if Mr Trump wants to cut down on his annual expenses, he could stop off at Stornoway, again, and head for Catherine and Gracie’s clip joint.

And they won’t poke fun at your hair like those awful late-night American TV shows. Ah, remember when we used to laugh at politicians in the UK. They had big noses, evil eyes and were very, very rude. And they were puppets, because we were all bored with the real ones.

We preferred the latex version of Maggie Thatcher, with her eyes almost as piercing and scary as her actual ones, and, later, the grey man, John Major. Spitting Image lampooned them all mercilessly.

You don’t remember Spitting Image? They even had a very silly song out. Here’s a clue:

“Hold a chicken in the air, stick a deckchair up your nose
Buy a jumbo jet, and then bury all your clothes.”

You remember that from the dim and distant, eh? It was one of the most deeply meaningful, funny and also one the most annoying songs of the 1980s, and there were quite a few.

For many years they had become unfunny, forgettable and tediously predictable in that they said and did. David Cameron, Nick Clegg and, ooh, I forget the rest of them, came and went without leaving as much as a footprint in the sands of history. Iain Duncan who? Who Osborne? Andrew Mitchell? Michael Gove? Where are they now? What? Number 10 is on the phone? Mr Gove is still around? Yes I know, but why?

Then ... boom. Five years ago, the tectonic plates shifted and a shaft of light from out beyond the planet Krypton sparked the awakening of hunger and ambition in two sleeping giants. Actually there is no planet or a grandfather of Superman with that name, by the way.

Krypton is actually one of the so-called noble gases which we all heard about in chemistry but which few of us now remember. The only thing I do recall is that noble gases do not react with anything. They are very stable but maybe just a tad dull. So maybe the Holyrood wags did not have the nickname Krypton for beleagured Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard because they thought he was related to Superman after all. Ah.

Anyway, it was back in 2015 that a couple of bright sparks called Donald Trump and Boris Johnson, a man who really should spend more on hair styling, decided to chase their respective main prizes and politics suddenly became more interesting. I didn’t say better, just more interesting. The rest is history - or it will be soon. It is still quite, er, interesting, Which is why the team from Spitting Image have also woken up and started again baking the latex moulds and papier-mâché to make new ugly puppets of esteemed politicians.

Now the ludicrous latex lampooning is back. The cruel puppeteers of Spitting Image have decided that there are now enough characterful political types around for them to take the mickey. Characterful? For characterful, read worth making fun of. Sadly for them, the trailers seem to show that Boris and the Donald are likely to feature heavily. Sorry, guys. You can see it on Britbox from this weekend. And here’s a wee tip. If you have any ee pay-monthly account, you can get Britbox free for six months.

If Donald Trump does call in, I hope there aren’t communication problems like I had at The Barbers. My hairdresser asked what I wanted and I said a Number Two. Yes well, that was the first bit of confusion. When we sorted that out, she asked: “Should I cut your hair at the back?” I replied: “No, a ghraidh. What’s wrong with doing it right here in the chair?”

Nicola Sturgeon Slams Scots Having House Parties As Cops Called Out to More Than 300 Last Weekend

Nicola Sturgeon has slammed Scots still having house parties after cops were called out 300 times to deal with them last weekend.  Strict lockdown rules introduced last week means no one should be hosting social gatherings inside their home.  But Scotland's top cop today today revealed his officers responded to at least 300 indoor gatherings across the country between Friday and Sunday morning.  Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said at least 101 fixed penalties were issued and 14 arrests made while responding to complaints of house parties.  Analysis suggests house parties are being held across the country in every community and age group.  Asked about the number of parties at her daily media briefing, the First Minister said: "These figures have to be seen in context of a population of 5.4 million people. The vast majority of people in Scotland are abiding by the rules and they have my deep appreciation for that.  But anyone that's not - particularly anyone that's flagrantly breaching very clear rules about house parties - should take a long hard look at themselves, because we know that house parties are one of the risk factors that can cause this virus to spread."  She added: "I think house gathering is perhaps a better description. When you say house party, people think of events with dozens of people there. This could be a smaller number of people, bit with different households mixing."  The Chief Constable said: “There is no doubt that house parties or house gatherings are not permitted and there can be no excuse for arranging, attending, or hosting a house party.  It is against the law. Where officers encounter blatant, wilful, or persistent breaches, we will take decisive action to enforce the law.”

Dundee's Drug Problem Remains 'A Challenge'

Dundee still faces a "significant challenge" in tackling the city's drugs problem, a new report has found.  The Accounts Commission found improvements had been made in some areas but the city still has Scotland's highest rate of drug deaths.  The watchdog praised the city council for projects such as redeveloping the waterfront.  But it said poverty and inequality meant the city still faced "complex and deep-rooted challenges".  The commission's report said Dundee City Council was ambitious and "well-led" but needed to move "from incremental to transformational change across all its services".  In particular it flagged up the need to "make quicker progress in narrowing the attainment gap for more vulnerable or disadvantaged children".  Tim McKay, interim deputy chairman of the Accounts Commission, said projects such as the V&A Dundee and the new railway station had helped reinvigorate the city. But he added: "Whilst there has been much improvement to the city and services, those in disadvantaged areas have not all benefited from that transformation. The significant investment to transform parts of the city, most notably the waterfront, sits in marked contrast to the endemic poverty, inequality and drug-related deaths." Dundee City Council welcome the recognition of improvements made since it was last audited five years ago. Council Leader John Alexander, said: "This report showcases the excellent work that's being carried out in the city by the council and its partners in a number of areas. "It reflects well the progress we've made as well as some of the challenges we face going forward."

Offshore Workers Face 'Significant Barriers' to Switching Jobs

Significant barriers are preventing workers transitioning from oil and gas to renewable jobs, a report has claimed.  More than 75% of offshore workers surveyed said they would be willing to make the move between sectors. Half of them said their first choice would be a switch to wind energy.  But many have expressed concerns that there are limited opportunities for them and that retraining is prohibitively expensive.  Industry body Scottish Renewables said it was working to narrow the skills gap between the two industries. The Scottish government said it was working with the UK Westminster government to ensure they were both doing all they could "to protect jobs and retain vital skills." Creating a so-called green economy is a key mechanism for both governments' recovery plans from Covid.  Friends of the Earth Scotland, Greenpeace and Platform say their joint survey shows there needs to be more engagement with workers if there is to be a "just transition" away from fossil fuels which does not penalise the workforce.  The groups spoke to more than 1,300 offshore workers and found 81% were open to leaving the industry.  The survey also said that 91% of respondents had not heard of the term "just transition". Ryan Morrison from Friends of the Earth Scotland said: "Despite the Scottish government's rhetoric, the idea of a just transition has failed to reach the overwhelming majority of the workers who will be most directly impacted. Workers' voices must be at the centre of that transition process. The government must ensure oil and gas workers are supported into secure and sustainable jobs." One self-employed oil worker - who does not wish to be identified - told BBC Scotland it would cost him thousands of pounds to repeat courses already completed for oil and gas.  He said: "Except for ship-to-ship transfer, to my knowledge, they are exactly the same courses so it's very difficult for anyone to transition. If that's the route that the market's going to take then it would be sensible for them just to have one standard so that people can finish a project and then be looking for another within wind or oil and gas." Scottish Renewables said the survey chimes with similar work they conducted last month. They also found that 77% of workers were positive about retraining to join the renewable energy sector.  Nick Sharpe, the industry body's director of communications, said: "The skills which have been developed in oil and gas are in many cases readily transferable to renewables.  We are working closely with many parties, including the Scottish government, on narrowing the skills gap between the two industries so that those workers who want to move can do so."  Scotland's Energy Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, said the oil and gas industry had a "crucial role to play in the energy transition required to move to an economy and society that generates net zero greenhouse gas emissions". He added: "Now, more than ever, we need a just transition that supports sustainable economic growth and jobs."

Gaelic Language PR First for Moray Agency
A north creative communications agency is planning to create a PR first by offering a Gaelic language service.  Forres-based Spey is looking for a Gaelic graduate to help deliver a service which will provide businesses and organisations with bi-lingual communication campaigns and materials.  Bucking industry trends and the impact of Covid-19, the growing agency is also recruiting a PR director to bolster its senior team, expanding its graduate programme focused on retaining and attracting talent to Speyside and working with industry body PRCA to recruit a PR apprentice.  The firm has expanded its client base and has been working with the world's leading whisky auction site, Whisky Auctioneer, to launch its record-breaking Perfect Collection, including a $1m bottle of Macallan. The agency is also working with Moray Chamber of Commerceon its "stay two casks apart" social distancing campaign to help the region reopen safely, and introduced a new Hebridean Food Group brand, Stewart’s Kitchen, which provides fresh pre-prepared meals to supermarkets across Scotland.  Most recently, the agency expanded its work with global drinks company Brown-Forman including managing the global re-launch of Speyside distillery Benriach’s new design and portfolio to acclaim. Founder and managing partner Jennifer Robertson said: “It has been and continues to be a challenging year for everyone on many levels, but thankfully Spey is coming out of it, stronger and more resilient than ever due to our flexible working culture, agile approach and razor-like focus on delivering great work.  Being headquartered in Speyside, supported by our second office in Leith which opened last year, we are uniquely positioned to be connected to all of Scotland, not just the cities. Indeed, when we live in a country which is predominantly rural it not only makes business sense to have a rural HQ but it is the engine driver of our creativity.  Being based in the north also has given us an added impetus to do our part to support Scotland’s efforts to protect and promote the Gaelic language.We can’t wait to recruit a Gaelic speaking PR Associate to help provide a whole new service to our organisation as well as welcome new members to our team from apprentice to director level.”  Scott McKnockiter, business development account manager with Highlands and Islands Enterprise in Moray, said: “Recruiting graduate placements is a great way for a business to benefit from fresh thinking and new ideas. At the same time, it helps attract and retain new talent in the region by giving graduates valuable practical experience in the workplace, with many being kept on after their placement ends. Spey has grown steadily over the past four years and the firm is well-placed to build on this success by attracting new clients, both in Scotland and internationally. Working over an initial 12-month period, the graduates will help the firm achieve its growth objectives by developing a Gaelic PR service and expanding Spey’s digital offering. We look forward to continuing to work with the company and seeing the progress made with the placements.”

Photographer is Thrilled with Kingfisher Encounter on River Thurso

A local photographer fulfilled a long-held ambition when she captured a striking series of pictures of a kingfisher on the River Thurso.  Melanie Roger was thrilled to encounter the male river kingfisher, a rare visitor to the county.  She thinks its presence could be linked to the generally warm, mild weather and lack of rain this summer which has caused the river to be very shallow and slow-moving over the past few months.  "It was amazing to see this wee bird on the River Thurso," she said after taking the pictures.  Often seen on the River Ness, it’s quite a rarity for us to see a kingfisher this far north.  The river has been at its lowest since the beginning of September, currently running at only one-and-a-half feet – ideal conditions for a kingfisher.  Whatever the reason, it was a real treat. It has been top of my 'must-see' things for as long as I can remember.  Who would have thought that when I did see one it would be on my own doorstep?" Melanie added: "I think there may be a pair, but it is really difficult to tell. The male and female are very similar – it's really just the beak that is a giveaway. The male has a totally black beak and the female has black on top and red below. One of my pictures looks like there may be a red bit on the bottom of the beak, but it could just be reflection from the body.  They are very territorial birds, so hopefully if we don’t have too bad a winter, and the fish are in plentiful supply, it – or they – may hang around.  I stalked the river on Sunday when the light was a bit better but was only rewarded by a couple of flypasts – I think it was showing itself earlier in the morning, though, from what people told me."  RSPB conservation scientist Rob Hughes, who writes the Caithness Courier's regular Wildlife Sightings column, said: "This is indeed a male, and a rarity in Caithness. They are occasionally reported by anglers at places like Loch Watten but rarely seen this well and photographed. There is also one in Shetland at the moment, which is also out of range."

Schools in South Uist Close After Cases Rise
All schools in South Uist in the Western Isles have closed temporarily after a rise in cases of Covid-19.  There is now a cluster of 17 cases on the island following three positive tests confirmed on Friday.  Before the start of this week, the Western Isles had recorded the lowest number of cases in Scotland since the start of the outbreak.  The cumulative total of cases has risen to 23, once three false positive results are removed from the figures.  NHS Orkney now has the lowest number of cases with 22, according to Scottish government statistics.
NHS Western Isles said one of the 17 people affected in South Uist had been taken to hospital on the mainland. The others are self-isolating.  All schools on the island have closed for the next three days as a precaution. A few staff at Taigh a'Chridhe Uile Naomh in Daliburgh had been identified as close contacts and the care home has suspended admissions, discharges and visiting.  All staff and residents at the care home will be tested. Cothrom Nursery in South Uist will also be closed until further notice after staff there were identified as close contacts.  Comhairle nan Eilean Siar said it would review the schools situation on a daily basis. NHS Western Isles director of public health, Dr Maggie Watts, said: "We would like to stress that individuals who have been identified as close contacts and advised by the Test and Protect team to self-isolate should complete their period of self-isolation, even if they subsequently have a test for Covid-19 and test negative. To respect and maintain patient confidentiality, we will not be releasing any further details at this time.  We would like to reassure our local communities and visitors to the island that we are taking all necessary steps to contain the virus but it is vital that everyone in the Western Isles follows the current Scottish government restrictions and Facts guidance to limit any spread of the virus."

Ambulances and Rescuers Blocked by Illegal Parking At National Park

Two ambulances and a mountain rescue team were blocked by illegal parking on overcrowded roads around Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. The incidents happened near Rowardennan on East Loch Lomond on Saturday and at Callander Crags on Sunday.  The first hold-up came as emergency crews were trying to help someone in trouble on Ben Lomond. A car owner has been charged after the second incident in which emergency access was cut off.  Police said there were also overcrowding and irresponsible parking issues near Ben A'an and Ben Venue in the Trossachs, and at Loch Ard near Aberfoyle. Visitors to the national park are now being warned not to park irresponsibly or they face fines and having their vehicle towed away. Insp Andy Bushell said: "There are designated parking areas within the national park. If these are all in use then vehicles must seek other permitted parking zones and not leave cars on narrow access roads or public walkways.Recent incidents of inappropriate parking have resulted in emergency service vehicles being unable to pass and this is totally unacceptable."  Simon Jones, director of visitor operations at the National Park, said irresponsible parking had become a particular issue since lockdown restrictions eased. "These incidents and the many other examples of reckless parking on roadsides and crowded car parks highlight just how dangerous this behaviour is," he said. It is extremely lucky that the outcome in both of these cases was not a lot worse, but it could be next time."

Work Begins on The Range in Drumchapel, Set to Bring 'Much Needed Jobs' to Area

Construction is set to get under way early next year at the Great Western Retail Park off Great Western Road.  The new shop will be the popular home and garden store’s second location in Glasgow – joining the London Road shop. It is understood the store is set to open in 2021. Councillor Paul Carey, who has been working with the retailer since it confirmed it would take over the 4645 square metre space in 2019, has welcomed the news. He said: “I have been working hard on this for a few years now and this will bring a number of much-needed jobs to the area.” The site will include a garden area and a café. Planning documents submitted in 2019 said the project will bring “long-overdue investment” for the Drumchapel area. The shop will be built on the ground of the former Goodyear tyre factory, which closed more than two decades ago. This is the one remaining area of land which remains undeveloped following the closure, over two decades ago, of the former Goodyear tyre factory.  Councillor Elspeth Kerr added: “I am really happy to see the building for The Range starting. The Range is a fantastic shop with lots of different things all under the same roof and will prevent the need for local people to have to travel outwith  Drumchapel and Old Drumchapel. While, at the same time, bringing in customers from elsewhere too, so more money will be spent into the local economy.  There will also be more local jobs created which also helps the people from the local area.”

Union Chain Bridge Closed Until 2022 for £10m Makeover

A 200-year-old bridge that links England and Scotland has shut for 15 months to undergo a £10m upgrade.  The Union Chain Bridge was built across the River Tweed in 1820 and was the first vehicular bridge of its type in the UK. Diversions for vehicles, foot passengers and cyclists will be in place while work is carried out. The structure was designed by Royal Navy captain Samuel Brown and has a deck suspended by wrought iron chains.  Historic England, which has contributed £250,000 to the project, said the work will include anchoring mechanisms and masonry attached to the rock face at the English end of the Grade I-listed Bridge.  Northumberland County Council Leader Glen Sanderson said: "This is another key milestone for the bridge and signals the main works are about to get underway, something we've all been looking forward to for many months.  While there is no access to the bridge we would thank people for their understanding while this magnificent structure is brought back to its former glory."  The bridge opened on 26 July 1820 with a procession of carriages and about 600 spectators. It replaced a treacherous ford where cargo and lives were often lost.  At the time it was the longest wrought iron suspension bridge in the world at 450ft (137m), but was surpassed six years later by the Menai Bridge in Wales.  The National Lottery Heritage Fund previously gave £3.14m to the scheme, while Northumberland County Council and Scottish Borders Council have also committed £5.7m.

MP Margaret Ferrier's Covid Parliament Trip 'Indefensible'

Scotland's first minister says the actions of an SNP MP who travelled to Westminster despite experiencing Covid symptoms are "utterly indefensible".  Margaret Ferrier said she made the journey because she was feeling "much better" - but also returned home after getting a positive test result.  She is facing calls to resign from opponents and SNP politicians, after she was suspended by the party.  Nicola Sturgeon tweeted her support for the decision to suspend the MP.  She said: "This is utterly indefensible. It's hard to express just how angry I feel on behalf of people across the country making hard sacrifices every day to help beat Covid. The rules apply to everyone and they're in place to keep people safe. Ian Blackford_MP is right to suspend the whip."  Glasgow East MP David Linden, one of Ms Ferrier's former SNP colleagues, told BBC Question Time she "should resign" as an MP.  His fellow SNP MPs, Kirsty Blackman and Stephen Flynn, have also called for her to step down.  Meanwhile, Ruth Davidson, former Scottish Conservative leader, told BBC Newsnight: "She shouldn't be an MP at all. That's on her and if she had a shred of decency she would [resign]," she said. Taking public transport after testing positive amounted to an "absolutely reckless endangerment of person and of life", she added.  Ms Ferrier said she took a coronavirus test on Saturday after experiencing "mild symptoms", but travelled to London on Monday as she felt better. The MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West spoke in the coronavirus debate in the House of Commons on Monday, and said she received her positive test result that evening. She then took a train back to Scotland on Tuesday.  Ms Ferrier said she had informed the police and that she deeply regretted her actions.  "I travelled home by train on Tuesday morning without seeking advice. This was also wrong and I am sorry," she said. "I have been self-isolating at home ever since."  Police Scotland confirmed they had been contacted by Ms Ferrier, saying officers were "looking into the circumstances" and liaising with the Metropolitan Police Service.  The SNP's Westminster leader Ian Blackford said he had spoken to Ms Ferrier, who accepted that what she had done was wrong.  He said: "Margaret will be referring herself to the parliamentary standards commissioner as well as the police. I am tonight suspending the whip from Margaret."  Dave Penman, general secretary of the FDA union, which represents some Commons staff, said it was "such a deliberate and reckless act". He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It's a complete disregard for others. Coronavirus is like any other health and safety issue in the workplace - we all have obligations to other people and anyone who recklessly endangers other people has to face consequences."  House of Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle wrote to MPs on Thursday evening to say he was informed after Ms Ferrier told the SNP whip on Wednesday afternoon that she had tested positive for Covid-19. "The House authorities immediately took all necessary steps in line with their legal obligations and PHE [Public Health England] Guidance," he wrote.  "On the basis of the information supplied to the contact tracing system, only one individual has been identified as a close contact in relation to this case and is now self-isolating." A House of Commons spokesperson said the House's priority was to ensure the safety of those working on the estate.  The statement added: "We have closely followed public health guidance on the action to take following a confirmed case of Covid on site.  Parliament has a dedicated team to support the test and trace teams across the UK, acting as a central point of contact in the event of any suspected or confirmed cases, where an individual has been working on the estate."

Edinburgh Christmas Festivals Cancelled

City of Edinburgh Council and event producers Underbelly said the decision followed the "latest advice" from public health experts. Any event which could attract a gathering or crowd - including market stalls and rides - will now not happen.  The council said the focus would move to celebrating Edinburgh's Christmas online this year. Edinburgh's Hogmanay street party was called off in July because of the pandemic, but organisers had hoped that other events could take place with access controlled to ensure social distancing. However, the council said it was now clear the "best place" to experience Edinburgh's Christmas and Hogmanay would be from home.  Cases of Covid-19 are on the increase across Scotland and new measures designed to stem the rise came into force on 22 September, including a 22:00 curfew for bars and restaurants.  Adam McVey, leader of City of Edinburgh Council, said: "Whilst we understand the absence of popular events will bring some disappointment, we want to be clear that Edinburgh's Christmas isn't cancelled and our businesses right across the city will be offering their usual festive cheer for us to take advantage of. We look forward to announcing details of an innovative digital 2020 programme soon to help in these celebrations."  Events in Edinburgh over Christmas and New Year have traditionally included markets, fairground rides and a fire parade which starts the city's Hogmanay festival.  The city would have also marked its 28th Hogmanay street party, which has had a capacity of 75,000 in recent years.  Charlie Wood, director of Underbelly, said: "We very much wanted to bring some festive cheer and light to Edinburgh this Christmas and to support local makers and producers, at the end of what has been a challenging year for everyone. Public health is our absolute number one priority, and with the ongoing uncertainty concerning Covid-19 and the possibility of further restrictions, we have taken the collective and very sad decision with the council, NHS Lothian and Scottish government not to proceed with this year's Edinburgh's Christmas sites in the city centre. There will be no public events which might encourage gatherings of people at either Edinburgh's Christmas or Edinburgh's Hogmanay." Russell Imrie, from the Edinburgh Hotels Association, said the cancellation of the festival would be "devastating" for businesses in the city.  "To put an event on of some sort, with Christmas markets dispersed through the city centre, at least it was something you could market for people to come to Edinburgh and it would be something for them to do with a festive feel about it," he told BBC Radio Scotland's Drivetime programme. To now hear that everything is cancelled, it almost removes the reason for people to come to Edinburgh during the festive period because they'll just be coming to a city like any other normal day over the winter period.  At least when there was a festival on it really did feel like a special occasion to visit the city."

Western Isles Band Peat and Diesel Give Up the Booze As They Go Sober for October
Three-piece band, Peat and Diesel, whose music is known for its light-hearted take on island life are giving up the booze for an entire month.  Peat and Diesel band members Innes Scott, Calum ‘Boydie’ MacLeod, and Uilly Macleod are taking part in Macmillan Cancer Support’s Go Sober for October campaign. Calum ‘Boydie’ MacLeod, Innes Scott and Uilly Macleod formed the band in 2018 after regular Saturday music sessions in their homes in Stornoway became popular on social media.  The boys, a fisherman, an electrician, and a delivery driver, shot to fame last year when they won ‘Live Act of the Year’ at the Scot Trad Music Awards. In solidarity with 31-year-old fisherman Boydie, the boys in the band and the crew of his fishing boat, Comrade, have decided to go on the wagon.  With no gigs in the pipeline and no parties to attend, Boydie said: “Apart from the rain out at sea it’s going to be a dry month. No one is saying it’s going to be easy but with the band and my crew joining in, it will certainly help. Uilly has a big birthday this month, so we’re going to have to celebrate with a cup of coffee and leave the partying to a later date.”  Uilly said: “I think I’ll cope fine with going sober but I’m not sure about Boydie. He likes his beer! I’m more of a gin and tonic man myself and Innes is tea total so this will be a breeze to him.  I turn 30 on October 25, so I guess celebrations will need to take place in November. Macmillan Cancer Support, are a much-loved charity across the Western Isles and support a lot of people in the community so it’s great to be doing something for them.” Macmillan Cancer Support is doing everything it can to help address the immediate and unique challenges that having cancer during this pandemic brings, but it needs support. Donations are vital to enable the charity to continue to be there for people living with cancer.  If you would like to donate, go to Peat & Diesel’s Go Sober page

Storm Alex: Amber Weather Warning for Rain for Scotland
Heavy and persistent rain has been forecast for parts of Scotland during Storm Alex.The Met Office has issued an amber warning for Aberdeenshire, Angus and Perth and Kinross from 18:00 on Saturday to 06:00 on Sunday.A yellow warning for rain has also been issued for eastern Scotland - from Orkney to the Borders - from 03:00 on Saturday to 12:00 Sunday. The worst affected areas could see up to 70mm of rain.  The Met Office said more than 120mm of rain was possible over higher ground in the areas covered by the amber warning. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) has issued a number of flood alerts, including for Aberdeenshire, Caithness, Tayside and the Scottish Borders. Aberdeen Council said temporary flood barriers would be erected as a precaution in Stonehaven on Saturday morning and urged residents and businesses to take steps to protect their own properties from flooding. The A83 Rest and Be Thankful trunk road through Argyll will be closed on Saturday afternoon as a safety precaution, with the Old Military Road used as a local diversion until Sunday afternoon.  Transport Scotland said motorists should expect difficult driving conditions in the north east of Scotland.  Sepa flood duty manager Marc Becker said: "We expect parts of Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Angus to be the worst affected - and property flooding is possible in several areas. "Whilst the worst impacts are expected in the north east, a much wider area covering much of the east of Scotland could also experience flooding impacts due to the heavy rain over the weekend."

Covid in Scotland: Four More Deaths Takes Seven-day Toll to 15

Four new coronavirus deaths have been recorded in Scotland in the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll for the past seven days to 15. Scottish government data also shows that the total number of positive cases of Covid-19 has now passed 30,000.  A total of 775 new infections were registered in Scotland in the last day - 12.6% of newly tested individuals.  The latest statistics also show an increase in the number of people being treated in hospital and intensive care. There are currently 175 people in hospital confirmed as having the virus, an increase of 21 in 24 hours.  Of those patients, 19 are in intensive care - four more than on Friday.  Of the new cases, 324 were in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board area, 102 in Lanarkshire and 164 in Lothian.  The four latest deaths, of patients who first tested positive for the virus in the previous 28 days, take the toll under this measure to 2,526.  National Clinical Director Jason Leitch said many of the new cases were in the student population, but he warned the virus could "leak" into more vulnerable groups and young people were not immune from its ill effects.  "All of the numbers are going in the wrong direction," he said. "However two weeks ago we put in place really quite severe household restrictions. They will not have played through into the numbers yet and I am hopeful they will. I can't guarantee it and it relies on each of us following the rules." Meanwhile Prof Leitch also appealed for people who have recovered from Covid to donate blood plasma to the blood transfusion service. Confirmed coronavirus cases by health board are:
Ayrshire and Arran – 1,776   Borders – 520  Dumfries and Galloway – 429  Fife – 1,381  Forth Valley – 1,492  Grampian – 2,362  Greater Glasgow &Clyde – 9,645  Highland – 681 Lanarkshire – 4,600  Lothian – 5,121   Shetland – 60  Tayside – 2,558 Orkney – 23

Western Isles – 39

Walter Scott's House 'Would Struggle' Without Volunteers
Sir Walter Scott's former home in the Borders "would struggle to operate" without the help of volunteers according to its latest accounts. The trust which runs Abbotsford House near Melrose saw its financial fortunes improve last year.  In 2018 it recorded a loss of more than £60,000 - but that was turned into a small surplus in 2019.  However, the accounts said it was "no exaggeration" to say volunteers were important to their operations.  A cold snap which resulted in burst pipes and snow plough charges was blamed for the losses reported two years ago.  However, the latest accounts - which cover the calendar year of 2019 - show an operating surplus of £245 on turnover of more than £1m. The number of paying visits was up by more than 10% and admissions revenue saw a similar rise. However, the accounts also flag up the financial difficulties being faced due to the site being forced to shut in March this year due to Covid-19.  The trust said that the "momentum built up in 2019" had been lost due to the closure and a 60% decline in admissions since reopening in August.  Chief Executive Giles Ingram said they were "immensely grateful" to those who had visited during a "challenging year" and also to the organisations and individuals who had supported them. He said grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Scottish government, Historic Environment Scotland, Museums Galleries Scotland and a loan from the Third Sector Resilience Fund had all been of assistance. Mr Ingram added that, along with gifts from individuals and trusts, it should allow them to "look to the future with confidence".

Last Updated (Saturday, 03 October 2020 02:43)