Some Scottish News #60 Part 1

SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1 This little effort is for the period ending 14th August 2010. Once again I’ve been able to include a small named tongue-in-cheek article which I think you will enjoy - Robin

Scottish Water Plea Rejected by Ministers

The government remained defiant last night amid growing calls for a shake-up of the way Scottish Water is owned and funded. SNP ministers insisted they had no plans to change the status of the giant utility – and were accused of “short-sightedness” and a lack of “clarity” by opposition MSPs. Accountancy firm KPMG has called for “detailed consideration” to be given to turning it into a not-for-profit company and claimed the move could generate a £3billion windfall. That followed a recommendation from the government-appointed Independent Budget Review Group that ministers “urgently review” the status of Scottish Water with a view to “realising the substantial financial benefits” of changing it. However, a Scottish Government spokesman said last night: “There are no plans to change the current status under public ownership of Scottish Water. “Scottish Water is performing well as a publicly owned corporation in Scotland and ministers have consistently said that there are no plans to change that.” Liberal Democrat chief whip Mike Rumbles urged the government to reconsider making the firm a public-interest company. He said: “If Scottish Water was mutualised – that is, owned by its own customers – it could borrow money from the open market and not the taxpayer.” Meanwhile, North East Labour MSP Richard Baker said: “We have never favoured the privatisation of Scottish Water but there are a whole range of options being brought forward by a number of bodies right now due to the state of public sector finances. The status quo, where Scottish Water is a public sector body effectively owned by ministers, means that, as money gets ever tighter for the government, Scottish Water could find it difficult to get the funds it needs to maintain the required level of investment for water and sewerage services.”

Some Things Will Never Change

The drip-drip effect of constant leaks about potential defence cuts in Scottish Army and RAF units is causing much anxiety in local communities which depend so heavily on them. We have already heard talk about another Scottish regiment being axed and this is at a time when Scots soldiers are at the forefront of operations in Afghanistan. The RAF bases at Kinloss and Lossiemouth have been a prime target in recent years for those in Westminster, who are constantly squeezing the defence budget. “Well-placed sources” have been busy again recently, placing leaks here and there in the media. It was reported that Britain’s Tornado GR4 squadrons could be grounded, some of which are based at Lossiemouth. According to reports, draft plans are being drawn up comparing the relative savings of grounding Harrier or Tornado fighters. Many will suspect that a softening-up exercise is going on to prepare people for the worst, but to actually stop short of that when the hard decisions are revealed. Although we are supposed to be entering a new era of politics, it shows some things never change.

Racist Group Planning to Target Fans At Pittodrie

Racist extremists are once again planning to target the fans of one of Scotland’s biggest football clubs. The National Front has confirmed it plans to canvass support outside Pittodrie Stadium. The group’s Aberdeen branch has announced it intends to distribute literature outside the home of Aberdeen Football Club to try to boost its membership. The National Front is a far right political party widely considered a racist group. The British prison service and police forbid employees to be members of the party. But Grampian Police is powerless to prevent members from selling papers and handing out leaflets on the streets around the ground. The club is adamant, however, that members will be thrown out if they try to enter the stadium. A spokesman for the group said they will be campaigning on local issues that are “relevant to the citizens of Aberdeen”. He said: “This may be child molesters, muggers, immigration problems with the expanding immigrant population in the city. He said the group would specifically target the visit of Celtic in December. The group has targeted the club in the past. The club is already preparing for the group’s advances. Dons spokesman Dave Macdermid said: “We have made it clear the National Front is not a group we want to see associated with a family club.”

Cuts Ahead for Culture and Leisure

Transfer of leisure facilities within the Highlands, including libraries, community centres and museums, to a trust will not save the sector from cuts, Highland councillors said yesterday. The local authority is proposing to outsource £20million of services – a move that would save Highland Council an estimated £700,000 a year in rates. Swimming pools, leisure centres, art galleries, museums, community centres, libraries and youth and adult learning services will be included in the transfer, as would more than 400 members of staff. The move is part of Highland Council’s efforts to save about £60million over the next few years, and the education, culture and sport (ECS) service, which accounts for about half of the council’s total budget, is expected to bear a significant part of that reduction. A total of 17 Scottish local authorities have already set up trusts to run some of their leisure facilities. Some have done limited transfers but, if the Highland Council proposal goes ahead, they would be only the second local authority after Glasgow to transfer all of their facilities to such an organisation. Other local authorities have experienced problems with setting up their trusts. A number of communities in the Highlands have set up campaign groups to protest against potential closure of their centres, museums and libraries.

How I Beat the Police and Got Papal Visit Criminal to Confess By iain maciver

Could the Pope be coming to the islands? All that uncalled-for frostiness and threats of boycotts may have put His Holiness off the idea of staying in the central belt for long. I can tell you that there have been quite a few pointers recently that suggest that something very papal is afoot up here. Did you know, for instance, that Aer Lingus has just announced flights from London to Knock for £24? Honestly. Have a peek at the company’s website. For those not well up on island geography, Knock is that bit of Point you come to after the first bit. A really charming village with much to commend it, it has a wee school and, er, a lovely view from up the hill of other wonderful places you could visit. And, well, that’s about it. A really lovely school, though, with windows and everything. Even although the airlines are now advertising flights to Point from London that are cheaper than a taxi from town, you can bet our council has done nothing to prepare. Have they built an airport there? Can’t say I’ve noticed. Still, at least a month to go.

Knock is just two miles from Melbost International Airport and the technical services department will just have to get its finger out and cobble together something before the middle of next month. If it quickly widens the double-track road between Seaview and Claypark, something smaller than an Airbus could land. Aer Lingus does fly BAe 146 planes, which are not as big, so the wingspan wouldn’t slice off the top storeys of quite so many of the Seaview houses. You can put these things down anywhere – unless you are Prince Charles, of course. Was it not HRH who managed to put a 146 in the ditch on Islay in 1995? That’s what happens when you try to land a 146 on a proper runway. The usual whingers will moan. Happily, the council leadership will be ready with their new mantra – we are doing it for the good of your health. Everything they do, apparently, is now for the good of our health. They have denied the golf club a Sunday licence and are keeping the sports centre closed on Sundays, all for the good of our health. Brilliant. Anywhere else in this country, hordes of people would be taking to the streets and asking what these people are on. There would be letters to the papers, calls for votes of no confidence and intervention by the government. Not here. Everyone seems fine with decisions which fly in the face of logic. It’s a heart-stopping approach to decision-making which is making the Western Isles what it is today. Luckily for them, no one cares. Now that the NHS has decided that ward visits in hospitals by ministers are merely spiritual health, they can say the same about a papal visit. Forget those blood pressure tablets, come and see the Pope instead. A parking area for the papal plane will be needed so the Pope can come down the steps and kiss the holy soil of Innse Gall. Oh dear.

Guess what? What? Point football pitch is absolutely adjacent. It could have been put there for that purpose. Of course. Why didn’t I think of that? And the clubhouse Ionad Stoodie would be ideal for the big man to meet the great leaders and decision-makers of the peninsula. The Vatican security briefing is very specific. It says only those who can prove their ID can get in. So that’s Messrs Iain Don Maciver, of CalMac, and Iain D. Campbell, of the Free Church. That’s fine; keeps it simple. It’ll be a lovely day.

Would it be a first if the Pontiff did decide to divert to Lewis? I ask because, in 1982, John Paul II also visited Scotland. A lovely, smiling man, so unlike most of the holy men we know, he visited Bellahouston in Glasgow and Murrayfield in Edinburgh. However, a few weeks later, an island newspaper had a jaw-dropping front-page story under the headline: “Sign of the Times – The Pope on Lewis.” Someone on holiday in the capital just after the Pope’s visit saw the signs were still up. He put a few in his boot. A few days later, a number of yellow 5ft x 4ft signs suddenly sprouted up outside Free Churches in Back, North Tolsta and Bayble, the FP church in Stornoway and on a Gress telephone pole. They said “Papal Visit” and, because they were urging drivers to go straight ahead, the signs pointed upwards. Pandemonium. Was the Pope indeed in the island? Was it the end of the world as the Free Church knew it? People kept saying they thought it was a sign. Yes, Sherlock, it was. The cops said it was none of the usual pre-CCTV Saturday night window breakers for which the island was then notorious. The file is probably in Church Street nick, still lying open. Now the offender has, as His Holiness has always urged us, made a confession – to me. I can reveal exclusively that, 28 years almost to the day, the phantom sign erector tells me he has seen the error of his ways. He has carved a career in the media. It is not ideal, but probably better than walking the streets nicking road signs and causing much gnashing of teeth in more-fundamentalist churches. Will Stornoway CID do a cold case review like they do on the telly? Probably. Will I be taken in? I was in London in 1982, but if that blonde sergeant is on duty I will suggest she gives me a strip search to be sure. Spare a thought, though, for my friend tonight as he waits for the inevitable knock on the door, the slumped appearance in the dock and the shame that will be heaped on him.

Don’t worry, M, we will have a great party – whenever you get out.

Heartache As Charlene Found Dead in Australia

A young Inverness woman who moved to Australia to start a new life with her boyfriend has been found dead in her bed. Charlene Ganson’s distraught family now have to find the thousands of pounds needed to bring the body of the hotel worker “who lived life to the full” back to Scotland. The cause of the 22-year-old’s death is not yet known as the outcome of a post-mortem examination is still awaited. Her heartbroken parents had planned to hold a surprise party in Inverness next month when their daughter returned home for the first time in two years. Miss Ganson’s mother, Lynne Andrews, 40, a nurse, and her father, Harold Ganson, 44, both of Smithton Park, Inverness, need to raise about £4,000 to bring her home. Miss Ganson was found dead in a hotel in the Blue Mountains region of New South Wales, where she lived and worked. She emigrated in 2008 after meeting Australian boyfriend Neil Colvin, 37, who visited Inverness on holiday. Miss Ganson had started driving lessons in Australia and kept in touch with her family and friends back in the Highlands by phone, text messages and through social networking websites. The British consulate contacted Northern Constabulary following her death and police officers then broke the news to her parents.

Decisions, Decisions in the Modern World

They say it’s nice to be spoiled for choice, but is it? A new university study reveals that many of us are paralysed by indecision because there is so much choice out there. Even when we have finally chosen to buy something, five minutes later some of us think we made the wrong choice and want to change it. The problem can range from small decisions to which political party to vote for. Maybe life would be a lot simpler if there were fewer university studies to confuse us, although that might be a definite-maybe as we are probably in two minds over that as well.

Police Told to Cover Tattoos

A legal challenge is set to be mounted after Lothian and Borders Police ordered all officers to cover up their tattoos while on duty. A group of officers is seeking support from colleagues for the court bid using the Human Rights Act. The move follows the implementation of a new policy which means officers must "cover any tattoos that are not currently obscured by the standard dress code". The crackdown would see some uniformed officers forced to wear long-sleeved shirts, even in the summer months. Until now, the force only took action against tattoos which were racist, offensive or sectarian, but police chiefs said an increase in would-be recruits with "very extensive tattooing, including completely covered forearms" had prompted the decision.

Scotland Among World’s Worst for Drug Abuse

A new study has revealed Scotland has some of the worst drug abuse rates in the world, and the situation is getting worse. The international survey by the UN includes results from 200 countries, and shows greater per-head use of heroin, ecstasy and cocaine in this country than almost any other. Shocking figures show that almost 4% of the population is regularly using the class A drug cocaine – the highest rate recorded anywhere. Around 1.5% of Scots adults inject or smoke opiates – almost three times the world average. Only five nations – including Afghanistan, where the majority of heroin is cultivated – recorded higher levels of abuse than here. The others were Iran, Costa Rica, Russia and Mauritius. Scotland’s ecstasy problem is a third higher than in England and Wales, as 2.5% of the population has the habit, showing almost a 50% jump in the last six years. No other nation has such a consistent track record for topping separate drug use tables. Professor Graeme Pearson, former head of the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency, slammed the government for not tackling the problem head-on. He said: “Education, diversion and treatment activities to reduce the problem have been largely missing over the last three years. If you have a successful drugs strategy the number of problematic drug users will fall but there’s no evidence to suggest that is happening.” An international study by the UN published in February this year found there were 656 drug offences per 100,000 people in Scotland. Second-placed Iran recorded 619 per 100,000. The figures, which compared drug-related crime, possession and abuse across more than 70 states, put Scotland’s drug crime rate at more than double that of England and Wales, and six times the worldwide average.

House Prices Rise 5.3% in A Year

House prices in the north and north-east are on the rise – but estate agents are cautious about the fragile recovery. The Registers of Scotland house price report showed they rose by an average of 3.6% in the second quarter of this year, and by 5.3% since the same time last year. The average volume of residential sales was up 29.6% in the second quarter of 2010 and by 17.1% year-on-year. The biggest annual increases were in Perth and Kinross, the Western Isles and Angus, with prices up 15.2%, 10.7% and 10.2% respectively. In Moray, Argyll, Dundee and the Highlands, prices also rose, although increases were more modest. Prices in Orkney, Shetland and Stirling prices compared with the same period last year. Meanwhile, figures released by the National House Building Council (NHBC) showed a slowdown in the number of applications to build homes since April. But the number of applications for the second quarter were 32% higher than for the same period last year, rising from 1,735 to 2,295.

National Award for Hebridean Seaweed Company

Hebridean Seaweed Company has won the prestigious Marine Business Award at The Crown Estate Business Awards 2010. The judges Dinah Nicols and Rob Hastings commented: "The Hebridean Seaweed Company is this year's clear winner of the Marine Business Award. In just four years the company has grown to be the country's largest industrial seaweed processor. It is a true model of sustainability, harvesting a renewable resource in an environmentally responsible way and creating much needed year round jobs on the Isle of Lewis. The Company has adopted an innovative approach to blending traditional and modern cutting methods and is strongly committed to quality, and The Crown Estate is delighted to recognise its achievements with this award for excellence."

Central Belt to Be Spruced Up with New Woodlands

Hundreds of thousands of pounds is to be spent on environmental projects to spruce up Scotland's Central Belt. The six-figure package to be announced today will be used to develop woodland and create more wildlife habitats in cities such as Edinburgh and Glasgow, with cash also going to surrounding areas. Forestry Commission Scotland, which is in charge of the fund, said the £362,731 would make the country's Central Belt greener. One of the big winners among the 17 projects getting a share of the cash is a scheme to tidy up woodland and encourage more wildlife at Edinburgh's Pentland Hills regional park. Ian Whitehead, of the Lothian and Fife Green Network Partnership which is in charge of the park project, welcomed the £32,288 from the fund. He said: "We are very pleased to be getting this money as we've put a lot of work into this. We want to make big changes to the woodlands and create more wildlife habitats and improve the site generally. There's tree planting and tidying-up to do in the area, which can involve dealing with trees that have fallen over." Another scheme benefiting from the cash is a Glasgow City Council initiative to improve the appearance of the River Clyde running south from Glasgow Green at Polmadie Bridge to the Cunningar Loop. A city council spokesman said the £50,000 would help "improve access to a clean, safe and natural environment in the East End of the city." There is also £15,000 for an RSPB Scotland project to encourage more wildlife habitats and improve the landscape along the inner Forth.

Project Lets Islanders Work From Home

People living in remote areas across the Highlands and Islands have been recruited to an innovative project that allows them to work from home. Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has been working with business services provider Arise UK and its client, Shop Direct Group, to find skilled people for the project.The latest recruitment round has taken place on Bute. Former sales rep Ron Turner moved back to the island from Cumbernauld and now works 30 hours a week handling inquiries and orders from home. He said: "Really you can work from anywhere as long as you have broadband and a phone. Being able to choose which hours to work is also a real benefit. I just can't stress just how strong an opportunity this is for people who want to work in rural areas or who have other commitments." Arise has a four-year contract with Shop Direct Group, the UK's largest home shopping organisation, with brands including Kays.

Scots Designer Who Turns Roadkill Into Sporrans to Die for

An integral part of Highland dress, the sporran can come in many shapes, sizes and colours. But an Inverness-shire woman has found a novel twist on the old leather or sealskin item by crafting them from roadkill found on country lanes near her home. Kate Macpherson collects dead badgers, foxes and stoats from the sides of roads and, using her taxidermy skills, incorporates their heads into striking finished products. The 46-year-old has faced criticism from animal rights campaigners because of her decision to leave the animals' faces on the sporrans.But the mother-of-three has defended her one-woman business. "If I didn't pick up these animals they would be rotting in a ditch," she said. "I'm creating something useful from them rather than allowing their beauty to be wasted. But they're not for everybody I admit. People seem to either love them or hate them." A trained taxidemist of almost 25 years, Ms Macpherson was inspired by seeing pictures of her army captain father, whose Argyll regiment wore badger-carcase sporrans. Ms Macpherson, who also uses Victorian animal wraps and discarded game from the shooting industry, works from her farmhouse near Beauly. She produces 100 unique sporrans a year, with each one taking two weeks to make. They cost from £120 to £495, the most expensive being a badger or fox with a cantle - a metal sporran top. Duncan Chisholm, chairman of the Kilt Makers Association of Scotland, said that she was reviving a traditional form. "Sporrans used to be made from a variety of small animals - pine martens, otters or wild cats - though a lot of them are protected nowadays," he said. "The key thing is that it has to be practical in both size and wearability, as it's got to be worn on a frequent basis." Mr Chisholm, who owns a kilt shop in Inverness, said that sporrans made using real skins scored over ones made from synthetic animal hides which tended to look slightly garish when surrounded by the natural fibres used to make kilts. The sporran has already been a focus of controversy after the European Union banned the sale of seal products across the continent - effectively ending the use of the skin in the manufacture of the accessory. The ban will come in later this year. .

Challenge Issued As Prince Pays Visit to Heritage Centre

Prince Charles yesterday set a challenge for the Castletown Heritage Society when he made his first visit to its award-winning centre at Castlehill. The prince, who gave the royal seal of approval to the premises, suggested that the society might restore the old 15ft-high "windmill" which played a key role in the nearby flagstone works in its heyday in the 19th century. Neil Buchan, who is the organisation's technical projects manager, said the restored facility would be "an amazing attraction" and said the society would definitely look at the viability of it. He explained that the flagstone works at Castlehill were originally powered by a waterwheel and pump and the windmill-type structure was part of the system. The waterwheel and pump were later replaced by a steam engine. Speaking shortly after the prince's visit, which lasted about 90 minutes, Mrs Murray said the heir to the throne was impressed by what he saw and appreciated the hard work that had gone into turning the former byre and dairy into a visitor attraction. He was delighted by the community use of the building, which not only accommodates the heritage centre but serves as a traditional skills venue for workshops, including drystone dyking, rope-making, spinning and weaving and croft crafts. The building also houses a wood-turning group, amateur radio enthusiasts and provides a facility for a local archaeological project. The Castlehill Heritage Centre is housed in Harbour Road in the buildings and grounds of a 17th-century byre and dairy. Since 2006, the society has renovated and developed the premises to create a highly-successful heritage-based visitor attraction. The building features themed exhibitions on the history of the village and parish of Olrig, with special focus on the Caithness flagstone industry.

Union Plan to Disrupt Pope’s Scottish Visit
Workers embroiled in a dispute with the agency running Glasgow’s museums and sports centres will step up their action by disrupting plans for the Pope’s visit next month. Venues run by Glasgow Life hosting key clerical dignitaries would be the primary targets of planned action on the day, while one proposal being discussed by union leaders would see a banner attached to a Cessna aeroplane hired for the day that would claim the pontiff’s support for the striking workers. The unions claim they plan to discuss the proposal for the aerial protest with the Civil Aviation Authority in the coming days to establish if there will be any airspace bans on September 16 when the Pope visits Scotland. One union leader has even called on the Pope’s personal protectors, the Swiss Guard, “to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with striking Glasgow Life workers”. However, sources at Glasgow Life, formerly Culture and Sport Glasgow, have described the plans as “expensive stunts to disrupt a papal Mass” that will not go down well with rank-and-file members. The Palace of Art and Bellahouston Leisure Centre, both within the boundaries of Bellahouston Park where the Pope will deliver Mass to about 100,000 worshippers, will house hundreds of members of the clergy and other invited guests on the day. The buildings are run by Glasgow Life and unions believe that by withdrawing labour they could throw the visit into turmoil. The dispute has been running since the turn of the year and centres around the cancellation of overtime payments and a reduction in terms and conditions that is seeing the annual incomes of some low earners reduced by up to £2000. High-profile events already targeted include athletics events and the Glasgow Boys exhibition at Kelvingrove.

Family Say Mine Fall Death Was Cover-up

The family of a woman who died after falling 50ft down a disused mineshaft yesterday accused Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Service of a corporate cover-up over the death. Hugh Cowan, whose stepdaughter Alison Hume spent six hours trapped in the mine near Galston, Ayrshire, while officers stood about on the surface, said the fatal accident inquiry into her death had been traumatic for relatives. “Today it was a very difficult one for us. There was no rhyme nor reason to it; it was like they were trying to cover their tracks all the time,” he said, after the final day of evidence at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court. A senior fire officer earlier admitted to the hearing that cost-saving may have contributed to delays in introducing equipment that could have saved Ms Hume’s life in July 2008. Former area commander Charles McGrattan, responsible for shaping policy on safety equipment, had previously been accused of failing to introduce the rope-rescue equipment because the force would have to pay firefighters extra. Mr McGrattan, 55, said it was common knowledge throughout the service that officers using rope-rescue devices would be paid more for their work. Had officers been allowed to deploy this equipment – a version of which is attached to fire appliances as standard – the death of Alison Hume may have been avoided, the inquiry has previously heard. In the event, a volunteer mountain rescue team from Strathclyde Police pulled Ms Hume from the mineshaft after six hours. She suffered a heart attack, and died in hospital. The inquiry has now concluded, and presiding Sheriff Desmond Leslie will present his determination in due course.

Search Halted for Missing Fisherman

Four lifeboat crews and up to 20 fishing vessels scanned an area of just under five square miles before the search for a teenage fisherman who went missing after his boat and a passenger ferry collided was called off. Rescue crews stepped down the search for the 16-year-old, believed to be from North Shields, on Friday afternoon, Coastguards said. He was on board the Homeland vessel with his brother when it made contact with the Scottish Viking ferry off the coast of St Abbs in Eyemouth, Berwickshire. The 20-year-old elder brother - who is the boat's skipper - was pulled from the water by another fishing boat.

University Place Scramble to Be the Toughest Yet

Scottish pupils who narrowly missed out on their desired exam grades face one of the toughest ever scrambles for university and college places. The unprecedented squeeze has been caused by factors such as the highest ever number of applications to further and higher education as a result of the recession and record pass rates at Higher level. Figures published yesterday by Ucas, the higher education admissions service, show that 20,651 Scottish applicants have already snapped up places at colleges and universities, compared to 19,944 last year – an increase of 3.5%. The figures come after it emerged yesterday that a record 74.6% pupils passed their Highers – the highest figure since 2000. Three weeks ago, Ucas revealed that the number of Scottish applicants to universities and colleges had risen by nearly 5% to 43,234. Last night, university principals, lecturers and student leaders yesterday warned prospective students not to delay decisions over their future. The University and College Union (UCU), which represents university lecturers, said it was concerned that many students would miss out on places, despite record acceptances. The union called on the Scottish Government to expand the number of higher education places to ensure no-one missed out. Mary Senior, UCU Scottish official, said: “We welcome the record number of acceptances for Scottish students, but the fact thousands more will miss out on the opportunity to better themselves is tragic. “The situation exposes the folly of the decision to cap student places and to impose such heavy penalties for universities who over-recruit. Other countries are increasing the number of graduates to compete in a high-skill knowledge economy while Scotland stands still. It is now imperative we find funding to ensure we close this skills gap.” A Scottish Government spokesman welcomed the Ucas figures. “We have provided record levels of funding to universities this year, nearly £1.1 billion, and supported an additional 7500 student places precisely because of the difficult economic times,” he said.

Football Yobs Run Riot Along Royal Mile

A man is in hospital being treated for head injuries after families were forced to duck for cover as more than 40 football fans fought in "running battles" along the Royal Mile. Hours before Hibs' vital Europa League tie with NK Maribor, missiles were hurled by opposing gangs in a sustained melee that reached its height outside a Mexican restaurant. Diners within the Pancho Villa on Canongate cowered below tables as bricks, bottles, tables and chairs rained into the premises, leaving at least one innocent woman there injured by a flying chair. The injured man being treated at the ERI is around 25 years old and his injuries are not thought to be life threatening. Police have charged 30 men in connected with the disturbances - all from NK Maribor's home nation Slovenia.

An eyewitness, who asked not to be named, said: "There were two groups of about 30 and 10 that were fighting on the street. They were pulling stuff down, launching chairs and plant pots. "All the tourists were just standing there shocked and watching what was going on." He described the scene as "mayhem" and said people were being struck with chairs while others removed belts and aimed the buckle at rival fans like a mace. Unwittingly, the Mexican restaurant Pancho Villa became a central battleground in the fracas as some rioters sought refuge inside the premises. Restaurant owner, Mayra Nunez, 38, urged customers away from the windows and entrance as her business came under attack. "There were two groups - one group going down the Royal Mile with another coming up and they clashed right outside the restaurant," she said. "As they came together they were making a lot of noise and took about eight terrace chairs (from the on-street seating area] and started throwing them at each other. We moved all customers to the upper level (away from the entrance] and started trying to close the doors with people still fighting outside. I have been here for 22 years and never seen anything like this before. It is shocking. Some customers looked like they were running for their lives until we got them upstairs. It's awful hearing people saying 'is this what Scotland is like?' It's really embarrassing as most of my customers are tourists."

More Than 9,000 Spectators Entertained At Aboyne Games

More than 9,000 Highland games fans descended on Deeside at the weekend for the 143rd Aboyne games. This year’s event, dubbed the most traditional in Scotland, boasted more than 90 events and spectators were bathed in sunshine throughout the afternoon, after a damp start to the day. Staff at the event’s overseas tent recorded visitors from around 20 counties including Australia, Bermuda, Nepal and Afghanistan. They said there was a higher than normal French contingent at the games due to the village’s recent twinning with Martignas-sur-Jalle. The game’s chairman Ian Scott said:“We’ve been overwhelmed with a crowd that has exceeded expectations. We’ve had a far greater than normal number of heavies (competitors) at Aboyne including men from continental Europe.” Ronald Dinnie, from Port Glasgow, 48, helps organise the Loch Lomond Highland Games and said there may be the possibility of some changes there after his first visit to Aboyne.


Last Updated (Sunday, 15 August 2010 07:36)