Some Scottish News & Views #94

SOME SCOTTISH NEWS & VIEWS
Issue # 94                                                                        Week ending 2nd July 2011

Some Scots Australian News
The Inspection of The Cairn Ceremony in Mosman, Sydney last Wednesday which saw Malcolm Broun installed as Honorary Warden with a impressive ceremony,
was well attended, a very enjoyable day.   Pity the Gaelic Choir wasn’t there to round off the event.

Coisir Ghaidhlig Astrailianach will be singing at a Clans Kirking of the Tartan Service at 9.30am in St Lukes Presbyterian Church, Lord Street, Roseville, Sydney on 31st  July.   Clan Societies will be parading their banners and the Pipes & Drums of Knox College will play in the grounds at 9.15am and after the service. The Service will be followed by A grand morning brunch & sausage sizzle
All are welcome.

Coisir Ghaidhlig Astrailianach has been accepted to sing with 30 other choirs at the Blackheath Choir Festival  during the weekend of 26-28th August. for details of the festival please Contact 0437 255 816 or have a look at www.blackheathchoirfestival.weebly.com.

Maybe I Should Not Upset These Angry Chefs. That’s So Obvious by Iain MacIver - Courtesy of The Press & Journal

The diet started on Monday. It lasted until Tuesday. That was when I had a call from a magazine which had the ultimate job for me.  All I had to do was go round every restaurant in the Western Isles, eat whatever I wanted and then write about it. And I would get paid for that? Uh-huh. Hey, where do I sign?      Diet? What diet?

Then, just after I bit their hand off, I read about a poor woman in Taiwan who also did restaurant reviews and posted them online. She told it like it was, saying the food in one certain eatery was far too salty, the owner was a bit of a bully and she referred to some delicate issues over cleanliness.
Whoops, like the noodles, her comments didn’t go down well. The alleged bully sued. She now has to fork out $7,000 for defaming him and generally not being very nice about his establishment.
The court decided she shouldn’t have said the food was salty as she only had the dried noodles and had no way of knowing what the rest was like. And another thing - if she saw cockroaches, why didn’t she catch one as evidence?

The last thing I want is to upset our wonderful restauranteurs by writing something they take objection to. Some of them, particularly the ones who do the cooking themselves, can be a bit sensitive.  I can see it now; James from that fine Stornoway eaterie Digby Chick galloping after me along Point Street for “a quiet wee word, sunshine” with a suspicious bulge in his whites which may or may not be a meat cleaver.  Or worse; Effie in the Crown Hotel. I would be mincemeat if she started on me for criticising her wonderful high teas.

By Wednesday, I'd thought twice about it. I decided I couldn’t risk writing anything about any island restaurant. I know these guys and they can all be a bit Gordon Ramsay at times.  I’m not really worth suing either. I think I signed over everything to a couple who agreed to buy me lunch in London many years ago. Well, when I say lunch, I should explain it only took until the sixth pint of lager before I was ready to sign on the dotted line. I handed over all my wordly whatsits to some guy in exchange for a book by L Ron Hubbard about something called Dianetics. Ish thish where I shign?

All I had to my name was the clothes I stood in, which unsurprisingly they let me keep, a portable typewriter and two tins of beans. I was happy to trade them for an invitation to a meeting where all the secrets of the universe would be revealed.   When I sobered up and realised I had been force-fed Foster’s by a pair of Scientologists, I decided not to pop round to where all would be revealed. I’d already read a few horror stories. In fact, I had written some.

Not everyone is as sensible as me, though. Tom Cruise and John Travolta are more gullible. They both fell for the spiel. Don’t know how many pints it took them to not see the obvious.  Ah, the obvious. We all ask questions which, if we thought about them more, we may not have done.

Who did I bump into the other day but Jimmy, the laird of Ogilvie Towers. He’s the fellow who a few years ago, after a lifetime of poor sight due to cataracts, finally got to see the girls he was chatting up after going under the knife.

Being in licensed trade for many years, he was organiser of the Stornoway publicans’ day out. Back then, the pubs were ordered to shut up shop on the Thursday of the Stornoway church communions. A pride of pint-pullers would club together for a bus and head off on a jolly boys’ outing to another jurisdiction.  They would set off with the best intentions of visiting somewhere new. Motoring along along the Lochs Road, they would wonder loudly whether they should chooose the Dounes Braes Hotel in Carloway or Scaliscro Lodge in Uig. Conversation would become so animated with such memorable contributors as ex-Clachan Bar boss Jim Morgan, and James himself, that the driver always forgot to take the correct turn-off. In fact, he always forgot to take any turn-off.
Which was why they invariably ended up in Harris. I know what you’re thinking, but no; the driver was the one without a half-bottle.

It was during one of these biannual excursions that Jimmy first met Harrisman and bon viveur Mr John Shaw. A former globe-trotting seaman turned bakery worker, he must by chance have popped into the Macleod Motel for his usual refreshing orange juice. Coming across the Stornoway jolly boys, it wasn’t long before they were all very refreshed.  Then a thought struck Mr Shaw, who lived up in Lewis. Maybe he could get a lift back to his digs with this thirsty throng of communion-dodgers.  So he inquired of Jimmy: “I don’t suppose you’re going through Ballalan?”

Jimmy blinked. He did a lot of that back then before his operation. He fixed Mr Shaw with that famous piercing gaze that you need four eyes to perfect. Jimmy wondered if he had somehow missed some vital link in the islands’ transportation network. Was there any other way to get back to town without going through Balallan short of going by sea or air?  In case this was someone who knew some secret trails for getting to Stornoway via Loch Lanagavat, Jimmy decided to keep in with the mysterious all-knowing stranger. And that is how he became pals with my wife’s uncle.
I hope that yarn did not upset Mr Shaw either.

If there’s anyone I shouldn’t upset other than someone who knows how to use a cleaver, it’s one who knows how to use a bread slicer.

Our Children Will Soon Be Living Like Our Grandparents Did.
That’s the prediction by Professor Lynn Jamieson, co-director of Edinburgh University’s Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, as the renowned institute celebrates 10 years of charting the changing social patterns of Scotland.  It won’t be long before families revert to the thrifty ways of past generations to meet the challenge of issues such as global economic recession and climate change, insists the professor. With a falling birth rate, a steady move away from church weddings, the introduction of civil partnerships and more children being born outside of marriage, the picture of the modern family is a long way from our grandparents’ model of the war-years family.   However, Prof Jamieson said she expected future generations will shun the conspicuous consumption prevalent at the beginning of the decade and rediscover a way of living that was once the norm for the current elderly generation.  “It will be finding we perhaps have to live closer and not travel so much, and passing on the values of ‘make do and mend’ and not the values of the current adult generation.”

Among the significant trends of the past 10 years has been the shift towards more babies being born outside of marriage than to parents who are wed. The threshold was crossed three years ago, and 50.2% of babies were born to unmarried mothers in 2010.  Scotland’s falling birth rate reached a historical low in 2002 when less than 50 babies were born to every 1000 women. The number of births has shown an increase in recent years, with a rate of 56.2 in 2009. But Prof Jamieson said it was not yet clear whether this was a trend or a “blip”.

Wind Energy Company in Jobs Boost
A wind energy company will create around 40 jobs by the summer for its planned offshore wind technology centre, the First Minister said.  Alex Salmond also announced £1.5 million of funding assistance to support the development of the renewables base on the outskirts of Glasgow by world-leading firm Gamesa.  Following a meeting between Mr Salmond and Gamesa chairman and chief executive Jorge Calvet in Edinburgh this week, the company has confirmed that the centre will be located at Strathclyde Business Park and that it has started the recruitment process.   Around 40 engineering staff are expected to be employed, with the potential to increase this to more than 100 by the end of the year, rising to 180 within three years of the centre beginning its operations.  It is due to be officially opened in the autumn.

Eagle Chicks Arrive From Norway
Sixteen white-tailed sea eagle chicks have been transported from Norway in a bid to reintroduce them to their former environment.  The eaglets, which have been taken to a temporary home in Fife, arrived at Edinburgh Airport on Friday, welcomed by the Norwegian Consul Mona Rohne and Stewart Stevenson, Minister for the Environment and Climate Change.

They are the latest additions to the East Scotland Sea Eagle reintroduction programme, a partnership between The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and Forestry Commission Scotland.  Now in its fifth year, the initiative has been reintroducing the species to eastern Scotland, with the long-term hope of restoring the birds across the full extent of their former range.  Often referred to as "flying barn doors" due to their eight-foot wing span, the white-tailed eagles were reintroduced to Scotland from 1975, after they were previously wiped out.  The new group came as a gift from Norway, and are living in purpose-built aviaries until they are strong enough to fledge.

Changing Methods of Drug Smuggling
More couriers and advanced techniques are being used by drug dealers to plough illegal substances on to Scotland's streets.  Crooks have moved away from bulk shipments, where drugs were hidden in containers with food and other goods, known as "coffin concealments", to "little and often" amounts in an attempt to beat police.  They are also using more sophisticated methods, including inserting cocaine into planks of wood, sealing it in a tombstone, impregnating it into clothing and, more recently, packaging it in sachets of jam from abroad.   Some drug “mules” are also swallowing liquid cocaine in bags, instead of cocaine packed into pellets, which form into the shape of the intestine, making it difficult to spot by x-ray.  Operation Bakus was the first time officers in Scotland had seen cocaine paste in a package amongst jam sealed in a sache.

London 2012: No Entry for Fans Who Booked Seats Online
Thousands of people who thought they had secured London 2012 Olympics tickets in the second round of sales have now been told they will not receive them.  About 15,000 fans presumed their application had been successful when they were able to book seats online after they went on sale on Friday.  However, they were left disappointed after it emerged that even though the website indicated tickets were available - they had in fact all been sold.  It appears that due to such high demand when the online booking opened at 6am on Friday morning, operators were not able to update the website quickly enough.  Some 2.3 million tickets went on sale online on Friday for ten days on a first-come, first-served basis.

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Locog) said almost 90 per cent of those who applied on Friday purchased some tickets.  Those who lost out fell foul of the way the Ticketmaster system was updated during the second-round process.  The original online ticket system was designed for the ballot arrangement used for the first-round sale of tickets where live updating was not needed.   A London 2012 spokeswoman said: "Over 150,000 applications have been processed since Friday for around 850,000 tickets. Just under 90 per cent received tickets, subject to payment. Around 10 per cent have not been successful due to the massive demand during the first two hours of sales where 10 sports sold out, some within 15 minutes."

Organisers were drawn into further controversy yesterday after it emerged that about 150,000 tickets marketed to Britain were snapped up by other European Union residents.  Sports fans in EU countries obtained almost 5 per cent of the three million tickets which went on sale in the first round ballot, Locog confirmed.  EU law means they were free to apply for the tickets, despite being allocated their own batch of seats.

Village Opens £25m Flood Protection Scheme
A new £25 million scheme to protect one of the most flood-devastated villages in the country officially opened on Monday.  Almost four out of five houses in Rothes, Moray, are at serious risk of flooding because three burns converge in the Speyside village. Flash floods caused almost £4m in damage to the village in 1997 and 2002.  Work began on the scheme three years ago. A series of channels and flood defences have been constructed throughout the village. A spokesman for Moray Council said: "The Rothes scheme has been the most technically challenging of the five flood alleviation projects which Moray Council has promoted.  A number of buildings have had to be demolished and a new road bridge has been constructed over the Rothes Burn."

National Park Seeks Right to Crack Down on Ugly Hill Tracks
The UK's largest national park wants greater controls over the building of hill tracks which it believes can scar the landscape.  The Scottish Government is consulting on plans to cut bureaucracy and give developers more freedom by removing the need for some planning applications.

But officials from the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) fear such a move could lead to more hill tracks being created, and wants to be notified before any are built.  The CNPA says there was a need for a procedure similar to that in place for agricultural buildings, where farmers have to give local authorities 28 days' notice. This gives it the chance to request a planning application or make comment on plans.  In its response to the consultation, the CNPA said: "There is tension about what is considered to be maintenance of an existing track, and in order to have consistency the CNPA proposes that all works have prior approval before works take place."  The authority's enforcement officer, Bruce Luffman, said it was important for the park authority to have a greater say. The first aim of the park was to conserve and enhance the area's natural and cultural heritage.

Duncan Bryden, the CNPA planning committee chairman, said there was evidence of tracks being built to a much higher standard than previously and the "careful and sympathetic restoration" of existing tracks was welcome.  "We recognise and appreciate the use estates and other land managers may make of their network of routes to support the land management activities that are an important part of the local economy," he said.  "However, we consider it important for the CNPA to have the ability to respond to legitimate public interest from hill-goers and others in track construction and management, especially tracks occurring or planned in higher, remote or scenic parts of the UK's largest national park - a special place to be enjoyed by many people now and in the future.  Our main concern is the impact that will be seen on the landscape of the national park if the rules on what is permitted development - that is, development without the need for planning permission - are changed.  Hill tracks, private roads and ways are not uncommon in the national park. The question is: do we really want to lose the ability to say when works will have a detrimental effect on the landscape of the park?"

Capital's Violent Crime Rate Soars
The police force covering Edinburgh has seen the largest increase in recorded violent crime over the past year, according to a new report.  The Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (Acpos) said policing performance in the country overall had "never been better", with crime levels down against the three-year average, detection rates high and good feedback on service standards.

The latest Police Service in Scotland performance report, covering 1 April, 2010, to 31 March this year, said: "The general direction of travel for the number of crimes of violence recorded in Scotland is reducing. with the exception of Lothian and Borders.  "Lothian and Borders experienced a rise of 15 per cent in recorded violent crime compared to the previous year and a 7 per cent increase when compared to the three-year average. Of particular note has been the exceptionally high number of murder cases this year - 20 in total and twice the average."  The government will publish official statistics later this year.

Lord Mccluskey Backs New Control on Supreme Court Appeals
Scottish judges will be able to block appeals going to the Supreme Court under radical proposals put forward by some the country's leading legal minds.  The recommendation by an expert group, led by Lord McCluskey, would put the High Court in Scotland on a par with its English cousin - meaning it would have to grant a "certificate" before cases could be referred to London.  Such a move would block the route used by Peter Cadder and Nat Fraser, who appealed their convictions on human rights grounds, and now expected to be taken by Luke Mitchell, the killer of teenager Jodi Jones.

However, Alex Salmond's own working group has rejected the First Minister's bid to cut the Supreme Court out of Scots law entirely and refer human rights appeals to Strasbourg instead. The working group said: "We do not suggest that the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court should be ended."  It argues that if the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg is used instead "there is the potential for further uncertainty and delay", while also stressing the need for "coherence" in the way human rights laws are applied both north and south of the Border.

The role of the Supreme Court in Scots law has become a matter of increasingly heated debate, particularly after it quashed the conviction of Nat Fraser - who now faces a retrial - for the murder of his wife Arlene.

No Split From Church of Scotland for Time Being
Stornoway High Church will remain part of the Church of Scotland for the time being.  At a congregational meeting on Tuesday night, members were balloted on the question of whether or not to split from the denomination.  This action was in response to the decisions taken by the 2011 General Assembly to allow openly gay ministers ordained before 2009 to remain in their posts and to establish a theological commission, due to report in 2013, to consider the implications of allowing gay ministers to train.74 per cent of the High Church members balloted (162) voted in principle to withdraw from the Church of Scotland while 24 per cent (53) voted to remain.

The Kirk Session had previously set the threshold at 80 per cent for those voting as the mandate for ‘Withdrawal in Principle’.  Members were given a full opportunity for questions and discussion before votes were cast.  There were three spoiled ballot places.  A statement from the Kirk Session said: “The Kirk session views this result as an insufficient mandate on which to proceed further down the road of separation (as a whole congregation) from the Church of Scotland as the 74 per cent voting for withdrawal failed to meet the necessary threshold and consequently they will not, as a Session, be pursuing this question further for the time being.”  

A spokesperson for the Presbytery of the Church of Scotland in Lewis said this was a congregational and not a Presbytery matter.  In a previous statement the Presbytery stated: “The Presbytery of Lewis re-affirms its belief that the gift of sexual activity in God’s purpose is to be confined to a faithful marital relationship between a man and a woman.”However they urged all Kirk Sessions and congregations to remain united within the Church of Scotland during this forthcoming period.  The Presbytery respectfully reminds all our people that no change to the Church’s historic position in respect of ordaining to office within the Church persons in a same sex relationship can be made prior to the Report of the Theological Commission, appointed by the General Assembly in May, to the General Assembly in 2013. Furthermore any decision taken at that Assembly, involving a radical departure from the historic position of the Church on this matter, would subsequently require, under the Barrier Act, to be sent down to Presbyteries for final ratification.”

Airport Evacuated in Security Alert
Eleven planes had to wait on the tarmac while around 500 people were evacuated from the terminal at Edinburgh Airport on Tuesday night.  Those who had been waiting in the departure lounge were then reprocessed through security following the incident at around 10.30pm.  Passengers on one flight were told that a hole had been discovered in the perimeter fence.  Lothian and Borders Police said they are investigating a security breach at the airport.

Edinburgh Airport said it followed "usual procedures" to deal with the incident.  Spokesman Gordon Robertson said: "We followed exactly the normal procedure. There were no cancellations and minor delays to outbound flights."  The 11 planes had to wait on the tarmac for around an hour but Mr Robertson added that everything was back to normal by around 1am on Wednesday.  A Lothian and Borders Police spokesman said: "An investigation is under way following an apparent breach of the security fence at Edinburgh airport last night "Police responded around 10pm and a number of flights were disrupted as part of the terminal building was closed while security checks were carried out. The airport is now back to being fully operational.

Energy Firms to Face MSP Committee
Energy companies are to face calls to justify their charges following concerns that increases to bills could leave more people in fuel poverty.  Representatives of some of the biggest firms will appear before a Holyrood committee just weeks after Scottish Power announced an average 19% increase to gas customers and 10% for electricity customers from August 1.

Scottish Power, Scottish and Southern Energy, British Gas, Npower, E.ON and EDF are all due to face questions from MSPs. Industry regulator Ofgem and consumer organisations will also take part.  The Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee decided to hold the session during its first meeting since the election in May.  In a written submission, Scottish Power said there has been a "prolonged rise" in wholesale energy costs. Its bills increase is expected to affect about 2.4 million households.  The firm says its takes its obligation to combat fuel poverty seriously with plans to invest £390 million in home insulation between 2008 and next year.

At the committee's last meeting, deputy convener John Wilson said: "I think it`s fair to say that Scottish Power has opened the door in terms of increased charges, and other companies will soon follow."  He added: "If these prices keep on rising at the rate that they`re rising then the number of people in Scotland who will be captured under the fuel poverty headline will increase dramatically."

In advance of the meeting, Scottish and Southern Energy said it "will not be possible" to discuss what prices may be charged in future.  Scottish Gas said the UK now imports about 50% of its gas, meaning increased dependence on "volatile" global markets. Its submission adds: "Global events such as the earthquake in Japan and the unrest in North Africa and the Middle East have also driven up costs in the UK's gas and electricity wholesale markets."

Swinney Warning Over Scotland Bill
Finance Secretary John Swinney has described some of the UK Government's proposals in the Scotland Bill as 'undoubtedly' damaging   He pressed the SNP's case for enhanced powers with members of the Holyrood committee looking into the legislation.  Asked if the current draft Bill could leave Scotland worse off, Mr Swinney said: "Undoubtedly that is a possibility in my view, and we don't have adequate protection to avoid that being the case."

The Scottish Government has identified six areas to be added to the Bill, including control of excise duty and corporation tax, more responsibility for broadcasting and a greater role in the European Union (EU).  Mr Swinney appeared before the Scotland Bill Committee days after documents were published on the case for devolving the Crown Estate Commission and for enhanced borrowing powers.  He criticised parts of the existing Bill, which cleared the Commons last week, including the provisions on income tax and the £2.2 billion cap on borrowing.

Mr Swinney said "dangers" still exist but added: "I take the view that if there is a way in legislation that will result in an enhancement of powers and responsibilities that can be delegated to Scotland, then I will not stand in its way.  I think people expect that stance of someone who comes from my political position to take.   I might not be rejoicing about all of the provisions. I think it's my duty to point out where there are shortcomings."  Mr Swinney, who was joined by Parliamentary Business Secretary Bruce Crawford, told the committee he is disappointed that the UK Government has not already increased the scope of the Bill.

EU Rules Out Early Support for Scots Fishermen
Richard Lochhead, the Scottish fisheries minister, yesterday condemned the failure of the European Union to impose immediate sanctions on Iceland and the Faroes in a bid to break the deadlock on mackerel quotas.   Both Nordic countries have refused to enter into an international agreement on mackerel fishing for this year. Scots trawlermen have warned that fish stocks will be badly hit.  Mr Lochhead called for immediate action against Iceland and the Faroes at a meeting of the European Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Luxembourg. But European fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki said she would not be putting forward any plans to penalise Iceland and the Faroes until October.   The Scots minister declared: "While the EU is navel-gazing and caught up in process, Scotland's most valuable catch is being plundered recklessly and without rebuke by the Faroe Islands and Iceland.  "Commissioner Damanaki has helpfully stated her serious intent on taking effective action in October, but this situation is being allowed to continue for yet another mackerel fishing season."

Western Isles Council Supporting Barra Wind Turbine Development
Western Isles Council has approved a £50,000 loan to Barra and Vatersay Wind Energy ltd to enable a project for the construction of a single turbine wind farm on the Isle of Barra to proceed.  This is the first time that such an award has been made to a community renewable energy company under the Comhairle’s Outer Hebrides Small Business Assistance Scheme, which is part-funded by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). It is hoped that similar initiatives can be supported through the ERDF project in the future.   The project will involve the construction and operation of a single turbine wind farm with an installed capacity of 900 kW. It will create a sustainable revenue stream for community-led projects on Barra and Vatersay and will be of significant benefit to the area.

Archie Campbell, chair of the Sustainable Development Committee at the council, said: “It has long been an aim of the Comhairle’s to look at ways in which communities can invest and play a direct role in the renewables industry, and the support offered under the Small Business Assistance Scheme to this project is an example of how this can be achieved. Over the course of the last decade the Comhairle has invested some £1.1 million in micro-generation in community facilities, and we are now supporting this next stage in a community renewables development.  The Comhairle has a vision of a diverse energy sector in which these islands can make an ‘above our weight’ contribution to a Scotland which aspires to produce 100% of electricity requirement from green energy by 2020.  This project and others like it are essential to make that vision a reality and allow these islands to make a significant contribution towards tackling climate change and reducing greenhouse gases, while simultaneously creating significant new community income, which will facilitate new jobs and new community development.”

Western Isles MSP Welcomes Commitment to Free Education
MSP for the Western Isles,Alasdair Allan has today welcomed an announcement made to parliament this afternoon by Education Secretary, Michael Russell, that the Scottish Government will be implementing its election promise to keep university education free for Scottish students.  Dr Allan, who is one of the ministers in Michael Russell’s department, commented: “I believe that the Government has done the right thing today for students and their parents in the Western Isles. Today’s statement is unambiguous. Scottish students will not be paying fees for tuition – a policy now accepted by all parties in Scotland, except the Tories. Funding this commitment is no small task, but we are determined not to put further and unmanageable debt burdens on Scots graduates. The average Scots graduate currently has less than half the debt of their English counterparts but graduates in England are likely to see those debts now soar with the introduction of fees there of up to £9,000.”

Harris Dental Service to Move to Scalpay
Western Isles Health Board on Thursday discussed options for the provision of Dental Services in Harris, after a notice to quit the current premises by the end of September 2011 was received by the Board.  Members considered short, medium and long term options for dental services in Harris at the meeting, and concluded that, in the short-term, the preferred option would be to temporarily relocate dental services to Scalpay Clinic whilst consultation and a feasibility study takes place to fully examine longer-term options for the permanent relocation of services.   Scalpay Clinic will be refurbished to provide temporary accommodation for the dental services, and issues of transport to Scalpay will also be investigated.

BBC's 'Bang Goes the Theory' TV Crew Visit Dounreay
How radioactive waste is dealt with at Dounreay is set to feature in a prime-time TV programme about radiation and nuclear energy.  A film crew from BBC’s Bang Goes the Theory spent two days in and around the site this week recording material for the programme. Radioactive waste forms part of the 30-minute programme, which examines nuclear energy in light of the UK Government’s renewed interest in the technology and the recent accident in Japan.  Presenter Dallas Campbell will lead the segment featuring radioactive waste.

Dallas and the film crew visited the Land and Marine barge anchored near Dounreay on Tuesday to see how a clean-up team recovers radioactive waste from the seabed. Later, they visited the beach at Sandside where particles of nuclear waste have been washed ashore.  The team went inside the Dounreay fast reactor on Wednesday to discover what happens to radioactive waste from its decommissioning.  Among those interviewed by Dallas was Mike Brown, who is in charge of dismantling the site’s fast reactors.  "It’s an opportunity to demystify radioactive waste to a national audience," he said.  The next series of Bang Goes the Theory is due to begin in August.        
Community Land Trusts Are the Big Society in Action
There is nothing intrinsically wrong with David Cameron’s idea of the Big Society, except the implication that he had somehow freshly minted the idea himself.   Many of Scotland’s more remote rural communities, with few public services, would never have survived at all without local residents prepared to go the extra mile for each another. This brand of community spirit is exemplified by Scotland’s 13 community land trusts, which now own nearly half a million acres between them. As crofting historian Professor Jim Hunter puts it: “If the Prime Minister wants to see his Big Society idea working on the ground, he should visit some of these communities.”

Today’s report on community land ownership from Dr Sarah Skerratt of the Scottish Agricultural College hails the buy-outs as a resounding success. Communities visited included Assynt, Knoydart and the island of Gigha. In each case social and economic decline has been dramatically reversed and community groups remained as active as before. Four other communities are currently attempting to follow their example, though one, the 286,800 acre Pairc Estate on Lewis, has been delayed by a legal wrangle between the owner and local crofters.

Margins of success may vary but the main lesson learned to date is that this is a process that tends to generate a virtuous circle: new jobs, justifying the construction of affordable housing that attracts new families, sustaining rural schools. Several have undertaken infrastructure projects such as roads and renewable energy schemes. These thriving communities produce more jobs and the cycle continues. Scotland’s experience suggests pump-priming community projects that foster entrepreneurialism are more effective than massive public subsidies delivered through top-down initiatives. It is a notion that chimes well with the findings of the Christie Commission on the future of public services.

Scots Tick Employer Boxes
More Scottish graduates get jobs after leaving university or secure further study than in any other part of the UK, according to new figures.  Official statistics show 90% of Scottish graduates found work or continued with their studies in 2009/10 compared to 88% in England and Wales and 86% in Northern Ireland.  The figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency also showed there was a 3% rise in the number of graduates going into employment compared with the previous year. And graduates from Scottish universities reported the highest average salaries within a year of graduation at £21,000 compared to a UK average of £20,000.  Alastair Sim, director of Universities Scotland, said: “I’m delighted to see that prospects for graduates from Scottish universities are the strongest in the UK.  This is a particular credit to the graduates themselves.”

By-election Result 'Humiliating'

Former Liberal Democrat cabinet minister Ross Finnie has branded the party`s result in the Inverclyde by-election 'humiliating'  Labour held the seat with 15,118 votes, with the SNP coming in second on 9,280.  However, the Lib Dem vote reduced dramatically, from 5,007 last year to just 627, putting them fourth behind the Conservatives who claimed 2,784 votes.

Mr Finnie said: "For Liberals to lose their deposit in the way in which we have, and be down to 600 votes - I'm embarrassed by that.  I think it is a humiliating result. The public have decided that they didn't like the offering we made them."  Labour's Iain McKenzie held the seat with a majority of 5,838 - less than half the 14,426 margin gained by his predecessor David Cairns whose death sparked the poll.

32 Arrests Amid Orange Order Parade
Police arrested 32 people, including six for sectarian offences, as an estimated 8,000 took part in the annual Orange Order parade.  Marchers from across Glasgow took part in the parade, watched by thousands of spectators, Strathclyde Police said.  This year, for the first time, the event was accompanied mainly by professionally-trained stewards employed by the organisers.  This freed up police officers to focus on sectarian behaviour, drinking in public and other offences.  Police had worked closely with the Orange Order and Glasgow City Council to devise the new way of managing the event.  The authorities had also urged marchers to behave themselves, ahead of the event.   Marchers from the city's 182 lodges paraded through George Square before heading to Glasgow Green for a rally.

Assistant Chief Constable Campbell Corrigan, from Strathclyde Police, said: "Today was a successful event whereby the Orange Order worked in partnership with police and stewards to ensure the celebrations went ahead with minimum disruption to the city.  "Unfortunately the day was blighted with some individuals who still thought drink and disorder were the order of the day.  Many of these people were issued with fixed penalty notices, however there have also been 32 arrests - six of these for sectarian offences. All those identified as committing offences were among the followers, and not part of the parade itself."

Queen Presents Regiment New Colours
Centuries of proud military tradition were laid to rest on Saturday in a ceremony that saw the Queen present The Royal Regiment of Scotland with its first stand of colours, the totemic flags that were once a rallying point in battle.  The new colours will take the place of those that were carried for hundreds of years by the old Scottish regiments that were controversially amalgamated in 2006 to form Scotland's single infantry unit.  The presentation of the new colours consigned the individual colours once carried by The Black Watch, The Royal Highland Fusiliers, The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, The King's Own Scottish Borderers and The Royal Scots to the history books.

The Monarch, who is Colonel-in-Chief and was accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, presented the Colours to the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th and 7th Battalions of The Royal Regiment of Scotland. Missing were the soldiers of The Highlanders, 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (4 SCOTS), who are serving in Afghanistan. Nevertheless, it was the first time six battalions have been on parade at the same time.

The Colours, which have acted as a rallying point on the battlefield and the location of the commander, carry upon them all the battle honours of the regiment. Around 650 men were on parade from the six battalions.  In a speech, the Queen said: "The presentation of new Colours marks the turning of a page in the history of a regiment."  She said the ceremony signified the closing of "one glorious chapter for Scotland's infantry" and a "fresh chapter" had "now opened" with the presentation of the Colours, which takes place every 20 to 25 years.  The Queen later said: "Since 1633, regiments from Scotland have been at the heart of the nation's armed forces. Only to look at the more than a hundred Victoria Crosses won by members of Scottish infantry regiments is to gauge the courage, example and duty of the Scots infantry soldier in the service of his country."

Brigadier Charles Grant, colonel of 7 Scots, said: "This is the culmination of the very best of Scottish soldiering and brings together the very best of the old and new. The colours are a tangible embodiment of the spirit of a battalion or a regiment and act as the rallying point."  The new colours follow the traditional pattern and consist of two large flags.  One is known as the Queen's colour, which records 32 battle honours from the First and Second World Wars that are common to two or more of the old regiments that were merged to form the RRS.   The other is called the regimental colour and can contain up to 46 battle honours won by the Scottish regiments either side of the two world wars, ranging from 16th-century campaigns to the 2003 war in Iraq.

Over the years, the historic regiments that now make up the one Scottish infantry regiment have accumulated 339 battle honours, the first being won by The Royal Scots at the Battle of Tangier in 1680.  Although none of the battle honours has been lost as a result of amalgamations, there is not enough room for them all to be displayed on the new colours. The choice of battle honours to be featured was made by representatives of the regiments and the curator of Scotland's National War Museum.

The demise of the old colours was greeted with dismay by those who opposed the amalgamation of the regiments.  Lieutenant-Colonel Stuart Crawford, who headed the "Keep Our Scottish Battalions" campaign, said: "Those of us who are disappointed to see the old regiments disappear feel very sad about this. But I suppose if you joined the Royal Regiment of Scotland six months ago, you wouldn't know any different.  There is no way that you could get all the battle honours on one set of colours. I assume there must have been some horse trading over which ones should be included."

Major Bob Ritchie, formerly of the Black Watch, said: "War veterans on parade, me included, are really not interested in a singular colour being presented to the new (regiment]. We are simply on parade to take back into custody our cherished regimental colour, march it off parade with dignity and give it its final resting place. It is a piece of history that we veterans did not want and never thought possible."  The parade was watched by Captain Alexander Logie, 34, a former soldier who served with The Highlanders.  "It's a shame to see the old colours go," Logie said. "My old regiment is currently serving in Helmand, so maybe they'll come back with a battle honour to add to the new colours."

Colours embody the spirit of the regiment and, although they are no longer carried into battle, they are guarded with pride and treated with reverence. When they are replaced they are laid up in museums, churches or other places of regimental significance. A standing order is still in place to destroy the colours if they are in danger of being captured by the enemy.