Some Scottish News & Views #101

SOME SCOTTISH NEWS & VIEWS
Issue # 101                                                                     Week ending 20th August 2011

Some Scots Australian News
Comunn Gaidhlig Astrailia (CGA)  are holding their Sgoil-Earraich Nàiseanta (National Summer School) for 2011 from Friday 2nd - Sunday 4th September at the Australian National University in Canberra with accommodation at University House. The courses will be taught in the facilities at ANU's School of Music, thanks to the very kind assistance of Dr. Ruth Lee Martin.  Teachers will again include  Joan Mitchell, Ron McCoy, Seonaidh Rankin, Kristina Nicholson and Angus MacLeod.  Contact Rod McInnes at CGA on 04 0482 2314.

CGA have had a few start-ups with new courses and self help groups in recent months. The Institute of Celtic Studies (ICS), in conjunction with CGA will be commencing a beginners Gaelic course at their Newcastle, NSW premises. The course will be held from 2pm to 4pm on the fourth Saturday of each month from Saturday 28th August, 2011. The course will also be run in Sydney as two one hour sessions on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month, from 6pm to 7pm. This session of the course started last Thursday 28th July, but there are still spaces available.  Contact Graham Aubrey at ICS on 02 4929 1912 or Rod McInnes at CGA on 04 0482 2314.  In Brisbane, the self-help group running from City Library is going strong under Diane Lingard's leadership.

Janet MacDonald, member and Convenor of the Royal National Mod, has told us that she will be in Sydney in November, hopefully we will catch up with what's happening with Gaelic in Scotland.

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.

Sea Eagles Take to Skies Once More
The East Scotland Sea Eagle project has released 16 white-tailed eagles from a secret location in Fife.  A group of young white-tailed eagles have taken to the skies for the first time as part of a reintroduction programme in the east of Scotland.  The 16 eagles have been released from a secret location in Fife in the latest efforts to restore the UK's largest bird of prey, which was hunted to extinction by the early 20th century, to its former range.  They arrived from Norway in June and were reared in specially built aviaries, being fed grey squirrel, roe deer and haddock, until they could fledge.

The programme to bring back the eagles, which are also known as sea eagles or dubbed "flying barn doors" because of their 8ft wing span, to the east of Scotland, has seen 80 birds released since it began in 2007. The East Scotland Sea Eagle project is a partnership between RSPB Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the Forestry Commission Scotland.  It follows a successful scheme to reintroduce white-tailed eagles which began in 1975 on the island of Rum and established a population in the west of Scotland.  A recent survey by Progressive Partnership on behalf of the RSPB, said the birds were now helping to generate at least £5 million a year on the island of Mull, off the west coast of Scotland. The survey said income from tourists on Mull has tripled in five years.

But plans to reintroduce the birds in England were shelved last year in the face of public spending cuts, as the Government's conservation agency Natural England said it was withdrawing as lead partner in the scheme.  The Suffolk coast had been identified as offering the best opportunity for bringing back the bird to England but the scheme was opposed by local farmers and landowners concerned that the birds would harm livestock.

Claire Smith, of RSPB Scotland, said: "Each bird has been fitted with a radio and wing tags so both project staff and the public can follow their progress. For 2011 we've chosen red wing tags with white letters and numbers, and as usual any sightings can be reported to us via email. Every day our older birds are spotted in locations up and down the country and we're hopeful in the next couple of years the east of Scotland could have its first wild bred chick."  Susan Davies, SNH policy and advice director, said: "More and more people in the east of Scotland are starting to spot these spectacular sea eagles in places like Loch Leven and throughout Fife as well as further afield. This is a firm sign that the sea eagle is spreading back out into areas of its former range in Scotland."

Work That is Well Worth the Effort
The work carried out by Scottish charity Includem goes right to the heart of the national debate about young people, society, crime and violence provoked by the riots in English cities.  Figures revealed today demonstrate the impact intensive work with some of Glasgow’s most serious young offenders can have. Results from the Gangs pilot run by Includem include greater social engagement, better prospects, and a 47% drop in offending rates after the scheme has finished.

Includem’s client group are, at the charity’s own insistence, the most difficult cases, the wild teenagers other agencies may have already rejected because of their levels of violence, substance abuse or sexually harmful behaviour.   The list of some of the offences they have been involved in resonates strongly with the riots in England last week – vandalism, theft, police assault and forming part of a disorderly crowd.

In a number of cases, Includem reports, sheriffs have told young people in the dock that they would have been send to jail but for the fact that they were now working with Includem. This matters because of the cost of imprisonment.  A year in prison costs taxpayers an estimated £40,000. We know that the chances of prison carrying out any useful work to tackle recidivism during a shorter sentence is virtually zero. Yet the work done by the Includem Gangs pilot scheme cost £6656 per person, and is demonstrating change.  Remarkably, some gang members have now brought along others from their peer group to sign them up for help to start afresh.

This is a small, interim study. But the results are encouraging, and a senior police officer has already described the charity’s work as “essential” to the impact he is trying to make on Glasgow’s gang problem.  Police in the city backed it from the start, he says, because they recognised that enforcement alone has a limited impact. Includem’s workers get alongside young people who distrust adults and who have given up on society and give them a stake in trying again.   Glasgow’s Gangs pilot is an example of the kind of “spend to save” approach which does not come easily to politicians, especially in the current climate. But this report is one more piece of evidence that it is the right one.

8,000 Pipers Battle for World Crown
More than 30,000 people gathered to see 8,000 pipers compete to be named as world champions.   After nine hours of fierce competition, Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band from Northern Ireland were crowned World Pipe Band Champions in the annual competition held at Glasgow Green.  The runners up were Simon Fraser University from Canada, with third place going to Scottish Power.  The event, which has been held in Glasgow for more than 60 years, drew its audience from all over the world.  This year 230 bands took part and performances started early on Saturday morning.

Water Biodiversity to Be Surveyed
Marine surveys will be conducted this year to measure the biodiversity of Scotland's seas.  Eight surveys will cover around 2,200sq miles of water.  Areas included in the operation are the outer Firth of Forth, the Minches in the north-west of Scotland and waters around Orkney. The results will help create protected areas, provide information on fish stocks and develop better maps of the seabed, as well as informing plans for renewable energy and other marine developments.  A range of techniques will be used, such as an "acoustic multi-beam survey" to create a 3D image of the seabed; underwater videoing and photography; and sampling sediment from the seabed.  Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said: "Scotland's seas provide rich marine habitats and a stunning array of biodiversity. Our waters are home to some of the world's most precious wildlife, including internationally important species. Therefore it's critical that we further our knowledge as much as we can.  This ambitious survey programme covers a substantial proportion of Scotland's seas, including areas to the west, north and east of the country. The results will improve our knowledge as we seek to strike the right balance between marine conservation and economic development."

The surveys will be carried out by Marine Scotland in collaboration with Scottish Natural Heritage; Scottish Environment Protection Agency; Northern Lighthouse Board; Joint Nature Conservation Committee; British Geological Survey; and various science institutions.

Tomb of Wallace’s Finest Knight Is to Be Restored
A forgotten Scottish knight who was William Wallace’s right-hand man is to be recognised by turning his neglected tomb into a lasting memorial.  Sir John de Graeme who died fighting for Wallace 700 years ago, is buried in Falkirk, but his resting place has suffered badly from centuries of exposure to weather and vandalism.  Now the tomb of the man who fought alongside Wallace at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297, is to be restored as part of a project funded by the Scottish Government’s town centre regeneration fund.

Sir John was the most notable casualty in the first Battle of Falkirk in July 1298, when the Scots were defeated by the army of English King Edward I.  His body is said to have been carried from the battlefield by Wallace himself and laid to rest in Falkirk Kirkyard, where Wallace is said to have vowed to avenge his death.  Now largely forgotten, the Scots hero is one of the only knights from the era whose final resting places are known to historians.  A centuries-old stone slab marking the site features, in Latin, the inscription: “Potent in mind and hand and the faithful Achates of Wallace, Graeme is buried here slain in war by the English 22nd July, 1298.”   The tomb, which features a recumbent knight in armour, has had slabs added over the centuries. In 1860, an elegant railing was added to enclose the grave, with a replica of Graeme’s sword cast at Falkirk Iron Works and mounted in place in 1869.  However, the grave has become worn, and vandals have struck over the years, breaking and stealing the sword. As part of the restoration, a new replica of the broadsword he carried in to battle will be fitted.

Falkirk historian Ian Scott, a member of a panel set up to restore the churchyard, said: “Sir John de Graeme was Wallace’s right-hand man according to contemporary accounts, and ‘one of the chiefs who rescued Scotland thrice’.  Graeme’s grave was enhanced by a splendid wrought-iron enclosure erected by Victorian admirers in 1860 on which a replica of Sir John’s sword was placed nine years later, but it has been vandalised over the years and the sword stolen.  The tomb will now be fully restored, and a new sword commissioned. New bars will be erected to protect it.”

Sir John de Graeme, of Dundaff in the Carron Valley near Denny, Stirlingshire, is recorded as the “most notable casualty” in the Battle of Falkirk.  Chroniclers record how Graeme, who had also fought in the victory at Stirling Bridge, fought and killed an English knight but failed to spot another enemy creeping up and was struck from behind through a gap in his armour at the waist.  Wallace is said to have later sought out Graeme’s body, dismounted from his horse, took Graeme in his arms, kissed him and called him his “best brother”, before carrying the body to the churchyard at Falkirk for burial.  Sir John’s gravestone inscription reads: “Here lyes Sir John the Grame, baith wight and wise, Ane of the chiefs who rescewit Scotland thrise, Ane better knight not to the world was lent, Nor was gude Graham of truth and hardiment.”

Oban Seeking £20m Loan to Develop Renewables
A £20 million plan to transform Oban into the west coast service capital for the renewable energy sector is to be lodged with the Scottish Government this week.  If the ambitious move is approved, it is predicted that 500 jobs would be created - a significant number for a town with a population of just 8,500 people.  Argyll and Bute Council leader Dick Walsh said the local authority's bid to borrow £20m under the new Tax Incremental Finance Initiative - a government scheme aimed at kick starting the economy - would be with ministers by Friday. To win approval, the council must successfully argue the case that cash borrowed will be offset by increased rates income from new businesses the project will attract.

Councillor Walsh said discussions have already taken place between the council, renewable energy and government representatives, via the Argyll and Bute renewables Alliance, about the need for a west coast service centre.  And he claimed Oban was the ideal location, particularly with the Argyll Array wind power scheme being proposed off the coast of Tiree. He said: "For once in our lives we have got an opportunity to bring jobs and new homes to rural areas of Argyll and Bute, but we can't do it alone, as a council. We are putting in a bid to borrow £20m."

Scotland Propelled Towards Green Future by First Major Tidal Turbine
Scotland's first commercial-scale tidal turbine has been connected to the electricity grid off the Orkney coast and begun generating power.  The gigantic machine which resembles an underwater wind turbine weighs 1,500 tonnes and stands 70 feet off the seabed.  Atlantis Resources Corporation hopes the 1MW device, known as AR1000, will generate enough electricity annually to power about 1,000 homes.

If the project proves successful the company is hoping to install hundreds of the machines in the turbulent waters of the Pentland Firth off Scotland's north coast.  The machine was lowered into the sea at the European Marine Energy Centre (Emec) off Orkney and will undergo a further two years of tests. Atlantis chief executive Tim Cornelius said that he was proud of the achievement of the team that successfully installed the machine.  "By connecting a 1MW single rotor device in Scottish waters to the national grid, they have achieved something that has never been done before," he said.

Mr Cornelius said it was an exciting time for the tidal turbine sector and added that they had been shown "overwhelming support" locally for helping to kick-start new employment and industry in the region.  Atlantis Resources is part of MeyGen Ltd, which has a lease from the Crown Estate to develop part of the seabed in the Pentland Firth, known as the Inner Sound tidal site. The joint venture, one of the biggest of its kind, aims to build up to 400 of the turbines in the Inner Sound tidal site in the Pentland Firth, behind the island of Stroma and the mainland, starting in 2013. This would provide enough electricity for about 400,000 homes.   Dozens of wave and tidal companies are developing machines to try to harness the power of the sea. They include Pelamis, an Edinburgh-based firm that has created its "sea snake" wave device that sits on the surface of the water, and Aquamarine Power, also based in Scotland's capital creators of the Oyster.

North Sea Oil Leak Worst for a Decade
(See last weeks issue #100 - Robin)
On Monday oil was still leaking from a Shell platform in the North Sea, in what has become the worst spill in UK waters for more than ten years.  Despite assurances from the company that the leak was "under control", oil is continuing to flow from the Gannet Alpha platform about 112 miles east of Aberdeen, five days after Shell was first alerted to the problem.  Stuart Housden, director of RSPB Scotland, said figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) showed that the spill was the worst for more than a decade.  Shell  said the flow of oil from the platform had been further reduced.  Figures held by the DECC show that other spills in the past ten years have involved half a tonne of oil or less. The total amount of oil discharged into the North Sea in 2009 was 50.93 tonnes.  In contrast Shell said about 216 tonnes of oil, equal to 1,300 barrels, may have spilled into the sea so far.  

New Teachers at Sutherland Schools
Eighty probationer teachers who will be working in Highland schools in the new session were welcomed to the Highlands at their induction in Inverness. The new teachers have started work in schools across the Highlands this week. Pupils returned to school following their summer break on Tuesday.  In total, 36 probationers have been allocated to secondary schools and 44 to primary schools in the Highlands. The number of probationer teachers in primary schools include five in Sutherland.  The 36 probationer teachers in secondary schools also include five in Sutherland.

Shamed Inverness Councillor Loses Bid for Freedom
A shamed councillor who was jailed for a year for falsely claiming £43,000 in benefits lost a bid to secure his freedom today.  A judge at the High Court in Edinburgh refused to grant John Holden, 62, bail at this stage ahead of a planned appeal against his conviction.  Holden. a former Labour Highland councillor, was jailed at Inverness Sheriff Court last week after being found guilty despite denying the benefits fraud.

Sheriff Ian Abercrombie QC told him as he sentenced him to imprisonment:  "You are not an honest man, you have deliberately and repeatedly lied over many years."  The sheriff said council tax benefit and income support were designed to help those on low incomes who struggled to survive financially.  "These benefits are paid for by society at large — as part of a social contract whereby those who are better off contribute to those who are financially poorer," he said.  "By deliberately making false claims for benefit and by deliberately failing to notify your true financial circumstances you together with other cheats who try to beat the system for financial gain have undermined that social contract. You have shown cold contempt for it.  You have deluded yourself to consider that you are above the law and in a category apart from your fellow citizens."

New Firm to Manage Trams Project
A private company has been appointed to manage the capital's troubled tram project.  City of Edinburgh Council has called in international consultant Turner & Townsend following the decision to press ahead with a truncated route from Edinburgh Airport to St Andrew Square. International consultant Turner & Townsend has been appointed project manager as council chiefs prepare to order "full steam ahead" on building the line to the city centre. It will take over from the council's own firm TIE (Transport Initiatives Edinburgh) in a move that signals the death knell for the arms-length company.  A council meeting next week will be presented with a detailed funding package on how to meet the estimated £770 million cost of completing the tram route from the airport to St Andrew Square.  A senior council source said today: "TIE is toxic and has been for some time. We believe it will be good for the project to bring in a project manager to have a fresh look." The original estimated cost of the line from Edinburgh Airport to Newhaven was put at £545 million, but cost over-runs and a contractual dispute with the construction consortium led by Bilfinger Berger pushed the project over budget.

The decision to take on a private company as project managers in place of TIE will be controversial, but insiders said the hope was that employing Turner & Townsend could end up costing less than continuing with TIE.  City development director Dave Anderson addressed staff at TIE yesterday to warn them of further redundancies. It is understood TIE will gradually be wound down over the next couple of months.  Transport convener Gordon Mackenzie said: "Turner & Townsend are experienced project managers who have recently completed working on the Dublin trams project and have the skills we need.  "TIE is reducing in size. Turner & Townsend will manage the remaining staff on behalf of the council."

It is understood the plan to be presented to next Thursday's full council meeting is for the authority to borrow the money and repay the loan - expected to be more than £200m - at around £15m a year. Chief executive Sue Bruce will identify where the money can be found to meet the repayments.  There had been speculation that Ms Bruce would ask for more time to put together a funding package, but the source said the deal reached at mediation earlier this year required the council to sign an agreement with the contractors by the end of the month.  "If the council does not show it is serious about making progress by then, it leaves it open to the consortium to walk away and the council would be subject to court action. The council will be implored to make a decision next week.  They have found a mechanism of being able to borrow the money and identified money that could be used to repay the loan," the source said.  Work on laying tracks is due to start around Haymarket next month.

Petrol Prices Fall but Drivers Still Lose out (Now isn’t this familiar- Robin) 19/08/ 2011
Drivers in Scotland have missed out on the benefits of a drop in the wholesale cost of fuel, after petrol retailers failed to lower their prices in line with the dip, new figures revealed on Friday.
Motorists are paying more at the pump this month than last - despite a 3p-per-litre fall in the wholesale costs of petrol and diesel for retailers.

Business leaders condemned the lack of responsiveness to price fluctuations, accusing retailers of putting up prices "like a rocket" but allowing them to fall "like a feather". A report from the AA today shows average petrol prices north of the Border rose to 135.8p ($A2.2)per litre in August - up 0.2p from July - pushing the cost of filling an average car's 50-litre tank up to £67.90.  UK-wide, the average price of a litre fell slightly - by almost 1p - but still failed to mirror the slump in the price paid for fuel by garage owners.  Drivers of diesel cars noted a similar hike, which sent the price of a litre in Scotland to the highest on the UK mainland at 140.5p. The UK average cost of diesel also increased slightly, to 139.89p ($A2.25).

Motorists in rural areas such as the Highlands, where there is less competition, are more likely to have to pay higher prices than consumers in towns and cities where larger companies - known as "volume retailers" - push prices lower.  Colin Borland, of the Federation of Small Businesses in Scotland, said: "Petrol prices go up like a rocket when the price of oil rises, but they fall like a feather. At the moment, there is not a lot of spare money around and we're hearing that many companies are seeing petrol prices as a major barrier to them staying in business.

Final Curtain Nears on 13-year Tale of Two Camerons
After 13 years it is now more Bleak House than Mary Poppins or even Les Miserables, but it appears the legal wrangle between a multi-millionaire theatre impresario and an 87-year-old crofter is nearing its last act.  The issue of compensation for the crofter still has to be decided before the final curtain actually falls. But a decision by the Scottish Land Court published yesterday has all but put the final touches to the marathon dialogue between Sir Cameron Mackintosh and Donald Cameron, whose family have crofted between Loch Morar and Loch Nevis for more than 100 years.  It has left the court, under Lord McGhie, questioning the wisdom of the case for either party. He wrote in the ruling: “The expense of this litigation is likely far to outweigh any commercial interests of the parties and it is hard to avoid the impression that the process has become wholly disproportionate to their real interests.”

In the end it looks as though neither party will get everything it was seeking. The crofter Donald Cameron will be able to buy most of his 700-acre croft, but only if he fences much of it, which will cost him around £20,000 if grant aid is available, but up to £100,000 if there is no public support, although the estate is willing to pay half the total. His compensation could cover the rest. Mr Cameron will also get most of his legal costs.  Meanwhile, Sir Cameron and his Nevis Estate, near Mallaig, will be able to take around 25 acres out of the croft for a woodland project and to build holiday houses, a bunk house and other buildings. He had been after around 90 acres last October.

Neither will he be allowed the pierhead development on Loch Morar. Crucially Sir Cameron will have to accept that Mr Cameron’s land constitutes a croft in the middle of his Nevis Estate. It is not quite the “total vindication” the impresario was claiming in February.  Last night Mr Cameron said: “Obviously there are bits that disappoint me and will cost me, but at least my land will be recognised as a croft.”  Andrew Aitchison of Strutt and Parker, who act as factors for the estate, said: “We think the court’s conclusions are sensible and pragmatic and provide a compromise that hopefully will allow all parties to proceed.”

£20m Deal Secures 200 Defence Jobs
Around 200 Scottish defence jobs have been secured by a £20 million deal to fit radar systems to the Typhoon Eurofighter aircraft.  BAE Systems Manufacturing, at Hillend in Fife, has been awarded a major contract to provide procurement and electronic manufacturing services to Selex Galileo as part of their contract to deliver the Typhoon Tranche 3a Captor Radar programme.  Work on the programme is due to commence this year and will run until 2013.

The firm's general manager Danny O'Brien said: "The recent award is a reflection of the strong business relationship between Selex Galileo and BAE Systems Manufacturing Hillend. The close working style will enable effective responses to existing and next generation programmes."  BAE Systems Hillend has won more than £165 million in orders over the last 12 years from Selex Galileo for both Captor Radar and DASS (Defensive Aids Sub System) assemblies used on the Typhoon.  Scottish Secretary Michael Moore congratulated BAE Systems on securing the deal, saying: "The defence sector is a valuable source of high-value jobs in Scotland. Our armed forces require the most advanced technology in the world to do their job and that is why they keep turning to Scottish expertise at places like BAE in Fife and Selex Galileo in Edinburgh.  This is very good news for the Fife and Scottish economy and I congratulate everyone involved in winning the contract. Expert manufacturing and our excellent armed forces are a world-class combination that Scotland can be very proud of."

Top Scottish Officer Emerges As Met Frontrunner
The application process for the role of London’s Metropolitan Police Commissioner is now closed, with a top Scottish police officer emerging as a favourite to secure the post.  Strathclyde Police chief Stephen House is believed to be a frontrunner for the role after he was invited to apply by senior officials.  The deadline for applications closed at noon on Wednesday and Mr House is now up against three top UK officers also in the running for the £260,000-a-year job.  He faces competition from Acting Met Commissioner Tim Godwin, ex-Police Service of Northern Ireland head Sir Hugh Orde and former Merseyside chief Bernard Hogan-Howe.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) said that the applications were now being considered.  He said: “The vacancy is now closed and the selection process will go on as usual.  The candidates will be shortlisted and interviewed by the MPA and recommendations will then be made to the Home Secretary.”  The spokesman added: “The Home Secretary and the Mayor of London are interested in appointing someone as soon as possible so the process will be expedited as speedily as possible.”  The vacancy was brought about by the resignation of Sir Paul Stephenson, who quit amid revelations about the force’s links with News International.  Glasgow-born Mr House was asked to apply after Home Secretary Theresa May and London Mayor Boris Johnson approved him for the job. He has already spent six years in senior posts at the Met before becoming chief constable of Strathclyde in 2007.

Ms May ruled out applications from officers outwith the UK earlier in the week following suggestions that New York and Los Angeles police chief Bill Bratton was in the running for the role.  She claimed that foreigners had been excluded from considerations as the commissioner will have to deal with national security.

‘Banish Rioters to the Hebrides’ Says Petition (Now I’ve heard everything - Robin)
An e-petition has been listed on HM Government website calling for all rioters and looters from the recent troubles in English cities to be ‘banished’ to the Outer Hebrides for five years.  Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil has reacted with dismay and said today: “Obviously the author of this e-petition, Richard Miller, has never dared to venture to the Outer Hebrides, where tourists flock in the hundreds of thousands every year. My constituents are astounded that such comments are allowed to be published on a UK Government website.  “According to the website, e-petitions are checked by a government department, which states that an e-petition can be rejected if it contains libellous, false or, defamatory statements or, if it contains offensive, joke or nonsense content. All of these reasons certainly apply to this e-petition and questions really do need to be asked as to how this was allowed to be published.  “I will be asking the department responsible, The Ministry of Justice, to explain why they have published this e-petition.   Maybe this is the last straw for the camel’s back on the way to Scottish Independence.”

Actress Battles to Keep Her 'Too Noisy' Church Hall Zumba Class
Actress Elaine C Smith is battling to save her favourite zumba dance class after it was cancelled for being too noisy.  The Rab C Nesbitt star was fuming when her Saturday workouts in a church hall were banned by the minister.

Elaine, who played Mary Doll in the hit BBC series, claims the objector is a church elder who raised no complaints about a classical orchestra and kids' dance classes in the hall.  And she is calling on the minister, the Rev Andrew Frater, to think again over the zumba class at Cairns Church in Milngavie, near Glasgow.  Elaine, said: "It's a joyous class run by the excellent Nicole and Shirley who are dedicated to lifting the spirits of the 50 men and women who dance and laugh.  "I assumed that a church hall would benefit from being so full of love and light."   She added that the complainer "only objects to the Latin/African/country stuff of zumba".  And she went on: "Hopefully, other elders will have a more enlightened view and persuade the minister to think again."

But Rev Frater insisted he had no choice but to ban the class after several neighbours complained of the noise. He said: "As a church, we have tried our very best to find a solution that would be suitable to both the group and our neighbours, even installing extra insulation in the roof and installing new fire doors in an effort to dampen the volume."  The minister called a meeting with the zumba organisers and the local residents in a bid to find a solution, he said.  But he added: "Despite our best efforts, I had in the end to serve them notice so that they could look for a more suitable venue."  Zumba is a Latin-inspired dance fitness program created by dancer and choreographer Alberto "Beto" Perez in Colombia during the 1990s.

Court Seizes £91,000 from Jailed Drug Dealer
A drug dealer who was jailed for three years after being caught making a large handover of cash has been ordered to surrender more than £91,000, prosecutors have revealed.
William Thomson, was snared after a surveillance operation near Glasgow almost five years ago.  One of the main subjects in a two-year investigation by the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency (SCDEA), he was observed by police who suspected he was about to receive a substantial quantity of drugs from an English associate.

On 25 October, 2006, Thomson was spotted handing over a holdall to the driver of a Peugeot car in Uddingston. Police later stopped the vehicle on the M74 near Bothwell, where they found the holdall containing more than £90,000 in cash.  The money recovered in the operation was later stolen by a police production keeper.  Robert Moffat, now a former member of the police support staff, was subsequently found guilty of theft and jailed for 22 months in November 2008.  Thomson, who was known to have links to serious organised crime, was sentenced to three years behind bars after being convicted at Hamilton Sheriff Court in January last year of two offences under proceeds of crime laws.

The Crown Office yesterday revealed Thomson, from Kirkmuirhill in Lanark, was hit this week with a confiscation order for £91,415 at the same court. Lindsey Miller, head of the serious and organised crime division at the Crown Office, said: "William Thomson was caught red-handed passing a holdall containing over £90,000 to a man in a car in Glasgow. "The Proceeds of Crime Act gives prosecutors wide-ranging powers to seize back cash and assets from those who choose to make their living from illegal activities. We will continue to use every power available to us to disrupt these criminal enterprises."

Going up a Gear to Use Isles Based Electric Car
An electric car, which costs more than double per year to run than a standard car, is to be used more widely by local authority staff.   The Outer Hebrides Community Planning Partnership (CPP) discussed on Thursday  a proposal to increase the use of a low carbon vehicle based in Balivanich. The vehicle is on a five year lease to the Comhairle funded by a Low Carbon Vehicle Procurement Support Scheme announced by Transport Scotland in 2010.  

The CPP was awarded £81,000 and this paid for the car lease and associated infrastructure costs; it allowed Third Sector Hebrides to purchase an electric minibus and associated infrastructure and gave funds to NHS Western Isles to install electric charging point infrastructure.  The Comhairle have had the Nissan Leaf 5DR 11 Electric Automatic since May this year but so far it has only been used for a council officer to deliver local mail and provide transport for visiting officers within Benbecula.  It costs £4,456 to run per annum compared to the existing car which costs only £1,882.  The plan is to be enable other CPP partners to make use of the vehicle for a modest charge.

A report is to be carried out assessing the likely demand and after that a scheme will be put in place to allow more access to the vehicle.  The Scottish Government are pushing for increased use of Low Carbon Vehicles to help them achieve their climate change targets.  The vehicles are more expensive to run and so the Support Scheme was set up to offset some of the costs.  Transport Scotland are also undertaking work to install a charging infrastructure to support the use of electric cars and vans in Scotland.  By 2020 they aim to have a mature market for low carbon cars in Scotland as well as public charging infrastructure in place in all Scottish cities.

Iains Joke Section (I’m b-a-c-k )
A police officer pulls over a Scotsman who's been weaving in and out of the lanes. He goes up to the man's window and says, "Sir, I need you to blow into this breathalyzer tube."
The man says, "Sorry, officer, I can't do that. I am an asthmatic. If I do that, I'll have a really bad asthma attack."
"Okay, fine. I need you to come down to the station to give a blood sample."
"I can't do that either. I am a hemophiliac. If I do that, I'll bleed to death."
"Well, then, we need a urine sample."
"I'm sorry, officer, I can't do that either. I am also a diabetic. If I do that, I'll get really low blood sugar."
"All right, then I need you to come out here and walk this white line."
"I can't do that, officer."
"Why not?"
"Because I'm drunk."                    
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How many Scottish social workers does it take to change a light bulb?
None - they form a self help group called "How to cope with life in the dark".