Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 404

Issue # 404                                                                    Week ending 10th  June 2017

Who is Messing About with the Words of Our Psalms?
By Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

This week I am going to church. I need to tell you about something serious that is going on in the pews. Someone has been messing about with the Bible - and I don’t like it. It is all very well trying to keep up with the times but my own carefully-considered view is that the modernising of certain aspects of worship have not gone as well as was hoped. In fact, and I don’t think I am putting too strong a point on it - it has turned into quite a bùrach.

You do not have to be a theologian to know that if you want to make it easy for people to remember something, you have to make it easy for them. Give it a rhythm and get them reading it from a very early age. Oh yes, catch them young. Then they will not forget it and it will be in the bonce ready for them to join in on any occasion. Simple. That’s how we were taught and kept in the grey matter all manner of useful stuff like the multiplication tables, poetry, and, of course, Psalm 107.

I know Psalm 23 and Psalm 121 are better known but I like 107. Although I am about as useful aboard ship as an inflatable dartboard, there was a day when I was inspired by my seagoing forebears. When I first read Sea Fever by the longtime Poet Laureate, John Masefield, I was entranced by the notion of being at the helm. Who wouldn’t be by those powerful words of the windswept cove?
“And the wheel's kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
“And a grey mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking.”
Words that will endure forever. Which is why Psalm 107 too has been a fondly-remembered fave. It’s in the same vein. “They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; “These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.”

Now someone has fiddled with the words and “modernised” them. The Common English Bible, for example, now has that as: “Some of the redeemed had gone out on the ocean in ships, making their living on the high seas.” Yuck. That is bland, dry and about as exciting as an election manifesto - a device that itself is in desperate need of modernising or at least changing into something that we can have some faith in.

How rousing was our Primary 7 rendition of Psalm 121. “I to the hill will lift mine eyes ...” Those uplifting words are now “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Give me strength. These rewrites have ruined perfectly good verse and transformed it into dull and dreary chains of uninspiring words. They have broken the chain with our younger selves sat in primary school.

If a psalm is thought to be out of date and has to be modernised, we should do a local Hebridean version. We could do no worse. If there is anyone in the Church of Scotland wanting to tackle it, they can give me a call. As the lovely Olivia Newton John, who I hope will return to better health soon, once declared in song: “Psalm psalm, you know where I am.”

Recently I saw a fellow who had come out of church laughing. When I asked what was so funny, he said he couldn’t hear The Lord's My Shepherd without suffering a fit of the giggles. His mother was a teacher, so Bernera people will know who he is. Ian recalled how his Mum taught a class many years ago and one wee lad in short trousers was having difficulty getting the end of Psalm 23 correct. Wee Peter Macdonald, from Tobson, could not say: “And in God's house forever more, my dwelling place shall be.”

It later emerged that Peter's dad, Dolly Norman, a mischievous fellow at the best of times, had also been “helping” him learn that psalm. However, he had been teaching it somewhat differently from the one set down in the King James Authorised Version.

Peter “Foggy” Macdonald went on to become a well-kent fisherman in these parts spending his working life in oilskins kitted out for the foulest of weather. Which is why so many still recall fondly that, whether in the classroom or at Sunday School, back in those days he would always come out with his Dad’s unique version of Psalm 23. It ended: “And in God's house forever more, my wellingtons shall be.”

Parents Tribute As Eilidh Macleod Funeral Set to Be Held
Parents of a Manchester terror victim have paid tribute to their “darling” daughter ahead of the first funeral to result from the attack.  Eilidh MacLeod, 14, of Barra, was among 22 people who died in the explosion at the Ariana Grande concert on Monday May 22, which left dozens injured.  Her friend Laura MacIntyre, a fellow pupil at Castlebay Community School on the island, was seriously injured in the bombing at Manchester Arena and remains in hospital.  The funeral was held at Church of Our Lady, Star of the Sea in Castlebay. Her parents, Roddy and Marion, said: “Two weeks ago today we lost our darling daughter and sister, Eilidh MacLeod, in one of the cruellest ways possible.  Most of Eilidh’s happiest times were spent in the Western Isles, particularly Barra and Vatersay, with her friends and family so we are pleased to have her back home among those she loved so much. Today, as we take Eilidh on her final journey, our one hope is that her funeral is a real celebration of her life and the wonderful person she was.  Eilidh’s infectious personality touched everyone she met and it has been a privilege and an honour to have her as our daughter.  We will always remember her as a truly beautiful girl inside and out, eternally young, loved by all and forever in our hearts.”  They thanked the community, emergency services and other organisations who have helped them.  Around 1,000 people - about the size of the island’s population - are expected to go to the church for the funeral.  The service begins at 11.15am and with a recording of Eilidh playing “Both Sides the Tweed” on the pipes. Scottish Government ministers - including Deputy First Minister John Swinney, Humza Yousaf MSP and Na h-Eileanan an Iar MSP Alasdair Allan - are expected to attend the ceremony. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Everything that I’ve heard, seen or read about Eilidh shows that she was a vivacious, fun-loving young woman with a bright future ahead of her, and I know that the community on Barra will pay her a fitting tribute. Her family are in my thoughts.”  Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins and Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham sent a message and wreath of flowers.  Businesses on the island will be closed for several hours as a mark of respect and to allow staff to attend the funeral. A large procession is expected to follow the hearse to Vatersay, an island connected by causeway where she was originally from, for her burial. The route will pass Eilidh’s school, where the green and white flag of Barra has been flying at half-mast. Father John Paul McKinnon said: “She was an island girl, she was proud of her island roots and a fun loving, good girl.  She’s that wee ray of light that will never go out.”

No Money to Burn in Assynt

The wildfire which ripped through Assynt during last month’s dry spell has opened up fresh questions over approaches to muirburn as a management tool in this part of Sutherland. There is a view that the lack of regular and managed muirburn in many areas is creating a situation where fires can spread uncontrollably for miles due to the volume of rank vegetation and absence of natural firebreaks. We put these questions to Gordon Robertson, director of the Assynt Foundation, which owns the bulk of the land through which the fire passed. The alarm was raised on May 3, with estate workers and fire crews monitoring the blaze before it eventually burnt itself out a few days later. The exact cause is still unknown. Mr Robertson described how the fire passed close to Glencanisp Lodge, running through a native woodland plantation which, remarkably, was very little damaged. “It went all the way down to opposite the village school and burnt down to the water there,” he said, although at no point was there any serious threat to life or property.  Mr Robertson argues that the Assynt Foundation could not justify the expenditure required to do muirburning on a professional scale. “Some of the wealthier estates who do muirburning have Argos with booms on the back with water”, he said. “When you look at posh moors that are managed for grouse, they spend nearly £40,000 a year. We have 44,000 acres. We don’t have grouse; we have a wide area managed effectively as a deer forest. We do not have the staff, equipment or money to muirburn.”  When you look at the Scottish Government guidance on muirburn, it is easy to understand why estates with no financial incentive are increasingly reluctant to endorse burning on their land. The Muirburn Code, which sets out the official guidance on planning and managing burning, is currently under review. The code stipulates that before carrying out muirburn a person must notify the landowner and occupiers of land within 1km of the proposed muirburn site. This notification must be in writing, not later than seven days before burning. There is a list of seventeen offences which could result in prosecution, including leaving a fire unattended, burning at night, and “creating smoke that is a nuisance to inhabitants of the neighbourhood”.  A list of recommended “fire-free” areas is couched in general terms, which read like a comprehensive summary of Highland terrain: “woodland”, “blanket bogs and raised bogs on deep peat”, “peat hags and other areas with exposed peat”, places “where the soil is eroding”, “summits, ridges and other areas exposed to the wind”, “steep hillsides and gullies”, “areas where bracken is present” and “tall vegetation at the edge of watercourses”. One is left wondering what could be left outside such a fire-free zone.  Given such restrictions, and without the motivation for improving grazings, how can the Assynt Foundation create more effective firebreaks on their land? Oddly, given the muirburn code’s restrictions on burning close to woodland, Mr Robertson believes that the answer is trees. He bases his case on the observation that “the fire came to an end when it hit the trees because there were mossy bits under the trees which formed a kind of fire break.” He concedes that this is not the principal reason for planting — the existence of a new woodland grant being the motivating factor — but is hopeful that it might be a useful side effect. “We’re considering planting almost from the Ledmore junction all the way along the side of the road effectively to Lochinver”, he said, an area amounting to some 2,000 hectares.  Tamara Lawton, a Scottish Natural Heritage Officer based at Ullapool, was one of the first to alert Mr Robertson to the existence of the fire by telephone. “We are obviously concerned to hear about the wildfire earlier this month in Glencanisp,” she said. “At this time of year — and especially in dry conditions — fire can have a devastating effect on plants, trees and wildlife and recreational use. Fighting wildfire is the responsibility of the land owner /manager and the fire and rescue service. However we can, and will, offer our support to the Assynt Foundation to advise on monitoring of the recovery from the effects of the wildfire on habitats. In the meantime, the appearance of Suilven “like a Christmas pudding with the brandy around it” is not an image soon to be forgotten. However, with the environmental lobby not for burning, or for turning, the old springtime tradition of heading for the hill in a favourable wind with a box of matches looks in danger of dying out. As with many debates on how and what to manage in the landscape, is it a matter of time before the human consequences of this and similar policies make themselves felt?

Loch Fyne Pier Closed After Collapse
Ardrishaig Pier is off-limits after a section of the structure collapsed.  Stonework and supporting concrete underneath the pier subsided into the sea on Saturday May 20, leaving behind a gaping hole.  The pier, owned by Scottish Canals, is regularly used by haulage companies and a load of timber was sitting on the pier at the time of the collapse. A spokesperson for Scottish Canals said: ‘Ardrishaig Pier remains closed to allow more detailed surveying of the structure following localised failure of a section of the pier on Saturday. While a load of timber logs were present on the pier at the time, as is standard practice for timber operations, this was an acceptable load for the structure.’  Ardrishaig Pier, originally built in 1873, is an essential trade link for Mid Argyll and Scotland’s timber industry with around 30,000 tonnes of logs understood to pass through the harbour each year. The closure will cause disruption to the operations of local haulage companies with other transport arrangements having to be sought.

History File from Sutherland by Malcolm Bangor-Jones
The attack on the inn at Durine — the most serious incident of the Durness Riots — took place on the evening of September 18 1841. Having driven the sheriff officers and their party from the inn, the “mob” returned and made a second rush into the building. Some twenty to thirty men, now armed with the constables’ batons, forced their way into the room where the sheriff substitute Gordon and the procurator fiscal Fraser were taking tea. With the “most diabolical threats” the rioters told them to go instantly “for they had resolved that not a man of them should sleep in the Parish of Durness that night”.  The sheriff, however, refused to sign a letter promising never to return to Durness. After consulting among themselves the rioters issued an “imperative order that the Sheriff & his party should instantly quit the Inn, and proceed homewards”.  The sheriff’s party tried to point out the difficulty of travelling at a late hour and asked to be allowed to remain till daylight, particularly as “the Sheriff was unwell and as the night air might endanger his life”. Some of the rioters laughed while others called out “Strip them naked, Break their Gigs, Take hold of the Devils — Knock them down”, and other expressions, probably too rude to mention. The sheriff’s party agreed to leave as being the safest course. They were told that if they ever returned the people would lie in wait and kill them. Gordon and Fraser, with seven of the constables, being all the ones that could be found, set off at about 11 o’clock on a very dark night.  They were escorted by a strong body of men who continued cheering, and using the “most opprobrious epithets” as they went along. They reached Heilam Inn on Loch Eriboll at five o’clock in the morning. The remaining men caught up with them a few hours later.  The fury of the rioters seems to have been particularly directed against the Chief Constable Philip Mackay. After being dragged out of the inn he managed, in the darkness and confusion, to creep away through the rioters’ feet into a field of corn, where he hid himself.  So enraged were the people at his escape that they left the inn and began to search all around it with lights, which gave him the opportunity of slipping quietly back. Suspecting where he had gone, they rushed back in and searched every room, in the process breaking much of the furniture. A servant girl, however, managed to conceal him, and when all had quietened down, he left his hiding place and made his way to Heilam.  On September 22 Fraser reported what had happened to the authorities in Edinburgh. He concluded that “from the general rising in this Parish, from a growing spirit of insubordination among the lower orders on the north coast, the law cannot be enforced in the most trifling case, till an example be made”.  No civil force, however numerous, could be of the slightest use, either to arrest someone or to execute a summons. In fact, civilians would not act and unless a military force be employed to assist the local authorities in investigating what had taken place and in making arrests, “bloodshed may ensue”. The people would easily resist a small party of troops and Fraser suggested that no less than 150 men would be necessary.  In the meantime, the Duke of Sutherland had become involved when a petition was addressed to him by Anderson’s subtenants making a number of allegations against their master. This prompted an immediate investigation by George Gunn, the factor for the Dunrobin district and senior factor in Sutherland, and Robert Horsburgh, the factor at Tongue.  In their own words, the factors undertook to meet with the “unfortunate & deluded people” but at the same time guard against the Duke being in “any way made a party to, or his name mixed up with the late illegal & distressing events”.  They met Anderson’s subtenants at the inn in the presence of the Reverend Findlater. The petition, which had been drafted by the schoolmaster William Ross and copied out by a son of one of the subtenants, was read back to the subtenants, “distinctly & slowly” and the factors then went through it, statement by statement.

Coastal Fringe Was Sunshine Success
The sun shone on the Coastal Fringe festival as people descended on Banff and Macduff for a weekend of fun and community celebration.  The festival was a great success with venues across both towns busy with locals and visitors.  Centred around Banff Castle on Saturday and Sunday, the festival was expanded this year to take in 10 different venues with a range of events under the Coastal Fringe umbrella.  Roweena Dearsley and Lynn Bellingham, of Banff Art Club, were the main organisers, with support from other club members and Ian Williams and volunteers from the Twin Towns United Regeneration Forum (Turf). Aberdeenshire Council hosted a celebration of the 10th anniversary of Banff Marina, which included music from the Macduff Strathpsey and Reel Society, a sandcaste competition, paddleboarding and a raft race.  Duff House staged have-a-go art for members of the public and a history game where people had to guess the age of local landmarks.  Banff Parish Church hosted a kirk cafe and flower festival, including a teabag angel display and there was also a farmers market at Macduff. Banff Rotary Club stages its annual cycle challenge on Sunday, which attracted more than 100 participants.  Events at the castle included art and photo exhibitions, drumming and circus workshops, stalls, car boot sale, Banff Castle Pipe Band, live Music in the Marquee on Sunday, and singing by Doug Hay and Graham Legge and magic mayhem from Dean Spruce.  Mrs Dearsley said: Many groups and organisations also supported the weekend.  She also praised the "extreme generosity" of people who gave donations at the castle gates, which will help towards the costs. While the weather was kind over the weekend, with a very warm and sunny Saturday and a largely dry, if more overcast Sunday, Mrs Dearsley said Cllr John Cox had offered the use of the Deveronside Social Club for free for the Sunday marquee event in the case of high winds. Bryan and Carla Angus led an artist workshop, while Bob Philips rallied extra musicians, including Bob Sharpe who played at the public performance in the afternoon event. The Guarana Street Drummers were a real hit with the children and one of the youngest visitors to the festival was 14-month-old Cody French, from Banff, who had great fun on the drums. We featured Cody last May after he needed a life-saving operation two days after he was born to correct a condition which mean this bowels were inside his chest and pressing on his lungs.

More Details Emerge About the 800 Properties Planned for the West of Inverness
More detailed plans have emerged of Tulloch Homes’ plans to build 800 new homes on the outskirts of Inverness.  Last week the developer lodged a planning application for a mixture of 450 houses and flats on a site west of Tesco Ness-side, between Dores Road and the River Ness.  This week, a further two applications were lodged with Highland Council – one for 216 houses and flats on land north-west of Dores Road and another for 127 homes and flats on land south-west of Holm Woollen Mills.  Earlier this year Tulloch unveiled a £250 million masterplan to build 800 homes on the site over the next 10 years.  A spokesman for the housing developer said three different applications were required because of different land ownership but all were part of the company’s vision for Ness-side.  Work could start as early as next year if permission is granted for the new homes.  The land at Ness-side has been opened up for development by the creation of the West Link road, which will connect the Dores Road roundabout to the A82 via a new bridge over the River Ness.  The land is zoned for housing in Highland Council’s Inner Moray Firth Development Plan.  A care home, community space and mixed-use development are also proposed, while a new school could eventually be built too.  A church will also form part of the development and last week Inverness St Columba New Charge submitted a planning application for the site.  The church has been meeting weekly in local schools since 2010 – first in Holm Primary School, and then, in Drummond School, where it continues to meet every Sunday.  One of the city’s youngest churches, it has seen its congregation grow from 20 in its early days to 90 active members.  Tulloch said it was “very pleased” to be at the planning application stage. A spokesman added the development would help address a shortfall of new homes identified for Inverness

£9000 of Cannabis Recovered and 14 Dogs Rescued by Police in Wick
A cannabis cultivation with a potential street value in excess of £9000 has been recovered from a property in Wick.  The drugs recovery was made on Friday as part of an intelligence-led operation. A low four figure sum of money was also seized.  As a result a 31 year old man has been charged and will appear at court at a later date.  In addition 14 dogs were taken into the care of the Scottish SPCA.  Sergeant Brian Hamilton of Wick Police Station said: "We will continue to act on information provided to us by the community and would encourage anyone with information to come forward."  Chief Inspector Iain Allan of the Scottish SPCA added: “We can confirm that we visited a property in the Wick area and removed a number of dogs owing to concerns about their welfare. At present the investigation is still on going."

Saucy East-west Divide That’s As Scottish As Haggis
National Fish and Chip Day this week was a timely reminder that despite challenges from other fast foods the celebrated supper is still frying high.  However much nonsense has been talked about alleged “British” fish and chip habits, which don’t really bear close examination when you batter them down to national and regional level.  The classic “salt and vinegar” you expect as a standard option in the west mysteriously transmutes to “salt n’ sauce” when you hit the strangely different milieu of our capital city.  In Edinburgh (and other points east), the sauce in question is a brown, runny commodity which unwary visitors can find unsettling and unwelcome.  Meanwhile although pickled eggs and gherkins rightly gain a mention as accompaniments in “typical” UK fish and chip shops not enough mention is (we feel) made of pickled onions – the large sort, packed with astringent flavour.  If you do find yourself in search of a fish supper in Edinburgh arguably one of the very best options is The Tailend at 14-15 Albert Place (an inshot of Leith Walk).  As both a fish and chip shop and restaurant it manages the difficult art of being absolutely top of the range without being fussy or pretentious, and scores 11 out of 10 in every department - from service to stupendous quality. In fact this is a seafood venture rather than just a fish proposition - for example sole, monkfish, turbot and calamari are among the options - and rather than “vinegar or sauce” there are all sorts of condiment options to suit personal preferences.  Meanwhile it has to be observed that very many of Scotland’s top fish and chip shops are Italo-Scottish in origin (a tradition which began in earnest more than a century ago).  This is perhaps more than the UK average, and in some cases it can confer some considerable additional side benefits.  Take the University Cafe in Glasgow’s Byres Road, for example. Its adjoining fish and chip shop is easily one of the best in the city, but while ordering your fish supper (depending on the time of day) you also have the option of bumping up the already impressive calorie count with some real Italian ice cream from the café. Fish and chips was launched as a concept by Italians, but of course Scottish outlets generally have long perfected the art of deep-frying almost anything edible – sometimes to the puzzlement and consternation of visitors from down south or abroad.  “What IS black pudding?” is a constant query from curious but vaguely worried customers unfamiliar with the concept.  When informed that the short answer is “blood” it’s not unknown for some of the more squeamish to make their excuses and leave - so missing out on one of the undoubted stars of traditional Scottish fish and chip culture.  Haggis (technically a variety of blood sausage) is in pretty much the same league, and is approached with the same sort of circumspection UK tourists to the Far East display when contemplating oriental food stalls purveying various kinds of edible bugs. National Fish and Chip Day was yesterday, but for anyone who missed it a Saturday night catch-up celebration is perfectly acceptable and appropriate.

Millionaire Stakes Claim to Be Named Head of Clan Buchanan
A Scottish landowner hopes to become the first chieftain of an ancient clan in more than three centuries.  The Buchanan clan has been without a head since 1682, when 15th chief John Buchanan died, leaving no male heir apparent nor finalising arrangements for his title to be passed on.  And now millionaire John Michael Baillie-Hamilton Buchanan, who owns Cambusmore Estate near Callander, has petitioned the Lord Lyon for the title. The 58-year-old believes he has a hereditary right to title as a descendant of Francis Buchanan of Arnprior, who was executed for high treason for his role in the 1745 Jacobite uprising and named by Sir Walter Scott as the true Buchanan leader.  The father-of-four said: “It has been 300 years since there was a chieftain at Clan Buchanan and, yes, I am keen. The notice period is 42 days but I’d not be surprised if that got extended. Anybody who has a claim will have to declare themselves and the Lord Lyon can decide on the matter.”  The Court of the Lord Lyon has made the claim public for any objections or claims to the title to be made. Local clansfolk have been campaigning for their chief to be reinstated but until now no candidate had been able to demonstrate their right.  Elizabeth Roads, Lyon Clerk and Keeper of the Records, said: “In a case such as this, where no one has recorded the principal coat of arms of the name for a very long period, any petition to do so must be advertised so anyone else who thinks they may have a better claim has the chance to come forward.  Inevitably, when the direct line of descent has not been maintained, there may be  several people who understand that they stand in a more senior position to other claimants. This is an unusual case in the sense such a long time has passed without anybody going for the title. That is why it is being advertised because there may be people out there who we don’t know anything about but may feel they have a better claim. But we don’t know if anyone else will enter.”

Wildlife Forensics Development Programme Being Unveiled

The Scottish Government is to partner with Edinburgh University on a new programme aimed at using forensic science to fight wildlife crime.  Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham announced the move ahead of an international event on the issue being held in Edinburgh on Wednesday.  The new Wildlife Forensics Development Programme will provide a platform for international research and training in using forensics to detect and tackle wildlife crime, she said.  The partnership will create formal ties between the Scottish Government's wildlife DNA forensics unit and the university's research unit at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and the Roslin Institute. Ms Cunningham revealed details of the project as the Society for Wildlife Forensic Science's symposium, attended by representatives from more than 30 countries, was due to take place.  The event, being held outside the US for the first time, focuses on how scientists can best-support wildlife crime investigations, from illegal timber logging and fisheries, to illegal wildlife trade and persecution on both national and international levels.  Ms Cunningham said: "As hosts to the UK's only dedicated wildlife DNA forensics lab, Scotland is leading the way when it comes to using forensic science to shape wildlife law enforcement.  Forensics can provide evidence that an offence has been committed and plays an important role investigating trade routes and poaching.  The new wildlife forensics development programme builds on Edinburgh's strong reputation for biosciences, taking a progressive approach that will strengthen the links between enforcement, policy and forensics."

Flying the Flag in Argyll for Armed Forces Day
AS excitement builds ahead of Argyll’s only Armed Forces Day commemoration, the colours have been raised.  Lochgilphead Armed Forces Day parade and gala is all set for Saturday June 10, and on the town’s front green the Armed Forces Day flag was raised by the local army cadet unit.  The flag was saluted as it was raised on Wednesday June 7 by Geordie Rhodick, chairman of the Lochgilphead Armed Forces Day committee, as a piper played an air to mark the occasion.  Ahead of the flag raising, cadet Kayleigh McNeill was promoted to Lance Corporal by Staff Sergeant Frank Frew, with proud family members looking on.  Lochgilphead Armed Forces Day kicks off at midday on Saturday June 10 with a parade of serving and veteran service personnel along Argyll Street, and a family gala will follow on the front green until around 4pm – everyone is welcome to come along and enjoy the fun.

Ayr Beach Branded TOXIC

The alert has gone out for Scotland's busiest beach because of the risk of illness from human and animal waste.  And monitoring watchdog SEPA is telling people not to take a dip after rainfall.  That is because human and animal waste is being washed in off the land.  Ayr Beach and its neighbour at Heads of Ayr have both been hit with a POOR rating by SEPA. They monitored the water during the last bathing season, from June to September, and found that our prized shore is at high risk of “faecal contamination”.  And a report warns against going in the water at Ayr beach – stretching from the harbour to Doonfoot – and Heads of Ayr for two days after periods of rain.  Waters in Girvan, Prestwick and Troon also failed to make the top grade, earning only a ‘sufficient’ rating - and the highest grade achieved in South Ayrshire is Maidens and Culzean, who achieved ‘good’ standards.  No waters in South Ayrshire were classed as excellent, which is the highest possible ranking.  Ayr MSP John Scott said: “It is clearly disappointing that Ayr beach has been given a ‘poor’ rating this year for bathing water and, while both Prestwick and Troon received ‘sufficient’ ratings, it is equally disappointing that they did not achieve the higher grades that everyone locally would want.  The formation by SEPA of an Ayrshire stakeholder partnership group is a welcome development and it must be hoped that this will help identify specific issues that can be tackled in order that the quality of bathing water at these beaches is improved and that any improvements are thereafter sustained.”

2017 UK General Election Results Updated 10 Jun. at 6:04 am AEST
Seats won · 650/650 seats declared
Party              Leader                Seats         %
Conservative    Theresa May        318          48.9%
Labour            Jeremy Corbyn     262         40.3%
SNP                Nicola Sturgeon      35          5.4%
Lib Dem          Tim Farron             12          1.8%
DUP               Arlene Foster          10          1.5%
Sinn Féin        Gerry Adams             7         1.1%
Plaid Cymru     Leanne Wood          4          0.6%
Green Party     Caroline Lucas         1          0.2%
UKIP               Paul Nuttall              0         0%

The Conservatives in the Highlands, as across the majority of Scotland, saw a huge increase in their popularity - but it was the Lib Dems who caused the biggest shock in the region. While the SNP managed to hold on to two of the three seats in the north, they lost out to the Liberals in Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross.  It is a seat that has traditionally been held by the Lib Dems and was held by Lord John Thurso for years until the 2015 election which saw the SNP’s Paul Monaghan win by a massive majority of almost 4,000.  But Highland councillor and former MSP Jamie Stone snatched the most northerly mainland constituency back for the Lib Dems.  There was jubilation among the party faithful, but despondency in the SNP ranks, despite them retaining Ross, Skye and Lochaber as well as Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey.  The victory for Mr Stone was put down to two reasons by the new MP - widespread public opposition to Indyref2 and outrage at health cuts at Caithness General Hospital, where they are downgrading the maternity unit from a consultant-led service to midwife-led.  This will see the majority of pregnant mothers facing a 200-mile journey to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness for births.  A delighted Mr Stone said: “People see the SNP failed them when it comes to the health issues at Caithness Maternity. I promised I would raise the issue in my maiden speech should I win and I will be giving it my priority. I am not going to sit back and say nothing when I am in Parliament.”  Liberal Democrat former Scottish secretary Alistair Carmichael held on to his Orkney and Shetland seat. Meanwhile, it was not all bad news for the nationalists. Drew Hendry, a former leader of Highland Council, said results for the party across the country were disappointing. But he added: “The opposition parties fought a single-issue race in Scotland, opposing Indyref2, which appears to have influenced many people. “I am delighted to have been re-elected and feel proud that I concentrated on issues that affect my constituency, particularly the impact of Universal Credit.”  The SNP also retained their seat in Ross, Skye and Cromarty, with defending MP Ian Blackford winning with 15,480 votes.  Theresa May has asked the Queen for permission to form a minority Government when she visited Buckingham Palace, Downing Street has said. The Prime Minister is refusing to quit despite her disastrous election night as the UK voted for a hung parliament. Mrs May is believed to have struck a deal, but not a formal coalition agreement, with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) which will narrowly give her the numbers she needs to pass legislation in the House of Commons. Mrs May’s decision to call a snap election backfired in spectacular fashion as she lost the Conservatives’ majority as Labour made significant gains.   Mrs May is now scrambling to try and form a government, potentially with the help of the Democratic Unionist Party and while the DUP has signalled a willingness to do a deal its leader Arlene Foster has expressed doubts that the Prime Minister can "survive".   Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, has urged Mrs May to resign as he said she should "go and make way for a government that is truly representative of this country". Meanwhile, even senior Tory figures have suggested she should consider her position. But Tory sources have said that Mrs May is likely to stay on as Prime Minister because she does not want to allow Brussels to delay Brexit talks.   One source said: "The digging in seems to have something to do with their not wanting to allow Brussels to postpone the Brexit talks on the claimed pretence that 'there isn't a UK Government'."  Former chancellor George Osborne, who was sacked from the Cabinet by Mrs May in one of her first acts as PM and now editor of the Evening Standard, told ITV that he doubts whether the premier can "survive in the long term as Conservative party leader".   With 650 of the 650 seats now declared, no single party will be able to secure an overall majority, with a hung parliament now guaranteed.  After visiting the Queen, the Prime Minister claimed there was a "strong relationship" between the two parties, amid concern over the DUP's controversial anti-abortion and anti-LGBT policies.  The PM has also apologised to Conservatives who lost last night. She said: "I'm sorry for all those colleagues who lost their seats." She will "reflect on what we need to do in the future to take the party forward" after the result, she added.  The UK voted for a hung parliament after shock losses for the Conservatives in the election. With 650 of 650 seats declared, the Tories had 318 seats - eight short of the figure needed to win outright - with Labour on 262, the SNP on 35 and Liberal Democrats on 12. Jeremy Corbyn's party increased its share of the vote by 9.6 per cent, while the Tories were up 5.5 per cent, the Liberal Democrats, Greens and SNP saw small loses and Ukip's vote collapsed.

Theresa May Risks Future Trouble with DUP Deal
Six months ago, the woman who can decide the UK’s future was fighting for her own political life having been accused of burning £400m of public money. Arlene Foster, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, was badly burned in the ‘cash for ash’ scandal surrounding a renewable heat subsidy scheme that she oversaw.  Now the DUP have become kingmakers for the whole UK, prompting a spike in Google searches that at one point crashed the party’s website.  The party regularly supports the Tories, but its MPs will demand more influence over Brexit and could extract additional investment for Northern Ireland. A bigger role supporting the government could damage the UK’s status as an impartial broker in Northern Ireland’s troubled power-sharing agreement.  But the DUP’s stances on other could cause Theresa May real problems. Northern Ireland is the last part of the British Isles where gay marriage is prohibited, and keeping it that way is a DUP “red line” for any power-sharing deal. The DUP also oppose any change to Northern Ireland’s strict abortion laws, which see thousands of women travel to the UK for terminations. While not official party policy, DUP MP Sammy Wilson previously said the public had been “conned” into spending money to tackle the issue while serving as Northern Ireland environment minister. And a former education spokesman, Mervyn Storey, is a ‘young earth’ creationist who believes the world is less than 10,000 years old.  The deal risks embarrassment and discomfort for Tory backbenchers and ministers.

Last Updated (Saturday, 10 June 2017 07:12)