Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 406

Issue # 406                                                         Week ending Friday 23rd June 2017

The Macquarie Breakfast Club Invites you To The Tartan Day Lunch on Saturday, 1st July 2017 in The Alexander-Marshall Hall Macquarie Chapel Presbyterian Church, Corner of Herring & Abuklea Roads Eastwood 12 Noon for 12-30 pm start.  An excellent Meal, Entertainment & Good Fellowship Cost $35 per person.  Profits from this event go to help support “Allowah” Children’s Hospital. Contact Pamela ~ 9878 1081 for Tickets

How Donnie Dotaman is Now the Monarch of Makeovers by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal
On TV makeover shows, houses gets improved, bodies gets toned or even wardrobes are greatly enhanced with new clobber. My own favourite makeover show is not about DIY or dieting but cooking. It’s Kitchen Nightmares USA where Gordon Ramsay spends half an hour shouting at a pig-headed owner of a restaurant for making a hash of things, after which he sends in a team of builders to work through the night to fix the shabby dining room.

Then there is the tearful “reveal” in the morning when everyone walks in and, right on cue, go “Wow”, “OMG” or utter something unprintable in a family newspaper. I am a sucker for schmaltziness. Gordon then gets nicer to everyone, conjures up a new easy-cook menu, announces that he has replaced their old stove, and the owners and family suddenly realise that he is not really a loudmouth ogre but is really there to help them.

That night there is great service and yummy food so Gordon heads for the door and rushes off to change someone else’s life. Then a deep Scottish voiceover booms out to confirm that since Gordon left, the eatery is doing great. Well done, Gordon. Yes, chef.

My own DIY skills are limited. I recently managed to fix a sticker on the plug of our deep freeze. On it are the words “Do not pull this plug.” Listen, you can mock but what I have done is more than British Airways managed to do. The recent meltdown where all the screens on its computers went blank was because they failed to do that. Without a sticker on it, a contractor pulled the plug on the main computer and flights were grounded all over the world.

Mrs X wishes I was more handy. She asks me to do things like fix the shuddering tumble dryer, find out why the fridge is more of an oven and try to find out why smoke comes out of our wall heater. I do try and learn what I can. I think I’m making progress. She still reckons I’m hopeless at fixing electrical appliances. She’s in for a shock.

The entire nation has been in love with TV that showed other people doing things that we ourselves just can’t be bothered to do. The list of refurbing royalty includes Nick Knowles, Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen and foppy fashion fellow Gok Wan. Now for kitting out kitchens with kettles, kippers, ketchup and knick-knacks, keep giving it up for the new kickass kilted king of the knack and know-how, Donald Macleod.

Still known as Donnie Dotaman, after the kiddies’ Gaelic programme he did in the 1980s where he was contracted to wear a new silly hat every day, he also won great acclaim in the 1970s as part of a popular beat combo called the Na h-Oganaich (The Young Ones). That name idea has since been shamelesly pilfered by the likes of Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson and, of course, New Kids on the Block. The old kids on the block must be owed a fortune in royalties by now.

Nowadays Donnie presents DIY le Donnie on BBC Alba. The budget is rather limited on that channel so the series has so far featured him hanging a gate on Barra, putting a heater on a wall in Uist and erecting a washing line in someone’s backyard. He does it so well and sometimes even manages a song before the credits roll. Now BBC bosses have decided he is so good at sawing, screwing and stapling that they must take handyman Donnie to the next spirit level.

For the last week, the Lewis Retirement Centre in Stornoway has been closed and I can reveal that is because Donnie Dotaman is in the building. He has recruited a band of local tradesmen to work with him to give the entire centre a makeover, one that has been needed for decades. I remember when the place was built back in 1972. Yeah, it is that old and - oh heck - I must be too. Can’t wait for that show to be on the box. He’s got some right ugly joiners working there with him. I have a kitchen to be fitted soon, so no names.

Did I explain that my wife is a great DIY fan? There are so many things in this house that I describe as DIH - did it herself. Except she is not so keen to do the things that I want her to do. For instance, the other day I told her I needed something in my office which I could put my books on. She snapped: “Do it. Your shelf.”

Billy Connolly Awarded Knighthood Ahead of His 75th Birthday
Billy Connolly has been given a knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in a landmark year that will see him hit the milestone age of 75.  The Scots comedian and actor, affectionately known as the Big Yin, becomes a Sir in recognition of his services to entertainment and charity.  The accolade - handed out in the centenary year of the Order of the British Empire - comes 14 years after he was made a CBE in 2003.  The gong represents a high point in a notable year for the star, as he turns 75 in November. He has already been the subject of an ITV special celebrating his career this year and had three giant murals erected in his honour in his native city of Glasgow.  Connolly joked he should be called Sir Lancelot after being knighted because “Sir Billy doesn’t quite have the same ring” to it. Upon learning of the honour, the comedian said he has been speculating about his new title and whether he will be referred to as Sir Billy or Sir William. He told the BBC: “I am a little embarrassed but deep within me, I’m very pleased to have it.  I feel as if I should be called Lancelot or something. Sir Lancelot, that would be nice. Sir Billy doesn’t quite have the same ring.”  He said he would like the people he meets on the street to call him Billy or Bobby, “as usual”.  In recent times the comedian has been candid about his on-going health problems - he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s three-and-a-half years ago - and the impact it has had on his life.  The Glaswegian is increasingly dependent on his wife, Pamela Stephenson, to move around.  Life with Parkinson’s has meant Connolly, 74, can no longer play the banjo - the instrument that led to him first performing on stage as part of the folk duo The Humblebums in the late 1960s.  Born in the Anderston area of the city, but brought up in Partick and later Drumchapel, Connolly began his working life as an apprentice welder at Alexander Stephen and Sons shipyard in Linthouse. Connolly rose to international fame in the mid-1970s after moving away from music to focus on stand-up comedy performances, but singing and playing the banjo remained a key part of his routines.

The Highland Clearances
The Highland Clearances are an infamous chapter in Scottish history, the cruel story of how the Highland people were dispossessed of their homes by their landlords. The era of the Clearances was one of the most brutal and heartbreaking episodes in Scottish history. So emotive is the subject that many writers denounce the clearances as the first act of modern ethnic cleansing. Yet, while economic forces did change the face of the Highlands forever, the clearances were not a single act of genocidal intent. The clearances largely took place between the 1770s and 1850s, although eviction struggles continued until the end of the 19th century, such as the Battle of the Braes in 1882. Sheep became more desirable to some landlords than their Highland tenants. The most notorious of the Highland Clearances occurred on the estates of the Countess of Sutherland between 1811 and 1821. Though other areas in the Highlands & Islands suffered greatly.  The end of the Highland way of life really began with the Jacobite defeat at Culloden in 1746, when the British government acted to break the resistance of the proudly independent Gaelic society. Highlanders could no longer meet in public or bear arms. The wearing of tartan, teaching Gaelic and even playing the bagpipes were outlawed by the 1747 Act of Proscription.  Over the course of 150 years the demographic spread of Scotland was changed forever as thousands of families were forcibly driven from their ancestral homes to make way for sheep.  We take a look at only seven locations across Scotland where the echoes of those lost communities can still be experienced.
Boreraig, Isle of Skye
Broken settlements can be discovered all over the Isle of Skye as this most scenic of Scottish islands suffered greatly during the era of the Highland Clearances.  Located just south of Broadford, Boreraig is not the easiest settlement to get to due to a distinct lack of nearby roads, but with views of the stunning Cuillin mountain range, the walks are tremendous and absolutely worth the effort.  The former settlement was forcibly cleared in the 1850s along with the neighbouring village of Suishnish, which is just a 15-20 minutes walk to the west. Records state that there were 22 households in Boreraig and if you go there today you will see the remains of most of these are still standing. Their ghostly shells can even be clearly made out on Google Earth. Boreraig waved goodbye to its last residents in 1877. A popular circular walk of about 8–9 miles takes in Boreraig, neighbouring Suisnish and Kilbride.
Arichonan, Argyll
Located off the remote B8025 and boasting fine views of Argyll’s picturesque Caol Scotnish, the abandoned township of Arichonan was the scene of a riot during the Clearances. As elsewhere, the inhabitants at Arichonan did not take kindly to the prospect ditching their homes to make way for sheep grazing, and when landowner Neil Malcolm of Poltalloch terminated his leases on Whitsunday 1848 things turned sour. With dogged determination his tenants refused to budge and a riot ensued. Police were then sent in to quell the spirited rebellion and many Arichonan residents were later imprisoned. The terrain around Arichonan features some great forest paths and tracks and the village itself is located just a few miles north of the yachting harbour at Tayvallich.
Crackaig, Isle of Mull
Once a thriving village, Crackaig on the Isle of Mull is peppered with the eerie, crumbling remains of residential dwellings. Mull suffered massively during the Clearances and Crackaig is certainly not alone in terms of visible remnants, however, it is among the largest and best preserved.  Asides from many of its inhabitants being forcibly removed, it’s understood that Crackaig was also devastated by an outbreak of typhoid in the late 19th century. Those affected were contained within a single house in the community.
Badbea, Caithness
One of the more northerly villages on our list is Badbea, a former settlement perched precariously on the cliff tops of Berriedale on the east coast of Caithness.  Badbea was not the easiest place to survive. Aside from being difficult to farm, the rugged location was constantly battered by high winds, leading many residents to tether their livestock and even small children to prevent them from being blown off the high cliffs.  Interestingly, the population of Badbea did not suffer during the initial years of the Highland Clearances, rather it swelled. Badbea became a clearance village, a home for those evicted from other settlements in the nearby district and beyond. Living conditions suffered as a result of hastily-constructed dwellings.  Badbea’s population fell drastically in the years after 1850, with many of its families emigrating abroad. The last resident departed in 1911 and today a barren ghost village of crumbling stone houses is all that remains.  In 1845 a newspaper wrote about the crofter in disparaging terms, emphasising the poverty before concluding that: “The children grew up as idle, indolent and ignorant as their parents, to lead the same useless and comfortless lives.” Visitors are advised to stay well away from the edge of the cliffs.
Shiaba, Isle of Mull
Shiaba on the Isle of Mull was once home to a community of over 350 people, but today it lies as a haunting ruin with small clusters of sheep making up the only major signs of life. The village here is sited on what was considered the most fertile strip of land in the entire district and was once home to a large crofting community. Among the surviving buildings here is the former schoolhouse, which would have provided the local children on Shiaba with a welcome, albeit basic, education. In 1845 the Duke of Argyll ordered an eviction notice and within just two years had managed to clear 90% of the residents to make way for sheep farming. By the start of the 1860s, only three families remained. Occupying the shepherd’s cottage, the very last family moved out in 1937. Professor Tom Devine, one of Scotland’s leading historians, considers the area to be “achingly beautiful”, but more importantly calls Shiaba “a fantastic laboratory for looking at the clearances and the most significant site in the western Highlands.”  Situated around 3km east of Scoor House on the south coast of the Ross of Mull, the views here are magnificent and take in a multitude of iconic locations from Beinn an Aoininigh and the Carsaig Arches to Islay and Jura.
Strathnaver, Sutherland
The township at Strathnaver met a brutal end when, in 1814, the Duke of Sutherland ordered its destruction. Several contemporary accounts make mention of the ‘barbarous’ acts which ensued during the process.  The accounts of clergyman Donald MacLeod is perhaps the most graphic: “I saw the townships set on fire. Grummore with 16 houses and Archmilidh with four. All the houses were burnt with the exception of one. A barn. Few if any of the families knew where to turn their heads or from whom to get their next meal. “It was sad, the driving away of these people. The terrible remembrance of the “Burnings” of Strathnaver will live as long as a root of the people remains in this country.”
Stiomrabhaigh, Isle of Lewis
The abandoned crofter’s community at Stiomrabhaigh lies in the scenic Pairc estate situated south of Lochs on the Isle of Lewis. The 1851 Cenus shows that the township consisted of 16 dwellings and 81 residents. They had all disappeared within just seven years. A large number of buildings still stand today, the physical evidence of what was once a bustling little community of crofters and their families.  
The clearances had a profound effect on the cultures of Scotland and the New World. In 1755 it is estimated that 51% of the population lived in the Highlands, but by 1981 only 21% were there. Many Highland traditions that died in their homeland were continued by those who settled across North America and Australasia.

Telling the Story of the Hebridean Norsemen

A new exhibition in Museum nan Eilean, Benbecula, ‘Hebridean Norsemen’ explores the Norse period in the Outer Hebrides from the first arrival of the raiding Vikings to their settlement on the islands. The exhibition charts changes in the daily life of the inhabitants of the islands, the importance of craft activities and the artistic and religious life of the immigrants.  Archaeological artefacts from a number of sites across the Outer Hebrides are exhibited, including finds from Cardiff University’s decade long archaeological excavation at Bornish in South Uist.  The Director of the excavations, Professor Niall Sharples said: “It is a great pleasure to display a selection of the material recovered from Bornais, as they emphasise the importance of the Hebrides in the Viking world. There are a range of objects that come from regions as far apart as Norway and Greece, and much from near neighbours Ireland, England and Shetland. The inhabitants of Bornais clearly included an important family that were of the highest rank in the Kingdom of Man and the Isles”. The exhibition also features artefacts from the 30 years of excavation by Iain Crawford at Udal, in North Uist which are a part of the Museum nan Eilean collections.  In addition, there will be a small number of artefacts from the Kilphedar excavations led by Professor Mike Parker Pearson, in conjunction with Sheffield University.  Although the finds from both Bornais and Kilphedar are still to go through the formal Treasure Trove procedure, Museum nan Eilean are excited to have them on display in this special exhibition with kind permission from the excavators and Historic Environment Scotland.  Kevin Murphy, Archaeologist for Comhairle nan Eilean Siar said: “This exhibition provides a look at life in the Outer Hebrides during the Norse Period - what people farmed and ate, what they wore, the type of work they carried out and their links to the wider Norse world.  The artefacts come from all over the islands and show a distinct cultural identity, in contrast to the earlier society and will be of great interest to the public and scholars alike.”

Parliament Police to Continue Carrying Weapons After Security Review
Police patrolling outside the Scottish Parliament will continue to be armed after a review of security. Officers armed with Tasers were deployed outside Holyrood after the terrorist attack at Westminster in March.  Security was upgraded to officers with firearms following subsequent terror attacks in Manchester and on London Bridge. Police Scotland Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins said a review of parliamentary security had been completed and a report provided to the Parliament.  He said: "In support of one of the recommendations contained in the report we have made the operational decision to maintain armed police officer presence at the Scottish Parliament on an ongoing basis.  This is an operational contingency to provide protection and reassurance to the public and staff who attend at the Scottish Parliament. This will hopefully never be needed but demonstrates our ability to respond to any eventuality.  This decision is proportionate and justified and is in line with the operational response at other devolved legislative assemblies in the UK, and will be reviewed on a quarterly basis in line with our other armed policing standing authorities."  Last year it was announced that the number of officers attached to armed response vehicles in Police Scotland would increase by a third to 365.

Food and Drink Exports From Scotland Up 11% in A Year
Scotland's food and drink exports have grown by more than 10% in a year, new figures show. Food and drink worth £1.2 billion was exported in the first three months of 2017, up £124 million (11%) on the same period in 2016.  Scotch whisky and Scottish salmon topped the UK export chart in the first quarter of 2017, comprising 22% of the value of total food and drink exports from the UK.  Scotland's national drink was the highest value export at £875.8 million, up £79 million (9.9%) year-on-year, while total food exports were up £45.5 million (14%).  Fish and seafood was the largest food sector, up £48.3 million (30.8%). Exports of animal feed jumped by 56.5% to £34.5 million and dairy and eggs rose by 40.4% to £21.7 million, but c ereal exports fell 42.6% to £32.3 million while live animals and meat both dropped £0.3 million, down 2.1% and 1.5% respectively.  The European Union remains Scotland's largest regional export market outside of the UK, with exports growing by £50 million.  Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said the figures underlined the need for Scottish involvement in Brexit negotiations.  He said: "2016 was a record year for Scotland's food and drink exports and these new figures clearly show that the sector is going from strength to strength. What is clear from these figures is that maintaining access to the EU single market is crucial for our food and drink producers and our wider economy. Losing access will put Scottish industry at a significant disadvantage, exposing business to damaging export tariff barriers and regulatory requirements.

Demonstrators Call for Glasgow Community Hospital to Be Kept Open
Demonstrators are calling for a Glasgow community hospital earmarked for closure to be saved by the Scottish Government.  Lightburn Hospital in the east end of the city provides rehabilitative care for older patients but health board bosses want to replace it with "fit-for-purpose" facilities at Stobhill Hospital.  NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde took the decision after a consultation period but it has been criticised by groups, including Parkinson's UK.  Back in 2011, the Scottish Government rejected proposals to close the hospital. Scottish Labour has staged a protest calling for it to remain open.  The party's health spokesman Anas Sarwar said: "Local people are angry that Lightburn is set to close after SNP politicians assured us that the hospital was safe.  Campaigners in Glasgow have a loud and clear message to SNP ministers in Edinburgh - hands off our hospital."

Loch Ness Knit Fest Off to A Flying Start with Major Backing From Heathrow Airport
Heathrow has been named as the headline sponsor of this year’s Loch Ness Knit Fest. With 75.7 million travellers passing through the London airport annually, it provides the festival with a platform to advertise its programme, and also the Inverness area, to a global audience. Loch Ness Knit Fest will run from October 13-15, with venues and activities soon to be announced.  Heathrow has also sponsored a team of London-based knitters who have been inspired to knit a mural of Inverness Castle.  It will be displayed at the popular festival.                    
North Coast 500 Attracts 29,000 More Visitors to Highlands
One of Scotland’s newest visitor attractions, North Coast 500, has attracted 29,000 additional visitors to the Highlands - and an additional £9 million - in its first year, according to a new report.  The research shows an average 26% increase in visitor numbers since the route opened. This compares with a 6% average increase across Highland.  The North Coast 500 (NC500) tourist route was launched in 2015 and has had a positive impact on both visitor numbers and business trade, the study says.  The report was commissioned by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).  Referred to as Scotland’s answer to America’s Route 66, the 516-mile NC500 was created by the North Highland Initiative (NHI).  Its aim was to boost tourism in the north Highlands and generate economic opportunities for the area.  The study, carried out by the University of Glasgow Training and Employment Research Unit, estimates the route has attracted 29,000 additional visitors and £9 million additional spend in its first year.  The research drew upon various data, including figures from tourism information centres along the NC500 which showed an average 26% increase in visitor numbers since the route opened.  The study included interviews with accommodation providers and visitor attractions along the route, which identified an average 15% - 20% increase in trade.  Other factors would have contributed to this growth, including the fact that it was a generally strong year for tourism in Scotland and the Highlands.  However, the findings from the study, coupled with the results from a previous survey of businesses on the route by NHI, indicate that the NC500 has been a major driver of recent increases.  The report also highlighted challenges to ensure long term success of the NC500. These include maintaining the condition of the route, ensuring sufficient parking, waste facilities and public toilets, and continued efforts to encourage better driving.  It also highlighted challenges in meeting the increased demand for labour, with earlier reports suggesting the route could create upwards of 200 jobs.

Child Benefit Top-up Backed As Social Security Powers Devolved
Social security minister Jeane Freeman is to mark the introduction of a Bill devolving several benefits to the Scottish Parliament as a new survey shows almost two-thirds of Scots back a £5 top-up of child benefit.  Westminster retains control over child benefit but the new social security Bill being introduced to the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday devolves power to top up reserved benefits and create new ones in devolved areas.  The Social Security (Scotland) Bill gives Holyrood power over eleven benefits devolved as part of the Scotland Act 2016, including payments to disabled people, carers, winter fuel grants and the Best Start Grant for the first child in low income families.  Survation questioned 1,037 adults in Scotland for the Poverty Alliance on whether the Scottish Government should use the new powers to provide a £5 child benefit top-up at an estimated cost of £256 million to lift 30,000 children out of poverty.  About a third (36.2%) said they would strongly support this while 28.6% said they would "somewhat" support the suggestion.  A total of 15.5% of those surveyed said they opposed it and, of these, 6.2% were strongly opposed. A further 16.7% were neutral and 3.2% said they did not know.  Poverty Alliance director Peter Kelly said: " It is clear that there is a public appetite in Scotland for topping up child benefit and lifting children out of poverty.  We have spoken with families across Scotland about what difference this could make to them and it was clear that for many families this would mean being able to buy better food or help them afford school supplies. Now is the time to act to make sure that families in Scotland do not face even greater pressure than they already do now." One of those benefits will be the Best Start Grant, which replaces the existing Sure Start Maternity Grant and adds £100 to the current £500 one-off payment.

Banking Giant HSBC to Create 500 Jobs in Scotland

HSBC is creating 500 new jobs in Scotland as it expands several functions of its operations north of the border. It is creating roles in its global risk business, which was established in Edinburgh in 2015, and its centre of excellence for customer contact in Hamilton, South Lanarkshire.  The recruitment drive will also boost the number of employees in other areas of the business, bringing HSBC's headcount in Scotland to 4,500.  It is the company's third expansion programme in Scotland in the past three years.  All four of HSBC's global businesses are represented in Scotland, including retail banking and wealth management, commercial banking, global banking and markets with HSBC Securities and global private banking, as well as a range of service businesses.

Queensferry Crossing to Open to Vehicles on August 30
The new Queensferry Crossing will open to traffic on August 30, ministers have announced. It will then close a few days later to allow 50,000 people to take part in a "once-in-a-lifetime chance" to walk across the bridge before it becomes a motorway with no pedestrian access. The £1.35 billion bridge across the Forth was due to open last December but its completion was delayed by adverse weather conditions.  Holyrood Economy Secretary Keith Brown met with workers from the Forth Replacement Crossing (FRC) project and veterans of the construction of the Forth Road Bridge at the Queensferry Crossing on Tuesday.  He said: "It is fitting to be able to make this announcement alongside some of those who built the Forth Road Bridge and those who are building the Queensferry Crossing. I am very pleased to be able to confirm the Queensferry Crossing will open on August 30. The bridge will be used by vehicles up to September 1 before closing to allow the public the chance to walk across it as part of the Queensferry Crossing Experience on September 2 and 3.  This Queensferry Crossing Experience will allow for up to 50,000 people to have the once-in-a-lifetime chance to walk across the Queensferry Crossing before it becomes a motorway with no pedestrian access.  In order to manage access to the bridge, there will be a ballot to decide who will have this unique opportunity to be one of the 50,000 people.

Ross-shire Pupils Make Their Mark At Inverness Provincial Mod
Pupils from across Ross-shire made their mark amongst the 900 entries at the Inverness Provincial Mòd last week. Children and adults competed in art, literature, conversation, recitation, verse speaking, singing and instrumental competitions.  The two-day festival was rounded off with a traditional Gaelic ceilidh dance at the The British Legion Club, Inverness, where some of the winning competitors performed alongside some well-known Gaelic singers and dance music was provided by local band, Marloch.  Over 50 volunteers from the local area gave of their time to support the organisers  and the Mod committee to facilitate such a large event, and we are hugely grateful for this support.

700-plus Show the Love As Wester Ross Geopark Hits £30k Target

An ambitious fundraiser for the North West Highlands Geopark – covering large parts of Wester Ross and Sutherland – has breached its target of £30,000.  Around 700 supporters for its Love the Geopark campaign donated £30,355 – enabling the creation of The Rock Stop, an exhibition, cafe and gift shop located at Unapool.  The attraction is open three days a week, Wednesday to Friday, but will be increasing its opening days from July.  A geopark spokesman said the donations came from both the UK and overseas, from visitors who had enjoyed the unique geology and history of the area and appreciated the aims of the social enterprise and the benefits offered by its UNESCO designation.  The donations had ensured its project commitments towards education, conservation and stewardship were now guaranteed, and core staff now able to dedicate time to generating further income streams, said the spokesman.  The ability to retain UNESCO status for the north-west Highlands during the revalidation process scheduled for 2019 had also been strengthened.

NHS Orkney Confirms Accidental Destruction of Medical Records
NHS Orkney have confirmed that hundreds of sets of their mental health patient notes have been shredded by accident.  NHS Orkney Chief Executive Cathie Cowan has said a total of 373 sets of notes shredded by a mistake caused by “human error.”  Ms Cowan has said the patients affected have been informed and apologised to. She also gave assurances that there has been no breach in patient confidentiality and hospital medical notes and GP notes have not been affected.  She said the notes concerned relate to community mental health nursing and psychology.  She said: “I regret to confirm that community mental health patient notes held by NHS Orkney have been shredded in error.  These records had been packaged up to be scanned as part of our digital medical records project. There has been no breach in patient confidentiality and notes at all times have been appropriately stored and secured.”

Scottish Parliament ‘Could Have Power to Block Brexit Great Repeal Bill’ Admits May
Scottish MSPs could have the power to block the Brexit Great Repeal Bill, Theresa May admitted today.  The Prime Minister revealed Holyrood may have to pass a “legislative consent motion” in order for the bill, which would see Brussels legislation transfer to the House of Commons statute book, to be passed into law at Westminster. Mrs May was responding to a question from SNP MP Stewart McDonald, who asked if such a motion would be required of the Scottish Parliament for the bill to be passed.  She said: “There is a possibility that a legislative consent motion may be required in the Scottish Parliament, but that is a matter that is being considered currently between the Westminster and the Scottish government.”  A Downing Street spokesperson confirmed they are “looking at” the matter. A consent motion is required when Westminster MPs put forward a law on matters usually devolved to regional governments.  Scottish Secretary David Mundell previously predicted that such a vote would be needed and warned there would be “very serious consequences” for Brexit if Scots decided to block the bill.  A spokesman for the Prime Minister said: “We would hope that everyone would get behind delivering on the will of the British people.”

HMS Queen Elizabeth Prepares to Sail From Rosyth Dockyard

HMS Queen Elizabeth is so large she can easily be spotted by drivers on the Forth Road Bridge despite being moored in the built-up environs of Rosyth dockyard, two miles to the west.  Her forward island, which contains the bridge, along with the aft island, which will control aircraft operations, tower above the Fife port.  Soon the vessel will be revealed in all her glory as she leaves Rosyth for the first time to begin sea trials.  The aircraft alliance – the various firms which have overseen the ship’s seven-year construction – are keen to share statistics which convey the sheer size of the carrier.  At 65,000 tonnes, the Queen Elizabeth is easily the largest warship ever built for the Royal Navy. Her flightdeck alone is 70 metres wide and 280 metres long – enough space for three football pitches. When deployed, she will have space for 40 aircraft. When she sails, there will be 679 officers and crew on board. But this could rise to 1,600 if all air elements are deployed during a time of conflict.  The ship’s regular company are already aboard and awaiting her to leave Rosyth. Once sea trials are complete, the ship will be based in Portsmouth. “We are thrilled to be settling into HMS Queen Elizabeth and making this ship our home,” a senior member of the ship’s company told the UK Defence Journal.  There is a real buzz of excitement as we focus on honing our skills and knowledge to bring the ship to life.” The aircraft alliance has remained tight-lipped over when exactly the Queen Elizabeth will depart Roysth for the first time to begin sea trials. The prospect of seeing the carrier sail under the Forth bridges is one that many amateur photographers will not want to miss. Dockyard workers have speculated online that tug bookings, summer tides and crew movements all point to her departing in the coming days. When then defence secretary Des Browne approved the construction of two new aircraft carriers in 2007, the total budget was £4.85 billion. Various delays and set-backs mean the Queen Elizabeth and her sister ship, the Prince of Wales, will now cost a total of £14.3bn – including the Lockheed Martin F-35B jets that will fly from them.  It was reported in 2010 that the coalition government was keen to halt – or at least significantly scale back – the carriers project when it took office due to the rising costs, only to be advised this would cost the taxpayer even more in the long term. Regardless of the expense, the Queen Elizabeth remains an impressive feat of marine engineering. The various components of the ship were assembled at yards across the UK before being transported to Rosyth for final assembly.The last section – the aft island – arrived at the port in 2013. It was built in 90 weeks by workers at the BAE Systems shipyard in Scotstoun. The forward island was built in Portsmouth. The hull sections – weighing 8,000 tonnes – were manufactured in Govan before being loaded on to a sea barge and sailed around Cape Wrath to the Forth.

Chocolate factory to open on Mull

Move over Willy Wonka – they’re planning a a chocolate factory on Mull. If planning permission is approved, the factory and retail outlet would be the first thing to greet visitors as they step off the ferry at Craignure. Behind the proposal are the owners of Arlene’s Cafe in Craignure, Arlene and Ishbel Robbie.  The application lodged with Argyll and Bute Council seeks to build the factory on land north west of the tourist information centre. Arlene’s Cafe currently offers customers its own range of Belgian chocolate, which is made on site.  However, space is tight and they initially had plans to build a shed somewhere to made the chocolate. When the prime site in Craignure became available, they decided to think bigger.  They currently sell bars, mixed bags and handmade chocolates. At Christmas time they are a popular feature at all of the local festive markets.

SNP MP Condemns Decision to Hand Peerage to Defeated Tory Candidate
The decision to hand a defeated Tory election candidate a peerage so he can become a minister is a "total affront to democracy", the SNP has told the UK Westminster Government. Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom sidestepped questions over the appointment of Scottish Conservative MEP Ian Duncan as a new Scotland Office minister, despite losing out on a Westminster seat to SNP veteran Pete Wishart in the General Election. Mr Wishart, SNP Commons leader, railed against the appointment and urged ministers to avoid filling the House of Lords with "cronies, donors and failed leadership candidates".  Speaking during the Commons business statement, Mr Wishart said: "What's appalling about my situation is the Conservative candidate that I defeated is soon to find himself ennobled as an unelected Lord, drafted into government as a Scottish Government minister. A total affront to democracy and an insult to my constituents who just so recently rejected him.  Will the Leader of the House pledge never to use the House of Lords as a receptacle for cronies, donors and failed leadership candidates?" Ms Leadsom, in reply, said: "On the subject of those who are ennobled, there are obviously decisions taken on merit and also on the grounds of political contribution right across the public sector of people who have given many years service to the public sector, and I think that as a matter is not for us. It is a matter for discussion at another time."