Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 410

Issue # 410                                             Week ending Saturday 22nd July 2017

Let’s Hear it for the Girl - A New Timelord by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal
As that eerie theme music came on with the shimmering face of Patrick Troughton appearing as if reflected in the ridges of the corrugated roof of our byre, I tried to quell the urge to abandon my orange juice and custard creams and crouch behind the sofa. But, as we were in our neighbour’s house, they would laugh if I was to show any sign of panic at the mere sight of aluminium aliens, the pail-faced Cybermen, or worse, a dallying Dalek.

My knees trembled at the thought that Troughton, the best actor in the role, would meet his maker if any of these metal mickeys came round the corner so much that the half the orange juice was all over the saucer. If they did, the juice would probably end up over my head. Look there’s a door going whish-whish and through it glides a Dalek with laryngitis. Quick, Doctor. Run. Go right down the corridor to the end and then dash up the stairs. Daleks don’t do stairs. That’s how to baffle them. Run up the wooden hill. Phew, world domination averted.

Now the mantle has been passed to a girl. Jodie Whittaker will have to save the world from now on. Excellent choice, I say. Not that I have watched her costume dramas. No one has enough time to watch Downton Abbey ... and Broadchurch, which Jodie was in. Change is good and if the well-travelled Timelord can regenerate from the form of youthful Matt Smith to the shape of gnarly old Peter Capaldi then why not now into a woman of wily ways and a penchant for flattening ferrous foes.

There is always the archetypal change-averse twit who vows never to watch the dashed thing again every time a new doc emerges from the televisual mist. I was tickled though to hear the reaction of the latest shower of dinosaurs, and Peter Purves, who all thought the Doctor should be a man for all time. Poppycock and balderdash. Purves, a veteran of Blue Peter, seems to have got distemper off a pooch in Crufts, which is all they let the old duffer do nowadays.

I could have done with Blue Peter’s handy tips the other night. Mrs X and I were out for our anniversary scoff and I couldn’t get the champagne to pop. Spotting my struggles, another diner, who had been quaffing for some time, wobbled over. He slurred: “My advice to open a champagne bottle is to hit it with a ship. Seriously, I’ve seen people do that. It works.” Thank you, and goodnight.

Purves was an assistant to the Doctor when the first one came on, played by William Hartnell. It was before my time but you would think that PP would have made some attempt to update his brainbox with more rational thought. Why else would he declare that he would be “horrified” if the new Doctor Who was to be a lady-type person? So you think the women should stick to cookery shows and doing How Clean Is Your House, do you?

Mr Purves, as you are so against change, just go back to your bottle of detergent and sticky-back plastic like you used to do. And while you’re at it, have a look at your own website. The links to the site about your time on Doctor Who do not work any more. Bet you can’t fix that with an old coat-hanger and say: “And here’s one I made earlier.”

What are these beloved TV stars of yesteryear really like? Actually, they are no different to the rest of us. They may have their good points and come across as lovely people but they have their own prejudices too - just like me and you. The problem is that we still think of them as they were way back when. I thought I had caught a bargain the other week when I bought a satnav which was pre-programmed with the voice of Bonnie Tyler. It is rubbish. It keeps telling me to turn around. And every now and then, it falls apart.

Still, I feel so good about sticking up for the first female Doctor Who. It is just lovely that we are having gender balance. I have no doubt that Jodie Whittaker will be terrific and that she will bring the right mix of gravitas and humour to the role. Honestly, there is nothing that a male actor can do that a woman cannot. And, finally, news just in. According to reports, the filming of the new Doctor Who series has been suspended. Apparently, the new Timelord is having difficulty parking the Tardis.

Scots Law on Smacking Children Criticised by Commissioner

Scotland’s position on smacking children is “untenable in international human rights terms”, the country’s new Children’s Commissioner has said.  Bruce Adamson said legally allowing parents to smack their children puts Scotland at odds with the law in the majority of Europe. Current legislation in Scotland enables parents to use a defence of justifiable assault for hitting their children.  Mr Adamson told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “There are some things where Scotland is doing very, very well and there are some things that are absolutely shocking, where Scotland is coming last in the world.  We really are coming last in this now. Almost every country in wider Europe is committed to this change and we still in Scotland say that it’s okay for a parent or carer to assault a child for the purpose of physical punishment, and that that can be justified, which is just untenable in international human rights terms. And I really think it really goes against the basic values that we hold in Scotland in terms of human dignity and respect for children. So it is a very strange position we are in, where the government isn’t supporting the change in the law at this stage, despite consistent international condemnation.”  He also criticised the current age of criminal responsibility in Scotland which is the lowest in Europe at eight. He said: “At eight the idea that a child who is involved in behaviour that maybe harms someone else in quite a major way the idea that there is a criminal response to that, they should be held criminally responsible rather than their behaviour being addressed in a welfare-type model is idea is very very strange. The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child said 10 years ago that 12 was the absolute minimum and that anything below 12 was absolutely unacceptable internationally.”  Mr Adamson takes over the commissioner position from Tam Baillie, who campaigned for the Scottish Government to scrap the justifiable assault law. Shortly before stepping down at the end of his term of office he said Scotland was lagging behind “pariah states” such as Zimbabwe by failing to ban smacking children and is one of only five countries in Europe where it remains legal. The Scottish Parliament is holding a consultation on Green MSP’s John Finnie’s proposal to ban parents from smacking children. The consultation closes in August, ahead of a planned Member’s Bill on changing the law. The Scottish Government has repeatedly outlined its position that it does not support physical punishment of children but has no plans to outlaw smacking.

Paisley Makes the Shortlist for UK City of Culture
It's the only Scottish town to make the grade and joins Coventry, Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland and Swansea in the final bid to with the coveted title for 2021. The announcement by Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, John Glen follows a meeting of the independent advisory panel, which whittled the 11 entries down to just five.  The winner will be revealed in December this year, after the final bids have been submitted. Mr Glen said: "I want to congratulate all eleven bids which offered brilliant examples of how to celebrate their own unique culture and heritage, and showed just how prestigious and coveted the UK City of Culture is. The strength of the competition showed us how valuable our cultural assets are to our towns, boosting tourism and jobs in local communities. The title is currently held by Hull, whose programme includes 365 days of cultural events. It is estimated that City of Culture has brought a boost of £60 million to the Hull economy in 2017. Nine out of 10 residents have attended, or taken part in, an event as part of Hull 2017 and the city has seen over £1 billion of investment since winning the title in 2013.  The title was previously held by Derry-Londonderry. The shortlisted areas will now be invited to submit a final bid by the end of September.  The panel will assess the final bids from the shortlisted cities before a winner is announced.

Gourock Church's Appeal for Information on People Named on Stained Glass Panel

An iconic memorial window has sparked an appeal to mark a Gourock church’s 175th anniversary next year.  Churchgoers from St John’s are keen to find out about the people behind the names on the stained glass panel.  It includes a tribute to the fallen of both world wars, and it’s hoped that their stories will be told in a special booklet.  Cameron Melville, session clerk, said: “We’re planning on doing a booklet to update the church’s history from 1993.  St John’s has been here since 1843. It’s been at the heart of the community for a long time.  It’s quite a big year for the church and we have various ideas to mark it, including a visit from the moderator of the general assembly.”  The church currently has a locum minister, Johnston McKay, and has been without a permanent minister for a year. Cameron said: “We hope we might have a new minister next year, which would be another cause for celebration.”  Secretary Iain Love has made an appeal asking for families to come forward with information on the window, dedicated in 1921.  He said: “We’ve had a few responses, mainly about people remembered from World War Two.  One, Ian Carruthers, apparently went to sea when he was only 15 and his parents contacted the admiralty and were told he would be sent back when his ship docked, but it never did.”  Another conflict victim was Alexander McPhail, who according to military records died aged 21. But Iain said: “His baptismal records show that he was only 19 and it would seem that he used his brother’s date of birth to sign up.  We are trying to find out more about all of the people behind the names and to tell their stories.  We also have the only woman to be remembered in the Gourock Cenotaph, Alice Murdoch.  She died  after contracting a disease from treating wounded soldiers coming back from the front.”  Cameron says the appeal is a good way to create a bit of interest in the A-listed church and its features.   The building is also adorned with another window which dates back to the 19th century and is the work of Edward Burne-Jones and famous textile artist William Morris. Alan Aitken, assistant session clerk, said: “We are looking to establish a heritage project with Lottery funding focusing on the the church’s history and stained glass windows.”  If anyone has any information that could help with the church’s appeal they should email Iain on This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Nairn Beach Litter Used to Create Works of Art
A mix of people of all ages and from across the community gathered on Nairn Beach to clean up the area with people on the hunt to find art materials to win a competition.  More than 50 people turned out for the clean up with everyone getting involved.  After a buffet lunch at Nairn Sailing Club some of the group attended a workshop to learn how to create pieces of art from the scraps that they collected.  In the end there were 21 pieces of art submitted for the competition held at Wasps Links Studio with about half of the entrants from children under the age of 16. Coincidentally the under-16 prize was claimed by last year’s winner George Hibbard with Gina Holmes claiming the adult award. Both won prizes of a taster session on a Nairn Sailing Club boat.   

Kilchoman Grows in Size
Ardnahoe might well be Islay's ninth distillery, but the island's eighth isn't standing still and resting on its laurels.  After purchasing Rockside Farm, Kilchoman distillery is in the process of upgrading by way of a new malt floor and kiln. This will allow an increase to five tonne batches of malted barley, a greater volume of which is now grown in the surrounding fields.
According to manager Islay Heads, this has allowed Kilchoman to increase the production volume of their 100% Islay single malt, a product unique to the island. It is hoped that work will be completed by September of this year.

West Islay Tidal Energy Park

Further to the recent announcement of a proposed tidal energy park off the south west coast of Islay,  Ireland based DP Energy was contacted for further details. They said; that, in partnership with Bluepower NV, itself a partnership between DEME Blue Energy and utility investor, Nuhma, they were "delighted to be awarded consent by Scottish Government Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, Paul Wheelhouse, for the 30MW West Islay Tidal Energy Park project."  The Government's consent will now allow them to site tidal turbines, including a sub-sea electrical cable to export the power to landfall on Islay. This will be an important step in the overall project. There are of course a number of technical challenges to be considered and overcome before any construction works commences, given the nature of the sea conditions off Islay's west coast. As the project progresses these will hopefully be addressed, involving a more detailed assessment of the overall project. This will include a review of current tidal technology options, and identification of the turbines best suited to the site conditions.  There will also be assessment of a detailed sub-sea cable route and construction process along with revisiting the onshore connection options. Once this assessment has been completed DP Energy will be "looking at the best methods of disseminating that information and the findings of our assessment to the local community and local interest groups." According to the DP Energy spokesperson, this is likely to include updates via the media, the Community Council and through further public open day events on Islay when appropriate. The initial announcement indicated that the energy park, when completed may result in the creation of up to 32 new jobs.

Councillor Claims Slow Broadband is Damaging Sutherland Economy

A veteran Sutherland councillor has accused BT Openreach of stymieing technological and business advancement in the county because of the "poor level" of service it provides. Linda Munro claims the area enjoyed a better service from the telecoms provider 30 years ago than it does today.  Cllr Munro, who represents North, West and Central Sutherland, spoke out after senior BT Openreach managers failed for a second time to appear at a meeting of Sutherland County Committee to discuss growing concerns.  Councillors are now writing to BT Scotland chief Brendan Dick to express their "severe disappointment" at what is being seen as a snub to Sutherland.  Cllr Munro, the newly-elected chairman of the committee, said: "The communities across Sutherland all speak highly of the engineers on the ground, but this is about the management of the workload and investment in our infrastructure. In short, it’s about delivering a fit-for-purpose service.  Thirty years ago if your phone went off, it got fixed."  However, BT has said the reasons for the non-attendance were valid and it is working closely with Sutherland communities to provide superfast broadband.  Frustration over months of delays by BT Openreach in repairing lost phone and broadband connections and also in establishing new connections has been slowly building up across the county. There is also anger over low broadband speeds.  Cllr Munro said this week that disgruntled Sutherland residents were in constant contact with her and fellow councillors regarding telecoms issues.  She said: "There is a lot of upset in different pockets of the area and we all know of examples within our two wards. Every one of us have communities where the stories are just horrific."  Cllr Munro added it was particularly concerning when vulnerable, older people in remote and rural areas were affected and ambitious plans to progress the delivery of tele-medicine and tele-care in the area could not go ahead without reliable phone and broadband connections.  Tele-medicine – the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients by means of telecommunications technology – is viewed as a solution to provide care in remote areas where GP recruitment and retention is a problem. Cllr Munro also claimed the telecoms problems were deterring businesses from setting up in or relocating to the north. She continued: "The development of tele-medicine and tele-care is dependent on sustainable communications but at the moment that is just castles in the sand." In a bid to talk over the issues with BT Scotland, Sutherland County Committee issued an invitation to attend its February meeting, but representatives were unable to. A second invitation was issued to attend the June 23 meeting, but no-one turned up. An apology was received as the meeting was under way.  Cllr Munro said: "For the second time running BT has not taken up the opportunity to send a representative to Sutherland County Committee so elected members can hold face-to-face discussions and raise issues and concerns on behalf of their constituents. We are troubled that for the second time in a row BT has not deemed the ongoing concerns of our constituents or status of our committee worthy of attending. All Sutherland members are united on this issue and we will be sending a letter to BT expressing our severe disappointment on how the folk of Sutherland are being treated and requesting that its chief executive take the concerns of our communities seriously and comes along to our next meeting."  A BT Scotland spokesman said the decision by the county committee to send out a news release castigating BT for not attending the two meetings was "surprising and unfortunate" as on both occasions the committee was provided with reasons and apologies.

Holyrood Brexit Minister Urges MSPs to Back Calls for Changes to Repeal Bill

Scotland’s Brexit Minister has urged MSPs to back calls for changes to the Repeal Bill to guarantee protection for devolved powers.  The Bill is designed to transpose EU law into British law so the same rules apply on the day of Brexit as the day before, while giving parliaments and assemblies in Westminster, Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff the power to drop or change them in the future.  The First Ministers of Scotland and Wales, Nicola Sturgeon and Carwyn Jones described it as a “naked power grab” because it does not immediately return EU powers to devolved administrations and said they would withhold legislative consent from the Bill as it stands.  However, Scottish Secretary David Mundell said the legislation would result in a powers “bonanza” for Holyrood.  Now, Scotland’s Brexit Minister Michael Russell has written to all MSPs seeking support for the Scottish Government’s position.  He said: “Scotland will stand the best chance of keeping control of its devolved powers if the Scottish Government can act with the full backing of our national Parliament.  The First Minister has already called on Members of the Scottish Parliament to join us now, with no equivocation, to back demands for the democratically elected Scottish Government to be at the table in the UK’s Brexit negotiating strategy. But we also need to make a stand against the UK Westminster Government retaining powers that rightfully should come to Scotland once repatriated from the EU.  Scotland has been able to make its own decisions on Health, Justice, Education and many more since 1999 and we simply ask for a promise from the UK Westminster Government, to be written in the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, that Scotland – along with Wales and Northern Ireland – receive the powers that are justly theirs.” In his letter, Mr Russell highlights concerns that the bill enables UK-wide frameworks on devolved matters to be “imposed” by the UK Westminster Government rather than “agreed” with the devolved administrations. He adds: “We are also concerned that the scheme in the bill for correcting devolved law is unlikely to be workable in its current form. It creates a complex division of decision-making responsibility that does not reflect the reality of devolution. In particular, it empowers UK Ministers to make changes in devolved policy areas without any involvement of either the Scottish Government or the Scottish Parliament. This includes policy areas, such as the Scottish justice system, where the Scottish Parliament has primary responsibility.” Scottish Liberal Democrat business manager Mike Rumbles said the Bill is a “huge executive power” grab and said his party would work with others to protect devolution. He said: ” Scottish Liberal Democrats will work with other parties to find common ground in support of vital protections from workers’ rights to the environment, as well as ensuring that the principles of devolution are respected. It is essential that the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament have a central role in devolved policy areas and that any powers repatriated from the EU in these areas come to Scotland.” A UK Westminster Government spokesman said: “It is the expectation of the Government that the outcome of this process will be a significant increase in the decision-making power of each devolved administration. We welcome the Scottish and Welsh governments recognising common frameworks may be needed in some areas. Our aim is to establish common frameworks only where they are needed.”

Edinburgh Tattoo Chief’s Fury Over Soaring Cost for Police
The man in charge of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo has accused police leaders of setting up a charging regime for maintaining law and order at major events which amounts to “legalised racketeering”.  Brigadier David Allfrey has also called for an overhaul of how event organisers are being charged as he revealed he was having to fork out an average of £49 an hour for each officer on duty.  And he said his costs had soared by 168 per cent in the space of five years.  Allfrey said the Tattoo, which dates back to 1950 and sells more than 220,000 tickets each year, was effectively “subsidising the police” after being “over-charged” in recent years.  Allfrey, whose event is now estimated to be worth more than £100 million to the economy, has also warned that attempts to grow and expand the event were being hampered by its policing bill. He has called for a “sensible” nationwide debate about the charging system, which has affected a number of music festivals, as well as Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations.  He revealed the number of police covering the Tattoo had been reduced following negotiations with senior officers and after the introduction of a new system for charging for the use of officers for commercial events and festivals. Police Scotland works with organisers to decided on an appropriate number of officers, based on a charging system set up and reviewed regularly by the Scottish Police Authority.  However, Allfrey, who took over the running of the Tattoo seven years ago, has accused them of effectively “marking their own homework”.  He said: “My argument is that it is unreasonable to charge events and festivals anything more than any extra costs they are incurring. They shouldn’t be subsidising the police. This has all come about from the principle that if you are charging an entry fee you should be charged for public services. What needs to happen is a sensible debate between policy-makers and the events industry.  I understand the need to balance police budgets but as a business we’re being encouraged to grow as an event and to contribute more to Scottish tourism. It is counter-intuitive to grow and then be charged more for public services because that inhibits growth. I’m not suggesting for a moment it is legalised racketeering but it amounts to pretty much the same thing. It’s effectively the police and the licensing authority marking their own homework which doesn’t seem to sit quite right.” An SPA spokeswoman said: “We approved a policy in 2013 to recover the full costs of providing police services at commercial events, where the organiser, company or organisation may intend to make a profit. This brings consistency to previous diverse approaches taken in legacy forces, and ensures a level playing field across the country.”

£1.6million Stornoway Airport Job Gets Underway Next Month

Work on a £1.69million contract to resurface the taxiway at Stornoway Airport will commence next month.  Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (Hial) announced that the job has been awarded to Breedon North after two tenders were received.  The refurbishment of the taxiway, which will secure its use for the next two decades, involves resurfacing, drainage works and the upgrade of taxiway lighting to LED.  The total value of the contract, which is set to last for six weeks, is £1,695, 265, with the work prolonging the life of the taxiway, which leads to the runway, for another 15-20 years.  Hial, the public corporation owned by Scottish Ministers, promised there would be no disruption to air traffic as a result of the work.  A Hial spokesman said: “The taxiway resurfacing work is planned to start in August, with the project to last approximately six weeks.  No air traffic will be affected as the work is planned for non-operational hours and the upgrade is due to operational requirements to accommodate scheduled passenger and cargo services, general aviation and military and air ambulance movements at Stornoway.” Hial operates and manages 11 airports at Barra, Benbecula, Campbeltown, Dundee, Islay, Inverness, Kirkwall, Stornoway, Sumburgh, Tiree and Wick.  Stornoway Airport runs flights to Benbecula, Inverness, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh.  The airport sits about two miles outside the Lewis town and provides daily connections to the mainland and other parts of the Western Isles. It is a vital route for supplies and mail to reach the islands. The need for work on the two main taxiways was revealed after an inspection in 2015. At that time, it was recommended to overlay the taxiways with a new layer of asphalt to increase their resilience. Other elements will involve removing and replacing ground lighting on the airfield. A major element will include installing a new surface channel drain to connect the taxiways and the disused runway on the airfield. The surrounding landscaping will also be raised to meet the level of the new taxiways to protect the aircraft. Breedon will also be responsible for remarking the newly relaid surface once work has been completed.

SNP Brand House of Lords By-election ‘Ludicrous Farce’

The SNP have branded a House of Lords by-election called to elect an hereditary peer to the upper chamber a “ludicrous farce” and reiterated demands for it to be scrapped.  Tommy Sheppard, MP for Edinburgh East, spoke out following fresh calls for the Lords to be reformed by electoral campaigners.  The Electoral Reform Society (ERS) said the present system of replacing hereditary peers when they leave the upper house must end.  The result of the latest hereditary crossbench election will be announced on Wednesday after voting closed at 5pm on Tuesday.  New research by ERS found that its highest, the electorate for hereditary by-elections has been 803 – at its lowest just three people.  Four by-elections have had more candidates than electors, including the only by-election within the Labour group of hereditary peers for which there were 11 candidates and only three voters.  There is only one female hereditary peer listed on the register of future candidates. No female hereditary peer has been admitted to the House of Lords by by-election. Tommy Sheppard, SNP spokesman on the House of Lords, said: “The ludicrous farce of hereditary peer ‘by-elections’, where a select few aristocrats are given the right by birth to decide who should make our laws, is a democratic outrage. This antiquated bastion of privilege highlights exactly why the House of Lords must be scrapped, and replaced with a fully elected second chamber, at the earliest opportunity. With over 800 members the House of Lords is second only to the People’s Congress of China in size - wasting huge sums of public money without any democratic accountability to the people. It is well past its sell by date and the UK Westminster Government must now take long-overdue action.”

Comment - R
Its an absolute disgrace, one could even say tragedy, that any of these lords should have a say in the governance of Scotland. During the first independence referendum an individual by the name of the Earl of Caithness introduced a motion that Rockall should no longer be part of Scotland and transferred to English jurisdiction.  Thats the type of attitude these lords have towards Scotland.

Barnett Formula: Scotland/Wales Governments Action Over Tory-DUP Deal

The Scottish and Welsh Governments have joined forces to launch a "formal dispute process" over the deal struck at Westminster between the Tories and Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). The confidence and supply-style agreement has meant an extra £1 billion of cash for Northern Ireland and has allowed Theresa May to remain in power after losing her majority in the recent election.  But the devolved Governments in Cardiff and Edinburgh say any extra funding to Ulster should also mean new cash for Scotland and Wales in line with Barnett formula for allocating cash throughout the UK. In this case Wales should receive an additional £1.67bn and Scotland an additional £2.9bn.  The Welsh Government’s Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford and the Scottish Government’s Finance Secretary Derek Mackay have now written to the Treasury to invoke the formal dispute resolution process through the Joint Ministerial Committee. Mr Mackay said: “The Scottish Government fundamentally disagrees with the way in which this additional funding for Northern Ireland has been allocated. We have repeatedly made the point that all areas to which the £1billion funding package has been allocated are devolved matters and therefore the Barnett Formula should apply.  “Despite this, the UK Westminster Government argues that there should be no Barnett consequentials from this deal and refuses to acknowledge that Scotland, Wales and England will be short-changed by billions of pounds.  That cannot be right – and the deal goes against the principles of the UK Treasury’s own statement of funding policy." The UK Westminster Government has said previous city deals in Scotland have seen extra cash coming north of the border, but this was rejected by Mr Mackay as "not in any way comparable." He added: “It remains my hope that we will be able to reach a satisfactory resolution to this situation which results in a funding allocation across Scotland, Wales and England that is fair and reasonable for all – but in order to reach such a solution we now need to pursue the formal dispute resolution process.”  Professor Drakeford said: “We have been clear with the UK Westminster Government that any additional funding for Northern Ireland must respect the established funding principles and rules around the Barnett formula. The UK Westminster Government has abandoned these well-established arrangements to the detriment of Wales and other parts of the UK.  The arrangements offered to Northern Ireland have direct read across to areas of devolved responsibility. For this reason, the benefits of the additional spending should be mirrored across all parts of the UK. By operating in this way, the UK Westminster Government has failed to provide Wales with the resources we need to invest in infrastructure, the NHS and the education system – depriving Wales of an additional £1.67bn. At a time when public services in Wales are under pressure as a result of the UK Westminster Government’s damaging and ongoing policy of austerity, it is only right that Wales gets its fair share of funding through the established rules of the Barnett formula. For all its faults the Barnett formula is supposed to be clear and rules based. It is simply inexcusable that the UK Westminster Government is willing to “bypass” those rules. That is why we have begun the formal dispute resolution with the Government so that Wales is treated fairly alongside all nations of the UK.”

£2.6bn Offshore Windfarm Will Bring £530m to Scottish Economy, Research Says

Research into a £2.6 billion offshore windfarm in Moray estimates it will bring £530 million to the Scottish economy.  The analysis saw SSE and Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Ltd (Bowl) , carry out an assessment of the scheme which will result in 84 turbines being installed in the Outer Moray Forth SSE says the farm's 84 wind turbine being assembled at Nigg Energy Park will be able to generate enough energy to power up to 450,000 homes. SSE says the farm's 84 wind turbine being assembled at Nigg Energy Park will be able to generate enough energy to power up to 450,000 homes  The project was given consent in March 2014 followed by an investment contract by the UK Westminster Government in May of the same year. Research on the social return on the investment (SROI) said the £2.6bn investment is expected to add £1.13bn to UK GDP and support full-time employment in the UK.  This research offered SSE their first chance to understand the social return on investment of the community fund. The foundations are being put into place for the project, which will be fully operational in 2019.  SSE says the farm's 84 wind turbine being assembled at Nigg Energy Park will be able to generate enough energy to power up to 450,000 homes. Scottish Government Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: "On a national scale, the Beatrice project is set to inject £530 million into the Scottish economy, as well as providing clean energy to thousands of homes. The significant benefits to the Highland and Moray regions will be felt for a long time to come, as those areas are set to benefit from over £6 million in community projects, as well as the creation of over 800 jobs during the construction phase, including assembly work at Nigg Energy Park, and around 90 long-term jobs during the operations and maintenance phase, which will produce a particular boost to employment at Wick harbour."

No Rift with Nicola Sturgeon, Says Downing Street Amid Storm

Downing Street insisted on Friday there was no rift with Nicola Sturgeon in the wake of reports that the First Minister was no longer welcome at Number 10.  Theresa May’s top advisers insisted the Prime Minister was “absolutely committed” to engaging with Holyrood, after an unnamed minister was quoted as saying that Ms Sturgeon would in future only be granted meetings with Scottish Secretary David Mundell as “he is at the same level as her”. The story of the apparent downgrading of the First Minister sparked a social media storm among supporters of both the Tories and SNP, and risks pouring fuel on a growing constitutional crisis over Brexit. Downing Street did not directly reject the suggestion that access to the Prime Minister had been withdrawn, but instead said that “it did not recognise the comments”.  The last plenary session of the Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC), which brings together the Prime Minister and leaders of the devolved nations, took place at the end of January. At that time the UK Westminster government committed to “intensify” its dialogue with the Scottish Government on Brexit but no meetings have taken place since and there are none in the diary.  The unnamed minister who sparked the story told the Daily Mail that Ms Sturgeon would “no longer get the same access to the Prime Minister She should be meeting David Mundell because he is at the same level as her.” The newspaper reported that UK ministers want to avoid elevating Ms Sturgeon’s profile. Scottish Government sources claimed the reports were a sign of Mrs May’s weakness following her poor general election result. A UK Westminster government spokeswoman said last night: “We are absolutely committed to engaging with the Scottish Government and will continue to do so on all levels. “The level of engagement over recent months has been unprecedented, including numerous meetings and calls between ministers and officials.” Mrs May and Ms Sturgeon last met for an hour at a Glasgow hotel in March ahead of the triggering of Article 50, which launched the formal Brexit process, and nothing since.  The Scottish Government has called for top-level JMC meetings to be held more regularly in an attempt to bridge the gulf between the two administrations over the UK’s departure from the EU. The First Minister will be offered weekly meetings with Mr Mundell and Lord Duncan, the newly-appointed Scotland Office minister, according to reports.  A Scottish Government source responded to the comments by saying: “Theresa May is a badly weakened Prime Minister, but it speaks volumes if she now doesn’t feel confident enough to meet the First Minister. And David Mundell’s credibility is in tatters after his failure to stand up for Scotland over the Tories’ grubby deal with the DUP.”  Ms Sturgeon and Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones have both threatened to withhold consent for legislation to implement Brexit, in a move that could spark an unprecedented constitutional crisis. The First Minister was the first party leader to meet the Prime Minister days after she entered Downing Street in July 2016.  At the time, Mrs May said her administration would be “fully engaging with the Scottish Government in the forthcoming negotiations about the UK’s exit from the European Union”. Following the visit it is understood that some senior party figures believed such a policy made Ms Sturgeon look like an international dignitary rather than a leader of a devolved nation.

Comment- R
Mrs May has form when it comes to insulting Scotland. "Speaking after talks with Nicola Sturgeon in Edinburgh, the Prime Minister said she would not trigger the formal exit process until she had agreed a 'UK approach' with leaders in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland." Daily Mail 17 July 2016. We all know what happened to that promise. The nation to the south did not get the name Perfidious Albion for nothing. Fact: This is a calculated insult to Scotland's elected leader. Fact: Sturgeon can run rings around May who proved during the election campaign she is far from the sharpest knife in the drawer. Fact: Scotland voted against Brexit and Sturgeon is right to bring this repeatedly to Maykip's attention. Over and over again. Why should Sturgeon have to deal only with someone like Mundell? At the same level? Don't make me laugh. He was appointed by the Tories and at the time there was precious little competition as he was the only MP they had north of the border. The Scottish government spokesman has hit the nail on the head: "Theresa May is a badly weakened PM, but it speaks volumes if she now doesn't f
eel confident enough to meet the First Minister."