Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 411

Issue # 411                                             Week ending Saturday 29th July 2017

The Irony of Having A Brown Mark on My Shirt by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

One household chore upsets my wife more than any other. Ironing. For years I’ve heard her mutter to herself “I hate ironing,” as her tired arms have decreased the creases from yet more of my pants and shirts (size XXL). Yet still she does it, and the many sheets we have as well, but deep down she hates the iron, the ironing board, the shirts, the sheets but, no, I don’t bother asking to get my hankies straightened out nowadays. Not since that TV report which said an ironed hanky does not dry out and neutralise snot as well as a creased one. Nice.

She has come up with a way to deal with the drudgery. She now does the ironing in the living room while watching the telly. It’s actually because she has a thing for Alexander Armstrong - and she fancies Bradley Walsh. These two are never off the box as they are on the quiz shows Pointless and The Chase. Her plan worked for a few days until Bradley Walsh had one of his famous giggling turns recently which started her off and there was no thought that the iron was plonked on the left of my shirt chest.

She decided that big brown mark would fade after a few washes - like the ones on my underpants. It didn’t and then yesterday Big Ears, I mean Alexander Armstrong, got in a muddle over his words and she started chortling along too, forgot about the iron and yet another shirt of mine now has a perfect imprint of the base of an iron on it. If you see a sharp-dressed man in town with a groovy iron pattern scorched onto the chest, that’ll be myself. Cool or what?

Jacob Rees-Mogg MP is the king of cool. Tipped as the next Tory leader if Ruth Davidson doesn’t challenge Theresa, which I think she will, Rees-Mogg came to my attention for uttering a 29-letter word in Parliament. The sub-editors of this newspaper would be sorely vexed if I wrote it here and they would have to squeeze it into a narrow P&J column. I wouldn’t do that to them. Then again... Oh, what the heck. Rees-Mogg said: “floccinaucinihilipilification”. Sorry, guys. As we all know, that just means the process by which we estimate something to be worthless. He has named his baby son, Sixtus. Is that not something naughty being texted to you. Oh, that’s sexting. Someone sixted, sorry sexted, me recently. I’ll tell you later.

Meanwhile in the Labour camp, they announced that party leader Jeremy Corbyn is coming to the Western Isles. I knew a week or two ago because my red comrade of yore, George Gawk, was whizzing up and down Cromwell Street, abuzz with it. I didn’t believe him. When I told him to go and boil his head, he shuffled off mumbling to himself that no one took him seriously. Then the local Labour Party announced Jezza was coming up. I really must start listening more carefully to that cove.

The party said the date and details of Corbyn’s itinerary would be confirmed soon. Listen everyone, just go and ask George Gawk. He probably has the itinerary scribbled on kitchen roll and stuffed into his left wellington boot. Just ask Seoras. He knows ... well, everything.

And I know that the weather here in the Hebrides has been fantastic recently. It was great for the Hebridean Celtic Festival and it is not often we hear national radio presenters saying they wished they were up here because we had the best weather in the UK. Come up and see us sometime, as that other blone almost said. My home parish of Plasterfield sweltered and I have not seen so many white bodies in back gardens for many a year. We are on a hill so we are closer to the sun. We are also closer to God but that’s only because Reverend Kenny I Macleod, the best minister in the entire Free Church, keeps a manse here in the blessed Field-upon-the-Mountain.

Oh, I was going to tell you someone sexted me. Myself and herself were about to go off to bed at the weekend when my phone twitterpated. The message said: “Bored hswife, 43, Point, lkng fr hot action.” Oh mo chreach. I was mortified. When Mrs X asked who the text was from, I just had to read it to her. My exhausted spouse nodded. A smile played upon her lips. She said: “A bored blone who wants to do something hot? I can help her with that. Get her address and I’ll send round the ironing.”

First of New Fleet of Warships to Be Called HMS Glasgow
The first warship in a new fleet of Royal Navy frigates will be called HMS Glasgow , the Defence Secretary has announced.  Sir Michael Fallon revealed the name as he cut the ship's first piece of steel at the BAE Systems shipyard in Govan, Glasgow on Thursday. Earlier this month a £3.7 billion contract was signed with BAE Systems to build the first three warships in the new eight-strong fleet of City class Type 26 frigates, sustaining 1,700 jobs in Scotland for two decades.  Together the three ships being built under the first contract will safeguard 4,000 jobs in Scotland and across the wider UK supply chain until 2035, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said.  Sir Michael said: "Today marks a historic milestone for the Royal Navy, Scottish shipbuilding and UK defence more widely.  "HMS Glasgow and the other seven frigates in this new class will protect our powerful new aircraft carriers and nuclear deterrent, helping keep Britain safe across the world. The Type 26 is a cutting-edge warship that will maintain our naval power with a truly global reach. Designed for a service life of at least 25 years, the Type 26 frigates will form a backbone of the future Royal Navy surface fleet well into the future."  The ships will specialise in anti-submarine warfare and work closely with the Navy's Trident nuclear deterrent and the new aircraft carriers, the first of which - HMS Queen Elizabeth - launched from Rosyth in late June for sea trials. HMS Glasgow will enter service in the mid 2020s. The fleet will eventually replace the current Type 23 frigates.  Admiral Sir Philip Jones, First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff, said: "The Clyde was the birthplace of some of the greatest fighting ships the world has ever known, and so cutting steel there today for the future HMS Glasgow is symbolic of a Royal Navy on the rise once again.  As an island nation, we are utterly dependent on the sea for our security and prosperity, and the City-class names have been chosen for the Type 26 to provide an enduring link between the Royal Navy and our great centres of commerce and industry.  The name Glasgow brings with it a string of battle honours, stretching from the Arctic Circle to the South Atlantic. As one of the world's most capable anti-submarine frigates, the Type 26 will carry the Royal Navy's tradition of victory far into the future." The contract for the second batch of five ships will be negotiated in the early 2020s.

Postie’s post by Mark Gilbert
This time next year I could be a millionaire!  I thought this when the debate on the morning phone-in on BBC Radio Scotland was about litter and the proposal that a deposit on cans and bottles could be a possible solution to stop people “wanging” them out of their vehicle windows or just dropping them in the streets. The suggestion was for 20p an item and I pick up lots of them. To help me I have even bought myself one of those litter-picking sticks to help me retrieve items from over fences and from drainage ditches. I bought it because all the fences have barbed wire on them because of livestock and the can or bottle was always just far enough away to get me hooked up on the barbs. I have also made the mistake of trying to retrieve from a ditch and finding that it is deeper than it looks and I nearly disappeared from view.  This debate was right up my street, because I have always been a “womble”, a term for someone who picks up litter. In fact, Paul, the Skerray postie, even used the term when he was planning to take my van in for some new tyres. He told Susan at Bettyhill Post Office to tell me to get my “wombling box of rubbish” out of the van in readiness for him to take it to Lairg.  My subject this month covers littering in its many forms: good littering, bad littering and senseless littering. I will leave you to decide which is which. Let’s start with the Highland Council, which is actually involved in quite a bit of this subject. I sent them an email in October 2016 telling them about the litter I pick up, made some simple suggestions to them that could help to reduce the amount dropped and also pointed out that the outlying areas don’t have street cleaners such as I have seen in Thurso, Wick and Inverness.  One of my suggestions was to ask the council workers who always seem to be two up in their vans if they could pick up items as they travelled around the area, or to report the items to their manager. One of the managers copied me into his response in an email after another manager shared my suggestions with him. He said his people don’t have the time! I don’t really have the time either, but I do it because if I didn’t there are not many others that do.

I also commented on the fact that there are numerous road signs littering the area, which are left after improvements, repairs etc. Since I told them, none have been collected and are still growing into the verges and they have also been added to in great numbers.  Between Badenloch Lodge and Kinbrace there was a section of road repaired just after I sent the email to the council. The signs were quite new when they were put up, but have now deteriorated and are mainly wrecked by the roadside. On this latest section there are at least nineteen dead signs plus some sandbags and there are about another fifteen signs and sandbags on my route up Strathnaver over to Kinbrace. These are the ones I can see. If this is repeated elsewhere the council must have more money than they let on, because I checked online and the average cost of these signs is around £35 each, so I would estimate there are about £1,100 of assets that have been left to die on the roadside in the last two years on this short route.

The roadside has lots of littering examples. Unfortunately there are potholes littering the road edges on the tourist cycling routes which force the John o’ Groater’s to take evasive action on the single track roads. This really should have been sorted out before the start of the season, especially with the added traffic the North Coast 500 has attracted. The majority of bottles and cans I pick up are empty energy drinks containers and I think they are dropped mainly by parcel delivery drivers (not posties) from outside the area. One of my suggestions to the council, which they thought would be simple and effective, was for them to write to the delivery companies and ask that they instruct their drivers to take a bag with them and then bring back these items for recycling. A few weeks after I suggested this idea to the council I had a Sky engineer call at my house to sort out my dish. As I spoke to him while he sat in his van, I noticed he had a bag attached to the dashboard with cans and paper in it. I asked him what it was and he said that all the Sky personnel take their rubbish back to be recycled. I told him of my idea and he agreed that it would save lots of rubbish going to the verges.  Perhaps people are not educated the same these days, because I can remember when I was a wee boy, lots of years ago, we were always told not to leave litter and even though most of my memories are now in black and white, I can’t remember seeing litter back then. As with most things these days, if youngsters see parents doing something, they will also do it, so it may be a good idea to teach this sort of responsibility in schools and thus instil a community pride in the next generation.  Back to the roadside. What a joy spring is: the roadside on my route is littered with nature’s delights. Spring lambs learning how to survive the traffic, seemingly attached to their mothers by an elastic cord and then lying together so close to the road in the confidence that they are safe. They just look up as calm as you like as you drive past within inches. There are also the pheasant cocks strutting the verges looking for the seemingly lesser population of hens. They panic and run around like headless chickens as you approach. Why they don’t just stand still and remain safe is a mystery. This year spring saw the verges littered with the most spectacular display of wild primroses. The fine displays of daffodils on the verge banks next to Cathy Macleod’s house and No 3 Strathnaver also helped me forget the bad littering. Just for the moment.

Machrihanish Landfall for Canoeists Near End of First Circumnavigation of UK
A pair of canoeists have just 115 miles left to complete a historic voyage round the UK. Former police inspector Colin Skeath, 50, and his 25-year-old nephew, Davis Gould-Duff, left Strontian in west Lochaber, on April 30 and have paddled almost round the entire coastline, about 2,000 miles, including three crossings of the Irish sea.  Paddling a £4,000 canoe, made by Swift in Canada and named Temagami, after a province in Ontario, they made landfall at Machrihanish yesterday evening. The pair, camped on a patch of grass by the bay, spoke after spending the day crossing the North Channel in their flimsy craft, about 35 land miles, from Glen Arm in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Mr Skeath, who retired to Scotland from Yorkshire, said: ‘We have been paddling for 82 days and probably have two or three days to go.  There have been some quite exciting stretches, winds up to force seven and the highest swell we have encountered has been nearly four metres.  People were quite worried about our safety when we rounded Cape Wrath and canoed through the Pentland Firth.  The most awkward crossing was from Orford Haven in Suffolk to near Margate in Kent, the wind was force four to six with rough seas.  So far we have raised about £2,000 for the Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice in Huddersfield, which looks after youngsters with life-shortening illnesses.’ Mr Skeath said a man had attempted the trip solo, in a decked canoe in 2012 but had gone through the Caledonian canal before giving up after 1,000 miles. There have been some breakages en route and, since May, Mr Gould-Duff has sat on an improvised seat made from decking.  At first Mr Skeath tried to keep to a very healthy diet but said that they have lost so much weight he will eat anything and Mr Gould-Duff seems to love cheesecake.  Forced to spend a rest day in Kintyre due to a poor forecast, Mr Skeath said his current craving is for sausages and he was keen to know which Campbelltown café did the best bangers.

Islanders Halt £4.25m Ulva Sale with Community Buyout Plan
The £4.25 million sale of the island of Ulva has been put on hold while islanders bid to pursue a community buyout.  With only six people living there permanently, it is likely to be viewed as the one of the most important community bids for a long time, with the return of people its priority.  Turning round Ulva’s fortunes would show the momentum of the land reform movement can be renewed, according to campaigners.  While the 4,600 acre island may have inspired Sir Walter Scott's poem The Lord Of The Isles , as well as Beatrix Potter, who regularly visited, Ulva has suffered a remorseless loss of people with over 500 cleared in the four decades after 1841 alone.  The community body based nearby on the neighbouring island of Mull hopes to reverse the decline.  The North West Mull Community Woodland Company Ltd (NWMCWC) has applied to the Scottish Government to exercise the community right to buy created by the land reform legislation. But Roseanna Cunningham, the Land Reform Secretary, will have to consider whether she can treat this as a late application, as an interest in the island was not registered before it was put on the market. A Scottish Government spokeswoman said ministers had received an application, adding: “As part of the legislative process a prohibition was issued on the landowner on the 18 July 2017 inviting them to provide any comments on the application. Ministers will make a decision on the case upon receipt of all relevant information.”  Ulva has been in the ownership of Jamie Howard’s family for almost a century.  But if Ms Cunningham accepts the late community registration, any sale will be suspended for eight months to allow the community to raise the money and complete the process laid down in the legislation. The NWMCWC has a track record of achievement. It was set up in 2006 to take over forests in the north west of Mull, from Forestry Commission Scotland with the assistance of the Scottish Land Fund, and others.  It has put housing at the heart of its plan to regenerate Ulva: bringing existing housing stock, whether occupied or not, up to modern standards; bringing derelict structures into use including existing farm buildings; creating plots for affordable housing for rent and/or self-build; creating crofts/small holdings.  The NWMCWC also has a range of plans for economic development from green energy to tourism, fishing and agriculture to forestry. Linsay Chalmers, development manager of Community Land Scotland, umbrella organisation for community buyouts such as Gigha and Eigg, said; “The island of Ulva has a long history and was once home to hundreds of people.  The planned community buyout is an opportunity to bring the island back to life; realising its potential to both become a home to more people and to generate benefits to the community through the development of tourism and other economic activity”.

Concerns Raised Over Treatment of Child Refugees
The Scottish and Welsh governments have written to the UK Immigration Minister raising concerns about the treatment of unaccompanied child refugees. Scottish Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities, Angela Constance, and her Welsh counterpart Carl Sargeant have sent a joint letter to Brandon Lewis which criticises "lack of planning and sharing of useful information" in the Dubs scheme to resettle the children. They also backed a recommendation from a recent UK Westminster Parliament human trafficking inquiry that the scheme needs to be more open. Earlier this year it emerged that the programme, which required the Government to resettle an unspecified number of unaccompanied minors from Europe, would close after 480 were brought to the UK - well below the 3,000 campaigners had called for.  The letter states: " From the start of the implementation of this scheme, we have struggled with the lack of information that has been forthcoming from those running this operation.  This continues to be the case and we are aware that only a couple of hundred unaccompanied children have been transferred of the 480 placements identified." The letter said Ms Constance and Mr Sargeant are aware the emergency clearance of the Calais refugee camps led to "difficult circumstances" and that the UK Westminster Government is awaiting the outcome of a judicial review on the scheme.   Charity Help Refugees is seeking court orders to force Home Secretary Amber Rudd to abandon the 480 children cap and reopen the consultation process so that consideration can be given to allowing more children in.  The letter continues: " However, we both feel that overall, the lack of planning and sharing of useful information from coordinators has inhibited our ability to plan ahead. We are seeking assurances from you that steps have been taken or are being put into place to mitigate against a repeat of these circumstances."  The devolved ministers also backed a recommendation from the parliamentary human trafficking inquiry that the Dubs scheme "needs to be open to more children in practice and more children need to be included" including expanding criteria, urgent application processing and teams on the ground in Dunkirk and Calais. They also highlighted the inquiry finding that no evidence was found to support the assertion that continuing the programme indefinitely will act as a "pull factor" and encourage traffickers.

Frustrated Davidson Challenges May Government to Lead Or Lose
Ruth Davidson is leading a Scottish Conservative power surge at Westminster after warning Theresa May's lieutenants that the Prime Minister owes her position in Downing Street to the party's resurgence in Scotland and is urging her to "lead or lose".  In her most direct intervention since the General Election about the future of her party, the Scottish Tory leader is arguing that “capitalism needs a reboot” and that the Conservatives must stop the feuding at Westminster and start winning the battle of ideas.  With a newly enhanced power base at the House of Commons thanks to the election of 13 Scottish Tories, Ms Davidson is keen to use her influence to direct Tory policy towards a more socially liberal approach, a softer, "open Brexit" and policies that address directly the concerns of younger voters, who in June voted in large numbers for Labour. In recent days, party sources have explained how Scottish Conservative MPs have had a series of meetings with UK Government ministers as well as Downing Street insiders.  One well-placed insider said: “We met Gavin Barwell,[the PM’s Chief of Staff in No 10], and made clear to him that if it wasn’t for the Scottish Conservatives, Theresa May wouldn’t have a majority.” The source said the group of Scottish Conservative MPs, larger than the 10-strong Democratic Unionists, would not seek to bring the Government down and would loyally take the Tory whip because they wanted to see Mrs May continue as PM “at least until the Brexit deal is done”.  But he added: “What we will do is use our influence to make sure at the very least the May Government won’t go down a path that we think would be bad for the UK and for Scotland.” Ms Davidson, who is expected to be in London more often, attending, among other things, the Conservative Government’s political Cabinet, is set to lay out her vision for the Tories’ future direction in a keynote speech at the party’s autumn conference in Manchester.  In a hard-hitting article published yesterday for the new website,, as part of its Reforming Capitalism theme, the Scottish party leader directly challenged the UK Government, saying it "has to actually lead" if it wanted to survive. Ms Davidson’s intervention might be regarded by some as a pitch for the UK party’s leadership as talk will be dominated in the run-up to and at the Tory conference about who will succeed Mrs May when the time comes. Some inside the party believe they should skip a generation. However, it was also stressed that the 38-year-old Tory leader has her eyes firmly fixed on Holyrood and wanting to replace Nicola Sturgeon as First Minister at the 2021 Scottish elections.

Comment -R
Spin from Davidson aimed at countering the widespread impression that her 13 MPs are mindless fawns willing to follow Downing Street come what May inflict on the nation. Let's hear her specific policies and demands not empty rhetoric, maybe she could start by supporting the current Scottish and Welsh governments' dispute about application of Barnett vis a vis the DUP's billion ?

Scotland Sets New Wind Power Record
Wind power output has helped set a new record for the first half of the year, according to an independent conservation group.  Analysis by WWF Scotland of data provided by WeatherEnergy found w ind turbines provided around 1,039,001MWh of electricity to the National Grid during June. Renewable energy figures show the power generated last month was enough to supply the electrical needs equivalent to 118% of Scottish households or nearly three million homes.  In the first six months of 2017 enough power was generated to supply more than all of Scotland's national demand for six days.  Turbines provided 6,634,585MWh of electricity to the National Grid which anlaysts say, could on average, supply the electrical needs of 124% of Scottish households, or more than three million homes. Dr Sam Gardner, acting director of WWF Scotland, said: "The first six months of 2017 have certainly been incredible for renewables, with wind turbines alone helping to ensure millions of tonnes of climate-damaging carbon emissions were avoided. Scotland is continuing to break records on renewable electricity, attracting investment, creating jobs and tackling climate change." The figures for January to June this year showed an increase of 24% compared to 2015, when wind energy provided 5,359,995MWh. Scotland's total electricity consumption including homes, business and industry for first six months was 11,689,385MWh. Renewables experts say this means wind generated the equivalent of 57% of Scotland's entire electricity needs.  Karen Robinson, of WeatherEnergy, said:"There's no doubt renewables are helping households increasingly avoid fossil fuels for their electricity needs."  Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: "Scotland's total installed renewable capacity, that's the amount of renewable electricity we are capable of producing, now stands at 9.3 GW - four times what it was only a decade ago. These statistics reinforce our country's reputation as a renewable energy powerhouse and are a vindication of the Scottish Government's energy policy."

Giant Turbines Head for Scotland for World's First Full-scale Floating Wind Farm
Giant turbines are on the move to Scotland to create the world's first full-scale floating wind farm. New technology enables the structures to float in water which is too deep for conventional offshore wind farms.  The first of the 11,500-tonne turbines has been put in place at the Hywind development at Buchan Deep, which lies 15 miles off the north-east coast at Peterhead, Aberdeenshire.  The device was towed across from Norway, where four more are waiting to be brought over for the trial scheme which is expected to power about 20,000 homes.  Announcing the decision to invest in the project previously, manufacturer Statoil said in a statement it marks "an important step forward for offshore wind technology and potentially opens attractive new markets for renewable energy production worldwide". Among the markets earmarked for expansion are Europe, North America and Japan

Archaeologists Find Pictish Remains At Moray Fort
New Pictish remains have been discovered at a fort thought to have been largely destroyed by a 19th-century development. Archaeologists from the University of Aberdeen uncovered a longhouse and an 1,100-year-old anglo Saxon coin in a dig at Burghead Fort near Lossiemouth, Moray.  Experts believe the fort was a significant seat of power within the Pictish Kingdom, dating between 500AD and 1000AD.  Artefacts including the Burghead Bull carvings and a mysterious underground well were discovered in the 1800s, but it was thought further remains were destroyed when a new town was built on top of the fort around the same time. A new dig that started in 2015 has now led to fresh discoveries. The university team uncovered a Pictish longhouse, within which an Anglo Saxon coin of Alfred the Great was found, providing key dating evidence for the use of the house and fort. Archaeologists said the coin dates to the late ninth century when Viking raiders and settlers were leading to major changes within Pictish society. Dr Gordon Noble, senior lecturer at the University of Aberdeen, said: "The assumption has always been that there was nothing left at Burghead; that it was all trashed in the 19th century but nobody's really looked at the interior to see if there's anything that survives inside the fort.  Beneath the 19th-century debris, we have started to find significant Pictish remains.  We appear to have found a Pictish longhouse.  This is important because Burghead is likely to have been one of the key royal centres of northern Pictland and understanding the nature of settlement within the fort is key to understanding how power was materialised within these important fortified sites. There is a lovely stone-built hearth in one end of the building and the Anglo-Saxon coin shows the building dates towards the end of the use of the fort based on previous dating.  The coin is also interesting as it shows that the fort occupants were able to tap into long-distance trade networks. The coin is also pierced, perhaps for wearing; it shows that the occupants of the fort in this non-monetary economy literally wore their wealth. Overall, these findings suggest that there is still valuable information that can be recovered from Burghead which would tell us more about this society at a significant time for northern Scotland - just as Norse settlers were consolidating their power in Shetland and Orkney, and launching attacks on mainland Scotland." The dig has been carried out with the Burghead Headland Trust and Aberdeenshire Council Archaeology Service. Council archaeologist Bruce Mann said: "Burghead Fort has long been recognised as being an important seat of power during the early medieval period and is known as the largest fort of its type in Scotland. Its significance has just increased again though with this discovery.  The fact that we have surviving buildings and floor levels from this date is just incredible and the university's work is shedding light on what is too often mistakenly called the 'dark ages'."

Henderson Loggie Throws Weight Behind Dundee Gaming Festival
Accountancy firm Henderson Loggie has reached an agreement to support Scotland’s newest gaming festival, which is due to take place in Dundee in September.  The four-day event will kick off with the inaugural Games Design Awards co-sponsored by the firm, which is already behind the Indie Zone at the three-day Insomnia X Resonate gaming festival opening in Glasgow this weekend.  At the Dundee event, Henderson Loggie partner and creative media specialist Steve Cartwright will host a workshop on financial strategy.  Cartwright said: “We will also be on hand to talk about video games tax relief, which has been giving UK companies a competitive advantage in a global market since it was introduced three years ago.  It is imperative that games developers are aware at the outset what they need to do to qualify from the earliest planning stages so that they don’t miss out.”  Colin Macdonald, head of All 4 Games, Channel 4’s Glasgow-based games publishing arm, added: “Scotland already punches well above its weight in the global gaming industry and our game developers deserve gongs to underline and celebrate both their cultural contributions and the value they bring to the economy.  “The Dundee Games Festival and Awards look set to become a hugely important event for the industry this autumn.”

Whisky Enthusiasts Raise A Glass As Auction Market Continues to Grow

Bottles of rare malt whisky now fetch £286 on average at auction as the market continues to grow.  Between April and June this year, 21,617 bottles were sold at auction worth almost £6.2 million, figures from whisky experts Rare Whisky 101 showed.  The popularity of Scotch in the US and Asia has led the large drive in prices, with just £2.8 million spent on rare whisky in the same three months in 2016.  Rare Whisky 101 analyst and co-founder Andy Simpson said: “Any question as to whether the recent increases in the rare whisky market would begin to plateau can, for now, be summarily dismissed.  Even we wondered whether the market could continue to expand at such levels following another record-breaking year in 2016.  The performance of Scotch malt whisky at auction over the past three months has been nothing short of phenomenal.  The growing popularity of online auctions, combined with recent moves by traditional rare whisky retailers to set up their own auction sites, continues to drive demand.  By joining the secondary market sector, these ‘bricks and mortar’ retailers have finally realised that they can’t afford to lose rare whisky customers to the auction market. Anecdotally, we have seen growing demand from North America and Asia over recent times.  We have also experienced a dramatic increase in enquiries from Asian and US professional buyers looking to set up new supply agreements to capitalise on this dynamically-growing market.”

Tories Accuse Nicola Sturgeon of ‘Not Getting on with the Day Job’
The First Minister’s decision to meet with a cross-party independence group has been criticised by the Tories as proof the Scottish Government was pursuing constitutional objectives instead of “getting on with the day job”. Nicola Sturgeon will reportedly meet with the Scottish Independence Convention (SIC) early next month, an organisation the SNP is a member of and retains regular contact with.  The meeting will be used to discuss how best to “move forward the case for independence in the current political landscape”. It follows an announcement by the SNP leader last month that the Scottish Government would “reset” its plan for indyref2 following the snap general election which saw the Nationalists lose 21 of their MPs.  The First Minister said she would not introduce her Referendum Bill “immediately” after the vote on June 6 but would take stock in autumn next year on how and when to proceed.  But the Conservatives said meeting the SIC proved the SNP’s determination to “wrench Scotland” out of the United Kingdom.  Scottish Conservative shadow finance secretary Murdo Fraser said: “So much for the First Minister’s claims that her Government would get back to the day job. Nicola Sturgeon is showing where her true priority lies, and it’s not Scotland’s economy, health service or education. The First Minister spending her time meeting independence campaigners will simply confirm the Scottish public’s view that independence always has and always will be the only thing the SNP cares about.  People are growing hugely frustrated at the SNP’s neglect over a vast range of issues to instead focus on its blinkered obsession to wrench Scotland out of the United Kingdom.” The SIC was originally formed in 2005 and relaunched last year. “We believe it is important that we offer activities, advice, research and a forum for discussion for the Yes movement in the months ahead,” a spokesman said; “To do that we must build broad consensus across the movement including the pro-independence parties before we make any of our plans public.” An SNP spokesman said: “We are part of the convention so there’s regular contact. The Scottish Tories are simply trying to raise a smokescreen in a desperate effort to hide the extreme Brexit cliff edge that they’re about to drag us all off.”

Comment - R
First Minister 'not getting on with the day job'?? Nicola Sturgeon will reportedly meet with the Scottish Independence Convention (SIC) early next month [August].  Recess is a period when the Scottish Parliament is not sitting and includes 1 July to 3 September 2017 (inclusive). Which means next month (August 2017), the Scottish Parliament is in recess.

Brewdog Exploring Options for First Australian Brewery
Fresh from appointing a managing director for its US arm, craft beer maker BrewDog has named its “top dog” for Australia as it eyes possible sites for its first brewery Down Under. Zarah Prior, who previously held the role of “head of people” at the Aberdeenshire-based firm before joining Australia’s Stone & Wood Brewing Co last year as head of engagement, has now returned to the company, tasked with identifying locations for its new production facility.  The Ellon-headquartered brewer, which recently opened its 100,000 square foot brewery in Columbus, Ohio, and appointed Tanisha Robinson as managing director of BrewDog USA, is focusing its initial searches around the “fast-developing” areas of Brisbane in Queensland and Newcastle in New South Wales.  Over the past eight years, the firm’s “Equity for Punks” crowdfunding initiative has attracted investment of more than £40 million from some 55,000 people around the world. In April, US private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners bought a stake of about 22 per cent in the business in a deal that valued it at about £1 billion.  Prior, an Australian native who holds an MBA from the University of Queensland, said: “Our Australian Equity Punk community has been crying out for BrewDog to set up shop closer to home, so we are excited to finally be making that happen. We are open to redeveloping an existing industrial site with a 2,000 to 4,000 square metre built-up facility, or alternatively a plot of land able to comfortably accommodate a new build of that size with expansion capabilities in the future.”  BrewDog, co-founded by James Watt and Martin Dickie in Fraserburgh in 2007, saw its revenues surge 60.6 per cent to £71.9 million last year.

West Coast Lifeboat is Proposed

The issue of safety around the coastline has been a focus for Carloway Community Association recently. They have been gathering views on whether a dedicated RNLI service be established at a west coast harbour. The RNLI lifeboat service to the west coast is currently available from Stornoway or Leverburgh, both a considerable distance and time away.  This means that in practical terms the first response is usually via the Air Sea Rescue helicopter.  Over recent months the association has canvassed the views of those who use the west coast waters, whether it be for commercial or leisure purposes, as to whether there is considered to be a need for a dedicated RNLI service.  To bring this consultation period to a conclusion there will be a public meeting to enable those with an interest in this matter to air their views. The meeting will take place on Tuesday September, 26th at7pm at the Carloway Community Centre.  An invitation to attend will be extended to the RNLI, Maritime & Coastguard Agency and other public bodies with an interest in safety.