Some Scottish News & Views Isue # 413

Issue # 413                                             Week ending Saturday 12th August 2017

Only People You Cannot Rely on Smoke Nowadays by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

Why do people smoke? It is truly disgusting. What people do to their own bodies just for a wee boost of nicotine for a few minutes is utterly appalling.  Yet so many people are in denial and say it does no damage and it helps them relax and other brainless excuses. Just go online and look up photos of smokers’ lungs. Educate yourself, you dimwits.

We all know people that we think are sensible and whose decisions we can rely on. We may not agree with their views on everything that they talk about and think but we know that they have intelligence and have looked at the pros and cons. Then we discover they smoke. In a flash, you think they have no brains. They are denial about the facts of life. And another thing - they stink.

So to see David Cameron, sometime premier of this vibrant nation, reduced to being a nicotine-stained relic, a slave to his smelly affliction, trying to hide his shame, was a shock. Seven years ago, he claimed he was no longer a slave who regularly filled his body with that ghastly poison. Call me Dave? I’ll call you stupid.

However, I also understand the pedants’ argument that people who use cigarettes are not smoking. It is the cigarettes that actually smoke. That’s true. These people are just suckers.

Tobacco is a dreadful poison although I had better admit that I have been accused of administering poison recently. Not on myself, I’m not that brain dead. However, I must admit that I nearly poisoned Mrs X the other day. Thinking I would be gallant and would prepare her a fine lunch, I got ham for sandwiches to go with the cream cheese I spotted at the back of the fridge.

Despite the name on the tub, it was not made in Philadelphia. I examined it and saw that it had lovely green things through it. Yum, I love chives, I thought. Being generous, I piled it on Mrs X's roll. She loved the sight of it and began to gobble it down. I had come up trumps again with a splendid repast, I thought to myself, as she bit off yet another piece and almost inhaled it.

Soon after, I heard her ask about some peculiar smell. No dear, no funny smell round here I thought, happy in the knowledge that I had showered that morning. Then she prised open the roll and discovered some green things in the cream cheese were not chives but rotten gunge. Aagh, it had gone off – ages ago. It was really, really rank and smelly.

She was straight into that loo and did not emerge for 15 minutes. She looked pale. In fact, she was much lighter in every way than she was when she went in. The accusations began. No, this was not “another” attempt at poisoning you. Yes, I know I gave you putrid old gravy granules instead of coffee granules on our honeymoon but this was also a mistake. So it could have been potentially serious but you would have survived. Probably.

Come on, hon. Yes, I know what you are saying and it does seem like I tried to poison you for a second time but, no, it’s not a sinister pattern. There was 21 years between these incidents, I mean accidents. I thought the green bits were chives or something. I should have checked. Sorry. In fact, sorry, sorry, sorry.

David Cameron went to America at the end of last year. He was in Indiana giving a talk in DePauw University. It is claimed that afterwards he decided to head out to a bar and have a wee drinky-poo. Although some people, particularly smokers in denial, will claim that alcohol is also toxic, there is no doubt that it is a more natural function to drink than to suck smoke into your lungs. They were never designed for that.

Anyway, David Cameron was very pleased to learn that it is still legal to smoke in bars in some American states - including Indiana. He was happy his speech had gone well. Theresa was struggling back home and he had skedaddled in the nick of time. Life was good. Nobody recognised him - even better. He ordered a Bruichladdich single malt - his favourite - and lit up a cigar.

In between sips of that particularly fine and peaty single malt, he stood there blowing smoke rings. After he blew a few into the air, an angry-looking American Indian fellow approached him. He looked Cameron straight in the eyes and said: “If you don't stop calling me that, I'll kick your head in.”

Talks Due on Possible New Powers for Scottish Government

The possibility of releasing new powers to Holyrood will be discussed in talks between the UK and Scottish Governments in Edinburgh.  First Secretary of State Damian Green is visiting the city for a meeting with Deputy First Minister John Swinney and Scotland’s Brexit Minister Michael Russell.  Scottish Secretary David Mundell will also attend the discussions, focussing on identifying where common frameworks are needed for powers returning from Brussels following Brexit. The meeting will also attempt to identify areas in which both governments agree there should be a release of powers to the Scottish Parliament. The UK Government argues these powers could then be released under the Repeal Bill, which has been described as a “power grab” by the Scottish and Welsh Governments.  Both devolved administrations have said they will not recommend legislative consent is granted for the Bill in its current state.  Mr Russell said: ” The Bill – as it currently stands – means that Westminster would take exclusive control over significant areas of devolved policy, such as support for Scotland’s farmers and food producers and many aspects of environmental protection and control of our seas.  We know that the UK Government has its eye on more than 100 policy areas. That is a direct threat to the devolution settlement which the people of Scotland overwhelmingly voted for in 1997.  Both we and the Welsh Government have made it clear we could not recommend legislative consent to the Bill as it stands, and today we will make clear that changes must be made to protect devolution. All devolved powers currently carried out at an EU level must come back to the Scottish Parliament. We are not opposed in principle to UK-wide frameworks in certain areas – but this must be on the basis of agreement among equals, not imposed by Westminster.”

John Scott MSP Says Future is Bright for Prestwick As Boom Town Comes Under Microscope of National Cross-party Group
Prestwick has been put under the microscope by a national town centres group. John Scott MSP, in his role as convener of the cross party group on towns and town centres in the Scottish Parliament, along with Phil Prentice, chief officer of Scotland’s Towns Partnership, met with a number of key Prestwick businesses and community groups to discuss plans to take the town forward. The projects being discussed included the creation of a Dementia Friendly Prestwick, who have recently celebrated their first year in the community, as well as the emerging Business Improvement District proposal.  This visit was part of the MSP Connector Programme, organised by Scotland’s Towns Partnership, a national initiative encouraging MSPs to visit their constituency towns during the Parliamentary summer recess. John Scott said: “I was very pleased to visit Prestwick in my role as convener for towns in the Scottish Parliament. The discussion we had involving local partners was very positive and I look forward to seeing some of these initiatives progress.  Prestwick has so much to offer and it’s always a pleasure to visit and to see local people working together to get things done.” Mr Scott and town guru Prentice also met with Margaret Milligan, chair of the Prestwick and Villages Locality Planning Group. Their key priorities include reducing social isolation and loneliness, improving access to services and keeping local people independent and well. The group have hosted three Participatory Budgeting Events over the past year and have distributed almost £50,000 to 61 local community groups and initiatives.  The discussion also involved potential projects and vehicles for delivery as part of last year’s Talk Prestwick Charrette.

Local Lords A-claiming As Bill Tops £144,000
Three Liberal Democrat grandees from the Borders claimed a total of £103,201 in allowances for attending the House of Lords in 2016.  In addition, Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope, Lord Steel of Aikwood and Lord Purvis of Tweed received £41,024 in expenses, mainly for travel.  That is a grand total of £144,228 – an average of £13,111 per month over the 11 months when the Upper House was in session.  Members of the Lords are entitled to claim up to £300 for each sitting day they attend.  Topping the list was Lord Purvis, who, as Jeremy Purvis, was the Lib Dem MP for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale from 2003 until 2011.  The 43-year-old, who hails from Berwick-up-Tweed, claimed £51,146, comprising £38,850 for attendance and £12,296 in expenses. Hansard records that Lord Purvis spoke on 11 occasions in the Chamber – an average of once a month.  Former Borders MP Lord Steel, a life peer since 1997, received £28,200 for attending and claimed expenses of £19,045 – a total of £47,249.  The 79-year-old, who lives in Selkirk, spoke in seven Lords debates last year.  As Archy Kirkwood, Lord Kirkwood, 71, was MP for Roxburgh and Berwickshire from 1983 to 2005. The most prolific speaker of the trio, Lord Kirkwood claimed a total of £45,833, comprising £36,150 for attending and £9,683 in expenses. Another Lib Dem peer, erstwhile Berwick-upon-Tweed MP Lord (Alan) Beith spoke in numerous debates and claimed a total of £46,760. Meanwhile, Borders-based crossbencher Lord Palmer of Manderston received £40,400 for attending and £8,720 in expenses. The 65-year-old member of the famous biscuit-manufacturing dynasty spoke on four occasions last year.

CLAN Launches New Programme to Support People Affected by Cancer in Peterhead

A leading north-east cancer support charity is launching a new programme to help people affected by a cancer diagnosis in Peterhead.  CLAN Cancer Support is launching the eight-week ‘Feeling Better, Feeling Positive’ programme which has been funded by Aberdeenshire Council as part of the Your Voice, Your Choice scheme. Starting on August 10, the programme will deliver weekly workshops focusing on various self-management approaches to maintain a sense of wellbeing for those going through cancer treatment and recovery. Taking place in The Palace Hotel, Peterhead, sessions will take the form of small supportive groups with each week focusing on a different topic. The programme begins with a workshop focussing on neurological therapy, facilitated by George Whibley, which aims to give people coping strategies for depression, guilt, stress, anxiety and fear. Further sessions will include nutritional advice, relaxation, mindfulness and gentle exercise in conjunction with Move More, Macmillan. Styling and the use of colour to increase self-confidence alongside a Look Good, Feel Better make-up and skin care masterclass will make up the programme.

Tory Split As Ruth Davidson Calls for PM to Look Again At Immigration Target

Ruth Davidson has exposed a split at the top of her party by calling for a re-think on the Tories’ controversial immigration cap.  Theresa May stuck by the commitment to slash net migration to the “tens of thousands” in her 2017 manifesto.  But the Scottish Conservative leader says Mrs May should consider scrapping it.  It is the latest in a series of interventions from the Edinburgh MSP, whose standing in the party has risen on the back of the general election as the Prime Minister’s has plunged.  Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Ms Davidson said there should be a rational discussion on immigration rather than “easy slogans”.  By 2010, pollsters reported that immigration was consistently a top concern to voters,” she said. Since then, of course, the British government has failed to hit its self-imposed ‘tens of thousands’ target in any year.  Brexit is a big reset button and should – in theory – make that much easier to do so. But we have to ask whether the target continues to be the right one.” Number 10 declined to comment, but UK Government sources have been quoted shooting down Ms Davidson’s suggestions.  Labour’s shadow Scotland Office minister Paul Sweeney said: “The Tories are in open warfare and these comments from Ruth Davidson show just deep the splits in the party run. When the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, who defends abhorrent policies such as the rape clause, tells Theresa May that she needs to think again then you know just how wrong the Prime Minister is.”

St Andrews University Top in the UK for Student Satisfaction

The University of St Andrews offers students the best academic experience in the United Kingdom, according to the results of a new survey.  The National Student Survey (NSS) named St Andrews the UK’s top mainstream university, the ninth time in the past 11 years it has topped the comprehensive analysis of the views of the United Kingdom’s student community.  A poll of nearly half a million students, the NSS is undertaken independently by Ipsos MORI and evaluates how satisfied students are with the quality of their higher education experience.  94% of St Andrews final year students surveyed gave the university top marks for the quality of the learning and teaching experience.  Professor Sally Mapstone, St Andrews University principal, said: “St Andrews students have long recognised the exceptional quality of learning and teaching and overall student experience on offer at our university.  We work in partnership with our students to ensure we continue to provide the very best in facilities, support and learning resources for our students.  Scottish universities are setting excellent standards in UK education and we are delighted to lead in the NSS which is a positive endorsement and demonstrates our deep rooted commitment to academic excellence and the student experience.”  The survey reflects student responses to questions relating to academic support, learning resources, teaching, management, assessment, personal development and satisfaction. The NSS 2017 marked St Andrews first in the UK for 12 of the survey’s 27 areas of analysis.  St Andrews came out on top for providing intellectually stimulating courses, explaining issues clearly to students, making subjects interesting, the opportunities to explore and develop ideas, and for its accessible and contactable staff. It was also number one for its good organisation, effective communication, fair marking and assessment, effective timetabling, the opportunity to give feedback, making students feel part of the community, and overall satisfaction with the quality of academic experience.

Inverness Taxi Firm to Launch Alcohol Delivery Service
An Inverness taxi firm has come up with a pitcher perfect idea to offer an alcohol delivery service in the city.  In a bid to hone in on the tourist market, Inverness Taxis initially decided to start selling local arts and crafts in their newly-opened office in Church Street.  With the building being open much later than many others in the city, they regularly attract tourists asking advice on where to go and what to do.  Many are whisky enthusiasts and so owner of the firm Gavin Johnstone made the decision to also start selling malts and gins in their Church Street office.  They then explored the possibility of delivering the alcoholic goods to campsites and caravan parks in an attempt to cater for the tourist population.  Sensing a demand, they are now choosing to offer the delivery service to the wider public in the next few weeks and Mr Johnstone is pleased to be able to finally launch the initiative. "Visit Scotland is shut at 5 o’clock so there is not any real information for people to be getting at night," Mr Johnstone said. "A lot of people were going into the office wanting to know what they can do and what there is to see.  We decided if we were getting the tourists into the office to do a bit more about it. We located local gifts and crafts to start selling through the shop as another service for the tourists.  On top of that a lot of them were here for whisky. It seemed the next obvious thing to do was to start selling the local malts and gins in this shop because it is one of the reasons that they are here. The whole idea stems from dealing with the tourists and giving the tourists the things that they were looking for. If they were coming into the shop why don’t we start to sell it to them at the campsites, to caravans etc?  We applied for our delivery license and got it. There’s no point in just doing it for the tourists to the campsites. If the locals want that service as well we will supply to them." The firm posted on social media alerting the public to the new service which is expected to launch in the next four weeks.  Dozens of people responded to the post to request the various types of alcohol that they would like to see available as part of the delivery service.  There were more than 100 comments left on the post with some people questioning whether or not it was genuine. Customers requested a range of wines and spirits that they would like to see stocked as part of the service with the firm commenting on some of the requests confirming that they would be made available when the service is launched.  Mr Johnstone also gave assurances that training will be undertaken for anyone that will be involved in delivering the service. After the training is complete the web order form is expected to go live shortly after. It will be an on demand service where people can order alcohol online to arrive at a chosen time. It can be delivered up until midnight, as long as orders are in before 10pm to abide by Scottish licensing laws. Mr Johnstone has also assured people that there will be strict rules in place to ensure that heavily intoxicated people will not be sold the alcohol.

A Harvest is Coming
A plentiful supply of events have been prepared for Uist’s new Festival of Food and Writing, TORADH/HARVEST taking place from Thursday 24 August to Sunday 27 August, from Berneray to South Uist. There will be plenty for everyone, from Farmers’ Markets to Book Fairs, from cheesemaking, food foraging and Beer Festival, to croft walks, talks and a Blessing of the Boats.  The Friday focusses on North Uist and grain, while Friday and Saturday look at Benbecula and South Uist, with meat and fish respectively. Financial support has been received from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, the Stòras Uibhist Community Fund, CalMac, SNH, Awards for All and Bòrd na Gàidhlig. This has helped support a strong Gaelic element within the festival, including Uicipeid na Gàidhlig, an initiative by the National Library of Scotland and Wikipedia UK, which will be a workshop on creating content for Wikipedia. Prof. Magnus Course will talk about the deep-rooted relationship between Gaelic and fishing, as part of an all-day event at the Lochboisdale Harbour. Several intriguing panel discussions are planned: ‘Our Food, Our Future’ will be moderated by Iain Stephen Morrison (editor Am Pàipear) and include crofters, foodies and food thinkers from the Western Isles and beyond.  It will look at some of the forces driving local food production, and relate the local scene to national trends. ‘Could Uist be a Land of Milk and Honey?’ will explore alternatives for the croft - both successful and not - with various Scottish producers. Authors will discuss their writings at the Book Fair in Lìonacleit Library, and a special Uist Noire evening will take place with Uist mystery writers.

EU Repeal Bill Needs 'Significant Changes', Says Scotland's Brexit Minister

Theresa May faces a constitutional crisis unless she guts the legislation intended to deliver Brexit, Scottish ministers have bluntly warned her deputy.  In a bracing introductory meeting in Edinburgh, First Secretary Damian Green was told Holyrood would reject the EU (Withdrawal) Bill out of hand unless “serious and significant changes” were made to a key section on where powers would lie after Brexit.   The SNP Government claims the Bill, as drafted, would result in powers in 110 devolved policy areas repatriated from Brussels to London instead of returning to Holyrood.  The meeting was effectively the start of talks to find a figure acceptable to both sides.  An SNP source suggested cutting the number of devolved policy areas going to Westminster to 15 or 20 could change minds at Holyrood. Although Holyrood cannot to block the Bill or Brexit, if MSPs withheld legislative consent it would be unprecedented for Westminster to ignore them and press on regardless.  A constitutional crisis over the devolution settlement would almost certainly follow. SNP Brexit minister Michael Russell and deputy First Minister John Swinney met Mr Green and Scottish Secretary David Mundell at St Andrew's House in Edinburgh.  The UK Government described the encounter as “cordial” and said positive steps had been made towards working out the redistribution of powers once the UK leaves the EU.  The Brexit Bill says all powers currently exercised at EU level will initially be repatriated to Westminster, even those in devolved areas such as farming and agriculture. Some powers would then be “released” to Holyrood, but others would be subject to UK-wide “common frameworks” to safeguard the UK’s internal market.  The aim of the meeting was to start identifying which powers could go to the Scottish Parliament relatively quickly, and which dealt with at a UK level. Mr Russell said the meeting was “a useful opportunity for an exchange of views”.  But he added: “We remain absolutely clear that, as things stand, we will not recommend to the Scottish Parliament that it gives its consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill.  The bill as currently drafted is impractical and unworkable. It is a blatant power grab which would take existing competence over a wide range of devolved policy areas, including aspects of things like agriculture and fishing, away from Holyrood, giving them instead to Westminster and Whitehall. Unless there are serious and significant changes to the proposed legislation, the strong likelihood is that the Scottish Parliament will vote against the repeal bill. We have never claimed to have a veto over EU withdrawal.  But UK Ministers should be in no doubt - to override a vote of the Scottish Parliament and impose the Withdrawal Bill on Scotland would be an extraordinary and unprecedented step.  The current proposals are a direct threat to the devolution settlement which the people of Scotland overwhelmingly voted for in 1997. We are not opposed in principle to UK-wide frameworks in certain areas – but this must be on the basis of agreement among equals, not imposed by Westminster.” Mr Green said: “I thought the talks were positive. There are issues on which the UK and Scottish Governments place a different emphasis, but we agreed that we need to work on the principles on which we’ll engage. We were also united on the aim that the Scottish Parliament has more powers at the end of this process, and on the importance of preserving free trade within the United Kingdom. We’ve agreed more talks in a few weeks time, and I am confident that we’ll be able to reassure the Scottish Government further of our good faith on these matters." Meanwhile, a former chief of staff to Brexit Secretary David Davis has said a new party may be the best way to fight the “catastrophe” of Brexit. James Chapman, who also worked for former Chancellor George Osborne, said it was “past time for sensible MPs in all parties to admit Brexit is a catastrophe, come together in a new party if necessary, and reverse it”. Floating the name The Democrats for the party, he claimed some “very interesting people” were sympathetic to the idea. Mr Chapman also used Twitter to push the UK government for answers on problems with air travel, cancer treatment, and border checks as a result of the UK’s leaving the EU.

Comment -R
Given the Far Right Conservatives are hell bent on Empire 2.0 ,to fill the larders of the great and good, there will indeed be implications, and all flipping Terrible for Scots and Scotland!

Lack of Bank of Scotland ATM in Dornoch Brings Fears Over Visitors Being Unable to Access Cash
Local small business owners, community groups and politicians are warning that the success of the North Coast 500 (NC500) is in danger of being undermined by bank branch closures and a lack of local ATMs.  This follows the Bank of Scotland’s announcement in April that it is to close six banks north of Inverness in September: Beauly, Bonar Bridge, Dornoch, Fortrose, Helmsdale and Lairg. The Bank of Scotland is not alone, for within the past two years the Royal Bank of Scotland has closed branches in Invergordon, Lybster and Lochinver, and the Clydesdale its branch in Thurso. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has highlighted that the closure of 10 branches in two years is leaving vast tracts of the NC500 area without any fixed banking services. Further, with Dornoch’s ATM closing and the fate of the other five not yet known – it depends on whether the new owners of the buildings wish to grant access to Bank staff to replenish machines – the small business campaign group is warning that this will further hamper the spending power of visitors to the area. Joan Bishop MBE, chairman of the Dornoch Area Community Interest Company (DACIC) said: "The NC500 is making Dornoch much busier and extending the season at both ends and this is encouraging existing businesses to expand and exciting new businesses to open. The whole community is buzzing, but rather then recognising this growth and maintaining its presence on the high street, the Bank of Scotland has chosen to close both its local branch and its ATM, using highly questionable data to justify its decision. While we do have two private ATMs, they simply do not have the capacity to meet demand. The people of Dornoch and our visitors deserve better, and at the very least we call on the Bank of Scotland to move heaven and earth to install a permanent Immediate Deposit Machine (IDM) this summer." David Richardson, FSB development manager for the Highlands and Islands, said: "While banks must operate commercially, it is a matter of great concern that the Bank of Scotland is walking away from so many Highland communities, particularly at a time when tourism is growing to a whole new level thanks to the success of the NC500. Small businesses along the NC500 will be really concerned that these closures will limit the ability of visitors to access the cash that they need and want to spend with them. Neither visitors nor local businesses should lose out materially from these closures, and we believe that the bank has a moral duty to ensure that this does not happen."

Piping Live Festival Tunes Up in Glasgow

Musicians today kicked off the world’s biggest piping festival in Glasgow city centre. Piping Live! sees musicians from 14 countries arrive in Scotland. Among them are The Scots School Albury Pipe and Drums, who travelled from New South Wales, Australia, to perform in Buchanan Street this afternoon. An estimated 40,000 music fans, families and tourists are expected to flock to the city from countries from across the globe – including Estonia, Argentina, Canada, the Czech Republic and Italy – to enjoy 200 events and watch 8,000 performers throughout the week.  Three-year-old budding piper Ruairidh Nicoll from Ayrshire was among those getting into the spirit on the first day.  Piping Live! Glasgow International Piping Festival will run until Sunday.

Loganair Unveils Tartan Tail
Loganair has revealed its brand-new look with tartan tails for its aircraft and original tartan uniforms for its cabin crew and ground staff. The airline has adopted the bold image as it starts flying under its own name once again on 1 September after 23 years of operating under franchise agreements with other carriers. The first passenger aircraft to fly in the novel Loganair black, red and white colours – a Saab 340B named Spirit of Caithness – is now operating flights around the airline’s extensive network in Scotland.  A further 15 aircraft will receive a make-over in the coming weeks.

Cladding to Be Removed From Queen Elizabeth University Hospital As Precaution

Cladding similar to that found on Grenfell Tower is to be removed from one of the UK's largest acute hospitals as a precautionary measure.  A type of Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) was found on parts of the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) in Glasgow during checks following the Grenfell fire in London in June which claimed around 80 lives.  NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) said it has been assured the hospital is an extremely safe building by Health Facilities Scotland and their National Fire Advisor. However the health board plans to remove the cladding "at the earliest possible opportunity" as a "purely precautionary measure."  It said: " The Queen Elizabeth University Hospital is one of the most fire safe buildings in the country having been designed and engineered to meet building and fire safety regulations. Last month we brought in external technical advisers to give the Board further assurance on fire safety following concerns arising about external cladding as a result of the Grenfell Tower fire. As part of these further forensic checks we have identified a type of Aluminium Composite Material on parts of the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital of a similar type to, but not the same as, Grenfell." NHSGGC said the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has also reassured it that fire safety audits carried out at the hospital were satisfactory. It added: " However, as a purely precautionary measure, and to make sure the public, our patients and our staff have full confidence in the safety of the hospital we have taken the decision to remove the panels from the areas of the hospital where these panels are. The panels that will be removed are present in three external sections of the building and we are currently working with contractors and technical advisers to assess how this work can proceed at the earliest possible opportunity."  NHSGGC has been assured by Multiplex, the main contractor for the hospital construction, that the insulation material used in QEUH - Kingspan Kooltherm K15 Insulation Boards - were properly installed to meet building and fire safety regulations.

RBS to Issue New £10 Note Featuring Astronomer Mary Somerville on October 4
The Royal Bank of Scotland has announced the date it will issue its first plastic £10 note. It will be released to the public on Thursday October 4, and will be 15% smaller than those currently in circulation. The note will feature Scottish mathematician and astronomer Mary Somerville as part of the bank's Fabric of Nature theme. RBS chief executive Ross McEwan, said: "At the Royal Bank of Scotland, we feel that a banknote's value is more than just the figure printed across its front - it is our symbol which lives in people's pockets and touches everyday lives. It has been 30 years since we produced a new £10 note and as the Royal Bank of Scotland, we wanted the public to help influence the design.  They helped influence our theme of Fabric of Nature and helped us consider the impact Mary Somerville has had on our understanding of the world in which we live.  It is fitting that our most advanced note yet will carry her portrait."  Behind Mary's portrait is an illustration of her hometown, Burntisland in Fife.  A moon diagram taken from her book, Mechanism Of The Heavens, appears when the note is viewed under UV light.  The material contains a variety of new security features, which the bank claims makes it "difficult to counterfeit but easy to authenticate".  On the other side of the note there are a pair of otters, most commonly seen in the UK in the west of Scotland.  Words from Scottish poet Norman MacCaig also feature.  For the first time, the bank will include braille on the note to help the visually impaired.  The face of the polymer £20 has also been revealed as philanthropist and entrepreneur Catherine Cranston. Cranston, from Glasgow, made her name for her series of tearooms across the city. Her flagship venue, The Willow Tearooms, became part of Scotland's design heritage due to an interior created by Charles Rennie Mackintosh.  The £20 note is expected to enter circulation in 2020. Malcolm Buchanan, chairman of the Scottish board with the Royal Bank of Scotland, said: "As a bank we celebrate entrepreneurialism and creating opportunity, and Catherine Cranston embodies that spirit. Catherine will follow Nan Shepherd and Mary Somerville in gracing notes fit for a modern age and one that will serve customers across Scotland for years to come."

Major Military Exercise Carried Out At Faslane Naval Base with UK and US forces

Military personnel from the UK and US have co-ordinated a major exercise from a Scottish naval base, training battle staff for Britain's new aircraft carrier.  They used HM Naval Base Clyde, known as Faslane, as their headquarters to co-ordinate the joint US/UK Exercise Saxon Warrior, involving a US carrier group and other vessels.  More than 60 Royal Navy sailors and Royal Marines were on board the USS George HW Bush honing their carrier strike skills ahead of the Royal Navy's new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth's entry into service.  At Faslane a core team of 20 Royal Navy, Army and Air force personnel in the Joint Tactical Exercise Planning Staff (JTEPS) were joined by 60 personnel from the UK and US, both regular and reserve, to form the Exercise control staff for two weeks.  The exercise staff provided challenges for the ships and staff at sea together with scenarios to overcome. These ranged from defeating enemy forces in the air, on land, and on and under the sea, to rescuing downed airmen, and ensuring the freedom of merchant and pleasure craft to use the seas. Exercise Director, Captain Andrew Stacey, RN, Captain JTEPS, said: "Exercise Saxon Warrior is an incredibly important and exciting step in the regeneration of the UK's Carrier Strike capability.  For my team, Saxon Warrior represents the culmination of a long planning process and also marks the first step in a busy future of UK Carrier Strike Group training." The task group comprised seven US, Norwegian, and British ships, a US and Royal Navy submarine, and the Carrier Air Wing of more than 90 aircraft and nearly 10,000 people. Exercise activity was centred around the scenario of a conflict between neighbouring countries - one supported by a multinational naval force and Carrier Strike Group, the other by frigates, destroyers, submarines and land-based aircraft. Supporting aircraft also simulated air raids, with 29 Commando and Swedish tactical air controllers providing forward observation to ships and aircraft dropping ordnance on Cape Wrath in the far north of Scotland. The aim was to help train Commander UK Carrier Strike Group (COMUKCSG) battle staff ahead of HMS Queen Elizabeth's arrival in Portsmouth later this year. Rear Admiral John Weale, Flag Officer Scotland and Northern Ireland, said: "We were very glad to welcome the participants and exercise staff from Saxon Warrior to Scotland. As Scotland's only naval base, Clyde is playing an increasingly important part in Royal Navy activity and has very much become the base of choice for our allies and partner nations.  Scottish waters provide unique training opportunities and we should all feel proud of the part we are playing in our collective security and in preparing the UK's carrier strike group for future operations."

Official Wraps Come Off New £250k Deer Larder At North Highland College

A state-of-the-art deer larder which teaches far north gamekeeping students how to produce high quality venison has opened near Halkirk.  Forest Enterprise Scotland (FES) has worked with the University of the Highlands and Islands to create the £257,000 store at the Rural Studies Centre at Dale Farm. The larder will be used to support deer culling on FES forests in Caithness as well as teaching North Highland College UHI gamekeeping students. Scottish environment minister Roseanna Cunningham on Monday inspected the new amenity which can hold up to 50 deer carcasses with a second chiller used for game birds. FES culls 400-500 deer a year on the 8810 hectares of forestry it runs in the county. FES forest district manager Tim Cockerill said the larder will give students a greater insight into the deer industry. He said: “Our management system allows us to trace the carcase where it has been shot through to the venison being delivered to the supermarkets.” FES’s previous deer larder at its Lybster depot was destroyed by fire in 2014. The college has about 70 students from across Scotland on its courses and on work experience at 30 estates. Principal Donald MacBeath said the larder will improve the learning experience of students. He said: “We train most of Scotland’s gamekeepers and it is an important aspect of our curriculum.

Tills Ring for Glasgow As Conference Cash Rolls in

Glasgow busines tourism is booming, with latest data highlighting the city’s success in attracting international associations, and medical and life sciences meetings. In the 2016-17 financial year, the city secured 526 conferences for future years through to 2022, according to new data from the Glasgow Convention Bureau.  The Bureau said the conferences will bring an estimated 140,000 business tourists to the city and contribute an estimated £142 million to the local economy over the next five years.  The number of international associations choosing Glasgow as their annual conference destination has risen nearly two-thirds from 43 to 70 between April 2012 and March 2017. Euan Woodward, executive director for the European Association for the Study of Obesity, said: “Glasgow beat competition from the likes of Dublin, Helsinki and Maastricht as the destination for our 2019 congress.”