Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 491

Issue # 491                                                   Week ending Saturday 16 February 2019

If There is One Thing You Cannot Forget, it is Breakfast. It Happened to the Queen by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

We all find ourselves forgetting wee things. There’s an old couple in Stornoway who forget the funniest things. Old Calum was telling me about a great restaurant he went to last week with his wife. I asked him which one. He thought about it for a while and looked very puzzled. Then he said: “What’s the name of those lovely smelling flowers with the prickly thorns?” I asked him if he meant a rose. “That’s it,” he said. Looking over at herself, Calum said: “Rose, what’s that restaurant we went to the other night?”

It is suggested in scurrilous quarters that Prince Philip forgot to put on his seatbelt. He will have been on this earth for a century in three years so he is bound to get a wee bit forgetful from time to time. I couldn’t use that excuse when I got pulled over for being strapless in the driving seat by Police Scotland’s finest a few years ago. Those three points and the fixed penalty hurt but I didn’t decide to surrender my driving licence. Unlike some.

This is probably an excellent opportunity to tell you the funny story I heard the other day about someone with a really good memory who forgets very little. He was excellent at remembering people’s faces, I think. Wasn’t he on Skye? Oh dash, I think I have forgotten it. I will try and remember it before I wrap this up. If I forget to say, just ask. OK?

It turns out Prince Philip is not the only forgetful person in Buck House, London SW1. The Queen has a memory like a sieve. It is revealed in a book about Prince Edward penned by royal biographer Ingrid Seward years ago but which is being looked at again because Prince Philip is back in the news. Ms Seward is a wily woman who gets members of the Royal Family to spill the beans about each other’s funny little ways.

Her Maj once forgot Prince Edward’s birthday. Edward came to have breakfast with his mother on his special day. The Queen had no word of happy birthday to her youngest. He decided not to say anything. So they both just politely nibbled away at the toast and marmalade. Was that it? No eggs or bacon or juicy, fat pork sausages? No baked beans, ma’am? Maybe if you did have the Full English you wouldn’t be quite so absent minded. Or the Full Scottish with delicious discs of Stornoway black pudding on the side. Just saying. A footman reminded Her Maj - at lunchtime.

Some have had doubts about breakfast. One said: “My wife and I tried two or three times in the last 40 years to have breakfast together but it was so disagreeable we had to stop.” Winston Churchill was not dubious about breakfast, but breakfast company. Then there’s the American author Adelle Davis. She was the most famous nutritionist in the world. She believed in proper cooked breakfasts and used to say: “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.” See what I mean, ma’am?

There is a saying “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” It was actually coined by 19th century Seventh Day Adventists James Caleb Jackson and John Harvey Kellogg. It was a slogan to help sell their newly-invented breakfast cereal. No, not Weetabix. Try again. Dinner is important too - except in this house. I wasn’t well last week and all Mrs X had to do was soup. She was watching afternoon telly and somehow burnt it.  How can anyone burn soup, even if you are engrossed in The Chase? Must have taken hours. How long is Bradley Walsh on for?

I have just remembered about the guy with the good memory from Skye. He was a guest who arrived at teatime at a hotel on the Misty Isle but he was not happy. He thought they would have an en-suite for him but only shared facilities were available. Straight away, he began to complain to the manageress saying he distinctly remembered being told on the phone he would get an en-suite. The manageress patiently explained that was not the case - not for the low rate he had paid. However he went on and on about how good his memory was. It never let him down.

The manageress eventually got very weary of the non-stop moaning. Soon afterwards she had to trudge up to his room with his latest demand - fluffier towels. The guest just rudely grabbed them from her. “At last, I can go and shave,” he said, impatiently, while also telling her there were no hangers in his wardrobe. Just then the manageress said: “You were telling me earlier you had a fantastic memory. Tell me, Mr Macdonald, have you got a good memory for faces?” He sighed deeply and replied: “I most certainly do. In fact, madam, I have an absolutely excellent memory for faces.” His host smiled wryly. “Oh, that’s just as well,” she said. “Because there’s also no mirror in the bathroom.”

Ditching EU Security Deals 'Will Help Criminals'
Losing access to European security arrangements post-Brexit "will only benefit criminals", Scotland's justice secretary has said.  Humza Yousaf said no future UK procedures would be as effective as those available as a member of the EU.  He said this was regardless of what plans were made for a no-deal outcome.  The UK Westminster government said "the continued safety and security of both UK and EU citizens is of paramount importance".  Mr Yousaf's views echoed those of Metropolitan Police deputy assistant commissioner Richard Martin.  Mr Martin recently warned that criminals could potentially exploit the UK no longer being a part of measures such as the European Arrest Warrant.  Mr Yousaf said: "Anything that is a move away from what we currently have, that is a dilution of what we have, the only people that will benefit will be those that are trying to escape from the law.  It doesn't matter how many preparations we make, the UK Westminster government makes, the Met police force or indeed Police Scotland make."  Mr Yousaf recounted a case from 2012, when a foreign national who had committed a murder in Scotland and had absconded to Europe was apprehended due to a European Arrest Warrant within five hours.  The justice secretary said that the process of catching criminals after the UK leaves the EU could take significantly longer.  "We can be as stringent as we want, we can be as robust as we possibly want, and we are doing that, but if we don't have an extradition treaty with a country, that could take over and above a year," said Mr Yousaf.  If we have an extradition treaty with a third country, in a bilateral agreement, it would take months and months."  Mr Yousaf also said that although the UK would still be a member of Interpol, that would not sufficiently make up for the loss of Europol membership.  I don't doubt that countries will come with goodwill, but even so, nothing is as good as the European Arrest Warrant, nothing is as good as Europol," he said. UK minister for policing and fire, Nick Hurd, said the government was "working intensively with operational partners on contingency preparations should they be necessary in a no-deal scenario".  These included funding the new International Crime Coordination Centre.  Mr Hurd added: "The contingency plans involve moving co-operation with EU Member States to tried and tested alternative mechanisms, including Interpol and Council of Europe Conventions.  Whilst we have been clear that these would not be like-for-like replacements, they are already used for police and judicial co-operation with many non-EU countries.  Our primary objective, however, remains to secure a deal that protects mutually-beneficial capabilities for both the UK and the EU Member States."

HMRC Data Shows Scotch Exports Hit Record High in 2018

Analysis of HMRC data by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) found exports grew 7.8% by value to £4.7bn.  The number of bottles exported also reached record levels, growing by 3.6% to 1.28 billion.  Blended Scotch achieved global exports of just over £3bn in 2018, while exports of single malts rose by 11.3% to £1.3bn.  Bulk whisky for bottling abroad and bottled single and blended grain whisky exports together amounted to £359m.  The United States became the first billion pound overseas market for Scotch whisky by value, growing to £1.04bn last year.  The European Union remained the largest region for exports, accounting for 30% of global value and 36% of volume.  SWA chief executive Karen Betts said the figures showed that Scotch whisky had continued to grow, despite "the challenges posed by Brexit and by tensions in the global trading system".  She added: "However, the industry does not take continued growth for granted. We operate in a competitive global marketplace and so a competitive business environment in Scotland and across the UK is vital to Scotch whisky's success.  For Scotch, that means fair and balanced regulation and taxes, including excise duty, to give distillers the confidence to invest in future growth.  We also want to see the UK and EU agree to an open and positive future relationship, which delivers frictionless trade with the EU and the UK to secure ambitious trading relationships with key markets around the world."  Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing welcomed the figures.  He said: "I'm sure that many people in Scotland will join me in raising a glass to another record-breaking year for Scotch whisky.  It's an industry that, despite having been established for centuries, has still gone from strength to strength in recent years, thanks in part to the determination from the Scottish government and the industry to work together, in order to create a national brand with a global reputation. Thanks to that success abroad, whisky is a major employer in Scotland.  Of course Brexit continues to threaten that progress, particularly in relation to the European market which accounts for 30% of our exports. But we are doing what we can to support the sector against growing uncertainty, and ensure it remains one of the biggest contributors to Scotland's economy."

Scottish Council First to Give 'Safe Leave' to Abuse Victim Staff

A Scottish council has become the first in Europe to give "safe leave" to employees who have suffered domestic abuse.  South Ayrshire's policy will offer up to 10 days of paid leave to enable staff to seek help and support for themselves and their families.  The policy is inspired by new domestic violence legislation in New Zealand.  It was unanimously supported by all 28 councillors in December and has now been approved.  New Zealand passed its domestic violence victims' protection bill in July 2018, becoming the second country to adopt such a measure after the Philippines led the way in 2004.  Some Canadian provinces provide leave for domestic violence victims, while Australia's Labor party leader Bill Shorten has promised paid leave for victims if his party wins the next election.  Approval of South Ayrshire's policy follows a motion from councillors Laura Brenna-Whitefield and Brian McGinley, which was unanimously supported by all 28 councillors in December last year.  The leave will allow employees to attend medical appointments and counselling, attend legal proceedings, seek safe housing and visit support agencies.  Councillor Peter Henderson said: "Across South Ayrshire, we're committed to supporting the most vulnerable people in our communities and working with our partners to raise awareness of domestic abuse and violence. Giving abused employees access to up to 10 days' safe leave, where they can take the time off they need to access help and support without the worry of it affecting their finances or using up their annual leave, will make a real and lasting difference that could help change lives forever. And just by making that support available, it could help give employees the confidence to ask for help and take the first steps towards a safer life for them and their families.  Domestic abuse will never be tolerated in South Ayrshire but, sadly, we know it happens, and we want to ensure that - when it affects our employees - we do all we can to support them."  New legislation in Scotland, which for the first time criminalises psychological domestic abuse, says abusive behaviour is:  Behaviour that is violent, threatening or intimidating Behaviour whose purpose is one of the following:

making a partner dependent or subordinate
isolating a partner from friends, relatives or other sources of support
controlling, regulating or monitoring a partner's day-to-day activities
depriving a partner of, or restricting, freedom of action
frightening, humiliating, degrading or punishing a partner

The offence is aggravated if any of the behaviour is directed at a child or witnessed by them. South Ayrshire believes it is the first council in Europe to offer the provision and it is hoped others might follow.  Mr Henderson added: "Our people are undoubtedly our best assets and I'm proud that we're introducing positive and progressive policies that provide increased support to employees at a time when they need it most.  These include additional paid maternity and paternity leave for parents of premature babies, which is already making a positive difference for employees, and we will continue to do what we can to lead the way and support our people and places."  The move has been welcomed by domestic abuse charities.  Hazel Bingham, manager of South Ayrshire Women's Aid, said the council's move was a "massive step in the right direction".  "Having a compassionate and supportive employer that allows people the time they need to attend vital appointments, access help and advice, and do what they need to do means they don't need to worry about using up annual leave or going off sick," she said.  It's essential that council employees know they will be fully supported when they approach their manager or colleagues about their situation and making use of safe leave.  We're proud to be working in partnership with the council to deliver training and support to ensure there is a clear understanding of the complexities of domestic abuse and employees can make the best use of the safe leave available to them."

Music Tuition Saved As Midlothian Council Hikes Tax Nearly 5%

Councillors in Midlothian have rejected plans to cut music tuition to save money.  It was one of several proposals under consideration to meet a budget shortfall of nearly £10m.  The local authority agreed to put up council tax by 4.79% in the coming year - the maximum allowed by Holyrood - to help fund council services.  However, some services will still be affected by cuts as the council tries to balance its budget.  The council had previously said that the plans would mean only pupils studying Higher and Advanced Higher music would get free instrumental music tuition.  Music would still be taught in schools as part of the normal curriculum, but the opportunity to pay for extra lessons to learn an instrument would be scrapped from August 2019.  This would have allowed the council to cut more than nine music instructor posts.  Schoolchildren, teachers and parents took part in a protest outside Midlothian Council's Dalkeith headquarters as the plans came under discussion.  Many had musical instruments with them as they objected to the proposed cuts.  Council leader Derek Milligan went out to deliver the news to protestors that music tuition had been saved.  The council agreed to reduce some services to save money, including cutting back the school transport budget and increasing car parking charges.  It will also close Vogrie golf course in Gorebridge, cut back on landscaping, reduce cleaning in council buildings except schools, stop its taxi card scheme and end healthy lifestyle development and community safety teams' funding. Senior management will also be reduced.  It will receive extra funding from the Scottish government and will find savings in addition to the tax hike.

Yougov Poll Finds SNP Would Gain Four Seats in Snap General Election
A snap general election of more than 40,000 Brits showed Theresa May the slenderest possible majority in the House of Commons while the SNP would make significant gains. According to the new poll, while the Scottish National Party's share of the vote was unchanged since 2017 on 3%, but the YouGov model suggested they could boost their tally of Westminster seats by four to 39.  There was an overall drop for both the Conservatives and Labour.  The YouGov survey for The Times found that Conservatives would increase their 317-seat tally by four to 321, with Labour shedding 12 MPs to end up with 250.  While such a result would leave Mrs May short of commanding half of Parliament's 650 MPs, she could expect a wafer-thin working majority due to the fact that the Speaker and his deputies do not vote and Sinn Fein's MPs do not traditionally take their seats.  If Sinn Fein held on to its seven seats, Mrs May could expect a working majority of just one or two in the Commons and would be highly vulnerable to rebellions by backbenchers in her own party.  In practice, she might well find herself once more dependent on the votes of the Democratic Unionist Party.  The poll of more than 40,000 voters in England, Scotland and Wales used a model of assessing individual constituencies which correctly predicted a hung Parliament in 2017, when most pollsters were forecasting a comfortable Tory victory.  It put Conservatives on 39% - down four points from the 43% recorded in British seats in 2017 - but predicted a larger drop in support for Jeremy Corbyn's Labour, down seven points from 41% in 2017 to 34% now.  Liberal Democrats were on 11%, up three points from the last election. And Ukip, which slumped to 2% in 2017, experienced a resurgence to hit 5%, taking a significant chunk of support from the Tories.  YouGov questioned 40,119 British adults form February 2 to 7 and applied the results to the demographics of each individual constituency to work out local swings.

'Fragility' with Maternity Staffing At Dr Gray's Hospital
Dr Gray's hospital in Elgin will have to live with an "ongoing fragility" when it comes to staffing levels, a senior hospital manager has said.  The hospital's general manager Alasdair Pattinson hopes downgraded services can be restored by the end of the year but warns staffing will remain a problem.  Maternity services at the Moray hospital were downgraded in July due to a shortage of paediatric doctors.  Efforts are being made to gradually restore services.  The special care baby unit has been reopened, the children's ward has returned to a seven-day service and elective Caesarean sections are available again.  However, the majority of women in Moray still have to travel to Aberdeen to give birth.  In the first month after the downgrade, just 10% of Moray babies were born at Dr Gray's.  That number has now risen to just under 40%.  However, seven months on, the majority of women are still having to travel to Aberdeen, a journey of 66 miles from Elgin.  Lisa Milne and Simon Ward are expecting their first baby in just a few weeks and travelled to Dr Gray's for an ultrasound scan.  The couple live in Keith and have been attending regular check-ups in Elgin.  But like many others, when their baby arrives in April, Lisa is scheduled to give birth in Aberdeen. Lisa's partner Simon said: ''Obviously with the weather we've had for the last few weeks, it can be really treacherous going into Aberdeen, which isn't really ideal with a pregnant lady. For me, Elgin is obviously a better option.''  Lisa also said she would like to finish her maternity in Elgin but realised safety was a priority.  The Aberdeen level of care I'm sure is equally as good, it's just we've been here and it's convenient," she said.  It's maybe selfishness. It would be nice to finish it here. As long as everything is healthy and happy that's the main story for us."  When the maternity services were downgraded at Dr Gray's in July it signalled changes for pregnant women but also for staff.  Tracy Stronach, a senior charge midwife, said: ''It was a challenge to begin with until the staff embraced what the downgrade was going to mean for them."  She said the midwifery-led care at the hospital was no different to before but they could no longer deal with consultant-led cases.  Ms Stronach said the birth rate at the hospital was below 40% of what it was before the downgrade. "We don't have as many labouring women on the ward as we might have had previously," she said. "They'll all be straightforward labouring women we have here.  Anyone with complications would go to Aberdeen.''  It is that trip to Aberdeen that is still raising concerns and Kirsty Watson, from the group Keep Mum, is campaigning to protect services at Dr Gray's.  ''There's no urgency from NHS Grampian to restore the services to what they were before," she said. "Still the majority of women and children are having to go to Aberdeen to receive care. We still haven't seen a timeline or a plan as to how they look to restore these services and when that will be.  We're still in the dark about a number of issues here.''  Mr Pattinson, the hospital's general manager, hopes services can be restored this year but says shortage will be a continued reality across NHS Grampian and NHS Highland. "We are all feeling the anxiety in relation to the supply of doctors with the right skills and competencies to deliver the types of services across the north of Scotland," he said.  "I think we will live with an ongoing fragility, a vulnerability, and we're just going to have to continue to find ways to adapt and modify the services so that we can continue to deliver the best services we can with the resources that we've got.''  NHS Grampian is due to submit the second phase of the action plan to the Scottish government in April, detailing how it plans to deliver a sustainable women and children's service in Moray.

Brexit: Sturgeon Steps Up No-deal Planning
The Scottish government has stepped up its preparations for a no-deal Brexit as it again called on Theresa May to rule out the possibility.  First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she still believes no deal can be avoided.  But she said her government had a duty to plan for the possibility as best it could.  The UK is due to leave the EU on 29 March, but MPs have so far refused to back the deal agreed by the prime minister and the EU.  ITV News has said that one of its reporters overheard the UK's chief Brexit negotiator, Olly Robbins, saying in a Brussels bar that the EU was likely to allow an extension to the Brexit process.  Mrs May has played down reports that she could force MPs to choose between backing her deal or accepting a delay to EU withdrawal.  The prime minister told the Commons that people should not rely on "what someone said to someone else, as overheard by someone else, in a bar".  She insisted that the government still intends to leave the EU on 29 March with a deal in place - but Downing Street has stressed that the possibility of a no-deal Brexit "remains on the table", saying it is an "eventuality we wish to avoid, but one we continue to plan for". The UK Westminster government argues that the best way to avoid no deal is for MPs to back the prime minister's proposals, which it says are "the best deal available for jobs and the economy across the whole of the UK, allowing us to honour the referendum and realise the opportunities of Brexit."  Speaking after a meeting of the Scottish cabinet in Glasgow, Ms Sturgeon told BBC Scotland that Mrs May was attempting to "run down the clock" in an attempt to "blackmail" MPs into backing her deal "at the very, very last minute".  She added: "The prime minister can only get away with that if the House of Commons allows her to get away with that, and the longer it does the more complicit it will become in the disaster that eventually unfolds".  Scotland's chief economist warned that a no-deal Brexit would lead to a "major dislocation" to the country's economy in his latest State of the Economy report, which was published on Wednesday morning.  Gary Gillespie said disruptions to logistics, supply, trade, investment, migration and market confidence could cause a "significant structural change in the economy".  Ms Sturgeon said it was "reckless and negligent" for the UK Westminster government to refuse to rule out no-deal, adding: "But we appear to be dealing with a UK Westminster government that's prepared to act recklessly and negligently.  Therefore as of today we have stepped up our no-deal planning. We don't think it should be inevitable, we'll do everything in our power to help rule that out.  "But we would not be doing our job properly if we didn't properly plan as best we can, because not all of the consequences will be able to be mitigated."  MPs rejected the deal negotiated between the UK and the EU by a historic margin in January, and the prime minister saying she is now seeking legally-binding changes to the controversial "backstop" - the "insurance policy" aimed at avoiding a return to border checks between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. They are due to vote again on the Brexit process on Thursday and the SNP have tabled a Commons amendment requiring the UK Westminster Government to begin immediate negotiations with the European Council to extend Article 50 by no less than three months. Ms Sturgeon also repeated that she would set out her thinking on the timing of a second independence referendum in the "coming weeks". When asked whether she believes Scotland will be independent in the next few years, she replied: "I'm not going to put a precise timescale on it, but I do hope and believe that Scotland will become independent.  I hope that's within the next few years because I think it becomes more and more urgent that we are in charge of the big decisions that shape our future and shape our destiny."

Scots Patients First to Get Blood Thinning Drug That Cuts Heart Attack and Stroke Risk

Patients in Scotland who are at high risk of heart attacks and stroke will be the first in the UK to benefit from a blood thinning drug shown cut their risk of serious cardiac events by a quarter.  The decision by the Scottish Medicines Consortium to make the drug, rivaroxaban, available to patients with stable coronary heart disease follows the results of a major global clinical trial involving more than 27,000 people, including UK patients.  The COMPASS trial found that the combined risk of suffering one of three serious cardiac events - heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular death - was 24 per cent lower among patients taking rivaroxaban in combination with aspirin, than it was in patients on aspirin alone.  The drug, also known by the brand name Xarelto, is the first blood-thinning drug licensed to prevent blood clots forming in the arteries of people with high-risk coronary or peripheral artery disease.  The condition affects around 240,000 people in Scotland and it is estimated that as many as 110,014 could benefit from the new treatment within the first year.  Professor John Cleland, director of the Glasgow Clinical Trials Unit and professor of cardiology at Imperial College London, said: “There have been few recent substantial advances in the medical management of coronary artery disease, which remains an area of substantial unmet need, particularly in Scotland. The COMPASS trial shows that adding rivaroxaban vascular dose to low-dose aspirin reduces vascular events. The reduction in vascular events outweighed the modest increase in major bleeding events.  Conducted in more than 30 countries, including the UK, COMPASS was one of the largest ever trials of oral anti-thrombotic therapy providing robust results, overall, and for key patient subgroups at high-risk of recurrent events such as those with renal dysfunction or stable ‘mild’ heart failure.”  Around 15,000 people die from a heart and circulatory disease each year in Scotland, accounting for 26% of the nation’s deaths. Dr Alan Begg, a GP in Montrose and trustee of Chest, Heart, and Stroke Scotland (CHSS), said: “In Scotland, we’re only too aware that cardiovascular diseases carry an unacceptable burden, accounting for a quarter of all deaths. As GPs, we are always looking for new options for protecting our patients especially as, despite current treatment, the risk remains high.” SMC Chairman Dr Alan MacDonald said:“For some patients at risk of heart attacks due to coronary artery disease, rivaroxaban provides a helpful new treatment option.” Meanwhile, doctors writing in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) today have called for action to combat the “looming epidemic” of irregular heartbeat, also known as atrial fibrillation (AF). Prevalence is increasing in Scotland and the rest of the UK, and the condition is associated with a heightened risk of heart failure, heart attack, strokes, and potentially dementia. Writing in the BMJ, Dr Mark Lown, a GP and lecturer in medicine at Southampton University, said routine screening for atrial fibrillation had the potential to prevent strokes because at-risk patients could be prescribed blood thinning drugs.  He said: “The prevalence of AF is rising steeply and is associated with increased risk of heart failure, myocardial infarction, and death,and treatment with anticoagulation is associated with reduction in all these outcomes relative to placebo...Current evidence provides a strong case for introducing AF screening.”

North and South Uist Try to Cash in on Tourist Boom
They are connected by a long string of causeways and are home to hundreds of lochs.  Now a major campaign is being launched – with marketing even on the streets of Manchester – to make visitors more aware of the charm and beauty of the sparsely populated Uists in the Outer Hebrides, which are often overlooked by tourists.  North Uist and South Uist are linked by causeways running via Benbecula and Grimsay, and the entire group is known as the Uists. Among them the islands  have less than 6,000 residents, but they are home to Europe’s biggest missile test range, incredible historic sites and remarkable wildlife such as golden eagles, wading birds and otters.  Flora MacDonald, who helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape after Culloden, was born in Milton in South Uist and the island is home to a nature reserve and a number of sites of archaeological interest, including the only location in the UK where prehistoric mummies have been found.  Now CalMac Ferries is set to launch a new national marketing campaign ahead of the 2019 tourism season, designed to raise awareness of Uist as an “unmissable getaway.”  Andrew MacNair, head of marketing at Calmac Ferries, said: “The Outer Hebrides are becoming one of the most talked about tourism destinations the world over, and The ‘Sea Uist Soon campaign has been created to ensure a successful tourism season in 2019.  After operational issues endured last season, we wanted to continue to support the region not only with our services, but by working alongside the local tourism industry to promote all that’s great about Uist.”

Meet the News Stars of BBC Scotland's the Nine

The nation's new TV channel, BBC Scotland, has revealed the first picture of the on-air team behind its flagship news programme. "The Nine" has a 15-strong core team of journalists who will bring the national and international news to Scotland in the nightly hour-long broadcast.  Heading the team are presenters Rebecca Curran and Martin Geissler.  And Chief News Correspondent James Cook joins the Nine from his post as BBC News North America Correspondent.  Taking "a global view on the news while maintaining a distinct Scottish voice", the programme will feature a hand-picked team of reporters and correspondents who will cover social affairs, innovation, consumer matters, sport and entertainment.  There is also a four-strong team who will report on politics from Holyrood, Westminster and Brussels. Editor of The Nine Hayley Valentine said: "I'm delighted with the team of presenters and reporters we've put together.  It has a great mix of experienced correspondents and new talent, all of whom are working on a raft of original stories for The Nine.  Our viewers will get some of the best analysis of Scottish, UK and international news from this team. And I'm confident viewers will enjoy a very different approach to news presenting and storytelling." The Nine will broadcast Monday-Friday between 21:00 and 22:00, in addition to weekend bulletins.  Rebecca Curran and Martin Geissler will co-present Monday-Thursday while Laura Miller and John Beattie will present the news hour each Friday.  On Saturdays, there will be a 15-minute bulletin at 19:00, followed by a review programme presented by Fiona Stalker and Nick Sheridan. On Sundays, the 15-minute 19:00 bulletin will be presented by Lucy Whyte.  The programme also promises a distinct social media presence and can also be accessed on digital platforms.  The Nine is part of the biggest investment in the BBC in Scotland for a generation, generating 80 new jobs in news services in Scotland, covering a range of roles both in front of and behind the camera.

Scots Health Board Wins Permission to Recruit More Australian Nurses

A Scots health board has won permission to recruit more nurses from Australia, to ease its staffing crisis.  NHS Grampian already has 50 signed up from Down Under. Now it has persuaded the Nursing and Midwifery Council to lift restrictions so it can employ more. The NMC agreed to relax the rules – meaning nurses and midwives do not need a year of experience on top of their university qualifications to sit its exams.  Senior nurse Elizabeth Wilson made the original scouting trip in 2017, and believes it is a huge opportunity. She said it was clear Grampian offered an attractive alternative to many, despite the upheaval involved.  “I think we are giving them the opportunity to use their skills, develop and get further training,” she said.  “Many are aware of the NHS and are keen to explore what that experience is like. And there are a lot who have families back in the UK so have that connection.”  Back in 2017 it was revealed the board would be taking an unprecedented recruitment trip to scout potential nurses and midwives.  During their 12-day trip, the nursing team spoke to more than 300 people who were interested in taking up posts.  They have had the support of the Western Australia Department of Health in an effort to ensure nurses’ skills do not go to waste.  A total of 1,783 nurses and midwives applied for a place on their two-year graduate programme, with just 656 able to secure a place, leaving 1,127 without a position.  Jane Ewen, chief nurse in practice education and development, was one of the staff who made the trip.  She said: “We built on our partnership with the department of health that was started last year, they are happy to collaborate with us, because they have a real surplus just now.”  Last year, three of the four recruitment events were managed by external organisations. However, this year the board organised each event itself. The programme was a mix of presentations and interviews where those in attendance were given an insight into the health board and also the northeast region.  The group even took over some items to give them an insight into the local and national culture – and were surprised at how many people recognised the Aberdeen FC top.  Since then, Ms Wilson and Ms Ewen have been carrying out interviews via video calls, twice a day, beginning early in the morning because of the time difference.  The NMC interim charge is part of a wider review into its overseas registration process for nurses and midwives trained outside of the EEA.  Anyone who secures a visa will be asked to work for a minimum of two years, and will be provided with support to help sit the NMC exams, which consist of a theory and practical element.  In August the board revealed it would be offering homegrown nurses the chance to go the other way and train in Western Australia.

House Prices in Edinburgh and Glasgow to Grow Above UK Average
The cost of housing in Edinburgh and Glasgow is set to rise above UK averages over the next five years, market analysis has revealed.  Figures published by property consultancy firm JLL forecast it will become more expensive to buy or rent a home in both Scottish cities. JLL said by 2023 prices will rise in Edinburgh by 16.5 per cent and in Glasgow by 13.7 per cent. Across Scotland, there is expected to be more moderate growth of around 11.5 per cent, marginally outperforming the UK five-year forecast of 11.4 per cent.  House price growth in Scotland has increased 17 per cent in the past five years, below the growth of 31 per cent seen across the UK.  The firm said Scotland, like the rest of the UK, had under-delivered the number of homes needed to meet demand or to achieve the required targets.  The average sale price of a typical two-bed flat in Edinburgh’s city centre at the end of 2018 was £285,000 – a 2.5 per cent increase on the same period in 2017.  Price and rental growth in Edinburgh is expected to average 3.1 per cent per annum, well above the UK-wide forecast of 2.2 per cent price growth and 2.4 per cent rental growth. JLL said the Glasgow market has been characterised by an under-supply of housing for several years, particularly in the city centre.  This has been attributed to a shift in interest during 2017 from an almost entirely build-for-sale bias towards an emphasis on build-to-rent.  In Glasgow’s planning pipeline, JLL suggested there are around 4,000 build-to-rent units, many of which are set to be completed around 2021 and 2022.  The sale price of a typical new-build, two-bed flat in Glasgow city centre is around £226,000 – an increase of 1.8 per cent during 2018. Over the next five years, JLL expects sales prices to rise by an average of 2.6 per cent. This is below that of many other UK city centres suffering from more acute demand-supply imbalances, but greater than the UK-wide and Scotland forecasts.  Rent costs in Glasgow are also set to grow by 3 per cent over the same period, JLL said.  The firm’s Jason Hogg said: “In recent years Scotland’s major cities have established themselves as stand-out performers in the residential market, with Edinburgh and to a lesser extent Glasgow seeing above average house price growth.  This has been aided by the significant supply shortfall and growing demand from people wanting to live in city centres. The moderate growth across Scotland’s house prices are somewhat skewed by the above average performance of both Edinburgh and Glasgow, which are both set to see strong growth as limited development activity creates further discord between demand and supply.”