Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 492

Issue # 492                                           Week ending Saturday 23 February 2019

Just As Happened in the Free Church, Are We to Get A New Labour Party (Continuing)?
By Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

Why do so many people argue and keep falling out? It seems to happen more often than it used to. That is possibly not the case as there has been discussion and argument for all time but we just keep hearing more and more about the drama that goes with differences of opinion, schisms and walkouts. With American politicians it is every day but, well, that is really down to one of them. He, of course, is from good island churchy stock and he seems to have the same trait that has led to furious schisms and walkouts here. The last thing that church people do is turn the other cheek - not while there is the chance to flounce out and create another church.

And so too it has been this week in the world of politics. Some disgruntled MPs have resigned from Labour. It was inevitable because a bitter row has been simmering in the Labour Party for ages. JC has made some decisions, or perhaps more accurately not made many decisions, which has not gone down well with some of the troops. No, I didn’t say all - don’t get out of your pram about it - I said some. So seven MPs have grabbed their toys and stomped off to play somewhere else. Boom.

Nobody expected that. I said nobody because the talk was of leadership challenges and abstentions but that’s now too late. Like so many bolshie islanders over the years, Corbyn’s flock have flocked off to create their own church. Who, we wonder, will choose to become part of Chuka Umunna’s flock? Is he even the preacher-in-charge? Who knows? What I do know is that, at a time of poverty for many and failing public services for everyone, we really do need an effective opposition to hold the government to account. JC is not doing that because he has been mired in so much of his own drama that he seems to have been doing the square root of nothing at all about opposing the government on Brexit ... or, well, anything.

Now the buzz is that politicians from other parties will also come and join them. It’s like the eighties all over again when Labour lost the Gang of Four who set up the SDP. For the uninitiated, and the frightfully young and immature among you, that was the Social Democratic Party. They then joined up with a few Liberals to become the Liberal Democrats. A few argumentative types decided they didn’t like that idea and, just to really confuse everyone, started another alternative party called ... the SDP. The same name as the previous failed and defunct entity.

Our newest secret seven intend to sit in Parliament as The Independent Group. That’s not good. Independent politicians are useless at the best of times and a mere septet, as a magnet for all politicians jaded and useless, will undoubtedly prove to be just that. By their very nature, independents can agree on little, if anything. Soon they will have to choose a proper name. Here’s an idea for them. How about Social Democratic Party? More déjà vu. There’s nothing new under the sun. Listen Chuka, you heard it here first so send a fee if you decide to run with it. Usual address, send me the papers - high denomination, plain brown envelope.

The Labour rebels will have to become professional and stop being disgruntled though. I love that word. It is one of the Lonely Negatives, words that are not positive because they have a negative-type prefix but which have no positive equivalent. Take the dis off disappear or disrespect and you have the positive version. Take the dis off disgruntled and you have - what? So is gruntled a happy frame of mind? Is Theresa May gruntled that Labour are in disarray? Haven’t the foggiest.

Someone who is untiring - maybe like Corbyn, maybe not - is said to be indefatigable. There is the word defatigable but it is rarely if ever used. It is not used even by the great Susie Dent, the resident lexicographer on the afternoon TV show Countdown, a programme loved by shift workers and indolents for generations. Indolent? Good word. Never dolent. The same is true when you stick the suffix less on a word. We can say someone is reckless but I have never heard anyone say someone is reckful - wrecked, yes, but not reckful.

Like socialists, the tendency of devout islanders to fall out was even noted by a well-known magazine a while back. They had a wee funny yarn about a ship sailing past a small island - maybe one of the Flannan Isles. The crew spots a man who has been stranded on there for many years. The captain goes ashore to rescue the man and notices three wee buildings.  “What’s the first hut for?” he asks. The lone islander said it was his house. “Right. What’s the second hut?” The island dweller explained that was his church. “Really? And the third hut?” asks the captain. “Oh, that?” sniffs the castaway. “That’s the church I used to go to.”

Why Would A Young GP Move to A Rural Region?
You might rely on Anna Roberts in a medical emergency but possibly not a geographical one.  The 30-year-old - who grew up in Edinburgh and studied medicine in Aberdeen - freely admits it is not her strong point.  That was how she became a GP at the Charlotte Medical Centre.  "I accidentally ended up in Dumfries about seven years ago," she said.  "When you finish your medical training you do two foundation years - I did my first year in Glasgow, my second year in Dumfries.  I thought Dumfries was just south of Glasgow and then I watched the weather and saw a map and discovered that there is quite a lot south of Glasgow." Despite adding a few miles to her journey, however, she has no regrets and advises anyone thinking of heading south not to hesitate. "I was just pleasantly surprised by how nice an area it was," she said.  "They should definitely come and try it."  NHS Dumfries and Galloway is not alone as a rural region facing difficulties with GP numbers with a "significant number" of retirements in recent times.  While many of them continue to help in a locum capacity, the total headcount has still fallen by more than 5% in the space of less than two years.  The health board has a number of initiatives to try to tackle that, but Dr Roberts said there were definitely still issues to overcome.  "A lot of people just don't really know very much about Dumfries and Galloway or the fact that it exists," she said.  "I think it is very easy to get into that central belt mentality - and I was definitely guilty of that as well."  However, after she made the move she said it was nice to develop mutual trust and respect with colleagues "rather than being an anonymous person in a big city".  One obstacle to GP recruitment, Dr Roberts said, could be securing employment for a partner - particularly if they have a different profession.  "If they are medical - and we have quite a few medical jobs going down here - then that's fine but there is not the same kind of young professional level in Dumfries as there is in a big city," she said.  "You don't have all the big companies that you do there and that is not anything that we can fix.  That is definitely a challenge - part of it is just not knowing what is available outside the central belt."  However, she said there were lots of other attractions.  "It is a different lifestyle you can be outdoors really quickly here, there's loads of big mountain biking stuff here, there is quite a big arts scene and there are different festivals that are going on," she said.  "There is a much more of a small-town feel to things. They have got Guid Nychburris day - that was a whole new thing to me coming from Edinburgh, they don't have anything like that.  But I played as part of the town band for a while so I was part of that.  You can just really easily get involved with the community - I am really involved with my local church.  That's been really important for me to have friends that are not doctors as well.  I think if you are willing to branch out from just that medical bubble you can experience so much in Dumfries and Galloway."  However, the Dumfries GP is under no illusion as to the scale of the problem facing the region and other rural areas. "It is really difficult because if a practice is struggling that does not make an attractive place for someone to go," she said.  Her own practice lost three partners in a year and went through a "difficult time" before getting back up to full capacity.  "If one person joins it makes it more attractive for another person to join - a lot of GPs will worry about being the last man standing," she said.  "Where there are lots of retiring GPs that will make it a very difficult thing to recruit unless you get a few people that go in together and say: 'Actually, we are going to change this and we are going to be the young GPs there.'"  She said getting trainees to come down to the area could be a secret to success - something NHS Dumfries and Galloway is trying to address.  "When you are in a big city you often feel that you are a number on a rota whereas here you are valued," she said. "I think if we can get people as trainees here then they are more likely to stay.  Training practices struggle less."  Dr Roberts said it was important for people to realise the role of the GP was changing too.  She said it was now about "seeing the right person in the right place at the right time" which might not necessarily be a GP.  I think the important thing to say is that whatever practice people are at their GPs are doing their absolute best," she said.  "We are often here late at night doing paperwork, finishing all that off - gone are the days of the GP going and playing golf at lunchtime.  I know there are a lot of struggling practices but I think it is important people do understand we are doing our best with what we have got here."  NHS Dumfries and Galloway said it was "very conscious" of the national shortage of GPs but it was using "active and innovative" strategies to help with recruitment.  "There are currently 12 local GP practices within Dumfries and Galloway which provide training to junior doctors," a statement said. "And we currently have 10 GPs in training within Dumfries and Galloway, who - once qualified - typically will go to spend an average 23 years attached to a local practice." So, perhaps, more will follow Anna Roberts on her journey to the region - even if they are not entirely sure where it is.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell Says 'Coming Out Was Difficult'

Scottish Secretary David Mundell has said coming out as gay was "one of the most difficult things I've done".  Mr Mundell revealed in January 2016 that it was time to "acknowledge in public as well as in private, who I am".  At the time, the father-of-three was believed to be the first openly-gay Conservative cabinet minister.  Mr Mundell, 56, will host a reception in Edinburgh on Thursday to mark LGBT History Month.  The MP for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale said: "Coming out was one of the most difficult things I have done, but also one of the most important.  I was overwhelmed by the support I received from friends, family and colleagues."  He added: "Everyone should feel able to live their lives as they wish, in safety and confidence, without fear of judgment or discrimination.  We have come a huge way in better rights for our LGBT communities, and LGBT History Month is a valuable reminder of those hard-won achievements.  But we still have more to do to build a wholly inclusive and accepting society. This month I hope that, by reflecting on our collective history, we continue to pave the way for a fairer future."  Mr Mundell's 2016 announcement took the number of openly-gay MPs in the House of Commons to 33 - one of the highest proportions of any parliament in the world, according to a study by US academics.

Ministers Set to Refuse Quarry Extension Near New Lanark

Ministers look set to reject plans to extend a quarry closer to one of Scotland's world heritage sites.  Cemex wants to expand its current site into protected land close to the banks of the Falls of Clyde near New Lanark.  The Scottish government has indicated it is not granting planning permission for the application in its entirety.  It said it was minded to approve plans for works to the south of the site, but would refuse permission for works to the west at Hyndford Quarry, Lanark.  The move goes against the advice of the government's own reporters who said there is no justification for refusal.  However, campaigners say a larger site would endanger the heritage site and a nearby conservation area.  The controversy began in 2012 when Mexican multinational Cemex first submitted its application to extend the existing Hyndford Quarry west towards the world heritage site at New Lanark - the place where Utopian idealist Robert Owen created a model industrial community in the early 19th Century.  New Lanark is one of only six World Heritage sites in Scotland - the others being the island of St Kilda, Skara Brae in Orkney, the Roman Antonine Wall and Edinburgh's Old and New Towns and the Forth Bridge.

Stornoway Exhibition Celebrating the Care Experienced by Young People is Launched

The joint Who Cares? Scotland and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar exhibition ‘Journeys in the north – the local story’ was officially opened on Friday afternoon by Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan and care-experienced young leader Louise.  Large numbers of care experienced young people and their friends and fellow young leaders came together with service providers, carers and professionals for the interactive event. This was one of a number of ambitious events taking place across Scotland to mark Care Day 2019. Care Day is a celebration of Care Experienced people across the world. Care Experienced is a term used to refer to anyone who has experience of care in their lives.  This includes foster care, children’s homes, secure care, kinship care or living at home with social work involvement. Care-experienced young people and their friends and fellow young leaders in the islands have worked with artists, musicians and story-tellers over several months to create and curate a powerful range of art work for the exhibition, from film and music to sculpture, stories and textiles – all on the theme of the journeys that matter in our lives.  A strong partnership between Who Cares? Scotland and the Community Learning and Development Department within the Comhairle has been at the heart of that work, creating a host of group opportunities for large numbers of young people.  Leading charity Who Cares? Scotland, an organisation that works for and on behalf of Care Experienced people, has celebrated those who have backed Care Day 2019 nationwide, and the children and young people at the heart of the events.  Alasdair Allan MSP commented: “Care-experienced youngsters face more obstacles in their lives than most, and we as a society need to reflect on how we can do better for them in the future. The artwork and creativity on display in today’s exhibition told some very powerful stories and it was a great honour to officially open it alongside Louise.  “Every young person should have an equal opportunity to succeed in life. However, for far too many young people in care, and through absolutely no fault of their own, that has not been the case.”  Alison Frizzell, who works for Who Cares? Scotland locally, providing support to children and young people including those with experience of care, said: “People across the islands have been working to recognise and support Care Experienced people.  We do this through listening to them, amplifying their voice and making sure they are a valued part of the community. We want Care Experienced people to feel free to be themselves.  Today’s exhibition in Stornoway was a fantastic opportunity to celebrate care-experienced people and their friends and fellow leaders, by bringing together young leaders, young friends, amazing creators, and all the range of partners who can help support them in shaping their wonderful lives going forward.”  Duncan Dunlop, CEO of Who Cares? Scotland said: “There are communities across Scotland celebrating Care Day and their Care Experienced people.  Where people stand up to recognise Care Experienced people and the need for a lifetime of equality, respect and love, we will commend them.  This has been done in the Western Isles and we know that our members across the islands will feel more accepted as a result of this.” The first Care Day took place in 2015 to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Scottish Parliament cross party support for the passing of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill 2014.  This was a very significant moment as the evidence of 21 Care Experienced campaigners helped change the Bill’s course and secure more rights for Care Experienced people in Scotland.  Care Day takes place on the third Friday in February each year and has continued to go from strength to strength.  It is now recognised across the UK and internationally as an opportunity to celebrate the lives and voices of Care Experienced people.

Ending Freedom of Movement A Self-defeating Measure – Nicola Sturgeon
The UK Westminster’s Government’s aim to end freedom of movement after Brexit is a “self-defeating” measure, according to Nicola Sturgeon.  Scotland’s First Minister is to speak at the Assemblee Nationale in the French Parliament on Tuesday and will address concerns around immigration policy after the UK leaves the European Union.  Ms Sturgeon will be in Paris to open a new Scottish Government office before attending the French Parliament’s 73-member foreign affairs committee.  “For me, this is one of the saddest parts of Brexit,” the First Minister will say in her speech to the committee.  “The UK Westminster Government is proclaiming the end of free movement as a victory – instead, it is a self-defeating measure. It removes opportunity from millions of people.  It is an approach which is especially damaging to Scotland. Without freedom of movement there is a danger that our population will start to decline.  We could face workforce shortages in rural areas, in our universities, in our care and health services. European nationals are not only very welcome in Scotland, they are crucial to our well-being.  All of this is down to the red lines that the UK Westminster Government has chosen to draw.  Given the existence of those red lines, I understand why the European Union believes that the deal agreed in November is the best which could be achieved.  I appreciate that many people in France and across the EU would like the UK to just get on with it. But no government of Scotland which has the interests of this and future generations at heart could possibly support the current deal.” The First Minister is also expected to give her support to EU citizens currently living in Scotland and will indicate the Scottish Government’s intention to “step up” efforts to encourage people to stay.  Ms Sturgeon will say: “Those EU citizens, of course, include 7,000 French people, who are our colleagues, friends, neighbours and in many cases our family. The Scottish Government is proud that they have done us the honour of making Scotland their home.  We will always stick up for their rights – in recent months we have lobbied successfully to ensure EU citizens would not have to pay a fee to obtain settled status in the UK.  We will always make it clear that EU citizens are welcome. In fact in the coming months, we plan to step up our efforts to encourage EU citizens to stay in Scotland.”

Arts Magazine with A Difference
Tongue-based arts writer Ian McKay is gearing up for the launch of a new magazine dedicated to the arts and crafts scene in northern Europe. The magazine, titled Art North, is expected to be launched in March and has already attracted almost 1,000 advance subscriptions. Mr McKay, a writer and editor of more than thirty years’ experience, intends Art North to be a quarterly publication. He has lined up an impressive line of writers for the first edition, including such well-known names as George Gunn, Mandy Haggith, Kevin MacNeil and Ian Stephen. Murdo Macdonald, emeritus professor of Scottish art history at the University of Dundee, will also contribute an opening piece. From 2005 to 2011 Professor Macdonald led an innovative research project, Window to the West/Uinneag Dhan Aird an Iar. The exhibition which emerged from it challenged the notion that Gaelic-speaking areas of Scotland have historically lacked a tradition of creating visual art.  Art North magazine will be concerned with the north in its widest sense. In a recent interview, Mr McKay outlined its aims for the arts website CuratorSpace: “Increasingly, I was becoming more and more frustrated in seeing the art being made in our urban centres getting ever wider coverage, and the art made in more remote locations simply not being recognised at all by the art press, or very rarely. I began thinking about how to fill that void, and better represent artists who were effectively working in a critical vacuum.  “Art North was conceived as a magazine that would better represent the art of what many think of as the ‘margins’, but the magazine is also about internationalising the work being made, by forging links with Scotland’s neighbours in the far north; countries such as Norway, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, and further east to Sweden and Finland, where artists can also be found working without the widespread recognition they deserve.”  Mr McKay, originally from Surrey, has had a wide-ranging career as an arts journalist and university lecturer. In the mid-1980s, he began writing on the arts of Eastern Europe from Eastern- bloc states, prior to the collapse of communism. His books cover challenging political topics, such as the rise of “localism” over recent decades. In Scratch a Hippy, Find a Fascist (published under the Gaelic spelling of his name, Eoin MacAoidh, in 2016) he asks: “Can we detect in the language of localism, the sign of fascism on the march once more? While localism may offer the potential to build strong, inclusive communities, it can also have the opposite effect. Are we already building communities populated only by ‘people like us’?”  Mr McKay re-located to Tongue after leaving mainstream academia and says he wouldn’t wish to live anywhere else. Doing his job is not without geographical challenges, such as a tortuous trip to cover an exhibition at Taigh Chearsabhaigh, the arts centre in Lochmaddy. A special report on North Uist and Berneray is the cover story for the first issue of the magazine. It will also include what McKay refers to as a “thundering piece” by George Gunn on the “misunderstood” landscape of Caithness and Sutherland.

Spectacular Highland Bridge Officially Renamed in Gaelic
A spectacular bridge in the Highlands has been legally renamed in Gaelic to mark it gaining Grade-A listed status for its architectural merit.  Kylesku Bridge in Sutherland, which sits on the North Coast 500 driving route, will now be known as Drochaid a’ Chaolais Chumhaing following the new designation from Historic Environment Scotland. The bridge now sits alongside structures such as Forth Road Bridge, Old Stirling Bridge and Erskine Bridge in terms of their architectural and historic importance.  Kylesku or Drochaid a’ Chaolais Chumhaing was build in the 1980s to offer better connections to replace an ferry service across Loch a’ Chàirn Bhàin which struggled to offer a reliable service due to the weather. HES said the structure was one of Scotland’s most visually striking and technically innovative modern concrete bridges.  Built between 1981 and 1984, the quality of the bridge’s design and its method of construction have been recognised through a number of prestigious awards, including the Scottish Award for Civil Engineering Construction and the Concrete Society Award.  The decision to list the bridge follows on from a consultation launched by HES and the Highland Council, where members of the public were invited to express their views on the Bridge being awarded listed status.  Elizabeth McCrone, Head of Designations at HES, said: “Drochaid a’ Chaolais Chumhaing / Kylesku Bridge is one of Scotland’s most architecturally distinguished bridges of the second half of the twentieth century, and is among the most outstanding of its type in the country. As well as its architectural significance, the bridge is also an emotive and poignant reminder of the modernisation such civil engineering projects brought to remote areas of the Highlands, and the subsequent impact they had on traditional ways of life.  Today, the significance of Drochaid a’ Chaolais Chumhaing / Kylesku Bridge is reflected in its growing status as tourist attraction along the North Coast 500 route, and we’re delighted to recognise its national importance with Category A status.”  Councillor Alister Mackinnon, Chair of The Highland Council’s Gaelic Strategy and Implementation Group, congratulated HES for awarding the bridge category A status, and also in recognising the importance of Gaelic in this part of Sutherland.  He said: “Historically most of the residents in the local area were Gaelic speakers, and the area is culturally rich in Gaelic song and stories. It is therefore appropriate that this bridge is the first in the Highland area to be renamed in Gaelic, the indigenous language of the Highlands.”

The New BBC Scotland TV Channel: What is It?

The new BBC Scotland TV channel will go on air for the first time on Sunday night.  The new channel will broadcast on all platforms from 19:00 until midnight seven days a week. Director general Tony Hall said he wanted the channel to reflect modern Scotland.  He said: "It's a channel that will be bold, creative and ambitious, with a brand-new Scotland-edited international news programme at its heart."  The new channel will be available in High Definition (HD) via Freeview/YouView, Sky, Freesat and Virgin Media.  It will also be available in standard definition (SD) on Freeview in position 9, although re-tuning will be required.  For Freeview customers in Scotland only, BBC Four SD will move down the EPG to position 82.  Sky and Freesat viewers without an HD-capable receiver will automatically receive BBC Scotland in SD instead.  The new channel will launch at 19:00 on Sunday with a specially-commissioned film featuring a musical collaboration between Scottish band Chvrches and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.  Chvrches' singer Lauren Mayberry will be the first voice to be heard on the channel as the band perform their hit song Miracle in a new orchestral arrangement. It will be accompanied by a 2 minute and 40 second film that features images of Scottish people, places and landscapes.  The first programme will be a special one-off entertainment show, presented by Iain Stirling, the Scottish comedian best known for his Love Island voiceover. Stirling hosts "A Night At The Theatre", featuring chart stars Lewis Capaldi and Nina Nesbitt, as well as comedians Elaine C Smith and Larry Dean. Viewers will also see "Getting Hitched Asian Style", a series that goes behind the scenes with Scotland's biggest Asian wedding planners and "The People's News" in which Scots speak their minds on the events of the week.  At 21:00 on launch night, the channel will show the first episode of the final series of popular sitcom Still Game.  All six episodes of Jack and Victor's ninth series will debut on the new channel before going on to BBC One across the UK later in the year.  The launch night also features a one-off return for cult sketch show Burnistoun as it takes a sideways looks at the world of television.  The TV premiere of the Bafta Scotland-winning film Nae Pasaran, which tells how Scottish workers stood against the Chilean dictator General Pinochet and his regime, will end the first night of the new channel. The new channel will feature hundreds of hours of newly-commissioned shows, including a four-part drama entitled Guilt.  The show is set in Edinburgh and stars Line of Duty actor Mark Bonnar.  He joins Game of Thrones actor Jamie Sives as two brothers who accidentally run over and kill an old man while driving home from a wedding.  Emeli Sandé's Street Symphony will follow the singer-songwriter as she travels across Scotland and selects five buskers to put on a concert with an entire orchestra.  The channel will also show a raft of new documentaries such as the three-part series Yes/No - Inside The Indyref, which looks at the opposing campaigns during the tumultuous 2014 vote.  In Children of the Devolution, Scottish journalist Allan Little meets families across Scotland spanning several generations to look at how their lives have been shaped by the creation of the Scottish Parliament.  Also in the channel's documentary offering is Inside Central Station, a six-part series about the people behind the busiest railway station in Scotland, and The Children's Hospital- an eight-part series on the work of staff inside the Royal Aberdeen Children's Hospital. Other new dramas have also been commissioned including The Grey Area, which tells the story of three young men struggling to overcome gang violence and drugs in Edinburgh. The show was largely cast through addiction recovery groups in the city.  A nightly news hour The Nine and Question Time-style series called Debate Night head up the current affairs offering. The flagship news programme - The Nine - will report regional, national and international news from a Scottish perspective.  Weekend coverage will be a 15-minute bulletin on Saturday evenings at 19:00 followed by a 45-minute review programme presented by Fiona Stalker and Nick Sheridan.  On Sundays, the 15-minute 19:00 bulletin will be presented by Lucy Whyte.
On Wednesdays, there will be a 15-minute entertainment news programme The Edit, hosted by Amy Irons and David Farrell.  Debate Night, presented by Stephen Jardine, will allow a studio audience to put questions to people in power in Scotland.  The BBC's director-general Tony Hall announced in February 2017 that Scotland would get its own TV channel.  In June last year, TV regulator Ofcom gave the go-ahead for the channel, which will have an initial budget of £32m. The plan is to air 50% original content and 50% repeats.

Thurso's Caithness Horizons to Close Due to Funding Issues
Caithness Horizons in Thurso will be closed down later on Thursday because of financial difficulties.  The operators of the museum and art gallery said increasing running costs and reduced income had made the running of the site "unsustainable".  Opened in 2008, its collection includes Pictish stones and a control room from the Dounreay nuclear power complex.  The museum's management said they were sad to announce the decision to shut the site.  In a statement, management thanked everyone who had supported the museum over the last 11 years.  The statement went on: "This is a particularly difficult announcement for our remaining staff and we want to pay tribute to everyone who has gone above and beyond to try and make it a success, whether staff or volunteer, past or present.  Over the years, the Caithness Horizons team has worked hard to ensure that our local culture and history has been shared."  Highland Council owns the museum's former town hall premises.  A spokeswoman for the local authority said: "The council is in discussion with Caithness Horizons."

Diggers Remove 500 Tonnes of Contaminated Material From Fife Beaches

About 500 tonnes of contaminated material is being removed from two Fife beaches following an oil-based spill.  Efforts continue to pinpoint the source of the pollution on beaches in the villages of Limekilns and Charlestown.  Residents reported a strong smell of oil on Monday, and pockets of pollution were seen on the shoreline near the villages.  The affected beaches and car park will remain closed to the public over the weekend, and until further notice.  On Tuesday, Forth Ports, which owns the nearby port of Rosyth, said the spill appeared to be a light refined diesel which came from a drain on land.  The most contaminated areas are being cleaned first in the round-the-clock clean-up operation.  This is to ensure public safety and to protect the environment.  The Fife Costal Path is being diverted, at the affected area, along adjacent streets and walkers can pick up the main path again once beyond the affected area.  Fife Council said there had been minimum impact on birds and wildlife.  The clear up and investigation involves officials from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa), NHS Fife, Marine Scotland, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and their Specialist Contractor Briggs Marine.

Wanted: Summer Staff for the ‘Remotest Restaurant’ in Highlands
It is accessible only by train - or a 20 mile hike through the hills.  Now, a chance has arisen to enjoy a unique experience this summer with a job at Corrour Station in the Highlands. The station, which was made famous for many by its appearance in the Trainspotting films, is looking for two staff to help run the Station House Restaurant from the end of March to November.  Manager Shona Griffiths is looking for couples, friends or individuals who don’t mind hard work and can handle living in the remote spot.  People from all over the world arrive at Corrour Station, which sits on the Crianlaich-Fort William-Mallaig branch of the West Highland Line, to descend on the surrounding hills.  Ms Griffiths said: “The summers at Corrour are just brilliant. I have loved it every year I have been here. You just get so many interesting people coming through and heading up in to the hills.  It is a completely unique experience at Corrour and you are not going to find anything else like it. It is a great way to work hard, save money and enjoy the outdoors in Scotland.”  Eight trains a day go back and forth through the station with each arrival delivering a fresh wave of customers to the restaurant.  In summer, up to 50 to 60 passengers can leave the train at one time with the arrivals signalling a rush on at the restaurant.  “We all wait looking out the window for the train arriving. Then everything gets very busy at once,” Ms Griffiths added.  Ms Griffiths said customer satisfaction was “through the roof” at the restaurant and that the nice atmosphere added to the pleasure of working there.  She added: “Everyone is so delighted that we are there.”  The restaurant is open from 8.30am to around the time when the last train departs at 9.20pm.  Ms Griffiths added: “It is long hours, you do get a break in the afternoon so we need people who can deal with that - and the remoteness.”  She said ‘city folk’ had sometimes found it hard to adjust to the different pace at Corrour.  “It is perfect for someone who loves the outdoors,” she added.  Food and board are included with the job with the five restaurant staff each given an en-suite bedroom at the station.  Corrour Estates described Station House as the UK’s ‘remotest restaurants with rooms’.

Takeda Ties Up with Dundee Uni to Combat Alzheimer’s
A drug discovery group at the University of Dundee is teaming up with a Japanese pharmaceutical giant to develop potential treatments for diseases including Alzheimer’s. The university’s Drug Discovery Unit has announced a partnership with Takeda, Japan’s largest pharmaceutical company, which it hopes will lead to the clinical development of a tau pathology treatment based on a recent discovery.  Tau pathology is a condition found in the brains of sufferers of more than 20 different forms of neurodegenerative disease, the most common of which is Alzheimer’s.  It is increasingly thought to be an important driver of disease progression, with recent studies demonstrating that tau pathology can spread from diseased to healthy cells in a “seeding” process.  The collaboration, which also involves academic experts from research institutes in Cambridge, will focus on molecules discovery by university researchers which help to combat seeding.  The University of Dundee’s Drug Discovery Unit, in conjunction with Will McEwan from the University of Cambridge and Leo James at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, has identified drug-like molecules that prevent the “seeded misfolding” of tau. The tie-up with Takeda aims to accelerate the progression of these molecules towards clinical development, with the potential to become therapies in diseases like Alzheimer’s where tau is implicated.  Alzheimer’s is estimated to affect 50 million people worldwide, with the number of sufferers expected to increase dramatically in the coming decades, yet there are currently no disease-modifying treatments.  David Gray, head of innovative targets at the Drug Discovery Unit, said: “Our mission is to bridge the gap between innovative life science research and drug development in areas of unmet clinical need, and Alzheimer’s disease is at the top of the list.  With support from Medical Research Council we are able to work with leading investigators such as Dr Will McEwan in Cambridge and Dr Leo James at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology to deliver programmes that are ready for industry to take forward.  Teaming up with Takeda means we’ll get further, faster – bringing a potential treatment for this debilitating condition one step closer.”