Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 501

Issue # 501                                               Week ending Saturday 27th April 2019

Becoming President of A Country is Simple Because It’s Merely Comedy Becoming Reality by
Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

Now, my friends, it is time for the news from the Ukraine. Hold on, why is it The Ukraine and not just Ukraine? There are a few countries that demand the honour of having the definite article stuck in front of them. Oops, I shouldn’t have opened my gob because I wish I could remember them now. Oh wait, how about the Netherlands, the Philippines and, er, the Congo? Although I am sure I read somewhere that the Netherlands have no right to a ‘the’ as the country is officially Kingdom of the Netherlands. No wait, don’t turn the page and go to the P&J crossword. This is getting really interesting.

Before it got independence, it was the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. Ukraine has no need for ‘the’ now, but you know how it is. Old habits die hard. Which is probably why everyone thought that it was a fantastic idea to have a cheeky comedian who plays the president on the telly to actually stand in the election. Ho ho, what a hoot. Just one problem - he got elected. Now Volodymyr Zelensky is the new president after sitting premier Petro Poroshenko conceded and ran away to ponder if the world had gone completely mad. Yes, it has, Petro. It’s not just you.

Maybe what toppled him was letting Ukraine pull out of Eurovision. They have done very well in Eurovision for 40 years. However, a row over political comments being made by performers before the election has resulted in chaos and now no representative from that country will go to Israel on May 19 to take part or even see Madonna be the star attraction showing these young whippersnappers how it should be done. You should have put your foot down and ordered them to sing. Ukraine - nil points.

Imagine a comic becoming president anywhere else. Comedian Lewis Macleod, of Breaking The News and heard most afternoons on Steve Wright’s show on Radio Two doing a realistic Jeremy Vine, also does Donald Trump. Imagine if he stood for president. Lewis is not American but he can be whoever you want him to be. Maybe that’s why Mr Trump is coming back to the UK. We could swop him for Lewis Macleod. Er, no. Scrub that. All Lewis Macleod has to do is take the mickey out of Zelensky and he could end up as the next president of Ukraine himself.  All you have to do these days is appear on a TV show - like The Apprentice USA. Scary.

I am also worried about this scary infection behind my ear. My usual antiseptic cream was not working, probably because I bought that tube when Tony Blair was residing in London SW1, I ran into the chemist and there on the shelf was a familiar bottle. TCP. We should be grateful they called it TCP because it’s short for trichlorophenylmethyliodosalicyl. You try haviung a sore throat, hobbling to Boots and asking for that. We were always told TCP stood for The Cat’s Perspiration, or some word like that. It smells like it. Phew, I remember that aroma. Still, you live and learn.

My mother used it for everything from dabbing on scratches, bites, cleaning out our ears, gargling it for a sore throat and cleaning the sink. The thing was, it stank the house out. And, yes, it still does. Someone was on that show I mentioned, Breaking The News, and she said she knew a man who always smelled of broccoli. Now there’s someone in Stornoway who always smells of TCP. That’s me. It is helping my lug though.

Great politicians and rulers often have their lives re-enacted on the silver screen. The main criteria for producers is whether they can find someone who can do a half-decent impression of them. Think of Timothy West as Churchill or even Mel Gibson as William Wallace. Actually ... Too few have worked well of late so the search is on to find someone with the likeness, calm bearing and dance moves of Theresa May. No, not Helen Mirren or Judi Dench. They’re in everything. Julie Walters could wibble-wobble to Abba so she’s a possibility and dear, sweet Maggie Smith, at 84, may be too interesting.

Then again, why not someone completely different with a mischievous buzz about them. I am thinking of Frances de la Tour. Remember her? I can just see Miss Jones from Rising Damp, cigarette in a long holder, telling Boris Johnson, who could just play himself, that he must stop speaking out of turn or she will make him Foreign Secretary again.

In real life though, if comedians and panel show hosts can make it, what chance would Boris have of becoming PM? He is regularly interviewed on TV. He himself said: “My chances of becoming prime minister are only slightly better than being decapitated by a frisbee, blinded by a champagne cork, locked in a fridge or being reincarnated as an olive.” Mrs May should worry. Heck, if his chances are that good, we should go back to our homes and prepare for Boris.

Asos Billionaire Loses Three Children in Sri Lanka Attacks
Three of the four children of Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen died in the Sri Lanka bombing attacks, a spokesman has confirmed.  The family were visiting the country over the Easter holiday. The names of the children have not been made public.  Mr Holch Povlsen owns the international clothing chain Bestseller.  He is also the biggest single shareholder in clothing giant Asos and is the UK's largest private landowner.  "Unfortunately, we can confirm the reports," a Bestseller spokesman said in an email. "We ask you to respect the privacy of the family and we therefore have no further comments."  Mr Holch Povlsen has a large property portfolio in Scotland, where he owns about a dozen estates including Aldourie Castle. He bought them through his company Wildland, which describes itself as a "landscape-scale" conservation project.  "It is a project that we know cannot be realised in our lifetime, which will bear fruit not just for our own children, but also for the generations of visitors who, like us, hold a deep affection the Scottish Highlands," Mr Holch Povlsen and his wife Anne say on the website.  "We wish to restore our parts of the Highlands to their former magnificent natural state and repair the harm that man has inflicted on them."

Boy 'Permanently Scarred' in Kelvingrove Park Attack in Glasgow
A teenage boy has been left "permanently scarred" after being attacked in Glasgow's Kelvingrove Park.  The incident was one of a number at the park on Friday as hundreds flocked to the area to enjoy the good weather.  The 16-year-old boy was with a girl, also 16, near the entrance to Kelvin Way at 20:00 when they were approached by a group of teenagers.  One of the group started attacking the pair and the boy sustained a number of injuries to his face.  He was treated at the city's Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. Police have appealed for information about a boy on a bike, who was involved in the exchange. He is described as being about 15 years old, about 5ft 5in tall, with a slim build and short, shaved blonde hair.  He was wearing shorts and t-shirt and was riding a black BMX bike. Officers are also looking to identify the other members of the group who were with him. Det Con Stephen Palmer said: "This attack has left a teenager with a serious injury, which will leave him permanently scarred. Violence will not be tolerated in our communities and it is vital that we find the person responsible for this.  At this time we do not know exactly why this altercation took place and we are appealing for anyone who knows anything about it to get in touch with police.  There is a playpark near to where this incident took place which people would have been using at the time. Somebody must have seen something." Four people were arrested and two other teenagers taken to hospital for cuts and concussion after disorder broke out at the park on Friday afternoon.  Police said four teenagers, including a 17-year-old boy, a boy and girl aged 15, and a 14-year-old boy, were all arrested and charged with public order offences.  The 17-year-old boy was also charged with assault.

Boot-iful Gesture From Local Arnold Clark Workers

Car company Arnold Clark made a pit-stop to a Greenock nursery to deliver a boot-full of Easter eggs.  Staff from the Pottery Street Ford branch put a smile on the faces of children at neighbouring Enchanted Forest with the generous donation.  Some of the boys and girls - dressed as superheroes for a fundraiser in aid of the Cash for Kids charity - received the sweet treats from workers Stuart Hunter, Andrew McFeeley, Sheonaid Calderwood and Alex Burnside. Stuart, Greenock Ford's service manager, said: "Arnold Clark is big on supporting the local community and, as a branch, wondered what we could do for something close by and decided, because it's Easter, to donate some eggs to the local nursery. "We do lots of different things throughout the year but this is the first time we've given eggs to the nursery."

Think Tank Calls for House of Lords to Be Abolished After Brexit
A conservative think tank has called for the House of Lords to be abolished after Brexit, and be replaced by a new Senate representing the different parts of the UK.  Bright Blue Scotland published its report – Our still United Kingdom – putting forward new constitutional arrangements for the country following its EU departure.  The paper, authored by MSP Murdo Fraser, argues that current arrangements are inadequate and support for independence in different parts of the UK will increase if further reforms are not introduced.  Mr Fraser said: “With nationalists in different parts of the United Kingdom seeking to use Brexit uncertainty for their own political ends, it is important that unionists have a coherent response.  Introducing a UK-wide Senate delivers the long-awaited and overdue reform of the House of Lords, giving a better balance to the UK constitution and protecting the interests of the nations and regions furthest from London.  A new quasi-federal settlement can mitigate concerns that exist in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and also are growing in many parts of England, about an over-centralised state where, despite asymmetric devolution over a period of two decades, there is still pressure for more power to be passed down from the centre.”  The report argues the House of Lords should be abolished and replaced with a new Senate, or Upper House, representing different parts of the UK.  This should be predominantly – if not entirely – elected, fulfilling the role both of a revising chamber and as a counterweight to the Commons.  It calls for a new Statute or Charter of Union, which would declare the creation of a quasi-federal state and provide legislation for the UK’s intergovernmental work.  A new UK Council of Ministers should replace the existing Joint Ministerial Committee system, it says, with a need for England to have representatives elected by an English Grand Committee.  Ryan Shorthouse, director of Bright Blue, said: “Our departure from the EU provides the impetus to introduce important governmental and constitutional reforms to create a ‘quasi-federal’ future for the four nations of the union. Notwithstanding the difficulties and divisions Brexit has created, it does offer an opportunity for overdue democratisation and modernisation of key institutions of the union.”

The Political Parties Were Fools to Give Farage the Political Space
by Iain Macwhirter
Politicians and journalists, exhausted by months of Brexit wrangling, took what they thought was a well-earned break last week. But Brexit never sleeps. Nigel Farage saw his opportunity and stole a march on all of them with a well-timed and professional launch of his new Brexit Party. The BP has now stormed into the lead in the opinion polls, crushing Mr Farage's former comrades in rival Ukip, and turning the rest of the parties into also rans.  The political parties were fools to give him the political space. Did all those angry Remainer voices on Twitter seriously expect the BBC to ignore the launch of the Brexit Party? It would have been a dereliction of journalistic duty. The Easter break was the Remainers' opportunity and they should have taken it, not left the field clear for their deadly enemy. They could have got together and challenged Farage by launching their own united Remain front, perhaps as the Peoples Vote coalition.  It can be done. The pro-European parties in Poland have formed a European Coalition against the nationalist governing party. They have one electoral list in the European Elections in May, which means that all votes for Remain will register where it matters: in seats. The European Elections are held on a strict form of proportional representation using the d'Hondt method, which tends to work against small parties.  The Tiggers wasted time fiddling with their name. It is no longer The Independent Group but Change UK, which sounds more like a fast fashion website. The Liberal Democrats did their own thing as usual, as did the Green Party. Neither of them appear prepared to sacrifice their identity, even in the cause of opposing Brexit. There is every possibility, on the current polling, that none of the Remain parties will get a seat, except the Scottish National Party, which at least has a solid excuse for not leading a united front.  In Scotland, there is no doubt about the name of the game. Opponents of Brexit simply have to vote for the SNP, which will dominate the European Elections on 23rd May – assuming of course that they are held. But even here, the Brexit Party could still win a seat, now that it has had such a successful launch. There were a million Leave voters in Scotland in 2016. Most of them are utterly fed up with the Tories and regard Ukip as toxic. They don't like Nigel Farage much either, but many feel a sense of betrayal at the failure of the UK government to deliver Brexit and will be minded, as the Leave2 slogan puts it, to “tell them again”.

The Scottish Labour leader, Richard Leonard, presumably hoping to sneak onto the SNP's pro-EU turf, has urged voters to back Labour on the grounds that it is “a movement for radical and real change in the EU”. He appears not to know the policy of his own party, which is of course to leave the European Union, end freedom of movement and collaborate with the Conservative Government to deliver Brexit. Does he ever speak to Jeremy Corbyn? I can understand Labour's dilemma given the structure of its core vote in England, but wilfully misleading the electorate is not acceptable.  The veteran former Labour deputy leader, Margaret Beckett has called on her party to become, effectively, the referendum party, and claims that it would sweep the board if it committed to a Peoples Vote. It is possible that it could do precisely that, given the abject failure of the pro-Remain parties. Polls suggest that a clear majority of voters now support Remain, and Labour could turn the Euros into a de facto referendum, at least in England.  However, what Jeremy Corbyn fears is that winning the European Elections might lose him the general election. He is preoccupied with those 30-40 pro Leave-voting marginal seats that Labour has to win to form the next government. The Labour leader has been doing his best to ride two horses on Brexit: appealing to both Remain urbanites in the south and provincial Leavers in the north.  As for the Tories, they are braced for the most withering electoral rebuff in modern history. Boris Johnson says he won't even bother campaigning, the better to disown the result. Theresa May has managed to antagonise everyone: Leavers, Remainers, hard brexiteers, soft brexiteers, and the legions of the undecided. The conduct of the negotiations on Brexit has left her looking like a lost leader who no longer has the respect of her party, or her counter-parties in Brussels.  Britain, under the Prime Minister's watch, has become a laughing stock across the world. A one-time world power which, to use a contemporary US idiom, no longer knows its ass from a hole in the ground. A country which declared its intention to leave the biggest and wealthiest trading block on the planet, made vainglorious declarations about liberation from the “chains” of the EU, and yet has had to beg Brussels twice for an extension to its departure date. You can't hold us against our will, she says, but please don't let us go.  Remainers seem to be hoping that the latest delay of Article 50 until October has effectively killed Brexit off. Some think Brussels will just extend and extend until we end up in a permanent state of un-leaving. This is far from certain. Britain remains in the legal departure lounge, and Europe is not going to allow us to build a permanent residence there. If Nigel Farage dominates the European elections, as seems likely, it will encourage those countries amongst the 27 who want Britain to be given a hard exit.

Remainers keep insisting that Nigel Farage has “no plan”, no policies, and should be given a rough ride from the BBC for being a one-issue party. But he doesn't need a plan. The Brexit Party is turning the European elections into precisely the referendum on Brexit that Remainers have been crying out for. He has a razor sharp focus on the only issue that matters, while the Remain parties dither.  There is of course the possibility that Tory MPs will save the day by voting for Theresa May's Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, when she brings it back to parliament sometime next month. She hopes the diehards in the European Research Group will realise that the alternative is Jeremy Corbyn as PM. But the Brexit blood pact with the Democratic Unionist Party is holding. I'm not at all sure Tory “spartans” are ready to save Theresa May by voting for a Withdrawal deal which they believe is worse than remaining in the European Union.  Is the runaway success of the Brexit Party going to make them any more likely to abandon their principles? Well, it wouldn't be the first time that MPs have decided that discretion is the better part of valour, and voted to save their backsides. But what many Tories are beginning to realise is that the Conservative Party is not going to recover from this crisis any time soon. The campaign to decide who inherits the wreckage has already started, and the word is that Boris Johnson is the one most likely to succeed.

Major Wildfire Threatens Moray Wind Farm

More than 50 firefighters are tackling a major wildfire in Moray which is threatening a wind farm.  The alarm was raised just before 15:00 when flames were spotted near Paul's Hill wind farm at Knockando, south west of Elgin.  The blaze was burning on three fronts stretching for over three miles in length.  The Scottish Fire and Rescue service sent 17 units at the scene - including four pumps.  The Paul's Hill wind farm, consisting of 28 turbines, is run by Fred Olsen Renewables.   Firefighters are also tackling a separate wildfire affecting about 75 acres of land in Lochaber.  It broke out south of Kinlochleven on Sunday and was still burning on Monday evening.  The flames were being fanned by windy conditions, and four pumps were sent to the scene.

Easter Monday Temperature is New Scottish Record

Scotland has enjoyed its hottest Easter Monday on record with a top temperature of 24.2C (75.5F) in Kinlochewe in Wester Ross.  The figure beat the previous high of 21.4C (70.5F) from 2014.  It came 24 hours after a peak of 23.4C in Edinburgh broke Scotland's Easter Sunday record.  This year, Easter fell on the latest date since 2011, meaning that warm weather is far more likely than those years when Easter is marked in March.  The second highest temperature recorded in Scotland was 23.7C (74.6F) in Achnagart in the Highlands, followed by 23.5C (74.3F) in Kinloss in Moray.  Temperatures are likely to fall back to the seasonal average later in the week.  The Monday sunshine brought huge crowds to beaches and parks around the country.  That caused some disruption on the roads, with long tailbacks around parts of Loch Lomond.  Traffic was also heavy around Largs and other Ayrshire seaside towns. In the east there were reports of big delays near the Fife coast.  Matt Row, duty forecaster at the Met Office in Aberdeen, said much of Scotland had been warmer than the Mediterranean, which was "quite remarkable".  He added: "We've had wall-wall-wall sunshine, from Shetland all the way down to Galloway.  It will be another warm day in the west of Scotland on Tuesday, with temperatures up to 22C. But it will be cooler in the east and we will see that cooler weather spreading across the whole of Scotland during the rest o the week. "And, indeed, there will be some welcome rain for many of us by Thursday and Friday."

Open University Marks 50th Anniversary

The Open University (OU) is marking 50 years since it was established, having welcomed more than 200,000 students from Scotland.  In 1969 the institution was granted its Royal Charter as a means to provide access to higher education without the need for entrance qualifications.  Today the university, founded by Lochgelly’s Jennie Lee, has 16,500 students from across Scotland.  Susan Stewart, director of the OU in Scotland, said: “The OU is for all, all of the time – not some, some of the time. There’s no such thing as a typical OU student, but what they all have in common is lots going on in their lives.  The OU gives students the flexibility they need to study at a time and place that suits them, developing the skills they need not just to adapt but thrive in an economy increasingly driven by technological change.  That has been the OU’s greatest strength for 50 years and will continue to be for the next 50.”  OU students in Scotland have an average new undergraduate age of 27, while the eldest is 92.  Almost two-thirds receive the Scottish Government’s Part-Time Fee Grant, which waives fees for students earning under £25,000.  This is despite the fact that 74% of OU students in Scotland study alongside full-time or part-time work. Carol Hunter, from Dunfermline, who is studying Social Sciences with the OU, said: “I went to a traditional university straight after school and it didn’t work out for me.  Later, I went to college, where I discovered it was possible to transfer my college study to the OU.  Flexible learning with the OU provides a balance between my studies and personal life: I can learn, work full-time and be there for my three young children. I don’t think I could do that anywhere else.”

UK Westminster Government 'Will Not Grant Indyref2 Consent'

Theresa May's deputy has said the Scottish Parliament will not be given the power to hold an independence referendum by 2021.  Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington said there was "no evidence" of a surge in support for another vote.  And he said the referendum in 2014 had settled matters for a generation.  Nicola Sturgeon said on Wednesday she wants a referendum before the next Scottish Parliament election in 2021 if the UK leaves the EU. But the first minister also indicated that Westminster's approval was needed to put the legal status of any vote "beyond doubt". She has not yet made a fresh request to the UK Westminster government for this to happen, but told BBC Scotland that Mr Lidington was a member of a government that is "clinging to power by its fingertips" and has "zero authority or credibility".  Ms Sturgeon added: "I'm not going to spend too much time bothering about the diktats of a government that I expect will be out of office before too long."  And she said the UK Westminster government should have to answer "why they think it is acceptable to block a democratic vote that has a clear mandate in the Scottish Parliament and with the Scottish people".  Downing Street has repeatedly said it does not believe a second referendum should be held - and made clear after Ms Sturgeon's statement on Wednesday that its position has not changed.  When asked by BBC Scotland whether this meant the UK Westminster government was ruling out granting a Section 30 order - which formed the legal basis for the last referendum - before 2021, Mr Lidington replied: "Yes. We don't see the case for that. This was supposed to be settled for a generation in 2014 and we should stick to that."  He added that there was "no evidence since then that the appetite of the Scottish people to go through a referendum once again has surged up".  Mr Lidington, who was in Glasgow for a major cybersecurity conference, also said: "What I pick up whenever I come to Scotland is people saying we want our schools to improve, we want the problems in the hospitals sorted out, we want more jobs, higher living standards and start to get more business investment.  The UK Westminster government wants to work with the Scottish government on those things".  The first minister hopes a "framework Bill" - Scottish Parliament legislation setting the rules for any future referendum - will be in place by the end of this year.  In her long-awaited statement to MSPs on Wednesday afternoon, she said: "We do not need a transfer of power such as a Section 30 order to pass such a framework Bill, though we would need it to put beyond doubt or challenge our ability to apply the bill to an independence referendum."  The first minister also predicted: "If we are successful in further growing the support and the demand for independence, then no UK Westminster government will be able to stop the will of the people or stop that will being expressed."  She announced she wants cross-party talks with opposition leaders about Holyrood's powers, while a Citizens' Assembly will be set up to examine wider questions on Scotland's future.  Ms Sturgeon is due to address the SNP conference in Edinburgh on Sunday, and has been facing calls from some within her party and the wider independence movement for a referendum to be held sooner rather than later - with some also questioning whether a Section 30 order is needed before a referendum is held.  Writing in the Scotsman newspaper after Ms Sturgeon's announcement, SNP veteran Kenny MacAskill - the former justice secretary - claimed that independence supporters who now expect an immediate referendum are "delusional".  He also accused the SNP of "fiddling while Rome burns" and argued that Ms Sturgeon's "heavily caveated" statement "confirmed what many have long thought, which is that she's not planning to try for independence before 2021".  However, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said; Ms Sturgeon was trying to keep the country's options open in the face of a Westminster government that does "not give a damn for the people of Scotland".  He also insisted the SNP leader was "fulfilling the mandate that if Scotland was taken out of the EU against Scotland's will that we would have a right to have a referendum".

Dounreay's Shaft to Be Emptied and Demolished

Six contracts involving almost 30 companies and potentially worth up to £400m have been announced as part of the decommissioning of Dounreay.The site of Britain's former centre of nuclear fast reactor research and development, near Thurso, is being demolished and cleaned up.   The new contracts include dealing with the 1950s-built shaft, which plunges 65.4m (214.5ft) below ground. Radioactive waste was disposed there from 1959 until the late 1970s.  An explosion in the shaft ended the practice in 1977.  Colourful myths surround the site, including claims that a former worker dropped his mother-in-law's ashes inside to comply with her wish to be scattered somewhere unusual.  An unwanted car was also said to have been disposed of at the structure, which is 4.6m (15ft) wide in places.  The newly announced contracts, which are initially for up to four years and could be extended for an additional three years, also cover the demolition of laboratories, waste pits and the silo.  The silo is described as being like a swimming pool with a concrete roof. It was also used for the disposing of radioactive waste.  Companies working on the contracts will retrieve waste from the different sites, repackage the waste for consignment at modern waste facilities.  Stephen Adamson, head of commercial services at Dounreay, said: "This agreement will deliver real and visible signs of progress towards achieving our mission.  It is about forming long-term partnerships so that the successful companies can work alongside our own Dounreay staff, ensuring a first-class team combining the best site skills and experience with the wider industry knowledge and innovation that the supply chain can offer."  The projects are being delivered by DSRL on behalf of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.  The organisations, each involving a number of companies, appointed to the decommissioning services framework contracts are AECOM E&C UK and Dounreay Decommissioning Framework Alliance.  Also the Dounreay Wood Alliance, Jacobs UK, Nuclear Decommissioning Ltd and Nuvia.

Two Rescued Near Ben Nevis As Mountain Rescue Team Called Out to Back-to-back Incidents

There was no rest for Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team as members were called out to back-to-back incidents to assist two casualties suffering injuries around Ben Nevis.  The search and rescue team had only just left for home on Wednesday following the conclusion of one incident near Steall Falls at the base of Ben Nevis when they were immediately called again to scale part of the famed mountain to assist another injured casualty.  Coastguard search and rescue helicopter, Rescue 951, assisted in transporting one of the casualties.  Team leader John Stevenson said: “Initially we were called to Steall Falls where a man had fallen on a large boulder. We weren’t sure if they were in the gorge or in the falls so we mobilised team members and when we got there he was actually at the bottom of the waterfall. We were told he was in the water but his mates had managed to get him out. He had badly damaged his right hip so we packaged him up. We had already called for a helicopter so we handed him over to them where he was taken onto the Belford in Fort William.  Overall it was really straightforward.”  He continued: “Just as I was about the leave the station, the other guys had gone home; a call came in for a second job.  A lady had slipped on the Ben track and damaged her ankle. The group she was with had strapped her up and tried to get her down the hill but she was unable to load bear and that’s when we were called.  She was around the 1000ft mark so we stretchered her down to a waiting ambulance and she too was taken onto the Belford Hospital.  Our team worked really well but these are some of the jobs our teams expect.”  The condition of both casualties was unknown yesterday.

University of Glasgow to Build Hi-tech Govan Campus

The University of Glasgow has unveiled plans to build a new high-tech campus in Govan on the banks of the Clyde.  It is hoped the site, once synonymous with shipbuilding, could now become a world-renowned centre for nanotechnology and precision medicine.  The university has put up £28m for the project and a further £27.5m will come from the Glasgow City region deal.  The university is currently bidding for a further £63m in funding. It is hoped work can begin within two years.  The site for the new campus is currently a disused car park at the southern end of the Clyde tunnel, near the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH).  The proposed centre will be comprised of two main parts - an Enabling Technologies Innovation Centre which will focus on industries like nanofabrication and photonics and a Precision Medicine Living Lab, which will flow into the existing innovation zone at the QEUH.  The new site will allow space for academics to work alongside industry partners.  University of Glasgow principal Prof Sir Anton Muscatelli said the new innovation campus could create "Scotland's Silicon Valley on the Clyde".  He said it could be a key step in ensuring the city "retakes its place at the forefront of international innovation and industrial excellence".  Sir Anton said: "I have no doubt that the innovation agenda and industries like quantum technology, nanofabrication and precision medicine can be to the 21st century Glasgow economy, what shipbuilding was in the past."  He said the campus could bring hundreds of high-end jobs to the area.  However, it is hoped it will be part of a wider regeneration of Govan.  Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken said: "It isn't just about those high-tech academic jobs, it's about all the other things that come with it.  We are building homes, there will be new commercial and retail units, all sorts of new opportunities are being created."  The new campus move comes as Glasgow University has outgrown its clean room facilities on Gilmorehill in the west end, where researchers are leading the way in nanotechnology.  Dr Sara Diegoli, strategic projects manager, said: "It is one of the leading nanofabrication centres in Europe.  The clean room is in a Victorian building so we have some constraints when it comes to expansion."  Meanwhile, companies come from all over the world come to collaborate with precision medicine experts in Glasgow but they too need room to grow.  The university already has plans in place for huge expansion on the former Western Infirmary site.

Delays in National Gallery Revamp to Close Part of Princes Street Gardens Till August

A huge swathe of Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens is to remain a building site over the summer after the National Galleries of Scotland admitted a multi-million pound overhaul of its flagship attraction had run into fresh problems.  Bosses have been forced to apologise as they revealed that a new main entrance to the Scottish National Gallery and a major landscaping project in the gardens is running several months behind schedule.  A large part of East Princes Street Gardens, as well as the gallery cafe and restaurant, will have to remain out of bounds as the original 12-week programme, which began in January, is not expected to be completed until the main Edinburgh Festival season in August.  Completion of the full revamp is already running three years later than originally envisaged. The total cost has risen from £15.3 million to £22m since full details of the project were first announced in 2015. Sir John Leighton, director-general of the National Galleries, said it had only become clear that there was a problem in getting the gardens reopen by the spring, as promised in January, “in the last month or so.”  However he insisted the project was not running further over budget and was still due to be completed by early 2021, the revised date announced last autumn ahead of work getting under way.  A new-look for the gardens, which will include sloping terraces and a new zig-zagging path will be revealed in August, when public access will reopen on the Mound precinct.  The National Galleries has also confirmed it will be paying to replace all 52 trees that were controversially removed in the autumn when work on the project got underway. These will be divided between the east and west gardens, as well as Lauriston Castle and Saughton Walled Garden.  The complexity of the engineering work to create the new pathways and re-landscape the park at the same time as an overhaul of the main entrance of the attraction has been blamed for the delays.  Sir John apologised for any inconvenience caused by the delays, but insisted the “transformative” changes would benefit all visitors to both the attraction and the gardens once they were completed by August. He added: “We have programmed the project so that the most complicated and difficult work has come at the beginning, including the work in the gardens.  Once that’s completed we will have hopefully broken the back of the project and from here on in things should get a bit easier.  When you look at what is being done, and what’s been achieved, the team have actually done really well.  It’s taken a little longer than planned, but in the overall scheme of things we’re talking a matter of weeks.”  The schedule of work due to happen in and around the gallery has been programmed to accommodate crowds and attractions during the summer and winter festivals. Although the start of the project was announced in October, work in the gardens could not get underway until mid-January until the Christmas festival markets and other infrastructure had been removed.  The Mound precinct is one of the most popular areas for watching street theatre in the summer and is also home to a pop-up Fringe box office. Sir John added: “We understand there is disruption and inconvenience, but this a complex project in a World Heritage Site, above the main railway line between Edinburgh and Glasgow, below an A-listed building, in the middle of the city centre, where people expected things to function and there all sorts of events on that we are working around.  We are also trying to put 21st century facilities into 19th and 20th century buildings.  Our overall approach has been to try to keep the gallery as open as normal. We could’ve done things differently. But closing it for three years wouldn’t have been good for us or the city.”  A spokeswoman for the National Galleries said: “The creation of the path and the landscaping has been a complex engineering feat which has taken slightly longer than programmed. Our team and contractors have been working very hard to complete the works as close to that as possible.  After the summer the construction works are largely focused on the interior and grounds of the gallery. The public will have access into East Princes Street Gardens and the Mound precinct as normal.”