Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 514

Issue # 514                                          Week ending Saturday 24th  August 2019

Do Not Just Talk About Brexit. Start Getting Ready for the Shortages Now
by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

Some people are all talk. A guy from Point was selling a van the other day. It seemed like a good wagon so I was interested. Especially so as he had put that he wanted £3,000 for it or he would take the nearest offer. So I went all the way to Portvoller to see him. Great van. Good nick and long MOT. I told him, however, that I just didn’t have £3,000. He again said he would take a near offer. I went over and stood right beside him but he still wouldn’t accept my offer of £500. I couldn’t be any nearer. He was all talk.

My mate Donald also talks nonsense. He was on that Ancestry website and now he is convinced that he is descended from French nobility. We laugh at him saying that he is the Count of Monte Cristo but he says that count was actually Italian. He is now obsessed with the idea that he is a modern-day count. His wife tells me that he is also obsessed with online shopping. She says she thinks Donald does all his shopping online just so he can keep clicking on ‘Your Account’.

All the talk about Brexit sickens me too. For all these months, I have been saying it is all hot air and that nothing bad would happen. It would be like the Millennium Bug where we were all being sucked dry by crooks posing as computer analysts who said we needed their expensive services or our computers would melt before our very eyes. I could afford £70 so I had to face the consequences on January 1, 2000. That black day we all dreaded for years beforehand when ... nothing happened.

After midnight I flicked the switch and what happened? Flick all. Maybe Brexit will be the same. I hate to admit it but I think it’s going to be a mess. I’m done arguing against preparing for Brexit. At the weekend, a dossier was leaked which shows what the government is expecting to happen after the scariness at the end of October. No, not Halloween. Brexit. Food rationing. Fuel shortages. lack of medicines.

There is no way I want my family to suffer when the disaster called Brexit becomes our winter’s tale. So I have started stockpiling essential foods and anyone that does not do the same is, in my eyes, gullible and allowing themselves to be misled by politicians who know not what they do. So in the freezer will go the herring fillets. They say it is going to take three months for a resumption of anything close to normal trading so I will need 13 week’s worth of Minch sgadan fillets for the freezer. Salmon and sausages will spend the winter in the Electrolux too.

Those who do not take similar precautions can stay outside on my doorstep while the majority of this country eventually decide that they have been let down by the current political classes and decide who will replace them. I am not normally a harbinger of doom but this has got me rattled. There’s no point being caught out and saying we didn’t know. We are getting warnings all the time and we should start listening to them.

My pile will include tinned tuna, which is imported, and frankfurters, which may or not be from Frankfurt in Germany but are usually imported from Sweden and the USA. Tinned macaroni, made of imported Mediterranean pasta, is not the real thing but we’ll need the carbs. Curry sauce, usually made in the UK from Asian ingredients, can go with anything, even tuna in my experience, and baked beans, which are haricot beans also from the USA, will be vital.

So Donald Trump will be controlling the baked beans reaching the UK after Brexit? We cannot stockpile too many tins of them. We will devour them all. They will be needed for breakfast, lunch and tea. Curry? And beans? Oh heck, I’d better stock up on Andrex too. Two-ply is made in England. That’s a relief, except it’s made from wood that comes mainly from Canadian forests. The stress will be unimaginable. How will we be able to wipe our fevered brows?

Mrs X is all talk as well. That wife of mine says the best way to prepare for Brexit is to think about ways to save money. Her latest way is just ridiculous. Because I am now watching more films than before, I have been going on about getting a bigger telly because I want our living room experience to be as close to the cinema experience as possible. Yes, popcorn and ice creams at the interval just like the Playhouse in Stornoway in the 1970s. She says we can save money on a bigger set by moving the couch closer to our existing TV.

Are you mad? Now she’s accusing me of causing arguments. I am not arguing but just explaining why I am right. Ach, arguing with a woman is like reading an online agreement. In the end, you ignore it all and click “I agree”.

Inveraray Crowned Piping World Champions in Glasgow
A Scottish pipe band has beaten competition from 13 nations to become the world champions.  Inveraray and District Pipe Band were crowned World Pipe Band Champions 2019 in front of thousands of spectators at Glasgow Green.  They saw off their nearest rivals, last year's winners, Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band from Northern Ireland.  St Laurence O'Toole Pipe Band from Dublin came in third place.  The win is Inveraray's second victory at the event in three years.  About 8,000 pipers and drummers, making up 195 bands, took part in the annual spectacle in the centre of Glasgow.  The event attracted more than 30,000 people over two days.  The nations represented in the 2019 line-up included New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Austria, Switzerland, Eire, USA, Belgium, England, Spain, Malaysia, Northern Ireland and Scotland.  The bands were placed in nine different competition grades according to ability and results.  As many as 40% of the pipers and drummers taking part each year are aged 25 and under.  The first ever World Pipe Band Championships were held at Murrayfield in Edinburgh in 1947. The event was first held in Glasgow in 1948 and has been staged in the city continuously since 1986.  Ian Embelton, chief executive of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association, said: "The World Pipe Band Championships is the event all the bands work towards and they have once again excelled. The competition continues to drive the highest standards and everyone who came to watch and listen has enjoyed some brilliant performances. Thanks to the bands, the spectators and to everyone who came."  Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland's director of events, said: "The World Pipe Band Championships is the pinnacle of the piping calendar, welcoming the world's best pipers and drummers to Glasgow to battle it out to be crowned champions of this spectacular event.  Well done to all the bands who took part in this year's competition and congratulations to Inveraray and District Pipe Band on being crowned the 2019 World Band Champions.  EventScotland is delighted to have continued its support of the Worlds in 2019. Together with the Highland Games, Highland Dancing and Scottish food and drink, it is a perfect showcase of our country's heritage and culture."

Programme Revealed for 'Best Ever' Largs Regatta

Scotts Bar and Restaurant at Largs Yacht Haven has announced its full programme of events and entertainment as part of this year’s Largs Regatta Festival.  The venue, operated by Buzzworks Holdings, is once again the headline sponsor for the action-packed weekend of sailing, and Scotts Bar and Restaurant at Largs Yacht Haven is laying on the perfect shore-side accompaniment with live music, delicious food, thirst quenching drinks and entertainment within its 300 capacity marquee and terrace area.  The Largs Regatta Festival, which takes place from Friday 23rd to Sunday 25th August, will not only see over 100 dinghies and keelboats racing across the weekend, but three days of jam-packed activities courtesy of Scotts Largs.  Kenny Blair, Managing Director of Buzzworks Holdings, said: “The Largs Regatta Festival is fast becoming the must-attend event for the region and we are proud to support such a prestigious weekend within the sailing calendar.  With such a fantastic line up of live music, delicious street food and a plethora of drink and tasting events, it’s set to be an unforgettable three days for both Regatta regulars and first timers at this year’s premier sailing event.”   Activities kicks off with legendry local band Crisis marking the start of the weekend with a frenetic set of classic and modern rock, set to wow the crowds and lay down a marker for an action packed three days within the marquee.  On Saturday, alongside live music throughout the day, Scotts will host a modern spirit and cocktail master class from 2pm to 5pm. An expert panel of speakers will be on hand to showcase the delights of Flor de Cana Rum and Wildcat Gin along with an impressive whisky collection through guided tastings, plus an opportunity for guests to sample some of this year’s most popular mixed serves.  For those who prefer drinks of the sparkling variety, the team at Scott Largs will welcome their friends from Moët & Chandon for a sparkling party out on the Scotts terrace. With stunning views of the sailing action below, the Scotts terrace will be complete with DJs, saxophonist, cocktails, and plenty of perfectly-chilled fizz alongside some sumptuous summer nibbles.  The musical entertainment will continue into the night with one of Scotland’s best ABBA tribute bands taking to the stage to perform some of the biggest and best hits from their golden era from 6pm, followed by the much-anticipated return of Goodfellows who wowed the Largs Regatta crowds last year.  Sunday is set to become a haven for beer connoisseurs from 2pm, when guests can sample some of this year’s coolest brews, all whilst enjoying the sailing, sunshine and classic summer anthems performed live on stage by talented musician Jamie Clark.  The weekend concludes with live music from an array of artists including the return of one of Glasgow’s hottest acoustic performers, Kim Wheeler, and one of the country’s finest cover bands – The End of A Century - with their tribute to all things Britpop.

Flow Country Work to Restore Vital Peatland

A group of UK-based and international volunteers have begun work to restore a vital area of peatland to prevent huge amounts of greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere.  Known as the Flow Country, the 494,210-acre (200,000ha) expanse in Caithness and Sutherland was damaged due to non-native trees being planted in the area.  The group's objective now is to remove the trees and block up drains so wetland conditions return.  They hope the peat bog will continue to act as a giant carbon sink soaking up large amounts of carbon dioxide (C02) from the atmosphere.  RSPB warden Claire Foot-Turner said: "Some of the Flow Country in the 1970s and 1980s was planted with non-native conifers... in a drive to plant more forestry. Unfortunately it was planted on really important peatlands and as research has come on, peatlands, if they are in good condition - they can hold more carbon than the entire world's forest."  Project manager Caroline Eccles said the area could play an important role as a carbon store.  What happens is, this is blanket bog, and the peat stores carbon. That's because it's made up of the dead remains of plants that haven't fully rotted away, and plants are made of carbon.  That carbon is sitting in the peat, and if the peat is in good condition, so it has a nice layer of sphagnum on the top..., well it's laying down more carbon, actively storing more carbon. That's really important for climate change because it's taking it out of the atmosphere."  What is the Flow Country?  Bogs in the tundra-like landscape have been growing since the end of the last Ice Age more than 10,000 years ago.  The area's peat is up to 10m (33ft) deep and its soil stores about 100 million tonnes of carbon.  People live and work in the Flow Country and its communities include tiny Forsinard.  Wildlife found in the area include otters, deer and common scoter ducks. In the UK, common scoters breed at only a few locations, including the Flow Country and the lochs and and glens near Inverness.

Brexit: No-deal Dossier Shows Worst-case Scenario - Gove
A leaked cross-government study warning of the impact of a no-deal Brexit outlines a "worst-case scenario", cabinet minister Michael Gove has said.  Details from the dossier warn of food and medicine shortages if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.  Mr Gove, who is responsible for no-deal preparation, said the document was old and Brexit planning had accelerated since Boris Johnson became PM.  But he acknowledged no deal would bring disruption, or "bumps in the road".  The leak comes as Mr Johnson is to meet European leaders later this week.  The prime minister will insist there must be a new Brexit deal when he holds talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron.  According to Operation Yellowhammer, the dossier leaked to a newspaper, the UK could face months of disruption at its ports after a no-deal Brexit.  And plans to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic are unlikely to prove sustainable, it adds.  The dossier says leaving the EU without a deal could lead to:   Fresh food becoming less available and prices rising.  A hard Irish border after plans to avoid checks fail, sparking protests.  Fuel becoming less available and 2,000 jobs being lost if the government sets petrol import tariffs to 0%, potentially causing two oil refineries to close.  UK patients having to wait longer for medicines, including insulin and flu vaccines.  A rise in public disorder and community tensions resulting from a shortage of food and drugs.  Passengers being delayed at EU airports, Eurotunnel and Dover.  Freight disruption at ports lasting up to three months, caused by customs checks, before traffic flow improves to 50-70% of the current rate.  A No 10 source said the dossier had been leaked by a former minister in an attempt to influence discussions with EU leaders. They added that the document "is from when ministers were blocking what needed to be done to get ready to leave and the funds were not available".  Responding to the leak, Mr Gove said some of the concerns about a no-deal Brexit had been "exaggerated".  He said: "It's certainly the case that there will be bumps in the road, some element of disruption in the event of no-deal.  But the document that has appeared was an attempt, in the past, to work out what the very, very worst situation would be so that we could take steps to mitigate that.  And we have taken steps."  Mr Gove also claimed some MPs were "frustrating" the government's chances of securing a new deal with the EU.  He said: "Sadly, there are some in the House of Commons who think they can try to prevent us leaving on October 31st. And as long as they continue to try to make that argument, then that actually gives some heart to some in the European Union that we won't leave on October 31st.  "The sooner that everyone recognises that we will leave on that day, the quicker we can move towards a good deal in everyone's interests."  But a former head of the civil service, Lord Kerslake - who described the document as "credible" - said the dossier "lays bare the scale of the risks we are facing with a no-deal Brexit in almost every area".  These risks are completely insane for this country to be taking and we have to explore every avenue to avoid them"

New Board to Oversee Completion of Ferguson Ferries
The Scottish government has set up a board to deal with the completion of two ferries being built at the now publicly-owned Ferguson shipyard.  It took control of the base in Port Glasgow on Friday after bosses at the yard served notice of intent to put the business into administration.  This would have left 300 jobs at risk.  Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said the new programme review board would try to secure the cheapest possible delivery of the CalMac ferries.  "We have always been clear that we want to complete the vessels, secure jobs and give the yard a future," he said.  "I have formed a programme review board to establish a new delivery programme to ensure the completion of the CMAL [Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd] ferry contracts at the lowest possible cost to the taxpayer.  While work continues at the yard, we are working to put in place a management team which will refocus all efforts on completing this vital government contract."  He added: "We are working closely with staff and the trades unions - as well as suppliers and customers - to achieve the best possible outcome for the yard."  A turnaround director had already been appointed to work to stabilise the business and support the recruitment of an incoming management team, including a chief executive officer.  The Scottish government will buy the yard if no private buyer is found within four weeks.  The yard was owned by industrialist Jim McColl, who could not persuade ministers to pay more than the £97m contract price for the disputed ferries.  The agreement also means work on the CalMac ferries, and other contracts, can continue while efforts to find a commercial buyer get under way.  The Scottish government has set a deadline for a new delivery schedule for the two ferries.

Canna Salmon Farm Unacceptable, Says National Trust for Scotland

The National Trust for Scotland (NTS) has said the threat posed to the marine environment and to tourism by a large fish farm is "unacceptable".  The conservation charity has written to Highland Council to oppose the proposed creation of a salmon farm near the island of Canna. It said it has no confidence in the plans submitted by Norwegian fish farming giant Mowi.  Mowi already has farms off the neighbouring islands of Rum and Muck.  The new fish farm would cover 16,000 square metres (172,000 square feet), making it one of the largest of its kind in the UK.  Conservationists and environmental campaigners have voiced fears over the impact on wildlife and the marine environment.  NTS head of conservation and policy Stuart Brooks said: "Our concern is partly to do with the potential impact this development could have on the seabed, but there are other issues as well.  The potential entanglement of seabirds within the nets and also the conflict that this proposal might bring with regards to seals attracted to fish farms.  These are easy places (for seals) to get a meal and this could lead to conflict and ultimately that can lead to fish farm developers having to kill seals. Our fundamental position here is that we don't think a fish farm of this nature and scale is viable in this location."  Mowi is one of world's largest farmed salmon producer, and the firm has about 40 farms in Scotland.  Mowi's director of communications in Scotland Ian Roberts said; He said: "I can't discount the concerns, and we need to listen to those concerns. This is part of this process, the initial phase were we're in the scoping phase and encouraging feedback.  "But this is also the evolution of salmon farming and we just had a Scottish committee recommend that the government industry work together to look at offshore locations in higher energy sites. This fits that description and answers a lot of those concerns about localised impacts, like fish waste.  We think its a proper and good development, but in this process we will bring it towards the development trust in Canna, and if they agree that the benefit far outweighs the risk then we'll move to the second stage which is applying for planning permission with the Highland Council."

Coat of Arms Restored At Queen's 'Local' Church in Edinburgh

Painstaking work to restore a 300-year-old royal coat of arms on the Queen's "local" church in Edinburgh has been completed.  Canongate Kirk on the Royal Mile was surrounded by scaffolding when the Queen visited it in June.  The intricate work was carried out by Nevin of Edinburgh painters and decorators.  They were required to follow standards set by the Court of the Lord Lyon, which regulates heraldry in Scotland.  The work involved the delicate application of gold leaf.  The Reverend Neil Gardner, who has been minister at the church for 13 years, said: "We've had work done to the roof, the walls and the windows. We've kept going every Sunday - we had to close occasionally but we've otherwise been in business all the way through.  With roof works and things, there's not an awful lot to show for it but at least if we have a repainted coast of arms it will look bright and fresh."  Canongate Kirk was built at the behest of King James VII (and II of England), who ordered that money left at the disposal of the Crown by a merchant named Thomas Moodie should be used to construct the new church.  Moodie was recognised with his own coat of arms and inscription but the same could not be said for the king himself - by the time it was completed in 1691 he had lost the throne and was living in exile.

How Brexit Will Force Scots-born German Mayor From Office
In a quiet corner of northern Germany there is a small community where a Scotsman is in charge.  Iain Macnab proudly flies the Scottish flag outside his home in Brunsmark, where he is the burgermeister - or mayor.  He has been elected to the post three times but Brexit means he will not be able to stay in office for much longer.  "The minute Brexit occurs, that's me," Mr Macnab said. "That's the end of my tenure because I am no longer an EU citizen."  He has had that confirmed in writing by the state of Schleswig-Holstein that includes the Lauenburg lakes region of which Brunsmark is part.  The letter states that when the UK leaves the EU, British "people won't be allowed to hold any office in a local council or local government". That means giving up control of local services for Brunsmark's 170 residents including the school, the play park and the community fire brigade.  Unless he becomes a German citizen before the 31 October, he will be forced to quit the prestigious office he has held for 12 years.  At his stage in life, he is not prepared to make that switch.  "I've been 70 years a Scot and I'm going to stay that way" he said.  Mr Macnab grew up in Achiltibuie, Wester Ross, in the 1950s, where his parents ran the Summer Isles hotel and he won Gaelic prizes at the village school. After a spell reporting for the Perthshire Advertiser he moved to Germany where he worked as a sound engineer for rock bands and now runs an IT business.  After 40 years abroad, he speaks German fluently and is immersed in the local culture but Brexit is having a profound effect on his political outlook.  "It's making me do something that I never ever wanted to do" he said.  "It makes me begin to look at Scottish independence. I would never have considered it before this nonsense started."  Mr Macnab would prefer the Brexit decision to be reversed in a further referendum and for the UK to stay in the EU and push for reform.  "I think it's got to be completely rethought" he said.  "It's got to be much more an organisation which advises the rest instead of imposing an amazing amount of rules and regulations".  Burgermeister Macnab does, however, support the harmonised rules that allow all EU citizens the freedom to live and work across the continent.  He wants others to have the opportunities that he has enjoyed.  With 10 weeks until the scheduled date for the UK's departure from the EU, Mr Macnab is not sure what the future holds for him.  He's yet to decide whether to stay on in Brunsmark with his German wife and their two children or to move the family to Scotland.  Whatever happens, Brexit ensures that his career as the elected mayor of a small town in Germany is coming to an end.

Key Scottish Economic Figures to Be Published
The Scottish government is to publish annual economic figures that have become a key battleground in the debate over independence.  The Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (Gers) report estimates the difference between how much the country raises in taxes and how much is spent on its public services.  Last year's report said Scotland spent £13.4bn more than it raised in taxes.  This deficit was lower than the previous year's £14.5bn.  But it still represented 7.9% of Scotland's GDP - four times higher than the UK as a whole and well above the 3% target the EU sets for its members.  Economists at the Fraser of Allander Institute say this year's figures are likely to show further improvement when they are released. In a blog posted last week, the institute said: "Scotland will have a larger estimated net fiscal deficit than the UK, although both figures are likely to improve compared to last year.  Gers is likely to show that revenues raised in Scotland are less than the UK average (to the tune of around £500-600 per head): but that spending per head in Scotland is significantly above the UK average (probably around £1,600 per head)."  The estimated fiscal deficit for the UK as a whole in 2018/19 was £23.5bn - or 1.1% of its GDP. This was £18.3bn less than the previous year and the lowest for 17 years.  But most parts of the UK outside of London and its surrounding areas are estimated to raise less revenue than is spent on their behalf. Academics at Cardiff University estimated last month that Wales has a deficit of £13.7bn or 19.4% of its GDP.  Scotland had a relatively stronger fiscal position than the UK as a whole in 2010/11, but since then the position has been reversed largely because of the collapse in the oil price.  Last year's Gers figures estimated that Scotland raised about £1.3bn from the North Sea oil and gas industry in 2017/18, which was higher than the £266m of revenue from the previous year but well below the £8bn the industry generated in 2011/12.  What is Gers anyway?  The Gers report estimates the total amount of money spent that "benefits the residents of Scotland" by the Scottish government, UK Westminster government, and all other parts of the public sector in Scotland under the current constitutional arrangements, as well as the total amount of revenue raised by taxation. It is compiled by statisticians working for the Scottish government and is free from political interference.  Gers was described as the "authoritative publication on Scotland's public finances" in the Scottish government's White Paper on independence ahead of the 2014 referendum.  The figures were also used as the starting point for the SNP's Growth Commission report, which examined the financial options for an independent Scotland. The commission, headed by former SNP MP Andrew Wilson, suggested that independence would allow Scotland to tackle its deficit through a combination of higher taxes and a squeeze on spending growth, which he said could see the country cut its deficit to 3% in nine years.

BT Plans to Remove 110 Highlands Phone Boxes
Telecoms giant BT has proposed removing 110 public pay phones from across the Highlands. Phones in or near Alness, Applecross, Aviemore, Contin, Durness, Fort Augustus, Inverness and Thurso are among those earmarked to go.  Highland Council has begun an online public consultation on the plans - a requirement of the communications regulator Ofcom.  Further consultations will take place before any phones are removed.  Highland Council said BT had singled out the phones because they were used infrequently.  BT has placed notices in the affected phone boxes.  Highland Council leader Margaret Davidson urged communities involved to respond to the consultation.  She said: "Let's be clear that this is BT's proposals that we are consulting on and Highland Council is keen to know public opinion on all of these phones It's important that as many people as possible reply to the survey so that we can build an accurate picture of individuals' and community views and needs."

Plans for Ferries to Run From Fife to Holland in 'Advanced Stage'
Plans for a new ferry service to the Netherlands from the Firth of Forth are “quite far along”, according to the head of the company proposing the new route.  David Kellas, director at TEC Offshore who hope to setup a passenger and freight service between Rosyth and Eemshaven, near Groningen, said he believes the demand for the service does exist, despite previous failures.  It comes only a year after the DFDS-run freight route from Scotland to Zeebrugge was finally terminated.  Mr Kellas said that there are still “major pieces of the jigsaw” still to conclude before the service is launched.  It is understood that TEC Offshore is in discussions with the Scottish Government over helping to secure a £35-40 million loan for the ferries that could be used by the company on the route, with the scheme described by one well-placed source as not “feeling too realistic”.  This measure is necessary due to TEC Offshore having no assets with which to secure the loan itself.  Mr Kellas said contracts have been signed for the ships, but did not say which company would supply them.  He would also not be drawn on the nature of the discussions between his company and the Scottish Government.  Mr Kellas said: “The route we are looking at is over to Rosyth from Eemshaven and it is approximately the same distance as the route to Zeebrugge was. Exact funding is not from the Scottish Government. It would be nice if they give us a wedge of cash, but that is not the direction per say.  If you didn’t have the funding you couldn’t do the project.”  The ferry service will include one ship sailing in either direction each day, with the sailing time likely to be around 20 to 22 hours dependent on the weather  Mr Kellas also said that the business plan for the route included a pricing structure, but said it would be “extremely competitive”.  In response to questions about potential passenger demand, Mr Kellas said demand would need to be built up again but all the signs are positive.  He said: “I would suggest that the passenger demand will need to be built up again, but I can tell you right now that from all the messages that we have received even just today from private individuals in Holland, which are significant in number, they have indicated that this is an absolute dream.  From what we see the demand will be there and we have to have consistency in our service still and that makes a difference with the public and freight services.”  Work is still required at both Rosyth and Eemshaven before passenger ferries can operate, admitted Mr Kellas.  However, he said it would only be a “set-up procedure”.

Carloway Broch Reopens to the Public

A spokesperson for Historic Environment Scotland has confirmed that the Carloway Broch on Lewis is open to the public.  A statement from the conservation body said: “Following a detailed inspection of Dun Carloway Broch last week, we are pleased to confirm the site is now accessible to visitors.  While access to the interior of the broch is currently restricted until conservation works have been undertaken, visitors can access the grounds to explore the exterior of the ancient structure.”

Offshore Wind Developers Meet in Inverness to Promote Supply Chain Opportunities

EDPR's director Dan Finch has called for the offshore wind industry to work in close partnership with the private and public sector to ensure that the opportunities for the north’s supply chain are realised.  The call came at an event which was part of the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) activities to support the development of a new offshore wind supply chain in the north of Scotland.  HIE is leading a partnership of industry, academia and the public sector with the aim of developing a new offshore wind supply chain cluster across the north and north east.  DeepWind is one of eight clusters formed under the Offshore Wind Sector Deal which, itself, is part of the UK’s Industrial Strategy. EDPR and JV partner ENGIE have taken the role of cluster champion.  Mr Finch said: “In order to deliver large scale commercial contracts from the north and north east of Scotland we need to work together to realise the opportunities for regional businesses. The cluster should benefit from the strong history of the oil and gas sector in the region. Events such as these can help to support organisations, making sure that they are ready and able to provide the required services – at a competitive cost and scale.  Other areas of the UK have responded well to renewables development and benefited massively in return. These opportunities lie in Scotland and we are determined for them to be realised.”  The cluster aims to raise the productivity and competitiveness of its member companies, becoming a hub of innovation and collaboration while helping set the skills agenda based on the sectors future requirements out to 2030.

Community Delight with Defib Power Donation
A defibrillator has been installed in a West Fife village in memory of a popular resident.  Betty McLean, who lived in Long Row – the cottages between Kingseat and Halbeath – died after suffering a cardiac arrest.  Following her death, residents raised concerns as emergency services had been held up at the nearby level crossing while trying to get to the village on two occasions and clubbed together to buy the life-saving machine.  They were delighted when Scottish Power Energy Networks stepped in and routed an electricity supply to the device from an overhead line, allowing the defibrillator to be kept in the street free of charge and available for anyone to use.

Vast Majority of EU Citizens in Scotland Yet to Apply for Settled Status

Fresh concerns have been raised about the UK Westminster Government’s Settled Status scheme after new figures revealed that just over one-fifth of EU citizens living in Scotland have applied for permanent residency.  With the country now less than three months away from a possible no deal Brexit, residents without Settled Status face uncertainty if travelling to and from the UK.  Around 230,000 EU citizens live in Scotland, but the most recent UK Westminster Government figures indicate that just 51,600 applications have been received from north of the Border. Across the UK, only around one-third of EU citizens have completed the process.  Campaigners have criticised the Settled Status scheme as being unnecessarily awkward for applicants. But the Home Office insisted support was on offer to help those who wanted to apply.  Under the scheme set out by the Home Office, EU citizens and their families need to prove their identity, show that they live in the UK, and declare any criminal convictions as part of applying.  The UK Westminster Government announced this week that freedom of movement will end on October 31, with Downing Street claiming the system allowing EU citizens to freely live and work in the UK would “look different”.  A Downing Street spokeswoman insisted that EU citizens currently resident in the UK would not be prevented from re-entering the country after trips abroad, but it remains unclear how border checks would be carried out.

Pro-UK Scotland in Union Funds Sink to Record Low

The finances of the country’s leading anti-independence campaign have slumped to a record low as polls increasingly show voters edging towards Yes because of Brexit.  Scotland in Union had funds of just over £62,000 in the last financial year, according to newly filed annual accounts. Two years earlier it had funds of more than £310,000.  The SNP said Scotland in Union, the main pro-UK campaign group which yesterday attacked the Scottish Government over the country's finances, was sliding into “complete irrelevance”. Scotland in Union was set up in the wake of the 2014 referendum to campaign against a second vote on the constitution, and claims to have 25,000 supporters.  However its finances has rarely appeared to match its ambitions and have deteriorated sharply in recent years.  SNP MSP George Adam said: "Just like their finances, what remains of Scotland in Union is on a downwards slide into complete irrelevance.  And it's no wonder, with polls now showing a majority of people supporting independence.  The scare stories no longer work, and it's clear Scotland in Union have no positive ambition for Scotland than meekly accepting whatever Brexit disaster the UK ends up in."

Ayrshire Man Goes From Heart Patient to Ironman in 16 Months

An Ayrshire man has gone from heart surgery to a long-distance triathlon in just 16 months. Norrie Hunter, from Symington, completed his first Ironman race after being inspired by a book about a cancer patient who took up the sport.  He read the story while recovering from life-saving heart surgery at the Golden Jubilee National Hospital in Clydebank and started training six weeks later.  He completed a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bicycle ride and a 26.22 mile run.  The 36-year-old found out he may have had a congenital heart condition while tending to his unwell mother.  Then Norrie, a seasoned marathon runner, experienced breathing difficulties during a competition. Although he finished the race he decided he needed a check-up.  Through this process he discovered that he had been born with a Bicuspid Aortic Valve (BAV) leading to an enlarged left ventricle.  He was booked into the Scottish Adult Congenital Cardiac Service (SACCS) at the Golden Jubilee hospital for heart surgery in March 2018. After just six weeks' recuperation, Norrie decided to start training again and downloaded a fitness app to get going. Just 16 months later Norrie was able to compete in his first Ironman. Norrie added: "It was while recovering in my hospital bed that I was given a book called Operation Ironman.  Written by George Mahood, it describes the authors' journey from the discovery of a cancerous growth wrapped round his spine to competing, four months later, in the Ironman triathlon. It was inspiring. I feel like I've been given my life back. I'm not quite back to the strength that I was before the operation but I'm still running and I refuse to be defined by a scratch on my chest."

Before anyone asks what I’m doing about my recovery Yes I have paid attention to the above and while not prepared to run in a triathlon - I will no longer grumble at my rehabilitation exercises