Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 517

Issue # 517                                     Week ending Saturday 14th September 2019

She Can Learn A Heck of A Lot If She is in A Sedentary Position in My Van
by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

So it’s goodbye, John Bercow. The House of Commons is going to be a quieter place soon. I know, not by much. There have been regular calls for Mr Speaker to quit over the years for all sorts of reasons. Some thought he was a bully, some thought he was not as impartial as he could be and some politicians thought his wife Sally was pulling his strings. Yes well, they do try to do that kind of nonsense, you know. No, not politicians. Wives.

Bercow was prone to roaring the words Order and Calm in a very red-faced, loud, and repetitive fashion. One of the best was when he exploded: “Order. The government chief whip has absolutely no business whatsoever shouting from a sedentary position. Order.” It was not just whips who he chose to tear a strip off. Our own MP was one such unfortunate during the course of a particularly loud and animated exchange when the Speaker singled him out to bellow: “Angus Brendan Macneil, calm yourself. You may be a cheeky chappie but you are also an exceptionally noisy one.”

Order restored, and all you could then hear was the scratching of pencils on expenses claims.

Dennis Skinner once made a cheeky reference to a certain MP sitting opposite him, calling him Dodgy Dave. That is Unparliamentary Language. That’s all the Speaker needs to say. That MP in the sedentary position bore prime ministerial responsibilities at the time so Mr Bercow was soon calling for Order. He ordered the Beast of Bolsover, as Mr Skinner is cruelly known, to immediately withdraw his slur.

Mr Skinner, a bolshie veteran, failed to carry out the instruction. He is the longest-serving MP in the House having been elected in 1970. As he did not withdraw the jibe, the Speaker withdrew his permission to resume his sedentary position and he was - to use a term in contemporary use - prorogued. He was shut down. No ifs, no buts. Mach a seo. That’s Gaelic for: “Yer bum's oot the windae. Gerroot noo, lad.”

A certain minister tried to tell Mr Skinner to resume his seat during the exchanges about Dodgy Dave. The Speaker turned on him with the most fearsome and withering stare and added: “I don’t need any assistance from a junior minister ... an absurd proposition.” Speakers need to be loud but not horrible. I once bumped into a very polite and gracious MP called George Thomas at an event in a wee village in Glamorgan called Tonypandy. Then I saw him on telly and realised he was the Speaker of the House of Commons who soon after became Lord, wait for it, Tonypandy. Nice chap. Also too loud.

People can be loud if they have a proper excuse. My friend Murdo speaks so loudly that he almost lifts the roof off. He, however, has a good excuse for that. Murdo is hard of hearing. In fact, at the moment he is deaf as a post. I asked why he seemed to be more deaf than usual. He said: “Pardon? I posted off my hearing aid to be serviced three weeks ago. I have heard nothing since.” The other point is that the things he does hear, he usually picks up wrong.

His wife Peggy Ann is an avid reader and the other evening she said to him: “Pass me that book mark?” He burst into tears. When she asked him why, he said: “Ten years married and you still don’t know my name is Murdo.” Poor guy. I know how he feels. I have been 23 years married to, er, whatshername? Och, you know who I mean.

Unlike John Bercow, my missus takes her smartphone everywhere. Except when she forgets, which does happen and that throws her completely. We were over on the west side of the island the other day and she had to wait for me until I came out of a meeting. She had forgotten her phone so she sat there wondering what to do. She was so bored she eventually began to read the manual for our Vauxhall Vivaro van. Firstly, she discovered the soft flap inside the glove box which she described as like a man - a useless bit of pink skin - is actually an immensely-handy spectacle holder.

She then found a host of undiscovered switches that turn on amazing internal lights and connect smartphones up to the speaker system making them completely hands-free. Ha, pity she forgot hers.

I will also miss John Bercow for not understanding new technology like smartphones and social media. He was always telling off member of the House for fiddling with their devices. He even lambasted Andrea Leadsom, who almost beat Theresa May to the top job. She said he had no respect and wanted him kicked out. You are never too old to be naughty with technology. In fact, I have a confession to make. I sent Mrs X a really dirty picture last week. It was of all the unwashed dinner plates she had left piled up since morning beside the kitchen sink.

Brexit: Protests As Five-week Parliament Suspension Begins
The UK Wetminster Parliament has officially been suspended for five weeks, with MPs not due back until 14 October.  Amid unprecedented scenes in the Commons, some MPs protested against the suspension with signs saying "silenced" while shouting: "Shame on you."  It comes after PM Boris Johnson's bid to call a snap election in October was defeated for a second time.  Opposition MPs refused to back it, insisting a law blocking a no-deal Brexit must be implemented first.  In all, 293 MPs voted for the prime minister's motion for an early election, far short of the two thirds needed.  Mr Johnson will be holding a meeting with his cabinet in Downing Street later. Parliament was suspended - or prorogued - at just before 02:00 BST on Tuesday.  As Speaker John Bercow - who earlier announced his resignation - was due to lead MPs in a procession to the House of Lords to mark the suspension, a group of angry opposition backbenchers tried to block his way.  Late into the night, MPs also burst into song on the Commons benches, singing traditional Welsh and Scottish songs.  During the five-week suspension, parties will hold their annual conferences but no debates, votes or committee scrutiny sessions will take place.  Parliament's suspension means MPs will not get another chance to vote for an early election until they return, meaning a poll would not be possible until November at the earliest.  It is normal for new governments to suspend Parliament - it allows them to schedule a Queen's Speech to set out a fresh legislative programme - but the length and timing of the prorogation in this case has sparked controversy.  The decision to prorogue was entirely in the hands of the government, although there have been failed attempts via the courts to stop it.  Mr Johnson said the government would use the time Parliament was suspended to press on with negotiating a deal with the EU, while still "preparing to leave without one".  "No matter how many devices this Parliament invents to tie my hands, I will strive to get an agreement in the national interest," he said.  "This government will not delay Brexit any further."  Mr Johnson told MPs Mr Corbyn had previously said he would back an election if legislation to prevent the government from forcing through a no-deal Brexit on 31 October became law.  "By his own logic, he must now back an election."  But Labour, the SNP, the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party, the Independent Group for Change and Plaid Cymru have all agreed they will not back an election until the no-deal legislation has been implemented.  Mr Corbyn told MPs his party was "eager for an election - but as keen as we are, we are not prepared to risk inflicting the disaster of no deal on our communities, our jobs, our services or indeed our rights".  And he said the prime minister was suspending Parliament to avoid discussions of his plans.  Mr Johnson is now more than 20 seats short of a majority in Parliament, making effective government extremely difficult.  The prime minister's self-imposed Halloween Brexit deadline looks further out of reach than a few short days ago.  Is it impossible? Absolutely not.  There is the possibility, still, of a deal, with Number 10 today stressing it was still their primary aim.  Whispers again about a Northern Ireland only backstop, and a bigger role for the Stormont assembly, if it ever gets up and running, are doing the rounds.  Attorney General Geoffrey Cox questioned the legal right of the government to require employees - including the PM's top aide Dominic Cummings - to open up their private email accounts and personal mobiles to scrutiny.  Earlier on Monday, Mr Johnson held talks with Leo Varadkar in Dublin, his first meeting with the Irish prime minister since he entered No 10.  The Irish border has proved a key sticking point in attempts to agree a Brexit deal between the UK and the EU.

First Scottish Schools in £1bn Investment Strategy Revealed
Ministers have announced the Scottish schools which will be rebuilt or refurbished in the first phase of a £1bn investment programme.  A total of 26 schools in 11 council areas will be replaced under the strategy.  They include a replacement for Woodmill High School in Dunfermline, which was destroyed by fire last month.  The announcement coincided with the publication of the latest statistics on the condition of Scotland's schools.  The figures from the school estate survey suggested that 88.3% of schools were described as being in "good" or "satisfactory" condition in April 2019, while 11.4% were classed as "poor" and 0.2% were termed "bad".  The Scottish government said this was substantially higher than the 61.1% figure for good or satisfactory schools which was recorded in 2007.  However, Labour said official guidance within the report warned against comparing this year's figures to those from previous years.  Education spokesman Iain Gray said: "Schools may not have improved at all, just been re-categorised."  The Scottish government said 928 schools had been built or substantially refurbished since 2007-08.  Its latest £1bn investment in the schools estate was announced last November.  The strategy was welcomed by local authority body Cosla, which said councils would contribute a further £2bn towards the programme.  First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said it would benefit about 50,000 pupils across Scotland.  "This investment builds on the progress that we have made over the last 10 years," she said.  "The National Statistics published today reveal that, even before today's announcement, Scotland's school estate has never been in better condition, with a record percentage in good or satisfactory condition. That is a result of sustained investment and we will now build on that."

Court to Rule Over Parliament Shutdown Appeal
Scotland's highest civil court is to again rule on whether or not Boris Johnson's suspension of the UK Parliament is legal.  A judge at the Court of Session last week rejected an attempt by a cross-party group of politicians to have the suspension declared unlawful.  They subsequently  appealed to the court's Inner House, with a panel of three judges being asked to overturn the decision.  This appeal was successful where the court ruled that Mr Johnson's suspension of the Westminster parliament was unlawful. A bill designed to prevent a no-deal Brexit was passed by MPs ahead of the five-week shutdown, but Mr Johnson's bid to hold a general election in October failed twice to get the required majority. It emerged during last week's hearings that Mr Johnson appeared to have approved a plan to shut down Parliament two weeks before publicly announcing it.  The court heard the prime minister was sent a note on 15 August asking if he wanted to prorogue parliament from mid-September. A tick and the word "yes" were written on the document. He announced the plan on 28 August. The court later agreed to release the documents to the media.  In a separate case brought by anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller, the High Court in London also ruled last week that Mr Johnson had acted lawfully. Ms Miller is appealing that decision in the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, a hearing at the High Court in Belfast into the implications of a no-deal exit is continuing, with a campaigner for victims of the Troubles arguing that it could jeopardise the Northern Ireland peace process

Highlands and Islands to Be World’s First Zero-emission Aviation Region

The Scottish Government has announced ambitious plans for the Highlands and Islands to “lead the way” in tackling climate change, by becoming the world’s first zero-emission aviation region.  Plans outlined by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon include decarbonising all aspects of HIAL airport operations, collaborating with Norway on e-aircraft projects and other sustainable aviation technology initiatives, and creating the world’s first zero emission aviation region in the Highlands and Islands.  Aviation contributes about 2% of the world’s global carbon emissions, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan, said: “Convenient, green transport links are essential for tackling climate change, creating jobs for the Highlands and Islands, and growing our economy.  Scotland has already shown global leadership on climate change - becoming one of the first countries to declare a climate emergency, and including a fair share of international aviation and shipping emissions in its statutory climate targets.  Air connectivity is critical for the Highlands and Islands, and the publicly-owned Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL) creates a unique opportunity for us to lead the charge to zero emission aviation.  These bold measures will make the Highlands and Islands a globally attractive region – as well as ensuring that Scotland remains at the forefront of the fight against climate change.  We are leading the way with these ambitious plans, taking the necessary action to protect our country and our planet for future generations.”

Congratulations to James Mackenzie on Northern Meeting Success

The Lewis and Harris Piping Society would like to congratulate piper James Mackenzie on winning the Silver Medal for piobaireachd at the Northern Meeting in Inverness.  James, 30, who comes from Back on the Isle of Lewis and plays with contemporary folk band Breabach, won the traditional solo competition at the event.  Dr John Smith, Chairman of The Lewis and Harris Piping Society, said: “The Lewis and Harris Piping Society would like to congratulate James Duncan Mackenzie on winning the Silver Medal for piobaireachd at the Northern Meeting last week.  We remember James very clearly when he was a youngster playing in junior competitions and also at the regular recitals that the Society used to organise. He has subsequently made a name for himself both nationally and internationally playing with Breabach.  I spoke to him at lunchtime just before he was due to go on to play in the competition and he confessed to being very nervous. A friend of mine also spoke to him and was surprised that he was so nervous, considering he is well accustomed to playing in front of thousands with the band. I assured him that a little bit of adrenalin coursing through his veins would not do him any harm.  There is no doubt that in recent years there has been a trend for pipers to play in bands with other instruments and there are several examples of that, with some very good pipers playing in bands. But the traditional individual performance of piobaireachd is a different art form and I guess that playing in front of three old men with their arms folded across their chests and pens poised, ready to note down any missed grace note, is just as challenging, if not more so, than playing in a band.”  Dr Smith added: “Having won the Silver Medal, James now qualifies to play in the Gold Medal competitions if he so wishes next year. We sincerely hope that he will continue to develop his skills and achieve the top accolade which is to win The Highland Society of London’s Gold Medal for Piobaireachd at the Argyllshire Gathering or the Northern Meeting.  As a youngster James studied with Pipe Major Iain Murdo Morrison, widely regarded as one of the finest players of his generation and a previous winner of many piping accolades, and began returning to him for lessons over the past year, whenever he was ‘home’ to Lewis on holiday.  James now lives in Glasgow and has a degree in piping from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, now The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.  He is “chuffed” to have won the Silver Medal. He said: “It’s nice to win a prize. It was my first year competing in quite a few years. The last time I competed was maybe 2010.”

One Month Countdown to Commencement of the Royal National Mod in Glasgow
Final preparations are under way ahead of The Royal National Mod’s return to Glasgow next month as organisers celebrate a bumper year for entries. Am Mòd Nàiseanta Rìoghail will return to Glasgow next month from October 11 – 19 for the first time in almost three decades.  The nine-day Gaelic spectacular – organised by An Comunn Gàidhealach – has so far seen a increase in participation numbers for this year’s festivities.  Thousands of competitors are expected to travel from across the globe in the coming weeks to compete in more than 200 competitions in Gaelic music and song, sport, art and drama.  Deputy First Minister John Swinney will officially launch this year’s programme during an opening ceremony on Friday, October 11.  John Morrison, Chief Executive of An Comunn Gàidhealach, said: “We are incredibly excited to be hosting the Royal National Mòd in Glasgow, returning for the first time since 1990.  It’s been fantastic to have such a healthy number of individual entrants this year and we put this down to our continued work with Glasgow Schools, teaching Gaelic at a grassroots level.  It is great to see the Gaelic culture and heritage thriving in Scotland, particularly in literature with this year being the first time since 2004 that a bard will be appointed annually – a testament to the growth of the Gaelic language. We hope to see this success continue during the Royal National Mòd 2019.” The Mod is also expected to leave its mark on history this year by introducing a women’s football match and the appointment of a new bard each year following the success of Gaelic literature in recent years.  The event was worth £2million for last year’s host town Dunoon, and organisers are confident they will see a similar return for Glasgow.  Councillor David McDonald, Depute Leader of Glasgow City Council and Chair of Glasgow Life added: “The Mòd will be a showcase for people writing, singing and performing in Gaelic and is a celebration of a language and culture which will always be closely linked to Glasgow. It promises to be a week of great competition, music, song, poetry and storytelling that will be enjoyed by everyone who is interested in and appreciates Gaelic.”

Court Bid to Force Boris Johnson to Ask for Extension
Another legal action has been launched in Scotland aimed at forcing Boris Johnson to ask the EU for an extension if the UK is heading for a no-deal Brexit.  A bill was passed at Westminster which would require the prime minister to write to European leaders if deal is not agreed by 19 October.  But the prime minister said he would "rather be dead in a ditch" than ask for a further delay beyond 31 October.  The latest legal action is being taken in Scotland's highest court.  The petitioners want the Court of Session to use its powers to effectively sign the letter to the EU on the PM's behalf if he refuses to do so.  The action has been taken by businessman Dale Vince, QC Jo Maugham and SNP MP Joanna Cherry.  Earlier this week judges at the same court ruled that Mr Johnson's suspension of the Westminster parliament was unlawful.  The government has lodged an appeal against this ruling, which will be heard by the Supreme Court next week, and Mr Johnson has denied lying to the Queen.  MPs passed legislation shortly before parliament was suspended which aims to stop the UK from leaving the European Union without a deal on 31 October.  The cross-party bill requires the prime minister to write to European leaders requesting an extension to that deadline unless parliament agreed to a deal by 19 October.  Mr Johnson - who has repeatedly pledged to take the UK out of the EU no later than the end of October - said he would "rather be dead in a ditch" than ask for a "pointless delay" to Brexit.  Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said the government would "want to test to the limit" what the "lousy" legislation "lawfully requires".  The latest proceedings have been brought against Mr Johnson personally at the Court of Session.  Those behind the case want the court to use a special power - the "nobile officium" - to effectively sign the letter to the EU on behalf of the prime minister, should he refuse to do so himself.  Mr Vince said this would "prevent a no-deal exit on October 31 and make the prime minister abide by the letter of the law, which he's suggested time and time against he's prepared to ignore".  He added: "I've personally been on the receiving end of injunctions that stopped legitimate protests from taking place, so it must be possible to prevent serious law breaking by the PM in the same way."  Mr Maugham said he hoped the court would "deal with the matter speedily".  Other MPs have also said they are preparing legal action in case Mr Johnson refuses to seek a delay to Brexit.  Mr Johnson has insisted that an agreement can still be struck with European leaders at a summit in October, avoiding the need for either an extension or a no-deal exit.  The EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, said his side was still waiting to see proposals from the UK to resolve the issue of the border in Northern Ireland.  He told reporters in Brussels: "We are still ready to examine objectively any concrete and legally operational proposals from the UK."

JK Rowling Donates £15.3m to Edinburgh MS Research Centre

JK Rowling has donated £15.3m to support research into neurological conditions at a centre named after her mother.  The Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic at the University of Edinburgh was established with a £10m donation from the Harry Potter author in 2010. Her latest gift will help create new facilities and support research.  Anne Rowling died aged 45 from complications related to multiple sclerosis (MS).  The centre is an integrated care and research facility focusing on MS and neurological conditions with the aim of bringing more clinical studies and trials to patients.  Neurological conditions studied at the clinic include motor neurone disease (MND), Parkinson's and dementias.  The university hopes the donation, which includes Gift Aid, will create a global legacy that will have a lasting effect on patients and their families.  Ms Rowling said: "When the Anne Rowling Clinic was first founded, none of us could have predicted the incredible progress that would be made in the field of regenerative neurology, with the clinic leading the charge.  It's a matter of great pride for me that the clinic has combined these lofty ambitions with practical, on the ground support and care for people with MS, regardless of stage and type; I've heard at first-hand what a difference this support can make.  I am confident that the combination of clinical research and practical support delivered by Professor Siddharthan Chandran and his exemplary team will create a definitive step-change for people with MS and associated conditions."  Prof Chandran, director of the clinic, said: "Our research is shaped by listening to, and involving, individuals who are living with these tough conditions.  The Anne Rowling Clinic's vision is to offer everyone with MS or other neurodegenerative diseases, such as MND, the opportunity to participate in a suite of clinical studies and trials.  This incredibly far-sighted and generous donation will unlock the potential of personalised medicine for people with MS in Scotland and further afield."  University vice chancellor Prof Peter Mathieson said they were "immensely honoured".  "This inspiring donation will fund a whole new generation of researchers who are focused on discovering and delivering better treatments and therapies for patients," he added.  The university set up a Centre for Multiple Sclerosis Research in 2007, which has also received support from Rowling.  Ms Rowling's story of the boy wizard Harry Potter began as a story written in Edinburgh cafes while she was living on benefits.  It became a multi-billion pound worldwide franchise based on seven novels describing Harry's adventures at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. 

Glasgow City Council Looks At 'Breathing Space' Ban on Marches
The leader of Glasgow City Council has instructed her teams to see if placing a temporary ban on all loyalist and republican marches "would be workable".  Susan Aitken said it would provide "breathing space" to find a long-term solution following recent disorder.  Four Loyalist marches and an Irish Republican parade planned for this weekend were banned by the council after a meeting on Wednesday.  But more marches are scheduled for the coming weeks.  The council's Public Processions Committee made the decision to prohibit the marches planned for Saturday and Sunday following serious sectarian disorder at similar events over the past two weekends.  The police had warned there was a strong likelihood of disorder and a large number of officers would be required.  Supt John McBride said there had been calls on social media from Republicans to target Loyalist events and demands from Loyalists to protest against Republican parades.  At a council meeting on Thursday, leader Ms Aitken said: "Community tensions are running high and more processions are planned for the weeks to come.  [So} I have asked officers to consider every option available to us, including whether a moratorium on such marches in the interests of public safety would be workable and provide all stake holders with the breathing space needed to find a longer term solution."  At First Minister Questions at Holyrood, Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs the city council had made the "right decision" in banning the marches this weekend.  She added that the right to march was "an important part of our democracy" but those who were abusing it were putting it into jeopardy for others.  "It is also vital that the rights of the majority of law-abiding citizens are protected and given priority," Ms Sturgeon said.  However, the Orange Order hit out at the decision.  Jim McHarg, Grand Master of the Orange Lodge, said the move was "illegal" and called for protests outside the City Chambers on Saturday.  The council decided to prohibit the marches after violent sectarian disturbances on the two previous weekends.  On Saturday, a police officer was injured as two Irish Republican marches and Loyalist counter-demonstrations were held in Glasgow.  The counter demonstrations at both marches were quickly contained by police, who had deployed officers in riot gear and mounted police.  The heavy police presence came a week after a riot developed in Govan when Loyalists tried to disrupt another Irish Republican parade.  Mr McHarg, from the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland, claimed there had been a "concerted campaign" by Irish republican-supporting groups to cause fear and alarm to the protestant communities of Glasgow.  He said: "Nationalist councillors in Glasgow, supported by Police Scotland, effectively weaponised these protests by sending out a message that they would use the threat of protests to ban protestant parades.  This action led to the chaotic scenes in the streets of Glasgow as a hard-core element from both sides of the argument used this weaponised protest action against each other."  

Sutherland Spaceport Plans Move Toward Planning Application
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has started the process towards submitting a formal planning application for a spaceport.  The enterprise agency is heading up the £17.5m Space Hub Sutherland project, which would involve launching small satellites into space.  It has lodged a proposal of application notice with the Highland Council.  As part of pre-planning application process, HIE will hold public consultation events from next month.  Planning consent for the spaceport is expected to be sought in December.  Melness Crofters Estate owns the land on the Moine Peninsula and has agreed to HIE's development of it once planning permission has been secured.  The venture is opposed by some who live in the area. Space Hub Sutherland is among a number of Scottish projects to establish satellite launch sites.  Western Isles local authority - Comhairle nan Eilean Siar - has proposed building its Spaceport 1 at Scolpaig on the north-west coast of North Uist.  The Shetland Space Centre project is developing plans for a site in Unst.

Multi-million Pound Highland School Beginning to Take Shape

Construction of a multi-million pound school complex in one of Inverness’s most deprived areas is beginning to take shape – eight months after construction started.  Merkinch Primary’s Schools modern L-shaped education campus is the first of its kind in the Highlands having been produced with Cross Laminated Timber (CLT).  Construction on the new site commenced in February by engineers from Robertson.  The new school will comprise of 14 new classrooms and a three room nursery to coincide with their multi-use games area and four court games hall.  Councillor Janet Campbell said: “This impressive extension to the 1876 Category B listed building will facilitate many additional educational facilities that will be maximised by an already dedicated teaching staff.  All of this will undoubtedly impact greatly on the teaching and learning experiences, inspiring pupils to further nurture their varied innate talents and enhance their educational capabilities.”

Residents in Ayrshire Village Hit Out At Expansion Plans for More Homes

Senior figures in a village are demanding infrastruture is tackled before more homes get permission.  And Harry Middleditch, chairman of Monkton Community Council, said: “All we have gained from four new housing developments is that Monkton now has five swing parks.  We don’t want any more swing parks thanks, we want our environmental looked at closely.  We are a village, not a town, and some people have forgotten that.”  He was speaking while posing at a “magic sign” which keeps appearing and disappearing. Persimmon Homes was already warned and did take a “coming soon” housing sign down along the A77.  But, the exact same sign appeared on Kilmarnock Road.  Only then for it to disappear again.  Harry said: “What has annoyed the community is they have a cheek saying it is coming soon - they don’t even have planning permission yet.  We are being ridden roughshod.”  Persimmon want between 285 and 300 homes and Barrat another 300 on the wedge shaped field on the other side of Kilmarnock Road.  Plans are also in the offing for a total of 600 at the “HMS Gannet” site.  Like neighbouring Symington, there is huge demand for Glasgow commute homes.  But Harry said: “There are serious problems with the drainage here, and the Pow Burn overflows.  The existing drains cannot take the demand, so what is it going to be like with hundreds of new homes?”  Houses in Station Road were recently affected by sewage overflows.  Harry added: “We have village infrastructure and they want to make us into a town. We need help.” A spokesman for Persimmon homes confirmed it had removed the rogue sign.  The company said: “We apologise if the erection of our ‘coming soon’ signage has caused any concern to local residents.  We responded to complaints and after consultation with South Ayrshire Council removed the signage as quickly as was possible.”

Epic New Lochness360° Challenge From Visit Inverness Loch Ness Set to Attract Ultra-marathon Fans 'From Around the World'
Another monster is set to set up home at Loch Ness next year – after plans were unveiled for a gruelling ultra-marathon challenge.  Visit Inverness Loch Ness has announced the launch of the LochNess360° Challenge, centred around the new LochNess360° long-distance trail which now encircles the loch following the completion of the final stretch of the South Loch Ness Trail earlier this year.  They hope the monster challenge will prove enticing to runners and cyclists eager to pit themselves against something more gruelling than a traditional marathon.  Taking place on May 29-31, it will offer participants the choice of five running and cycling alternatives over the three days. The first, and most extreme, is to run the entire trail within 24 hours – 129km in length and with more than 3000 metres of ascent. Participants will need to have ultra-marathon experience to compete.  Alternatively, those seeking a less intimidating option can choose to complete the circuit by completing a “marathon a day” over the three days. Or, if this sounds too much “merely” one or two of the three marathons, the choice is yours.  Cyclists will also get the opportunity to mountain bike the entire circumference of Loch Ness in a maximum of 14 hours.  “If you are really looking for something a bit different, to test your stamina and mental strength in the iconic surrounds of Loch Ness, the LochNess360° Challenge is for you,” said Graeme Ambrose, the CEO of Visit Inverness Loch Ness.  “We want this to become an annual event in the Loch Ness event calendar. The LochNess360° trail is a fantastic new asset with which to sell the attraction of the area as a holiday destination and the LochNess360° Challenge provides the opportunity to not only further raise the profile of it, but also to provide genuine economic benefit to businesses and communities around the loch.  “As well as benefit derived from participants who opt to stay in the overnight stop villages, we hope they will be joined by family, friends and support teams. To this end at each stop we hope to bring added value that everyone can enjoy in the form of live music and ‘pop –up’ retail.  Chris Taylor, VisitScotland Regional Leadership Director, said: "This innovative new event is a great idea and will profile the area to a new, global audience. I would expect it to attract a huge amount of interest from people who have potentially not visited the Highlands, or indeed Loch Ness before.  It can also help push visitor spend into the smaller communities around Loch Ness, as well as bringing added benefits in May, before the peak season really kicks off.  We work closely with Visit Inverness Loch Ness to promote the Highlands and are committed to collaborating with the tourism industry to identify exciting new initiatives where we can work together to take their local message to a world stage.”  The event will start and end in Dores, with stops in Drumnadrochit and Fort Augustus. It is being sponsored by SSE Renewables and managed by experienced organisers No Fuss Events, Lochaber.

Why the Scottish Court Ruling on Proroguing Parliament is Significant
The ruling by Scotland's highest civil court that it was illegal to shut the UK Parliament is - in the true sense of the word - extraordinary.  Normally courts do not intervene in the decisions of the government, using the principle of a "margin of appreciation," which gives ministers more leeway under the law than that of ordinary people or organisations.  So the fact that all three judges at the Court of Session have - albeit by different routes - arrived at the decision that they can intervene is highly significant.  Stephen Tierney, professor of Constitutional Theory at Edinburgh University, believed the significance of this judgement would be felt not only in the short term but in the longer term also.  He explained: "The normal view of the courts is that it would not be appropriate to rule on the exercise of prerogative power.  So the long-term significance of this ruling is very important."  The lower court had said the actions of the executive were 'non-justiciable' - meaning they were not to be examined by judges.  But this decision indicates the courts are more prepared than many people had expected to intervene in government actions." This decision of the Scottish appeal court radically changes the legal landscape ahead of an expected hearing before the United Kingdom Supreme Court.  The case was brought to the Court of Session by a cross-party group of 75 parliamentarians, who argued the PM had exceeded his powers.  Lord Doherty heard both sides of the argument and ruled last week that the issue was for the judgement of politicians and voters, and not the courts.  But when the case was taken to three appeal judges, they saw it differently.  They concluded that the PM was attempting to prevent Parliament holding the government to account, ahead of Brexit.  Jim Cormack, a constitutional law expert at lawyers Pinsent Mason in Edinburgh said: "The judges have decided this was a clear case in which the government had stepped outside of the normal room for manoeuvre it is allowed by the courts, when it gave its advice to HM the Queen”.He added: "This decision of the Scottish appeal court radically changes the legal landscape ahead of an expected hearing before the United Kingdom Supreme Court next week."  This case was brought in a Scottish court because at the time the High Court in England was on holiday.  But that does not diminish the effect of the ruling, as the case was against the actions of the Westminister government which, within the devolution settlement, affects the whole of the UK.  So the ruling in Edinburgh is binding on the UK government - although this is by no means the end of the legal battle since the case will now be appealed to the UK Supreme Court which will make a definitive decision.  It is also likely to hear arguments arising from decisions in similar cases brought at the High Court in London under English law and the Northern Ireland High Court. What will happen next, and whether MPs head back to Westminster, will be fought out in both the political and legal arenas.
Court of Session case: How we got here
22 July - It emerges that a cross-party group of MPs and peers plans legal action to prevent Parliament being "closed down" in the run-up to Brexit
13 August - The group go to the Court of Session in Edinburgh and Lord Doherty agrees to hear arguments from both sides in September
28 August - The parliamentarians seek an interim interdict to block Boris Johnson's move to prorogue Parliament
29 August - Lord Doherty hears four hours of argument from both sides
30 August - The judge refuses an interim interdict but brings the full hearing forward to 3 September
3 September - The court hears that Prime Minister Boris Johnson approved the Parliament shutdown two weeks before it was publicly declared
4 September - Lord Doherty rejects a bid to have the shut down declared illegal. The campaigners say they will appeal
5 September - Three judges at the Court of Session in Edinburgh begin to hear an appeal on Lord Doherty's ruling
11 September - The panel, led by Lord Carloway, says Boris Johnson's suspension of the UK Westminster Parliament is unlawful