Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 542

Issue # 542                                                        Week ending Saturday 7th March 2020

The Day A Boy From Bernera Got Into A Ring and Fought Sir Henry Coope
r by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

Smart speakers are all the rage. Someone I know has one connected to the lights in the house and he just has to say “Hey Alexa, switch on the kitchen light” and, behold, there is light. However, the very best Alexa in the world is installed in this house right now. My Alexa can not just switch on the kitchen lights make can also cook dinner, make coffee and my Alexa has lovely wee arms that reach out and give me cuddles.

All I have to say is: “Hey Mrs X, any ice cream left in the freezer?” Within seconds, a bowl of soft scoop is quickly served up. How does that happen? Because Mrs X is Alexa. Let me explain - Mrs X is my wife. Yeah, you had worked that out. My wife is actually Sandie. Sandie is actually Sandra. Sandra is actually the short version of Alexandra. Alexandra is also the long version of Alexa. See? My Alexa can cuddle me or box my ears.

Before I forget, I may have mentioned boxing in this column last week. I may have suggested it was not a sport but something more brutal. I may have given some readers the impression that I did not care for the barbaric activity. That may be why people have been coming up to me and telling me how wrong I am. Boxing is safe and has been for generations before people like me began sticking our unbroken noses in. It never did them any harm, they squeak from limp larynxes between cauliflower ears.

Others agree with my anti-boxing stance. I had one ringing endorsement from Australia where my words are reproduced for exiles. Tapa leat, Robin. The inevitable discussion has led to some fascinating facts about notable boxers emerging and none more staggering than the fact that a lad from my home islet of Great Bernera went off to London and found himself in a boxing ring with none other than British, Commonwealth, and European heavyweight champion, Sir Henry Cooper.

‘Twas in 1971 that Norman Angus Macdonald, known as Puss, a muscular fellow of fine Bernera stock, left his home in Kirkibost and headed off to the smoke with pals. One day in a pub in Chalk Farm, north London, which had a gym upstairs, they were invited up and got talking to some sparring cockneys, one of whom Norman immediately clocked as ‘Enry.

Eight years earlier, Henry Cooper had sensationally knocked Muhammad Ali onto his bottom in their first fight in 1963, before Ali beat Sonny Liston to become world heavyweight champion. Cooper fought Ali twice but an eye bleeding lost him both bouts. Norman already knew the top boxers and realised that the cove with Cooper was Brian London, a six foot Blackpudlian, who had lost a few fights to Cooper and who had also unsuccesfully fought Muhammad Ali in 1966.

A Blackpudlian is not necessarily someone who scoff lots of black puddings - just someone from Blackpool. Coincidentally, I have had black puddings in Blackpool. Nah, not great. The Stornoway puddings tower above them. See what I did there? Tower. Sorry Blackpool. Please don’t ban me from the beach - again. I didn’t feed ice cream and rock to those donkeys deliberately, honest.

Where was I? Oh yeah, spotting Norman’s build was of the brick outhouse variety, Henry Cooper was intrigued that Norman and his buddy Finlay Macdonald from Morsgail, who we sadly lost recently, were Hebrideans. Sir Henry, as he became years later, beckoned Norman into the ring and produced gloves. Henry gleefully said: “Try to hit me, Norman.” So Norman did. Boomph, right in the sticky ribs. Henry was not expecting the force.

Afterwards, Henry told Norman his famous southpaw style was because he had to lift boxes in his father’s greengrocer’s shop with his left hand. He was right-handed but the heavy boxes of apples and tomatoes had built up his devastating left hand which skelped Ali so powerfully. Cooper would then have been training for one of his last fights with Joe Bugner. Before parting, Cooper told Norman that if he or any other Hebrideans fancied training to come back any time.

Blackpudlians are so hard to understand. A cop pulled me over on the promenade in Blackpool a few years ago. The Lancashire cop says to me: “Have you got your licence, then?” “No, a bhalaich. It must be at the guest house.” Then the officer asks: “OK, no problem. Have you got any ID?” I replied: “About what, exactly?”

My Alexa does not always understand me either. She is handy because she can shop. She does her best to get it right, clever Alexa. I was cooking a really special casserole the other day and I needed some ingredients. My Alexa trooped off to the supermarket for me. Some veg, herbs and, very importantly, some bay leaves. She was back in half an hour smiling broadly, a job well done. I asked my Alexa if she had got everything. Yep. You got the bay leaves? “Yes,” she said. “I got the Baileys.” Clever, Alexa.

Scottish Surveillance Testing System for Covid-19 Begins

Testing of patients in Scotland with flu-like symptoms is to begin as part of measures to combat Covid-19.  A surveillance network of 41 GP practices will submit samples, even if patients have not travelled to an area affected by the new coronavirus.  The plan makes use of an existing system recording the spread of flu and is described as a "precautionary step".  Testing is also to be introduced for patients admitted to critical care units with pneumonia. Chief Medical Officer Dr Catherine Calderwood said: "Scotland is well-prepared for a significant outbreak of coronavirus but there is currently no treatment or vaccine. Early detection measures will be vital in helping to prevent the spread of the virus in the event of an outbreak.  Hospitals and GP surgeries will now conduct tests on some patients with coughs, fevers or shortness of breath - regardless of whether they have travelled to a place where the virus is known to be spreading."  She added: "Not everyone with flu will be tested, but this is a sensible step to take as a precautionary measure to give us an early warning of community transmission."  As of Saturday, 630 tests had been carried out in Scotland on people who might have been exposed to the disease.  All tests so far have been negative. There have been 23 patients found to be suffering from Covid-19 in the UK as a whole.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) Project to Unlock Highland Heritage Potential;

Museums and heritage organisations across the region are being offered help to get creative in a new initiative led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).  The programme, XpoNorth Heritage, will support organisations and businesses with an adviser to help them develop innovative new ideas and introduce them to creative businesses in the region to find new ways of sharing their stories.  This could be through virtual reality experiences, exhibition design, poetry, craft sales, music festivals or book publishing.  The initiative follows the success of similar projects, such as at the Calanais Visitor Centre on Lewis where cutting-edge digital technology is being used to map out buried features at the site, creating a digital interactive experience.  The new £41,000 project is supported by HIE, Museums Galleries Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland and Creative Scotland, and is being piloted for a year.  The project is developed through the HIE-funded XpoNorth, which provides a range of all-year round support programmes for creative talent throughout the region, including its annual two-day programme of conferences, workshops and film and music showcases, which this year takes place on June 24 and 25 in Inverness.  Iain Hamilton, head of creative industries at HIE, said: “We recognise the essential role heritage plays in economic success. Last year’s XpoNorth conference and showcase attracted plenty of interest in the heritage sector, focusing on getting the stories held by museums to a wider audience and it was clear that there is demand to continue this engagement.  There are a wealth of stories rich in heritage that can be turned into innovative content, attracting new audiences to their work, encouraging tourism and opening new revenue streams. XpoNorth Heritage will help unlock the potential by linking the organisations with creative businesses to help them work with the latest technology.”  Nicola Henderson from Nairn has been recruited as project co-ordinator.  She is encouraging museums and anyone working in heritage to send in enquiries, via the XpoNorth website, for advice or help.  Lucy Casot, chief executive officer for Museums Galleries Scotland, said: “We are delighted to support this new and innovative programme, helping to bring together museums and heritage organisations with creative businesses, to explore and develop new and exciting ways to tell our stories to a wider audience, which will help strengthen tourism in the region and generate additional streams of funding.”

Call for Free Ferry Travel for Under-19s in Scotland
The Scottish government has been asked to extend its free bus travel scheme for under-19s to include ferries.  A group set up to represent communities reliant on Caledonian MacBrayne's west coast services has made the call.  The CalMac Community Board said for young people in island and mainland communities ferries were the equivalent of a bus service.  The Scottish government is to set up a free bus travel scheme for under-19s as part of an SNP-Green budget deal.  The board has now written to the Scottish government asking it to extend the scheme.  Angus Campbell, the board's chairman, said the hope was for free ferry travel to be introduced at the same time as free bus travel.  He said: "I think it would be a hugely positive message to send out to young people living on the islands that they have been given that same opportunity, that same chance as a right."  The Scottish government said it was committed to a National Concessionary Travel Scheme for free bus travel from January 2021, subject to the completion of the necessary preparations including due diligence and research.  A spokeswoman added: "We will be engaging with young people across the country to ensure that all areas benefit from these measures."

Man Arrested After Police Seize £1.4m of Cannabis

A man has been charged after police seized cannabis with a street value of nearly £1.4m in Glasgow.  More than 2,000 plants were recovered during the raid on an industrial unit on Lochburn Road, Maryhill.  Police Scotland said the 34-year-old suspect is expected to appear before Glasgow Sheriff Court on Monday.  Det Insp Craig McPhail said the "significant seizure" will have a "substantial impact" on the sale and supply of the Class B drug.  He added: "We will continue to disrupt the distribution of drugs with the continued help and co-operation of the public."

Periscopes for Nuclear Subs to Be Made in Glasgow

A Glasgow-based company has won a £330m contract for work on the UK's next generation of nuclear submarines.  Thales UK will build periscopes, sensors and sonar for the Dreadnought-class vessels.  The periscopes - known officially as combat system masts - will be manufactured at Govan in Glasgow.  The Thales facility in West Sussex will contribute technical input to the work. The sonar system will be developed in Somerset and Stockport. The contract has been officially announced by defence minister Baroness Goldie during a visit to Glasgow. She said that Scotland benefits considerably from UK defence orders.  "What we do get across the piece is a very strong and steady supply of orders," she said. If you think recently the part we played in the two new aircraft carriers, the Type-31 frigates being now built by Babcock and that will involve Rosyth and shipbuilding at BAE on the Clyde sustained by the destroyer orders.  So there's a lot happening and that's part of the steady drumbeat that the MoD wants to have resonating in Scotland."  The new Dreadnought vessels have been described by the Ministry of Defence as the Royal Navy's most advanced submarines.  They are scheduled to enter service at HM Naval Base Clyde from the early 2030s.  Dreadnought submarines will carry the UK's nuclear weapons and replace the Vanguard class of ballistic missile submarines.  Thales chief executive Victor Chavez said: "Having supported the deterrent since its inception, and with over a century of supplying periscopes to the Royal Navy, I am proud that our engineers continue to deliver cutting edge innovative technology at sites across the UK."

Shetland Beach Cleaner Picks Up Atlantic Message in A Bottle Prize
A message in a bottle which was dropped in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean has been found by a beach cleaner in Shetland.  Henry Anderton's discovery has earned him a prize of $1,000 (£770) and a matching donation towards his chosen environmental charity.  The prize had been promised by a New York-based magazine publisher.  Its team dropped the bottle from the Queen Mary II in December 2018 while sailing from New York to Southampton.  The glass bottle contained a letter from a technology security magazine called 2600, and said its staff would be "astounded" if anyone found it in their lifetime.  It is thought the bottle must have travelled at least 1,500 miles (2,400km) before it was found at Littlelure, Shetland.  Mr Anderton, the beach cleaning advocate who made the discovery, said: "It must have come up the Gulf Stream and taken a right-hand turn.  They were amazed when I emailed them to say I had found it."  He has previously discovered other messages in bottles and replied to the senders - but said it was mainly rubbish that he found on the beach.  Mr Anderton said he was giving the charity donation to The Ocean Cleanup, and planned to spend his own share on restoring a red telephone box.  He has bought the phonebox, near Walls, for £1 and been supplied with the regulation red paint from BT.  He said: "We've now launched a crowd funding operation to help out the renovations - we've got to find a door first."  Mr Anderton said he had big plans for the box once it has been made wind and water-tight, fixed up and been painted.  He said: "We'd like people who have memories of the phonebox to write their stories - we'll have a book in there with them, maybe local tourist information.  It'll be a place where people can sit, knit, look at the wildlife.  My daughter accused me of being a man in need of a project - well, here's one we're getting involved with this year."  Emmanuel Goldstein, who threw the bottle into the ocean, said it had mainly been done out of curiosity to see if anyone would ever find it - but admitted there was also an element of guilt attached. "I'm very happy someone cleaned the bottle up. I don't intend to throw anything in again," he said.  Mr Goldstein added: "It was fascinating to hear from him (Mr Anderton) about where he lives and what he's interested in.  The most interesting thing is the reward money is going towards a phonebox - our magazine prints photos of telephone booths on its back cover.  There's nobody more deserving for the award we offered. It was the most perfect meeting of bottle and person that could possibly have happened."

Lights to Go on At Historic St Andrews Castle

St Andrews Castle could be illuminated again soon, thanks to a community campaign. The group behind the floodlighting of the town’s ancient cathedral is behind the latest drive to throw light onto the palace of bishops, which played a key role in significant events of Scottish history.  Jo Roger, who is leading the £45,000 bid, said: “This will be the last piece in the medieval jigsaw in the town to be lit.  The castle will become another focus after dark.”  The cathedral was ceremoniously lit up in 2018 thanks to community efforts driven by St Andrews Partnership to raise £195,000 for new LED lamps.  As with the cathedral, the castle’s old lights went out 10 years ago.  St Andrews University and the Old Course are already lit up and the partnership wants to complete the chain by adding the castle to the town’s illuminated icons.  Jo said: “We will use the same style of lighting as the cathedral, which was lit up on St Andrew’s Day 2018 and is a huge success.”  Already, several local organisations have offered funds for the project, including the Pilgrim Foundation, St Andrews Community Trust, Kinburn Trust and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club but help is needed to keep the lights on.  The university pays for the electricity for the cathedral and has offered to do the same, for a year, for the castle.  Jo said: “Now St Andrews Partnership is looking for organisations or individuals to take on the cost of the power for the castle for a year, five years or even perpetuity.”  The lights have already been designed by Thorn Electrics and are to be installed free of charge by RB Grant.  Jo launched the castle project with the late Lindsay Matheson, with whom she worked on lighting up the cathedral, before the death of the former Madras College rector last July.  Jo said: “We are sad that he won’t see the project completed.”  The castle was caught up in the Protestant Reformation, when Protestant preacher George Wishart may have been imprisoned in its bottle dungeon. Cardinal Beaton’s body was kept there after his murder, which sparked a brutal siege.

Bright Spark Pupils Have Designs on Helping Highland Electric Car Push

The Winners of a Highland-wide design project have been revealed after hundreds of children in the region have submitted their works.  The I Design Future initiative aimed to involve primary and secondary school pupils to help design branding for an Electric Vehicle (EV) and charging infrastructure throughout the region.  P1s to S7s from over 30 schools have been working to come up with inspirational imagery to raise awareness of electric vehicles throughout the region and to help Highland move towards a low carbon transport future.  The primary school competition which asked to design a vehicle wrap for Zippy Zoe (Renault Zoe), one of the Council’s EVs saw two winners sharing the accolade and seeing their project transferred on the EV car: Ben Macgillvray from North Kessock Primary and Aysha Reid from Crown Primary.  Both images are already proudly displayed on Zippy Zoe and can be seen on the streets of Inverness and around rural Highlands.  The winner for the competition for secondary school pupils, who were tasked with designing branding for Highland Council’s EV charging infrastructure, was S3 pupil Samantha Flavell, who created a "technically impressive design that captured the essence of Highlands".  Her work will feature on EV charging points and signage. Miss Flavell said: "I learned about the project from my teacher and I got very excited by this opportunity to create an image which would be used on charging points throughout Highlands. I feel honoured my work is now a part of Highland EV history."  The Chair of the Council’s Climate Change Working Group, Cllr Trish Robertson said: "Involving pupils, educating and enthusing them to take part in this EV initiative is potentially an important step in the fight against climate change in Highland. We were overwhelmed with talent among young people: some showed real skill with drawing, some have imagination that inspires; some young minds used the power of words and created beautiful motivational quotes. The future is in safe hands with youth like this."  The Highland Council’s Climate Change Coordinator (EV), Anna Myeshkova, added: "We are so impressed with talent and world awareness of our young minds. We are also very proud of what children created for Zoe.  With new charging points being installed in Inverness and rural Highlands there is no stopping Zoe’s adventures - watch out for her all over Highlands inspiring all to go electric!"  The project comes as part of the Council’s initiatives towards achieving national commitments for low emission transport, delivering social, economic and environmental benefits to communities across the region.  Thirty-one Electric Vehicle charging points have been installed across the region by the Council with support from Transport Scotland, with many more to be installed in the coming year.  Schemes offered by Energy Saving Trust are available to enable more drivers to move towards sustainable options.

Venison Producer Highland Game Wins £13m Supply Deal
A Dundee-based firm is to buy thousands of tonnes of wild Scottish venison under a £13m five-year deal with Scottish government agency Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS). Under the deal, 97% of deer culled by FLS will be processed into venison products by Highland Game Ltd for sale in the UK and overseas.  It amounts to almost 1,000 tonnes - or 39,000 carcasses - of venison a year.  Highland Game is the UK's largest producer of venison.  The company, which already sourced most of its meat from FLS, won the contract following a competitive tendering process.  By weight, red deer will account for about 70% of the venison, followed by roe (about 15%), sika (about 10%) and fallow (about 5%). Overall, Scotland produces about 3,500 tonnes of wild venison and 70 tonnes of farmed venison each year.  In Scotland, the annual cull of deer is carried out by shooting or by "live capture".  According to a recent report by the Deer Working Group, more than 100,000 deer are shot each year, but only a small number are captured live.  Some campaigners have called for deer numbers to be controlled by contraceptive darts rather than shooting.  However, a report for the Deer Initiative, a partnership dedicated to managing deer numbers in England and Wales, found that the use of such darts would have a limited immediate impact on population levels. FLS manages the deer population through sustainable culls to prevent overpopulation.  Speaking at a visit to Highland Game, Rural Affairs Minister Mairi Gougeon said deer management was "essential to help reduce Scotland's deer population to non-damaging levels to protect the environment".  She said: "As part of our ambition to create a circular economy, we should ensure that this lean, healthy source of protein reaches the food chain.  This contract will make a significant contribution to Scotland's £7.25m per year venison industry." Ms Gougeon added that the deal with Highland Game would bring added value to the rural economy and sustain hundreds of rural jobs.  Highland Game managing director Christian Nissen said his company's working relationship with FLS was "moving from strength to strength".  He added: "This is a hugely successful pairing that is a real boost to the reputation of Scotland's high quality food and drink sector and I look forward to further work with FLS and other land managers to build on these very strong foundations."

New Scottish Manufacturing Centre Gets Green Light
Planning permission has been granted for a £65m manufacturing centre of expertise next to Glasgow Airport.  The National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) will include a skills academy and industry-led research and development facilities.  NMIS aims to support businesses across the country and attract investment.  It is a key part of the Scottish government's manufacturing action plan, which aims to help Scotland become a world leader in advanced manufacturing.  The facility at the 52-hectare Netherton Campus in Renfrewshire is being supported by, among others, the Scottish government, Scottish Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Funding Council and Renfrewshire Council.  More than £65m is being invested in the centre, including £8m by Strathclyde, which is the facility's anchor university, and £48m by the Scottish government. It will form part of the developing advanced manufacturing innovation district, which includes the Advanced Forming Research Centre at Inchinnan and the new Lightweight Manufacturing Centre in Renfrew.  No date has been set for the start of construction but work is already well under way on the district's enabling infrastructure, funded through the Glasgow City Region City Deal.  Those behind the project said that once fully developed, the district has the potential to attract up to 6,000 jobs and deliver an annual economic injection of £535m. Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: "Securing planning permission is a significant milestone for NMIS.  It paves the way to start construction of the new facilities which will deliver the research, support and skills to help manufacturers unlock opportunities in emerging digital technologies and processes.  NMIS will be an international centre of expertise where research, industry and the public sector will work together to make Scotland a global leader in advanced manufacturing and attract investment."  Prof Sir Jim McDonald, principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Strathclyde, said planning consent was a "major step in the journey towards revitalising our industrial base and in re-establishing Scotland's international reputation for manufacturing excellence".

The Scottish Roots of Johnny Cash

There are many places of pilgrimage for fans of legendary musician Johnny Cash, among them Arkansas, where he was born, Nashville, Tennessee, the home of country music - and Fife.  In truth, the east coast of Scotland is not yet a hotspot for fans of the Man in Black but some people think it should be.  A small festival in Aberdour is now paying tribute to Cash's legacy and his Scottish links.  Cash himself claimed his ancestors were from the Kingdom of Fife and was proud of his Scottish roots, even if they had crossed the Atlantic way back in the 17th Century.  The all-American musician began his career in the 1950s, recording alongside Elvis Presley at the famous Sun Studios in Memphis.  He walked the line between outlaw and heavenly until he died in 2003, at the age of 71, after a late career flourish in which he had success with a series of acoustic albums.  But it was a chance meeting in the late 1970s that led the star to track his down Scottish roots.  He found himself sitting next to Major Michael Crichton-Stuart, hereditary keeper of Falkland Palace in Fife, on a flight from the US.  Cash mentioned that he had heard that his family originated in Scotland and Mayor Crichton-Stuart confirmed that the family name was still to be seen in the farms and streets of the Kingdom.  Cash's daughter Roseanne told a BBC documentary in 2010: "My father was so taken by this he had our ancestry done back to the 11th century."  Biographer Stephen Millar told the same programme it appeared Cash was descended from a man called William Cash who lived in Strathmiglo in the late 17th Century.  The singer's daughter Roseanne further claims that the Cash clan is descended from Ada, the sister of King Malcolm IV (1153-1165).  She says: "Whenever my dad went into the hospital in his last years of life, he always checked himself in under the name of Malcolm. He relished that connection with royalty, however far distant in the past."  In the 1980s, Cash travelled to Fife at least three times - most notably in 1981 when he recorded a Christmas special for US television with fellow singer Andy Williams.  When Leith-born singer-songwriter Dean Owens heard the story he thought something should be done to celebrate Cash's Fife roots.  "Being Scottish we like to claim people for our own," he says. "Finding out Johnny Cash is Scottish, I got quite excited about that."  Mr Owens said the Cashback festival at the Woodside Hotel in Aberdour was not a "tacky" tribute festival but instead a celebration of Cash's legacy.  Rebus author Ian Rankin will be one of those taking part, giving a talk on Saturday afternoon.  John McTaggart, who owns the Woodside Hotel, where the festival takes place, says more people should know about the connection.  He says everyone knows that Prestwick Airport was the only place in the UK where Elvis Presley ever set foot.  And Kirriemuir has a statue in honour of AC/DC's Bon Scott, who lived there until he moved to Australia when he was six. "People love that musical heritage," he says. "So there should be some kind of monument." Mr Owens says maybe a statue is not the right memorial.  "In some ways this is better because it is all about the music," he says.

Distillery to Be Most Northerly Mainland Whisky-maker

Planning permission has been secured for Scotland's most northerly mainland whisky distillery.  The small-scale micro-distillery is to be opened on a site in John o' Groats in Caithness next year.  Husband and wife team Derek and Kerry Campbell plan to employ six people to produce up to 60,000 litres of whisky annually.  A distillery with two copper stills, along with a visitor centre and warehouse have been proposed.  The site will produce the first whisky in John o' Groats in more than 180 years.  Development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise has provided £198,000 towards the venture.  Mrs Campbell said the idea for the business emerged from a long interest in whisky production.

City of Glasgow Chorus in Concert At Helensburgh Church
One of Scotland’s leading city choirs will be visiting Helensburgh this weekend to perform a range of much-loved classical choral works.  The City of Glasgow Chorus is in concert at St Michael and All Angels Church in William Street on Saturday, March 7 at 7pm.  Their programme includes Faure’s Requiem and a selection of choral classics.  Founded in 1983, the City of Glasgow Chorus’s members are all dedicated and talented singers and perform with professional musicians to a very high standard, while also making sure to have fun. Their concert programme includes performances at venues all over the city, including the Royal Concert Hall, the City Halls and the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, as well as ‘out of town’ dates in Largs, Saltcoats and Killearn to name but three.  The choir today has more than 100 members singing a wide range of musical genres, committed to performing less familiar pieces as well as the popular and well-loved choral works.

Rest and Be Thankful: New Pit to Combat Landslips on A83
New landslip mitigation measures are to be implemented on the A83 at the Rest and Be Thankful in a bid to keep the road open during adverse weather.  Transport Scotland said £1.9m was being invested in the construction of a new catch pit on the hillside to improve the resilience of the vital route.  In January the road was closed for two days after being covered by 1,300 tonnes of debris due to a landslide.  Argyll and Bute Council has called for a permanent solution to the problem.  Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said: "We have already seen the effectiveness of the catch pit programme and want to build on the existing measures, so work will begin on an additional catch pit at phase one of the hillside."   Mr Matheson said £79.2m had been invested in the maintenance of the route since 2007.  The mitigation measures also include improved drainage and hillside planting.  Transport Scotland said work since 2013 was estimated to have kept the A83 open for at least 48 days when it would otherwise have closed.  This includes the October 2018 event, the largest on record, which intercepted approximately 3,200 tonnes of material reaching the A83.  But the leader of Argyll and Bute Council said more needed to be done to address disruption on the route.  Aileen Morton said: "The issues with the Rest and Be Thankful have been recognised for over a decade now, a decade in which a sticking plaster approach has been taken by the Scottish government.  This is a vital route for Argyll and Bute, for Scotland, and it's time for a more substantial commitment to be made."  Ms Morton said the review of potential transport projects across the country was "a long, drawn out one".  She added: "Considering the mitigation measures failed yet again Argyll and Bute Council is still asking for a permanent solution to be identified, funded and delivered as a matter of urgency - it is likely to require a substantial sum of money to do this but that must be better than spending more money on works that don't ultimately solve the problem."