Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 558

Issue # 558                                                Week ending Saturday 27th June  2020

In A Pandemic, A Man’s Got to Grow Long What A Man’s Got to Grow Long by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

As I was about to go into the shop, this man in front who was built like a brick outhouse was clearly struggling with the recommendations about face coverings. Here was a man not used to putting on a mask. Here was a man not used to shopping, I suspected. He looked at me with all the warmth and tenderness of John Wayne about to dispatch another mob of no-good cattle rustlers and said: “A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do.”

He pulled up his scarf, pulled down his knitted beanie hat, sighed loudly as he opened the door and vanished inside. I followed and watched him flit from aisle to aisle and he bought mainly cleaning products. And toilet rolls - which, I suppose, is a cleaning product. Yeah? Of course it is. What else would you do with it, apart from tie the end to a small puppy and teach it to fetch?

Why on earth did that man need to paraphrase John Wayne in the movie Stagecoach to go and buy soap, Pledge and toilet paper, as if it was some act of bravery? I think the problem was that that he didn’t want to wear the mask. In our topsy-turvy world of new normal, it’s good people who wear masks and those without are the baddies. I kept quiet but I was tearing my hair out at his attitude.

As it happens, lockdown hair is now a big deal too. Remember how some of our loftiest, puffed-up politicians have been bleating about how we are all in this together. Yet there is little sign that they have a hair out of place. So how can they say it when they look as if that have just stepped out of the pages of a J D Williams catalogue? The whole we-are-all-in-this-together thing is very important.

Her husband could give the First Minister a tidy-up of the back and sides but naw. She has been videoing herself cutting her own locks and she made a pretty good job of it. So much so that it has become a talking point on all these pointless TV shows where they have little new to talk about. Podgy men in London studios, like Lord Digby Jones and Andrew Pierce, sneer that there’s no way Nicola could have done an “immaculate” job without breaching lockdown rules.

Our FM did what a female FM has to do. She went Zoom. No, she is not a superhero in a cape - they wear PPE, nowadays. Ms Sturgeon had her hairdresser on a Zoom video link guiding her on what to snip. She was told that to thin hair without it looking like you took almighty great chunks out of it, you use scissors with serrated blades. Like dressmakers shears, but for perms.

So I welcome the fluffy famous few showing solidarity with the rest of us by looking eminently and honourably scruffy. I don’t care if Health Secretary Matt Hancock has a wife or partner at home who can cut his hair or not. The point is that he should take a stand with the people who do not and assume a look as bedraggled as Worzel Gummidge. I am asking all public to look more scruffy - except the Prime Minister, obviously.

This talk of snipping and cutting is unnerving me. It all started with my first girlfriend in Brighton. ‘Twas a hot summer’s day so she suggested we make up a picnic and head to the beach. I packed everything we could possibly need into that hamper. I was shocked because I had no idea it was a topless beach. The far end is bottomless too. After a while, we became more brave. I pulled off my string semmit. Your turn, Felicity, dearest. After a while, she told me to undo her at the back. I struggled but I did it, eventually.

She then said: “You don’t have much experience taking off bras, do you?” I retorted: “Of course I do. Er, no I don’t. What gave me away?” She replied: “The scissors, mostly.”

Well done to those that are already allowing themselves to become Hairy Harrys. The weatherman Tomasz Schafernaker is a perfect example. He has a girlfriend who could be trimming his locks but he is now reaching up on that big weather map showing us all that the rain from Spain does not just fall mainly on the plain but in Stornoway and Lerwick while looking quite dishevelled. Good for him.

The lockdown has also really made me jittery about how fragile things are. Is it me or do things just break in my hands? An hour ago, when I was buttoning my shirt, a button fell off. Then I went out to the supermarket and the handle came off the basket. Then I had to rush home and I got to the bathroom door and the handle fell off.

Oh heck. Now this man is afraid to go in there and do what this man has gotta do.

Face Masks Become Compulsory on Public Transport

Face masks are now compulsory on public transport as Scotland continues to ease its way out of lockdown.  Children under five and people with certain medical conditions are exempt from the new rule which came into force on Monday.  It covers buses, trains, the Glasgow Subway, Edinburgh trams, aircraft, enclosed areas onboard ferries, taxis and private hire cabs.  The Scottish government is also urging people to continue to limit travel.  Last week, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said face coverings "can help to reduce the risk of transmission" but stressed that physical distancing, hand washing and "good hygiene" were still necessary to prevent infection.  Further changes now coming into effect include dental practices being able to see patients with urgent care needs.  Places of worship will also reopen for individual prayer and professional sport can also resume behind closed doors. In addition, the construction industry will be able to move to the next phase of its restart plan. But it will be another week before some shops can reopen while the tourism and hospitality sector will need to wait until 15 July to resume trading for the first time in almost four months.  As the transport changes take effect, ScotRail confirmed that masks would be available at 18 of its busiest stations for a limited period.  David Simpson, operations director, said: "The position on face coverings is now absolutely clear and we are urging customers to take collective responsibility and follow the Scottish government rules on their mandatory use.  But Scotland's Railway can't guarantee physical distancing at all stages of a customer's journey.  The message remains the same as it has been since the start of the pandemic: only travel if your journey is essential."  Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said: "We are now in a position to enter phase two of the route map, however we must do so with great caution, as we cannot risk a resurgence of the virus and wasting all of the good work to date in terms of respecting boundaries and working from home.  Transport has a vital role to play in helping restart the economy, but there is a clear and great need for personal and collective responsibility when travelling, especially by public transport.  It's also very important to leave space on public transport for those who need it most."  His remarks come after announcing a further £46.7m of funding available to bus operators.  It will cover any loss of fare-paying passenger revenue anticipated because of the physical distancing measures and reduced capacity on vehicles, which is estimated to be about 10 to 20% of normal.  Mr Matheson added that there would be circumstances when the two-metre rule was breached, even temporarily.  He added: "That is why all passengers have to wear a face covering. I continue to engage directly with business leaders and major employers and I am encouraging them to embrace these changes which can help us all adapt to a new working and business environment.  We are increasing the frequency of public transport, but without a significant reduction in demand, the plan won't work."  Meanwhile, the dental development is only for treatments which do not create aerosol particles, which is what happens when dental drills are used.  Scotland's chief dental officer Tom Ferris said: "Dental practices will be able to see NHS patients who are in need of urgent care for face-to-face consultation, using procedures which limit the risk of spread of using coronavirus such as non-aerosol- generating procedures.  This will mean up to an additional 10,000 appointment slots available per day across Scotland."  Latest figures published by the Scottish government reveal that 18,156 people have tested positive for Covid-19.  The number of deaths by that measure is 2,472 but last week's National Records Scotland figures put the total at 4,000.

Six Charged After Large Crowds Gather for Kelvingrove Park Party Despite Lockdown
A number of arrests have been made after large crowds gathered to party in a Glasgow park despite lockdown restrictions.  Videos and images show droves of boozed-up punters drinking in the city's Kelvingrove Park on last Saturday evening and again on Thursday Police stopped large groups entering Kelvingrove Park.  As deadly coronavirus continues to grip Scotland, the Government's phase two rules state that three households can meet up outdoors, while keeping two metres apart.  But footage and pictures show mass crowds of lockdown rebels partying in the park, clearly ignoring the two metre rule imposed by the Scottish Government.  Chief Inspector Alan MacIntyre said: "Officers attended at Kelvingrove Park on Saturday and Thursday after reports of large gatherings and disturbances.  The regulations remain that people should only leave the house for very limited purposes, for example for basic necessities, for exercise or recreation, for medical needs or travelling for work which cannot be done from home.  The Chief Constable has made it clear that we are asking people to take personal responsibility to do the right thing and remember the purpose of these measures is to aid the collective effort to stay safe, protect others and save lives by preventing the virus from spreading.  Our officers will continue to engage with the public, explain the legislation and guidance and encourage compliance. We will use enforcement as a last resort only where there is a clear breach of the legislation."

Fergus Ewing Says it is ‘Draconian’ of UK Westminster Government to Cut Off Furlough Support As Rural and Island Tourism Season Ends
Fergus Ewing warned islands and rural tourism businesses will suffer under the UK Westminster Government’s plans to end the furlough scheme at the end of October.  The Tourism Secretary renewed Scottish Government calls for the multi-billion pound initiative to help businesses through the coronavirus crisis to be extended.  His call came as UK Scotland Office minister Iain Stewart suggested the scheme would come to an end as planned and suggested the Scottish Government should be “more ambitious” when it came to kick-starting the economy.   Many in rural and island communities in the tourism sector have a season which lasts only from April to September. Therefore to cut off support just at the time when the season ends, from that point of view, looks to be pretty draconian.”  Mr Ewing said the impact on the Scottish tourism sector would be “so severe” that a longer term scheme was needed as well as a VAT cut. Mr Ewing, the Inverness and Nairn MSP, said: “I am hopeful we can achieve something in Scotland but also in other parts of the UK where the need for this will be similar. November is a very bad time for the hotel sector. Many in rural and island communities in the tourism sector have a season which lasts only from April to September. Therefore to cut off support just at the time when the season ends, from that point of view, looks to be pretty draconian.”  Around 628,200 people in Scotland have been furloughed. Currently, the furlough scheme pays 80% of an employee’s wages, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.  Mr Ewing said he was “pretty confident” that the Scottish Government’s plan to re-open the tourist season on July 15 would come to fruition “unless we get into the dreadful, catastrophic scenario of a second wave of contagion or indeed localised spread.”  The Tourism Secretary added that he appreciated the disappointment of hospitality businesses when it was announced last week that plans to re-open outdoor eating and drinking facilities were postponed.  Mr Ewing acknowledged that the Scottish Government had been criticised for being “unduly cautious” with the July 15 date, but argued its approach gave businesses more time to prepare.  Also appearing on the Politics Show was Mr Stewart, the Milton Keynes South MP who was promoted to the Scotland Office following the resignation of Moray MP Douglas Ross.  Mr Ross resigned in protest at the UK Westminster Government’s handling of key adviser Dominic Cummings’s 270 mile trip during lockdown.  When asked about extending the furlough scheme in Scotland, Mr Stewart replied: “I don’t think it is going to be helpful to focus on that specific scheme beyond October.”

RGU Student’s Braw Broch Archive Reveals the Astonishing Story of Fraserburgh on Film

A north-east student has created what has been described as the “best film archive of any town in Scotland”.  And his efforts have helped to unearth and chronicle a remarkable variety of historic footage of Fraserburgh.  Andrew Davidson’s initiative features hitherto unseen images of the Broch in wartime, royal visits, the heroic exploits of the RNLI, the unveiling of new buildings and the remnants of day-to-day life from across the last 100 years.  The works have a poignancy and convey a genuine sense of the community coming together in times of triumph and tragedy and Mr Davidson has shown a huge amount of imagination and enterprise to bring the venture to fruition.  The 34-year-old started studying at Robert Gordon University after a varied career, which included producing a weekly programme for Mongolian TV and teaching English in China.  He has been praised by the university for the quality of the new project, which has gone live online, and a link to the myriad films is now available to the public.  One of the most evocative sections is entitled “Fraserburgh at War” and highlights the prominent role which the north-east port played during the hostilities between 1939 and 1945.  Mr Davidson said: “The young men of the town were fighting across Europe, RAF Fraserburgh was situated on the outskirts, and there was a branch of the home guard and the Air Training Corps.  “Then you had the presence of a munitions factory and the fact that Fraserburgh was known as ‘Little London’ on the account of the town being heavily bombed in air raid attacks, so that every resident was directly affected in some way by conflict.  “The voices and images tell the stories from the north-east in the very words spoken, and the images created, by the many people who lived and worked in the area over the years.”  The site recounts how Fraserburgh became the first location of an RNLI lifeboat station in Scotland from 1858. Throughout the 20th century, the town was forced to respond to a series of terrible tragedies with many members of the lifeboat crew being lost in incidents in 1919, 1953 and 1970.  New boats were launched and their naming ceremonies were caught on film, acting as lasting tributes to the importance of the service in a town.  And the initiative relates how, in September 1962, Fraserburgh Academy was officially opened by HRH Princess Margaret – who was accompanied by Lord Snowdon. However, although it already contains an abundant amount of material, the archive is an ongoing venture and Mr Davidson is keen for the public to get involved in adding to it.  He added: “We also accept donations of films featuring Fraserburgh and the surrounding areas to help build the archive, all formats are accepted.  Films will be digitised free of charge and then given back to the donor.”  RGU professor Peter Reid added: “It has been a joy to be involved with Andrew on this project.  He has done a phenomenal amount of work and has produced what is quite possibly the best film archive of any town in Scotland.  “There are some amazing gems on the site including lovely colour footage such as a trip to Pennan by sea when, in 1947, the village was cut off by snow.  This is a very important contribution to the cultural heritage of the north-east and, indeed, to the social history of Scotland as a whole.” Mr Davidson paid special tribute to Fraserburgh man, Jim Taylor, whose films feature prominently in the new archive. He said: “I can’t stress enough the importance of his work and I really think what he has done over the years is incredible.  He has always been interested in local history and stories from a young age, bought a reel-to-reel tape recorder with his first pay packet in the 1960s and started capturing audio recordings of oral history, stories and traditional song from the north east.  He thought nothing was being done to record a lasting documentation of the Doric as it was and the traditions, some of which were slowly changing and being lost.  He started filming interviews from the 1980s onwards when he bought a video camera and what I have featured on the archive is only really a small representation of his work.  He has amassed hundreds of hours of really valuable content over the years from people who are long passed highlighting ways of life which are now gone.  I hope that placing his work within this digital archive can help it reach a wider audience and many more people will come to appreciate the extent and value of his work, because he deserves it.”

101-Year-old Woman Completes Zip Wire Challenge for NHS

A 101-year-old woman from southern Scotland has completed a zip wire challenge to raise funds for charity.  Margaret McConchie, of Laggan near Gatehouse of Fleet, travelled more than 800 metres (2,600ft) at about 30 metres (100ft) above the ground.  Her goal was to raise £1,919 - to match the year of her birth - for NHS Charities Together but she ended up raising more than £12,000.  She said the efforts of Capt Tom Moore had inspired her to take the challenge.  The zip wire at Laggan Outdoor in Dumfries and Galloway is owned by her family.  She said that she had completed the journey twice before and found it "quite thrilling".  Speaking ahead of her latest attempt, she said: "Last time I did it, I buzzed for the rest of the evening," she said. "I am hoping to have the same effect today."  She said she was keen to do something to help support the people on the frontline of dealing with coronavirus.  "I've watched from the confines of my home, how inspiring, resilient and compassionate the NHS and key workers in the UK are," she said.  "Whilst we've sheltered inside, they've supported our communities and saved lives.  Watching Captain Tom earlier this year, inspired me to do something of my own to raise money for NHS Charities Together."    The pensioner described herself as "not particularly adventurous" but said she had got more daring as she got older.

Space Hub Sutherland Recommended for Approval

Highland Council officials have recommended councillors give planning permission for a space port.  Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) wants to build the satellite launch site on peatland on the Moine Peninsula near Tongue.  Council officials have said launches should be limited to 12 per year.  Among the reasons for this is the amount of plastic and metal debris falling into the sea during rocket launches.  Twelve would see an estimated five tonnes of carbon fibre reinforced plastic and seven tonnes of metal alloy dropping into the sea each year, according to the officials' report.  Councillors on Highland Council's north planning applications committee will consider the proposals for Space Hub Sutherland on Friday.  The local authority has received 457 objections to the plans and 118 representations in support of them.  Impact on the environment and risk to human health are among the reasons for the objections.  Local community councils have supported the project because it is expected to create new jobs.  HIE has said by the year 2024 the space port would support 177 jobs across Scotland - 139 in the Highlands with more than 40 of these posts in and around the launch site.  HIE has approved up to £17.3m in funding towards designing and building the space hub. HIE would contribute £9.8m, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority £5m and the UK Space Agency £2.5m.  The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority is involved because of its work to help create new jobs to replace those lost from the eventual closure of the Dounreay nuclear power site near Thurso in Caithness.

The Dumfries and Galloway Council Roads Contract That Lost £3m
It was a deal which was expected to return a financial surplus to Dumfries and Galloway Council.  Instead, the trunk roads maintenance contract ended up producing a deficit of £3m. It prompted an internal investigation which has blamed a culture of being "an organisation within an organisation" at its former trading arm DG First.  Further inquiries are now taking place under the council's anti-fraud and anti-corruption strategy.  Dumfries and Galloway Council operated as a sub-contractor to Amey between 2002 and 2013 on trunk road maintenance across the region.  DG First returned an operating surplus on the two contracts secured during this time.  However, a £29m deal with Scotland Transerv covering 2013 to 2018 failed to reach the same level of performance.  Instead, it returned a deficit of £3.25m over its five-year operation.  An investigation has blamed the culture at DG First - more recently called Enterprising Services - which the council subsequently removed from its organisation in a restructure last year.  It said there had been a determination to brand it as a "different entity" to the council.  This led to what was described as an "organisation within organisation" culture of being self-reliant and independent.  The probe concluded that meant the service did not always seek appropriate professional advice and entered into the contract "without fully understanding" its complexity.  Increased reliance on sub-contractors and "limited written contracts" meant the "majority of risk of performance failures lay with the council".  As soon as the problems emerged, a "thorough investigation" was promised into what had happened.  DG First has also been removed from the council's operating structure. A report to go before council said that practices now in operation provided a "high degree of assurance" there could be no repeat of the issues experienced under the road contract.  It also highlighted an updated procurement strategy and improvements to financial controls. Police Scotland has been informed of the progress of the investigation into the handling of the contract.

The Glasgow Tenement Strangers Who Bonded Over Neglected Wasteland

Since the turn of the century, the tenements of Glasgow have steadily grown quiet.  At one time, their back courts were used for drying laundry, exchanging gossip and scampering children.  Now, many have fallen into disrepair and neglect.  In one such property in Shawlands, almost none of the residents knew each other by name - a disconnect that went unnoticed until lockdown began.  But after one man began hacking away at the tangle of weeds on the block's shared land, unlikely friendships began to form.  David Grant, 31, was working in schools and clubs as a self-employed football coach before lockdown.  Like many, he saw his business disappear overnight and found himself stuck indoors wondering what to do with his free time.  He decided to start work on the shared scrap of land - which had become a wilderness of brambles, dense shrub and rubbish after years of neglect.  "I was sick of looking out of the window and seeing a big mess of shoulder length weeds," he said.  One Sunday, I had nothing else to do in lockdown so I came out and started hacking away".  By the end of the day, a handful of neighbours joined in and before long they decided to turn the wasteland into a community space including raised beds, turfed lawn and a paved barbecue area.  The first neighbour to help out was Daniel Grant, 33, a freelance software developer, who was feeling cooped up indoors when he saw David at work.  "He was like a lone warrior taking on this project so I had to join in," Daniel said.  "It was romantic really, this idea that while being locked up you could transform this space."  It soon became obvious that the project could not go any further without permission from everyone living in the surrounding blocks.  This is where Daniel admits his skills came in handy. He created a website to keep residents updated and distributed a survey so everyone could give feedback.  Through this new digital community, more than £1,100 was raised and residents across the block donated tools, equipment, plants, stones and turf.  More than a dozen neighbours cleared the space in a matter of weeks - all novice gardeners who used tutorials on YouTube as a guide.    But one of the unexpected joys was how the group developed a sense of togetherness during a time of loneliness and isolation.  Daniel said: "My role was really to facilitate getting the community to work together and to be involved.  I think probably all of us want to know our neighbours and want to meet new people in our community - we just often don't have a way of facilitating that.  "People come out partly because they want to see the space transform but also because we need to socialise, we need friends and need community." Recent architecture graduates, Laura Brash and Rob Grace, also got involved by offering their own expertise. With Laura between jobs and Rob having recently been furloughed, the couple offered to draw up a proposal based on the survey results.  Having to deal with the opinions of the residents of 80 flats, Rob said: "I was amazed at how on board everyone was.  Even those who had strong opinions about what they would like done were overall very pleased that something was actually happening."  Despite not getting involved in any of the gardening work, Laura appreciated being able to help in a different way.  "Gardening isn't in my skill set so it was nice to do something in a way I felt comfortable," she added.  Another resident who offered his skills was George Thompson, 32 - a self-employed furniture maker who found himself unable to work.  With the recycling centres closed, and having more free time on his hands, George decided to reuse his old floor boards that were left over from home renovations to make benches for the garden.  George was living alone when lockdown started and an important part of the project for him was the social element.  Works on the backcourt are ongoing but the opportunity to get involved has clearly been a social lifeline for many.  As lockdown eases, the residents are looking forward to making proper use of the space and plan on having a launch party to celebrate when the work is complete.

'Unsafe' Staffing Factor in Psychiatric Patient's Death

"Unsafe" staffing levels on a hospital psychiatric ward contributed to the death of a patient who took her own life, a sheriff has concluded.  Clare Shannon,30, died by suicide in April 2014 at the Balcarres Ward in the Royal Edinburgh Hospital.  Two staff on duty that night were looking after 20 patients, at least one of whom needed constant supervision.  A fatal accident inquiry (FAI) found staffing was "inadequate" and a factor in Ms Shannon's death. NHS Lothian said it accepted the findings and had made "significant changes" to its ways of working since the death.  An earlier hearing at Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard that Ms Shannon had spent many years suffering from Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder. In 2007 she made a short film "Unwell" about what it was like to be constantly hearing voices in your head, and had made repeated attempts on her life in the years leading up to her death. Sheriff Wendy Sheehan, who presided over the FAI, wrote: "There was a defect in the system of work on the Balcarres ward, Royal Edinburgh Hospital, which on April 4 2014, allowed two nursing staff (one of whom was a nursing assistant with no formal qualifications and less than a year's experience) to care for 20 acutely unwell patients (at least one of whom required constant observation and others who had a propensity to self-harm).  "This was unsafe and contributed to the accident resulting in Clare Shannon's death."  Sheriff Sheehan said that a "reasonable precaution" which could have been taken to avoid Ms Shannon from losing her life was to ensure that she was "directly observed" when using the toilet "at all times".  The judgement also stated that Ms Shannon may have not received the most appropriate care whilst a patient at the Balcarres Ward.  Sheriff Sheehan said this was because the ward was designed for caring for acute patients and not people with long term conditions like Ms Shannon.  She said NHS Lothian needed to do more to develop services to help people who may have similar needs to Ms Shannon, including recommendations issued last year by Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) entitled "From Observation to Intervention".  She wrote: "Acute wards, by their nature, do not provide an environment where patients with serious, chronic conditions may receive specialist clinical psychology treatment to address their core psychopathology. Acute wards are also not designed to provide the safe, therapeutic and intensive care environment, length of admission or staffing ratios which patients undergoing such treatment require.  The introduction of the 2019 guidance in all NHS Lothian adult inpatient psychiatric wards might realistically prevent other deaths in similar circumstances."  Dr Tracey Gillies, medical director of NHS Lothian, said: "We accept the findings and the recommendations in Sheriff Sheehan's report.  We have already made significant changes to the ways of working within the hospital, to staffing levels, which we keep under review and to the investment in the therapeutic environment within the new Royal Edinburgh Hospital."

What Will A Visit to the Hairdresser Be Like After Lockdown?

Hairdressing businesses in Scotland will be able to open next month - but it is unlikely to be business as usual.  Norma Chesne from Uddingston in Lanarkshire, who has been cutting hair for over 30 years, has built a "home studio salon" in her garden which she says incorporates all the social distancing measures needed.  Her protective equipment will include mask and visor, and she will see one client at a time. But, whatever the limitations, Norma can hardly wait to get started.  "I'm delighted," she said. "I feel for my clients.  "They're all desperate to have their hair done. It's the feel-good factor. Plus I thoroughly enjoy doing it."

Updated COVID - 19 Roadmap
Scotland’s progress in suppressing the virus means the Scottish government has been able to update the route map out of lockdown.
Key dates include:
6 July - Outdoor hospitality areas such as beer gardens will be able to open.
9 July - Scotland will progress to phase three of lockdown if COVID-19 cases continue to reduce.
10 July - Households will be able to meet people from more households outdoors with physical distancing.
13 July - Organised outdoor sports for children will resume and nonessential shops within indoor shopping centres will reopen.
15 July - Pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, and cinemas will be able to open, along with the tourism sector and all holiday accommodation.
Meantime, the Scottish Government’s strategy remains to get as close as possible to elimination of the virus now and build confidence in their ability to control it in future through test and protect.  If that can be done, then the move to the final phase four will become possible, perhaps as we go into August.  Be sensible and apply careful judgment at all times.

'We Must Prepare for A Second Wave of Coronavirus' - Open Letter From Health Leaders

Some of the UK's leading medical experts have appealed to the UK Westminster government to prepare for a second wave of coronavirus.  In an open letter, 16 medical experts urged UK leaders to bear in mind the likelihood of a second wave of the virus, and to be transparent with the public about what is being done to prepare for it.  The letter suggests a "constructive, non-partisan, four nations approach" when it comes to getting the entire UK ready for a further outbreak of Covid-19.  The message outlines a number of policy areas which the group feels need "rapid attention" from the government, including "parliamentary scrutiny", "disproportionate burden on black, Asian, and minority ethnic individuals and communities", and "international collaboration."  The letter in full says "Several countries are now experiencing Covid-19 flare-ups. While the future shape of the pandemic in the UK is hard to predict, the available evidence indicates that local flare-ups are increasingly likely and a second wave a real risk. Many elements of the infrastructure needed to contain the virus are beginning to be put in place, but substantial challenges remain. The job now is not only to deal urgently with the wide ranging impacts of the first phase of the pandemic, but to ensure that the country is adequately prepared to contain a second phase.  You may have seen the recent editorial in The BMJ calling for a transparent rapid review of where we are and what needs to be done to prevent and prepare for a second wave. We believe that such a review is crucial and needs to happen soon if the public is to have confidence that the virus can be contained. The review should not be about looking back or attributing blame. Rather it should be a rapid and forward looking assessment of national preparedness, based on an examination of the complex and inter-related policy areas listed below. These are too broad for any one of the existing select committees. That is why a cross party commission was suggested, establishing a constructive, non-partisan, four nations approach that could rapidly produce practical recommendations for action, based on what we have all learnt, and without itself becoming a distraction for those at the front line or in government.  These recommendations should not require primary legislation or major organisational change. The approach would also help the public understand how and by whom they will be implemented. We believe this will be essential if the UK is to get ahead of the curve.  We are aware of YouGov polls showing that a majority of the public now support an “inquiry.” We also know that the prime minister and secretary of state for health and social care have received a petition from the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group, requesting a full public inquiry. The group has also called for an urgent interim inquiry, which shares the same fundamental approach and objective as our suggested rapid review: that it should be forward looking, practical, responsive to what the public at large want to see happen, and focused on evaluating national preparedness in the lead up to winter, with the aim of saving lives.  We are not wedded to any particular design of inquiry or review, but as outlined in the editorial, we believe it should be quick, broad, ambitious, able to command widespread public and stakeholder trust, and needs to happen now. It should focus on those areas of weakness where action is needed urgently to prevent further loss of life and restore the economy as fully and as quickly as possible. We believe the list below includes those areas.  As stakeholders and leaders of the UK’s medical, nursing, and public health professions, we urge you to establish such a review. We think there’s a strong case for an immediate assessment of national preparedness, with the first results available no later than August, and that all its work should be completed by the end of October. We don’t underestimate the complexities of establishing this in the required timeframe. We stand by ready to help in whatever way we can.  Policy areas needing rapid attention:  Governance including parliamentary scrutiny and involvement of regional and local structures and leaders.  Procurement of goods and services.  Coordination of existing structures, in a way designed to optimise the establishment of effective public health and communicable disease control infrastructure, the resilience of the NHS as a whole, and the shielding of vulnerable individuals and communities.  The disproportionate burden on black, Asian, and minority ethnic individuals and communities.  International collaboration, especially to mitigate any new difficulties in pandemic management due to Brexit"

Man Shot Dead by Police After Stabbing in Glasgow Hotel

A man has been shot dead by police after a stabbing attack at The Park Inn hotel in West George Street in Glasgow city centre. Six people are being treated in hospital for their injuries, including a 42-year-old police officer who was said to be "critical but stable".  Police said the incident was not being treated as terrorism.  The other injured men in hospital are aged 17, 18, 20, 38 and 53.  A police spokesman said the situation was "contained" and there was no danger to the general public. He added that they were not looking for anyone else in relation to the incident, which was first reported at 12:50. He added that officers were on the scene within two minutes of the incident and armed officers shortly afterwards, and the incident was quickly contained.