Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 571

Issue # 571                                     Week ending Saturday 26th September  2020

There is Safety in Numbers But Only If You Are Clever Enough to Stick Them on Your Gate by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

Is it me or are our lives all about numbers now? The figures for those contracting coronavirus are creeping back up and the numbers being tested around the UK are falling. The number of home nations which have a sensible approach is just one - and that is Scotland - while the numbers of idiotic, unhygienic, superspreaders are shooting up elsewhere.

The numbers of people quitting smoking is the highest it has been for 10 years - and it’s thanks to Covid. An ill wind ...

People ask whether kids should go to school six days a week instead of five - to catch up for the time they had off at home due to lockdown. Much as I would hate that if I was still in short trousers in Bernera Primary School, it makes a whole lot of sense. Education is important, you wee blighters. I can’t believe I said that. What a fuddy-duddy I have become. Of course, that’s because of another number - my age. That figure too is the highest it has ever been.

And well done to Galson Estate Trust, which covers the north of Lewis. That community landlord is paying for residents to get free house numbers that are visible from the road. Finding someone’s house can be difficult in out-of-town areas throughout Scotland. In the islands it can be a nightmare because of the bizarre way that croft numbers were allocated. In many places, it was down to widely differing systems.

The first system was First Come, First Served. The second system was Which Number Would You Like To Have? and the third one was You’ll Take What You’re Given.

Rumour has it some households were given their preferred numbers depending on their number of sheep or the attractiveness of their womenfolk. It was also said that if the allocator was in the Free Church, the Church of Scotland families would be assigned one dissimilar to what may have been requested. The result is that house numbers are a higgledy-piggledy mess based on love-ins and scraps from a bygone age.

Not so long ago, I was with a group trying to convince residents in another part of the island to comply. It didn’t work well. Big Murdo said: “Och, why do I need my house number on my gate? Everyone here knows where I live anyway. And I don’t want the taxman to find my house.” We would try and explain that it was difficult for new postal workers but Murd insisted that the postal people could ask anyone in the village.

Then I would say: “What if you get ill, Big Murd, and the doctor or paramedics have to find your house in the middle of the night?”

Wily old codgers like Big Murdo would scratch their heads and say they never thought of that. Yet few actually went and bought the necessary digits when they were next in town. Big Murdo solemnly promised to get his number of his gate 15 years ago and he still lives at No Number Cottage. That’s just silly. Murdo, you are inconsiderate. Mate, it could be downright dangerous. It is not about you, Murd. It is to help people who may be trying to help you. Do it - whether you live on Galson Estate or not.

And that goes whether you live in Bettyhill, Ballachulish or Balmoral. I wonder if the Queen has a house number on her gate? I’ve just checked it on Googlemaps and I don’t think so.

Your Majesty, if a craven, unworthy subject could have a wee word ...? Wait. She doesn’t need one. Apparently, there are signposts showing which is her wee hoose. Even better. So, Big Murd, don’t even think of using that excuse about “what’s good enough for the Queen ...”

At this time particularly, everyone should think about it. Support the NHS. GPs have campaigned for numbers on gates for decades. It’s the bane of their lives. As my granny used to say when my grandfather used to dismiss the local quack’s latest diagnosis on the cause of his persistent wind problem: “Always listen to doctors. They have inside information.”

Putting a number on your gate or on your door can be useful for all kinds of people who may need to come and visit. It’s not rocket science - it is just basic digital technology. Which reminds me of the time that I walked down a street where the house numbers were very different to ones I’d seen before. They were numbered 64k, 128k, 256k, 512k and 1024k. That was a trip down memory lane. One for the geeks.

Nowadays, I must watch my own figure. Like many people I may have over-eaten a bit during lockdown. I also may have over-eaten for much of the last half-century. Mrs X noticed me standing on the bathroom scales the other day. She started laughing at me. When I asked her why, she said: “You’re sucking in your stomach. That is not going to help.” I said: “Of course it will help. How else am I going to see the numbers?”

Reversing the Flow of the Clyde Story
. Again by Douglas Fraser
Mission Clyde is an ambitious new project to harness government appetite for big infrastructure spending, drawing together existing and possible elements of redeveloped land, green transport and renewable energy.  Several local councils and central government are working up plans intended to defy sceptics who feel they've seen a rebranding of old industrial sites and communities, but not much real change.  A new bridge is already on the way, a metro line could track the south bank, and the risk of flooding may require a tidal barrage downstream.   The banks are toxic, prone to flooding, and turning around its long-faded fortunes has had a few false dawns and more hype than reality. But could this be the point at which the Clyde is reborn?  The ambition is there, or at least it's taking shape, in that these are early days for the "Mission Clyde" project. From discussions I've had with those involved, the ambition has not been widely shared.  So let's do some sharing now. The idea is to tap the enthusiasm for big infrastructure, a transition to a green economy, and levelling-up neglected communities.  There's already a Glasgow city region deal, but this is on a much bigger scale, being compiled by the Scottish government, with several of the councils that border a stretch of the navigable river.  The idea is to change a corridor from the east of Glasgow to Greenock and Dumbarton. Initially, it targets nearly 1,000 acres of land that has to be detoxified from its industrial past - at least 15 times the land area of the Scottish Events Campus (SEC) in Glasgow.  There are large areas of riverside land that are liable to flooding, either from rain run-off or the growing risk from climate change of rising sea levels, with storm and tidal surges.  That flood risk has brought back an idea that hasn't surfaced for at least a decade - that the Clyde needs a tidal barrage.  With new tidal power technologies, it might be able to protect land upriver, and to harness marine energy.
There may also be dredging, long neglected, and repair of the river bank walls.  A large dry dock area - near Pacific Quay and the Science Centre, recently used by Sam Mendes and Stephen Spielberg to film parts of the film 1917 - has a plan being set out today for an industrial heritage site.  The green tinge features plans to improve low-emission transport. So a metro is planned, to link the airport with the city centre.  Glasgow council leader Susan Aitken talks of the need to connect communities along the banks of the river and across it, while giving more people access to the river banks. But it's an obstacle to private sector investment if there's a threat of inundation.  "Flooding is a risk now that's very high on our agenda," she says. "There are key sites, the SEC being one of them, where we have ambitious development plans, to have the whole campus powered by the Clyde's renewable energy. "[We need an] engineering solution to offset and mitigate that flooding risk - some kind of Clyde barrage is really what we need, that'll do more than offset flooding: it'll contribute to ways of making the Clyde more usable and developable." Already approved is a major leisure and retail centre, close to the transport museum, with an "active travel" bridge being built between Partick and Govan. A plan is being published today for a new cycle way linking Glasgow's west end with the bridge.  A district heating system in Clydebank, extracting warmth from the river water, is also already in place. Strathclyde and Glasgow universities are involved in plans to straddle the Clyde with innovation districts - Strathclyde involved in materials science, working with Boeing at a centre being created in Renfrew, and advanced manufacturing near Glasgow Airport.  Glasgow University is developing a bioscience quarter between the river's south bank in Govan and the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. It has funding for a centre, potentially of international significance to develop personalised, targeted medicines.  Upstream in the city centre, Barclays is building one of three global financial processing hubs on the south bank, intended for 5,000 workers. If office workers ever return in numbers, that will focus Glasgow's financial district more on the river - rather than turning its back, as at present. Expect sceptics, however, who suspect this is more about branding than real development. The Clyde's industrial decline was clear 50 years ago. There have been big pockets of development. But a trip "doon the watter" on the Waverley paddle steamer (when it's in operation, and because there's no option to take a river bus) will show long stretches of riverside that are neglected, the banks in sad disrepair.  Susan Aitken concedes they have a point. "I can understand people being cynical," she told me, "because we have been through this in Glasgow in the past.  This isn't about rebadging. We're not reinventing the wheel. We haven't come up with pie-in-the-sky ideas for the sake of it." (She seems to have in mind the prime minister's idea of a bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland.)  "This is practical, realisable stuff. But we want to do it faster than we would have done previously, not wait years and years. We're saying: everyone's talking about green recovery. This can give a green recovery.  This can be a driver for a genuine economic recovery in the rest of Scotland. Investment here would have benefits the length and breadth of Scotland. And that's our message to the Scottish government, to Scottish Enterprise and to citizens here as well."  She argues that the Clyde is Europe's biggest riverside development opportunity. If true, it's partly because others have got there long before it. Other cities have docklands transformed into vibrant and desirable commercial and residential districts.  Kim Wilkie, a specialist design consultant, has advised on how to make better use of the upper reaches of the Thames. Within his advice, two strong themes. First, a project like this should be shaped by the people who live with and near the river.  Second, don't treat a river as a barrier but as a focus for living, work and leisure, integrated with the natural flow of such a dominant and powerful feature of geography.

Veterans Trek Hundreds of Miles From Inverness to Glasgow in Aid of Charity

Two armed forces veterans are hiking hundreds of miles across Scotland to raise funds for Help for Heroes, six months after they had to abandon their plans due to lockdown. Paul Roberts, 52, and Sean Jones pledged to self-isolate together with some friends in March by spending two weeks trekking from Inverness to Milngavie, near Glasgow.  However, they were forced to abandon their plans when lockdown was announced.  Six months on, the pair have finally set off on their epic hike in the hopes of raising £1,000.  Mr Roberts was medically discharged from the Royal Marines with full honours due to compartmental syndrome – a painful condition that occurs when pressure within the muscles build to dangerous levels.  He said: “I am doing this walk for every single person who has served, and their families, to raise awareness and as much money as possible for them to use in their recovery.”  Having set off from Highland Capital on Saturday, they will cover around 200 miles of Scotland’s famous peaks and take in the sights of the Great Glen Way, followed by a detour at Spean Bridge to pay their respects at the Commandos Memorial as well as taking in the scenic Nevis Range and Glencoe.  Their journey will come to a conclusion at the end of the West Highland Way on October 3.

Single Market Bill Could 'Weaken Scots Grenfell Regulations'
UK Westminster government plans to end independent Scottish building regulations have been condemned by a leading architect.  Peter Drummond, a senior member of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS), said the regulations had prevented a tragedy in Scotland like that at Grenfell Tower in 2017.  The proposals are contained in the UK Internal Market Bill currently being debated at Westminster.  The UK Westminster government said Scotland could still set its own regulations.  The Scottish government has said the bill is a "power grab" from Holyrood.  It is designed to ensure trade can be carried on unhindered in each of the four home nations once the UK severs its ties to the EU.  The UK Westminster government has said the bill would give a level playing field for businesses across all parts of the UK and represents "the biggest transfer of powers in the history of devolution".  The White Paper published ahead of the bill said "complexities in key sectors such as construction could arise, were differences in regulations to emerge over time".  It said if England and Scotland were to have different building regulations or processes for obtaining construction permits, it would become "significantly more difficult for construction firms to design and plan projects effectively across the UK."  But Mr Drummond, the influential Chair of Practice at the RIAS, said Scottish building standards imposed significantly higher standards on construction projects than those in England and Wales.  The aim of the UK Single Market Bill is to prevent any trade barriers between the four home nations.  Goods or services approved for use in any part of the UK will not be able to be restricted in other home nations.  There are to be common standards for professions carrying out their work, and any barrier to that would be illegal.  Examples include:  Scottish regulations banning flammable cladding which remained in use in England would be against the law.  Architects would be unable to stipulate Scottish materials to reduce a building's carbon footprint as that could be construed as discriminating against other parts of the UK.  Loss of a Scottish compliance regime for design and construction would limit architects' ability to specify local forms of construction.  Mr Drummond said that in 2003, following a fire in high-rise flats in Irvine, the Scottish government introduced measures to protect occupants of residential properties from the sort of tragedy that unfolded at Grenfell in 2017.  A disabled pensioner died in the 1999 blaze with five other people injured after the fire travelled up the external cladding of the recently refurbished block. Mr Drummond, who frequently gives expert evidence in major planning and public inquiries, said: "Against that backdrop it is simply inexplicable that the bill seeks to align the more robust Scottish regulations with the English system.  Those powers are now to be removed. The lowest common denominator within the UK will apply.  And that is, on any fair reading, a spectacularly poor step backwards. We should all be concerned."  Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy, in which 72 people died, changes governing building safety were made on both sides of the border.  Construction law expert Cassandra Auld, of Glasgow solicitors Weightmans, writing in 2019 before new Scottish regulations came into force, said they were more advanced than those in England.  She wrote: "Developers with a significant presence in this market will have to navigate more regulatory hurdles once Holyrood turns its proposed regulations into law this year."  Writing in the trade magazine Building, she added: "It's unclear if the regulatory environment in England will eventually echo the wider safety measures proposed by Holyrood, or expand the combustible materials ban to match the criteria of buildings in Scotland."  Architects fear such different approaches could be lost if the bill, which receives its second reading this week, goes through unchecked.  Constitution Secretary Michael Russell said ministers were determined Scotland should maintain existing high standards in trade and the professions, but claimed the bill would render that meaningless as regulations could be changed at any time by Westminster. He said: "The 'UK Internal Market' White Paper cited building regulations as an example of a potential barrier to the functioning of the UK internal market. There is no credible evidence to support this view. Differences in building regulations between England and Scotland have existed for decades and do not present significant issues for those providing goods or services or to those delivering our built environment.  The construction sector is familiar with such differences and these are well managed." The Scottish government has also said that under the bill any regulatory measures that could "directly reduce price competition" were ruled out.  Ministers said this meant Holyrood could, for example, have not have enacted its policy of minimum unit pricing of alcohol, which the government has said was "vital to public health." A UK Westminster government spokesman said: "Building regulations are a devolved matter, with each of the four nations responsible for developing and enforcing their own regulations. The Scottish government and devolved administrations will continue to be able to set their own regulations in areas of devolved competence, including building regulations."

The ‘Messier’ Side of Student Life is Understood by Nicola Sturgeon But She Backs St Andrews University’s Covid Response
Nicola Sturgeon said she understands the desire to experience the “messier” aspects of student life but has backed St Andrews University action after a freshers’ party Covid outbreak.  Scotland’s oldest university asked students to go into a voluntary lockdown when four students tested positive for the virus after an illegal party in a halls of residence. Forty students are in enforced isolation as a result of the incident. The cases were confirmed on Sunday night.  University principal Professor Sally Mapstone wrote to students to ask them not to attend parties or socialise with those outside their household group.  The cases were raised at the first minister’s daily coronavirus briefing when Ms Sturgeon said: “The guidance to universities does put a lot of responsibility on institutions to do the right thing. But I support the action that St Andrews University has taken and we continue to do everything we can to support universities.”  National Clinical Director Jason Leitch agreed the university’s response was “proportionate”.  But Ms Sturgeon added that she could remember her own student experience at Glasgow University, although she conceded it “was not yesterday”.  “Student life is much more about your lectures and your lessons and what you learn. It is an experience. It is a way of life. You want to immerse yourself in all of that including the messier bits along the way,” Ms Sturgeon said. “And nobody likes to be in a position right now where students are not able to do that. I totally sympathise with that. But the advice we are giving right now is for a reason. It is about not being complacent about your own risk. It is maybe more for older people but it is not non-existent and we know there are health implications for a lot of young healthy people. But it is also about making sure all of us are acting in a way that is not increasing risk for other, more vulnerable people around us.”

Greenock Pair Charged with Fighting Each Other with Knives and A Sword

Two men have been charged with fighting each other with knives and a sword in a Greenock street.  John Glancy and Stephen Shields are accused of engaging in a stand-up battle which is said to have left them both severely injured.  The pair have pleaded not guilty to a series of indictment allegations against them at the sheriff court.  Prosecutors say they conducted themselves in a disorderly manner, shouted, swore and placed people in a state of fear and alarm during the alleged blade fight on Ann Street on May 21. Glancy, 41, is accused of being in possession of two knives and Shields, 39, is said to have had a sword.

Covid: Ban on Meeting in Houses Extended Across Scotland

A ban on visiting other people's homes is to be imposed across Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced.  The measure is already in place for more than 1.75 million people in Glasgow and some neighbouring areas.  But Ms Sturgeon said it would be rolled out across the whole of Scotland in a bid to get the virus under control again before winter. She also confirmed that Scotland would be following England in imposing a 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants.  The curfew will be in place from Friday - with Ms Sturgeon warning that any premises that do not comply could be shut down completely.  Indoor and outdoor gatherings in Scotland were restricted to six people from two households just two weeks ago. However, the number of people testing positive for the virus has continued to increase since then - with the average number of new cases every day now reaching 285, compared to only seven a day in July.  The 383 new cases confirmed on Tuesday was the highest daily total since 15 April, and the sixth highest since the outbreak began in Scotland. The first minister said hospital and intensive care admissions were also starting to rise, with more older people testing positive.  She said the country therefore had to go further to prevent the virus spreading unchecked, and that the scientific advice was that household interaction was a "key driver" of transmission.  Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish government had therefore decided "after careful consideration" that visiting other people's homes will no longer be permitted. The move means Scotland will have tougher coronavirus restrictions than England - where people can can still meet in groups of up to six in a house.  She said: "One of the reasons we have decided to do this is that our early data suggests this restriction is starting to slow the increase of cases in the west of Scotland. So if we extend it nationwide now, in an early and preventative way, we hope it will help to bring the R number down and the virus back under control."  Ms Sturgeon said the new restrictions on visiting other households would be reviewed every three weeks - and stressed that they will "not necessarily" be in place for as long as six months, as some reports have suggested. There will be exceptions for those living alone, or alone with children, who form extended households. The rules will also not apply to couples who do not live together, or to tradespeople or for the provision of informal childcare - such as by grandparents.  Ms Sturgeon acknowledged: "The measures I am announcing today are tough - I will not pretend otherwise - but they do not represent a full-scale lockdown of the kind imposed in March. Indeed, today's measures are an attempt to avoid another lockdown.  By acting early and substantially, our hope is that these new measures will be in place for a shorter period than would be the case if we waited longer to act." Ms Sturgeon made her statement to the Scottish Parliament shortly after Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined new measures in England in the House of Commons.  The two leaders and their counterparts in Wales and Northern Ireland have held talks over a UK-wide approach over the past 24 hours.  Both the UK and Scottish leaders made television broadcasts to the nation on Tuesday evening.  The new Scottish restrictions are more extensive than those announced by Boris Johnson for England.  She also said her scientific team had advised that the UK Westminster government's package "on its own will not be sufficient" to bring coronavirus under control. The Scottish government's gone significantly further by extending the West of Scotland ban on visiting others in their own homes nationwide. Nicola Sturgeon said the new rules would be reviewed every three weeks and need not all last for six months - which was the timescale Boris Johnson suggested for his measures. All governments intend to back up their policies with enforcement but there has been no mention of big new fines in Scotland.  This is devolved decision making in action in the biggest crisis since the creation of the Scottish Parliament.  Some argue divergence across the UK is confusing and undesirable but opinion polls consistently suggest the Scottish public trust Holyrood to set the pace.

Indyref2: Starmer Refuses to Rule Out Backing Scotland Referendum

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has refused to rule out the possibility of supporting a second referendum on Scottish independence in the long term.  But he told the BBC a vote like the one held in 2014 was "not needed" soon and the focus should be on "rebuilding" the economy and services after coronavirus.  His party would not campaign for a referendum in next May's Scottish Parliament elections, he added.  The SNP government in Scotland wants to hold one as soon as possible. In an interview with BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg, Sir Keir also said Labour would "betray" voters "if we don't take more seriously winning elections and actually changing lives". And he argued Prime Minister Boris Johnson did not have "the right character" to deal with the challenges posed by the pandemic.  When Scotland's voters were asked in a referendum in 2014 whether the country should become independent, 55% said no. But the SNP has campaigned for a second poll since the UK's 2016 decision - in the Brexit referendum - to leave the EU.  It says the difference between the UK-wide result and that in Scotland - which chose by 62% to 38% to remain within the bloc - strengthens the case for independence.  It has also been suggested that, following the next UK general election, expected in 2024, Labour could need the support of the SNP if it wants to form a government. This might, it is added, require a deal on having another referendum.  Sir Keir said: "We will be going into that election in May making it very clear that another divisive referendum on independence in Scotland is not what is needed.  What is needed is an intense focus on rebuilding the economy, on making sure public services are rebuilt as well and dealing with the pandemic." Pressed on what would happen after May, Sir Keir said: "We don't know... In politics, people tell you with great certainty what is going to happen next year and the year after, but it doesn't always turn out that way." He added: "I am setting out the argument we will make into May. I am not doing a hypothetical of what will happen after that."  The Scottish government, led by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, had hoped to hold an independence referendum during the current term of the Scottish Parliament. However, ministers wanted to secure an agreement with the UK Westminster government to make sure any vote would be legally watertight, something Mr Johnson has repeatedly stated his opposition to.  Work on preparations for a ballot was paused after coronavirus hit, but the Scottish government has promised to set out plans in a draft bill.  Speaking for the UK Westminster government, Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove raised doubts about the Labour leader's comments, saying: "Sir Keir Starmer has a problem accepting referendum results. He tried to block Brexit, and now he wants to work with Nicola Sturgeon to renege on the Scottish referendum result and break up the UK." Recent UK opinion polls have suggested support for the party under his stewardship is now close to that for Mr Johnson's Conservatives.  In his speech on Monday to Labour's annual conference, Sir Keir told his party to "get serious about winning".  Speaking to Laura Kuenssberg, he said: "When you lose four elections in a row, you have lost the chance to change lives for the better and we have gifted the Tories a decade or more of power. That is not what the Labour Party is there for." He also said: "The Labour Party's historic mission was to represent working people in Parliament and to form governments to change lives, and we betray that if we don't take more seriously winning elections and actually changing lives."

Lone Piper Launches Wigtown Book Festival's Online Edition

A lone piper will replace the usual party and fireworks at the start of this year's annual festival in Scotland's national book town.  Artistic director Adrian Turpin described the piper as a "symbol of resilience". The opening also features the premiere of a collaboration by Alexander McCall Smith and composer Tom Cunningham.  Their new song cycle celebrates St Ninian and other early Scottish saints.  Mr Turpin said: "This history of St Ninian is written into the landscape in Wigtownshire. We're thrilled to be giving the first airing to a remarkable and moving piece of music that is both intensely local and universal in its appeal."  Mr McCall Smith, who penned the words, said he had wanted to write something about the early saints for some time. "I have always been intrigued by the stories of these people who came here when Scotland was a dark and dangerous place, and who had the idea of spreading a message of light, love, kindness and forgiveness," he said.  Over the course of the next 10 days a number of speakers will take part in online events including Andrew O'Hagan, Juno Dawson, Carrie Gracie and Helena Kennedy.  Mr Turpin said it would be a different but, hopefully, enjoyable experience.  "This festival usually brings thousands of visitors to Wigtown," he said.  "Clearly we can't do that at the moment but we aim to fly the flag for Scotland's book town, its businesses and its region across the world. The lone piper - replacing previous years' pipe band - marks the way in which all our lives have changed in 2020.  "But above all it's a symbol of resilience - the show will go on and we aim to make it as engaging, challenging and uplifting as ever."

Scottish University Students Told Not to Go to Pubs

Students in Scotland are being told not to go to pubs, parties or restaurants this weekend in a bid to stem a spate of coronavirus outbreaks. Hundreds of university students have tested positive at campuses across the country, with many more self-isolating.  Universities have now pledged to make it "absolutely clear" to students that there must be no parties.  And they will not be allowed to socialise with anyone outside of their accommodation.  Students have also been warned that any breaches of the new rules "will not be tolerated".  The stricter guidelines were announced after opposition leaders accused First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of a "basic failure" to anticipate the problem and provide more testing on university campuses. However they have been criticised by the National Union of Students Scotland as "unjustified"and "deeply concerning". President Matt Crilly said it was especially concerning for students who relied on income from hospitality jobs, and showed "complete disregard" for their mental health and wellbeing.  Universities Scotland said the new guidance that had been agreed with the Scottish government was a "necessary step at this crucial moment of managing the virus in the student population, to protect students and the wider community".  The new rules state that all universities will "make absolutely clear to students that there must be no parties, and no socialising outside their households".  They go on to say: "This weekend, the first of the new tighter Scottish government guidance, we will require students to avoid all socialising outside of their households and outside of their accommodation.  We will ask them not to go to bars or other hospitality venues."  Extra staff will be brought into student accommodation to watch for any breaches of the guidance and to support students who are self-isolating. Later Universities Scotland denied the move amounted to a ban but admitted it was a "big ask". And Nicola Sturgeon clarified that the rules about avoiding hospitality applied only to this weekend.  Students will also be required to download the Protect Scotland app. The guidance warns: "We will take a strict 'Yellow Card/Red Card' approach to breaches of student discipline that put students and others at risk. "While we first want to advise students about breaches of discipline, we will not hesitate to escalate this to disciplinary action including potential discontinuation of study."  Several universities across the country are dealing with major outbreaks of the virus, with many students in halls of residence in Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen and Edinburgh all being told to self-isolate.  A total of 172 Glasgow University students have so far tested positive, with 600 in isolation, while all 500 residents at the Parker House halls in Dundee have been told to quarantine.  And 120 cases have been identified in an outbreak at Edinburgh Napier University.

Modern Apprentices: 'They Are Keen to Learn and They Will Surprise You'
Anya Sturrock, from Monifieth near Dundee, always wanted to be a chef so when she was offered a Modern Apprenticeship in professional cookery she jumped at the chance. Two weeks later, the country was in lockdown and the immediate future looked uncertain for the 17-year-old, who had left school to take up the job. She said: "I was in sixth year and was offered the apprenticeship and I was trying to see if I could still do my exams but school wouldn't let me so I just completely left." In the end, nobody did their exams so she would not have taken them anyway. But Anya says it was scary to go into lockdown so soon after making a life-changing decision. She says: "I was so scared something would go wrong or something would happen, but doing this made me sure that I definitely want to be a chef." Anya is one of about 36,000 young people in Scotland training through Modern Apprenticeship schemes at the moment.  Modern Apprenticeships are jobs which let people earn a wage and gain an industry-recognised qualification.  Anya's boss, Hayley Wilkes, owns the WeeCook Kitchen in Carnoustie.  Her business employs Anya and two other modern apprentices, while also paying for them to go to college.  Ms Wilkes says she is keen to take on young people because she wants to encourage them into the hospitality industry.  She says: "A job in hospitality is actually a good job, even though it's a hard job, so it is finding that right person who has that passion and drive to do it.  "I want to find that passion and nurture and develop it because I think they can progress.  They are keen to learn and they are keen to develop and so they will surprise you."  According to a recent Scottish Government report, if significant measures are not put in place to protect jobs, the unemployment rate of 16-24-year-olds in Scotland could reach more than 20% because of the impact of Covid-19. Jake Horsburgh, 18, is employed by Fife Council on a joinery and carpentry apprenticeship, but spends part of his training at Fife College. During lockdown, Jake had to come up with ways to practice his skills while college and work was off. "We weren't allowed to do much but my dad had some wood in the garage so I was just trying to do anything to keep me going," he says. He has recently returned to college to finish his coursework from last year.  Jake says: "To start with we weren't allowed to be within two metres of each other but we've got back to being able to. We've got to wear a mask and a visor when we're working in small groups and obviously we've had to sanitise all the tools and wash your hands every time you leave or come into the building. It's weird, but you've got to do it - it's the new normal."  Jack Thomson is also a joinery and carpentry apprentice with Fife Council. The 20-year-old, who is from Methil, says joinery and carpentry was what he enjoyed at high school, I liked all the technical subjects and just doing stuff with my hands so as soon as I left school, I had an idea of what I wanted to do," he says. Jack says he feels positive about his future despite the disruption caused by Covid-19. He says: "The way stuff is going, a lot of stuff is going to change for the future and it's going to stay that way, so we just need to wait and see what happens."

'World's Largest Private Whisky Collection' Goes Up for Auction

An online auction of what is billed as the "world's largest and most-diverse whisky collection" has begun.  More than 9,000 bottles of rare and vintage whiskies will be auctioned by Perth-based Whisky Auctioneer. The collection, which is estimated to fetch $5m (£3.9m) will be auctioned over the next eight months due to its size.  Its owner, who lives in Dubai and wants to be known only as "Pat", built the collection over 15 years.
The collection includes bottles from 150 Scottish distilleries, as well as bourbon, and whisky from international distilleries.  Whisky Auctioneer founder Iain McClune said owner Pat's collecting story was "intriguing".  He said: "The collector came from not even enjoying whisky to becoming hooked. He pursued with zealousness this journey to not only collect, but also gain knowledge and experience in the world of whisky." Mr McClune said the collection's focus was never on "ultra-premium-priced whiskies". He said: "The value of the collection lies in its completeness, with many of the most-lauded series from some of the finest distilleries in the world in their entirety." The first instalment of the auction runs until 5 October at Whisky Auctioneer.