Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 577

Issue # 577                                                    Week ending Saturday 7th November  2020

Most People Don’t Realise the Baby Shark Will Only Bother You If You Are Very Wet by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

Sharks, tuna and mackerel are the key to saving the planet, I have just learned. Big fish, it seems, are a carbon sink because they store greenhouse gases. They regulate the amount that stays in the atmosphere by absorbing global emissions. Why have I never heard about this? Has anyone told David Attenborough?

Apparently, it’s because when a fish dies, it sinks to the seabed sequestering all the carbon it has absorbed. Sequestering? I think that is what HMRC threatened to do to my friend in Inverness after he somehow forgot to pay any tax for a couple of years. So it’s also the word for grabbing bad gases? Well, I never.

By the time you read this, the gassing in America will be over. We will know who the President of the United States is. Unless it is tight and the whole thing melts down into a mess with demands for recounts and crowbars being called for to encourage people to leave the White House. A sit-in has been hinted at. Why does this sort of endless election entertainment not happen here in boring old Britain?

Meanwhile, was Joe bidin’ his time until now so he can dislodge the incumbent? He is older but is he wiser, more clever? Time will tell. Not everyone was convinced - at least at the beginning of this week. He has said he won’t be like Trump as members of Biden’s family will not have offices in the White House. Bit early for that kind of talk, Joe. The big question is whether you yourself will have an office in the White House.

My office is in my house though. And my office was really rattling with these gales over the last few days. What a racket. Honestly, I couldn’t hear myself giggling at those scaredy-cats videos on Youtube when I need to kickstart myself into work mode. Guffawing at fear-stricken felines makes you breath deeper and you take in more oxygen so you then feel like doing more real work. That’s the theory in my new guide for winning at life called Pussycats for Productivity. Just a free tip for you.

The foul weather caused mayhem at sea. Ferries were cancelled and that prompted the usual run on toilet paper in the supermarkets. It’s just a winter gale. Just because they now give them a name - this was Storm Aiden - does not mean these hooleys are going to last for weeks and you have to boost the profits of Andrex. It’s not going to be soft or strong for very, very long.

A fish farm boat broke away from its moorings on Skye. It was under the command of Captain Aiden and headed for the North Pole. There was a news report saying the 19-metre vessel, which had cost more than £1 million, was spotted at the Shiant islands in the Minch. Hurray. The next report said it was sunk. Aw. I saw a programme on the box recently about how they raise up sunken vessels by filling them with bubbles. I don’t think that would work with an open boat like that.

Meanwhile, someone else is going to live in a bubble. Because of Boris’s restrictions, which don’t apply in Scotland because we are a well-behaved lot who never break social-distancing rules, Her Maj and Prince Phil have moved ahead of lockdown. They have gone back to Windsor Castle or, as the senior Royals now call it, HMS Bubble. On November 20, it will be their 73rd wedding anniversary in that bubble.

The world is going a tad crazy. It doesn’t help that the most watched Youtube video has just been announced. No, it’s not my permanently petrified pussies. It is the most annoying tune in the whole wide world. It’s a proper earworm. Baby Shark has been viewed 7.04 billion times. You know those lyrics. Baby shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo. Baby shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo. And it goes on and on. Mammy Shark doo doo.

Sharks, of course, are supposed to be very intelligent. I don’t mean they could sit O levels or anything like that. For instance, contrary to their reputation, they don’t normally attack people unless they are very hungry. They seem to enjoy company. For instance, there was the time a shark, a crocodile, and a giant spider went into a bar. That’s not a joke, by the way. That’s just a normal day in Australia.

Covid in Scotland: 'Don't Travel to England' Warns First Minister

Nicola Sturgeon has told people not to travel to or from England except for "essential purposes".  The first minister issued the appeal as Boris Johnson prepared to announce a month-long lockdown south of the border.  Ms Sturgeon said her government would "take account" of the developments but would base decisions on Scottish measures on circumstances in Scotland.  She said there were early signs existing action was having an impact.  Boris Johnson has announced the closure of non-essential shops and hospitality, although schools and universities will remain open.  It followed scientific modelling which suggested the number of deaths in the UK could rise much higher than anticipated, possibly as high as 4,000 a day by mid December, without further action.  Earlier on Saturday, as speculation about new restrictions mounted, Ms Sturgeon indicated that Scotland would continue with its regional tiered strategy for the time being.  A new five-level system of restrictions came into force in Scotland on Monday, which will see travel restrictions imposed on many Scots.  She tweeted: "Prevalance of the virus is currently lower than in other parts of the UK and there are early signs that the tough restrictions in place since we moved quickly in late September have started to slow the rate of the increase". Earlier public health expert Prof Linda Bauld warned the path of the pandemic in Scotland over the next fortnight would determine whether the country goes into lockdown.  She told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland: "You can see from the figures in Scotland that the case numbers are levelling off.  "We are making progress. The question I would ask is the progress quick enough?  On Saturday the Scottish government confirmed a further 1,101 positive cases and 24 deaths.  Prof Bauld said these figures are a "reflection of infection rates in September." She told the programme significant action has already been taken in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  Prof Bauld added: "I think the big debate is 'Why is England dragging its feet?' That is essentially the issue."

Sunak Warned Ending Vat-free Shopping for Tourists A ‘Clear and Present Risk’
Plans to scrap VAT-free shopping for overseas visitors to the UK pose a “clear and present risk” to the retail sector, business leaders in Scotland have warned the Treasury.  They have written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak to demand he “urgently reconsiders” axing the scheme – which allows international tourists to reclaim the VAT on goods which are purchased, but not consumed, in the UK.  The Scottish Government has already urged Mr Sunak to think again on the issue.  The latest plea comes as the retail sector is hit by coronavirus, with the business leaders warning that ending VAT-free shopping will “drive away” some of the “very price-sensitive international tourists who come to Scotland”.  The group – which includes Scottish Chambers of Commerce chief executive Liz Cameron, Scottish Retail Consortium director David Lonsdale and Scottish Tourism Alliance chief executive Marc Crothall – now wants the Chancellor to consider the impact the change will have on businesses and “particularly employment in Scotland”. Willie Macleod, executive director for Scotland at UK Hospitality, has also signed the letter, along with bosses from firms including jewellers ROX and Hamilton and Inches, and upmarket retailers at the House of Bruar in Perthshire and Harvey Nichols in Edinburgh.  They told the Chancellor that while the coronavirus pandemic has been “hugely challenging” for the sector, they have “worked hard to adapt and protect as many jobs as possible”.  They added: “That is why we are deeply concerned at the Treasury’s decision to abolish the VAT Retail Export Scheme and airside extra-statutory concession supporting tax-free shopping for international tourists from the beginning of next year. “At a time when both Westminster and Holyrood have been making efforts to help businesses survive, this represents a clear and present risk of reduced sales for the retail and other industries, together with overall tax revenues to the Scottish and UK Exchequers. The changes will drive away a number of very price-sensitive international tourists who come to Scotland to shop, stay in prime visitor accommodation, and enjoy our fantastic cultural venues at the same time.  Many of these tourists may begin their holiday in Edinburgh or Glasgow but then head across Scotland to Stirling, Perth, the Borders, Inverness, Skye, or many other places besides.  We respectfully submit that further consideration should be provided by HM Treasury to the full impact upon business, particularly employment in Scotland.”

Could Scotland Ever Be 'The Saudi Arabia of Renewables'?

"As Saudi Arabia is to oil, the UK is to wind" - that's how Boris Johnson described the country's potential to capitalise on renewable energy recently. For Scotland, it's not the first time comparisons have been drawn with Saudi Arabia.  Back when he was first minister, Alex Salmond said Scotland had the potential to be the "Saudi Arabia of renewables". With a year to go until Glasgow hosts COP26, a UN climate change conference, BBC Scotland considers how renewable energy has developed.  The PM said: "As Saudi Arabia is to oil, the UK is to wind - a place of almost limitless resource, but in the case of wind without the carbon emissions and without the damage to the environment. We've got huge, huge gusts of wind going around the north of our country - Scotland. Quite extraordinary potential we have for wind."  So the comparison is a reference to the scale of resources available - Saudi Arabia has a lot of oil reserves and was once the biggest oil producer in the world. It has since been eclipsed in production by the US but remains the largest exporter. So could Scotland ever compare?  Well, Scotland is one of the windiest countries in Europe.  So in terms of resource for wind power, there is a comparison to be drawn. And the UK also has plenty space to build offshore wind farms. But there are challenges to be overcome. The energy generated by renewable means can't be moved about as easily as oil which can be shipped around the world in tanks.  The development of wind power requires networks to be built to deliver that electricity to where it's needed.  The wind doesn't blow to order, so sometimes storage systems are required as well so energy is available when the need is greatest.  Another approach is to use renewable energy to produce transportable fuels, such as hydrogen, but that technology is still at a relatively early stage of development. How much of the energy we use is renewable? Back in 2009, only 27.2% of Scotland's electricity came from renewable energy sources. It was 90.1% in 2019. The Scottish government has set a target of having the equivalent of 100% of Scotland's electricity demand coming from renewable energy sources by the end of 2020.  In order to achieve this, Scotland has been moving away from burning fossil fuels, with the last coal-fired power station, Longannet, closing in 2016. The only remaining gas-fired power station is at Peterhead in Aberdeenshire. Onshore wind delivers about 70% of capacity, followed by hydro and offshore wind as Scotland's main sources of renewable power.  Scotland's largest single source is the Beatrice offshore wind farm. Its 84 turbines - each with three 75m (246ft) blades - went into operation last year. The wind farm is is capable of generating enough power for 450,000 homes.  The Seagreen Wind Farm, under construction off Angus, will eventually be even bigger and able to power 1.3m homes.  Some argue that Scotland's wind power sector could have been better established by now had it not faced delays in its infancy.  Major offshore wind farm projects were stalled after conservationists opposed the developments over concerns for birds. And who could forget Donald Trump's opposition to a major North Sea wind power development, on the grounds that it would spoil the view from his Aberdeenshire golf course. Given that more than 90% of Scotland's electricity needs are already met by renewable energy, you might think we're most of the way there to providing all the electricity the country needs.  Once that extra 10% is achieved, though, there will still be a way to go. The whole point of renewable energy is to find an alternative to fossil fuels. So pretty much all the things that currently use fossil fuels will have to be switched over to greener energy sources - that will massively increase the demand for renewable electricity. The Climate Change Committee predicts "around a doubling of today's electricity demand" through the transition to electric vehicles and low carbon heating.  How big is the renewable energy industry compared to the oil and gas sector? Scotland's renewable energy industry has been around for about 20 years, and continues to grow. While the oil and gas industry has been around for more than 50 years, production peaked in 1999 and has been falling since. When it comes to their economic impact, renewable energy was worth £3.3bn in added value to the Scottish economy in 2018, while oil and gas extraction from Scottish waters with the support industry around that was worth £11.6bn. When it comes to jobs, about six times as many people are employed by the oil and gas sector. It supports about 110,000 jobs here.  While the number of people working in Scotland's renewables sector has grown, the most recent figures available said in Scotland the sector employed 17,700 people.  Producing oil and gas is operationally intensive. Oil and Gas UK estimate that there are about 10,000 people working off shore at any one time.  After construction, the Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm resulted in about 370 jobs a year.  While more jobs are involved in construction, often Scotland loses out as contracts are awarded overseas.  Overseas yards are able to build at scale and do it cheaper. They may also gain from government subsidy on a scale which the Scottish government says it isn't legally allowed to provide because of state aid rules.  Before highlighting Scotland's potential to harness renewable energy in general, Alex Salmond was saying (back in 2008) that Scotland could be "the Saudi Arabia of tidal power".  But the promise of tidal power has struggled to come to fruition.  Today, it still has some big challenges to overcome before it contributes energy to the grid in a meaningful way.  However, there is one tidal generator that has shown promise - it generated more electricity in its first year than Scotland's entire wave and tidal sector had produced before it. When the oil came in the 60s and 70s it was like all Scotland's economic Christmases had come at once.  In no time at all an entire industry had grown from the black stuff and in the North East many were living the high life.  However, that windfall for Aberdeen was thanks to a fluke of nature; it was the nearest North Sea port to where the drillers struck lucky.  That's not quite the case with wind. It's everywhere.  But in fact Scotland is one of the windiest places in Europe with one of the largest bodies of sea.  And so the potential for offshore wind far exceeds what Scotland could consume meaning we're on course to be a net-exporter and putting the nation in the driving seat of this second energy revolution.

Thurso Waves 'Attracting People From All Over', Says Scottish Surfing Champion

Surfing champion Mark Boyd says his home break of Thurso East seems to have been more popular than ever – despite the coronavirus restrictions.  Two major competitions had to be cancelled in the spring, but watersports enthusiasts from far and wide have continued to make their way to the renowned Caithness venue to catch the waves. Mark, who won the Scottish national surfing championship in 2018 and 2019, said that over a couple of days during the past week it was possibly the busiest he had ever seen Thurso East.  "Somebody counted 50 people there at one point on Wednesday," the 33-year-old from Thurso said. "We've had a really good run of waves."  He added: “The waves definitely attract people from all over, but I'm not sure if everyone was supposed to be travelling here."  In April, Thurso had been due to host the Scottish national championships, followed by the British championships, as part of Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters. Both were postponed because of the pandemic and it is hoped they will be rearranged for Thurso in 2021. "It's just the way things have been – it has not been appropriate to get either of them run this year," Mark said. "It's getting a bit late in the season now, unfortunately, and also with the restrictions that are in place. There was an exception for professional sporting competitions without spectators, but it was a bit of a grey area whether we should have our events or not – and we didn't really want to push it when it might get looked at in a bad light. With other sporting events, if there were people travelling from all over Scotland it maybe wasn't appropriate to have them, so that was kind of the advice we got. There was just that much uncertainty." It means Mark will have to wait a bit longer to seek a third successive Scottish title.  "I'm 33 now so I guess I'm kind of in my prime and this was my year to be trying to get my name on the trophies as much as I could," he said. "It's pretty disappointing but I guess I'll just have to try extra hard to make sure I keep it next year." When circumstances allow, Mark will be targeting a place in the British squad to go to the Olympic qualifiers. "The goal would definitely be to try to get into the British team," he said.

Union Street: Empty Stores on the Rise in Aberdeen City Centre

Almost a fifth of prime retail space in what was once Aberdeen's flagship shopping street is now empty.  Union Street runs through the heart of the Granite City and was once its main retail hub.  Like many other high streets in Scotland, shops are closing and units are lying empty.  Union Street already faced stiff competition from the nearby Union Square complex, which opened in 2009 and is home to big-name shops, restaurants, and a cinema. Now the coronavirus pandemic has added to the challenges.  Last week, new research suggested deserted High Streets and home working were stifling the job market's recovery. The Centre for Cities (CfC) think tank said Aberdeen had recorded the steepest fall in job vacancies in the UK. At the beginning of October, they were 75% down on the same time last year. On Thursday, city leaders sounded warnings about the potential impact of latest Covid curbs on jobs and businesses in Aberdeen. They are urging ministers to place Aberdeen in level one, rather than two of the new restrictions. In both 2017 and 2018, BBC Scotland counted the number of stores along the length of Union Street which were either empty or closing down. When we repeated the exercise this year, the number had risen to 36 of the 190 which are available. More than 30 of the premises which are open are occupied by restaurants, coffee shops and bars - with some now offering outdoor space. Aberdeen City Council co-leader Douglas Lumsden said the fortunes of Union Street had not been helped by the pandemic. He said it was a "worrying time" and the focus was trying to ensure more businesses did not go under. "We need to get more people living and working in the city," he said. "It (Union Street) is not going to be back to the levels it once was. People are shopping online more, people have changed their habits. And the pandemic has sped up the changes in retail. It's going to be difficult over the next six months."

Face Masks and PPE Found on A Quarter of Beaches
Face masks and disposable gloves have been found on almost a quarter of beaches in an annual litter survey.  The Marine Conservation Society, which organised the beach clean-up, said the amount of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) found was concerning. About 400 people took part in the clean-up on almost 100 Scottish beaches in September.  The MCS said wildlife was put at risk by PPE in which it could become entangled.  It said recent pictures showed seabirds' feet wrapped in the elastic strings of face masks.  Marine animals could also mistake masks and gloves for prey, filling their stomachs with materials which will not break down and could prove to be fatal.  The most common items found on Scotland's beaches were plastic and polystyrene with an average of 78 pieces found per 100 metres.  Wet wipes, crisps packets and plastic cotton buds were also found in significant numbers.  For the first time, volunteers were asked to record the number of face masks and plastic gloves they found.  PPE was recorded on 23.5% of beaches.  Catherine Gemmell, MSC's Scotland conservation officer, said: "So much avoidable plastic waste is still being produced and discarded on Scotland's shores, eventually ending up in the ocean.  Wet wipes, cigarette butts and other plastic single-use items remain prolific and are among the most commonly found items this year.  We use the data collected during the surveying and clearing of litter from Scotland's beaches to show the Scottish government what urgently needs to be done to stop the plastic tide at source."  Inland litter surveys were also carried out which revealed that masks and gloves were found at 69% of sites.  Animal charities have asked the public to cut the straps of disposable masks before putting them in the bin.

Indyref2: UK Scottish Secretary Rejects New Vote 'For A Generation'

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack has said the UK Westminster government intends to refuse another independence referendum "for a generation".  In a BBC interview, Mr Jack suggested a generation could be "25 or 40 years".  SNP MP Pete Wishart said UK ministers would be "taking on democracy" if they refused demands from MSPs for indyref2.  Meanwhile, former Tory minister Lord Dunlop has said Boris Johnson urgently needs a clear strategy to counter rising support for independence.  Ten opinion polls since June have suggested a majority now favour independence, with 54% on average backing yes. The UK Westminster government has consistently opposed a new vote, and Mr Jack has sought to harden this position.  When asked if ministers were ruling out a referendum for the full term of the next Scottish Parliament, regardless of the election outcome, he said "it's no for a generation". Asked to define a generation, he said: "Is it 25 years or is it 40 years? You tell me. But it's certainly not six years, nor 10".  The SNP argue that this pre-election position will change if they win well in 2021 with a clear manifesto commitment to holding indyref2.  Mr Wishart - the party's longest serving MP - said the prime minister would be flying in the face of democracy itself if he continued to refuse.  The apparent increase in support for independence is fuelling debates about strategy on both sides of Scotland's constitutional divide, with six months to go to the 2021 Holyrood election.  Lord Dunlop has called on Boris Johnson to demonstrate "strong leadership and statesmanship" and urgently come up with a "clear, coherent and consistent strategy for the Union".  The former Scotland office minister wants more co-operation between the UK and devolved governments with a new forum in which they would take decisions together.  Having reviewed the workings of the union for the prime minister, he is "very disappointed" the report he submitted a year ago has not yet been published or fully implemented.  He is also critical of the UK government's internal market bill as an expression of a more "muscular unionism" that he believes risks "alienating moderate and middle-of-the-road Scots".  Mr Jack insists the bill is necessary to protect jobs and trade throughout the UK and that there is a strategy to bolster the union.  The next Holyrood election, due in exactly six months, will certainly be about how best to overcome the coronavirus crisis.  It will also be about who's best placed to take the key decisions and whether that should be tested in another independence referendum.  Nicola Sturgeon has already made clear she will include an explicit commitment to indyref2 in the SNP manifesto.  But some on the "yes" side are anxious for a plan B because Boris Johnson refused a referendum request after the 2019 election and Alister Jack is now seeking to rule one out "for a generation".  There's anxiety in the "no" camp too because support for independence appears to have risen above 50% on Mr Johnson's watch.  The referendum in 2014 may have answered the independence question but it did not settle the debate, which is now finding new energy in post-Brexit politics and a global pandemic.  Boris Johnson has appointed himself minister for the Union and set up a special Cabinet committee, typically chaired by Michael Gove.  There is also a small Union-focused team in Number 10 led by former MP Luke Graham and a larger Union directorate emerging in the Cabinet Office. Mr Jack argues that UK investment in road and rail infrastructure, city deals and Covid recovery in Scotland will help to win people over.  He was speaking to the BBC in the UK Westminster government's new Scottish headquarters in Edinburgh, which is to become home to 3,000 civil servants from 10 different departments.  "It's a big statement from the UK Westminster government that we are absolutely embedded in Scotland," he said. The UK Westminster government's opposition to another referendum has prompted some in the SNP to demand their party considers alternative routes to independence.  Inverclyde councillor Chris McEleny wants a plan B that treats an election victory for independence-supporting parties as a mandate for leaving the UK, if a referendum cannot be agreed.  "A democratic election is a legitimate way for people in Scotland to express that they wish Scotland to be an independent country," he said.  Former MP Roger Mullin, who has been an SNP member for 55 years, thinks it may also be possible for Holyrood to have an advisory referendum without Westminster's consent.  "We cannot allow Boris Johnson to have a veto," he said.  The SNP leadership think a Catalonia-style referendum without UK agreement would damage their cause. But some believe the legality of such a route should be tested in court first. For many in the SNP and the wider yes movement, this debate is driven by impatience for independence.  For some it's also a way of expressing wider concerns over policy and the huge rift between Nicola Sturgeon and her predecessor, Alex Salmond, exposed by the Holyrood inquiry into how harassment complaints against him were handled.  Mr Wishart has warned against infighting, arguing that "the Tories are counting on impatience, frustration and fragmentation doing their job for them.  They know they can't beat us, so they're hoping that somehow we manage to beat ourselves," he said. "We should not oblige them."  He thinks alternatives to an agreed referendum should only be considered if and when that option is exhausted.  If there was another independence referendum it's not clear who would lead the no campaign.  Mr Jack said it had not been discussed because "we're not having" a referendum.  Scottish Labour's deputy leader Jackie Baillie said she was "not convinced" there could be another cross-party Better Together campaign.  She said Boris Johnson had become "the SNP's best recruiting sergeant" and said Labour would want to campaign for further devolution to Scotland and the English regions.

Scottish Portrait Award Shortlist Announced

The shortlist for the Richard Coward Scottish Portrait Awards was announced this week. Glasgow-based contenders dominate the competition, which recognises black and white photography and carries a top prize of £3,000.  The winner will be announced on 18 November. The images will feature in an exhibition which will visit Edinburgh, Glasgow and Banff between now and June.  The competition is run by a team of volunteers supported by the Scottish Arts Trust.  Judge Simon Murphy said there were twice as many entries compared with 2019 and the standard was very high.  He added: "All the judging is done anonymously. We have no idea who took the photographs and entries came from all over the country."

Huge Fire Breaks Out on Arthur's Seat
Eyewitnesses have reported emergency vehicles on the scene.  The fire service confirmed they were attending a blaze but had no further details at present.  Fire crews have faced a busy night across Edinburgh, despite the coronavirus restrictions.  Emergency services earlier attended an Edinburgh park after receiving reports of youths throwing fireworks.    Police Scotland confirmed that they were called to West Pilton park around 7.20pm on Thursday evening, along with the fire brigade.  A spokesperson said: "Police were made aware of reports of youths throwing fireworks at West Pilton Park at around 7.20pm this evening. Both Police Scotland and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service were called but the scene had been cleared by the time we arrived."  Community Tenant’s Group TRIM and Friends of West Pilton posted a picture of the incident, saying that the rubbish that had caught fire had been dumped by a van.  Across Scotland, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service received more than 1100 calls from the public during an eight hour period, dealing with more than 500 bonfires on one of their busiest nights of the year.

Plans Unveiled for £200m Ravenscraig Development

Logistics firm Russell Group has announced plans to create 200 jobs at a new £200m development in North Lanarkshire.  The firm is submitting a planning application for a railhead logistics hub at the former Ravenscraig steelworks site.  If the plans are approved, construction would begin towards the end of 2021.  The first phase of the development is expected to be completed by early 2023, with overall completion by early 2026.  The proposed development would serve as the company's UK headquarters.  The site's developer, Ravenscraig Ltd, has been in talks with Russell Group on the plans. Ravenscraig Ltd is a joint venture comprising Scottish Enterprise, Wilson Bowden Developments and Tata Steel. Russell Group director Kenneth Russell said: "We are hugely excited by the potential of this development, which will drive real and tangible benefits to the local population, not least through the creation of hundreds of new and high-quality jobs. While we are at the start of the planning process, we are committed to consulting with the public on our plans and will set them out in more detail over the coming weeks and months." A masterplan to transform the 376-hectare site, which once hosted the largest hot strip steel mill in Western Europe, was approved by North Lanarkshire Council in June last year.  Councillors said the site would be opened up to 12,000 people with the development of housing, schools, retail and business opportunities.

Covid in Scotland: Glasgow Has Highest Infection Rate in Scotland

Public Health Scotland has published the latest data on the number of positive tests for each of Scotland's 32 local authority areas.  It shows that Glasgow now has the highest weekly rate - at 286.7 per 100,000 of the population.  South and North Lanarkshire, which previously had the highest rate, have gone down since last week.  The infection rate is one of the five "indicators" the Scottish government is using to determine which of the five levels each council area will be placed in.  The threshold for moving into Level 4 is 300 cases per 100,000 of the population.  The other indicators are the percentage rate of positive tests, a forecast of rising cases, a projection of hospital beds needed and the use of ICU capacity.Positive tests per local authority. Weekly rates per 100,000. .
Level 4 Toughest restrictions apply here. Schools remain open but all non-essential shops are closed, along with pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and gyms. No council is currently in this tier
Level 3 Cafes, pubs and restaurants opened until 18:00 to serve food and non-alcoholic drinks to groups of up to six from two households. All leisure and entertainment venues are closed including cinemas. No non-essential travel is allowed out of a Level 3 area. Indoor exercise, which includes gyms, is restricted to individual and not group exercise. Glasgow City; Renfrewshire; East Renfrewshire; East Dunbartonshire; West Dunbartonshire; East Ayrshire; North Ayrshire; South Ayrshire; South Lanarkshire; North Lanarkshire; Inverclyde; City of Edinburgh; Midlothian; East Lothian; West Lothian; Clackmannanshire; Falkirk; Stirling and Dundee
Level 2 No in-home socialising but up to six people from two households can meet outdoors and in hospitality settings. Licensed premises can serve alcohol indoors with a main meal until 20:00. Outdoors, you can be served until 22:30. Most leisure premises are closed except gyms, cinemas, bingo halls and amusement arcades. Aberdeen; Aberdeenshire; Angus; Argyll & Bute; Borders; Dumfries & Galloway; Fife and Perth & Kinross
Level 1 Despite the Level 1 definition allowing six people from two households meeting indoors this does not apply just yet. This tier sees a "reasonable" degree of normality. Hospitality has a 22:30 curfew. Events, like weddings, would be restricted to a maximum of 20 people. Indoor contact sports for adults are not permitted. Highland; Moray; Orkney; Shetland and Western Isle
Level 0 Hospitality would operate "almost normally" - subject to rules on physical distancing, limits on numbers and other rules, such as table service. No council is currently in this tier

Edinburgh Woollen Mill Collapse Puts Jobs At Risk

Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Ponden Home have been placed into administration, putting thousands of jobs at risk.  The clothing retailer had 328 sites and 2,571 staff across the UK, while homeware store Ponden had 329 staff.  Today 866 jobs were lost across the two chains adding to the hundreds that went after 64 stores across the two brands were permanently closed.  EWM Group owns both chains but is still trying to strike a rescue deal to save remaining brands, Peacocks and Jaeger.  A spokesperson for EWM Group said: "Over the past month we explored all possible options to save Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Ponden Home from going into administration, but unfortunately the ongoing trading conditions caused by the pandemic and lockdowns proved too much. It is with a heavy heart we acknowledge there is no alternative but to place the businesses into administration." Tony Wright, the joint administrator from business advisory firm FRP, said both Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Ponden were trading well before the coronavirus pandemic and FRP would continue to search for buyers for the businesses so they do not disappear completely. He added: "Regrettably, the impact of Covid-19 on the brands' core customer base and tighter restrictions on trading mean that the current structure of the businesses is unsustainable and has resulted in redundancies."

SNP Select Former MP Angus Robertson for Edinburgh Central Seat

The SNP has confirmed Angus Robertson is to stand for the Edinburgh Central seat in the Holyrood elections in May.  Joanna Cherry QC intended to stand for selection for the seat, currently held by Scottish Conservative group leader Ruth Davidson. But changes to internal rules meant the MP would have to resign her seat at Westminster.  On Friday night, the SNP confirmed 70 of its 73 constituency candidates, including Mr Robertson who was depute leader of the party until 2018.   Launching his campaign in July Mr Robertson, a former Moray MP, said he aimed to overturn the Tories' "tiny" 610-vote majority. The final list of 73 constituency candidates will be in place in time for SNP conference later this month.  SNP depute leader and campaign director Keith Brown said: "The Holyrood election six months from today will be the most important in Scotland's history, and will determine our country's future. Our outstanding field of gender-balanced candidates will be proud to stand on the SNP's strong record in government, and the right for people in Scotland to decide their own future." Before becoming an MP in 2001, Mr Robertson worked as a journalist, including for the BBC World Service as a foreign correspondent.  He was elected MP for Moray in 2001 and was appointed the SNP's defence and foreign affairs spokesman, a post he held for 14 years.  The other parties are yet to announce who they have selected to stand for the seat.

Last Updated (Saturday, 07 November 2020 02:40)