{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"news","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/transport/drone-came-75ft-from-aircraft-landing-at-edinburgh-airport-1-4432377","id":"1.4432377","articleHeadline": "Drone came 75ft from aircraft landing at Edinburgh Airport","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493405935000 ,"articleLead": "

A collision between a drone and an aircraft landing at Edinburgh Airport was \"only avoided by providence\", investigators reported today.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432418.1493405930!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The incident happened as a passenger aircraft was descending towards Edinburgh Airport. Picture: Ian Georgeson"} ,"articleBody": "

The untraced drone came 75ft feet from the Airbus A319 passenger plane as it was descending shortly after noon on 25 November last year.

The UK Airprox Board, which investigates reports of near misses, rated the incident as a highest-level category A, where a \"serious risk of collision has existed\".

It also reported a similar near miss three days earlier near Kilmarnock involving an aircraft heading to Glasgow Airport.

The board said the Edinburgh incident happened at 3,700ft, with the drone being operated beyond the line of sight and flown into conflict with the A319.

The board said the pilot of the medium-size passenger aircraft reported \"being in the descent, coasting out, when they came very close to what appeared to be a drone.\"

It said: \"The crew noticed it quite late, as it appeared in the 11 o'clock position and passed down the left side of the aircraft at the same level.

\"The pilot noted that there was no time to take avoiding action.

\"The incident was reported to the controller and to police on landing.\"

It concluded: \"Acknowledging the difficulties in judging separation visually without external references, the board considered tthe pilot’s estimate of separation, allied to his overall account of the incident, portrayed a situation where collision had only been avoided by providence.

\"The A319 pilot had not been able to take avoiding action and so the board therefore determined the risk to be Category A.\"

The board said the maximum height that drones could be flown so visual contact was maintained to avoid collisions was 400ft.

They must also avoid and give way to other aircraft in controlled airspace, such as near airports.

The board said: \"Drones of any size that are operated in close proximity to airfield approach, pattern of traffic or departure lanes, or above 1,000ft can be considered to have endangered any aircraft that come into proximity.

\"In such circumstances, the drone operator will be judged to have caused the airprox [air proximity hazard] by having flown their drone into conflict with the aircraft.\"

In the Kilmarnock incident, on 22 November, the crew of an Airbus A320 flying at 6,000ft spotted a 50cm drone, which passed down the left side of the aircraft, slightly below it, before they had a chance to take avoiding action.

The pilot estimated the drone had passed 400ft from the plane, and airprox board said \"safety was not assured\", giving the incident a category B rating.

In March last year a drone came 100ft from hitting a Ryanair aircraft landing at Glasgow Airport, in the first such case in Scotland.

The airprox board said there had been a \"definite risk of collision” with the Boeing 737 arriving from Derry.

" ,"byline": {"email": "alastair.dalton@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Alastair Dalton"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432418.1493405930!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432418.1493405930!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The incident happened as a passenger aircraft was descending towards Edinburgh Airport. Picture: Ian Georgeson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The incident happened as a passenger aircraft was descending towards Edinburgh Airport. Picture: Ian Georgeson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432418.1493405930!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/four-injured-after-van-crashes-into-bus-stop-in-clydebank-1-4431982","id":"1.4431982","articleHeadline": "Four injured after van crashes into bus stop in Clydebank","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493397509000 ,"articleLead": "

A 15-year-old boy was among four people injured when a van ploughed into a bus stop in Clydebank during this morning’s rush hour.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431981.1493384165!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "An accident has injured four in Clydebank. Stock image"} ,"articleBody": "

The casualties remained in hospital last night.

The crash happened at about 7:45am on Kilbowie Road in the West Dunbartonshire town.

Emergency services were called to the scene and four people, including the 52-year-old man driving the van, were taken to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow.

The three others injured were the teenage boy, a 42-year-old man and a woman aged 48, Police Scotland said.

A white Renault van, with utilities firm Hiflow markings, could be seen behind the police cordon along with the smashed bus shelter as officers investigated.

A visibly shaken man at the scene said: “I saw one woman fly about 30ft through the air.

“Another guy was left mangled against the fence.

“It looked a young boy was left in the mess.

“It took at least ten minutes for any police or ambulance to get here.

“There’s always crashes here at this junction because people speed round the corner.”

John Dunsmore, whose salon is beside the bus stop, said: “I got a call about 8am to say there’d been a crash.

“I got here and there was fire engines and ambulances and loads of police. It was carnage.

“Loads of people belt up and down that road. It really is a terrible road because people speed up and down and there is a blind spot as you come round.”

Chris McLean, who walked past the scene minutes after the crash, said: “It didn’t look good - lots of emergency services, road was closed off. I could see someone on a stretcher receiving treatment.”

All of the casualties remain in the care of medics, officers confirmed.

The road was closed following the crash to enable investigators to carry out their inquiries at the scene.

Inspector Adam McKenzie said: “We are in the process of establishing the exact circumstances of the incident.

“I would like to appeal to people who were in the area at the time to contact us.

“If you saw the van or the incident, please do contact us and pass the information on.”

Anyone with information is urged to call officers at Dumbarton police office via 101, quoting reference number 0557/28.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ALASTAIR DALTON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431981.1493384165!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431981.1493384165!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "An accident has injured four in Clydebank. Stock image","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "An accident has injured four in Clydebank. Stock image","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431981.1493384165!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/commuter-disruption-after-lorry-overturns-on-m8-1-4432657","id":"1.4432657","articleHeadline": "Commuter disruption after lorry overturns on M8","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493409831000 ,"articleLead": "

Commuters returning home are facing severe disruption after an overturned lorry forced the closure of a section of the M8.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432656.1493409826!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image"} ,"articleBody": "

The incident, involving a lorry and a trailer, took place at junction 8 of the motorway near the Baillieston roundabout at 1.25.

A recovery operation has now removed the overturned HGV which and the carriageway is re-opened.

The driver suffered minor injuries to his arm, Police Scotland said.

Traffic Scotland have said there are no longer any delays.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Angus Howarth"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432656.1493409826!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432656.1493409826!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "editorial image","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432656.1493409826!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/markets-economy/uk-economy-slowdown-worse-than-feared-as-sales-fall-1-4432009","id":"1.4432009","articleHeadline": "UK economy slowdown worse than feared as sales fall","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493371330000 ,"articleLead": "

The UK economy endured a worse-than-expected slowdown in the first three months of the year as sliding retail sales and a jump in living costs took their toll on growth.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432008.1493370119!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Shoppers have been tightening their belts amid rising prices and weak wage growth. Picture: Ian Georgeson"} ,"articleBody": "

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 0.3 per cent in its initial estimate for the first quarter of 2017, down from 0.7 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year.

Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Global Insight, said today’s figures, which represent the slowest expansion since the first quarter of 2016, when growth was 0.2 per cent, marked a “significant dent” to UK economy’s resilience.

• READ MORE: Cost of living fears mount as inflation hits 2.3%

He added: “Following the marked first-quarter slowdown, we suspect that 2017 will stay challenging for the UK economy – and particularly for consumers as their purchasing power is squeezed harder still.

“We expect GDP growth to be limited to 1.6 per cent in 2017 – this is a below consensus forecast, but the poor first-quarter performance reinforces our jaundiced view on the economy. We do not expect the snap general election on 8 June to materially change the economic outlook for this year, assuming that the Conservatives are re-elected with an increased majority.

Economists had been expecting the economy to cool as consumers tightened their belts in the face of rising inflation, but they had pencilled in a growth reading of 0.4 per cent.

The ONS said the main driver behind the slowdown was a sharp decline in the dominant services sector, which saw its growth more than halved to 0.3 per cent, down from 0.8 per cent in the final three months of last year.

It added: “There were falls in several important consumer-focused industries, such as retail sales and accommodation; this was due in part to prices increasing more than spending.”

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

Nancy Curtin, chief investment officer at Close Brothers Asset Management, said: “Rising inflation and slow wage growth have dampened consumer demand and reduced retail spending, which were helping drive growth last year after Britain’s vote to leave the EU. On the other hand though, the increased attractiveness of sterling in the wake of the referendum has boosted manufacturing and international exports, making headway in rebalancing the UK economy.

“With the general election just around the corner and Brexit negotiations afoot, any dip in the economy risks bringing further caution and uncertainty to businesses, which has a knock-on effect when it comes to investment and employment. However the Chancellor, with better-than-expected Budget tax receipts in his pocket, has room for manoeuvre and should be able to pre-empt any further slowdown, which should help with business confidence.”

GDP comment from Royal Bank of Scotland

The UK economy grew by just 0.3 per cent in the first three months of 2017, writes RBS senior economist Sebastian Burnside. What should we make of this slowdown?

It’s certainly slow. Slower than the 0.5 per cent expected by the Bank of England. Slower than the 0.7 per cent the UK managed at the end of last year. But it also might just herald a more sustainable pace, given the challenges facing the economy.

In the nine months since the Brexit vote, the economy is now 1.5 per cent bigger. That growth has been uneven. The strength seen in Q4’s 0.7 per cent expansion has been offset by the 0.3 per cent recorded at the start of this year. So overall, growing at an average pace of 0.5 per cent a quarter is very respectable.

But a slowdown is already with us. Inflation is now matching wage growth, meaning the purchasing power of people’s pay packets has stopped growing.

The most obvious sign of this weakness is on the high street. Spending by shoppers has stagnated after an especially strong final three months of 2016. Rising prices have meant they’re actually taking even less home in real terms than they were before Christmas. The ONS thinks that this alone knocked 0.1 per cent off GDP growth.

Slower consumer spending might actually a good thing. Borrowing through personal loans and credit cards is rising at around 10 per cent a year.

Households actually spent £5.8 billion more than they earned in Q4 last year. Neither of these trends can last forever. A bit of belt tightening would put growth on a more sustainable footing.

Click here to ‘Like’ The Scotsman Business on Facebook

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Gareth Mackie and Ben Woods"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432008.1493370119!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432008.1493370119!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Shoppers have been tightening their belts amid rising prices and weak wage growth. Picture: Ian Georgeson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Shoppers have been tightening their belts amid rising prices and weak wage growth. Picture: Ian Georgeson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432008.1493370119!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/uk/scots-surgeon-guilty-of-performing-needless-breast-operations-1-4432686","id":"1.4432686","articleHeadline": "Scots surgeon guilty of performing needless breast operations","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493405629000 ,"articleLead": "

A Scottish-born breast surgeon has been convicted of carrying out a series of “completely unnecessary” operations.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432685.1493405624!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scots-born surgeon Ian Patersons operations saw hundreds of patients recalled and dozens receiving payouts from the NHS. Picture: SWNS"} ,"articleBody": "

Ian Paterson was described in court by one victim as being “like God”, lying to patients and exaggerating or inventeing the risk of cancer to convince them to go under the knife.

The 59-year-old did so for “obscure motives” which may have included a desire to “earn extra money”, Nottingham Crown Court heard.

After a seven-week trial, Paterson was convicted yesterday by a jury on 17 counts of wounding with intent and three counts of unlawful wounding.

Judge Jeremy Baker released Paterson on conditional bail ahead of sentencing next month. The maximum sentence for wounding with intent is life.

The surgeon, originally from Glasgow, had maintained that all the operations were necessary – but a jury of six men and five women agreed with the prosecution that Paterson carried out “extensive, life-changing operations for no medically justifiable reason”.

Patersonsobbed as the foreman of the jury returned the guilty verdicts, as did his daughter Emily, who was also in court.

Prosecutor Julian Christopher QC spoke of 20 unnecessary operations causing “really serious harm” to nine women and a man, saying they fell “quite outside the realms of reasonable surgery”.

Frances Perks, whose mother and sister died from breast cancer, was advised to undergo a series of operations, fearing she could develop “full-blown cancer”.

She said: “I think he’s a psychopath. Why would anyone in their right mind do operations to people knowing that they didn’t need them? My feelings towards him is I hate him with a passion. You wouldn’t be able to print what I truly think of him and what I would like to see happen to him.

“But I hope he goes down for a very long time and I hope he has a dreadful time in prison and hope he rots in hell.”

There are fears he could have thousands of other victims and dozens of women have already received payouts for treatment after settling civil claims.

Jurors were told at the start of the trial they should not conduct any research into the case – and were not told that hundreds of Paterson’s patients were recalled in 2012 after concerns about unnecessary or incomplete operations.

The surgeon was suspended by the General Medical Council that same year amid claims he carried out so-called cleavage-sparing mastectomies (CSMs) which led to the recall of more than 700 patients.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ALEXANDER BRITTON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432685.1493405624!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432685.1493405624!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scots-born surgeon Ian Patersons operations saw hundreds of patients recalled and dozens receiving payouts from the NHS. Picture: SWNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scots-born surgeon Ian Patersons operations saw hundreds of patients recalled and dozens receiving payouts from the NHS. Picture: SWNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432685.1493405624!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/case-of-missing-margaret-fleming-may-turn-more-sinister-1-4432682","id":"1.4432682","articleHeadline": "Case of missing Margaret Fleming may turn ‘more sinister’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493405358000 ,"articleLead": "

The disappearance of a vulnerable woman last seen in public more than 17 years ago may be down to something “more sinister” than originally thought, police have said.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432681.1493405353!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Police outside the home of missing woman Margaret Fleming in Inverkip. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

Margaret Fleming, 36, was reported missing by her two carers in October last year from her home in Main Road, Inverkip, Inverclyde, but the last independent sighting of her was actually at a family event on 17 December , 1999.

Forensic teams have been sifting through the house Ms Fleming lived in for any documentation of her life over the past 17 years and a large garden at the property has been excavated in the search.

Police Scotland helicopter, dog unit and dive teams have also been involved in the search for Ms Fleming, who is believed to have learning difficulties. Officers are still treating the case as a missing-person inquiry but are not ruling out the possibility of “something more sinister”.

More than 500 witness statements have been taken by officers in the past six months but, apart from her carers, the last independent sighting of Ms Fleming remains December 1999, police said.

She is thought to have lived with her father in Port Glasgow before he died in October 1995. She then lived with her grandparents and her mother, but later moved in with carers in 1997 and has been estranged from her mother since.

Police said they remain in contact with Ms Fleming’s mother, who “understandably is shocked and distressed at her disappearance”.

Detective Chief Inspector Paul Livingstone said: “A team of dedicated officers have been sifting through thousands of items, paperwork, documents and articles taken from the house.

“We’ve been in contact with around 1,200 individuals and organisations who may have had contact with Margaret in an effort to trace her and over 200 have still to get back to us, so we have some lines of inquiry still to follow up.

“Over the course of the six months, we’ve taken over 500 witness statements from people.

“The search we’ve carried out in the house and the grounds extended over 500 metres of the house, into nearby water and woodland.

“The search has now finished but was intensive and methodical, and the area searched in the garden alone was around half a hectare, which is a huge area.

“Whilst we are keeping an open mind - her carers state that Margaret has a private side to her life, possibly having friends that they are not aware of - we cannot rule out the possibility that she has come to harm in some way.

“By this, I mean that she could have had an accident, possibly wanted to be missing or even something more sinister.”

Mr Livingstone added: “A key focus for me is to speak to anyone who may have been in the house in Inverkip. I need you to get in touch with us.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "PAUL WARD"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432681.1493405353!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432681.1493405353!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Police outside the home of missing woman Margaret Fleming in Inverkip. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Police outside the home of missing woman Margaret Fleming in Inverkip. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432681.1493405353!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/concerns-raised-over-rangers-takeover-funding-court-hears-1-4432593","id":"1.4432593","articleHeadline": "Concerns raised over Rangers takeover funding, court hears","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493398283000 ,"articleLead": "

Former Rangers director Dave King warned that concerns about the sources of funds available to Craig Whyte in the club takeover may lead to “formal investigation” by police, a court has heard.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432592.1493398277!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Former Rangers owner Craig Whyte arrives at the High Court in Glasgow. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

Mr King raised the issue in a letter to the takeover panel on April 26, 2011, about two weeks before the closing of the deal with the businessman.

Whyte, 46, is on trial at the High Court in Glasgow, where he denies acquiring the club fraudulently in May 2011.

Cross-examining former Rangers owner Sir David Murray, Donald Findlay QC, who is defending Whyte, read from a letter Mr King wrote to the takeover panel.

In the letter, Mr King wrote: “There is concern at a proposal by Mr Craig Whyte to acquire a controlling interest in Rangers Football Club by purchase of the total share hold currently owned by Murray Group.

“There are concerns about the sources of the funds that are available for the potential acquisition and that this may lead to formal investigation by the policing authorities responsible for these matters.”

• READ MORE: David Murray unaware ticketus cash funded Craig Whyte Rangers bid

Asked whether he was aware of this, Sir David replied: “Not at all.”

The court also heard former Rangers chairman Alastair Johnston described the playing squad as a “shambles” and warned Mr Whyte had not been given the opportunity to understand the issues facing the club.

Mr Findlay read from an email from Mr Johnston to Sir David in March 2011 in which he said: “There has been in my opinion no credible opportunity for Craig Whyte in this process that would have allowed him to totally understand the issues that he will face as majority owner of Rangers Football Club.”

These included the “shambles” of a playing squad, the upkeep of Ibrox stadium and health and safety-related maintenance.

The lawyer said: “In general terms, you entrusted the club to a board that you believed were capable of following the plan that you had left in place but they bring in no investment, their playing squad ends up as a shambles and this is two months before the deal with Mr Whyte, and the chairman has handed a huge extension to the chief executive.

“You were being let down by people who didn’t have a clue what they were doing when running Rangers.”

Sir David replied: “I don’t agree about the squad being a shambles but the facts are there.”

Prosecutors allege Whyte pretended to Sir David, and others, that funds were available to make all required payments to acquire a ‘’controlling and majority stake’’ in the club.

The Crown alleges Whyte had only £4 million available from two sources at the time but took out a £24 million loan from Ticketus against three years of future season ticket sales.

The court has heard the sale was eventually made to Whyte for £1 but came with obligations to pay an £18 million bank debt, a £2.8 million ‘’small tax case’’ bill, £1.7 million for stadium repairs, £5 million for players and £5 million in working capital.

Mr Findlay produced notes from David Horne, one of Sir David’s “closest advisers”, from November 2010 which suggested he knew about the possibility of Ticketus involvement.

He read out the note which said: “Octopus discussion w/CW re £15million possible facility”.

The lawyer said: “Octopus was Ticketus, so it would seem that one of your closest advisers, David Horne, was aware that Mr Whyte may be looking for a partner, a possibility of £15 million by somebody called Octopus.”

• READ MORE: Drame outside court as Craig Whyte delayed

Sir David replied: “It appears by that note. I’ve never seen or heard of that.”

He also told the court that he considered the idea of pre-pack administration for Rangers but dismissed it as not a viable option.

Whyte denies the two charges against him, one of fraud and another under the Companies Act.

The court was read an email from Murray Group director Mike McGill in which he said he feared “a battle line had been drawn” over the Rangers board’s opposition to the sale.

Mr Findlay asked: “Were matters thus daggers drawn?”

Sir David said there was a bit of “shadow boxing”.

He added: “A board of directors can be like a family, there can be disagreements.”

Mr Findlay suggested the Rangers board at the time of the sale had performed poorly and found no alternative investment.

The defence lawyer said: “The best they could do was sit and wait for the Sultan of Brunei, or some individual.”

Closing his cross-examination of Sir David, the lawyer asked: “From the point of you stepping down and Craig Whyte taking over, what had these men done to your football club? Sir David, to our football club?”

The former owner said: “I don’t think they had come up with an alternative plan to raise new funds. I think the club was stalling.”

The trial continues on Tuesday.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Lucinda Cameron"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432592.1493398277!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432592.1493398277!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Former Rangers owner Craig Whyte arrives at the High Court in Glasgow. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Former Rangers owner Craig Whyte arrives at the High Court in Glasgow. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432592.1493398277!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/uk/sturgeon-s-eu-plans-rejected-over-risk-of-uk-trade-barriers-1-4432382","id":"1.4432382","articleHeadline": "Sturgeon’s EU plans rejected over risk of UK trade barriers","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493393924000 ,"articleLead": "

The UK Government rejected Nicola Sturgeon’s plan to protect Scotland’s relationship with the EU because it would create trade barriers and cause “significant disruption” of the UK internal market.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432381.1493387820!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Brexit Secretary David Davis"} ,"articleBody": "

The rationale for the UK Government’s decision not to adopt the economic models proposed by the First Minister in her “Scotland’s Place in Europe” document came to light in a letter written by Brexit Secretary David Davis.

In the letter, Mr Davis also expressed dismay that the Scottish Government called for a second referendum before he had properly discussed Nicola Sturgeon’s plan.

Mr Davis was responding to Ms Sturgeon’s hefty paper, published in December which set out detailed proposals of how Scotland could protect trade and freedom of movement after Brexit.

Mr Davis’s letter was written in March, but remained under wraps until it was published on the Scottish Parliament’s website.

The letter said UK Government officials has undertaken a “programme of intensive discussions” to understand Ms Sturgeon’s proposals.

• READ MORE: Conservatives to take 7 seats from SNP, predicts new poll

Ms Sturgeon looked at a range of possibilities including the possibility of Scotland becoming a full or associate member of the European Free Trade Association to maintain its place in the Single Market, in the event of the UK going for a hard Brexit.

Mr Davis said his officials had been engaged in “a substantive programme of work” and added: “I am disappointed that the Scottish Government has called for another referendum on independence before we were able to discuss the outcomes of this joint work that was entered into good faith.”

On the detail of Ms Sturgeon’s paper, Mr Davis said: “There are clear barriers to making your proposals a reality. Scotland’s accession to EFTA, and then the EEA (European Economic Area), would not be deliverable and, importantly, would require the consent of all EFTA and EU member states.

“Any divergence between EU and UK law -as a result, perhaps of new EU regulation- could lead to the creation of new barriers to trade within our Union, which could take the form of additional controls and checks on trade within the United Kingdom.”

• READ MORE: Labour targeting just three key seats in Scotland

Mr Davis added: “Given that trade with the rest of the UK is worth four times trade with the EU, I do not believe that such significant disruption to the internal UK market is in Scotland’s – or the UK’s – best interests.

“And Scotland’s businesses could face a confusing mix of regulatory regimes.”

The four page letter claims the UK and Scottish Governments have many common objectives, but it warned that Nicola Sturgeon’s demand for membership of the EU Single Market cannot be met.

“The Scottish Government and the UK Government agree that achieving the freest and most frictionless trade with the EU and maintaining the deeply integrated trade and economic relationship with the EU is in both Scotland’s and the UK’s interests,” Mr Davis wrote.

“You have called specifically for membership of the Single Market as the means of delivering that end; as the Prime Minister has made clear, this is simply not possible if we wish to take back control of borders and immigration in the way people in Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom desire, nor if we wish to enjoy the supremacy of our domestic courts.

“However we share the same goal in terms of the outcome.”

The Scottish Government’s Brexit Minister Michael Russell has written back to Mr Davis re-stating the “fundamental importance” Ms Sturgeon’s administration places on EU Single Market membership.

Mr Russell added that the Scottish Parliament had “agreed an independence referendum” and complained that there has not been “proper discussion or engagement on the strategic choices we face” with the UK Government.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Tom Peterkin"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432381.1493387820!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432381.1493387820!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Brexit Secretary David Davis","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Brexit Secretary David Davis","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432381.1493387820!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/all-you-need-to-know-about-the-hebridean-way-walking-route-1-4432371","id":"1.4432371","articleHeadline": "All you need to know about the Hebridean Way walking route","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493389453000 ,"articleLead": "

THE Hebridean Way represents a challenge to discover the islands of the Outer Hebrides under your own steam, on foot or by pedal power.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432369.1493386895!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hebridean Way. Picture: Contributed"} ,"articleBody": "

The dedicated long-distance walking route connecting the islands of the Outer Hebrides opened this week, offering visitors an exciting new way to discover island ‘Life on the Edge’.

The Hebridean Way Walking Route takes in 10 islands, six causeways and two ferry crossings and covers 156 miles of the island chain, which sits off the west coast of Scotland.

What is it?

The route, which was developed by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar with support from the European Regional Development Fund and Scottish Natural Heritage, is the only dedicated Hebridean walking trail to traverse the archipelago - providing walkers with an enticing new opportunity to discover all that the islands have to offer. The Hebridean Way is made up of two separate routes:

*A dedicated walking route from Vatersay to Lews Castle of 156 miles – launched this week at the Visit Scotland Expo in Glasgow.

And:

*A dedicated cycling route from Vatersay to the Butt of Lewis covering 185 miles –now adopted as National Cycle Network Route (NCR) 780.

The Hebridean Way Cycling route was launched in March last year when endurance cyclist and adventurer Mark Beaumont tackled the route in a Hebridean Way Cycling Challenge, completing the 185 mile route in just 24 hours.

Cycling and walking routes are different. Both are fully marked.

The routes lead walkers or cyclists through the ever changing landscapes of the islands of the Outer Hebrides and offer a chance for visitors to really immerse themselves in the island experience as they explore.

How to get around 

The Hebridean Way walking and cycling routes are just that – routes for walking and cycling. Visitors are advised to take bus timetables and numbers for local taxis in case they run into any issues along the route.

Direct scheduled flights to the Western Isles leave daily from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Inverness and Aberdeen to land at Stornoway Airport on the Isle of Lewis. 

Alternatively, begin your visit with an unforgettable experience and take a flight to the Outer Hebrides landing at Barra Airport– where they use the cockle strand airstrip of Traigh Mhor beach, which is consistently voted one of the world’s top air approaches and where flight schedules are at the mercy of the tides.

Alternatively, you can travel to the Outer Hebrides using the Western Isles ferry services that connect our archipelago to the mainland and our island-groups to each.

There are also daily ferry crossings within the Western Isles from Leverburgh, Isle of Harris to the Isle of Berneray and the Isle of Eriskay to Ardmhor, Isle of Barra.

Can you walk it?

The walking route runs from Vatersay to Lews castle on a mix of connected waymarked routes, newly created paths, existing tracks, and stretches of quiet road.

The Hebridean Way walking route is broken down into 12 sections.

What gear would you need?

Check the weather forecast before you set out. Take appropriate clothing – this walk covers some rough, wet ground, so wear your boots.  Walking shoes are not suitable for this walk. Good quality waterproof jackets and trousers are essential.

Carry water and food with you – shops and cafés are few and far between in certain areas.

Always tell someone - such as your accommodation provider  - what time you expect to arrive or return. Always bring a map and compass with you – and know how to use them. A guidebook and GPS are a recommended essential too.

Take bus timetables and phone numbers for local taxis in case you have problems on the walk. 

Can you cycle it?

The Hebridean Way cycling route is separate from the walking route and is 185 miles allowing cyclists to go from Vatersay to the Butt of Lewis. The route has been officially adopted as National Cycle Network Route (NCR) 780.

Walkinig maps

Where can you hire bikes?

There are a number of providers of bicycle hire

in the Outer Hebrides.

Can you drive it? No

Where are the best views?

Amazing views all along the route – the key to the appeal of the Hebridean Way is the changing nature of the island landscapes as you walk or cycle; from stunning white shell sand beaches bordered by beautiful flowering machair plains to inland lochs in the shadow of majestic mountains. Chances to spot Hebridean wildlife along the route too.

Notable ones include Scarista, Horgabost and Luskentyre

Walkers can climb to the top of Ruabhal, the “hill of the fords” that gave Benbecula its Gaelic name Beinn na Faoghla, which is rewarded with one of the most sensational views in Scotland.

There is also Beinn Mhòr with fabulous views south over Lochmaddy and the watery landscape of North Uist.

Callanish Standing Stones, Isle of Lewis, is one of the most complete stone circles in Europe, which also has a visitors centre.

Butt of Lewis –northern tip of the Outer Hebrides, windiest place in Britain with a 121ft Stevenson lighthouse

Both Walkers and Cyclists

Look out for Golden Eagles overhead. Crossing the Sound of Harris – a strong contender for Britain’s most spectacular ferry journey

What are the foodie hot spots?

Anyone tackling the Hebridean Way should have a copy of the Eat Drink Hebrides

trail information with them so that they don’t miss any treats along the way.

Some on the route include the Hebridean Tea Store, Stornoway, which has more than 100 speciality loose leaf teas and is the smallest cafe in the islands.

There is also Stornoway smokehouse, heirs to 150 years of smoking tradition. There is also the Lobster Pot Tearoom, Berneray, which is walking distance from the Sound of Harris, with filled rolls, homemade soup and local produce.

Best place to stay for luxury

There is a number of accommodation locations on offer.

There is also Hotel Hebrides, Tarbert, Harris, and Borrodale Hotel.

Best place to stay for budget accomodation 

The Gatliff Hebridean Hostel, Berneray, is a traditional thatched island houses, recognisable by the otter modelled onto the top of the thatch costing £15 a night.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ALISTAIR MUNRO"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432369.1493386895!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432369.1493386895!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hebridean Way. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hebridean Way. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432369.1493386895!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/whitehall-terror-suspect-named-1-4432317","id":"1.4432317","articleHeadline": "Whitehall terror suspect named","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493384863000 ,"articleLead": "

The terror suspect arrested with several knives in Whitehall on Thursday is understood to be Khalid Mohammed Omar Ali.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432316.1493384857!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Police arrest a man on Whitehall near the Houses of Parliament in central London. Picture; getty"} ,"articleBody": "

It is thought the 27-year-old is a British national who was born overseas and went to school in Tottenham, north London.

The suspect was detained by armed officers after a stop and search in an “intelligence-led” operation.

READ MORE: Knifeman arrested on terror charges in Whitehall

He remains in custody, having been arrested on suspicion of offences under the Terrorism Act and possession of offensive weapons.

Police recovered knives during the swoop, which took place yards from the scene of last month’s deadly attack by Khalid Masood in Westminster.

Reports suggest the suspect was arrested after a concerned family member contacted authorities.

Detectives are continuing to question him, while two searches are being carried out at addresses in London.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432316.1493384857!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432316.1493384857!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Police arrest a man on Whitehall near the Houses of Parliament in central London. Picture; getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Police arrest a man on Whitehall near the Houses of Parliament in central London. Picture; getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432316.1493384857!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/glasgow-breast-surgeon-convicted-of-carrying-out-unnecessary-ops-1-4432304","id":"1.4432304","articleHeadline": "Glasgow breast surgeon convicted of carrying out ‘unnecessary’ ops","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493383975000 ,"articleLead": "

A breast surgeon has been convicted of 17 counts of wounding with intent after carrying out a series of “completely unnecessary” operations - possibly to improve his earnings.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432303.1493383970!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A jury has delivered its verdict in the trial of a breast surgeon accused of carrying out "completely unnecessary" operations. Picture; SWNS"} ,"articleBody": "

Ian Paterson, who was also convicted of three counts of unlawful wounding, was described in court by one victim as being “like God”, lied to patients and exaggerated - or invented - the risk of cancer to convince them to go under the knife.

The 59-year-old did so for “obscure motives” which may have included a desire to “earn extra money”, his trial at Nottingham Crown Court heard.

The Scottish-born surgeon had maintained that all the operations were necessary - but a jury of six men and five women agreed with the prosecution that Paterson carried out “extensive, life-changing operations for no medically justifiable reason”.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432303.1493383970!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432303.1493383970!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A jury has delivered its verdict in the trial of a breast surgeon accused of carrying out "completely unnecessary" operations. Picture; SWNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A jury has delivered its verdict in the trial of a breast surgeon accused of carrying out "completely unnecessary" operations. Picture; SWNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432303.1493383970!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/culture/music/modern-makeover-for-scotland-s-oldest-concert-hall-revealed-1-4431152","id":"1.4431152","articleHeadline": "Modern makeover for Scotland's oldest concert hall revealed","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493329543000 ,"articleLead": "

It has been only been home to a handful of shows every year - despite being Scotland’s oldest concert hall and once playing host to Hollywood superstar Grace Kelly.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431827.1493329538!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "St Cecilia's Hall in Edinburgh is to reopen next month after a two-year, �6.5million redevelopment.\\n Picture: Neil Hanna"} ,"articleBody": "

Now an 18th century venue tucked off the Royal Mile is set for a new lease off life after getting a modern makeover worth £6.5 million.

Nearly 500 historic musical instruments spanning more than four centuries have been brought together for the first time in an expanded museum created at St Cecilia’s Hall.

It will be opened up five days a week for the first time, instead of the six hours before the revamp was carried out by Edinburgh University, which bought the building in 1959 to accommodate new additions to its instrument collection.

Its £6.5 million project has transformed the little-known venue, one of the oldest concert halls anywhere in Europe, where Kelly famously came out of retirement during the Edinburgh Festival in 1976.

The overhaul has seen storage spaces and offices turned into galleries to help bring the collection - said to be one of the most important in the world - under the one roof for the first time.

New raised seating has been installed in the new-look oval-shaped auditorium, which has a capacity of up to 200, to make the venue more comfortable and offer better sight-lines for concerts.

Dating back to 1763, it was commissioned by the Edinburgh Musical Society and has also been used as a school, masonic lodge and dance hall.

Kelly had not performed in public for 20 years following her marriage to the Prince of Monaco when she read poetry on four nights at the venue to commemorate America’s bicentennial.

The Scotsman critic Allen Wright wrote: “Grace Kelly was escorted by two gents on to the stage in tuxedos. She was wrapped in a gown of radiant coral and was looking more beautiful than ever.”

Jenny Nex, one of the curators of the instrument collection, said: “The university has been thinking about how to redevelop St Cecilia’s for some time. I was a student in the 1990s and even then I can remember conversations going on about it.

“The idea of the project was really to make the collection much more accessible to the public. The museum was always open before but only for six hours on a Wednesday and a Saturday, so it obviously wasn’t ideal.

“We all partake in music in one way or another, whether as a listener or someone who plays something. It’s a really great collection for people to come and enjoy.

“People will hopefully notice a big difference if they’ve been before.

“The auditorium has a much brighter, fresher feel to it and the displays have been thought about very carefully. Each instrument is very much like a pet or a child to us.”

A new entrance has been created on Niddry Street to help attract visitors to the Old Town into the venue, while the number of concerts staged in the venue each year is expected to be dramatically increased.

Ms Nex added: “St Cecilia’s is known about by people who know about musical instruments and the concerts we have had in the past, but there is probably a huge swathe of people in Edinburgh who just don’t know it is here.

“We’ve tried to address that through our new entrance on Niddry Street, which has a fantastic gate that will be visible from the Royal Mile when it is opened up.

“The previous entrance was down an alleyway off the Cowgate, which wasn’t very appealing, so we will hopefully get a lot more visitors.

“We had a steady trickle of concerts before, but will be doing a lot more. It is a perfect venue for acoutstic instruments that are not particularly loud, and it’s great for spoken word events as well. We’re very keen for anyone that wants to use the building to hire it.”

Jacky MacBeath, the university’s head of museums, said: “The building is a triumph that is both sympathetic to its Georgian heritage and equipped for a modern audience.

“The museum has been meticulously curated to showcase our exquisite instruments and teach people about their significance. Visitors will be immersed in the sounds of our instruments, as students and experts will play them throughout the day, so no two visits will be the same.”

Although the most of the funding for the project has come from the university and its fundraising efforts, it has been backed by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Edinburgh World Heritage trust to the tine of £800,000 and £100,000 respectively.

Adam Wilkinson, director of Edinburgh World Heritage, said: \"We are proud to have been a partner in the conservation of this very special concert hall and exhibition space, which reminds us that Edinburgh has always been, and should remain, a city in which art, music and ideas intermingle and flourish.\"

Lucy Casot, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said’s collection of musical instruments is regarded as one of the finest in the world. Thanks to players of The National Lottery, Scotland’s oldest purpose-built concert hall has been transformed so that the collection can be brought under one roof so that many more people can study, perform and enjoy it.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "brian.ferguson@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Brian Ferguson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431827.1493329538!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431827.1493329538!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "St Cecilia's Hall in Edinburgh is to reopen next month after a two-year, �6.5million redevelopment.\\n Picture: Neil Hanna","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "St Cecilia's Hall in Edinburgh is to reopen next month after a two-year, �6.5million redevelopment.\\n Picture: Neil Hanna","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431827.1493329538!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431828.1493329540!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431828.1493329540!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The oldest concert hall showcases treasures of note\\n \\nScotland's oldest purpose-built concert venue. Picture: Neil Hanna","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The oldest concert hall showcases treasures of note\\n \\nScotland's oldest purpose-built concert venue. Picture: Neil Hanna","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431828.1493329540!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/5-year-plan-aims-to-return-prestwick-airport-to-private-sector-1-4432261","id":"1.4432261","articleHeadline": "5-year plan aims to return Prestwick airport to private sector","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493381254000 ,"articleLead": "

Management at Prestwick Airport plan to return it to private ownership within the next five years, a report has revealed.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432260.1493381249!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A flight arrives at Prestwick Airport."} ,"articleBody": "

The Scottish Government stepped in to save the South Ayrshire airport from closure in November 2013, buying it for £1.

Initial estimates proposed £21.3 million of loans would be needed to keep the airport - officially known as Glasgow Prestwick Airport - going.

READ MORE: Prestwick earns £1m in a year from military flights

The figure rose to £39.6 million in a revised business plan published the following year.

The executive team has published its five-year strategic plan to 2022, stating it believes passenger numbers have “bottomed out” and are now rising, and losses are less severe than predicted.

The document was drawn up following the appointment of Ron Smith as chief executive officer in May 2016 and states the aim in the next five years is to “return the business to private ownership with a sustainable future as an airport”.

Mr Smith said: “The picture for Glasgow Prestwick Airport is a positive one - we believe our passenger numbers have bottomed out and are on the up again, cargo income is consistent in spite of changes in the wider market, military income is growing, property occupancy are at an all-time high and early indications for the last financial year show that our losses are less than predicted.

“The turnaround will be challenging and will take time, but it has started and this plan will build upon this.

“The Scottish Government has always stated that they would like to return the business to the private sector and this is a fundamental pillar of our plan.

READ MORE: Tory ministers considered extending Prestwick monopoly

“We are working to make the business an attractive prospect for a private investor to come in and build upon this strategy - someone that can bring in additional funds to upgrade our infrastructure and facilities and attract even more business.

“If we are able to do this, we could speed up our turnaround.”

Airport chairman Andrew Miller said the plan sets out how to make Prestwick a “profitable and sustainable airport for generations to come”.

He added: “There has been a significant amount of analysis and research in establishing a sustainable business plan that has been challenged and improved throughout its development, and as a result we now have something that is realistic and realisable.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "LAURA PATERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432260.1493381249!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432260.1493381249!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A flight arrives at Prestwick Airport.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A flight arrives at Prestwick Airport.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432260.1493381249!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/may-more-in-touch-with-voters-than-sturgeon-claims-davidson-1-4432239","id":"1.4432239","articleHeadline": "May ‘more in touch’ with voters than Sturgeon claims Davidson","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493379726000 ,"articleLead": "

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson has claimed Theresa May is more in touch with voters north of the border than Nicola Sturgeon

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432236.1493379716!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, in the main chamber of the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh. Picture; PA"} ,"articleBody": "

The Scottish Conservatives leader made the claim after a new poll suggested the Conservatives could win eight seats in Scotland in the General Election.

Research by YouGov for The Times in Scotland put support for the Conservatives on 28% - double the 14% recorded for Labour.

The SNP continue to be the most popular party, with 41% of those questioned backing Ms Sturgeon’s party in the upcoming General Election.

The Liberal Democrats are supported by 7%, ahead of the Greens on 3% and Ukip on 2%.

Such a result could see the SNP win 47 seats north of the border - which would leave the nationalists nine down on the 56 constituencies they won in 2015.

READ MORE: Conservatives to take 7 seats from SNP predicts new poll

The Tories could win eight seats in Scotland - with the projection suggesting the Conservatives could defeat SNP depute leader Angus Robertson in Moray.

Winning eight seats would give Mrs May’s party its best General Election return north of the border since 1992 when the party won 11.

Five years after that, the Tories were wiped out in Scotland when Tony Blair swept to power in 1997.

In 2015 the Tories won just one seat in Scotland, the Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale seat of Scottish Secretary David Mundell.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon urged to set out indyref2 plan before election

Ms Davidson said: “This poll reveals Theresa May is more in touch with people in Scotland than Nicola Sturgeon.

“Last month, Alex Salmond, Angus Robertson and Nicola Sturgeon all arrogantly declared that opposing a second referendum would stoke support for independence.

“In fact, most people in Scotland see the common sense in saying now is not the time for yet another divisive referendum campaign.

“The SNP should show some humility and take its unwanted plan for a referendum off the table immediately.”

The poll found 45% of Scots back independence, with 55% in favour of the Union - the same result as recorded in the 2014 referendum.

While 42% said they wanted another vote on independence to take place, just over half (51%) were against this while 7% said they did not know.

More than 1,000 people took part in the survey between April 24 and 27.

The First Minister insisted it was only her party that could “stand up to the Tories” as she warned: “The truth is the more Tory MPs Westminster has, the heavier the price Scotland will pay.”

READ MORE: Theresa May signals rejection of Nicola Sturgeon’s Brexit call

The SNP leader was campaigning in East Renfrewshire, which the SNP took from the then Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy in 2015, whose party lost all but one of their Scottish seats.

Ms Sturgeon said: “A free hand for the Tories would mean even more cuts, more attacks on low-income families and a hard Brexit.

“The SNP is the only party that can stand up to the Tories and, working with the Scottish Parliament, SNP MPs will fight these devastating policies.”

Scottish Labour general election campaign manager James Kelly said: “This is yet another poll that shows people in Scotland do not want another divisive referendum and they don’t want to leave the UK.

“It’s time for the nationalists to focus on the job of governing, like dealing with the crisis in our schools and tackling the problems in the NHS after a decade of SNP mismanagement.

“Voters can send a message to Nicola Sturgeon that Scotland is divided enough, we don’t need any more division.

“When people go to the polls for the council elections on May 4 and the General Election on June 8, they can vote Labour to elect a local champion; or they can vote SNP to elect a candidate who will only focus on another divisive referendum.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432236.1493379716!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432236.1493379716!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, in the main chamber of the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh. Picture; PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, in the main chamber of the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh. Picture; PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432236.1493379716!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432237.1493379719!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432237.1493379719!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May during a visit in Chesterfield. Picture; Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May during a visit in Chesterfield. Picture; Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432237.1493379719!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432238.1493379721!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432238.1493379721!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon joins local election campaign in Stirling with Bruce Crawford MSP. Picture; SWNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon joins local election campaign in Stirling with Bruce Crawford MSP. Picture; SWNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432238.1493379721!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/whisky-exports-rise-by-4-to-over-4-billion-1-4432208","id":"1.4432208","articleHeadline": "Whisky exports rise by 4% to over £4 billion","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493378651000 ,"articleLead": "

Scotch whisky exports have risen by 4% in a year to more than £4 billion, marking a return to growth for the sector.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432205.1493378645!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Whisky exports have increased by over 4%."} ,"articleBody": "

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) said the increase means it is “optimistic about the future” but called for a sector deal for Scotland’s national drink in Brexit negotiations to help combat uncertainty.

The association’s 2016 export report found overseas sales of Scotch whisky rose by £153 million from 2015 to £4,008,927,149 last year.

READ MORE: Scotch whisky generates £5bn a year for UK economy

The number of bottles dispatched increased by 4.8% between 2015 and 2016 to more than 1.2 billion, meaning almost 39 bottles worth a total of £127 were exported per second.

Both the value and volume of Scotch exports returned to positive annual growth rates for the first time since 2011.

Single malt exports were worth more than £1 billion for the first time, up by almost 12% on 2015 to £1.02 billion, the equivalent of 113 million bottles.

READ MORE: Warning of fracking threat to whisky industry

However, bottled blended versions of the drink remains the biggest export category, accounting for 69% of value and volumes exported in 2016.

Last year, Scotch remained the biggest net contributor to the UK’s balance of trade in goods and without its benefit the UK trade in goods deficit would have been 2.8% larger at almost £139 billion.

The drink accounts for more a fifth of the UK’s total food and drink exports and 73% of the sector in Scotland, with the European Union remaining the top destination for exports, rising 3.6% in value over the year to £1.24 billion, followed by the US, which took exports worth more than £1 billion.

READ MORE: How rare whisky is funding community projects on Islay 
SWA acting chief executive Julie Hesketh-Laird said: “With Scotch whisky exports returning to growth and rising to more than £4 billion, and single malts exceeding £1 billion for the first time, we’re feeling optimistic about the future.

“Demand is rising in mature markets, such as the US, and newer markets, including China.

“This confidence is reflected in the number of new distilleries - 14 have been opened in the last few years and we know of about another 40 at various stages of planning.

“However, we have to be alert to the challenges, as well as the opportunities, of Brexit and political changes in the UK and across the globe.

“Industry success can’t be taken for granted and we need both the UK and Scottish governments to work in partnership with us to deliver a business environment - at home and overseas - that supports sustainable growth.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432205.1493378645!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432205.1493378645!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Whisky exports have increased by over 4%.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Whisky exports have increased by over 4%.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432205.1493378645!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432207.1493378647!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432207.1493378647!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Deals such as the one struck up between Loch Lomond Group and Glasgow Airport have helped experts.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Deals such as the one struck up between Loch Lomond Group and Glasgow Airport have helped experts.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432207.1493378647!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/ministers-award-450-000-for-bike-revival-project-1-4432223","id":"1.4432223","articleHeadline": "Ministers award £450,000 for bike revival project","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493378544000 ,"articleLead": "

A CYCLING group has been awarded £450,000 to help encourage others to get back in the saddle.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432222.1493378540!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Cycling UK wins �450,000 funding boost. Picture: Contributed"} ,"articleBody": "

Cycling UK has secured the cash from the Scottish Government - through Transport Scotland - to run Big Bike Revival in Scotland for the second year running.

The programme, developed by the organisation, is designed to encourage thousands of people to cycle for everyday journeys.

READ MORE: Hebridean Way walking route offers new way to explore islands

It helps them to bring their bikes back into use by providing bike health checks, sharing maintenance knowledge and giving people more confidence in the saddle.

This year, it has joined forces with 100 community groups and bicycle recycling centres in a bid to encourage thousands of people to return to cycling and replace short car journeys with the bike.

Transport minister Humza Yousaf hopes 10% of daily journeys will be made by bike by 2020.

He said: “This is an ideal opportunity for people across the country to give those old bikes sitting in the shed a new lease of life by rediscovering the joys of cycling.

“I would encourage everyone to go along to their nearest event and take part in the various projects that will be running over the next two months.

“Cycling is a wonderful way to keep fit and healthy, and to spend time in our great outdoors.”

Events and activities will be held in every local authority area and include puncture repair workshops, basic bike maintenance, cycle health checks, cycle skills sessions and route planning.

Community cycle clubs will also be set up, offering training and support for volunteers to develop social cycling activities in their communities.

Suzanne Forup, head of development Scotland at Cycling UK, said: “The success of the Big Bike Revival in autumn 2016 saw over 1,400 bikes revived and given a new lease of life, with their owners rekindling their love of their bikes and cycling for thousands of everyday trips.

READ MORE: Scottish author wins national railway book of the year award

“This year we’re looking forward to working with community organisations, volunteer-led groups, local businesses and charities to build on this success and inspire even more people to enjoy a bike ride to get from A to B.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ALISTAIR MUNRO"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432222.1493378540!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432222.1493378540!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Cycling UK wins �450,000 funding boost. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Cycling UK wins �450,000 funding boost. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432222.1493378540!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/rail-policing-merger-driven-by-political-ideology-1-4432163","id":"1.4432163","articleHeadline": "Rail policing merger driven by 'political ideology'","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493376756116 ,"articleLead": "

The body representing railway police officers has said it is “hugely disappointed” after MSPs backed a controversial plan to integrate their work into Police Scotland.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432162.1493376856!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "BTP officers are opposed to the plans"} ,"articleBody": "

Holyrood’s justice committee’s backed the plans, despite opposition from its Labour and Tory members.

Under the Railway Policing (Scotland) Bill, British Transport Police’s (BTP) operations north of the Border will be taken over by the national force.

The British Transport Police Federation said it had been clear from the outset that the move was being driven by \"political ideology”.

In a statement, the federation said: “This is a hugely disappointing but not entirely unexpected decision. From the outset, it has been clear to us that the merger of BTP Scotland and Police Scotland was about a political ideology.

“If it really was about what’s best for the travelling public, robust evidence as to the benefits would have been readily available. In our opinion that evidence remains sadly lacking.

“The merger has clearly divided opinion within the justice committee; we’re saddened that despite recognising there is little public support for the proposal the Scottish Government has been given the green light.”

In a report published today, the justice committee makes a series of recommendations for the merger, including a call to maintain a visible police presence on the rail network and ensure that cross-border information sharing remains effective.

Committee Convener, Margaret Mitchell MSP, said: “Much of the evidence raised concerns about integration. The committee did not arrive at a unanimous position on the bill’s general principles with some members backing an alternative approach.”

Scottish Labour’s justice spokeswoman Claire Baker MSP said: “With concerns over the financial memorandum attached to this bill, this could prove to be a costly way to fix a problem that isn’t broke.

“The Scottish Government must halt this bill and work with parliament, the police and the wider railway industry to look at all options for the future of the BTP in Scotland.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "chris.marshall@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Chris Marshall"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432162.1493376856!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432162.1493376856!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "BTP officers are opposed to the plans","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "BTP officers are opposed to the plans","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432162.1493376856!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/royal-mail-in-fresh-talks-to-resolve-dispute-over-pensions-1-4432038","id":"1.4432038","articleHeadline": "Royal Mail in fresh talks to resolve dispute over pensions","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493376700000 ,"articleLead": "

Royal Mail is making a fresh proposal on pensions in a move aimed at resolving a dispute with its workers.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432037.1493372341!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Royal Mail is making a fresh proposal on pensions in a move aimed at resolving a dispute with its workers. Picture; PA"} ,"articleBody": "

The Communication Workers Union is threatening industrial action after the company announced it will close its defined benefit pension scheme next year.

The union attacked the decision and made an alternative proposal.

Royal Mail said on Friday it was proposing a defined benefit cash balance scheme, which includes elements of the CWU proposal, without some of the “inherent risks” to the company it believes the union scheme would have created.

“We very much appreciate the care that the CWU applied to its proposal and we have agreed to meet them to discuss it further.

“However, at the moment we do not believe the CWU proposal, in its current form, meets the fundamental principles underpinning our 2018 pension review.

“These are, sustainability, affordability and security.

“We believe that the defined benefit cash balance scheme would be a fair proposal that compares favourably with the retirement benefits offered in our industry and by other large UK employers.

“We will continue to discuss the future of the plan with our unions,” said a Royal Mail statement.

Brian Scott of Unite, which has 6,000 members at Royal Mail, said: “Unite continues to meet with the Royal Mail management to discuss its pensions proposals, and these negotiations are complex and difficult.

“At this stage, it is not possible to say if an agreed solution can be found, but we are committed to making every effort to ensure our members have decent pensions’ provision in the future.

“As we have previously stated, if we don’t achieve a satisfactory outcome, we can’t rule out an industrial action ballot on this issue.

“However, we will be consulting with our members closely at every stage over the coming weeks.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ALAN JONES"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432037.1493372341!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432037.1493372341!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Royal Mail is making a fresh proposal on pensions in a move aimed at resolving a dispute with its workers. Picture; PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Royal Mail is making a fresh proposal on pensions in a move aimed at resolving a dispute with its workers. Picture; PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432037.1493372341!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/scottish-councils-squander-1-million-on-electric-cars-1-4432134","id":"1.4432134","articleHeadline": "Scottish councils ‘squander’ £1 million on electric cars","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493376195000 ,"articleLead": "

SCOTTISH councils have “squandered” nearly one million pounds on electric cars which they barely use.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432131.1493376186!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "An electric car charging point at Edinburgh City Chambers. Picture; Ian Georgeson"} ,"articleBody": "

A Freedom of Information request has revealed that Scotland’s local councils have lavished £962,442 on just 147 electric vehicles since 2011.

But the vehicles have done 5,843 on average even though some of them are six years old and most cars do around 8,000 miles per year.

The total mileage for the same cars came in at 859,020 which has led to critics suggesting the councils have not “utilised them to the optimal level.”

Critics say the low mileage of the electric cars is “another example of local authorities being far too quick to spend taxpayers’ money.”

READ MORE: Will electric cars catch on in Scotland?

Some councils have promoted their use of electric vehicles for their zero emissions and green benefits.

However, limited range and storage space as well as questionable image mean the cars come with limitations.

Edinburgh Council have a fleet of electric vehicles dating back to 2011. A car they purchased in December 2014 for £21,037.91 has only done 5,803 miles, meaning a cost of over £3.50 for each mile it’s covered since it was bought.

Similarly, they have an electric vehicle purchased in September 2012 at a cost of £11,528 which has only done 9,679 miles. A cost of over £1 per mile.

Aberdeen City Council have four leased cars bought in September 2016 at a cost of £8580.96 each of which have done 262, 418, 1,421 and 1,842 miles respectively.

They also have a fifth car bought in March 2013 for £11,042.93 which has to date done 14,219, miles, which works out at just over 3,550 miles per year.

Glasgow City Council has 17 electric vehicles but refused to provide details on the costs of each vehicle.

Three of their cars were bought in 2012 with a further 14 taken on lease in 2015.

The most any of their vehicles have done is 13,067 miles with the least coming in at 1,647, and an average mileage of 4,872 per year, well under the UK average of 7,900.

Benefits of electric cars include zero-emissions, which helps the environment and reduces air pollution.

They cut CO2 emissions, and are cheaper to run and maintain, however critics maintain that the councils haven’t been getting proper use out of their cars.

Moray Council purchased a Peugeot iOn at a cost of £27,666 in July 2011, however, in the past six years it’s only done 14,112 miles.

READ MORE: Surge in Scottish drivers plugging into electric cars

Perth and Kinross Council purchased one of their electric vehicles in March 2012 for £12,725 but it has only done 8,570 miles in the past five years.

And Highland Council have a Toyota Prius they purchased in November 2016 at a lease cost of £3,286 per year but has yet to cover a single mile.

Similarly, they have a Nissan Leaf bought in the same month for £4,887 per year but has not done a mile either.

John O’Connell, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “This is another example of local authorities being far too quick to spend taxpayers’ money before carrying out a thorough examination of what families are getting in return for their taxes.

“Well-intended these schemes may well be, but if the cars are not being utilised to the optimal level, is there really any justification for wasting such a large amount of money on them?

“Hard-pressed families expect their hard-earned cash to pay for essential services such as adult social care, not to be squandered on ideas that sound nice but don’t deliver.”

Scottish Conservative transport spokesman Liam Kerr said: “The Scottish Government hasn’t been shy in lecturing motorists about what they should and shouldn’t drive.

READ MORE: Scotland’s use of electric car charging points doubles

“And while it’s reasonable enough to promote environmentally-friendly alternatives, how can the SNP expect drivers to take this message on if councils don’t?

“This experiment has come at quite an expense to the taxpayer, and it’s simply not working.

“Council funds are scarce due to the decisions of this SNP government and they can ill-afford to be spending on big-ticket items which remain unused.

“Instead of constantly hitting motorists in the pocket and lecturing them on appropriate car choices, the Scottish Government should be finding ways of making this technology work for everyone.”

One of the most popular electric cars on the market is the Nissan Leaf, which can travel up to 155 miles per charge depending on conditions.

They typically cost £16,680 and take 30 minutes to charge 80% of the battery.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "FRASER CLARKE"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432131.1493376186!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432131.1493376186!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "An electric car charging point at Edinburgh City Chambers. Picture; Ian Georgeson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "An electric car charging point at Edinburgh City Chambers. Picture; Ian Georgeson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432131.1493376186!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432132.1493376190!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432132.1493376190!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Councils have been quick to introduce electric cars. Picture; Steven Scott Taylor.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Councils have been quick to introduce electric cars. Picture; Steven Scott Taylor.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432132.1493376190!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432133.1493376192!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432133.1493376192!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "editorial image","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432133.1493376192!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/conservatives-to-take-7-seats-from-snp-predicts-new-poll-1-4431917","id":"1.4431917","articleHeadline": "Conservatives to take 7 seats from SNP predicts new poll","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493374925000 ,"articleLead": "

The Conservatives are on course to pick up seven seats in Scotland in the General Election, according to a new poll.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431916.1493368485!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Prime Minister Theresa May speaks at a general election campaign event at the Shine Centre in Leeds. Picture; PA"} ,"articleBody": "

A projection from a YouGov poll for The Times Scotland gives the SNP 47 seats, the Tories eight, the Liberal Democrats three and Labour still with only one MP after the June 8 vote.

Among the seats predicted to change hands are Moray, currently held by SNP depute leader Angus Robertson, and Aberdeen South, where Callum McCaig won almost 42% of the vote in 2015.

Eight seats would be the highest Tory return north of the border since 1992 when the party won 11, but they were all wiped out in the 1997 general election.

The Tories, who are campaigning on a message of opposing the SNP’s bid for a second independence referendum, currently have one Scottish MP - David Mundell.

Voting intentions from the Times poll have the SNP leading on 41%, the Tories on 28%, with Labour at 18%, Lib Dems 7%, Greens 3% and Ukip on 2% across Scotland.

A Panelbase survey earlier in April had the SNP on 44% and the Tories on 33%.

Questioned on independence, respondents to the latest YouGov/Times poll were 45% Yes and 55% No, the same result as in the 2014 referendum.

The Times poll also found that 42% are in favour of another referendum, with 51% against and 7% saying they don’t know.

Focusing on the timing of any future independence referendum under the proposed SNP timetable, 37% said they want one after Brexit negotiations conclude but before Britain leaves the EU, while 49% said they did not want a referendum at that time.

More than 1,000 people took part in the survey between April 24 and 27.

READ MORE: Labour targeting just three key seats in Scotland

The other seats the poll suggests the Conservatives will win from the SNP are West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, Perth and North Perthshire, Dumfries and Galloway, the Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk seat and East Renfrewshire, while retaining Mr Mundell’s constituency of Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale.

On the campaign trail on Friday, Nicola Sturgeon is prioritising public services and community investment as she takes the SNP election campaign to a key constituency.

The First Minister will be in East Renfrewshire with party candidate Kirsten Oswald, who defeated then Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy in the constituency in 2015.

The former campaign director of Better Together during the 2014 independence referendum, Blair McDougall, will contest the seat for Scottish Labour this year, while Paul Masterton is the Conservative candidate.

Ms Sturgeon said only her party “can stand up to the Tories”.

“The truth is the more Tory MPs Westminster has, the heavier the price Scotland will pay,” she said.

“This cruel and damaging agenda has been created by a Tory Government with a narrow majority, imagine what they could achieve if they succeeded in their aim of crushing all parliamentary opposition.

“A free hand for the Tories would mean even more cuts, more attacks on low income families and a hard Brexit.

“The SNP is the only party that can stand up to the Tories, and working with the Scottish parliament SNP MPs will fight these devastating policies.

“It is now clearer than ever, a vote for the SNP is a vote to back public services, to oppose austerity and to invest in our communities.”

READ MORE: Petition to delay indyref2 thrown out by MSPs

Scottish Labour general election campaign manager James Kelly said: “This is yet another poll that shows people in Scotland do not want another divisive referendum and they don’t want to leave the UK. It’s time for the nationalists to focus on the job of governing, like dealing with the crisis in our schools and tackling the problems in the NHS after a decade of SNP mismanagement.

“Voters can send a message to Nicola Sturgeon that Scotland is divided enough, we don’t need any more division.

“When people go to the polls for the council elections on May 4 and the General Election on June 8 they can vote Labour to elect a local champion; or they can vote SNP to elect a candidate who will only focus on another divisive referendum.”

Conservative candidate for Edinburgh South West, Miles Briggs, said only the Scottish Tories could defeat the SNP as Labour and the Lib Dems were “out of the race”.

He said: “These figures show that people are putting their faith in the Scottish Conservatives right across Scotland. They are sick of the SNP’s repeated threat of another independence referendum, and know we’re the only ones who can stop them.

“In constituencies right across Scotland, we’ll be fighting for every single vote, and coming after the SNP for these seats.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CHRIS McCALL"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431916.1493368485!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431916.1493368485!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Prime Minister Theresa May speaks at a general election campaign event at the Shine Centre in Leeds. Picture; PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Prime Minister Theresa May speaks at a general election campaign event at the Shine Centre in Leeds. Picture; PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431916.1493368485!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/labour-mps-speak-out-against-trump-state-visit-1-4432084","id":"1.4432084","articleHeadline": "Labour MPs speak out against Trump state visit","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493373993000 ,"articleLead": "

Renewed criticism of the planned state visit to Britain by US President Donald Trump has been voiced by shadow home secretary Diane Abbott and other politicians.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432081.1493373926!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Labour MPs have voiced concern about the state visit of President Donald Trump."} ,"articleBody": "

In a move timed to coincide with the milestone of Mr Trump’s first 100 days in the White House, a number of parliamentarians have issued a statement criticising Prime Minister Theresa May’s invitation to the president.

It states: “It is deeply regrettable that Theresa May is determined to press ahead with according US President Donald Trump a state visit, ignoring the views of millions of British people.

READ MORE: Donald Trump visit ‘will shift to Scotland to deter protests’

“Racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, sexism, misogyny, homophobia, war-mongering, climate change denial, attacks on human rights, or policies that will deepen poverty and inequality should not be rewarded or celebrated by our Government.

“Most people in Britain want no part of it. We will continue to oppose this state visit - it is not in our name.”

As well as Ms Abbott, the bid is supported by fellow shadow cabinet member Cat Smith, prominent Labour MPs Dennis Skinner and David Lammy, and Baroness Kinnock.

Spokeswoman for the Stand Up To Trump campaign, Maz Saleem, said: “Trump has already committed numerous war crimes and has massively escalated the bombing in the Middle East - his war-mongering is a threat to the entire world. He has pursued a racist, Islamophobic and otherwise bigoted agenda home and abroad.

“It is vital that we build a broad and sustained movement that maintains the opposition to Trump. Our primary goal is to build the pressure for a cancellation of the state visit, but if it does goes ahead, we will be ready to mobilise on a massive scale.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "JEMMA CREW"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432081.1493373926!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432081.1493373926!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Labour MPs have voiced concern about the state visit of President Donald Trump.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Labour MPs have voiced concern about the state visit of President Donald Trump.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432081.1493373926!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/brexit-could-trigger-worst-slump-since-2008-vince-cable-1-4432020","id":"1.4432020","articleHeadline": "Brexit could trigger worst slump since 2008- Vince Cable","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493370488000 ,"articleLead": "

Brexit could trigger a bigger slump than the 2008 financial crash, former Liberal Democrat Cabinet minister Sir Vince Cable has predicted.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432019.1493370484!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Sir Vince Cable has predicted that Brexit could trigger a bigger slump than the 2008 financial crash. Picture; PA"} ,"articleBody": "

The ex-business secretary warned that a combination of falling consumer confidence, job losses, and inflation has the potential to outstrip the credit crunch storm if Prime Minister Theresa May pushes through a hard Brexit withdrawal from the EU.

READ MORE: UK economy slowdown worse than feared as sales fall

Sir Vince, who hopes take back his old seat of Twickenham for the Lib Dems in the General Election, said: “For Britain, the economic weather is arguably worse than it was before the credit crunch. The pound has plummeted, which is driving up prices and trapping consumers in a vicious Brexit squeeze.

“Consumer confidence was all that kept the storm clouds away. But with job losses at everywhere from Deutsche Bank to Nestle, that confidence is going to drain away further.

“The chancellor clearly has no confidence in the economic strategy of the Government, because he knows that leaving the single market and customs union has the potential to devastate the UK economy.

“If Britain enters a second economic storm, it will be Theresa May’s economic storm. You can’t have a hard Brexit and a strong economy.

“That is why it is vital that the General Election produces a large increase in MPs who understand why it is essential to remain in the single market and customs union.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432019.1493370484!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432019.1493370484!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Sir Vince Cable has predicted that Brexit could trigger a bigger slump than the 2008 financial crash. Picture; PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Sir Vince Cable has predicted that Brexit could trigger a bigger slump than the 2008 financial crash. Picture; PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432019.1493370484!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/300-faults-logged-with-body-worn-police-cameras-1-4431999","id":"1.4431999","articleHeadline": "300 faults logged with body-worn police cameras","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493368815000 ,"articleLead": "

More than 300 faults with Police Scotland’s body-worn cameras have been logged in the past three years.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431998.1493368810!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Over 300 issues have been logged with body worn cameras. Picture; Ian Rutherford"} ,"articleBody": "

The cameras were initially trialled in Aberdeen and then rolled out across Moray and Aberdeenshire in 2012.

Data obtained by BBC Scotland found that over a three-year period the number of faults reported with the system doubled.

Police Scotland told the broadcaster most problems had been with the force’s own computers, not the cameras themselves.

Officers have logged 302 faults in the force’s IT portal since 2013, according to information obtained by the BBC.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Williams told BBC Good Morning Scotland: “There’s been in the region of 300 faults reported, but to give you some context around that, let’s take Queen Street station alone in Aberdeen in the north-east.

“Body-worn cameras have been deployed there in excess of 200,000 times over the period of the trial so the numbers are a tiny tiny percentage of that, and I think what’s more important are the benefits that have come from the delivery of the body-worn videos in the north-east of Scotland.

“We’ve heard from the people of Aberdeen and how positive they are about it and we’ve heard from Chief Inspector Topping around the context of that and some of the benefits that have come from it, including officer safety, including a reduction in police officers having to go to court and perhaps most importantly as a result of that a reduction in the number of victims that have to attend at court to give evidence, which is really really important.”

He said that the force is currently consulting about what the future of policing in Scotland should look like in the next decade, which they are calling policing 2026.

If they were to consider the use of body-worn cameras for potential development they would take into account the lessons learned in the north-east, he said.

Mr Williams said the force has a “transformational budget” to change the organisation and move it forward, allowing them to consider the cost benefits of something like body-worn video.

Andrea MacDonald, chairwoman of the Scottish Police Federation, said they were concerned the force does not have the infrastructure to support the cameras.

She told the BBC: “What we’re concerned about is the cost in the current financial climate for the force which as you know is very dire and we’re also concerned that our IT infrastructure is creaking and worried that it would not be able to cope with body-worn cameras at the present time.

“I would hope it would be part of the wider 2026 programme to give time to take consideration of the public view of this and to look at what exactly we need to get the best cameras we need, and to make sure that our IT is fit for purpose and more importantly that the IT of our partners in the criminal justice system is fit for purpose, because it would be completely counter-productive if they didn’t have the IT to use the evidence that we present from the body-worn cameras.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "LUCINDA CAMERON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431998.1493368810!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431998.1493368810!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Over 300 issues have been logged with body worn cameras. Picture; Ian Rutherford","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Over 300 issues have been logged with body worn cameras. Picture; Ian Rutherford","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431998.1493368810!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/labour-targeting-just-three-key-seats-in-scotland-1-4431903","id":"1.4431903","articleHeadline": "Labour targeting just three key seats in Scotland","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493363383000 ,"articleLead": "

Labour are targeting just three constituencies in Scotland according to party sources focusing only on seats where they believe there is ‘a real chance of victory’

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431900.1493361924!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Labour are targeting just three seats in Scotland, with the seat of Ian Murray MP being one of them. Picture; John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

As a result of the campaign, Jeremy Corbyn will have to rely on winning seats from the Conservatives in England if he is to be the next Prime Minister.

The plan from Labour comes following reports in The Herald that the Conservatives are seeking to launch a strategy that would see them claim the seat of Angus Robertson, the SNP’s deputy leader.

His seat is one of the many the Conservatives are hoping to claim in June.

READ MORE: Falkirk council election a two-way race between SNP and Labour

Scottish Labour however aim to focus their limited resources mainly on seats where they could claim a victory.

Some of the majorities in their loss to the SNP two years ago saw majorities of over 10,000, making it all but impossible to reclaim seats.

Three constituencies in Scotland have been targeted by the party.

Edinburgh South, the seat of Ian Murray who was the only Labour survivor in the 2015 wipeout which saw the party lose 40 of 41 seats, is aiming to maintain his seat .

Jim Murphy’s old seat, East Renfrewshire is also being targeted by the party with the SNP’s Kirsten Oswald having a majority of just 3,718. This week saw Blair MacDougall, the former Better Together chief, announced as the candidate in the area.

Labour are also confident of challenging for East Lothian, where SNP MP George Kerevan has a majority of 6,083

The latest YouGov poll is grim reading for the party however, indicating a 16 point gap between Labour and the Conservatives, despite Labour claiming some ground back.

Electoral Calculus, the political forecasting website, has predicted Labour will experience a complete wipe-out in Scotland with the SNP winning 46 seats, down 10 on 2015, the Tories winning 11, up 10, and the Liberal Democrats securing two, up one.

Another poll also suggested that the Tories would become the biggest party in Wales forcing some to question the tactic to only target a few seats in Scotland,

Speaking in The Herald, a Conservative source said they were confident of securing seats in Scotland, targeting key seats such as the Moray seat of Angus Robertson.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon urges SNP vote ‘for public services’

One poll last weekend suggested Ruth Davidson’s party would win 33 per cent of the vote, gaining a dozen seats.

The source said: “We believe we can put him under a great deal of pressure. He cannot hide from EU questions his party has been trying to dodge - do they want to be in the EU, in EFTA, have a referendum, etc, etc – in an area with such a strong Leave vote.”

Mr Robertson has hit back however stating that he was “looking forward” to defeating his Conservative opponent - for the third time in a row.

Speaking in Leeds, Theresa May said: “It may say Labour on the ballot but it’s Jeremy Corbyn that gets the vote.

“There are only two people who can possibly be Prime Minister on June 9; only two people who can possibly represent Britain in Europe. The choice is between five years of strong and stable leadership with me as Prime Minister or a coalition of chaos with Jeremy Corbyn at the helm, a weak leader negotiating Brexit and higher taxes, debt and waste.”

When promoting, Jeremy Corbyn told fans: “We’re eight days into the election campaign and the Tories have been reduced to personal name-calling. I’ve never been involved in that and never will be.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "DIANE KING"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431900.1493361924!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431900.1493361924!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Labour are targeting just three seats in Scotland, with the seat of Ian Murray MP being one of them. Picture; John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Labour are targeting just three seats in Scotland, with the seat of Ian Murray MP being one of them. Picture; John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431900.1493361924!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431901.1493361927!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431901.1493361927!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Ian Murray, Scotland's only Labour MP. Picture Steven Scott Taylor.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ian Murray, Scotland's only Labour MP. Picture Steven Scott Taylor.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431901.1493361927!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431902.1493361928!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431902.1493361928!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The Conservatives are optimistic about claiming the seat of Angus Robertson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Conservatives are optimistic about claiming the seat of Angus Robertson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431902.1493361928!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/brian-wilson-chance-to-follow-paisley-pattern-and-back-a-local-vision-1-4431419","id":"1.4431419","articleHeadline": "Brian Wilson: Chance to follow Paisley pattern and back a local vision","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493362800000 ,"articleLead": "

Next week’s local elections have more or less disappeared into the morass of general election coverage and tedious referendum speculation.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431418.1493302779!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A mass outdoor rendition of Gerry Rafferty's classic Baker Street in Paisley."} ,"articleBody": "

The Tories, not unreasonably, believe they can improve their standing in the former by pointing to the threat of the latter. The Nationalists, having set the hare running, don’t now know how to stop it even though it has developed a distinct limp.

Voices seeking to focus on other matters find difficulty in being heard. Even those who suspect the Nationalists might do less well than assumed next Thursday attribute that to the unpopularity of Ms Sturgeon’s referendum zeal rather than her administration’s atrocious treatment of local government.

That’s a pity. The statistics which matter need not be divined from opinion polls but should start from two hard facts. First, since 2010 and the era of “austerity” budgets, the Scottish Government’s resources have increased in real terms by 0.4 per cent. Second, in the same period, the Scottish Government has cut the allocation to councils by 19.4 per cent.

These are not difficult figures to understand and are the Scottish Government’s own. They are considerably more difficult to defend, if anyone took the trouble to prosecute them. It remains a mystery why so little effort has been made to put them at the centre of public attention since so much else flows from them.

For starters, they make a mockery of the SNP’s campaign pledge to “protect local services” by “stopping them falling into the hands of the Tories”. If anyone can provide an explanation of how receiving a marginally increased budget equates to wicked austerity while cutting the money to those who deliver the said services by nearly a fifth represents “protecting” anything, I would be interested to hear it.

The Nationalists do not deserve an enhanced local mandate – not solely or mainly due to their referendum fixation but as a rejection of their treatment of councils and the services they provide. That, in turn, is part of a much wider centralising agenda which consistently transfers powers and resources to Scotland-wide bodies, closer to Ministerial control.

Local government is much maligned but by any reasonable measure delivers a more reliable and recognisable job for its electorate than any higher tier of policy-making. Most of it goes unreported but that does not make it any less significant. On the contrary, much of the stuff of headlines is, by comparison, trivial and marginal in its impact on people’s daily lives.

Much of the creativity in politics arises at local level because those responsible are motivated by a desire to do what is best for the places in which they live. Local politics is not an abstraction which might, hypothetically, deliver great benefits at some point in the future. Councillors know their own communities and, overwhelmingly, have a real desire to make them better places to live in.

In that spirit, I will dwell on one example of the difference a good local authority can make and which would never, never come from a centralised Scotland-wide approach to local regeneration. I refer to the effort by Renfrewshire Council to have Paisley designated as the UK’s City of Culture in 2021. The bid will be lodged today along with ten others, including Perth.

Paisley is a classic example of a post-industrial town which has not had its troubles to seek. Its wealth was built on textiles with mills employing tens of thousands. One by one, they closed until the industry disappeared altogether by the 1990s, along with other major employers. Meanwhile, a massive shopping development was established at Braehead and Paisley’s town centre went into freefall.

Parts of Paisley have among the highest deprivation rates in Scotland. So who would think of promoting Paisley as a “city of culture”? Well, the answer is “a good local authority” and the same kind of visionaries who saw the benefits of winning transformational designations for Glasgow in the past and, more recently, won City of Culture status for ostensibly unpromising places like Derry and Hull. In other words, not national politicians but local councils.

Scrape the surface and Paisley’s bid becomes more comprehensible, building on strengths that would scarcely be recognised outside the community itself. Its town centre has Scotland’s second-highest concentration of listed buildings, behind only Edinburgh and numbering 111. Its museum holds a stunning collection based on Paisley’s textile heritage and is central to the overall bid.

Paisley is using the bid as a means of redefining the town centre as a hub for creative industries. The council believe their approach to regeneration can show the way for many other towns facing similar challenges. In this way, the local authority is looking to the future while at the same time delivering the services on which its poorest people rely most – and all against the backdrop of a 20 per cent funding cut.

I got to know a bit about the Paisley bid because, wearing my Harris Tweed hat, we are working with them to revive historic synergies between the two textile traditions. As a result, I have become even more convinced than before that by far the most effective way of making a real difference to struggling Scottish communities is to pass more powers and resources down to local levels – not by taking them away as is happening at present. It is true in islands, towns and cities. That should be the underlying issue next Thursday, yet it is barely spoken of.

Can that be changed in the last week? Never mind worrying about television debates around the general election. What exposure has there been to the competing visions for our cities and districts? Virtually none. What attempt has there been to hold Ministers accountable for these massive funding cuts? Virtually none. What credit has been given to councils, like Renfrewshire, which is facing challenges with a degree of creativity that makes Holyrood look like a backwater? None at all.

Next Thursday, local government should be judged on its merits in each of Scotland’s 32 council areas. If that is applied, the one certainty is that the winners will not be the political party which has robbed councils of one-fifth of their budgets and now claims the right to exploit the consequences.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BRIAN WILSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431418.1493302779!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431418.1493302779!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A mass outdoor rendition of Gerry Rafferty's classic Baker Street in Paisley.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A mass outdoor rendition of Gerry Rafferty's classic Baker Street in Paisley.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431418.1493302779!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} ]}}} ]}