{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"scotland","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/richard-hall-edinburgh-buses-driving-a-thriving-tourist-sector-1-4487674","id":"1.4487674","articleHeadline": "Richard Hall: Edinburgh buses driving a thriving tourist sector","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1498629622000 ,"articleLead": "

One of Edinburgh’s many roles as a capital city is to serve as the gateway for tourists from across the globe.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4487673.1498562409!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Edinburgh Bus Tours launch with Tattoo drummers in the Grassmarket. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor"} ,"articleBody": "

Edinburgh Castle and the range of festivals are ­probably the best known from a wide selection of world-class locations and events. Interestingly, ­Edinburgh Bus Tours, ­operated by Lothian ­Buses, is now the second-most ­popular paid-for ­attraction in Scotland, overtaking ­Edinburgh Zoo.

We welcomed more than 600,000 passengers on board our four different tours in 2016, up 9 per cent on 2015. This year we are seeing even stronger visitor numbers with a 24 per cent increase in people hopping on our open top buses to see the sights.

The new Queensferry Crossing will inject a ­further tourism boost to the city region’s economy. In April we launched one of our services as the ‘3 Bridges’ bus and boat experience.

The success of our tour operation also led us to invest more than £6.5 million in 30 new custom-built vehicles. Designed to some of the highest standards in accessibility and environmental performance, we believe they send a hugely positive message to visitors about the modern, inclusive, innovative city and country we all know and love.

In previous articles I’ve talked about how we’re ­trying to reduce our carbon ­footprint. These new buses are an excellent example of that and reinforce our long term commitment to the environment.

Critically they reduce CO2 emissions by more than 40 per cent compared to the ­previous vehicles and cut nitrous oxides and ­particulates by up to 99 per cent. Along with dedicated ­wheelchair and ­buggy ­spaces, coloured LED ­destination information ­display, wi-fi, CCTV and ­panoramic views, these ­vehicles are a world-first.

This isn’t the only investment we’ve made to benefit the tourism sector. This year we added another ­dedicated route to the ­airport called Skylink, which ­provides improved connections with the north of the city. It ­complements our ­existing Airlink service from the ­centre of the capital which drives tourism and growth and supports one of the ­fastest growing airports in the UK.

In addition, our transport offering now extends east of the capital with our EastCoastBuses operation ­opening up a new ­audience to the ­natural ­beauty of the amazing ­coastline on the city’s doorstep.

Naturally enough, the ­tourism sector of today looks unimaginably different to that of 200 years ago, when the Scotsman first launched. It is now critical to our ­country and contributes significantly to both the local and wider Scottish economy, supporting jobs, investment and economic growth.

As a proud Scottish ­business, Lothian’s role is to continue to work hard to deliver excellent routine ­connections through our city bus and airport services and unique and amazing experiences through our bus tours, to ensure residents and ­visitors have the best ­possible time in and around our ­capital.

Richard Hall is managing director of Lothian Buses.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4487673.1498562409!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4487673.1498562409!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Edinburgh Bus Tours launch with Tattoo drummers in the Grassmarket. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Edinburgh Bus Tours launch with Tattoo drummers in the Grassmarket. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4487673.1498562409!/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/nicola-sturgeon-to-formally-dispute-dup-conservative-deal-1-4487833","id":"1.4487833","articleHeadline": "Nicola Sturgeon to formally dispute DUP/ Conservative deal","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1498570011000 ,"articleLead": "

Nicola Sturgeon’s administration is to declare a formal dispute with the UK Government over the £1 billion deal with the DUP to prop up Theresa May.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4473049.1498582439!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

After a meeting of Ms Sturgeon’s Cabinet, her spokesman said the Scottish Government would invoke a “dispute resolution mechanism” through the Joint Ministerial Council (JMC), the body dealing with relations between the UK Government and devolved administrations.

The process will be outlined in a letter to be sent by Finance Secretary Derek Mackay to the Chief Secretary of the Treasury Liz Truss.

“As well as writing to the Treasury today it is likely the Scottish Government will be invoking the UK Government with a view to invoking the dispute resolution mechanism under the JMC process,” the spokesman said.

“Cabinet expressed its displeasure at the nature of the deal with the DUP, which would appear to be a gross breach of established principles of devolution.”

The SNP has argued that the £1 billion for Northern Ireland should mean Scotland getting £2.9 billion if the funds were distributed by the Barnett Formula.

The extra cash negotiated by the DUP will not be handed over via Barnett, but sees an increase in Northern Ireland’s block grant.

The Barnett Formula has been designed to ensure that if funding goes up in England, there are consequentials for the devolved nations.

Scottish secretary David Mundell previously told the BBC he would not support a funding deal “which deliberately sought to subvert the Barnett rules”.

Ms Sturgeon’s spokesman said: “In terms of Scottish Secretary’s position, it is for David Mundell to reconcile previous statements with what has happened. But on the face of it they are completely and fundamentally at odds. So really the Scottish Secretary has to make a public statement about how is previous statements can be squared with what has happened.”

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

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "TOM PETERKIN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4473049.1498582439!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4473049.1498582439!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4473049.1498582439!/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/education/spending-on-scottish-schools-to-rise-this-year-1-4487749","id":"1.4487749","articleHeadline": "Spending on Scottish schools to rise this year","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1498565717000 ,"articleLead": "

Spending on Scotland’s local authorities for 2016/17 is to be reduced by £119 million (-1.0 per cent) to £11.875 billion when compared with the previous year, the Scottish Government has said.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4487748.1498565716!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Education Secretary John Swinney"} ,"articleBody": "

Scottish Government budget estimate figures revealed spending on education, however, is to go up by £86 million (1.8 per cent) to £4.879 billion.

Social work will see a reduction of £37 million (-1.2 per cent) to £3.139 billion – although the government said the figure did not include the £250 million made available from the health budget as a result of Integration Joint Boards.

Education amounted to 41.1 per cent of total expenditure and social work accounted for 26.4 per cent.

Local Authorities received £6.837 billion (58.5 per cent of funding) from Scottish Government Grants, received £2.768 billion (23.7 per cent) from non-domestic rates and raised £2.075 billion (17.8 per cent of funding) from council tax. This funding totalled £11.680 billion, with 195 million being funded from local authority reserves.

Education Secretary John Swinney welcomed the extra cash for schools.

He said: “Investment in education is an investment in the future of Scotland’s young people, and so I very much welcome this increase by local authorities - both in terms of last year’s expected spend and allocated budgets for the year ahead.

“However, the way this funding is currently allocated to schools is complex, lacks transparency and varies from council to council. We want far more decisions on school funding to be in the hands of those with the expertise and insight to target resources at the greatest need – the schools themselves.

“We are already giving an additional £120 million Pupil Equity Funding directly to head teachers to tackle the poverty-related attainment gap in their schools. We want to build on this approach with a fair funding system for schools. Our consultation runs until 13 October, and I urge everyone to have their say.”

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

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "TOM PETERKIN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4487748.1498565716!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4487748.1498565716!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Education Secretary John Swinney","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Education Secretary John Swinney","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4487748.1498565716!/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/snp-to-focus-on-brexit-as-indyref2-goes-on-back-burner-1-4485750","id":"1.4485750","articleHeadline": "SNP to focus on Brexit as indyref2 goes on back burner","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1498366844000 ,"articleLead": "

Nicola Sturgeon is set to defy calls to abandon indyref2 and will try to push the issue into the background as she attempts the most delicate balancing act of her career.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4485749.1498336474!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Sturgeon vowed to reflect on referendum plans after the election. Picture: Stuart Nicol"} ,"articleBody": "

This week the First Minister is expected to retreat from her original timetable for another vote but will keep the option on the table as she diverts her attention to Brexit.

By focusing her efforts on securing a soft Brexit, Sturgeon will attempt to defuse the referendum threat that proved so damaging to the SNP during the general election earlier this month.

But her refusal to ditch the policy altogether will leave her vulnerable to Tory and Labour accusations that her party is obsessing with independence at the expense of health and education.

Sturgeon promised to reflect on her referendum plans in the aftermath of the election and is expected to announce the outcome of those reflections within days.

The SNP leader is under pressure to come up with a strategy which will reassure the electorate at large without alienating her hardline independence supporters, who have flocked to the party and make up her power base.

Senior SNP figures have warned against holding a second vote until it can be won, and Scotland on Sunday understands that view is shared by party donors.

Having lost 21 Westminster seats at the general election, there is an acknowledgement by the First Minister that her call for a referendum cost them votes.

There is also recognition amongst those close to her that it would be unwise to keep pressing for another vote given the economic challenges caused by Brexit.

SNP insiders yesterday said Sturgeon’s intention to have a referendum by spring 2019 would be allowed to slip while the Scottish Government exploits Theresa May’s lack of majority to influence the Brexit process.

“Using the really volatile situation at Westminster, the Scottish Government has to be seen to do everything it can to make Brexit as good an outcome as possible,” an SNP insider said.

“In that sense it is prioritising the issue of Brexit and being seen to do everything possible to secure UK-wide or Scottish membership of the single market or customs union. We will then be in a position to judge if it is a good outcome. If it includes formal membership or de facto membership of the single market, and such a compromise was reached, there would be no basis to have another independence referendum at this stage.”

The UK government has so far refused to grant the Scottish Government the power to hold a second vote and looks set to push the issue until beyond the 2021 Scottish election.

The SNP’s new Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, said the immediate priority was trying to get Scottish Government representation at the Brexit talks to protect Scotland’s position in the single market and customs union.

“What I want to do is say to the UK government that you don’t have a majority for a hard Brexit, and say you have a duty to take into account the administrations in Edinburgh, Cardiff and hopefully Belfast as well and recognise there’s a situation whereby you have not pulled the country together and here is an opportunity to do that,” said Blackford.

“We can respect that the UK is coming out of the EU, but how do we respect Scotland’s interests? That has a high degree of significance in terms of where we are with an independence referendum.

“If we can protect Scotland’s position – that’s got to be the first priority. The second thing is making sure we get additional investment in infrastructure and our public services. Those are our first priorities and I would characterise it that way.”

On the second referendum, Blackford added: “It is there as a manifesto commitment. It has been endorsed by the parliament. But if you are serious about seeking to achieve compromise, you have got to make sure the first two things are your immediate priority: softer Brexit and an alternative to austerity.”

When she announces her next steps, Sturgeon is expected to refer back to the document the Scottish Government published at the end of last year which recommended ways that Scotland’s relationship with the EU could be protected after Brexit.

Attempts to put indyref2 on the back burner risk a backlash from SNP activists, who are already having to come to terms with the UK government’s determination to block a vote.

Despite this, Dennis Canavan, the former Labour MP and MSP who chaired the Yes Scotland campaign, remained convinced that a referendum would happen at some stage.

“Indyref2 is inevitable,” Canavan said. “It is only a matter of time, and that will depend very much on how the Brexit negotiations go. For many people, the full implications of Brexit have not yet sunk in. If it looks like we’re heading for a hard Brexit with detrimental effects on the economy, employment and freedom of movement, then that will increase the public demand for indyref2 to enable an independent Scotland to negotiate its own relationship with Europe and the rest of the world.

“In the meantime, the people of Scotland are yet again saddled with a government we did not vote for and the prospect of more austerity. The chaos at Westminster raises questions not just about the stability of the UK government but also about the stability of the UK itself.

“Nicola Sturgeon will be astute enough to assess public opinion and seize the day.

“ I am confident that the people of Scotland will deliver a historic vote for independence.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Tom Peterkin"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4485749.1498336474!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4485749.1498336474!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Sturgeon vowed to reflect on referendum plans after the election. Picture: Stuart Nicol","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Sturgeon vowed to reflect on referendum plans after the election. Picture: Stuart Nicol","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4485749.1498336474!/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/opinion/euan-mccolm-snp-sceptics-close-in-on-nicola-sturgeon-1-4485694","id":"1.4485694","articleHeadline": "Euan McColm: SNP sceptics close in on Nicola Sturgeon","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1498331295000 ,"articleLead": "

THE First Minister can’t face up to the fact that Brexit shambles is the coup de grace to a second vote on independence, writes Euan McColm

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4485693.1498331294!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "After the unexpected scale of SNP losses in the general election, an embattled Sturgeon needs to regain the initiative. Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA"} ,"articleBody": "

When Alex Salmond was challenged over the possible negative implications of independence during the 2014 referendum campaign, he would often claim that whoever was raising a particular issue – a chancellor ruling out a currency union, say, or a business suggesting relocation – was bluffing.

Salmond would repeatedly avoid tackling complicated questions for which he didn’t have answers by insisting that the scenario outlined would never come to pass: of course there would be a currency union; of course oil would soon regain its value.

Because he was on the losing side, Salmond’s assertions were never challenged; we will never know whether there would have been a currency union (though, to be clear, there absolutely wouldn’t have been) because the majority of Scots voted in favour of remaining part of the UK.

This use of unprovable assertions was very helpful to the SNP during tricky campaign moments. But it’s a line of defence that’s run its course.

Campaigners in any future Scottish independence referendum will struggle to argue that prophecies of job losses, for example, are scaremongering once we have seen the impact of Brexit.

Hundreds of jobs are to go in London after EU leaders have officially launched a competition between member states to decide which will host agencies responsible for medicines and banking. Once these jobs are relocated, London will also lose out on the revenue from hotel stays and conferences associated with them.

During the referendum campaign, Remainers warned that departure from the EU would have consequences for jobs but this was batted away as scaremongering. Why did those in favour of the EU have to talk the UK down?

As First Minister Nicola Sturgeon considers her strategy for a dreamed-of second independence referendum she will have to factor in the reality of Brexit showing that constitutional upheaval comes at an immediate, tangible cost. The issue of EU jobs leaving is another straw on the back of the SNP’s weary camel.

Brexit was supposed to give Sturgeon the added momentum she needed to win the second referendum she wants to hold by early 2019. Scots voters – a majority of whom voted Remain last year – would be so incensed at being “dragged out of Europe against their will” that they’d finally call time on membership of the UK. Instead, the issue of Europe has clattered into the nationalists’ plans and upset everything. Support for independence hasn’t swelled and the SNP is losing voters at the sort of rate previously demonstrated by the Labour Party.

For the first time in living memory, senior SNP figures have begun to doubt the First Minister’s vision. On the issue of Brexit illustrating the problems of independence, one party insider is especially forthright.

The First Minister, says this seasoned campaigner, became so obsessed by the idea of a problematic Brexit helping persuade No voters to support independence that she lost sight of the fact that it would seriously damage the SNP line that departure from the UK would be straightforward.

And the doubters speak up on other issues, too. There is a growing sense that Sturgeon and her husband, SNP chief executive Peter Murrell, are losing the confidence of some elected members. Given the nationalists’ remarkable record of discipline this past decade or so, it’s quite remarkable the degree to which briefing against the leadership has spread.

Sturgeon was caught unawares by the general election results. The SNP expected to lose as many as a dozen of the 56 seats it won in 2015. That the tally far exceeded worst case predictions exposed a vulnerability the SNP had previously concealed beneath a veneer of overweening confidence.

The defeat of the SNP’s Westminster leader Angus Robertson, a parliamentarian of the first order, removes from the top tier of the party one of its few serious thinkers. If the First Minister is lucky, a winnable by-election will come along and Robertson can join her at Holyrood. Sturgeon and her Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, are currently micromanaging a team of second rate ministers. Robertson and others of his stature (if they can be found) could play a useful role in lifting some of the pressure from Sturgeon and Swinney.

The departure two years ago of communications director Kevin Pringle also continues to be felt. Frequently, the SNP seems uncertain of its story.

It’s true that Sturgeon leads the most successful party in Scotland and she’s just won 35 of the country’s 59 Westminster seats. This is a considerable achievement. But just a few weeks ago, it would have been unthinkable for anyone within the SNP to question – even off the record – the First Minister’s strategy. And now that some are raising doubts, others may feel empowered to follow.

Sturgeon’s leadership is not in crisis, but neither is it as strong as it once was. There is mounting frustration among some senior SNP figures that she will not rule out a second referendum, unequivocally. Those who feel she is mistaken in continuing to dangle the prospect of a second constitutional vote in the next two years reason that, since there is only minority support for it and since the UK government could – and would – block it, anyway, it’s currently a dead issue.

Sturgeon must surely see this too, yet she clings grimly to the idea of a referendum that won’t happen.

Sturgeon has spent two decades building a reputation as a politician of great skill and dexterity. Now that reputation is taking a pounding. With colleagues muttering darkly about her performance, her personal ratings dropping, and her dream of a second independence referendum in tatters, the First Minister is up against it as never before.

Nicola Sturgeon had grown accustomed to setting the political agenda. Now, she is at the mercy of events and opponents and, I’m afraid, she’s not rising to the challenges before her.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Euan McColm"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4485693.1498331294!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4485693.1498331294!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "After the unexpected scale of SNP losses in the general election, an embattled Sturgeon needs to regain the initiative. Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "After the unexpected scale of SNP losses in the general election, an embattled Sturgeon needs to regain the initiative. Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4485693.1498331294!/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/heritage/culture-clash-perth-v-paisley-in-title-fight-1-4485772","id":"1.4485772","articleHeadline": "Culture clash: Perth v Paisley in title fight","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1498366818000 ,"articleLead": "

In Dunn Square in Paisley, the statues of industrial giants Thomas and Peter Coats gaze proprietorially over the skyline their success helped create. The brothers, former owners of J & P Coats thread mills, face away from each other. Thomas has a top hat in his left hand and his right tucked into his waistcoat. Peter sports sideburns Paul Weller would kill for. Each has an imperious expression on his face and a seagull perched on his droppings-encrusted head.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4485771.1498338385!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jean Cameron, Project Director of Paisleys UK City of Culture 2021 bid. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

More than a century after the brothers’ deaths – and 25 years after the closure of the Anchor and Ferguslie mills – Paisley is a two-storey town. Look up, and you see only wealth: the spires and the towers, the domes and the columns, the angels and the cherubs and the gargoyles – all legacies of its powerhouse past. Look down, however, and you can’t miss the poverty: the hard-bitten faces and the empty shop fronts – a consequence of globalisation and being stuck in Glasgow’s shadow.

Tucking into a poke of chips, Sharon Thomson, a care worker from nearby Penilee, says she only came into the town because she thought terrorists were less likely to strike there than at Silverburn. “Och, the High Street used to be buzzing, but now there’s just M&S, bookies, amusements and charity shops,” she says.

Sixty miles away, Perth preens itself on the banks of the Tay. The Fair City – and unlike Paisley, it is a city – has always benefited from its Gateway-to-the Highlands location. Today, the continental pavement cafés that line St John’s Place are bustling with students, tourists and ladies who lunch.

Though, like all Scottish towns, there are empty shops – the closure last year of the 150-year-old department store McEwens was a major blow – the town has higher than average employment and a wide range of big-name retailers.

There is no shortage of history here, either: Perth was occupied by Jacobite supporters on three occasions, John Knox preached on idolatry in St John’s Kirk, and the Battle of the North Inch was memorialised in Walter Scott’s The Fair Maid Of Perth. But the city hasn’t always been good at preserving its heritage. There were plans to demolish the B-listed City Hall – “an Edwardian interloper” – to create a public space before Historic Environment Scotland put the kibosh on them, while St Paul’s Church has lain empty for over 30 years.

The two cities could scarcely be more different: Perth, the sober matron; Paisley, the stroppy street fighter. Yet they are going head to head (along with Sunderland, Stoke-on-Trent, Hereford, Coventry, Wells, Swansea, Warrington, Portsmouth and St David’s) for the title of UK City of Culture 2021. Each hopes the accolade, the £3 million of funding, and the raised profile the title brings will serve as a catalyst for regeneration.

Both Scottish contenders have powerful cultural figures in their corners. Paisley is being backed by John Byrne, Gerard Butler and Paolo Nutini, Perth by Stuart Cosgrove and Colin McCredie. But which stands a better chance? To find out more, I asked the driving forces behind the bids to take me on a whistle-stop tour.

It’s 1pm on Wednesday, and I’m meeting Jean Cameron, Project Director of Paisley’s UK City of Culture 2021 bid.

The buddy (native of Paisley) – who has raven-black hair, bright red lips and infinite energy – was born and brought up in Ferguslie Park, the scheme that tops the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation. Her mother was a doffer at the mill there and recently appeared in the BBC documentary The Town That Thread Built.

As a teenager, Cameron remembers looking out of the library window to see punks – then banned from Glasgow – congregating in the street outside Listen Records, before heading to the Bungalow; later, she danced to Talking Heads at Toledo Junction.

After leaving school, however, she moved to Glasgow because there were no opportunities to study or work in the arts in Paisley. She went on to lead the cultural programme for Glasgow’s 2014 Commonwealth Games.

A pragmatist, Cameron acknowledges the decline that has turned parts of the town into the “poster child for deprivation”. But, she insists, there are other ways in which Paisley’s cultural stock has risen. Nowadays, for example, a school-leaver could choose from a range of courses in the creative industries at the University of the West of Scotland and West College Scotland, while PACE Youth Theatre – where James McAvoy and Richard Madden first trod the boards – has 2,000 young members.

“We think this award would mean more to Paisley than any of the other cities taking part. It’s not going to solve everything, but it would be truly transformative,” Cameron says.

On her tour, we stop to look at the imposing architecture: the 850-year-old Abbey, where Robert the Bruce’s daughter Marjorie gave birth prematurely and then died after falling from her horse; the red sandstone Thomas Coats Memorial Church with its flying buttresses and grand staircase; and the soon to be extended museum and art gallery which boasts a large collection of Paisley pattern shawls.

She shows me the iconic Arnotts building, now restored to its former grandeur, its upper level turned into affordable flats, its lower level about to open as a restaurant. And I am granted a sneak preview of the ornate marble lobby of the Russell Institute – a former health clinic where Cameron remembers being taken to get her jags. The stunning art deco building, with its bronze angel protecting two young babies perched high above the main door, has been empty since 2011, but is about to open as a training and employability hub after a £4.5m refurbishment.

Cameron is also keen to highlight new murals by local artists. One is a tribute to the psychedelic Sixties (when the Beatles’ endorsement of the Paisley pattern turned it into a cult phenomenon). Another features local girl Eva Rose Ross, the distinctive skyline reflected in her sunglasses.

The mural of Eva Rose was made by Caroline Gormley. Today, she and her partner, Alexander Guy, are working in an underpass at Gilmour Street station. Using tinfoil flan cases as palettes, they are painting a large Paisley Tartan backdrop on to which images of well-known city figures and landmarks will be superimposed.

“This means a lot because it’s all about community,” says Gormley. “It’s not just about putting a nice picture on a wall, it’s got to relate to and involve the people of Paisley.”

“Aye, we get dog’s abuse from them,” chips in Guy wryly. “We get comments, like ‘Is that all you’ve done today?’ and ‘You’ve missed a bit’.”

Much thought has also been given to revitalising the High Street. In the short term, many empty shop fronts now have brightly painted hoardings, but long term more innovative plans are afoot. One premises is being converted into the country’s only city centre museum store.

Another unit is already being used by InCube – Invest in Renfrewshire’s business programme – to grow creative industry retail companies. Up to 20 a year are given access to funding, mentoring and a space to showcase their products. Those benefiting at the moment include Paisley Pins, which makes funky Paisley Pattern brooches from laser-cut acrylic, and The Canny Squirrel, which specialises in handmade Harris Tweed cushions.

So, the bid team and its wider partners, are focused on the intersection between culture and business; but they are also determined the arts will be used to reach out to disenfranchised communities.

Live Music Now has been touring Mill Memories – a new piece of music inspired by stories of the thread mills – round the city’s care homes, while Street Stuff, a charity which has helped cut youth disorder, has acquired a “culture bus”, equipped with games consoles and DJ-ing equipment.

Another beneficiary of the £1m Renfrewshire Cultural Heritage Events Fund has been the theatre company Historical Adventures, who – as I visit – have just finished a performance in British Sign Language at Paisley Arts Centre.

Director David O’Rourke, who can hear, learned to sign because he realised the deaf community was culturally isolated. For the past eight weeks, he has been teaching BSL to children at St Catherine’s Primary, enabling them to stage Communication, a show about an island where the inhabitants struggle to make themselves understood – for a mixed deaf and hearing audience.

We also stop in at the Sma’ Shot Cottages – two weavers’ homes, from the 18th and 19th centuries – situated in Shuttle Street, a cobbled alley which Cameron hopes will soon have all the vibrancy of Ashton Lane in Glasgow’s West End.

On Saturday, the Shuttle Street will burst into life for the Sma’ Shot Festival – which celebrates the weavers’ uprising of 1856 – and the Charleston Drum, used to rally the masses, will be once again be beaten through the streets. The Sma’ Shot Festival and the Spree Festival in October help draw people from all over the west coast, and the town is now attracting prestigious events such as the Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) awards which are being held there on Wednesday for the second year running.

In the A-listed Bull Inn – a beautiful art deco pub with stained glass and original taps – deputy manager Alex Thomson is talking about his plans to track down photos that used to hang on its walls and to restore the old coal fire. “I think becoming UK of City of Culture would bring pride back to the town – that’s exactly what we need,” he says.

The next morning, I travel to Perth. As bid leader Fiona Robertson is not available, I am shown round by city development manager John McCrone.

McCrone is originally from Fife, but has lived and raised a family in the city for the past 30 years. He is dressed in a grey suit, blue shirt and spotty tie and I am about to peg him as an archetypal council apparatchik when he tells me he was once a bass player in a punk band called The Biafran Lepers.

As we walk round the city, he draws my attention to artistic flourishes he came up with. “Look here,” he says, pointing proudly at a metal grille with Scream-like skulls and bones on the site of what was once a burial ground. “That’s one of my things.”

McCrone seems aware that, while the city’s cultural heritage is undisputed, its need is less obvious. So, while Paisley tends to play down its problems, he plays Perth’s up, insisting it does have areas of deprivation. He also stresses that his bid is for the whole area – with its many outlying towns and villages – not just the city itself. “Our challenges are different to Paisley’s,” he says. “We have quite high employment but our wage level is quite low. This is about creating opportunities. What fuels economic growth? Innovation. We need to support the creative industries, alongside existing employers such as Stagecoach, Aviva, SSE. It’s not about culture in isolation, but culture is extremely important in terms of quality of life.”

McCrone’s tour starts at the river. He points up towards North Inch, where he and his wife walk the dogs on a Sunday morning before having coffee at the Black Watch Museum. He points across to the public sculpture trail on either side of the Tay which features statues inspired by biologist Patrick Geddes and poet William Soutar. And he points down towards two new pontoons from which boat trips will run throughout the summer.

In the centre, we pass the Museum and Art Gallery – which is about to undergo a £10m redevelopment – the 10-year-old concert hall and the Fair Maid’s House, the city’s oldest building, where the Royal Geographical Society is based.

Next to St John’s Kirk, with its animal carvings, is the aforementioned City Hall, the controversial building at the centre of Perth’s bid, which is to be transformed into a new visitor attraction.

If the city gets its way, it will become home to the Stone of Destiny on which the kings of Scotland were once crowned. The idea is to consolidate Perth’s place as the first capital of Scotland.

The controversy around the proposed demolition means public interest in its future has spiked. As a result, a steady stream of people come to look at a recently erected panel on which all five competing proposals are displayed.

Another huge building project involves Perth Theatre, Scotland’s oldest rep. The £16.6m refurbishment will see its interior restored to its original state and a new glass-fronted foyer incorporating a studio theatre. In addition, it is hoped performing arts group Circus Adventures will eventually move into St Paul’s Church, which is also undergoing a major renovation.

McCrone says the city is keen to boost its night-time economy, hence its attempt to bill itself as the City of Light. Though initial proposals to illuminate key city sites were met with scepticism, he believes the success of the Norie-Miller Walk Light Nights display at the beginning of the year – which attracted 53,000 visitors – won people round.

One of the features that distinguishes Perth is its medieval vennels – narrow passageways that run between the gables. Earlier this year, local street artists brightened them up with simple paintings, some of which can still be seen, and there are plans for further public artworks and illumination.

McCrone – who has four daughters – knows Perth is often seen as set in its ways, and is delighted by the growth in live music venues . He tells me he saw The Stranglers play here and once took The Levellers out to Greyfriars Bar. While established bands play at the Concert Hall, up-and-coming ones can be heard at the Twa Tams, the Green Room and The Venue, which has paintings by local artists for sale on its walls. The Green Room and The Venue are owned by Frank Burger-Seed, who has been nominated as a Perth Pioneer for his commitment to transforming the city’s nightlife.

Behind the bar at The Venue is Jordan Thomson, originally from Glasgow, who first moved to Perth to study for a Bachelor of Arts in popular music, and whose own band, One-Eyed Fish, plays in the Green Room. “I haven’t seen much change over the past four years,” he says. “I would like to see more people investing in art and music.”

But his colleague, Alan Livett, who has lived in the city for eight years , says: “What I like about Perth is that you walk down the same street and it changes almost daily. It’s a similar appeal to working here. Frank’s vision is all about making the city great.”

If Paisley’s challenge is to make sure the lives of its most deprived citizens are engaged, then Perth’s is to reach out to its rural communities. “We want to bring culture from our outlying towns into the city and vice versa. It has to be a two-way street,” says McCrone.

What unites Paisley and Perth is that they have both been energised by the bidding process. Like Dundee – which went ahead with the V&A, despite losing out on the UK City of Culture title – they will complete their major development projects whether or not they make it on to next month’s shortlist.

Nevertheless, neither of them is about to cede to the other. They are both in it to win it, their eyes fixed on the cultural prize.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Dani Garavelli"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4485771.1498338385!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4485771.1498338385!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Jean Cameron, Project Director of Paisleys UK City of Culture 2021 bid. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jean Cameron, Project Director of Paisleys UK City of Culture 2021 bid. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4485771.1498338385!/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/street-pharmacies-to-aid-city-s-rough-sleepers-1-4485736","id":"1.4485736","articleHeadline": "Street pharmacies to aid city’s rough sleepers","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1498341617000 ,"articleLead": "

Scotland’s first ever street pharmacy service to help the homeless and prescribe medicine for them on the spot is to be rolled out.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4485735.1498335006!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Street sleepers often suffer from mental and physical illness and addiction. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

The groundbreaking initiative has secured around £60,000 of funding from the Scottish Government and will see three clinical pharmacists hit the streets of Glasgow to address the acute medical needs of the city’s rough sleepers.

Recent work carried out in the city identified levels of multimorbidity in the homeless population who are registered with a GP, as being comparable to patients aged 84 in regular society – despite them having an average age of 43.

Homeless people are also 40 times more likely than others not to be registered with a GP and A&E attendances are five times higher with admissions three times higher among the homeless.

In some cases no medical records exist and doctors’ letters are never received due to them having no postal address.

Dr Richard Lowrie from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, had the idea for the project and is one of the pharmacists who will go out into Glasgow city centre with the Simon Community Scotland street team.

He said: “We are going to have clinical pharmacists who can prescribe reaching people where they live in the streets. Currently there is no GP service that does outreach in this way and there isn’t any nurse service that manages multiple conditions.

“What we’re offering is a holistic review of the patient, we know that most people who are homeless have tri-mobidity, which is mental health, physical problems and addictions.

“What’s new here is we’ve got the opportunity to go out into the street with all of the various tools you’d assess somebody’s health with.

“We go out with someone from the Simon Community street team because they know the patients well enough and the trust is there.”

Lowrie said that once they’ve engaged with someone in the street they can go back to a community pharmacy room or day centre to access the individual’s medical records and judge whether they need a prescription or to be referred to a GP or admitted to hospital.

Hugh Hill, director of services and development, at Simon Community Scotland, said they are working with 50 people per day around Glasgow city centre.

He said: “We’ve worked with people in terrible states but we can’t get them to a GP that day. Their priority is food, money, drugs, alcohol and finding somewhere to stay, so when it comes to health it’s way down the list. These are people who don’t connect well with services, and services don’t connect well with them, so you need a new kind of response.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Kevan Christie"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4485735.1498335006!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4485735.1498335006!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Street sleepers often suffer from mental and physical illness and addiction. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Street sleepers often suffer from mental and physical illness and addiction. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4485735.1498335006!/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/education/scottish-government-s-education-record-under-fire-1-4481183","id":"1.4481183","articleHeadline": "Scottish Government’s education record under fire","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1497976918000 ,"articleLead": "

The Scottish Government’s education record has come under fire as figures show falling numbers of school-leavers ending up in “positive destinations” and little progress on closing the attainment gap.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4481182.1497976922!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Education Secretary John Swinney"} ,"articleBody": "

Scottish Government statistics have revealed that 8.6 per cent of those leaving school in 2015/16 failed to make it to work, training or further/higher education. That was an increase from the eight per cent, who made it to a so-called “positive destination” the previous year and the first fall in the figures since 2012/13.

Nicola Sturgeon has said closing the attainment gap that sees children from rich backgrounds outperform their poorer counterparts is a key priority for the government.

But, according to the statistics, just 85 per cent of those from the poorest backgrounds made it to a positive destination in 2015/16 compared with the 96.2 per cent of those from the richest backgrounds who did.

The 11.2 percentage points gap between the richest and the poorest was an increase on the 10 points gap recorded in 2014/15.

The proportion of children from the most deprived backgrounds finding themselves in a positive destination fell from the 86.3 per cent recorded in 2014/15.

In the past, the Scottish Government ministers have used the percentage of children finding themselves in “positive destinations” after leaving school to defend their handling of the education brief.

A positive destination is defined as higher education, further education, training, voluntary work, employment or activity agreements.

Analysis of the statistics showed fewer than four per cent of the richest 20 per cent don’t go on to employment, education or training. When it comes to the poorest 20 percent, 15 per cent of school leavers don’t make into employment, education or training.

Overall, the percentage of school leavers going to either further or higher education has fallen from 62.5 per cent in 2013/14 to 59.7 per cent in 2015/16.

The Tory shadow education secretary Liz Smith said: “The number of young people going on to positive destinations is one of the First Minister’s go-to statistics when she is under pressure. Now she can’t even say that is increasing.
“What’s more, the likelihood of a school-leaver ending up at university, college, training or work is still far too dependent on their background.”

Labour education spokesman Iain Gray said: These figures are yet another black mark against the SNP’s record on education.

“Nicola Sturgeon promised to make education her top priority. Instead the gap between the richest and the poorest has grown as opportunities for school leavers are closed off.”

Education Secretary John Swinney pointed to figures showing the number of youngsters from the poorest parts of Scotland leaving school with at least one Higher has increased.

But despite the progress, the number of children from deprived areas with a Higher is juust over half the rate of pupils from the least-deprived communities who do so.

In the most-deprived areas, 42.7 per cent of those leaving school in 2015-16 had a minimum qualification of one Higher, up by 1.5 points from 41.2% the previous year.

However, in the most-affluent parts of the country 81.2 per cent of school leavers in 2015-16 had one Higher or more, a rise of 0.9 points from 2014-15.

Education Secretary John Swinney admitted there was “still more to do”.

Mr Swinney said: “It is encouraging to see the number of young people attaining qualifications at higher level or above increasing - and I am particularly pleased to see a notable improvement in the proportion of young people who are looked-after and care-experienced gaining a qualification.

“While this is a step in the right direction, there is still more to do to close the gap between our most and least vulnerable children, and raise attainment for all.

“That is what the reforms I announced last week are designed to do.”

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

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "TOM PETERKIN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4481182.1497976922!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4481182.1497976922!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Education Secretary John Swinney","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Education Secretary John Swinney","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4481182.1497976922!/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/john-swinney-makes-changes-to-named-person-scheme-1-4481016","id":"1.4481016","articleHeadline": "John Swinney makes changes to named person scheme","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1497965357000 ,"articleLead": "

Education Secretary John Swinney has about turned on his named person scheme by publishing new legislation to water down the key aspect of his controversial plans.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4481015.1497975241!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Education Secretary John Swinney"} ,"articleBody": "

The Scottish Government has been forced into a climb down after its intention to allow information sharing about children amongst agencies without parental permission was ruled unlawful by the Supreme Court.

The scheme to appoint a named person – usually a head teacher or health visitor – to every Scottish child has been one of the most controversial Scottish Government policies.

Critics believe it is intrusive and undermines the rights of parents. Originally, ministers wanted the new law to enable information about children to be shared across agencies without the knowledge of parents. Last year, however, the Supreme Court ruled that part of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act was not within Holyrood’s competency and warned it would breach rights to privacy and family life under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Mr Swinney has now published the Children and Young People (Information Sharing) (Scotland) Bill, which is designed to ensure sharing is compatible with current law. Public bodies and other organisations will have a duty to consider if the sharing of information will “promote, support or safeguard” the well-being of a child.

The new law will also introduce a new code of practice for information sharing.

Shadow education secretary Liz Smith of the Conservatives said: “The named person policy was a huge mistake from beginning to end which is why the Scottish Government has been forced into a major u-turn.
“The announcement today effectively means that no parent will now be forced to accept the advice from his or her child’s named person and that refusal to accept advice will no longer be treated with suspicion by the authorities.
“The Supreme Court ruling made clear that the data-sharing aspects of the Act were unlawful on account of the fact that they had the potential to contravene other legislation and to allow state intrusion into family life.
“Quite rightly, the vast majority of parents found that unacceptable.
“The Scottish Conservatives believe that the revised bill still raises many questions and it also lays bare the extent of the expense to the taxpayer of this ill-conceived policy.”

Simon Calvert of No To Named Persons (NO2NP), which brought the legal action against the Scottish Government said: “The new proposals confirm one of the most remarkable, ignominious and expensive U-turns in the history of the Scottish Government and a huge victory for mums, dads and children across the country and the 35,000-plus NO2NP supporters.

“They have now been forced to accept that their original draconian Big Brother proposals were an utter shambles from the start, representing an interference in family life and a fundamental breach of European human rights laws on privacy and information sharing.

“In effect they say the duty of a named person will be to consider whether sharing information is likely to promote, support or safeguard the wellbeing of the child or young person. They must also then consider whether sharing that information would be compatible with data protection law, human rights law and the law of confidentiality.

“That’s a 100 per cent climbdown on their original plan of a statutory duty to share information about people’s private lives almost without restriction.”

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

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "TOM PETERKIN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4481015.1497975241!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4481015.1497975241!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Education Secretary John Swinney","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Education Secretary John Swinney","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4481015.1497975241!/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/film/scottish-date-for-denise-welch-s-mental-health-film-1-4479017","id":"1.4479017","articleHeadline": "Scottish date for Denise Welch’s mental health film","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1497785904000 ,"articleLead": "

An award-winning short film about depression starring former Loose Women star Denise Welch has been chosen to be screened at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4479016.1497731905!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Denise Welch stars in Black Eyed Susan, which tackles the subject of suicide and has been chosen to be screened at the Edinburgh International Film Festival."} ,"articleBody": "

Black Eyed Susan, which tackles the taboo subject of suicide, won a best short drama award on its premiere at Silicon Beach Film Festival in California.

The psychological thriller, written and directed by Nick Rowntree, is about a woman suffering with depression who must confront her demons, which come to her in the shape of a teenage boy who urges her to commit suicide.

Former Coronation Street star Welch has spoken previously about her 28-year battle with clinical depression and wanted to bring the issue of mental illness into the spotlight.

Her youngest son Louis Healy stars alongside Kacey Ainsworth and Angela Lonsdale. Denise’s eldest son, Matthew Healy – lead singer of The 1975 – wrote the soundtrack.

She said: “No two people have exactly the same experience but I never felt I’d seen mine so this was a bit of a passion project.

“I’d always wanted to make a short film – a drama, although I may consider doing a documentary too.

“It has a very strong mental health message based on an episode of my own depression.”

Speaking about her illness openly on television recently Welch, 58, has been supporting the Heads Together campaign which is backed by Prince Harry and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, with the aim of getting people to talk about psychological problems.

Welch’s husband Lincoln Townley had also been the executive producer on the film and she admitted having nerves before shooting it.

She added: “I did get a bit nervy before I did it.

“It’s a bit like some people who love a drink aren’t good at playing drunks, probably because they can’t remember it, and I thought: am I going to be able to portray my depression truly?

“It has been a long time I’ve had this. My eldest son is 28 and my depression started as postnatal.

“Many women who have postnatal will make a full recovery, unfortunately I didn’t. Many people are speaking out thankfully as I felt like a lone voice.”

Rowntree, who directed the short film said it was a “tremendous thrill” to be selected for the film festival.

He said: “It is such an incredible honour to have my short film Black Eyed Susan officially selected by the Edinburgh International Film Festival. It is truly one of the prestige film festivals of the world and to think that my film, my first film no less, is now included in the roll call of genuinely great films to have premiered here over the years is quite overwhelming.

“Even on a personal level it’s a tremendous thrill that the Scottish have embraced Black Eyed Susan so much. I have many ties to Scotland; my partner is from Tayport and I have made many friends there and in Dundee.

“If Black Eyed Susan doesn’t play in another festival for the rest of the year, it’s played in Edinburgh and that is a great, great honour for me.”

Black Eyed Susan will be screened at Cineworld in Edinburgh on Friday at 6pm

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "KEVAN Christie"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4479016.1497731905!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4479016.1497731905!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Denise Welch stars in Black Eyed Susan, which tackles the subject of suicide and has been chosen to be screened at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Denise Welch stars in Black Eyed Susan, which tackles the subject of suicide and has been chosen to be screened at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4479016.1497731905!/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/t2-trainspotting-what-we-missed-in-the-deleted-scenes-1-4478304","id":"1.4478304","articleHeadline": "T2 Trainspotting: What we missed in the deleted scenes","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1497629962000 ,"articleLead": "

Twenty-eight extra scenes were trimmed from the final cut of Trainspotting 2 – but they’re all included as extras in the newly released DVD version.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4478302.1497629933!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller and Robert Carlyle star in T2 Trainspotting. Picture: Contributed"} ,"articleBody": "

They include a nostalgic sprint down Princes Street, a fight between rival football hooligans and a kidnapping by Begbie.

Would these have been a welcome addition to Danny Boyle’s long-awaited sequel, or were they best left on the cutting room floor?

Shoplifting on Princes Street

Spud and Renton visit an Apple store with the intention of buying the former a laptop to write up his stories.

Spud coaxes his old friend into nicking an iPad, and a chase down Princes Street ensues.

The pair run past the Omni Centre to the old train depot in Leith, where they played as youngsters and encountered Begbie’s father.

Despite the film already being heavy on nostalgia, it would have been fantastic to see a repeat of the chase scene which opened the original.

A run-in with football casuals

Hibernian-supporting Sickboy recalls a run-in with Heart of Midlothian football hooligans following a derby match.

“You remember that time at Tynecastle we got a kicking off those boys and we thought we were dead… we didn’t stop running till we got to Leith.”

A flashback to the fight and the getaway is shown, and both are wearing the green of Hibs.

The various recollections of youth were among the strongest scenes in the film, and this clip is no different.

Renton meets with Gail

Renton visits Spud’s ex-girlfriend Gail near the beginning of the film in the hope of tracking down his friend.

The pair share their worries about Spud and Gail tells Renton to pass on the message that both her and her son “still love him”.

Most importantly Gail tells Renton where he might find Spud. This would have gone a long way to explaining why Renton so easily tracked down his hopeless childhood friend.

Begbie kidnaps his lawyer

Begbie visits his lawyer’s house and swiftly ties him up, before reciting diminished responsibility laws which may have seen his sentence reduced.

The self-styled hardman then locks the lawyer in his basement, before making himself at home.

A further scene of Begbie throwing pieces of food into the tied-up lawyer’s mouth coaxes a chuckle from viewers but not much else. It’s fair to say these scenes wouldn’t have added much.

Spud in Leith and Muirhouse

A montage of shots sees Spud wandering through Leith and Muirhouse Shopping centre contemplating mistakes that have left him at a dead end in life.

In particular, a shot of Persevere Court with the famous mural of Leith life on North Junction Street in the foreground is striking.

While Edinburgh featured prominently in the film, Leith remained absent apart from a couple of fleeting glimpses. This touching scene of Spud contemplating life would have been a welcome addition to the film.

‘RIP SKAGBOY’

During their run up Arthur’s Seat, Renton and Spud gather rocks and spell out RIP SKAGBOY to symbolise the latter’s move towards a cleaner life.

This is followed by beautiful panoramic shots of Arthur’s Seat and Salisbury Crags.

There were plenty of great shots of Holyrood Park in the sequel, so it’s understandable to see why these were cut.

Renton and Diane

While recovering from his attack at the hands of Begbie, Mark stays with his former flame Diane, despite barely encountering her since his return.

“Do you ever wonder about me and you if things had been different?” asks Renton.

“No Mark, if you had been different,” she retorts.

These scenes would have just stalled the film. The clean-cut ending in the finished version was far more satisfying.

• This article originally appear in our sister title, i

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "FINLAY GREIG"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4478302.1497629933!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4478302.1497629933!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller and Robert Carlyle star in T2 Trainspotting. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller and Robert Carlyle star in T2 Trainspotting. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4478302.1497629933!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4478322.1497629938!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4478322.1497629938!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A scene featuring Renton and spud shoplifting followed by a getaway is among the deleted scenes in the film. Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A scene featuring Renton and spud shoplifting followed by a getaway is among the deleted scenes in the film. Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4478322.1497629938!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4478303.1497629945!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4478303.1497629945!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Jonny Lee Miller, left, and Ewan McGregor in a scene from T2: Trainspotting. Picture: AP","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jonny Lee Miller, left, and Ewan McGregor in a scene from T2: Trainspotting. Picture: AP","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4478303.1497629945!/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/greyfriars-rapist-who-escaped-justice-jailed-for-5-years-1-4478120","id":"1.4478120","articleHeadline": "Greyfriars rapist who escaped justice jailed for 5 years","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1497625685000 ,"articleLead": "

A rapist who escaped justice for seven years following a sex attack has been jailed for five years after being snared by DNA.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4478119.1497625668!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Cy Sullivan raped his victim in Greyfriar's kirkyard seven years ago. Picture: Jon Savage"} ,"articleBody": "

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Cy Sullivan, 26, raped his 46-year-old drunk victim in Greyfrairs Churchyard in Edinburgh in November 27, 2009, and left her naked from the waist down.

DNA was recovered, but at the time, there was no match in the national database.

But, commercial diver Sullivan’s sordid past was uncovered when he was charged with assaulting a bouncer in October 2015 and a routine DNA swab was taken. His DNA matched that of the Greyfriars Churchyard rapist.

Sullivan, from Shetland, claimed that he and his 46-year-old victim had consensual sex, but a jury convicted him of raping her while she was so intoxicated she could not given consent.

At the High Court in Glasgow on Friday, judge Lady Rae told Sullivan: “You raped a lady almost twice your age. You took advantage of her intoxicated state.

“She has been left seriously traumatised by what you did and with having to relive what she remembered, and the shame and embarrassment she felt when she was discovered by police in the state of undress that you left her in. She was a stranger to you.”

The court heard that the victim was found by police after the rape wandering half naked in the cemetery in a confused and drunken state.

She described that happened to her as “ a living nightmare.”

• READ MORE: Man convicted 7 years after rape in Greyfriars churchyard

In evidence, she said she travelled from her home in the Highlands to attend a conference in Edinburgh and decided to visit the grave of Greyfriars Bobby.

The woman said she had at least eight glasses of wine . A police officer who saw her hours later at 5am described her as ‘intoxicated.”

The court heard that police officers saw the woman standing at railings inside the graveyard.

She was taken to Gayfield police station and then examined by doctors and a DNA sample was taken.

The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was asked by prosecutor Ian Wallace: “Do you remember leaving Greyfriars pub,” and she sobbed as she said: “No. I remember coming round in the graveyard and there was a police lady. I was frozen and I was disorientated. I tried for some time to find my way out. It was like something happened and I had just come round. It was awful. I just felt awful, embarrassed. I had no clothing on my bottom half.”

The woman told the jurors that she had no memory of what happened after she left the pub until the police found her.

She was asked if she had any recollection of anyone having sex with her and replied: “No.”

Mr Wallace then said: “Did you want to have sex with anyone that night,” and the victim said: “Definitely not.”

Sullivan told the court he had bought the woman a drink and then afterwards had sex with her. He claimed that she appeared fine to him and not drunk.

He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in May this year and yesterday was taken into court in a wheelchair and then walked the few feet into the dock using crutches.

His defence counsel David Nicolson said: “His family maintain their support of him, particularly his partner of three years.

“He has a good work record and has only one previous conviction.”

Lady Rae placed Sullivan on the sex offenders’ register.

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

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Wilma Riley"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4478119.1497625668!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4478119.1497625668!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Cy Sullivan raped his victim in Greyfriar's kirkyard seven years ago. Picture: Jon Savage","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Cy Sullivan raped his victim in Greyfriar's kirkyard seven years ago. Picture: Jon Savage","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4478119.1497625668!/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/edinburgh-police-dog-and-handler-honoured-with-two-awards-1-4478175","id":"1.4478175","articleHeadline": "Edinburgh police dog and handler honoured with two awards","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1497623178000 ,"articleLead": "

A crime fighting duo from Edinburgh have been honoured by a national police body.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4478173.1497623161!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image"} ,"articleBody": "

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Police dog Duke and his human sidekick PC Andy Gamble took part in the National Police Dog Trials in Bristol in May where they won two awards.

The National Police Dog Trials are held every year in the UK and showcase the best dogs and handlers from various police forces across the UK.

In order to progress to the national event, participants are required to win their regional heats or are specially invited to take part.

Based at Fettes Police Station in Edinburgh, the pair have been a team since 2014 when German Shepherd Duke was a six-month-old puppy.

Over the past three years, they have dealt with many notable incidents together, including finding a vulnerable missing man in the woods in Melrose on May 8.

Although they finished 5th overall in the trials, Duke and PC Gamble took home a trophy in recognition of their excellent skills and partnership and also took home the trophy for receiving the best tracking score.

Inspector David McKelvie of the Dog Unit said: “PC Gamble and PD Duke did exceptionally well at the National Police Dog Trials and this result showcased that Police Scotland have some of the finest handlers and dogs in the UK.

“Each day our dog and handler teams are deployed throughout Scotland and make a significant contribution to keeping people safe.

“There is no doubt that the communities we serve benefit greatly from the skills that the Police Dog teams bring to operational policing.”

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

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "DIANE KING"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4478173.1497623161!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4478173.1497623161!/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/1.4478173.1497623161!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"1497621608811"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/general-election/snp-warns-may-not-to-short-change-scotland-in-dup-agreement-1-4477441","id":"1.4477441","articleHeadline": "SNP warns May not to short-change Scotland in DUP agreement","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1497589200000 ,"articleLead": "

The SNP has accused the government of “pork-barrel politics” after it emerged additional funding for Northern Ireland agreed in exchange for the DUP’s support at Westminster is not likely to be matched in other parts of the UK.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4477440.1497560145!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The move is a new low for Westminster, says SNP MP Kirsty Blackman. Picture: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

A senior Conservative source confirmed more public money was being discussed in talks with the DUP, but suggested the Barnett Formula would not need to be used to calculate a proportional increase in funding for Scotland and Wales.

There have also been suggestions the devolution of corporation tax to Northern Ireland could be speeded up as part of the deal, prompting anger from Nationalists who have called for the Scottish Parliament to be given control of business tax receipts.

Northern Ireland already benefits from more public spending per head of population than any other part of the UK, with £10,983 spent per person in 2015-16, compared to £10,536 in Scotland.

Northern Ireland’s deficit at £10.1 billion is two thirds that of Scotland, despite the population being two thirds smaller.

“Any attempt to short- change Scotland will not be acceptable to SNP MPs or the Scottish Government,” said SNP deputy Westminster leader Kirsty Blackman. “This kind of pork-barrel politics is a new low for Westminster.”

“Funding across the UK is supposed to be determined by the Barnett Formula, and we cannot have the funding formula ripped up in order to dish out large chunks of cash to Northern Ireland, in a grubby deal with the DUP, without fair treatment across the board.

“At the same time suggestions that a corporation tax cut would be underwritten for Northern Ireland, while Scotland and Wales bear full responsibility for our tax decisions, would be out of order given the responsibility other parliaments rightly take.

“We need full transparency on the DUP deal and we need it ASAP.”

During First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood, Nicola Sturgeon accused the Conservatives of “putting the country in hock to the DUP” and putting the Northern Irish peace process at risk.

A spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives accused the First Minister of double standards, citing comments by Alex Salmond in 2014 who said the SNP could work with the DUP in the event of a hung parliament.

“Even for the SNP, Nicola Sturgeon’s attack on the Conservative talks with the DUP takes hypocrisy to new levels,” the spokesman said.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Paris Gourtsoyannis"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4477440.1497560145!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4477440.1497560145!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The move is a new low for Westminster, says SNP MP Kirsty Blackman. Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The move is a new low for Westminster, says SNP MP Kirsty Blackman. Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4477440.1497560145!/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/art/dunfermline-carnegie-library-wins-double-architecture-award-1-4477493","id":"1.4477493","articleHeadline": "Dunfermline Carnegie Library wins double architecture award","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1497563546000 ,"articleLead": "

The revamped Dunfermline Carnegie Library and Galleries has been given two nods at a presitgious architecture awards.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4477490.1497563512!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The refurbished Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries. Picture: Chris Humphreys Photography"} ,"articleBody": "

The newly-joined B-listed buildings were among the 12 winners of awards given by the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS).

Fife Council also won the Scottish Government’s ‘Client of the Year’ award for their involvement in the project.

The judges said: “Bringing together museum, art galleries, meeting rooms and a café, alongside the world’s first Andrew Carnegie Library, the building is arranged around an internal ‘street’. This elegantly and legibly connects all of its facilities.”

All 12 buildings - which include the City of Glasgow College’s City Campus and Eastwood Health and Care Centre - will now be considered for the prestigious RIAS Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award, which will be announced this November.

The Carnegie Library architect Richard Murphy said: “The project at Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries has been a visionary idea pursued tenaciously over more than a decade by our client, Fife Council, so we were delighted they won ‘Client of the Year.’

“Their decision to have a competition in turn allowed us to shine at what we are good at; namely grafting contemporary design onto historic buildings and within a special conservation area.

Responding to the council’s award, Cllr David Alexander, Co-Leader of Fife Council said: “We’ve all been very encouraged by the tremendously positive reaction from visitors to our new building.

“Recognition like this places a very appropriate seal of confirmation on the project though and highlights that it’s a building of true architectural standing and of national importance.

“I’d like to congratulate everyone who has played a part in delivering this outstanding project and to thank fellow funders Heritage Lottery Fund and Carnegie Dunfermline Trust.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ANGUS HOWARTH"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4477490.1497563512!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4477490.1497563512!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The refurbished Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries. Picture: Chris Humphreys Photography","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The refurbished Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries. Picture: Chris Humphreys Photography","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4477490.1497563512!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4477491.1497563521!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4477491.1497563521!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Part of the �12.4 million expansion\\n for Dunfermlines historic\\nlibrary. Picture: Chris Humphreys Photography","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Part of the �12.4 million expansion\\n for Dunfermlines historic\\nlibrary. Picture: Chris Humphreys Photography","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4477491.1497563521!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4477492.1497563529!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4477492.1497563529!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Dunfermline Carnegie Library and Galleries. Picture: Chris Humphreys Photography","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Dunfermline Carnegie Library and Galleries. Picture: Chris Humphreys Photography","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4477492.1497563529!/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/revealed-12-best-new-buildings-in-scotland-1-4477166","id":"1.4477166","articleHeadline": "Revealed: 12 best new buildings in Scotland","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1497562024000 ,"articleLead": "

Twelve of Scotland’s most exciting new buildings have been recognised by the prestigous Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) Awards 2017.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4477165.1497539116!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries won a gong at the RIAS Awards 2017. Picture: Chris Humphreys Photography"} ,"articleBody": "

The 12 winners - listed below with short citations from the judging panel - will now all be shortlisted for the RIAS Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award, to be presented in November.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "RUSSELL JACKSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4477165.1497539116!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4477165.1497539116!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries won a gong at the RIAS Awards 2017. Picture: Chris Humphreys Photography","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries won a gong at the RIAS Awards 2017. Picture: Chris Humphreys Photography","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4477165.1497539116!/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/nicola-sturgeon/grenfell-tower-fire-nicola-sturgeon-orders-scotland-review-1-4476890","id":"1.4476890","articleHeadline": "Grenfell Tower fire: Nicola Sturgeon orders Scotland review","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1497560569000 ,"articleLead": "

The safety of Scotland’s tower blocks is to be investigated by the Scottish Government in the wake of the devastating Grenfell Tower fire in London, the First Minister has said.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4473049.1498582439!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

Nicola Sturgeon said a ministerial group is to be created to review regulations of tower blocks – while Scotland’s tower blocks will undergo checks to discover if the same kind of material on Grenfell Tower had been used in their construction.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has ordered a full public inquiry into the tower block blaze which killed at least 17 people with dozens more unaccounted for.

Theresa May, who made a private visit to the site of the fire yesterday morning without meeting residents, said the “terrible tragedy” should be “properly investigated”. She also pledged to rehouse those who had been left homeless “in London and as close as possible to home”.

The inquiry follows calls from London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for action to be taken to determine the cause of the fire which rapidly spread throughout the 24-storey building in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

The authorities have warned that no more survivors will be found and that it could take weeks for a thorough search of the building to be carried out.

Police said yesterday that six people have been provisionally identified, using a passport found near one body to gain a preliminary identification, but warned that there is “a risk” that not all bodies will be able to be identified.

Other means of identification will use dental records, DNA and fingerprints.

A total of 37 people are still receiving treatment for injuries sustained in the fire, of which 17 are still critical. It is believed dozens more could still be unaccounted for.

Friends and relatives are still desperately searching for news of loved ones missing after the fire, while the first 
• READ MORE: Grenfell Tower fire: Death toll rises to 17

victim of the tragedy was named as 23-year-old Syrian refugee Mohammed al-Haj Ali, an engineering student.

The London Fire Brigade said a ruptured gas main in the block had to be isolated before fire crews were able to put the blaze out – more than 24 hours after the alarm was first raised.

The cause of the fire, thought to have begun on the fourth floor, is still being investigated.

Questions have been raised about the safety of an external cladding put on the building during refurbishment works two years ago, while it emerged yesterday a residents’ association had raised the alarm on multiple occasions warning the building was unsafe.

Detective Chief Inspector Matt Bonner from the homicide and major crime command has been appointed to lead the investigation.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “This is a complex and protracted investigation. It is standard procedure that detectives from the homicide and major crime command lead inquiries into a major incident that requires a large amount of specialist investigation expertise.”

“The Scottish Government said officials are investigating if any high-rise buildings in Scotland are covered in the type of cladding used in the Grenfell Tower.

Edinburgh and Aberdeen City councils said they would review safety procedures in the wake of the tragedy, while other local authorities and housing associations have moved to reassure tenants.

Allan Henderson, from Highland Council, said: “We are confident of the fire safety of our housing stock in relation to building standards and conditions, but will obviously consider the factors involved in the Grenfell Tower fire as details emerge on this and implement any fire safety recommendations for social landlords.”

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, Ms Sturgeon said that Scottish regulations would be reviewed by a ministerial group to ensure that 
“lessons are learned” from the fire. She said: “We have all been horrified by the tragic events in London this week. I’m sure the thoughts of the Parliament are with everyone affected and in particular with those who lost loved ones.

“The investigation is clearly at a very early stage and while there appear to be very serious questions to be answered, we must be careful not to speculate at this stage.”

Mary Taylor, chief executive of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, said she was “shocked and saddened” by the fire.

“None of us should rush to judgment or action until we know what led to the fire and, importantly, why people could not escape,” she added.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "JANE BRADLEY"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4473049.1498582439!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4473049.1498582439!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4473049.1498582439!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"1497519342414"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/fmqs-nicola-sturgeon-pursuing-sinking-indyref2-dream-1-4476901","id":"1.4476901","articleHeadline": "FMQS: Nicola Sturgeon pursuing “sinking” indyref2 dream","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1497558554000 ,"articleLead": "

Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of ignoring the Scottish people by attempting to “refloat” her “sinking dream” of independence.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4464930.1497558538!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson stepped up her calls for the First Minister to dump her second referendum proposal at the first First Minister’s Questions since the General Election.

As the two leaders clashed, the SNP came under further fire with its opponents claiming its referendum plans were “in chaos” after the party’s new Westminster leader Ian Blackford suggested plans for a second vote could be shelved in the event of a soft Brexit.

Ms Davidson pointed out the SNP had lost half a million votes and 21 MPs last week after putting her indyref2 plans “at the heart” of her Nationalists’ campaign.

But Ms Sturgeon said the SNP won the election in Scotland and had taken more seats than the other parties put together.

• READ MORE: Indyref2 is an insurance policy, says Ian Blackford

The First Minister said the result had been achieved after the SNP had been “clear in our view that the people of Scotland should have a choice at the end of the Brexit process”.

She went on to repeat her pledge to “reflect” on the indyref2 position and would set out her views once she had considered the interests of the SNP and the country as a whole.

Ms Davidson quoted a Survation Poll which said 60 per cent of Scots did not want another independence referendum and said: “This has got nothing to do with listening to the people. It is all about how she can find a way to refloat or rebrand her sinking dream of independence. The people of Scotland just want to put it behind us. She said she is listening to the folk of Scotland and so she should. Her referendum isn’t wanted so will she ditch it now?”

Earlier, the SNP leader had reacted to criticism of her indyref2 proposal by attacking the approach taken towards Brexit by the Conservatives and denouncing Theresa May’s party as a “shower of charlatans”.

Last night, the SNP’s Brexit minister, Michael Russell, used a speech at Glasgow University to say he intended to open discussions with other Scottish parties to seek common ground on achieving “the least bad Brexit for Scotland”.

At Holyrood, Ms Sturgeon said: “On Monday this hapless UK Government is about to start a formal negotiation with the EU with no mandate for its hard Brexit position, no consensus even within its own ranks about what it is it is trying to achieve let alone in the country more widely.

“In four days time we are going to be led off the cliff edge by a Tory Government devoid of legitimacy, credibility and utterly clueless about what it is trying to achieve.

“That is the real and present danger to Scottish jobs, investment and living standards.” She described Ms Davidson as a “one trick pony”, who was unable to confront any issue other than opposing another referendum.

Later the Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald asked the First Minister if work on a second referendum “would now cease?”

• READ MORE: Poll: 60% want Nicola Sturgeon to ditch indyref2

Mr Macdonald said: “Given that the First Minister has said that she wants to be involved in negotiating Brexit on behalf of the UK. Will she not now recognise that she cannot possibly be sitting at the top table and heading for the exit at one and the same time?”

Meanwhile, the Conservatives attacked the SNP after an interview given by Mr Blackford for the BBC.

Questioned on another independence vote, he suggested another vote was far from a foregone conclusion.

Mr Blackford said: “Any referendum, if it does take place, would take place after the Brexit deal has been negotiated.

“What we now see is a situation where I think it’s more likely we can achieve compromise on protecting the people of Scotland being dragged out of the single market against our will. So that’s the immediate priority.”

He added: “The [Scottish]Government always made it clear that any possibility of a referendum would only take place if there were a change in circumstances. The first priority is to protect the interests of the people of Scotland.”

Tory constitution spokesman Adam Tomkins said: “The SNP’s position on a second referendum is in chaos. We have SNP figures in Scotland doubling up on their threat of a second referendum, and now Mr Blackford in 
London suggesting it could be off.

“In the middle, Nicola Sturgeon is taking a vow of silence and failing to show any leadership whatsoever.”

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

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "TOM PETERKIN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4464930.1497558538!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4464930.1497558538!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4464930.1497558538!/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/education/headteachers-to-be-handed-sweeping-powers-under-new-plans-1-4477105","id":"1.4477105","articleHeadline": "Headteachers to be handed sweeping powers under new plans","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1497558314000 ,"articleLead": "

Headteachers are to be handed broad new powers both over the way pupils are taught and the teachers working in their classrooms, in a major overhaul of the schools system.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4477104.1497537510!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "John Swinney is to hand headteachers more control in schools"} ,"articleBody": "

Education Secretary John Swinney also set out plans for the creation of new regional education boards to provide key support for schools, something which is missing in many areas at the moment.

But opponents have claimed that the shift will see the Scottish Government seizing greater control over the running of schools, with local councils sidelined.

The sweeping changes were unveiled by Mr Swinney in a statement to MSPs yesterday and will see headteachers directly controlling more school spending.

But he has ruled out calls for 
Academy-style schools which operate south of the Border and are outside local authority control. He insisted this would remove “crucial support structures” from schools.

It comes amid concern about the “attainment gap” in Scotland between schools in richer and less-well-off
areas, as well as recent figures which pointed to a slide down international league tables in reading, science and maths.

“We will reform the system so that the key decisions in a child’s education are taken by schools,” Mr Swinneysaid.

• READ MORE: Scottish teachers at breaking point over workload hike

“Schools will have the freedom to make their own decisions to improve learning and teaching. Everyone else within the education system will have a collective and shared responsibility to support schools.

“We will free teachers to teach. We will put new powers in the hands of headteachers. And we will all – Government, councils and public bodies – support our schools.”

The changes also follow one of the most sweeping overhauls of education in a generation with the introduction of the Curriculum for Excellence in classrooms.

The new powers for heads will be enshrined in law with a statutory charter for headteachers. It means heads will pick their own staff, but councils will take on the human resources responsibility for issues like payrolls, amid concerns that teachers may end up as de facto chief executives.

Mr Swinney indicated about six or seven new Regional Improvement Collaboratives will be created to give teachers support.

But opponents have expressed fear that this could lead to greater “centralisation” of the system with the heads of these boards reporting directly to national quango Education Scotland.

“Regional directors report to the centre – more about central control than local autonomy,” Labour education spokesman Iain Gray said yesterday.

The local Government umbrella body Cosla said the changes had sought to give the impression that councils would still have a role in the schools system.

“The reality is that they do not,” said Mr Gray. “The simple truth is that there will be no meaningful local democratic accountability for education in Scotland.”

Green MSP Ross Greer said the changes are not what “teachers, pupils and parents” had been asking for.

“But Conservative education spokesman Liz Smith welcomed greater devolution of power to teachers.

Scotland’s largest teachers’ union, the EIS, said in its response to the Government’s review that the main challenges facing schools were related to funding, resources and staffing.

" ,"byline": {"email": "scott.macnab@scotsman.com" ,"author": "Scott Macnab"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4477104.1497537510!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4477104.1497537510!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "John Swinney is to hand headteachers more control in schools","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "John Swinney is to hand headteachers more control in schools","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4477104.1497537510!/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/regions/edinburgh-fife-lothians/galloway-viking-treasures-go-on-show-at-national-museum-of-scotland-1-4476529","id":"1.4476529","articleHeadline": "Galloway Viking treasures go on show at National Museum of Scotland","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1497551236000 ,"articleLead": "

Museums chiefs have launched an international fundraising drive to secure a Viking treasure trove for the nation - as most of the haul goes on public display for the first time in Edinburgh.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4476528.1497516774!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Around 70 objects from the Galloway Hoard have gone on display at the National Museum of Scotland."} ,"articleBody": "

The National Museum of Scotland has put around 70 objects from the “Galloway Hoard” on show to help kick-start its £1.98 million campaign.

An exhibition has opened in its grand gallery ahead of a two-year conservation project aimed at solving the mystery of where the treasures came from and how they up buried beneath Church of Scotland land in Galloway.

The museum has been given six months by the Crown to match the value of the gold, silver and jewelled treasures which were found by metal detectorist Derek McLennan in a field near Kirkcudbright.

Experts at the museum say the hoard is the “richest collection of rare and unique Viking-age objects ever found in Britain or Ireland.”

If its fundraising campaign is successful, it has pledged to share the treasures with a new gallery in Kirkcudbright, including a temporary display of the entire hoard, as well as send highlights out on a nationwide tour.

The exhibition at the National Museum, the country’s busiest visitor attraction, will run until 1 October. It is expected to be a forerunner to a permanent display, which will feature the chance to see the most fragile items which are not part of the current displays, once detailed research into the hoard is complete.

Dr Gordon Rintoul, director of the museum, said: “We’re not funded on a year-to-year basis to acquire things of this significance, so we’ll be seeking support from a wife range of individuals and organisations to secure the hoard for the nation. We felt that if people could see some of the hoard at first hand they’ll perhaps be more likely to help us reach our target.

“The hoard is of huge international importance because it contains so many rare items and includes such a huge range of material, from brooches, a gold bird pin and gold ingots to other items that we’re not quite sure what their purpose and function was.

“When the hoard was first discovered, its importance was not fully appreciated. There was partly because most of it was buried in a pot. There was quite a process to work out how to get the lid off.

“But it was full to the brim with brooches, jewels and all sorts of other material. It was only then that people began to realise how important it was.

“Like a lot of hoards from the Viking age, we can’t be certain how it ended up there. One of the real mysteries is the geographic origins of the hoard. Some material is relatively material from others finds, particularly in Ireland, but others looks as if they have come from far-flung parts of Europe or beyond.”

Dr Martin Goldberg, senior curator of early medieval and Viking collections at the museum, said: “Seeing the hoard all laid out for the first time is quite amazing. There’s so much material, so many different types of material and so many avenues of research we’re going to be heading into.

“We have many questions about how these things arrived here. We have to figure out all the different stories that each individual object has to tell, but there’s also the conclusion of the story and how they all ended up in the ground together. That’s the detective story we’re really interested in.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "brian.ferguson@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Brian Ferguson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4476528.1497516774!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4476528.1497516774!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Around 70 objects from the Galloway Hoard have gone on display at the National Museum of Scotland.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Around 70 objects from the Galloway Hoard have gone on display at the National Museum of Scotland.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4476528.1497516774!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4476577.1497551217!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4476577.1497551217!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Highlights of the Galloway Hoard are eventually expected to go on tour around Scotland.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Highlights of the Galloway Hoard are eventually expected to go on tour around Scotland.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4476577.1497551217!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4476578.1497551219!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4476578.1497551219!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Experts at the museum say the Galloway Hoard is the most important discovery of Viking-age objects ever made in the UK.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Experts at the museum say the Galloway Hoard is the most important discovery of Viking-age objects ever made in the UK.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4476578.1497551219!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"1497532776562"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/keane-wallis-bennett-fai-wall-could-have-been-pushed-over-1-4476951","id":"1.4476951","articleHeadline": "Keane Wallis-Bennett FAI: wall ‘could’ have been pushed over","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1497550605000 ,"articleLead": "

An inquiry into the death of an Edinburgh schoolgirl who was crushed by a falling wall has heard it could have been pushed over moments before it fell.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4476950.1497550589!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Keane Wallis-Bennett passed away at Liberton High School in April 2014."} ,"articleBody": "

Keane Wallis-Bennett, 12, died in April 2014 after a freestanding “modesty” wall collapsed in the girls’ changing room of Liberton High School’s old PE block.

Mark Hatfield, a specialist inspector for the Health and Safety Executive, was today (Thursday) asked his opinion on fresh evidence provided by one of Keane’s former classmates.

The teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, described how she and a friend had been leaning against the wall with their backs moments before it fell.

She described having her feet off the floor and resting on the opposite shower wall for a couple of seconds before the modesty wall collapsed on to Keane.

When questioned by advocate Gavin Anderson, who is representing Keane’s parents, the girl said she could not remember if she was leaning at the same time as her friend or separately.

The girl was called to give evidence via video link in an effort to assist Mr Hatfield in determining what caused the 1.9 tonne wall to fall when it did.

In light of the new evidence, Mr Hatfield said he did not believe one girl leaning on the wall in such a way would have been enough to topple it if it was only partially cracked through its thickness.

However he added: “If the wall was already fully cracked then it is possible that a single girl acting as described may have caused it to fall.”

Mr Hatfield previously spoke of his belief that the modesty wall had been cracked through its full thickness for some time – possibly even years – prior to its collapse.

He added today that if two girls had been leaning as described against an already fully cracked wall then this would turn the “possibility” of it falling as a result of being pushed into a “probability”.

The inquiry, which is being heard at Edinburgh Sheriff Court before Sheriff Principal Mhairi Stephen QC, has now finished hearing evidence.

Parties involved are expected to make their submissions tomorrow.

The inquiry continues.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Florence Snead"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4476950.1497550589!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4476950.1497550589!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Keane Wallis-Bennett passed away at Liberton High School in April 2014.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Keane Wallis-Bennett passed away at Liberton High School in April 2014.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4476950.1497550589!/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/ministers-face-60m-fines-for-payments-to-farmers-fiasco-1-4476175","id":"1.4476175","articleHeadline": "Ministers face £60m fines for payments to farmers fiasco","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1497502800000 ,"articleLead": "

The Scottish Government could still face fines of up to £60 million over the troubled IT system set up to deliver European Union (EU) farming payments.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4476174.1497470814!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Loan schemes for farmers have introduced more risk. Picture: Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

A new report from auditors has warned ministers of the “significant risks and costs” the system still poses, including the possibility of incurring financial penalties from the European Commission (EC) for not meeting regulations covering common agricultural policy (CAP) payments.

The report also raised concerns the government has not carried out a detailed analysis of the risk “to help prioritise future investment”.

Fines can be charged by the EC if it identifies weaknesses in the administration of payments, such as failing to make them within set timescales.

Scotland’s £178 million system, which closed at the end of March, has been beset by delays and increasing costs, with some payments from 2015 still outstanding last month.

Previously, Audit Scotland had suggested the penalties could be as high as £125 million. “There are a number of uncertainties but our updated assessment suggests penalties of up to £60 million are possible,” the fresh assessment concluded.

While the application process has improved, the report found previous difficulties “continue to have an impact on payments” while loan schemes for farmers brought in by the government had introduced more risk to the government’s budget.

“The system is not yet working as efficiently as planned and will require significant additional investment,” it said.

“To date, the programme has not delivered value for money.”

The report said significant changes in leadership had been brought in to try to stabilise the programme but it had not delivered the planned benefits for applicants.

A fully developed or tested plan for recovering the systems in the event of a breakdown was not yet in place, while transferring knowledge from contractors to staff posed a “significant challenge”, it said.

Auditors concluded it was likely the system would not be functioning as anticipated until the 2018 payment cycle “at the earliest”.

Caroline Gardner, Auditor General for Scotland, said: “It’s crucial that knowledge is effectively transferred to staff so the system can be maintained and payments made on time for 2017.

“The Scottish Government also urgently needs to fully understand the financial risk it faces, so that it can target funding at ensuring the system is compliant and secure.”

Opposition parties said the report was a “damning” indictment of the government’s handling of the payments.

Scottish Conservative MSP Peter Chapman said: “Farmers across Scotland have had to bear the brunt of SNP incompetence for too long.”

Scottish Labour’s Rhoda Grant MSP said: “Farmers and crofters had this system forced on them by the SNP - and now know it won’t be resolved until 2018 at the earliest. This simply isn’t good enough.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Catriona Webster"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4476174.1497470814!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4476174.1497470814!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Loan schemes for farmers have introduced more risk. Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Loan schemes for farmers have introduced more risk. Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4476174.1497470814!/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/health-officials-plan-rise-in-telecare-after-damning-report-1-4476197","id":"1.4476197","articleHeadline": "Health officials plan rise in ‘telecare’ after damning report","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1497502800000 ,"articleLead": "

Health officials have responded to one of the worst inspection reports on care services for the elderly by suggesting increased use of remote telecare packages.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4476196.1497474654!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Remote systems could be used to improve care for the elderly. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto"} ,"articleBody": "

Scotland’s care watchdog last month slammed the Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership describing their key processes for delivering care to the elderly as “unsatisfactory”.

Inspectors found that hundreds of frail and elderly individuals in Edinburgh had been left stuck in hospital because care packages had not been arranged. Now the care body plans to expand a range of features under the banner of Technology Enabled Care which includes an alarm service, motion sensors and floor pads to provide early intervention and prevention in a bid to allow people to remain at home and avoid hospital admissions.

Rob McCulloch-Graham, chief officer of the Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership, said that “quite a few” people did not want carers coming to visit them as they valued their privacy.

He said: “You just have to be aware that quite a few people don’t want carers coming in – they just want to lead their own lives and look after themselves and Telecare enables that to happen. If we didn’t have it then we would have to do a number of regular visits, going into people’s homes and stuff – so it does actually help with our capacity. Most people don’t want to be pestered with people coming in at certain times of the day and stuff like that.”

Professional services giant Ernst & Young, one of the so-called “big four” accountancy firms, has been assisting the council over the past year on capacity planning and managing demand for social care more effectively.

The Care Inspectorate and Healthcare Immprovement Scotland made 17 recommendations for improvement and described leadership and direction as weak.

Richard Baker, communications manager at Age Scotland, said: “Telecare and new technology can be important in delivering care to older people, but for the majority of them who need care it will be necessary for a carer to provide that service. Too many older people suffer from loneliness and isolation, and for many it will be the case that their carer is their main form of human contact. So while telecare has an important role it cannot replace what an actual carer can do or the importance of the personal support for the person needing care. It cannot be an alternative to recruiting the care staff services need.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "KEVAN CHRISTIE"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4476196.1497474654!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4476196.1497474654!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Remote systems could be used to improve care for the elderly. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Remote systems could be used to improve care for the elderly. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4476196.1497474654!/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/environment/ministers-under-fire-over-failure-to-tackle-air-pollution-1-4476176","id":"1.4476176","articleHeadline": "Ministers under fire over failure to tackle air pollution","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1497471308000 ,"articleLead": "

Environmentalists have hit out at Scottish ministers for inaction on tackling dangerous levels of air pollution.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4476177.1497471292!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Air pollution causes 2,500 early deaths in Scotland annually. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto"} ,"articleBody": "

They says the Scottish Government’s contribution to the new draft Air Quality Plan for the UK is “lacking in urgency and uninspired”.

The new plan was ordered by the High Court after a previous incarnation was ruled unlawful for aiming too low.

But activists from Friends of the Earth Scotland say the Scottish Government has put nothing new on the table except a commitment to set up one low-emission zone.

“Our towns and cities continue to be plagued with invisible killer air pollution, but the Scottish Government’s input into a new plan for action has been lacking in urgency and uninspired,” said air pollution campaigner Emilia Hanna.

“The High Court demanded fresh plans showing how air pollution would be reduced as quickly as possible, and required that every technically feasible measure be included. As part of those plans, the Scottish Government’s key commitment is to consult on a Low Emissions Framework later this year. But it was supposed to have completed that Framework back in 2016.

“The input from the Scottish Government falls well short of tackling our air pollution crisis, and all the while people continue to die early and suffer ill health.”

She welcomed a promise to deliver the country’s first low-emission zone by 2018 but much wider measures are required to deal with illegal levels of pollution in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee and Perth.

She added: “The Scottish Government is ignoring the fact that Scottish cities are in breach of European legal obligations, which are there to keep the public safe from toxic air pollution.

“People in Scotland need to know when and how we will have the clean air to which we are entitled.”

Air pollution is linked to a rise in heart attacks, strokes and lung conditions, including asthma, as well as affecting the development of unborn babies.

Official figures suggest breathing contaminated air leads to 2,500 premature deaths every year in Scotland, part of 40,000 across the UK and seven million globally.

It is the leading environmental health risk around the world, with experts claiming it represents a “public health crisis”.

There are a total of 38 declared pollution zones across Scotland.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Ilona Amos"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4476177.1497471292!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4476177.1497471292!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Air pollution causes 2,500 early deaths in Scotland annually. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Air pollution causes 2,500 early deaths in Scotland annually. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4476177.1497471292!/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/grenfell-tower-fire-scottish-councils-to-review-fire-safety-1-4476111","id":"1.4476111","articleHeadline": "Grenfell Tower fire: Scottish councils to review fire safety","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1497475685000 ,"articleLead": "

The catastrophic fire which hit Grenfell Tower in London has prompted action from Scottish authorities to ensure that their high rise residential blocks are safe.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4476110.1497464407!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Edinburgh City Council said it was review fire safety in tower blocks in the capital. Picture: Ian Georgeson"} ,"articleBody": "

Edinburgh Council said it would work with the Scottish fire service to review evacuation procedures for the residents in its 4,000 flats located in around 44 blocks across the city, while Aberdeen City Council said it had already begun inspections of its 59 blocks to ensure their safety and that no potentially flammable items have been dumped.

Questions have been raised over the safety of the building in West London, which was recently refurbished with a cladding which eyewitnesses have claimed burned easily as the fire engulfed the block of flats.

Londoners have rallied round to provide help and accommodation for victims of the disaster – with aid coming from as far away as Scotland.

A spokeswoman for the City of Edinburgh Council said that the results of any investigation into the London fire, which killed at least 12 people, would be included in the authority’s review.

• READ MORE: Grenfell Tower disaster: how did the fire spread so quickly?

She said: “Understandably the events in London this morning have caused concern and some distress and our local housing teams have been on hand today to provide reassurance and advice to tenants living in city tower blocks.

“Regular inspections are carried out by the Fire Service and housing concierge teams and the Council’s health and safety team regularly audits multi-storey services.”

She added: “However, as a further precaution, we will be carrying out a review of fire safety and evacuation procedures in all of our housing blocks.”

A spokeswoman for Aberdeen City Council said: “Council officers are carrying checks in our multi-storey buildings today and tomorrow which included ensuring we have been extra vigilant about any dumped items.

“We have also been in discussions today with Scottish Fire and Rescue Service about the next steps which depend on the investigation into the fire in London.”

However, Glasgow Housing Association (GHA), which is the largest administrator of social housing in the city after Glasgow’s council house stock was passed to it 14 years ago, said it was confident its existing safety checks were sufficient at present.

Tom Barclay, director of property and development at property management organisation Wheatley Group, which owns GHA, said: “We want to reassure residents living in our multi-storey blocks that we have a robust approach in place to minimise the risk of fire, and prevent it spreading.

“The materials used in our multi-storey investment programme meet all building standards and regulations for this type of property. We also carry out regular patrols and inspections as part of our broader approach to health and safety.”

David McGown, assistant chief officer at Scottish Fire and Rescue, said: “Our thoughts are very firmly with all of those who have been affected by this devastating incident at Grenfell Tower in London and with our emergency service colleagues who are in attendance.

“The cause of the fire is presently unknown and until the full facts and circumstances emerge it would be inappropriate to comment on this at this early stage. The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service works closely with local authorities and housing associations to ensure the safety of occupants in high rise buildings.”

A shipment of aid from charitable organisation Glasgow the Caring City is due to be delivered to London on Sunday, with supplies of water, soap, nappies and toothbrushes. However, the charity urged people not to give personal donations – either directly to victims or via Glasgow the Caring City.

• READ MORE: Grenfell Tower fire: The human response to disaster

A statement from the organisation said: “We, like everyone, have been shocked and deeply saddened by the incident at Grenfell Tower in London.

“On Sunday, thanks to Glasgow’s business community, a truck shall leave our city laden with palletised freight which shall bolster resources available to distribution centres set up to aid local families affected by the fire. Our long established links in the city of London allow us to respond swiftly and in a co-ordinated way.”

It added: “We would urge anyone thinking of running clothing and unco-ordinated aid to London, to think again before setting out. Unco-ordinated but well intended goodwill will put strain on the already stressed community response.

“This is not a public appeal for support. Our donation-base is covered.”

In London, restaurants have opened their doors to feed people affected by the disaster, including one run by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.

Actor and producer Noel Clarke, who grew up in the area and whose mother lives close by, has also helped co-ordinate aid to victims by rallying major firms to donate clothes and food and helping at a centre set up to accommodate those evacuated.

He wrote: “I love my area. We know people in there. Not heard from all.”

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