{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"scotland","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/scotland-facing-3-7bn-black-hole-from-brexit-shocks-1-4537938","id":"1.4537938","articleHeadline": "Scotland facing £3.7bn black hole from Brexit shocks","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1503348302000 ,"articleLead": "

Scotland is facing the prospect of a £3.7 billion public spending black hole as the financial “shocks” of Brexit take their toll, finance experts have warned.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4537937.1503348307!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scotland's public finances will be 'significantly vulnerable' to the effects of Brexit. Picture: SWNS"} ,"articleBody": "

Scottish ministers must ensure Scotland’s voice is heard in the Brexit negotiations as the impact is likely to be acute north of the Border, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (Cipfa) warned.

Scotland has a higher share of EU funding compared with other parts of the UK and the loss of EU workers will hit hard north of the Border, the organisation said.

Nicola Sturgeon will tomorrow welcome her Welsh counterpart Carwyn Jones to Edinburgh for talks as the two leaders step up their opposition to the prospect of a devolution “power grab” when controls are repatriated from Brussels.

• READ MORE: David Davis in warning over repeating EU negotiations

The warning by Cipfa Scotland over the impact comes in a submission to Holyrood’s finance committee, which is examining the effect of Brexit on the Scottish Budget.

The experts cite research suggesting that Scottish GDP could be reduced by up to £11.2 billion by 2030, with a reduction in tax revenues of between £1.7bn and £3.7bn annually.

“As an indicator of scale, this is equivalent to a reduction to the Scottish Government budget of between 6 per cent and 11 per cent,” the submission states. It also highlights the need for a new funding mechanism for farmers and clarity over the devolved administrations’ share of the Brexit “divorce bill”.

Cipfa Scotland has urged Scottish ministers to consider the impact during its budgeting process to ensure the financial resilience of public finances is not undermined, and to look at policy and tax measures that could help overcome any loss in income.

Don Peebles, head of Cipfa Scotland, said: “Scottish public spending power is significantly vulnerable to the impacts of Brexit.

“As it is likely that many of the fiscal risks predicted will be realised in future years, the Scottish Government must begin to budget for Brexit so that it will be in the best position to sustain any financial shocks.

“Considering the impact of Brexit may be keenly felt in Scotland, it is important that the Scottish Government has an influence on the negotiations to ensure any Brexit deal works for its public services.”

Before the EU referendum in June 2016, Scotland expected to receive €5.6 bn over the seven-year period from 2014 to 2020.

“Scotland was set to receive 14 per cent of the UK funding between 2014 and 2020 compared to its population share of 8.3 per cent. This meant that EU funds were proportionately more important to Scotland than to any other part of the UK,” the submission states.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said: “This report further highlights the danger posed by the UK government’s extreme Brexit plans, which threaten jobs, investment and living standards.

“Leaving the European single market and customs union threatens 80,000 Scottish jobs over a decade and could cost our economy more than £11bn a year by 2030.

“We welcome this report’s view – supported by many others, including leading business voices – that the Scottish Government should have a direct role in Brexit negotiations, and we will continue to press the UK government on that issue.”

Ms Sturgeon said ahead of today’s meeting with the Welsh First Minister the UK government is planning to “impose new restrictions on the Scottish Parliament” as the practicalities of Brexit unfold in the next two years.

The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill is designed to transpose EU law into British law so the same rules apply on the day of Brexit as the day before and involves EU responsibilities in devolved areas being initially transferred to Westminster.

The UK government said this will allow common frameworks to be put in place where necessary before further devolution, but the Scottish and Welsh governments believe it is a “power grab”.

“Both during and after the EU referendum, new powers were promised to Holyrood, but instead the UK government is planning to impose new restrictions on the 
Scottish Parliament,” Ms Sturgeon said.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Catriona Webster"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4537937.1503348307!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4537937.1503348307!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scotland's public finances will be 'significantly vulnerable' to the effects of Brexit. Picture: SWNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scotland's public finances will be 'significantly vulnerable' to the effects of Brexit. Picture: SWNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4537937.1503348307!/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/man-assaulted-after-group-confrontation-on-royal-mile-1-4537618","id":"1.4537618","articleHeadline": "Man assaulted after group confrontation on Royal Mile","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1503312787000 ,"articleLead": "

Police in Edinburgh are appealing for witnesses following a serious assault in the city centre.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4537617.1503312793!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The incident happened outside the Marchbrae shop."} ,"articleBody": "

A man was assaulted at around 1.10 a.m on Saturday August 19 on the Royal Mile.

A 57-year-old man and a 40-year-old woman were walking outside the Marchbrae shop when they passed a group of four men.

During this time one member of the group made an offensive comment towards the woman and was challenged by her partner.

READ MORE: Edinburgh: Man charged following Water of Leith sexual assault

The suspect then attacked the victim, leaving him with a serious injury to his right leg and a minor injury to his head.

He was taken to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

The suspect is described as white, in his forties, around 5ft 9ins tall with a slim build and short dark hair. He was wearing a dark jacket and a white shirt underneath.

Anyone who can assist officers in tracing this individual is asked to come forward.

READ MORE: Man in serious condition after Waverley Bridge assault

Detective Constable Ryan Lee from Gayfield CID said: “This assault has resulted in some painful injuries for the victim and we are pursuing a number of lines of inquiry to trace the male responsible.

“Despite the time, the area was likely still very busy, with many people making their way to and from Festival events and so anyone who witnessed what happened should contact police immediately.

“We would also urge the other members of the suspect’s group to come forward, as their friend’s actions have left a man in hospital and behaviour like this cannot be tolerated.”

Those with information can contact Gayfield CID via 101 and quote incident number 324 of the 19th August. Alternatively, an anonymous report can be made through the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "DIANE KING"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4537617.1503312793!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4537617.1503312793!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The incident happened outside the Marchbrae shop.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The incident happened outside the Marchbrae shop.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4537617.1503312793!/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/warning-scot-firms-will-go-under-as-critics-hit-out-at-rates-1-4537380","id":"1.4537380","articleHeadline": "Warning Scot firms will go under as critics hit out at rates","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1503294073000 ,"articleLead": "

Scotland’s controversial business rates system is facing fresh calls for an overhaul with the publication of Holyrood research which shows that smaller firms in the hospitality and retail sectors face a higher burden than big companies.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4537379.1503294079!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Holyrood research shows that smaller firms in the hospitality and retail sectors face a higher burden than big companies. Picture: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

The Scottish Parliament report found certain regional hotspots, such as the east of Scotland and the Borders, faced particularly high rates.

A flagship Scottish Government review of the business rates system is to report this week, after a rebellion by companies across the country earlier this year over the prospect of hikes of up to 400 per cent in their bills.

The latest report by the Scottish Parliament Information centre (Spice) appears to back up complaints from organisations such as the Federation of Small Businesses in Scotland that smaller shops, hotels and pubs face a proportionately heavier burden

“There is a significant variation of rates as a share of operating surplus [profits] across different sectors,” the report finds.

“ Non-domestic rates (NDR) as a share of operating surplus is significantly higher in the accommodation and food services sector than any other sector of the economy, particularly construction and manufacturing.”

Shops which are covered by, the “wholesale, retail and repairs” category pay about 30.8 per cent of rates. This is about three times as high as manufacturing (11.1 per cent) despite both making a similar contribution to the economy.

Although manufacturing accounts for almost a sixth of total gross value added (GVA) – the measure of the value of goods and services produced – it pays just over a tenth of rates.

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, last night stepped up demands for change.

He said: “This report reinforces the pressing need for a reformed rates system which flexes with trading conditions, better reflects our changing economy, and which encourages commercial ­investment rather than deters it.” Accommodation and food services, which covers the pub industry, has the highest ratio of rates in relation to profits – about 10 per cent – in most areas of Scotland. In east Scotland, the figure for this sector reached as high as 17 per cent.

The construction industry has the smallest share of rates. It pays about 2 per cent, both overall and in relation to profits, the report finds.

The research, conducted by Anouk Berthier, was based on data from the Scottish Annual Business Survey (SABS) from 2011 to 2014 in relation to operating surplus, a form of profits.

It comes after widespread anger across the pub trade earlier this year when a review of the “rateable value” of firms, the first in seven years, resulted in a rise of about 8.75 per cent. This sent annual bills soaring by up to 400 per cent in some cases.

Among the more high profile critics was influential North-east hotelier Stewart Spence, the owner of the five-star Macliffe near Aberdeen, who warned he would refuse to pay a proposed 25 per cent increase before the Scottish Government climbed down. He said it ignored a 40 per cent drop in turnover following the oil slump.

Another prominent critic was Donald MacLeod, managing director of HoldFast Entertainment, which owns the Garage and Cathouse venues in Glasgow.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay eventually stepped in and announced a cap of 12.5 per cent in increases for firms, which turned out to be closer to 14.5 per cent after inflation.

Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) chief executive, Paul Waterson said last night the latest research shows the need for change.

“Supermarkets, on the whole, their rateable values went down in this last review to consider these multi-billion operations where their rates are actually going down is completely unfair,” he said.

He warned that many firms only survived because of the cap imposed by ministers, but unless the changes set out in the Barclay review are fair then Scotland will lose “thousands of pubs”.

The Barclay rates review was ordered before the row over the revaluation earlier this year, but it has taken on wider political significance in view of the fall-out.

Business rates are collected by Scottish councils, but rateable values are set by the independent Scottish Assessors Association.

They are charged on the rateable value of the premises – there is no connection to a premise’s economic performance such as turnover or profitability. As well as businesses, they are also paid by public and third sector bodies.

Former RBS banker Ken Barclay, who chaired the Barclay review, told MSPs earlier this year that he was considering whether to recommend a shift away from the current property-based tax for rates in favour of “another form of tax”.

The Federation Of Small Businesses has complained that many firms feel the current system is unfair.

“A tax based on property, without a link to sales or profit, is always likely to be a larger overhead for smaller firms and start-ups, relative to larger firms,” it warned in a submission to MSPs earlier this year.

Even Mr Mackay’s efforts to defuse the situation by introducing a cap was met with an outcry when it emerged that it would not be automatic and that business will have to apply for the relief, sparking further claims by industry leaders of trade confusion and poor communication.

It prompted the Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA), the British Hospitality Association (BHA) and the SLTA to raise concerns with the Scottish Government over the confusion after widespread complaints from their members.

Ministers have said they anticipate that businesses will be able to apply for relief and have this applied to their bills before they have to pay “any portion” of their business rates.

Drinks giant Tennent’s has today called on its customers across Scotland to challenge the new Rateable Value 
of their business premises ahead of the September 30 deadline.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4537379.1503294079!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4537379.1503294079!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Holyrood research shows that smaller firms in the hospitality and retail sectors face a higher burden than big companies. Picture: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Holyrood research shows that smaller firms in the hospitality and retail sectors face a higher burden than big companies. Picture: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4537379.1503294079!/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/aberdeen-north-east/man-dies-after-falling-from-cliffs-near-cruden-bay-1-4537577","id":"1.4537577","articleHeadline": "Man dies after falling from cliffs near Cruden Bay","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1503304384000 ,"articleLead": "

A man has died after falling from cliffs near Cruden Bay in Aberdeenshire.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4537576.1503304390!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Bullers of Buchan. Picture: Lynette and Malcolm Johnson/Wikicommons"} ,"articleBody": "

The alarm was raised at 5.30pm on Saturday when a rescue operation involving the RNLI and coastguard was launched near the beauty spot Bullers of Buchan.

The 41-year-old, believed to be from the Ellon area, was airlifted to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary where it was confirmed he had died.

The man has not been named.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "RUSSELL JACKSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4537576.1503304390!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4537576.1503304390!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The Bullers of Buchan. Picture: Lynette and Malcolm Johnson/Wikicommons","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Bullers of Buchan. Picture: Lynette and Malcolm Johnson/Wikicommons","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4537576.1503304390!/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/lib-dems-consider-making-budget-deal-with-snp-1-4537569","id":"1.4537569","articleHeadline": "Lib Dems consider making budget deal with SNP","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1503303129000 ,"articleLead": "

The Scottish Liberal Democrats are prepared to make a deal to keep the SNP in power, even if it means the party will drop its opposition to air passenger taxes.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4537568.1503303135!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon shakes hands with Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie. Picture: Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

Leader Willie Rennie indicated his party is willing to agree a deal with the Scottish Government to push through their budget this year.

Mr Rennie said he would be demanding significant financial renumeration for his party’s pet projects in exchange for their support.

He added that there were no ‘red lines’ for the Lib Dems, including air passenger duty (APD).

Nicola Sturgeon’s party is two seats shy of the 65 seats needed for an overall majority at Holyrood. The SNP need the support of at least one other party to avert the defeat of their budget.

The Scottish Greens gave their backing to the SNP’s budget last year in return for £160 million local council funding.

This year’s budget is expected to announced cuts in APD, which the Greens are unlikely to support. The Lib Dems also oppose the move but are open to negotiation, said Mr Rennie.

He told the Times: “There are a lot of things we don’t agree with them [the SNP] on and air passenger duty is a pretty big one but if they came forward with an outstanding offer somewhere else, you would have to think about it.”

The party withdrew from budget negotiations last year after their demand for £400 million of new spending on mental health and education was rebuffed by the SNP.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "RUSSELL JACKSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4537568.1503303135!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4537568.1503303135!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon shakes hands with Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie. Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon shakes hands with Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie. Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4537568.1503303135!/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/two-in-three-scottish-votes-wasted-in-general-election-1-4537529","id":"1.4537529","articleHeadline": "Two in three Scottish votes ‘wasted’ in general election","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1503300208000 ,"articleLead": "

Two thirds of the votes cast in the general election in Scotland were “wasted” and had no impact on the result, according to voting reform campaigners.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4537528.1503300214!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Two thirds of Scottish votes were 'wasted' say reform campaigners. Picture: Michael Gillen"} ,"articleBody": "

Almost 1.8 million votes cast north of the border in June did not go towards electing an MP, the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) found. UK-wide, it put that figure at 22 million (68 per cent).

Under the first past the post (FPTP) system, Labour won 27 per cent of the votes cast in Scotland but got just 12 per cent of the seats, while the SNP won 37 per cent of the votes cast but returned almost 60 per cent of the seats, according to its research.

The report also said that Scotland is “shifting back towards multi-party politics” while England goes the other way, as “huge swings” in Scotland saw 21 of the 59 constituencies change hands - more than any other region or nation.

The ERS said voters turned in large numbers to tactical voting strategies and it claimed that some victories achieved in Scotland under FPTP are “precarious” and hinge on just a handful of votes, since it returned four of the UK’s top 10 smallest majorities.

• READ MORE: Lesley Riddoch: Is the word ‘National’ a weakness for SNP?

It branded the vote the “hold your nose” election after an estimated 6.5 million people across the UK made tactical decisions and said the Conservatives could have won a majority if just 0.0016 per cent of voters had chosen differently.

The ERS said a new method must be introduced and called for Westminster to adopt a more proportional voting system.

Willie Sullivan, Electoral Reform Society Scotland director, said: “Our report shows that 1,759,305 (66.40 per cent) of votes in Scotland were ‘wasted’ - having no impact on the outcome of the election.

“The ways that votes are converted into seats matters. As voters wake up to the failures of FPTP they are increasingly taking on the complex task of trying to game the system to make it reflect their wishes.

“Electors should be able to vote for parties they agree with on the broad sweep of policy, instead of feeling the need to vote tactically based on one significant issue such as independence or Brexit because they fear ‘winner takes all’ dominance.”

The findings are contained in a report published on Monday, entitled The 2017 General Election: Volatile Voting, Random Results.

Its analysis found that 37 of the 50 UK seats with the lowest winning vote share were in Scotland, suggesting that voters are choosing to spread their vote around a range of parties.

It also highlighted the large fluctuations in results between the 2015 and 2017 general elections.

A 43.9 per cent increase in the SNP’s vote share in Glasgow North East recorded two years ago switched to a 9.2 per cent hike for Labour in June.

• READ MORE: SNP’s pro-EU stance contributed to general election losses

“Voters in Scotland appear to have turned in large number to tactical voting strategies in order to break single-party rule,” the report stated.

“Nine of the 10 largest overturned majorities were in Scotland, including Banff and Buchan where a majority of over 14,000 for the SNP turned into a majority for the Conservative party of 3,600.

“An example of voter volatility and how all parties’ fortunes can fluctuate even in a short space of time.

“Scotland also has four of the top 10 smallest majorities (North East Fife, Perth and North Perthshire, Glasgow South West, Glasgow East) demonstrating just how precarious victory can be under first past the post.”

The ERS is demanding a change to a proportional system, such as Scotland’s Single Transferable Vote used in local elections.

Mr Sullivan said: “A proportional system would... create a much broader discussion of politics (and) ensure all votes are of equal value with citizens feeling empowered to take part.

“We need a democracy fit to take on the challenges the 21st century is providing, and that means going beyond first past the post.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Hilary Duncanson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4537528.1503300214!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4537528.1503300214!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Two thirds of Scottish votes were 'wasted' say reform campaigners. Picture: Michael Gillen","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Two thirds of Scottish votes were 'wasted' say reform campaigners. Picture: Michael Gillen","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4537528.1503300214!/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/leader-time-to-act-now-on-business-rates-1-4537341","id":"1.4537341","articleHeadline": "Leader: Time to act now on business rates","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1503291633000 ,"articleLead": "

Hospitality and catering is a vital contributor to Scotland’s economy.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4537340.1503256518!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Finance Secretary Derek Mackay."} ,"articleBody": "

It not only sustains our capital city throughout the year but is also a life-saver for many of our rural communities in the Borders and Highlands. Overall, its 8,400 businesses account for 10 per cent of all employment. And that contribution is especially important when other sectors such as manufacturing are, as now, under pressure.

But it has had to bear a disproportionate burden of business rates – and for a sector comprising many small, family-owned and run firms, this burden is acute.

Scottish Parliament research reveals that non-domestic rates for companies in the hotels and food services sector now amount to an average 11.6 per cent of operating profit – more than three times the figure across the whole of the economy. Protests have been rising since hotels found themselves facing increases in their annual rates bills of 37 per cent.

As a labour-intensive, people-focused industry it also faces cost pressures from the introduction of the National Living Wage and calls for a tourism tax. The case for change here is now compelling.

The Scottish government recognised as much when it set up a flagship business rates review under the chairmanship of former RBS banker Ken Barclay. And earlier this year Finance Secretary Derek Mackay was forced to provide emergency relief for firms in the catering sector when he announced a cap on 2017-18 bill increases at 12.5 per cent through a new national relief scheme.

But the package was dismissed by retailers as “another sticking plaster on the suppurating wound” of an unreformed business rates system.

Pressure has continued to grow from small business and hospitality lobbies. Their chief concern is that the relief will only last one year and will not stop the proposed rateable value increases.

Rates bills are set to rise substantially from 2018 onwards. Businesses have been advised to have their rates assessments reviewed as failure to submit an appeal by the end of next month will lead to a loss of right to challenge any future rates bills, potentially resulting in excessive rates bills until 2022.

Sector representatives have also questioned the Scottish assessors’ valuation methodology – which in many cases results in excessive rates assessments. Mr Mackay should delay reform no longer.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4537340.1503256518!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4537340.1503256518!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Finance Secretary Derek Mackay.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Finance Secretary Derek Mackay.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4537340.1503256518!/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/paolozzi-sculpture-forced-to-relocate-over-construction-work-1-4536862","id":"1.4536862","articleHeadline": "Paolozzi sculpture forced to relocate over construction work","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1503242854000 ,"articleLead": "

With its big foot and an outstretched hand, it is one of Edinburgh’s most recognisable and popular works of public art, created by the celebrated sculptor Sir Eduardo Paolozzi.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4536861.1503209021!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Sir Eduardo Paolozzi's Manuscript of Monte Cassino comprises a giant foot and matching hand and ankle. \\nPicture: Greg Macvean"} ,"articleBody": "

But after more than a quarter of a century, the Manuscript of Monte Cassino is to be relocated as part of a multi-million pound overhaul of the area.

The Paolozzi work, a gift to the city by entrepreneur Sir Tom Farmer, is to be moved from outside St Mary’s Catholic Cathedral to a public garden off London Road while work is ongoing on the new St James quarter. The city council, which is redesigning Picardy Place over the next year to coincide with the demolition and replacement of the shopping centre, has suggested the sculptures go on display at Hillside Crescent rather than be put into storage.

However that could become their permanent home as the amount of public space outside the cathedral is proposed to be reduced under the current designs.

Born into a Scots-Italian family in Leith in 1924, Paolozzi was a leading figure in the 1950s Pop Art movement. The Manuscript of Monte Cassino, said to have been inspired by the giant sculptures in ancient Rome, was created for the site.

The artist, who died in 2005, said of the work: “On the site I can see these very parts of the landscape that were the back-cloth to my childhood. A great deal has disappeared, which makes it a privilege to add something significant to what might have become an urban gap.”

Donald Wilson, the city council’s culture leader, said: “This is a much-loved series by one of Edinburgh’s most prolific artists and we are determined to see it remain on public display. Rather than move the three-piece sculpture into storage, we are proposing to give it a temporary new home. Not only will this help us keep the sculpture safe during the redesign of the Picardy Place junction and provide greater access for road workers, it will provide local people with the chance to enjoy Paolozzi’s artwork in a brand new way.

“We have been speaking with members of the community about the prospect of placing the series along nearby Hillside Crescent. Discussions will also continue with others who have an interest, from the Paolozzi Foundation and the cathedral, to Sir Tom Farmer.”

A spokeswoman for the city council said: “The make-up of the public realm in front of the cathedral is still to be determined.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BRIAN FERGUSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4536861.1503209021!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4536861.1503209021!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Sir Eduardo Paolozzi's Manuscript of Monte Cassino comprises a giant foot and matching hand and ankle. \\nPicture: Greg Macvean","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Sir Eduardo Paolozzi's Manuscript of Monte Cassino comprises a giant foot and matching hand and ankle. \\nPicture: Greg Macvean","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4536861.1503209021!/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/mum-praises-brave-son-after-drylaw-motorbike-hit-and-run-1-4536897","id":"1.4536897","articleHeadline": "Mum praises “brave” son after Drylaw motorbike hit-and-run","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1503232323000 ,"articleLead": "

The mother of a ten-year-old boy left seriously injured after he was struck by a motorcyclist in Drylaw has praised her “wee trooper.”

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4537100.1503232318!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Police on Ferry Road, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture: SWNS"} ,"articleBody": "

The woman, who did not wish to be named said her son was “still critical” following the incident which saw the rider flee the scene.

Speaking through TRIM and Friends of West Pilton, the mum said: “Hey everyone just a quick message to say thanks for all your messages and well wishes.”

“He is still critical but stable he has surgery later this morning so will update everyone later.

“He has been so brave braver than I could ever be I’m so proud off him he’s my wee trooper.”

The rider then fled the scene.

The incident took place as the boy crossed a pedestrian crossing on Ferry road near Drylaw in the north of the Capital at 6.35pm on Saturday.

Police said that a group of motorbike riders had been seen nearby shortly before the incident, driving in a “dangerous manner.”

Detective Chief Inspector Paul Grainger said: “This is a horrific collision which has left a young boy seriously injured. The boy was crossing the pedestrian crossing on the green man when he was struck by the motorcycle and knocked to the ground sustaining what are described as serious injuries.

“The motorcyclist drove on with no apparent thought for the horrific injuries sustained by the young boy in the collision.

• READ MORE: Video: Police launch operation against motorbike theft and disorder

“We are carrying out door to door and other enquiries into this collision, and also in relation to other reports in the immediate are of incidents of dangerous and reckless driving by motorcyclists around this time and we are appealing for anyone who has any information about who may have been responsible to contact us immediately and help us keep the community safe.”

Inspector John Elliot said: “Police Scotland has increased patrols in the Drylaw area in order to provide reassurance to the local community and to ensure there is no repeat of this anti-social behaviour. These patrols will be visible in the coming days.

“I would urge anyone who may have any concerns, or information which might help us, to approach any of our patrols in the area where they can speak with the officers themselves.”

Investigators have appealed for anyone with information to call 101 and quote incident number 3247.

In March, Police in Edinburgh relaunched an operation to tackle theft of motorcycles and joyriders in the north of the city.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "DIANE KING"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4537100.1503232318!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4537100.1503232318!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Police on Ferry Road, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture: SWNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Police on Ferry Road, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture: SWNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4537100.1503232318!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4537101.1503232330!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4537101.1503232330!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Police on Ferry Road, Edinburgh, Scotland, after a 10-year-old boy was seriously injured in a hit and run incident after being struck by a motorbike outside Drylaw Police Station on Saturday.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Police on Ferry Road, Edinburgh, Scotland, after a 10-year-old boy was seriously injured in a hit and run incident after being struck by a motorbike outside Drylaw Police Station on Saturday.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4537101.1503232330!/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/education/super-sized-scottish-primary-school-classes-soar-by-third-1-4537059","id":"1.4537059","articleHeadline": "‘Super-sized’ Scottish primary school classes soar by third","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1503225166000 ,"articleLead": "

The number of “super-sized” Scottish primary school classes has risen by more than a third, new analysis has revealed.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4537058.1503240217!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "'Super-sized' classes are on the rise, according to new figures. Picture: TSPL"} ,"articleBody": "

Classes with 30 or more children increased by 36% between 2012 and 2016, from 1,687 to 2,287.

The number of children being taught in classes of 30 or more rose by more than 19,000 from 52,445 to 71,309 in the same period.

The figures have been rising steadily year on year during that time.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats, who carried out the analysis, blamed the increase on SNP “mismanagement” and said the rising class sizes makes the key Scottish Government priority of closing the gap in attainment between affluent pupils and their less well off classmates harder to attain.

The party’s education spokesman Tavish Scott said: “We already know that the average class size is at its highest in years. Now these new figures reveal that the number of children being taught in super-size classes has soared.

“Almost 20,000 more children are being taught in classes of 30 or above compared to 2012. There are 143 more super-size classes in Glasgow and approaching 100 additional large classes in Edinburgh.

• READ MORE: Volunteer teachers can close the attainment gap, say Tories

“Smaller classes do help pupils learn and help teachers contact with children who need extra help. So increasing class sizes make it harder to close the attainment gap.

“The impact of a decade of mismanagement by the SNP is clear. Tens of thousands of children are being taught in super-size classes. Thousands of teachers and support staff have been lost to schools and to Scottish education.

“Pupils returning to school this week have been met by hundreds of teaching vacancies.”

He said his party would invest an extra £500 million in education and would commission an independent review of teachers’ terms and conditions.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “In 2010, we legislated to reduce the maximum class size in Primary 1 to 25, its lowest ever level.

“We are reforming the education system to close the poverty-related attainment gap and target resources at the children, schools and communities which most need them.

“We are investing £88 million this year so every school has access to the right number of teachers, and securing places for all probationers who want them.

“Our investment has enabled councils to maintain the pupil-teacher ratio and halted a period of steady decline in teacher recruitment, resulting in 253 more teachers last year - the first substantial increase since 2007.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Laura Paterson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4537058.1503240217!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4537058.1503240217!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "'Super-sized' classes are on the rise, according to new figures. Picture: TSPL","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "'Super-sized' classes are on the rise, according to new figures. Picture: TSPL","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4537058.1503240217!/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-research-to-find-which-cancer-patients-need-chemo-1-4537055","id":"1.4537055","articleHeadline": "Edinburgh research to find which cancer patients need chemo","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1503224890000 ,"articleLead": "

Leading charity Cancer Research UK and the Chief Scientist Office plan to invest a total of almost £3 million over the next five years in groundbreaking work at Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres (ECMCs) in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4536863.1503209478!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Sarah Glendinning is being treated for breast cancer at Edinburgh ECMC. Photograph: Lesley Martin"} ,"articleBody": "

The cities have been chosen by an international panel of experts as two of just 18 locations in the UK to secure funding in the latest review of the ECMC network.

Scientists at the Edinburgh ECMC are looking for specific genes and proteins in tissue and blood samples from breast cancer patients that could act as markers to help them identify which cancers are more likely to respond to chemotherapy.

They hope that by doing this they will be able to tell very early on whether chemotherapy is working or not. This could help some women avoid having chemotherapy before surgery – and the side effects that go with it – if it is less likely to work for them.

The ECMCs aim to bring better treatments to cancer patients in the UK faster via both the adult and children’s network of centres. These are hubs where promising cancer treatments – including small molecule drugs, surgery, radiotherapy, immunotherapy and vaccines – are safely tested through clinical trials.

Professor David Cameron, Edinburgh ECMC co-lead, inset, said: “We are thrilled that Edinburgh has secured this funding. This award represents a critical investment in our research infrastructure, equipping us with the key laboratory and clinical tools needed to advance the understanding and treatment of cancer for the benefit of people in Scotland and beyond.

“It will be used to support essential posts in the ECMC – such as research nurses, data managers and specialised laboratory technicians – that will help us develop and test new treatments for a variety of different cancers, including ovarian, breast and bowel cancers.” Every year, around 31,700 people are diagnosed with cancer in Scotland, and around 15,900 people die of the disease.

Victoria Steven, Cancer Research UK spokeswoman for Scotland, said: “This crucial investment is recognition of the fantastic research taking place in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

“One in two of us will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in our lives, so it’s reassuring to know that, thanks to our supporters, Cancer Research UK is able to fund some of the best and most promising research here in Scotland, to help more people survive.

“Cancer survival has doubled since the early 1970s in the UK and Cancer Research UK’s work has been at the heart of that progress – but every step our doctors, nurses and scientists take relies on donations from the public and the tireless fundraising of our supporters.”

‘This award will help us develop new treatments for a variety of different cancers’

Sarah Glendinning from Edinburgh, just 34 when diagnosed on 12 May this year, is taking part in a study at Edinburgh ECMC. Samples taken from her during treatment are being processed by the centre, a collaboration between NHS Lothian and the University of Edinburgh.

Sarah who is mum to Kairan, five, and daughter Jaimie, three, was in the US with her partner Michael in April this year when she found a lump in her left breast. They were visiting his mother, who was very unwell and, sadly, died the day after they arrived. That night, when Sarah lay down in bed, a sudden instinct made her feel her breasts.

Sarah said: “I don’t know what made me check my breasts that night, maybe it was because Michael’s mum had had breast cancer in the past. I might not have found the lump if I hadn’t felt my breasts when I was lying down. It was quite an obvious big, golf-ball lump.”

She went straight to see her GP on her return to Edinburgh, and was referred to the breast clinic for an ultrasound and a biopsy.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "KEVAN CHRISTIE"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4536863.1503209478!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4536863.1503209478!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Sarah Glendinning is being treated for breast cancer at Edinburgh ECMC. Photograph: Lesley Martin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Sarah Glendinning is being treated for breast cancer at Edinburgh ECMC. Photograph: Lesley Martin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4536863.1503209478!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/pringle-knitwear-battles-to-stop-greek-brand-using-similar-name-1-4536855","id":"1.4536855","articleHeadline": "Pringle knitwear battles to stop Greek brand using similar name","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1503220080000 ,"articleLead": "

One of Scotland’s best known fashion brands has become embroiled in a European legal battle with a Greek menswear firm it accuses of trading on its name.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4536854.1503208508!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Models backstage at a Pringle of Scotland fashion show in London. Picture: Nicky J Sims/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

Pringle of Scotland, the knitwear firm revered for its luxury cashmere, claims Pringley is trying to “ride on the coat tails” of its brand by trying to register its “highly similar” name as a trademark.

The Athens-based firm says it drew inspiration for the Pringley name from a cactus native to north-west Mexico.

It is one of several trademark disputes involving Scottish brand names being dealt with by the EU.

The Harris Tweed Authority is at odds with a Spanish clothing firm looking to register the logo for its brand, Harry’s. The name is written in an identical font to that used on the labels of genuine Harris Tweed garments.

One leading trademark attorney says that with Brexit creating uncertainty over intellectual property, Scottish firms should ensure they protect their brands.

The Pringle case, which has been going on since last spring, is one of several being handled by the European Union Intellectual Property Office, the body responsible for registering around 135,000 trademarks in the EU each year. Pringle, which celebrated its bicentenary in 2015, has urged the authority to reject the application to trademark Pringley, and is seeking costs.

In correspondence on behalf of the company, which was founded in Hawick, Campbell Newell, a partner in the Edinburgh office of intellectual property specialists, Marks & Clerk, accused the Greek company of inflicting damage on the Scottish firm’s historic reputation.

In his letter, Newell said Pringley “is seeking to ride on the coat tails” of the Scottish company and was “seeking to take advantage of effort and investment” by Pringle over many years.

Pringle, he points out has registered numerous trademarks throughout the world for its clothing, footwear and headgear, the earliest dating back to 1942.

They include several trademarks that apply in EU states, including Greece and Bulgaria, countries where Pringley says it has had its own trademark registered “for at least five years” in which it has “peacefully co-existed” with Pringle.

Newell said the word Pringley was “both visually and phonetically highly similar” to the Pringle name, and using it diminished Pringle’s distinctiveness.

But Athanassios Paraschos, an Athens lawyer, wrote: “We drew our inspiration for the creation of our trademark from Wikipedia, where we saw a cactus named Pachycereus Pringlei.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "MARTYN McLAUGHLIN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4536854.1503208508!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4536854.1503208508!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Models backstage at a Pringle of Scotland fashion show in London. Picture: Nicky J Sims/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Models backstage at a Pringle of Scotland fashion show in London. Picture: Nicky J Sims/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4536854.1503208508!/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-real-reasons-we-failed-to-reform-drugs-policy-1-4536860","id":"1.4536860","articleHeadline": "Euan McColm: Real reasons we failed to reform drugs policy","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1503209594000 ,"articleLead": "

The constitution may have been an obstacle to reform, but it could also lead us to an enlightened approach that saves lives, writes Euan McColm

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4536859.1503209600!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The fact that drug deaths in Scotland rose by nearly a quarter in 2016 compared with 2015 has reignited debate. Picture: Getty/iStockphoto"} ,"articleBody": "

Not for the first time, one wondered whether Kenny MacAskill fully understood the implications of what he was saying.

Last week, SNP MP Ronnie Cowan took the unexpected and very welcome step of trying to re-open the debate about the “war on drugs”, which is, of course, the name governments and law enforcement agencies give to their ongoing failure, at huge financial and human cost, to prevent the sale and consumption of illegal substances. It was time for a new approach, said Cowan, pointing to the situation in Portugal where the number of addicts fell after possession was decriminalised.

On the same day that Cowan wrote in the Daily Record on the subject, former Scottish justice secretary MacAskill weighed in with his own piece in Holyrood Magazine. After standing down as an MSP last year, MacAskill has been eager to speak his mind (not least in his regular column for The Scotsman) even when he does not agree with the direction the SNP is taking.

On the subject of illegal drugs – deaths from which rose by 23 per cent last year – MacAskill wrote that it was time for the SNP to seek new powers over legislation from Westminster. Previous silence on the issue, he continued, “may have been understandable when the referendum was ongoing, now it’s simply cowardly as tragedy unfolds”.

The former justice secretary may think that failing to act on this issue because the constitution took precedence was understandable. I’m not so sure. But nationalists will be nationalists, I suppose. The constitution figures in just about every area, so why shouldn’t it impact on drugs policy?

MacAskill previously revealed that the Scottish Government had ruled out giving prisoners the vote during discussions before the 2014 independence referendum in case it harmed the Yes campaign’s cause, so it’s not as though we should be surprised that he feels the constitution has got in the way of a sensible debate about drugs.

Anyway, implicit in MacAskill’s remarks is the fact that the issue of Scottish independence is no longer at the top of any party’s political agenda so let’s skip past his odd justification and get to the meat of what he and Cowan are talking about.

Drug policy is an area that many politicians would prefer not to talk about. Historically, MPs who dared suggest a more liberal approach, perhaps even going so far as to call for decriminalisation, could expect – at best – to find themselves splashed across the pages of tabloid newspapers under a “He’s gone potty!” headline. Across the spectrum, politicians have chosen to avoid the matter if at all possible.

The consequence of this is that our drug laws might not be fit for purpose.

The majority of drug users do not have a problem – other than the fact that they are breaking the law. I’m sure that you know someone or someone who knows someone who uses drugs recreationally with no serious consequences. You know that the wilder rhetoric about the dangers of drug use just doesn’t reflect the experience of the majority of users.

Your mate Bill who smokes a bifter in the greenhouse of a Saturday afternoon is a fairly typical user and he’s no threat to society, is he? He’s just hungry and boring.

Cowan represents Inverclyde, an area where drug addiction has grown as a problem as jobs have become more scarce. When the shipyards were alive with the clatter and clang of production, the dealers had fewer victims on whom to prey. With greater unemployment came more customers looking to blot out the misery of their lives.

Cowan is quite right to question whether addicts – precisely none of whom are having a good time – should still be treated as criminals over their drug use. People addicted to heroin and other class A drugs are victims – initially, perhaps, of their own poor judgment, but eventually of substances which control their lives, destroy relationships and, in an increasing number of cases, kill them.

In what way, I wonder, is the public protected by criminalising these wretched souls?

There is no good reason that booze and tobacco should be legal while cannabis or ecstasy are not. The negative impact of drink and cigarettes is well known. These are substances easily as dangerous as others which are banned.

Taxes on alcohol and tobacco help fund public services, not least the NHS, yet drug barons selling weed to weekend stoners keep all their profits to themselves. Furthermore, they support criminal networks which traffic people and make them work on cannabis farms or force them to risk their liberty by smuggling.

Drug policy is currently the preserve of Westminster and I would be astonished if the current Conservative government was at all minded to change the law. This being so, I’m very much in favour of the Scottish Parliament taking responsibility for this area of legislation.

We have a hypocritical attitude to illegal drugs, turning a blind eye to the philosophy professor who likes a joint after dinner or the banker who snorts a line to kickstart the weekend while treating those who fall prey to opiate addiction as the lowest of the low.

These addicts, generally from poorer backgrounds, are the ones we lock up. Rich drug users aren’t a risk to society, I guess.

Every few years, politicians threaten to have a serious debate about drug policy, to think about whether cannabis should be made legal, whether possession of heroin should be decriminalised, but these debates never really get started before they descend into rows about “junkies” and “law abiding citizens”. Soon, the politician suggesting it’s time for another look at the issue is scared off and we carry on fighting a “war on drugs” that’s so ineffective as to be laughable.

It’s probably too much to hope that Ronnie Cowan will find many politicians (excluding retired ones like MacAskill) rallying to his side on this issue. But let’s hope some do because with increasing numbers of addicts paying for their frailties with their lives, it really is time to think again about whether we should be making criminals out of people who are harming nobody but themselves.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Euan McColm"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4536859.1503209600!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4536859.1503209600!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The fact that drug deaths in Scotland rose by nearly a quarter in 2016 compared with 2015 has reignited debate. Picture: Getty/iStockphoto","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The fact that drug deaths in Scotland rose by nearly a quarter in 2016 compared with 2015 has reignited debate. Picture: Getty/iStockphoto","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4536859.1503209600!/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/3m-boost-for-cancer-centres-in-edinburgh-and-glasgow-1-4536864","id":"1.4536864","articleHeadline": "£3m boost for cancer centres in Edinburgh and Glasgow","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1503209471000 ,"articleLead": "

Leading charity Cancer Research UK and the Chief Scientist Office plan to invest a total of almost £3 million over the next five years in groundbreaking work at Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres (ECMCs) in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4536863.1503209478!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Sarah Glendinning is being treated for breast cancer at Edinburgh ECMC. Photograph: Lesley Martin"} ,"articleBody": "

The cities have been chosen by an international panel of experts as two of just 18 locations in the UK to secure funding in the latest review of the ECMC network.

Scientists at the Edinburgh ECMC are looking for specific genes and proteins in tissue and blood samples from breast cancer patients that could act as markers to help them identify which cancers are more likely to respond to chemotherapy.

They hope that by doing this they will be able to tell very early on whether chemotherapy is working or not. This could help some women avoid having chemotherapy before surgery – and the side effects that go with it – if it is less likely to work for them.

The ECMCs aim to bring better treatments to cancer patients in the UK faster via both the adult and children’s network of centres. These are hubs where promising cancer treatments – including small molecule drugs, surgery, radiotherapy, immunotherapy and vaccines – are safely tested through clinical trials.

Professor David Cameron, Edinburgh ECMC co-lead, inset, said: “We are thrilled that Edinburgh has secured this funding. This award represents a critical investment in our research infrastructure, equipping us with the key laboratory and clinical tools needed to advance the understanding and treatment of cancer for the benefit of people in Scotland and beyond.

“It will be used to support essential posts in the ECMC – such as research nurses, data managers and specialised laboratory technicians – that will help us develop and test new treatments for a variety of different cancers, including ovarian, breast and bowel cancers.” Every year, around 31,700 people are diagnosed with cancer in Scotland, and around 15,900 people die of the disease.

Victoria Steven, Cancer Research UK spokeswoman for Scotland, said: “This crucial investment is recognition of the fantastic research taking place in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

“One in two of us will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in our lives, so it’s reassuring to know that, thanks to our supporters, Cancer Research UK is able to fund some of the best and most promising research here in Scotland, to help more people survive.

“Cancer survival has doubled since the early 1970s in the UK and Cancer Research UK’s work has been at the heart of that progress – but every step our doctors, nurses and scientists take relies on donations from the public and the tireless fundraising of our supporters.”

‘This award will help us develop new treatments for a variety of different cancers’

Sarah Glendinning from Edinburgh, just 34 when diagnosed on 12 May this year, is taking part in a study at Edinburgh ECMC. Samples taken from her during treatment are being processed by the centre, a collaboration between NHS Lothian and the University of Edinburgh.

Sarah who is mum to Kairan, five, and daughter Jaimie, three, was in the US with her partner Michael in April this year when she found a lump in her left breast. They were visiting his mother, who was very unwell and, sadly, died the day after they arrived. That night, when Sarah lay down in bed, a sudden instinct made her feel her breasts.

Sarah said: “I don’t know what made me check my breasts that night, maybe it was because Michael’s mum had had breast cancer in the past. I might not have found the lump if I hadn’t felt my breasts when I was lying down. It was quite an obvious big, golf-ball lump.”

She went straight to see her GP on her return to Edinburgh, and was referred to the breast clinic for an ultrasound and a biopsy.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "KEVAN CHRISTIE"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4536863.1503209478!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4536863.1503209478!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Sarah Glendinning is being treated for breast cancer at Edinburgh ECMC. Photograph: Lesley Martin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Sarah Glendinning is being treated for breast cancer at Edinburgh ECMC. Photograph: Lesley Martin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4536863.1503209478!/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/sarah-brown-praises-role-of-scots-in-helping-malawi-s-mothers-1-4536858","id":"1.4536858","articleHeadline": "Sarah Brown praises role of Scots in helping Malawi’s mothers","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1503208697000 ,"articleLead": "

Global health and education campaigner Sarah Brown has praised the role Scotland has played in reducing the numbers of women dying in pregnancy and during childbirth.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4536857.1503208704!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Women with their babies in Lilongwe, Malawi, where many Scots have worked as volunteers. Picture: Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

Speaking at an Edinburgh Festival event to launch the B!RTH project, in which science and the arts unite to shine a light on reproductive rights and birth inequalities, Brown, pictured, spoke of Scotland’s relationship with Malawi and the “compassion” shown to expectant mothers there.

The project includes four plays being performed at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh. One, CHOICES, by Stacey Gregg, explores the impact of society on the choices women have concerning their fertility.

There are also plays by women from countries including Syria, India, Kenya and China.

Brown set up the Jennifer Brown Research Laboratory with her husband Gordon, the former Prime Minister, in memory of their first child, who was born at 33 weeks and died after 10 days in 2002.

She said: “I think this project with B!RTH has stories from India and Syria but it also has stories from the UK – looking at what those different challenges are and I think what’s come up in the play about the UK are the choices that people have and also the knowledge they have.

“I don’t think anyone in the UK feels they can’t access our amazing NHS but they will want to know that they have the information and have the opportunity to make choices.

“There’s a different part to this, which is when you look at 300,000 women dying every year in pregnancy and childbirth, that was nearly double 10 years ago. A very concerted campaign has helped drive that number downwards.”

The project is led through a collaboration between the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine’s Centre for Maternal and Newborn Health.

Brown added: “I remember talking in Glasgow at an international midwives’ conference. It was a tremendous day and you felt huge support from people in Scotland. People in Scotland also have the relationship with Malawi. Lots of people have contributed there, volunteered there and have a sense of that country and its health challenges, particularly for women.

“There’s a lot that can be done from people in Scotland wanting to contribute.

“It doesn’t just have to be hands-on volunteers.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "KEVAN CHRISTIE"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4536857.1503208704!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4536857.1503208704!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Women with their babies in Lilongwe, Malawi, where many Scots have worked as volunteers. Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Women with their babies in Lilongwe, Malawi, where many Scots have worked as volunteers. Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4536857.1503208704!/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/volunteer-teachers-can-close-the-attainment-gap-say-tories-1-4536663","id":"1.4536663","articleHeadline": "Volunteer teachers can close the attainment gap, say Tories","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1503208627000 ,"articleLead": "

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Education Secretary John Swinney have been urged to back volunteer tutor programmes for pupils from deprived backgrounds.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4536662.1503167055!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Many parents cant afford the fees charged by tutors to give children a little extra help. Photograph: Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

The Conservatives said Scottish ministers could follow the example of UK government-funded schemes which sign up volunteers to provide extra tuition to pupils from poorer families who would struggle to afford the cost of up to £40 per hour. Charities such as Action Tutoring – backed by funding from the Cabinet Office – recruited volunteers in London, Liverpool, Birmingham and Sheffield to provide tuition free of charge.

A similar scheme in Glasgow, the Volunteer Tutors Organisation, relies on donations to help disadvantaged pupils in the city and has appealed for funding on its website.

Scottish Conservatives further education spokesman Oliver Mundell said: “Extra tuition is recognised as one of the best ways to give students an extra leg up, but for too many children from low-income families they are priced out of the market.

“Across the UK, charities which provide volunteer tuition for disadvantaged children are doing fantastic work levelling out the playing field. All parties in Scotland want to reduce the attainment gap, and we believe the Scottish Government could look to see what help it can provide to do more. Rather than spend yet more public money on bureaucracy, the SNP government might consider giving support to charities which can ensure disadvantaged pupils get the tuition they need, but can’t currently afford.”

Sturgeon has made closing the attainment gap, which sees pupils from wealthier backgrounds outperform poorer counterparts, a key priority of the Scottish Government.

A series of studies have identified the discrepancy between rich and poor. Last year, for example, the Scottish Government’s own analysis found only 54 per cent of children from the poorest areas in the final year of primary school met the standard of writing expected for that age group by the Curriculum for Excellence. This compared with 78 per cent of those in the wealthiest areas. Only 58 per cent of P7 children in the most deprived areas met the standard for numeracy, compared with 80 per cent in the best-off areas. 

Overall, more than a quarter of all P7 children failed to meet reading standards, more than a third failed to achieve the expected level for writing and almost a third did not reach the benchmark for numeracy.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Through the Scottish Attainment Challenge we are encouraging schools and local authorities to develop their own approaches, drawing on evidence-based practice of what works and tailoring their plans for closing the poverty-related attainment gap to their own circumstances. This includes £120 million of Pupil Equity Funding to be spent at the discretion of headteachers and school leaders in 2017-18.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Tom Peterkin"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4536662.1503167055!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4536662.1503167055!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Many parents cant afford the fees charged by tutors to give children a little extra help. Photograph: Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Many parents cant afford the fees charged by tutors to give children a little extra help. Photograph: Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4536662.1503167055!/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/terrorists-will-adapt-to-barriers-with-knives-warns-expert-1-4536896","id":"1.4536896","articleHeadline": "Terrorists will adapt to barriers with knives, warns expert","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1503208283000 ,"articleLead": "

A security expert last night warned that erecting bollards to prevent vehicle-ramming attacks will see terrorists seek other ways of committing atrocities and predicted a rise in indiscriminate stabbings.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4536895.1503208100!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Barriers designed to prevent an attack similar to the one in Las Ramblas happening at the Edinburgh Festival. Picture: Scott Louden"} ,"articleBody": "

The warning came as the UK government announced the terror threat is increasing in Britain in the wake of last week’s Spanish attacks that saw at least 14 people killed and around 100 injured in Barcelona and Cambrils.

Yannick Veilleux-Lepage of the Handa Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at St Andrews University said terrorists would respond to the building of barriers to protect pedestrianised thoroughfares by adopting different methods.

Speaking to Scotland on Sunday, Veilleux-Lepage said: “The reality is that even if as a society we decide we are going to invest billions of pounds and put bollards or offensive vehicle mitigation techniques on every street where there are pedestrians...that’s fine.

“But what studies in terrorism show is that people engaging in these activities will simply change their technique.”

In recent months the world has been shocked by a spate of Islamic State (IS) inspired vehicle ramming attacks, notably the 2016 atrocity in Nice which resulted in 86 deaths and the attack on Westminster Bridge in London earlier this year that saw six deaths.

On Thursday, Barcelona was struck by a similar act of terrorism when a van was driven down the crowded Las Ramblas at the height of the tourist season. The repetition of such attacks has led to barriers and bollards being put up to protect areas where crowds congregate, including at Edinburgh’s Royal Mile during the Festival.

“The bollards are limited in the sense that they are going to help counter this particular technique and they are going to be effective up until the point that these groups innovate,” Veilleux-Lepage said.

He believes vehicle attacks will continue so long as they are seen by perpetrators as a feasible way of maximising casualties and are approved of by their followers.

But with action being taken to improve security in public places, Veilleux-Lepage says methods of attack used in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, such as stabbing, will become more commonplace.

According to Veilleux-Lepage, the notion of vehicle-ramming had its roots in Israel, where barriers were built up to prevent it.

“What I believe will happen will be what we have seen in Israel,” he said. “Vehicle ramming was used and then that was securitised and now the majority of terrorist-related deaths are knife attacks. There is a concept of contagion where a technique is used and it is used successfully and it is replicated. We haven’t yet seen that with knife attacks. But if you start seeing a bunch of vehicle ramming attacks that don’t work – that will be the next step.”

Already there have been examples of this disturbing means of assault. In 2013 Drummer Lee Rigby was mowed down by a car driven by his attackers before being hacked to pieces with knives and a machete.

The Westminster Bridge attacks saw a knife used after a vehicle had rammed pedestrians, while Labour MP Jo Cox was shot and stabbed by a far right extremist. Predicting a time when knives become the terrorists’ weapon of choice, Veilleux-Lepage asked: “What do we do at that point? Do we install metal detectors at Nandos and Subway? You are stopping one technique and you are holding off, hoping terrorist innovation doesn’t catch on. Now the reality is that terrorist innovation will always be quicker and our response will always be reactive. The reality we need to recognise is that it is impossible for any government to keep us 100 per cent safe.”

Meanwhile, Security Minister Ben Wallace said the threat to the UK is increasing as IS loses battles and territory in Syria and Iraq.

Wallace said extremist Britons and other Europeans are either unable to get out to the region to join IS or have come home and are trying to inspire attacks here. The terror group has already lost its base in Iraq, Mosul, and is facing an international coalition-backed offensive in Raqqa, Syria.

Wallace told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “I think the threat is still increasing, partly driven by the fact Isis is collapsing in Syria and people are either unable to get out there to fight for Isis and so they look to do something at home, or also because people have come back and tried to inspire people with their stories and tales of the caliphate. I think those two things mean that the threat is to some extent increasing.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Tom Peterkin"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4536895.1503208100!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4536895.1503208100!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Barriers designed to prevent an attack similar to the one in Las Ramblas happening at the Edinburgh Festival. Picture: Scott Louden","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Barriers designed to prevent an attack similar to the one in Las Ramblas happening at the Edinburgh Festival. Picture: Scott Louden","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4536895.1503208100!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/glasgow-looks-to-venice-with-water-taxi-service-to-airport-1-4536851","id":"1.4536851","articleHeadline": "Glasgow looks to Venice with water taxi service to airport","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1503208276000 ,"articleLead": "

A Venetian-style entry to Glasgow is in prospect with plans for a water taxi service from the airport.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4536850.1503208282!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "John Hillis of Pacific Quay Powerboats has come up with the water taxi notion. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

Arriving passengers would be whisked up the Clyde into the city centre in 25 minutes.

Boats would operate from a pontoon on the White Cart Water about 500m east of the airport.

The plans include passengers transferring from the terminal in golf buggy-style vehicles.

These would eventually be replaced by a travellator – a moving walkway – which would have to go either over or under Abbotsinch Road.

The scheme has been devised by John Hillis, who runs power boat trips on the Clyde in Glasgow.

He reckons the route would provide visitors with a stunning introduction to the city.

Hillis also said more transport options to the airport were required as it continued to grow, It handled more than 1 million passengers for the first time in June and the annual total has grown by 7 per cent, to 9.7m.

Hillis, director of Pacific Quay Powerboats, said: “There are already plans for a tram-train link, and with the existing M8, the river is an obvious third option.”

He is undeterred that river taxis were considered “impractical for access to the airport” in a 2012 study on improving access to the terminal, which led to the plans for trams which can also run on rail lines.

Hillis said: “The views and the experience will make it the best way to arrive in Glasgow, passing landmarks such as the Glasgow Science Centre, the Armadillo and Finnieston Crane.

“It is the classic scene shown on those postcards of the city – with audio commentary along the way.”

He hopes to initially operate two ten-seat covered vessels to provide a half-hour frequency service.

The water taxis would cruise at 25 knots (29mph)with a top speed of 30 knots (35mph).

Hillis said: “It’s not going to be as quick as taking the bus but it will be more enjoyable.”

He hopes to emulate the service provided by the classic wooden motorboats – or vaporetti – transporting passengers from Venice Marco Polo Airport.

Hillis said: “Our waterways are as much a part of the city as Venice’s are, it’s just that we do not use them – they are perceived as being a bit grotty.”

A spokesman for Glasgow Airport said: “We meet regularly with a number of transport operators to discuss links to and from the airport.

“We met with Pacific Quay Powerboats as part of our ongoing engagement with transport partners.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ALASTAIR DALTON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4536850.1503208282!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4536850.1503208282!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "John Hillis of Pacific Quay Powerboats has come up with the water taxi notion. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "John Hillis of Pacific Quay Powerboats has come up with the water taxi notion. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4536850.1503208282!/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/scotland-s-poorest-pupils-lag-behind-england-on-university-entrance-1-4534669","id":"1.4534669","articleHeadline": "Scotland’s poorest pupils lag behind England on university entrance","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1502972106000 ,"articleLead": "

The number of Scottish pupils from the poorest areas getting into university is behind the behind the equivalent statistic for England, it has emerged.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4527148.1502974672!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Mr MacAskill said a modest tuition fee may be a sensible trade-off for grants for the poorest. Picture: Neil Doig"} ,"articleBody": "

As school leavers south of the border received their exam results, UCAS figures showed that 16.5 per cent of those securing a place at university were from the from least wealthy 20 per cent of English areas.

The equivalent figure for Scotland was 11.9 per cent. The same pattern was observed in those pupils from the second poorest areas.

When it came to those from the 20 to 40 per cent most deprived areas in England, 22 per cent of pupils got into university on results day. That compared with a Scottish figure of just 17.8 per cent.

READ MORE: Labour demands abolition of exam appeal fees in Scotland

The Scottish Conservatives claimed the figures called into question the Scottish Government’s free tuition policy amid growing suspicions it benefits middle class children more than their deprived counterparts.

Former SNP Cabinet minister Kenny MacAskill suggested a modest tuition fee should be introduced to fund grants for the most disadvantaged.

Scottish Conservative shadow education secretary Liz Smith said: “These figures show clearly that it’s much easier for a pupil from a deprived background in England to get to university than it is in Scotland.


“The SNP has had more than a decade to address this, but it has failed. This SNP government now owes generations of disadvantaged youngsters an explanation – why are their contemporaries south of the border significantly more likely to get to university?


“This also blows a hole in the SNP’s policy of universal free tuition. It blatantly is not working, is harming universities financially and – as Kenny MacAskill has now admitted – is reducing opportunity for those who need it the most.


“We need a radical rethink from the Scottish Government, or more children from the poorest backgrounds will be placed at a stark disadvantage to those just a few hundred miles away.”

Writing in the Scotsman, Mr MacAskill said “a modest tuition fee may be a sensible trade-off for grants for the poorest”.


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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "TOM PETERKIN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4527148.1502974672!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4527148.1502974672!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Mr MacAskill said a modest tuition fee may be a sensible trade-off for grants for the poorest. Picture: Neil Doig","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Mr MacAskill said a modest tuition fee may be a sensible trade-off for grants for the poorest. Picture: Neil Doig","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4527148.1502974672!/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/woman-dies-in-fall-on-bus-in-linlithgow-1-4531785","id":"1.4531785","articleHeadline": "Woman dies in fall on bus in Linlithgow","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1502872332000 ,"articleLead": "

Police have launched an investigation after a woman died following an incident on a First Bus in Linlithgow.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4531784.1502872300!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The 82-year-old fell when the First Bus she was on braked suddenly. Picture: Lisa Ferguson"} ,"articleBody": "

The 82-year-old woman fell on a number 38A First Bus service when the vehicle pulled away from traffic lights suddenly.

The incident happened around 4.25pm on Saturday August 5th.

She was taken by ambulance to St John’s Hospital in Livingston where she later passed away around 9pm.

Police were contacted and are now probing the circumstances surrounding the woman’s death.

Her death is currently being treated as non-suspicious and a report will be sent to the Procurator Fiscal.

Police have appealed for witnesses to the incident after reviewing CCTV footage captured on the bus.

Inspector Richard Latto of Lothians and Scottish Borders’ Road Policing Unit said: “This is a tragic collision and our thoughts are with the lady’s family at this sad time.

“We are eager to establish to dull circumstances of this incident and would ask anyone who was on the 38A bus in Linlithgow High Street, or who saw the incident from street, to get in touch with us as soon as possible.”

Those with information are asked to contact officers at West Lothian’s Road Policing Unit on 101, quoting incident number 4139 of August 5, or anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "DIANE KING"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4531784.1502872300!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4531784.1502872300!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The 82-year-old fell when the First Bus she was on braked suddenly. Picture: Lisa Ferguson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The 82-year-old fell when the First Bus she was on braked suddenly. Picture: Lisa Ferguson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4531784.1502872300!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/markets-economy/scots-more-likely-to-ask-about-salary-during-job-interview-1-4532067","id":"1.4532067","articleHeadline": "Scots more likely to ask about salary during job interview","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1502773200000 ,"articleLead": "

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4532066.1502747915!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Almost 30 per cent of Scots professionals say they would ask about salary. Picture: Contributed"} ,"articleBody": "

Scottish job seekers are more likely to quiz prospective bosses over what they will be paid in a new role than workers elsewhere in the UK, a report has revealed.

Almost 30 per cent of people in Scotland said they would ask about salary when in a job interview, compared to just 17.5 per cent in the rest of Britain. In Aberdeen, where a lot of people are employed in the oil and gas industry, the figure is even higher, with almost half of job seekers saying they would have no qualms about establishing a prospective salary in an interview, according to the survey by CV-Library.

Meanwhile, Scots are also more likely to ensure that a new job would have a long-term future before taking it, the report found. A total of 81.5 per cent of people in Scotland said they would ask if there was “room for development” in a new position, while almost 40 per cent said they would pose questions about the general culture of the company and the workplace.

Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of CV-Library said: “It’s always good to turn up to an interview armed with appropriate questions to ask and you should note them down beforehand just in case you have a mind blank half way through. Not only will this show you’re well prepared, it also demonstrates that you have a genuine interest in the company and the opportunity to work there.

“Rather than going straight in with questions around salaries and working hours, you can find out more about a company by posing questions about their culture, teams and how they measure success.

“Doing so will help you paint a picture of what it’s like to work there, and will also show to the interviewer that you are passionate about working in a company where the fit is right on both sides.”

The majority of professionals in Scotland think it is appropriate to ask three to five questions, while 43.2 per cent would ask just one or two.

Only one in ten people said they a believe it is appropriate to pose up to 10 questions – although over half of people believe that candidates who do not ask questions in an interview will be frowned upon.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Jane Bradley"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4532066.1502747915!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4532066.1502747915!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Almost 30 per cent of Scots professionals say they would ask about salary. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Almost 30 per cent of Scots professionals say they would ask about salary. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4532066.1502747915!/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/edinburgh-festivals/tommy-sheppard-calls-for-code-of-practice-for-fringe-pay-1-4532082","id":"1.4532082","articleHeadline": "Tommy Sheppard calls for ‘code of practice’ for Fringe pay","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1502773200000 ,"articleLead": "

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe should introduce a new code of practice to help ensure a fairer pay deal for venue workers, according to one of the city’s MPs.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4532081.1502750983!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Tommy Sheppard MP. Picture: Neil Hanna"} ,"articleBody": "

Tommy Sheppard has urged organisers of the event to set firm guidelines to ensure staff are paid the “living wage” of £8.45 an hour.

Mr Sheppard claimed there was “widespread” exploitation of Fringe workers despite millions of pounds being made by venues.

He has intervened days after the launch of a “Fair Fringe” campaign to improve the wages and working conditions of venue staff, claiming some were being paid as little as £200 for six weeks work.

He said there was an ethical and moral case for the Fringe Society, which charges for entries to its programme, to “encourage” a raising of standards across the board.

Mr Sheppard, a former comedy promoter who was previously on the Fringe Society board, said action was long-overdue over on an issue that had been “ignored” for years.

He said venues were exploiting people as young as 16 by asking them to take on paid roles but treating them as volunteers or insisting they are securing work experience.

Mr Sheppard was a founder of The Stand Comedy Club, which is an accredited living wage employer all year round.

Mr Sheppard said: “There is probably widespread agreement that this is something that needs looked at now and has been ignored for too long.

“While allowing room for amateur productions and volunteering, there needs to be a much more professional approach to ensure that people working in a proper job are being paid a fair rate.

“I don’t think anyone on the Fringe sets out to deliberately exploit people. But you do get situations where the lines between volunteer and worker are blurred. The point at which it becomes an issue is where people are running a venue as a commercial operation and selling tickets.

“People are running fairly big operations with a million pound turnover. When you become an employer on that scale you have to do the right thing. If you define the problem as not paying the living wage then I think it is pretty widespread.”

The Unite union claims the living wage is “almost unheard of” at the Fringe.

Mr Sheppard added: “When I was on the Fringe board there was a lot of debate about having some form of code of practice. The way forward would be to have a discussion with the unions with a view to forming a code that could begin to up standards across the Fringe.

“It would be a good thing for the world’s biggest arts festival to do. It’s morally and ethically the right thing to do and it would enhance its international reputation. Artists and promoters needs to be challenged on this. The more people start raising questions and discussing this the more momentum will build up.”

Kenny O’Brien, current director of The Stand, said: “I’m not sure how to make other operators up their game on this, but maybe the punters should just make a point of asking the flyerers, technicians, front of house and bar staff that they encounter how much they are getting paid for?

“ They might be shocked to find how people are being classed as ‘volunteers’ and paid in food vouchers, shared rooms and the promise of free shows they’ll never have the time off to go to anyway.

“Perhaps Edinburgh University and Edinburgh City Council could include a clause in their rental agreements which stipulates some of the minimum standards their tenants need to adhere to. Performers should consider the morals of the people they’re playing with.”

A spokeswoman for the Fringe Society said: “We exist to support the venues and companies who choose to participate in the Fringe. We’re proud to be a living wage employer and are working with the Living Wage Foundation to support venues and companies seeking to become a living wage employer.

“Our aim is always for all those who choose to be involved in the Fringe, in whatever capacity, to have the best experience possible and we have started an open dialogue with Unite and the Fair Fringe campaign.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4532081.1502750983!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4532081.1502750983!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Tommy Sheppard MP. Picture: Neil Hanna","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Tommy Sheppard MP. Picture: Neil Hanna","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4532081.1502750983!/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/catholic-church-calls-for-action-on-religious-hate-crime-1-4532084","id":"1.4532084","articleHeadline": "Catholic Church calls for action on religious hate crime","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1502773200000 ,"articleLead": "

Catholic Church leaders are to hold talks with the Scottish Government amid escalating concerns about the level of religious hate crime in Scotland, it has emerged.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4532083.1502908113!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Scottish Parliament has been hit by a cyber attack. Picture: TSPL"} ,"articleBody": "

They have urged ministers to acknowledge the frequency with which Catholics are being targeted in incidents north of the Border.

Church bosses fear there is a “vague” approach and a lack of a targeted strategy from ministers to address the issue, and are expected to raise this during the meeting which will be held when parliament returns after the summer recess.

The reluctance of ministers to adopt a “name and shame” approach to the problem is being highlighted by the Catholic hierarchy who say it must first be “identified” before it is tackled.

Religiously aggravated crime is rising in Scotland, with more than half of all hate crimes (57 per cent) targeting Catholics or Catholicism, according to the official religious hate crime statistics released in June. This is despite the fact that Catholics only account for 17 per cent of the population in Scotland.

Peter Kearney, director of the Scottish Catholic Media Office (SCMO), says the figures show Scottish society “remains scarred by past hatreds and tumults”.

“Were any other type of crime to be dominated so completely by a single type of behaviour, we might expect a targeted strategy to emerge, ­promoted by the authorities as a response to a particular problem,” he says in an article for The Scotsman to be published this week.

Community safety minister Annabelle Ewing is now to expected meet church leaders next month following a series of Parliamentary Questions lodged by the Labour MSP Elaine Smith.

Previous government crackdowns on problems like mobile phone use while driving or drink driving are backed up by campaigns targeting the behaviour involved, rather than generic appeals for “safe driving”, Mr Kearney adds.

“The approach is sensible and logical, before a problem can be tackled, it must first be identified and addressed,” he says.

“Surprisingly, this doesn’t happen when it comes to religious intolerance and the criminal behaviour which goes with it.

“An indication of the government’s unwillingness to adopt a name and shame approach to religious hate crime came in those recent parliamentary exchanges.”

Mr Kearney says the response from cabinet secretary Angela Constance to concerns is “vague”, with a public campaign pledged to raise awareness in “wider society”.

He adds: “In the view of many, it is a narrowing focus on this problem which might be most appropriate not a wider one.”

The recent figures show there were 673 charges reported in 2016-17, up 14 per cent on 2015-16 and the highest number over the past four years.

More than half (377) were made under laws aimed at tackling sectarianism in football.

Charges under the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act increased 32 per cent on the previous year, with 140 of these related to the Scottish Cup final between Rangers and Hibs in May last year.

Scottish Labour brought forward proposals to have the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act scrapped. The move has the support of all opposition parties at Holyrood who could combine to defeat the SNP government.

The Scottish Government says it is providing more than £20 million of funding 
from the Equality Budget during 2017-18 to help promote equality and address discrimination.

Of this funding, over £2.6m has been granted to organisations working to progress race equality.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “There is no place for any form of prejudice in Scotland.

“We are committed to tackling all forms of discrimination and promoting a multi-cultural society based on mutual trust, respect and understanding.

“Everyone has the right to be safe and to feel safe which is why we are committed to building strong, resilient and supportive communities for all.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "SCOTT MACNAB"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4532083.1502908113!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4532083.1502908113!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The Scottish Parliament has been hit by a cyber attack. Picture: TSPL","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Scottish Parliament has been hit by a cyber attack. Picture: TSPL","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4532083.1502908113!/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/zoo-keeper-flees-after-panda-let-into-enclosure-while-she-worked-1-4531922","id":"1.4531922","articleHeadline": "Zoo keeper flees after panda let into enclosure while she worked","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1502746518000 ,"articleLead": "

Edinburgh Zoo workers have raised fears over safety and staffing in the wake of an incident which saw a giant panda let back into its enclosure while a keeper was still cleaning it out.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4531921.1502730166!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "AC picture shows a zoo keeper fleeing to safety after a giant panda was mistakenly let back in to its enclosure.\\n\\nPicture: DEADLINE"} ,"articleBody": "

The narrow escape saw the keeper discard her brush and flee the enclosure with male panda Yang Guang just feet behind. She was said to have “heard it behind her” just in time.

Despite their “cuddly” image, adult giant pandas can be as dangerous as black bears and there have been several serious attacks at zoos in recent years.

The incident last year came to light in an anonymous e-mail from a group of staff to zoo bosses which goes as far as suggesting the institution is in “crisis”, and that safety had been compromised because of staffing issues.

A zoo spokesman denied that and said that the panda enclosure incident had been fully investigated, and that no staff or animals had been hurt.

Edinburgh City Council, which licenses the zoo, confirmed that the zoo had “revised” its procedures in the wake of the incident.

The e-mail from unnamed staff, which included a CCTV image of the incident, had even claimed that Yang Guang could have escaped into the public area of the zoo as a result of the security failure.

The e-mail stated: “We are...worried about the safety of staff. We found out that there was a very serious near miss last year when a panda was let back into the enclosure with a keeper cleaning in there and she could have been seriously injured or even have died.

“We got to hear about the near miss with the panda a while after it happened, just through rumour at first and then the keeper who experienced it went off sick and never came back. She heard it behind her just in time to be able to get out of the enclosure. If she hadn’t she could have been mauled, seriously injured or even killed.

“We also know that the panda could have escaped into the public area of the zoo. Are we going to wait for a disaster to happen before things change at the zoo?”

As well as revealing the panda incident, the e-mail made numerous other complaints and allegations, including suggesting that visitor numbers at special events like Zoo Nights are poor with negative online reviews. And it alleged staffing issues were preventing some zoo staff “giving proper care to the animals”.

An Edinburgh Zoo spokeswoman insisted they took “staff welfare and morale extremely seriously”.

She said: “The organisation has a well-established Employee Consultation Board to draw upon the views and expertise of a broad cross-section of RZSS employees. Should any grievances of this sort emerge they would be raised in this forum, which we can confirm has not occurred in this instance.”

Of the panda incident, the spokeswoman said: “As the council has indicated, staff reported a near miss within the panda enclosure last year. This was fully investigated and Edinburgh council were kept informed throughout the process..”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Annie Butterworth"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4531921.1502730166!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4531921.1502730166!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "AC picture shows a zoo keeper fleeing to safety after a giant panda was mistakenly let back in to its enclosure.\\n\\nPicture: DEADLINE","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "AC picture shows a zoo keeper fleeing to safety after a giant panda was mistakenly let back in to its enclosure.\\n\\nPicture: DEADLINE","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4531921.1502730166!/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/13-new-sets-of-twins-set-to-start-school-in-inverclyde-1-4532039","id":"1.4532039","articleHeadline": "13 new sets of twins set to start school in Inverclyde","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1502743856000 ,"articleLead": "

Teachers in one local authority area will be seeing double again this week as 13 sets of twins start school.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4532045.1502743824!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "13 sets of twins who are starting primary school in the Inverclyde area this week. Picture: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

It means 164 sets of twins will now be taught in the Inverclyde Council region, leading some locals to believe there is “something in the water”.

The primary one twins gathered at the new £7 million St Patrick’s Primary in Greenock, the latest new-build school created under the council’s £270 million investment in its School Estate Programme.

But Arlene Cairns believes teachers will not have too much trouble telling her five-year-old twin daughters Kendal and Skye apart, who will shortly start at Ardgowan Primary in Greenock, as she says they look nothing alike.

She said: “One has red hair and one has brown hair. One has brown eyes and one has blue eyes, but there’s definitely something in the water here because last year there was even more twins.”

For the past 10 years there have been 775 registered births a year in Inverclyde, with an average of 14 sets of twins starting primary school every year.

Education chiefs said the council area is likely to be top for twins entering education in Scotland.

Councillor Jim Clocherty, education convener at Inverclyde Council, said: “That gives us a twinning rate of 18 per 1,000 births, which is well above the Scottish average of 15 per 1,000, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we were among the highest in the country.”

Provost Martin Brennan said: “Every year I am surprised at the significant number of twins we have leaving nursery and heading for primary school. It seems to always run into double-figures and this year is no exception.

“I am particularly pleased, as a former teacher, to be able to welcome them as they prepare to join their new classmates in their new schools and I am sure they will have a huge amount of fun over the coming years.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Graeme Murray"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4532045.1502743824!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4532045.1502743824!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "13 sets of twins who are starting primary school in the Inverclyde area this week. Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "13 sets of twins who are starting primary school in the Inverclyde area this week. Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4532045.1502743824!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} ]}}} ]}