{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"scotland","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":24,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news-2-15012/home-office-criticised-for-refusing-drug-consumption-room-in-glasgow-1-4907084","id":"1.4907084","articleHeadline": "Home Office criticised for refusing drug consumption room in Glasgow","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555333571000 ,"articleLead": "

The head of a study which found Glasgow recently experienced the UK’s biggest HIV outbreak for 30 years has expressed frustration at the Home Office’s refusal to allow the opening of a drug consumption room.

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The research published in The Lancet said factors such as homelessness and cocaine injecting had helped create a “perfect storm,” with over 10 per cent of intravenous drug users in the city centre now infected with HIV, compared with just 1 per cent a few years ago.

Speaking to Scotland on Sunday, Dr Andrew McAuley, the senior epidemiologist who led the seven-year study, said the case for a drug consumption room in the city was “compelling”.

Drug consumption rooms – sometimes referred to as “fix rooms” – allow users to inject in safe and sterile surroundings.

The opening of such a facility in Glasgow has the backing of the health board and the Scottish Government, but the issue of drug control is reserved to Westminster.

Last year the UK government refused a request from Glasgow City Council amid legal concerns.

The Lancet report, a joint study by experts from Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) and Health Protection Scotland (HPS) working in collaboration with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and the University of the West of Scotland, found a rapid increase in HIV prevalence, despite the health board distributing over a million sterile needles and syringes each year and the presence of opioid substitution therapies such as methadone. “which have been effective at preventing this kind of thing for about 30 years,” said McAuley.

“But that system has not been sufficient to prevent what has happened in the last few years because of a series of different events, a perfect storm that interacted to outdo the existing infrastructure. He added: “The safer drug consumption facility would have been a very appropriate response to what was going on.”

The study found a large population of people who inject in public places in Glasgow city centre, with an increase in cocaine use possibly the result of declining heroin purity.

While there’s no evidence yet of transmission from between the injecting population and wider population, McAuley said the city can’t afford to be complacent.

Asked if he was frustrated by the Home Office’s refusal to consider a drug consumption room in the city, McAuley said: “Frustrated is an understatement. You will never get a more compelling case for a consumption room than in Glasgow.

“To have an HIV outbreak of this size and to have a high mortality rate, added to outbreaks of anthrax among people who inject drugs and Europe’s largest outbreak of botulism… If that isn’t a strong enough case to implement an evidence-based intervention to deal with these issues, then I don’t know what it is.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “There is no legal framework for the provision of drug consumption rooms in the UK and we have no plans to introduce them.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4907083.1555333102!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907083.1555333102!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "editorial image","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4907083.1555333102!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/more-scottish-council-staff-paid-50k-plus-despite-austerity-1-4907067","id":"1.4907067","articleHeadline": "More Scottish council staff paid £50k-plus - despite austerity","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555181894000 ,"articleLead": "

The number of Town Hall bosses in Scotland on lucrative pay and remuneration packages has increased in the past year, it has emerged.

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The amount of staff on deals topping £50,000 across the country went up by 135. At the top end of the scale, there has also been an increase in the number of executives on packages topping £80,000, while those on deals worth £100,000 was also up by 15, according to local authority annual accounts.

Some councils say the overall packages include severance deals and pension “strain” and point to high levels of departures during 2017/18. Others say it has been down to “natural progression” through pay grades, rather than more high earners being taken on.

But it has prompted question marks about the spending priorities of local authorities.

More than two-thirds of Scotland’s 32 councils presided over an increase in the number of staff earning £50,000 in total remuneration.

Town Halls are required to set out how many staff are on higher remuneration packages – deemed to be more than £50,000 – in line with financial rules.

Fife, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Renfrewshire and West Dunbartonshire were among the areas which oversaw the highest rises in 2017/18, according to councils’ own figures.

Tory local government spokesman Alexander Stewart said: “The increase in highly-paid staff members comes despite efficiency savings and the SNP cutting council finances to the bone.

“That will annoy the more low-paid local government workers who’ve missed out on pay rises over the years.

“And it will provoke council taxpayers who’ve seen rises in council tax and reductions in the level of services.

“If SNP tax rises are being used to line the pockets of council bosses, that will not be tolerated by voters in Scotland.”

The biggest rise in Scotland was in Fife, where there was an increase of 57 in the number of staff on lucrative £50,000-plus deals last year. The Kingdom also saw two more staff on a package topping £80,000, with one more in the £100,000 bracket.

Sharon McKenzie, Head of Human Resources in Fife, said the increase in numbers includes 47 employees who left during the year.

“They appear as a result of their redundancy or early retirement costs,” she said.

It is not clear what the equivalent number was for staff leaving in 2016/17.

The rise in Aberdeen of 48 staff in the £50,000 remuneration band or above was put down to a significant rise in severance deals agreed with departing staff in 2017/18, as well as pension strain costs, which contribute to overall remuneration.

“A large proportion of staff are included in the salary brackets highlighted due to one-off voluntary severance and early retirement packages for the year in question as part of an agreed reduction in posts within the council,” a spokeswoman said.

In Glasgow, the number of people making more than £50,000 was up from 657 to 683, while there are now 44 staff on £80,000 or more in Scotland’s biggest city, a rise of four. There were also 11 bosses on deals worth more than £100,000, although this is unchanged from the previous year.

West Dunbartonshire saw a hike of 32 on staff in the £50,000 bracket to 140, but a council spokeswoman said this was not just in relation to annual salaries.

She added that in 2017/18, just seven additional members of staff had annual salaries which placed them in this category.

“The remaining number were brought above the threshold due to an 
unusually high number of pay cycles in the tax year, which meant they were paid more than their recorded annual salary.”

In Renfrewshire it was up by 34 to 251, but a council spokesman insisted this was down to a “mix of factors”.

He added: “The bulk of the increase referred to is in the £50,000 to £54,999 banding. In most cases this was down to existing staff moving into that banding either by natural progression through incremental pay grades, or through national pay awards.”

However, many councils also saw a dramatic decline of staff on lucrative remuneration deals with North Lanarkshire seeing the number of staff on £50,000 or more fall by 69, while in Highland the number was down by 25.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Local authorities are responsible for deciding how much to pay their staff.

“However, we would expect all councils to make decisions that meet their responsibility to secure value for money.”

Recently there has been increasing pressure on councils finances. Scottish Government revenue funding to local authorities fell by £220 million in real terms in 2017/18, a report for the Accounts Commission found last year.

Council tax increases and rises in fees and charges were used by councils to extend overall budgets by £0.3 billion.

Councils also face another £230m of cuts to their “revenue” as a result of the 2019/20 Scottish budget, despite an extra £90m being found in a deal struck by the SNP Government and the Greens.

The number of Scots using leisure services, swimming pools, libraries and museums fell for the first time last year, after a decade of steady price rises.

Council leaders in Scotland have previously warned that funding reductions are likely to be met by cuts to services. Social work care, affordable housing and efforts to tackle homelessness are among areas under pressure. Facilities such as libraries, leisure centres and museums are also vulnerable.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4907066.1555181889!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907066.1555181889!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Chief Executive of City of Edinburgh Council. Picture: Andrew Kerr","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Chief Executive of City of Edinburgh Council. Picture: Andrew Kerr","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4907066.1555181889!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/tech/bethany-biggar-good-food-nation-shouldn-t-need-handouts-1-4906999","id":"1.4906999","articleHeadline": "Bethany Biggar: Good Food Nation shouldn’t need handouts","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555195484000 ,"articleLead": "

I’ve worked on the frontline of Edinburgh’s food banks for more than three years and what I have seen, particularly in the past few months, is really worrying. The food banks have become much, much busier – the fight just to survive is becoming visibly harder for people.

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I’m writing this now because the government has announced it has extended the deadline of the Good Food Nation consultation to Thursday.

The aim of this consultation is to engage people across the nation in building a food policy that would encourage Scotland to become a nation of food enthusiasts, taking keen interest in the origins of food and making sure it’s environmentally sound.

A lot of noise has been made around these proposals, which could be turned into law. The policy’s objectives are ambitious and far-reaching with the hope other nations would eventually look towards Scotland as a leading example of a “good food nation”.

But if Scotland wants to truly lead by example and build a food policy it can be genuinely proud of, it must take into account that right now thousands of people across Scotland cannot afford any food at all.

This month, anti-poverty partnership, A Menu for Change, shed more light on the scale of the problem and for the first time we were able to see how many food parcels were handed out by independent food banks, not just food banks like mine in the Trussell Trust’s network.

Almost half a million food parcels were given out by both sets of food banks in Scotland over 18 months. While the aims of the consultation – to make sure people have good food to eat – are important, the government must first address the basic issues causing poverty before jumping the gun to good food nation status.

All sorts of people come through the doors of our food bank. People who are working, people on benefits for a range of reasons, but there’s a common theme appearing: many are now trapped in poverty.

Far too many people are left with no options because the cost of living has moved so far beyond what their benefits, minimum wage and zero-hours contracts can afford.

Many people I meet are not necessarily in a crisis – but they consistently don’t have enough to afford the basics. They’re looking for the cheapest options – but can’t even access them. After rent and bills are paid, they have nothing. Living in poverty has become the norm for thousands of Scots. Cleaning and sanitary products are becoming a luxury for more and more people, leaving food banks to pick up the pieces and provide more than food within their emergency supplies.

The wait for a first Universal Credit payment has only exacerbated this further.

This is not how it should be – scraping by on the bare minimum, unable to afford the most basic food, let alone high quality food. With this in mind, the government’s plans must focus on the steps in between achieving good food nation status and the situation with which we are faced.

We know it doesn’t have to be like this. In a real good food nation, the benefits system would provide enough money to cover basics like good food, and people could get work that’s secure and pays fairly.

If the government acts quickly and makes these priorities central to its food policy, we could create a future without food banks.

Food banks are providing absolutely vital, compassionate support in communities across the country – but no charity can ever replace the dignity of having long-term financial security.

We want to ensure everyone has the opportunity to have their voices heard by the Scottish Government so we’ve created a simple form to help make the process of responding to the consultation easier. Moving forward, we would like to see the process made more accessible so everyone can truly have a say.

Scotland can’t be a good food nation while so many people go hungry – let’s use this consultation as an opportunity to make sure everyone can afford good food.

You can find out more about the Good Food Nation Bill on our website, https://www.trusselltrust.org/good-food-nation/, or take action by filling in the form you find on the site.

Bethany Biggar is operations manager at Edinburgh Food Project

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Bethany Biggar"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4906998.1555168270!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4906998.1555168270!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "One of the food banks run by the Trussell Trust. Picture: Neil Hanna","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "One of the food banks run by the Trussell Trust. Picture: Neil Hanna","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4906998.1555168270!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/success-vs-failure-support-scottish-football-s-winning-team-1-4907087","id":"1.4907087","articleHeadline": "Success vs failure: Support Scottish football’s winning team","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555194298000 ,"articleLead": "

Italia 1990. Stadio delle Alpi, Turin. Scotland vs Brazil. The weather was hot with showers; the ground a fiesta of flags. Outside, the Tartan Army danced in the rain to samba music blaring from a bus. Inside, fans covered their eyes, hardly daring to hope as the game minutes ticked by without a goal. Then, with less than 10 minutes to go, Luis Muller struck, goalkeeper Jim Leighton fumbled and it was (more or less) over. 1-0 to Brazil. Scotland were going home.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907085.1555188377!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Scotland team featuring, back row (left to right), Sophie Howard, Lee Alexander, Caroline Weir, Jennifer Beattie, Rachel Corsie, and front row (left to right), Erin Cuthbert, Claire Emslie, Kim Little, Emma Mitchell, Lisa Evans, Christie Murray. Picture: Rob Casey/SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

Spain 2019. San Pedro del Pinatar Stadium in Murcia. Scotland vs Brazil (the women’s squads). The crowds are sparse, but enthusiastic. At first Brazil create most of the opportunities. But then – in the 37th minute – Lizzie Arnot crosses to Kim Little, who slots it into the goal. The game ends 1-0 to Scotland. A triumph and morale booster in advance of the women’s World Cup in June.

Admittedly, the two games are not directly comparable. Brazil’s female players are not footballing titans in the way the men are. Last week’s match was a friendly. And the squad has lost nine games in a row. Even so: Brazil are ranked 10th in the world – 10 places above Scotland. Beating them is a huge achievement and evidence that our national women’s squad is a force to be reckoned with.

The contrast between the men’s and women’s game in Scotland is now impossible to ignore. In the past few years, their trajectories have been mirror images, the men’s going down, the women’s up. Not long before the women’s team won against Brazil, the men’s team lost to Kazakhstan (ranked 72 places below Scotland). Old timer Alex McLeish, controversially appointed to manage the men’s team, faces constant criticism, while Shelley Kerr, manager of the women’s team is justly feted. And the women’s team has now qualified for two major tournaments on the trot – the Euros 2017 and the World Cup 2019 – while the men’s team hasn’t qualified for one since 1998.

With success has come a degree of acceptance. Six women’s league matches a year are now shown live on BBC Alba along with the Scottish Cup and League Cup finals. And major retailers are increasingly keen to be associated with the success of the women’s game; last week saw Spar signing up as a sponsor of the national squad.

This is something of a miracle in a country where women’s football has traditionally been regarded as a joke. It is just six years since Tam Cowan suggested Fir Park should be torched to cleanse it after it hosted a women’s match and Gordon Parks suggested there was no justification for spending money on the women’s game. Low-level sneering persists, with sociology lecturer Stuart Waiton recently claiming support for the women’s game was both feigned and patronising.

“If I had a pound for every time someone told me women’s football was shite, I would be a very rich man,” says Alan Campbell, one of the few male sports writers to have taken it seriously for many years.

One of the reasons Campbell was keen to give it coverage at a time it was deeply unfashionable was the commitment of the female players. “The girls were very young but they had a lot of potential,” he says. “What I particularly admired was the dedication, the fighting against all the odds. They were prepared to sacrifice their social lives to get themselves to the level that they could play for Scotland.”

In the years Campbell has been writing about them, his faith has been vindicated. The game has gone from strength to strength. Scottish Women’s Football (SWF) – the body that governs the leagues and the cups – has invested in the grassroots. And talented players such as Gemma Fay, Kim Little and Erin Cuthbert have gone on to become stars and role models.

“Every year at our landmark events [the league and cup finals] the buzz just grows and grows,” says Vivienne MacLaren, chair of SWF. “We had flames of confetti at last year’s cup final. It signalled that this was a really important event and made it much more of a spectacle.”

Margot McCuaig, one of the UK’s top sports documentary makers, believes the current success is the result of years of hard work by organisations such as BBC Alba, which has followed the women’s game for 10 years. “It’s been a slow build,” says McCuaig. “But success breeds success. When players start performing better the game becomes more attractive to the media and to audiences and most importantly to potential players: young girls can finally see someone they aspire to be.”

Yet, in some respects, Scotland remains behind the curve. Interest in women’s football has exploded across the globe. Last month, a league match between Atletico Madrid and Barcelona in the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium broke records for a women’s club match, with a crowd of 60,739.

Though a recent report found the Scottish Premiership was one of the (proportionally) best attended leagues in the world, with more than 11,000 attending an average top tier match in the past five years, some Scottish Women’s Premiership League (SWPL) matches here would be lucky to attract a few hundred.

On top of that, the progress towards professionalisation has been slow. This season, the English FA introduced new licensing criteria requiring all members of the FA Women’s Super to pay their players full-time, ensure a minimum of 16 “contact hours” per week and introduce an academy to nurture the next generation of players. In Scotland, many top-flight clubs have paid little more than lip service to their women’s teams.

Indeed, the success of Scotland’s national squad relies on its best players moving to English and other European teams. “In some ways we have been very fortunate that there has been professional football in England because, without it, our top players would have found it very hard to get the environment necessary for the fitness levels they have achieved,” says Campbell. The downside, of course, is that Scottish clubs – which have nurtured that talent – are unable to hold on to their best players.

The question is: how can Scotland capitalise on the rising profile of the women’s game and the success of its national squad to overcome those obstacles? How can we change our footballing culture so the women’s game is no longer seen as second-class?

Karen Grunwell, a post-graduate researcher at Stirling University, is collating information on the history of the women’s game in Scotland. Having spoken to those who played and managed in the past, she knows better than most how retrogressive attitudes have hampered progress.

“Part of the problem has been the media backing up the SFA’s views about a women’s place not being in football,” says Grunwell.

“Some of the stuff from the Sixties is incredible. I spoke to one woman whose mum was the manager of the local team, but she was pictured hanging the kit on the washing line.

“And [a report] about the team which played the first international up here [Scotland vs England in Greenock] in 1972 talks about these lovely ladies with their stylish locks and nice nails.”

In the past two years, media attitudes have changed. The Euro 2017 finals were celebrated with much hype, including TV advertising campaigns, Panini sticker books and the matches shown on C4.

A respectable contingent of fans went to Holland to watch Scotland play. More are expected to travel to France for the World Cup in June; and yet Campbell believes many Tartan Army “foot-soldiers” will not bother to make the journey, seeing the women’s game as a sanitised event for families with young children.

“A lot of this is about how it’s framed to fans of men’s football,” says Grunwell. “They are always being told it’s different, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. There is a different atmosphere, but it’s just as enjoyable.”

Many of those within women’s sport in Scotland believe growth has been restricted by the Scottish Football Association and the men’s clubs, which have always regarded the women’s game as peripheral. The lack of financial input is a source of resentment. The English FA has invested millions in the club system. The SFA is responsible only for the national squad and has invested far less; but, at the same time, it is the only organisation allowed to apply for funding from Fifa and Uefa.

In particular, there is much speculation about what will happen to the $1.2 million the SFA will receive from Fifa because the women’s team qualified for the World Cup. Will it be used to grow the women’s game?

Equally frustrating is the noncommittal attitude of many of the men’s clubs. “Up until recently, a lot of the men’s clubs weren’t supporting the women’s teams in any way bar ‘Here’s some strips, now go away and do your training and we don’t care who you get in as coach,’” says MacLaren.

Some of the big teams do now appear to be moving in the right direction. Hearts owner Ann Budge is setting up a women’s academy (identical to the men’s academy) and has appointed Kevin Murphy, who introduced the women’s academy at Manchester City, to run it. Celtic has pledged to become the first Scottish club to set up a full-time professional women’s club and Rangers is offering modern apprenticeships to female players.

The previous lack of support from the men’s clubs, however, has had an enduring impact on attendances. The reason the likes of Barca and Atletico Madrid can – on occasion – draw huge crowds to women’s league games is because the clubs have given their women’s teams their imprimatur (and sometimes offer free tickets).

MacLaren says Scotland’s Lana Clelland, striker for Fiorentina, is playing in front of decent crowds every week. She was on the field during last month’s game against Juventus at the Allianz Stadium where the club’s decision to give free entry resulted in a record-breaking Italian club crowd of 39,000 (mostly Juve fans). “It’s up to the men’s clubs to do that,” says MacLaren.

There are possible explanations as to why the Scottish men’s clubs have done less to promote women’s teams than some of their European counterparts. One of them – at least on the west coast – is the domination of Rangers and Celtic (and the associated sectarianism). In 1998, Laura Montgomery and Carol Anne Stewart set up the successful Glasgow City FC partly to avoid the toxicity of Old Firm rivalries.

There is also the small matter of money. As Campbell points out, the five top European footballing nations – Spain, France, Italy, Germany and England – are awash with cash. “They can afford to sink half a million or even a million in their women’s teams without worrying about it,” he says. “The only club in Scotland that could afford to do that is Celtic and arguably not even them.”

Grunwell believes the problem may be more about mindset. “I think there’s something different about the Spanish and Italian clubs,” she says. “For supporters there, the club is not a team, but a family of teams, and if they support the club, they will support all the teams. My question is: do fans of Celtic and Rangers regularly attend their youth matches? If not, then adding the women’s team in as another element of the family of teams wouldn’t necessarily increase support.”

MacLaren says that when Lisa Evans played for Bayern Munich the women’s team won the Bundesliga the same year as the men’s team. “There was an open top bus for the men and the women,” she says. “That is a question of attitude. I keep going on about this, but it’s the culture of men’s football in this country that is the blocker.”

Securing more funding is a priority, but so is building a brand based on values. Without sponsorship from gambling companies such as William Hill and Ladbrokes, the men’s game would collapse, but Scottish Women’s Football has already decided that kind of sponsorship is inappropriate for them.

Some within the game feel this is foolhardy; after all, money is money. But MacLaren insists the decision is attracting a different kind of sponsor including Scottish Building Society – a deal which allowed SWF to offer prize money – and Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems.

SWF is also working with the SFA to change the rules so clubs who have nurtured young talent are entitled to compensation (as men’s clubs are) when their players are scooped up by other, professional teams.

“Can you imagine if Glasgow City and Hibs had got a few grand for all the players they have lost?” says MacLaren.

Her biggest ambition is to see all eight of the teams in the SWPL turn semi-professional before she has to hand over to another chair in two years’ time.

The 2018/19 season has been particularly difficult for the men’s game, both domestically and internationally. At home, there has been an upsurge in trouble on and off the pitch; flares set off, missiles thrown and scuffles between players.

There have been accusations of cronyism over McLeish’s appointment after SFA president Alan McRae boasted he had been chair of McLeish’s testimonial committee in 1989. And, of course, there has been the national team’s execrable performance.

Who or what is responsible for the decline? Some blame the pro-youth system introduced in 1995 – just a few years before Scotland stopped qualifying for major tournaments. Others say there’s an element of bad luck; with the exception of Andrew Robertson, few players with star quality have emerged. Perhaps the performance schools, introduced a few years ago, will improve matters, but, for the moment, the men are stuck in a rut.

The rise of the women’s game, on the other hand, looks set to continue. Kerr is being heralded as the ideal manager to have taken over from Anna Signeul, whom some regarded as too loyal to ageing players. According to MacLaren, Kerr has introduced new training regimes and has a huge pool of talented players to choose from.

In 2017, Scotland crashed out of the women’s Euros in the first round; but they were beset by injuries. This time everyone is in good shape and the squad will head to France with high hopes.

Before that, on 28 May, however, they will take on Jamaica in their final warm-up at Hampden. It is hoped fans will turn up in their thousands to give them a proper send-off.

Campbell believes they have a real prospect of making it past the group stages. If that happens they will be the first Scotland team of either sex to do so. “Imagine the excitement. It will really grip the nation,” says Campbell. “I can remember when Scotland reached the final of the under-16 World Cup in 1989 – everyone was transfixed.”

Whatever the result, the fact the national women’s squad has made it this far is something to be celebrated. Doubly so if it marks the moment that the Scottish footballing establishment finally invests its faith and its finances in the women’s game.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Dani Garavelli"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4907085.1555188377!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907085.1555188377!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The Scotland team featuring, back row (left to right), Sophie Howard, Lee Alexander, Caroline Weir, Jennifer Beattie, Rachel Corsie, and front row (left to right), Erin Cuthbert, Claire Emslie, Kim Little, Emma Mitchell, Lisa Evans, Christie Murray. Picture: Rob Casey/SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Scotland team featuring, back row (left to right), Sophie Howard, Lee Alexander, Caroline Weir, Jennifer Beattie, Rachel Corsie, and front row (left to right), Erin Cuthbert, Claire Emslie, Kim Little, Emma Mitchell, Lisa Evans, Christie Murray. Picture: Rob Casey/SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4907085.1555188377!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4907086.1555188385!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907086.1555188385!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Brazil's Tamirtes Britto vies for the ball with Caroline Weir in Murcia earlier this month. Picture: Marcial Guillen/EPA-EFE/Rex/Shutterstock/Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Brazil's Tamirtes Britto vies for the ball with Caroline Weir in Murcia earlier this month. Picture: Marcial Guillen/EPA-EFE/Rex/Shutterstock/Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4907086.1555188385!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/the-grit-to-go-where-no-women-have-gone-before-1-4906917","id":"1.4906917","articleHeadline": "The ‘grit’ to go where no women have gone before","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555193743000 ,"articleLead": "

One of the key speakers at this year’s Investing Women AccelerateHER Conference next week is aiming to inspire attendees to have more “grit”, harnessing perseverance to fulfil their potential.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4906916.1555150687!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jaime Nieto is head of people at Sir Richard Branson's The Spaceship Company"} ,"articleBody": "

Jaime Nieto is head of people at Sir Richard Branson’s The Spaceship Company (TSC), the first aerospace system manufacturer building and testing a fleet of carrier vehicles and spaceships that will form Virgin Galactic’s human spaceflight system. Last year, it hosted five AccelerateHER Awards finalists at its base in Mojave, California.

Taking place at Edinburgh’s Informatics Forum on 23 April, at the event – whose theme this year is The Sky’s No Longer The Limit– Nieto will discuss putting together a “world-class” team. “I’m going to tell a story,” she told Scotland on Sunday. Other speakers lined up include endurance cyclist Mark Beaumont and Shelley Kerr, who manages the Scottish women’s football team. Nieto added: “I think there are probably going to be multiple things that we all walk away with.”

She explained that one of TSC’s values is “pure grit” and she will discuss its importance in leadership.

“When you’re leading a team, you have to be that inspiration point.

“If you naturally exude that, then the team can 
get really excited behind that – and they can accomplish things that they never thought that they could.”

Nieto is also keen to learn more about the Scottish space sector. It is “punching above its weight”, according to the UK Space Agency, which in 2018 announced more than £30 million of funding to support a spaceport in Sutherland.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Emma Newlands"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4906916.1555150687!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4906916.1555150687!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Jaime Nieto is head of people at Sir Richard Branson's The Spaceship Company","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jaime Nieto is head of people at Sir Richard Branson's The Spaceship Company","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4906916.1555150687!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news-2-15012/rare-species-rely-on-rescue-plan-for-precious-peatlands-1-4903305","id":"1.4903305","articleHeadline": "Rare species rely on rescue plan for precious peatlands","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1554625711000 ,"articleLead": "

A tiny jumping spider, a wild flower once used to flavour beer and a carnivorous plant are among a number of rare and iconic species that could vanish if Scotland’s globally important peatlands are not returned to good health.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4903302.1554625698!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The sundew (Drosera intermedia). Picture: Lorne Gill/SNH/2020Vision"} ,"articleBody": "

Nearly a quarter of the country’s entire landmass is covered in peaty soils, stretching across approximately 1.8 million hectares – including around 13 per cent of the world’s blanket bog.

When in good condition, the bogs provide multiple benefits for people and wildlife.

The conservation charity Plantlife takes care of nearly 2,000 hectares of peatland at its Munsary nature reserve, near Lybster, in the famous Flow Country of Caithness and Sutherland.

“Peat really is a super-habitat,” said Alistair Whyte, head of Plantlife Scotland.

“Not only is it packed full of amazing species, it also keeps the planet healthy by locking up carbon.

“When they’re intact, bogs also help protect us from flooding by acting like giant sponges, soaking up water which would otherwise cause huge problems downstream.”

As well as supporting a wide diversity of specially adapted plants and animals, their soggy nature means peat bogs provide a year-round water supply for livestock and wildlife, even during drought conditions, and can help stop the spread of wildfires.

They also soak up heavy rainfall, helping guard against flooding, and slow the flow of rivers. This lessens the amount of peat washed downstream, where its acidity can affect drinking water and aquatic life.

As a major active store for carbon, peatlands are also crucial in the battle to control climate change.

It’s estimated that 1.7 billion tonnes of carbon – equivalent to 140 years of Scotland’s total annual greenhouse gas emissions – is locked up in peat.

But the bad news is most of Scotland’s peatlands – around 80 per cent – are thought to be damaged to some extent.

Degradation has been caused by several factors, including drainage for agriculture and forestry, overgrazing, burning and extraction for fuel and compost. And since peat forms very slowly, the habitat takes many years to recover.

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) is leading the national Peatland Action project, which is working to revive the bogs through measures such as rewetting and scrub removal.

The project is funded by the Scottish Government as part of a goal to restore 250,000 hectares of peatland by 2030.

More than 20,000 hectares have already been brought back to health since early 2013.

Andrew McBride, project manager for Peatland Action, says restoration work is progressing well but there is a long road ahead.

He said: “What we’re doing is putting right things that were done a long time ago. The damage could have happened 40, 50 or 150 years ago, but the land then deteriorates as time goes on.

“From a biodiversity point of view, when peatlands are functioning properly they host a huge array of life. They support lots of insects and plants at the bottom of the food chain, which go on to feed birds and animals.”

The recent United Nations Environment Assembly, held in Nairobi, Kenya, has this week adopted its first ever resolution on peatlands.

It urges member states and other stakeholders “to give greater emphasis to the conservation, sustainable management and restoration of peatlands worldwide”.


1 Bog bean – iconic, recognisable, once used to flavour beer.

2 Curlew – the iconic wader has suffered such serious declines it is named a conservation priority.

3 Marsh saxifrage – very rare, found at seven Scottish sites including Munsary.

4 Sundew – a carnivorous plant that feasts on insects, which they trap and then slowly digest.

5 Northern cranberry – berries from this plant used to be harvested from the wild, but it has become so rare due to habitat loss that this is no longer possible.

6 Bog sun jumper spider – this tiny jumping spider is found only on raised bogs at five sites in Scotland and one in Wales.

7 Bog orchid – drainage of bogs, particularly in lowlands, has caused steep decline of this species.

8 Golden plover – another wader that is under threat due to habitat loss and impacts of climate change.

9 Large heath butterfly – still widespread in Scotland, this eye-catching creature relies on hare’s tail cottongrass for sustenance.

10 Cloudberry – this peat-loving species has a distinctive but rarely seen orange fruit.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Ilona Amos"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4903302.1554625698!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4903302.1554625698!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The sundew (Drosera intermedia). Picture: Lorne Gill/SNH/2020Vision","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The sundew (Drosera intermedia). Picture: Lorne Gill/SNH/2020Vision","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4903302.1554625698!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4903303.1554625702!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4903303.1554625702!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The Large Heath Butterfly. Picture: Alistair J Graham","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Large Heath Butterfly. Picture: Alistair J Graham","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4903303.1554625702!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4903304.1554625707!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4903304.1554625707!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The Golden Plover. Picture: Lorne Gill/SNH/2020Vision","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Golden Plover. Picture: Lorne Gill/SNH/2020Vision","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4903304.1554625707!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/joan-mcalpine-defies-bullies-in-sex-and-gender-dispute-1-4903317","id":"1.4903317","articleHeadline": "Joan McAlpine defies ‘bullies’ in sex and gender dispute","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1554622764000 ,"articleLead": "

The politician at the centre of a torrent of abuse from transgender activists has pledged to continue defending women’s legal rights and has questioned the influence of equality groups.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4903316.1554621905!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Joan McAlpine is chair of the committee scrutinising the legislation for the next census in 2021. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

Joan McAlpine, who has been bombarbed with abuse on social media since her Holyrood committee rejected the idea of changing the sex question in the next census to include a third option of non-binary, said that she would not be “bullied” by threats and abusive language.

McAlpine chairs the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs committee which is scrutinising the legislation for the next census which will take place in 2021. After consultation, the committee agreed that the census sex question should remain a binary one, and a voluntary question on gender identification introduced for people who identify as trans and non-binary.

However, her public voicing of concerns around the consultation done by the National Records of Scotland, which proposed to change the sex question, and her remarks on the importance of defining sex as male or female to ensure legal protections for women were not diluted, have resulted in her being branded “trash”, a “transphobe” and threatened with de-selection by some SNP members.

But as well as receiving abuse, her Twitter thread on sex and the census has been endorsed by more than 2,000 people and shared 800 times. Many women have thanked her for talking about the issue, proving she says, that many are afraid to do so, in case they are branded as bigoted. Indeed, one of her SNP colleagues, Ruth Maguire MSP, was also heavily criticised after she thanked McAlpine for talking about a conflation of sex and gender.

“Clearly people are being bullied,” said McAlpine. “They try to shut you up by labelling you and othering you, by using extremist language.

“This isn’t just about trans people’s rights, they have the same human rights as everyone else and extra protections in the Equality Act and hate legislation, and that’s quite right. This is about women’s rights and how the changes being pushed for impact women.”

McAlpine admits she was surprised at the “hostility” which came her way after the committee made its decision on the census questions. “We agreed that it [the census] should ask questions about transgender people for the first time. So I think from the point of view of trans people, that was progressive, and it allows services to be provided for them.

“The organisations representing the trans community will be closely involved in determining what the question will be. So it was surprising that having done that, we experienced a certain amount of hostility because we refused to change the sex question.

“If you have an identity question it allows trans people to express themselves which is good. But sex is still completely different to identification.”

That hostility intensified however, when the MSP for South Scotland took her views on to social media. She says she felt compelled to speak out after discovering that the National Records of Scotland had been asked by trans campaigners to change the sex question, and had agreed to do so with no consultation.

“There has been a binary sex question asked in the census since 1801 and what was extraordinary about that was NRS agreed to change it without taking information from anyone else,” she says. “It changes the definition of sex from a biological definition to one of identification.

“Sex is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act and statisticians and data users who came forward to give evidence made the point that sex is important to record to plan health services and to understand how discrimination against women takes place.”

Certainly that was the argument put by Professor Susan McVie, a member of the Board of Official Statistics Scotland, and Lucy Hunter Blackman, a policy analyst and former senior civil servant in the Scottish Government. Hunter Blackman has joined forces with Dr Kath Murray, a research associate at the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research and Lisa Mackenzie, an independent policy analyst and former UK government civil servant, to create a new policy analysis collective, with a specific focus on sex-based data.

Their work on Equality Impact assessments carried out by local authorities and other organisations to test the effect of policies on people with protected characteristics has shown that some authorities “muddle up” sex and gender – if assessments are done at all.

The women are also concerned about the atmosphere surrounding the issue. Hunter Blackman says: “If lawmakers feel constrained about asking questions or raising points they think matter, on any topic, it greatly increases the risk of making bad law.”

McAlpine believes there has been “policy capture” by equality organisations – which receive hundreds of thousands in funding from the Scottish Government. “The NRS hardly looked at sex as a protected characteristic – it shows there’s an element of policy capture, there’s a belief that these questions only affect a small number of transgender campaigners when in fact they affect everyone. You’ve got to remember that the groups advising for this change get significant amounts of government funding. You can see the circularity.

“What’s interesting is that those who didn’t agree with our conclusions, the groups who have the money and who were initially the only ones consulted, were extremely angry that their privileged position was challenged. They have come back and said we should not have taken evidence from some of the women’s groups and gender critical feminists who we did take evidence from. That strikes me as extraordinarily undemocratic.”

McAlpine admits that she has also become concerned about the idea of self-ID being enough for a person to change their sex and affecting statistics. “You need to have accurate data to protect women – that’s where my interest is focused. Extremely concerning is Humza [Yousaf, the Justice Secretary] telling us that it’s happening in the recording of crime. That people can self declare their sex if they’re charged with a crime and there are no checks, no proof is required and no-one needs to provide a gender certificate.”

Mostly though, she says, she’s concerned about vulnerable, disabled and elderly women. “We know there will be Muslim women, for example, who may stop using certain services if they think there’s going to be male-bodied people there. Or a woman with a disability who requires intimate personal care – the law protects your right to privacy and dignity, you’ve a right as a woman to say ‘I don’t want a man, a male-bodied person, doing that intimate care’.

“I’ve been called a transphobe just because I’ve raised reasonable issues, of asking is it right that someone who in every respect is male be treated as female in every respect no matter how they’ve behaved? Most reasonable people will say that’s not acceptable and that’s why I’m happy to speak out.

“The support I have received vastly outweighs any attacks on me. I’ve received fantastic cards and emails from women all over the UK.”

“It’s outrageous to undermine what we’re saying in this way.”

Both the Equality Network and one of its umbrella groups, the Scottish Trans Alliance, gave evidence to the committee looking at the census. They too are concerned at the heated debate which rages on Twitter in particular – and have publicly stated that Scottish political debate can and should be conducted without personal abuse, harassment, intimidation, or threats of violence.

They also say that the main aim in asking for the sex question to include a non-binary option is to improve the data that is collected.

James Morton of the STA says: “The sex question has been answered by trans people as their lived sex for at least the last two censuses. To change it now to make it solely about biological sex would be rolling that back. We want a non-binary option to be added because not everyone identifies as male or female, and in the past, they have either ticked both boxes or none. Having a separate question would improve the data. As will the voluntary question on trans status, which would allow statisticians to know how many people consider themselves to be trans.

“We have to trust the civil servants and statisticians and give them credit they will look at all of this in detail and come up with solutions that uphold human rights and dignity and have no unintended consequences.”

Tim Hopkins of the Equality Network takes issue with the idea that equality groups have too much influence with government. “We take our views from the LGBTi community across Scotland, whom we represent, and if that means disagreeing with government then that’s what we will do. And if the government attached any strings to its funding then we would

refuse it.

“I think it’s outrageous that Joan McAlpine is trying to undermine the validity of what we’re saying in this way.

“Everyone has a right to be heard, I’d suggest that we’re not hearing enough from trans people, who make up just 0.6 per cent of the population.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Gina Davidson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4903316.1554621905!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4903316.1554621905!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Joan McAlpine is chair of the committee scrutinising the legislation for the next census in 2021. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Joan McAlpine is chair of the committee scrutinising the legislation for the next census in 2021. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4903316.1554621905!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/top-green-attacks-immature-rivals-for-failing-holyrood-1-4898804","id":"1.4898804","articleHeadline": "Top Green attacks ‘immature’ rivals for failing Holyrood","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1554018253000 ,"articleLead": "

The “maturity” of the Scottish Parliament is being undermined on its 20th anniversary by the failure of the established parties to engage in the minority government process, the Greens’ Holyrood co-leader has said.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4898803.1554018249!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alison Johnstone is MSP for Lothian. Picture: Alistair Linford"} ,"articleBody": "

Alison Johnstone claimed that the long-established parties – Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems – are used to having things their “own way”, and have failed to shake off the “baggage” of previous political eras.

She claimed this leaves the “young party” of Scottish politics in a position of unprecedented influence as it prepares to gather for its spring conference in Edinburgh next week. Controversial measures, such as plans for a second independence referendum, a workplace parking levy, a tourism tax and a smacking ban are all happening as a result of pressure from the Greens, she said.

That a party of just six MSPs can wield such clout in public life, has prompted political opponents to suggest the Green tail has been wagging the SNP dog.

But Johnstone said that the problem lies with the established parties.

“It’s clear that this is a minority parliament, so there’s an opportunity there for all opposition parties to see some of their policies delivered,” Johnstone told Scotland on Sunday.

“But I think my view has probably been formed in a young party without a lot of baggage, which has never experienced forming a majority in itself. I think we’re more open-minded to working with other people. I think that holds back some of the parties who in the past have maybe had it all their own way.

“I think they find it more challenging to work on a cross-party basis.”

The SNP is three MSPs short of a majority at Holyrood and has required Green votes to get recent budgets passed.

The Tories and Liberal Democrats both refused to engage in negotiations for the 2019/20 Scottish budget, passed last month, as long as a second referendum on independence remained on the table.

This raised some eyebrows as the budget relates to devolved spending – to the constitution. Labour called for the budget to be rejected without even greater tax hikes on high earners and more council funding.

As the SNP sought to avoid its budget falling with echoes of the turmoil and chaos engulfing Westminster over Brexit, it seemed to many that the Greens were effectively allowed to name their terms. The workplace parking levy, the tourism tax, the hike in the national plastic bag tax and a pledge on council tax reform talks were all conceded.

“The actual budget negotiations are going to have a real impact on people’s lives, but other parties are just pulling up the drawbridge,” Johnstone said.

“I think it would be really helpful if more parties did get involved in the budget. We worked really hard to optimise the impact we have, but I think undoubtedly if other parties got involved too and were saying to the government ‘We’d like to see investment in X or Y,’ they could influence the outcome. But there seems to be a resolute position: ‘We don’t get involved in budget negotiations.’

“It doesn’t really help the Parliament mature does it?”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Scott Macnab"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4898803.1554018249!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4898803.1554018249!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Alison Johnstone is MSP for Lothian. Picture: Alistair Linford","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alison Johnstone is MSP for Lothian. Picture: Alistair Linford","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4898803.1554018249!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news-2-15012/families-of-prisoners-who-die-in-jail-wait-years-for-investigation-1-4898739","id":"1.4898739","articleHeadline": "Families of prisoners who die in jail ‘wait years for investigation’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1553989866000 ,"articleLead": "

Families of prisoners who die in Scotland’s jails are waiting up to four years to be given an official determination on the cause of death, it has emerged.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4898738.1553968423!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Katie Allan, 21, took her own life at Polmont Young Offenders' Institution."} ,"articleBody": "

Following legislation passed in 2016, all deaths in custody must be the subject of a Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI).

But a backlog means the families of prisoners who died as long ago as 2015 are still waiting for the outcome of an inquiry.

Dionne Kennedy, 19, took her own life at Cornton Vale in 2014 after being held on remand for breach of the peace despite suffering from mental health issues and having a history of self-harm.

Following a FAI held last year, Sheriff William Gilchrist published his determination last month and was unable to identify any precautions which could have been taken which “might realistically have resulted in the death being avoided”.

However, he said he shared the family’s concern at the length of time it had taken to hold the inquiry.

Dionne was one of a number of prisoners who died in 2014 or 2015 where relatives have had to wait years to receive a determination on the cause of death.

The issue came to the fore last year following the deaths of Katie Allan, 21, and William Lindsay, 16, at Polmont Young Offenders’ Institution.

William killed himself within 48 hours of being remanded there despite being flagged as a suicide risk.

The lawyer representing the two families has suggested there is a “spiralling epidemic” of suicides in custody.

A spokesman for the charity Families Outside, which provides support for those with loved ones behind bars, said: “We really want to ensure that families get closure and there’s a real need to speed up the response.

“It’s putting a lot of emotional pressure on families and we will continue to provide support for them.”

In all cases, a death certificate is provided to the family of the deceased, often far in advance of the FAI taking place.

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) admitted that the time taken to investigate some deaths had been “too long”.

A spokesman said: “COPFS has recently increased the resource available to the Scottish Fatalities Investigation Unit with a view to reducing the time required to complete complex death investigations and improving the provision of information both to families and next of kin.

“In addition, COPFS has revised the way the progress of all death investigations is monitored to ensure that they are completed as efficiently as possible.”

He added: “These measures represent a commitment to achieving a significant improvement in the service delivered by the Procurator Fiscal in this important area of work.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CHRis Marshall"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4898738.1553968423!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4898738.1553968423!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Katie Allan, 21, took her own life at Polmont Young Offenders' Institution.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Katie Allan, 21, took her own life at Polmont Young Offenders' Institution.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4898738.1553968423!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/susan-law-female-talent-will-follow-legal-firms-who-adapt-1-4898796","id":"1.4898796","articleHeadline": "Susan Law: Female talent will follow legal firms who adapt","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1553978427000 ,"articleLead": "

Unlike other mothers in the legal profession, balancing work and family life has not been an obstacle to me progressing to a senior position in law. I was appointed as a commercial property partner at Lindsays just after coming back from maternity leave, working part-time. I’m now a member of the firm’s management board, still working on a part-time basis.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4898795.1553978423!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Working mother Susan Law says her profession is playing catch-up"} ,"articleBody": "

However, there is absolutely no doubt the legal profession as a whole is perceived to be behind the times in terms of supporting and promoting women with families to advance into senior positions. Whilst I am fortunate to work in an environment which supports a positive work-life balance, flexible working and progression based on merit, this is not the experience of all women in law.

The recent Profile of the Profession 2018 report published by the Law Society of Scotland points to several challenges.

The research shows there remains a clear disparity in the number of women being promoted to Equity Partner, with 20 per cent fewer in such positions. In addition, the length of time it takes women to secure those roles is, on average, longer.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, 75 per cent of women participating in the research felt that starting a family was the main barrier to progression into senior positions in law. Of the women who have considered leaving the profession, two of the top three reasons cited included starting a family and the negative image around maternity leave and part-time working.

A closer examination of the figures provides some further insight into the practical challenges legal mums are facing in comparison with legal dads.

For example, female lawyers with children overwhelmingly consider themselves as the primary caregiver across all age categories of children, although the trend is improving for men as children increase in age. While 9 per cent of male respondents stated that they would primarily take time off work when a child or other dependant is ill, this figure was 49 per cent for female respondents. Encouragingly, this represents a drop from 59 per cent in 2013.

For me, and in my experience, the solution is not to move away from promotion based on merit and ability, but rather to recognise and address the systemic challenges that can prevent women from securing senior positions when they are the best people for the job. However, with challenge comes opportunity.

The evidence shows that the top priority for new lawyers, both men and women, is work/life balance, and 90 per cent of women in the same study noted more flexible working options would make the biggest difference to their career prospects. As such, new, talented female lawyers are qualifying in the context of a wider shift in workplace trends and will increasingly expect this to be mirrored in our profession. This expectation will be reflected in their choice of employer, and the firms that are slow to adapt will lose out on new talent.

In a sense, the legal profession is adapting alongside our clients. As other industries embrace new ways of working, so too are we. Cross-firm projects mean there is increased understanding among colleagues about school runs, parents evenings and sick children, both amongst male and female colleagues.

The challenge then is one of both culture and perception. On the former, there is no doubt that law has an unflattering legacy in this regard, but that culture is shifting.

In respect of the latter, we have to do more to celebrate best practice in the industry and promote positive role models to tackle a perception which may put off talented young women from a legal career.

Importantly, colleagues across the profession have noted that the situation is improving. An overwhelming majority of lawyers who participated in the Law Society’s research said there had been improvement to some extent or to a great extent over the past five years in these sorts of issues. That’s important contextually, and provides some momentum to build on in the future.

We have some way to go to get our legal mums on an equal footing to colleagues in other professions, but my experience shows we’re getting there.

Susan Law is a Commercial Property Partner at Lindsays, and was recently re-appointed as a member of the firm’s Management Board

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Susan Law"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4898795.1553978423!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4898795.1553978423!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Working mother Susan Law says her profession is playing catch-up","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Working mother Susan Law says her profession is playing catch-up","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4898795.1553978423!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news-2-15012/aluminium-in-drinking-water-linked-to-alzheimer-s-study-of-7-000-scots-finds-1-4894676","id":"1.4894676","articleHeadline": "Aluminium in drinking water linked to Alzheimer’s, study of 7,000 Scots finds","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1553422520000 ,"articleLead": "

Higher levels of aluminium and fluoride in drinking water are related to the onset of dementia, according to a ground-breaking study of thousands of Scots.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4894675.1553374446!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish water is well within WHO guidelines for purity. Picture: Getty/iStockphoto"} ,"articleBody": "

Research by scientists at the University of Edinburgh to examine environmental factors that might cause dementia found that the people who lived in areas with higher levels of aluminium in the drinking water were more likely to die from the illness.

The study involved around 7,000 individuals born in 1921 who undertook an intelligence test in 1932 which was the forerunner of the historical 11-plus exam. A total of 1,972 out of 6,990 participants in the study had developed dementia by 2012.

A north/south divide in Scotland in the quality of drinking water was also revealed, with the North East coming out worst and the Borders and South West coming out on top.

Coagulants such as alum (aluminium sulphate) are used to trap impurities in raw water by binding them together to form particles before they are filtered out.

Fluoride occurs naturally and is not added to the water supply in Scotland. Researchers say there is some evidence that it increases the human absorption of aluminium.

Study author, Dr Tom Russ from the Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Research Centre at the University of Edinburgh, stressed that the low levels of aluminium and fluoride found in the water in Scotland were “very good” in relation to World Health Organisation guidelines.

“Everybody included in the study was alive in 2005 and they were all born in 1921,” he said. “Everybody who subsequently died with dementia was compared with those who died without, and the people who lived in areas of higher levels of aluminium in drinking water were more likely to die than those in areas where the aluminium levels were lower.

“We still see this well accepted finding that higher levels of aluminium in particular are associated with an increased risk of dementia. It’s confirmatory rather than anything else.”

The study published in the British Journal Of Psychiatry, obtained water quality data from the Drinking Water Quality Regulator for Scotland for the years 2005-2014. The DWQR is responsible for regulating public water supplied by Scottish Water, which was established in 2002. Prior to this water quality was the responsibility of separate local authorities.

A Scottish Water spokesperson said: “Scottish Water, like other UK water companies, operates in a highly regulated industry where public health is the prime concern and delivering high quality drinking water to customers across Scotland is a key priority for us.

“We carried out over 311,000 tests in 2017 at customer taps, our service reservoirs and treatment works to ensure customers receive consistently high quality drinking water and more than 99.91 per cent of tests at customer taps passed stringent quality standards.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Kevan Christie"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4894675.1553374446!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4894675.1553374446!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scottish water is well within WHO guidelines for purity. Picture: Getty/iStockphoto","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish water is well within WHO guidelines for purity. Picture: Getty/iStockphoto","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4894675.1553374446!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4894722.1553422517!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4894722.1553422517!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Dr Tom Russ","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Dr Tom Russ","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4894722.1553422517!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"6010278705001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/blocking-indyref2-will-deliver-yes-landslide-says-canavan-1-4894684","id":"1.4894684","articleHeadline": "Blocking indyref2 will deliver Yes landslide, says Canavan","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1553384759000 ,"articleLead": "

The former chairman of the 2014 Yes campaign has warned the UK government that if it refuses to allow indyref2, the next Holyrood elections could become a referendum on the issue, leading to “a landslide victory for supporters of independence”.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4894683.1553364803!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Canavan says the needs of senior citizens weren't adequately addressed in the 2014 campaign. Picture: Ian Rutherford"} ,"articleBody": "

Dennis Canavan added that the Scottish Government must act now to increase pressure on Westminster to secure another vote on the constitution before the next parliamentary elections in 2021.

In an interview with Scotland on Sunday, the former Labour MP said he expected Nicola Sturgeon to give “a strong indication” shortly as to when she wants a second referendum to be held.

The prospect of indyref2 was ramped up at Holyrood last week when Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie urged the First Minister to “give Scots their own way out” of the Brexit crisis engulfing Westminster.

Sturgeon replied she would wait for clarity on the issue in the coming days before making an announcement on the potential route to another referendum. She added: “Nobody can be in any doubt that change is needed. The last three years have shown that the status quo is broken.”

Canavan insisted there was no time to waste on the matter. Asked how the Scottish Government should respond if, as expected, the UK government refuses to grant the legal powers to hold a second vote, he said: “It would not be wise at this stage to give advance notice to the enemies of independence about the best tactical response in the event of the UK government refusing an official request for a Section 30 order.

“The immediate priority should be to maximise pressure on the UK government to respond positively to such a request and to warn them of the consequences if they refuse. They must be made to realise that failure to respect a democratic mandate will provoke a constitutional crisis.

“Such a scenario would recruit more and more people into the independence movement and turn the next Scottish Parliament elections into a referendum on independence, leading to a landslide victory for supporters of independence.

“That would greatly reinforce the existing mandate and make it virtually impossible for any UK government to continue denying the democratic wishes of the people of Scotland.”

Prime Minister Theresa May’s embattled administration has already indicated it would not grant the Section 30 order that would be needed to make any referendum legally binding.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told an audience in Glasgow earlier this month that if the Scottish Government were to ask for such an order, the answer would be a firm “no”.

Canavan was a leading figure in the 2014 Yes campaign, chairing its advisory committee and making regular media appearances in the lead-up to the vote.

But he admitted there were several areas pro-independence campaigners would need to improve upon on if another constitutional plebiscite was called.

Issues such as “pensions, security of savings and other matters of particular relevance to senior citizens” were those he identified as being weak points in the last campaign, given the large majority of Scots aged 65 and over who voted to reject independence.

There should also be more emphasis on independence “not simply as an end in itself but as a means towards delivering a fairer Scotland that will play a full part in the international community to help build a better world,” he added.

The veteran left-winger sees 2014 as “unfinished business” and remains eager, despite his advanced year, to get involved in a second such campaign.

“I am willing to play as active a part as ever in whatever role I am asked to play,” he said. “There is a special challenge in trying to convert many of my own peer group. I am 76 years young, fighting fit and increasingly optimistic about living in an independent Scotland that will ensure better prospects not just for senior citizens but for future generations.”

Canavan was expelled from Labour in 1999, despite being MP for Falkirk West for 24 years, after announcing his intention to stand in the same constituency at the first elections for the newly created Scottish Parliament.

The left-winger stood as an independent and proved his popularity among the Falkirk electorate by easily beating his official Labour opponent.

He stood down from Westminster in 2000 and held his seat at Holyrood until retiring in 2007.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Chris McCall"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4894683.1553364803!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4894683.1553364803!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Canavan says the needs of senior citizens weren't adequately addressed in the 2014 campaign. Picture: Ian Rutherford","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Canavan says the needs of senior citizens weren't adequately addressed in the 2014 campaign. Picture: Ian Rutherford","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4894683.1553364803!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/environment/villagers-seek-200k-to-open-community-pub-to-replace-occasional-pop-up-bar-1-4894674","id":"1.4894674","articleHeadline": "Villagers seek £200k to open community pub to replace occasional ‘pop-up’ bar","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1553384077000 ,"articleLead": "

Residents in a village dependent on a “pop-up” pub appearing in their village hall for a few hours on a Saturday night every six weeks are on the brink of launching Scotland’s first community shares option to open their own hostelry.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4894672.1553375238!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Steve Whiting and David Aird hope to welcome customers to The Glenfarg Inn next year. The Glenfarg Hotel, which contained a bar, closed its doors over three years ago."} ,"articleBody": "

Villagers in Glenfarg, in Perth and Kinross, are aiming to raise £200,000 to buy land in the main street and build their own pub – The Glenfarg Inn – and welcome their first customers early next year.

The village has been without a pub since The Glenfarg Hotel, which contained a bar, closed its doors over three years ago. Attempts by the community to take over the hotel failed and it was turned into flats.

Glenfarg’s new enterprise is being guided by Community Shares Scotland (CSS), funded by the Big Lottery Fund Scotland and the Scottish Government.

Local resident Steve Whiting, chairman of the Glenfarg Community Company, who has experience in the licensed trade and owns the HalfWay House pub in Edinburgh, said: “The pub closing down was like having the heart ripped out of the village. It served as a meeting place for people to eat, drink and socialise. It was the number one gathering place for people to catch up with each other and share news.”

David Aird, a retired British Gas engineer, said the pub had been one of main factors which attracted him and his wife to Glenfarg 20 years ago.

“The pub was vibrant. It was somewhere to go on a Saturday night and it would be guaranteed you’d get into conversation with someone. The people I used to meet I don’t see now. If you want to go for a drink you have to get the bus elsewhere and you’re dependent on bus timetables.

“Everything which happened in the pub is dispersed. The wine club is meeting in Arngask Church and the book club is in someone’s house.”

Community shares involves people, both local and supporters, buying a share, with prices varying with projects. Dividends can be taken or reinvested in the enterprise. Projects are owned and governed by the community.

Toby Sandison, CSS programme and communications officer, said: “Glenfarg is interesting because while community pubs are quite well-established in England and Wales they haven’t come to Scotland yet. The culture around pubs here is different but Glenfarg seem to be going more for the more modern gastro-pub idea.

“Three other community pub projects, in North Lanarkshire, the Borders and Stirling, are at the very early, initial stages.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "SHN ROSS"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4894672.1553375238!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4894672.1553375238!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Steve Whiting and David Aird hope to welcome customers to The Glenfarg Inn next year. The Glenfarg Hotel, which contained a bar, closed its doors over three years ago.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Steve Whiting and David Aird hope to welcome customers to The Glenfarg Inn next year. The Glenfarg Hotel, which contained a bar, closed its doors over three years ago.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4894672.1553375238!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/sarah-carroll-giant-leap-for-a-small-nation-in-space-race-1-4894680","id":"1.4894680","articleHeadline": "Sarah Carroll: Giant leap for a small nation in space race","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1553382102000 ,"articleLead": "

As a small nation on the global stage, Scotland punches well above its weight with a reputation for innovation stretching back centuries.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4894679.1553364281!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Buzz Aldrin on the Apollo 11 moon mission. Picture: Getty/Hulton"} ,"articleBody": "

And there is one industry that stands to benefit from Scotland’s innovation heritage more than any other: the space sector.

The aerospace, defence and space sectors are worth an estimated £6.4 billion to the Scottish economy with the space sector making the largest single contribution at £2.5bn, according to the ADS Scotland 2017 Industry Facts and Figures Guide.

Expansion of the space industry has led to Scotland employing 18 per cent of the UK space sector – around 7,000 jobs.

From the spaceport in Sutherland to the proliferation of companies manufacturing satellites, Scotland is already building space industry capabilities.

Space as the final frontier is a tangible economic opportunity for Scotland.

Raytheon has been involved in spaceflight since the infancy of this industry. Our guidance computers steered some of the first space capsules, including Apollo 11. Our microwave amplifier beamed back the first images from the lunar surface and delivered Neil Armstrong’s famous transmission, “One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” In the decades since, Raytheon has become a leader in dozens of space-related specialities, from helping launch satellites to aiding scientists as they probe the deepest reaches of the universe.

While much of this work has been led from the United States, our engineers in Scotland are now ready to take on solutions for space. Raytheon UK’s team combines the rigorous and exacting requirements of low-volume manufacturing with modern, high-volume manufacturing techniques. This means that we’re well placed to develop applications and technologies for space at a scale which previously hasn’t been commercially viable.

It is exciting work, especially as the worldwide market for space technology and exploration grows.

There are already signs within Scotland of the space industry’s potential for growth, including the plan to develop a job-creating Spaceport in Sutherland.

Under the proposals, the site will launch satellites into a particular orbit. It also offers exciting opportunities for public and private organisations with an interest in satellite Earth observation.

And there is plenty of other work taking place to stimulate and grow this nascent sector.

For example, during the past two years Strathclyde University has used funding from the UK Space Agency to support innovators at a space incubator in the Tontine centre in Glasgow.

Strathclyde University has also led the way as a UK centre for satellite applications, and was chosen five years ago to host one of three hubs bringing together key players in the UK’s multi-billion-pound space sector.

The fact that Scotland’s universities are taking such a lead role in the development of space capabilities is encouraging, especially as students pursue rewarding careers in STEM.

Space really does represent the final frontier, especially as research from the space industry continues to be commercialised to develop a wide range of consumer and business technologies.

Up to 100,000 skilled jobs in the space sector will be created in the next 15 years.

There is great potential for students to make a mark on this rapidly growing industry.

One example is Raytheon’s own Infrared Imaging Space Experiment, or IRISX, currently in orbit, which went from blueprint to product in just 29 months.

That is an unheard of timeline, especially for something that has to survive the harsh environment of space.

IRISX has the potential to revolutionise how we capture accurate Earth imaging data, and it was made possible by the people who engineered the project.

For Scotland’s next generation of space explorers, the future looks bright.

From cubesat technology to remote sensing to the next great scientific discovery, today’s students all have the potential to make their own mark in space.

That is an exciting prospect for a generation to define the future of space exploration in Scotland and on the global stage.

Sarah Carroll is operations lead for Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Sarah Carroll"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4894679.1553364281!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4894679.1553364281!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Buzz Aldrin on the Apollo 11 moon mission. Picture: Getty/Hulton","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Buzz Aldrin on the Apollo 11 moon mission. Picture: Getty/Hulton","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4894679.1553364281!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news-2-15012/the-scotsman-is-shortlisted-for-host-of-honours-at-scottish-press-awards-1-4891340","id":"1.4891340","articleHeadline": "The Scotsman is shortlisted for host of honours at Scottish Press Awards","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1552919839000 ,"articleLead": "

The Scotsman has been nominated for a raft of honours at the annual Scottish Press Awards.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4891347.1552919835!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Dani Garavelli, who broke the tragic story of William Lindsay, received three nominations"} ,"articleBody": "

Along with sister titles the Edinburgh Evening News and Scotland on Sunday, our staff have received 12 nominations across 10 categories at the prestigious event which is now in its 40th year.

Dani Garavelli receives a nomination both as columnist of the year and for “scoop of the year” for her investigation into the tragic death of William Lindsay at 
Polmont. She is further nominated in the feature writer of the year category.

Alan Pattullo and Aidan Smith both receive nominations in the sports feature writer of the year category.

Transport correspondent Alastair Dalton meanwhile is nominated for financial/business journalist of the year, while local democracy reporter David Bol is in the running for political journalist of the year.

The Evening News is also nominated in the “scoop of the year” category for Andy Shipley’s exclusive on the tragic death of a new mother in the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

His colleague Kieran Murray is recognised in the young journalist of the year category, while the Evening News will also be vying for the local/weekly campaign of the year honour for its “Fair Deal for Fans”campaign which saw the paper team up with the Aberdeen Evening Express. Rohese Devereux Taylor receives recognition in the local/weekly feature writer of the year category.

Meanwhile, The Scotsman and the Evening News have been nominated together as “digital team of the year” after a year which has seen a huge increase in online traffic to our scotsman.com and edinburghnews.com websites.

Along with all the content from our paper editions, our websites now regularly host live blogging of the biggest news and sport stories as they happen, as well as video journalism and up-to-the-minute analysis from our team of writers and experts.

This year saw a record number of entries for the awards run by the Scottish Newspaper Society.

The winners will be announced at an awards dinner held at the Doubletree by Hilton Glasgow Central on Thursday, 25 April.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4891347.1552919835!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4891347.1552919835!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Dani Garavelli, who broke the tragic story of William Lindsay, received three nominations","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Dani Garavelli, who broke the tragic story of William Lindsay, received three nominations","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4891347.1552919835!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/wildcat-indyref2-would-be-lawful-say-experts-1-4890616","id":"1.4890616","articleHeadline": "Wildcat indyref2 would be lawful, say experts","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1552778920000 ,"articleLead": "

Nicola Sturgeon may have the power to hold a “lawful” referendum on independence, if Theresa May refuses to agree to a fresh vote on Scotland leaving the UK.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890615.1552754513!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Sturgeon would hope to get another Section 30 order before holding another referendum. PIcture: Callum Moffat/PA"} ,"articleBody": "

Constitutional experts say there is a “plausible argument” to be made that a repeat of the 2014 poll could be staged by the Scottish Parliament, despite the constitution being reserved to Westminster. But if Scots voted Yes under such a scenario, the Scottish Parliament would not then have the power to declare independence.

Sturgeon is to make an announcement in the coming weeks on her plans to hold a second referendum. The Prime Minister has made it clear the UK government will not grant a Section 30 order from Westminster which would transfer authority to Holyrood. But experts have told Scotland on Sunday this may not be necessary.

Aileen McHarg, a Professor of Public Law at Strathclyde University said the position on Holyrood staging its own vote is “genuinely unclear”.

“Quite a lot of people are saying it’s definitely unlawful. I think those people are overstating their case because there is a plausible argument to be made that it is lawful, but there is a plausible argument that it’s not.”

The Scotland Act which brought about the creation of the Scottish Parliament 20 years ago set out the areas which were reserved to Westminster. The ability to stage referendums is not listed among them. The debate hinges on the impact this has on the Union.

In a legal sense, both the Brexit vote and 2104 Scottish referendum were only “advisory”. So simply asking the question of Scots may not be seen as affecting the Union.

“Can we distinguish it as something that would directly affect the Union?” said McHarg. “That’s the point on which there is no clarity and it can only really be resolved by the courts.”

The Edinburgh Agreement signed by Alex Salmond and David Cameron in 2014 was seen as the “gold standard” of staging referendums in the UK and Sturgeon has said she would want to secure this again.

Dr Elisenda Casanas Adam of Edinburgh University, added: “The question of whether the Scottish Parliament would have competence to legislate for an independence referendum was left open. It was left unresolved because they reached an agreement.”

She added: “I would say that there is still an argument to be made that the Scottish Parliament would be competent to legislate for the referendum. Obviously then, if independence did come out victorious in the referendum you would need legislation of the UK Parliament to provide for that. But as for the referendum itself, that question is still open.”

Scotland differs from Wales and Northern Ireland in this area, according to Ewan Smith, a lecturer and constitutional law expert at Oxford University. The legislation which brought about the devolved assemblies in Stormont and Cardiff saw their abilities to hold polls “restricted in law, meaning votes such as independence referendums could not be staged”.

But Smith said: “There’s no such provision in the Scotland Act. The logic of the Scotland Act is unless something is reserved, it’s devolved.”

But another constitutional law expert, Alan Trench, who runs the Devolution Matters website, insists a repeat of the last referendum would be outwith Holyrood’s competence. “The parliament simply has no power to legislate for them,” he said.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Scott Macnab"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4890615.1552754513!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890615.1552754513!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Sturgeon would hope to get another Section 30 order before holding another referendum. PIcture: Callum Moffat/PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Sturgeon would hope to get another Section 30 order before holding another referendum. PIcture: Callum Moffat/PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4890615.1552754513!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news-2-15012/cuts-leave-scots-town-of-50-000-with-just-one-fire-engine-1-4890620","id":"1.4890620","articleHeadline": "Cuts leave Scots town of 50,000 with just one fire engine","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1552778616000 ,"articleLead": "

Fire and rescue chiefs have been accused of “keeping the public in the dark” after it emerged Livingston has been left with just one appliance during the week due to cutbacks.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890619.1552807907!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A number of appliances are being made effectively unavailable because staff will not be paid the overtime required. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

Teams from other parts of West Lothian have been drafted in to help fight fires in the town of more than 50,000 residents recently. Opposition parties say services are being downgraded and warn the public will be shocked by the move.

The national fire and rescue service insists it must continually review resources for its frontline but says there is always cover available from other stations.

A leaked letter obtained by the Labour party reveals that the East Service Delivery management team met recently to discuss the impact of “dropping appliances” on city stations in Scotland.

“Dropping Livingston is one of the options that central staffing are undertaking to consider how they resource the wider area,” it states.

A house fire in Livingston two weeks ago saw appliances from Bathgate and Sighthill called to assist the Livingston appliance as there were no others in this area available, Scotland on Sunday understands. Labour’s Lothians MSP Neil Findlay said: “The public will be shocked to learn of major towns such as Livingston having their fire services downgraded in this way.

“Changes such as this are being done to save money and behind the backs of the communities affected. SNP minister Humza Yousaf must come to Parliament and explain why this downgrade has happened, what analysis has been done to confirm it is safe and why the public were kept in the dark.”

A number of appliances are being made effectively unavailable because staff will not be paid the overtime required. The effect in Livingston has been to cut cover from two appliances to one for most of the week. David McGown, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s deputy chief officer, said: “There is a capacity in our system that allows us to flex our resources, including the strategic movement of appliances and personnel from other stations.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The number of firefighters per head of population is higher in Scotland than other parts of the UK. Decisions about the provision of resources is an operational matter for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Scott Macnab"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4890619.1552807907!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890619.1552807907!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A number of appliances are being made effectively unavailable because staff will not be paid the overtime required. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A number of appliances are being made effectively unavailable because staff will not be paid the overtime required. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4890619.1552807907!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"6007251083001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/environment/otter-resurgence-is-going-swimmingly-1-4890612","id":"1.4890612","articleHeadline": "Otter resurgence is going swimmingly","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1552778342000 ,"articleLead": "

Otter numbers are soaring in many of Scotland’s waterways following a sustained push to clean up the country’s rivers.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890611.1552754155!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Two otter cubs take to the water in Shetland. Photograph: Ross Lawford"} ,"articleBody": "

Amateur wildlife photographer Ross Lawford, who is producing a new book documenting his enduring fascination with the creatures, has witnessed how populations near his Midlothian home are thriving.

Similar good news is being reported along a popular waterway running through the heart of Edinburgh, rewarding decades of work to remove rubbish and combat pollution.

Lawford has spent the past 15 years watching and photographing the elusive creature across the country, from Devon in the south to Shetland in the north and many places in between.

He said: “We still have problems in the ecosystem, but I feel it’s definitely moving in the right direction.

“The state of rivers all over the UK has improved dramatically over the years, thanks to banning deadly pesticides and a massive conservation effort.

“Key species like the otter and kingfisher are at the top of a river’s food chain, therefore their presence is an indicator that river health is thriving.

“An increase in the otter population gives more people the chance to see this beautiful and enigmatic animal, which we almost lost from our shores.

“They are now turning up in our cities. The Water of Leith in Edinburgh has a very healthy population, as does the River Esk where I’ve recently caught them on trail cameras at night.”

Volunteers at the Water of Leith Conservation Trust have helped transform the river and its environs over the past 30 years.

The otter suffered major declines across the United Kingdom between the 1950s and the 1970s as a result of pesticide pollution, disappearing from much of England and Wales.

Healthy numbers were found only in the cleanest bodies of water in the north and west of Scotland.

Now, though, the species is flourishing across Scotland and bouncing back in the UK in response to tightened environmental regulations and ongoing clean-up work.

The Scottish population is currently estimated to be around 8,000 – up from 6,600 in 1995.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Ilona Amos"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4890611.1552754155!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890611.1552754155!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Two otter cubs take to the water in Shetland. Photograph: Ross Lawford","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Two otter cubs take to the water in Shetland. Photograph: Ross Lawford","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4890611.1552754155!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/health/ludicrous-dangerous-and-pointless-outpatients-two-year-wait-shames-nhs-lothian-1-4890608","id":"1.4890608","articleHeadline": "‘Ludicrous, dangerous and pointless:’ Outpatients’ two-year wait shames NHS Lothian","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1552777633000 ,"articleLead": "

Nearly 50 patients have waited more than two years for a gastroenterology outpatient appointment with a Scottish health board – when they should have been seen within 12 weeks.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890607.1552810837!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Doctors prepare for a gastroscopy examination. Picture: Getty/iStockphoto"} ,"articleBody": "

The expected waiting time for tests on a range of conditions including stomach problems, abnormal liver function and changes in bowel behaviour is 114 weeks in NHS Lothian.

One GP who contacted Scotland on Sunday described the waiting time period as “ludicrous, dangerous and pointless”. It is believed at least one patient waited over a year for endoscopy before being diagnosed with cancer when they finally received their test.

Patients are travelling to Dunfermline to use the regional endoscopy unit based at the Queen Margaret Hospital which provides diagnostic and surveillance tests for patients from NHS Fife, NHS Lothian and NHS Forth Valley.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has already raised concerns and stated in a letter to Tory health spokesman Miles Briggs that she agrees that “too many patients are waiting too long for treatment and appointments”.

The 114 week waiting time compares with 19 weeks in NHS Tayside and NHS Grampian, where 75 per cent of urgent referrals are seen within eight weeks.

The deputy chief executive of the health board, Jim Crombie, has apologised to the 49 patients who have waited over two years and everyone who has been affected.

He said: “We know patients are waiting longer than they should expect and we apologise to them.

“I would also reassure them that we are working to reduce the lengthy outpatient waiting times being experienced in gastroenterology and endoscopy.

“Patients are being booked by date of referral but also by clinical priority, meaning that patients referred with a suspicion of cancer are given appointments as a priority.”

Crombie said that a number of remedial steps have been taken, including extra clinics and sessions at evenings and weekends.

He added: “Additional capacity continues to be identified across other sites in Lothian and recruitment campaigns are continuing to boost the numbers of clinicians in the team.

“In the meantime, we are also using external providers to ensure patients are treated as swiftly as possible, and commissioned a temporary mobile unit to boost the number of treatment rooms available.”

Briggs said: “The waiting times to see a Gastroenterology consultant in Lothian are totally unacceptable and have got even longer over the last year.

“It is unacceptable for patients in NHS Lothian, some of whom are in serious discomfort, to have to wait over two years for a diagnosis.

“This is yet another example of SNP ministers letting down Scottish patients.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Kevan Christie"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4890607.1552810837!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890607.1552810837!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Doctors prepare for a gastroscopy examination. Picture: Getty/iStockphoto","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Doctors prepare for a gastroscopy examination. Picture: Getty/iStockphoto","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4890607.1552810837!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"6010278705001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle-2-15039/green-minded-scottish-distillery-lets-customers-refill-gin-vodka-and-rum-1-4886674","id":"1.4886674","articleHeadline": "Green-minded Scottish distillery lets customers refill gin, vodka and rum","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1552216991000 ,"articleLead": "

An award-winning Scottish boutique distillery is offering customers a new refill service for its gin, vodka and rum in a bid to cut waste and help combat pollution.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4886673.1552166503!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "NB Distillery head of production Steve Ross and sales chief Rhona Hartley with the dispenser that will be used to refill customers' bottles. Photograph: Scott Louden"} ,"articleBody": "

NB Distillery, based in East Lothian, is thought to be the first in the country to make such a move.

It’s the latest green initiative by owners Vivienne and Steve Muir, who started out creating bespoke spirits in a pressure cooker on their kitchen table and have set out on a mission to minimise the environmental consequences of their operations.

Their custom-built premises, which opened last year, use solar panels to help power the distillation process, while rainwater is collected to run the distillation condensers. Used botanicals such as juniper are composted and the leftovers of fermented molasses from their rum production is fed to a local farmer’s cattle. They have also switched from a bottle manufacturer in Italy to one in the UK to cut the climate cost of transport, as well as reusing as much packaging as possible.

The latest scheme means customers can bring back their old bottles and restock on their favourite tipple, saving money and reducing their ecological impact.

“Our aim is simple and that’s to do everything we can to reduce our carbon footprint,” Vivienne Muir said.

“Many people keep hold of their empty NB bottles as they think they are too nice to throw away.

“Customers have got in touch to tell us some of the interesting things they have created from the old bottles, such as table lamps.

“So we felt it was quite appropriate to offer a refill service. We’re doing an official refill Saturday each month but people can come and fill up their bottles any time.”

NB Distillery has moved from the Muirs’ kitchen table to premises near Tantallon Castle, not far from North Berwick – the NB in the company name.

The drinks range includes a London dry gin, voted best of its kind at the World Gin Awards, a 57 per cent proof navy strength gin, a citrus vodka, a full-bodied rum, a light fruity rum and a limited-edition samphire gin.

Vivienne Muir added: “The UK currently recycles around 50 per cent of its glass, which is very low compared to other countries.

“Launching an initiative such as this, whereby consumers directly recycle, is something that should be considered more widely in the drinks and other industry sectors.”

Iain Gulland, chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland, welcomed the refill scheme. “There is a growing number of consumers who actively seek out and choose more sustainable products,” he said. “Businesses can tap into that market by adopting more sustainable practices, such as enabling customers to use their own containers.

“As well as doing away with excessive packaging, customers can also benefit from choosing to purchase the exact amount they require and further minimise on waste.

“Businesses will also save money if they embrace ways of making resources last.”

Research by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation suggests that Scottish businesses could save £1.4 billion a year by implementing simple resource-efficiency measures.

Zero Waste Scotland, which distributes Scottish Government and EU funding, supports businesses in their efforts to prevent waste through its Circular Economy Business Support Service and Investment Fund.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ILONA AMOS"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4886673.1552166503!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4886673.1552166503!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "NB Distillery head of production Steve Ross and sales chief Rhona Hartley with the dispenser that will be used to refill customers' bottles. Photograph: Scott Louden","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "NB Distillery head of production Steve Ross and sales chief Rhona Hartley with the dispenser that will be used to refill customers' bottles. Photograph: Scott Louden","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4886673.1552166503!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5763984968001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/richard-leonard-we-pledge-universal-free-bus-travel-for-all-scots-1-4886727","id":"1.4886727","articleHeadline": "Richard Leonard: We pledge universal free bus travel for all Scots","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1552203536000 ,"articleLead": "

Ambitious plans to deliver “universal” free bus travel for all Scots have been unveiled by Labour leader Richard Leonard in a keynote address to party members.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4886726.1552203533!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard delivers his keynote speech. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

A radical scheme to target Scotland’s biggest landowners, including the Duke of Buccleuch, at Holyrood to deliver “land justice” has also been set out.

The Scottish Labour leader was making the keynote address to the party’s spring conference in Dundee yesterday.

And after a difficult week for Labour which left the party on the back foot over anti-Semitism, plunging poll numbers and a lack of clarity over its position on Brexit, Leonard sought to shift the focus back to policy with significant announcements.

The Labour leader pledged to bring about “real change” that Scots are demanding. An extension to the current national free bus travel scheme to under 25s was pledged – with a long-term goal of universal free bus travel.

Leonard warned that communities across Scotland have been left “stranded” by a fall in bus routes, while fares have been rising.

“The deregulation of bus services has failed us,” Leonard told delegates yesterday.

“Fleet sizes are down. Staff numbers are down. Journeys are down. Down by ten per cent in the last five years alone.

“But today, to those communities that have seen their much-needed routes removed, I say that Scottish Labour has an answer. We believe that clean, affordable and reliable bus services are the mark of a civilised nation.”

The free bus pass concession should be extended to all under-25s within the lifetime of the current parliament, Leonard said yesterday.

“If the SNP won’t do it, we will do it on day one of an incoming Labour government,” Leonard said.

This would cost about £13.5 million a year.

And he added: “Then we will go further.

“We will build a proper bus network that connects Scotland’s communities. From that collective strength and that commitment to being a truly public service we will shift the balance from shareholder profit to public investment.

“So Labour will build a free bus network to serve the whole of Scotland.”

The party is seeking to shift the way bus services are run to emulate the model of Lothian Buses in Edinburgh, widely seen as the best in Scotland, with standard adult fares of £1.70 to travel anywhere in the capital. Labour is seeking to build a network of similar municipal bus operators around the country which would freeze out private operators then standardise fares nationwide.

The longer term ambition – over a five to ten-year period – would be to increase subsidy levels for the publicly owned services to make services free across Scotland.

The overall costs of universal free services was not set out by Labour, but this would largely be achieved through general taxes where Leonard has pledged to hike income tax.

Leonard also pledged to take on the “lack of justice” in land ownership patterns.

“Our land justice reforms will take on the vested interests. Like the Danish billionaire, Anders Povlsen, and the Duke of Buccleuch,” he added.

“We will use the powers of our parliament already has to deliver land justice, the cause the SNP has ignored.”

Labour has sunk nine points behind the Tories on 19 per cent in the latest poll by Panelbase last week – and 22 points behind the SNP. But Leonard insisted that the party was getting back to “where it should have been” in a speech which pledged to put workers’ rights at the forefront of his policy agenda.

He said: “The SNP tell us we shouldn’t talk about workers’ rights because it’s reserved. But these very same practices like the use of umbrella companies are commonplace. Not only in the private sector but on public contracts funded by the Scottish Government.

“Which is why it is about time that we had a Scottish Government that was prepared to use its powers, including through public procurement, to drive up employment standards.”

A future Labour government at Holyrood would seek devolution of employment rights with a UK-wide “floor” on conditions, Leonard added.

But the SNP’s Dundee East MSP Shona Robison branded Labour “out of touch”.

She said: “They’re more interested in fighting each other rather than fighting for the people of Scotland.

“In recent weeks Labour voted against an extra £729 million for Scotland’s health service and an £8 billion investment in Scottish education. They can’t match the SNP’s ambition when it comes to delivering for public services.

“Both Jeremy Corbyn and Richard Leonard seem willing to crash us out of the EU in just 20 days’ time – throwing thousands of jobs on the scrapheap and damaging our NHS.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Scott Macnab"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4886726.1552203533!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4886726.1552203533!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard delivers his keynote speech. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard delivers his keynote speech. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4886726.1552203533!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news-2-15012/women-to-compete-at-highland-games-after-campaign-to-promote-gender-balance-1-4886643","id":"1.4886643","articleHeadline": "Women to compete at Highland Games after campaign to promote gender balance","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1552203299000 ,"articleLead": "

Women will be able to compete in a range of events at Scotland’s Highland Games after organisers gave in to pressure by campaigners to promote a gender balance.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4886642.1552165906!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A woman prepares to toss the caber at the North Berwick Highland Games. Picture: Gordon Fraser"} ,"articleBody": "

Officials at the Scottish Highland Games Association, (SHGA) which has over 60 members north of the border, have agreed to meet the equalities officer from Scottish Athletics – regarded as a world leader for inclusivity in sport – to see how to incorporate their policies.

Scottish Athletics are hosting the Scottish 5K Championships at Silverknowes in Edinburgh in May which includes a “non-binary” gender category, one of the first events to do so.

The move towards inclusivity comes after a “peace-seeking” meeting last week convened by Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie, who is a member of the SHGA, a former chieftain at Cupar Highland Games and a regular competitor in hill races.

SHGA officials had told Scotland on Sunday last December that there was not enough time or prize money to have more women’s events – and that tourists came to Scotland to see “traditional” Highland Games.

Rennie said: “The current model of running Highland Games is not sustainable. That’s now understood by those who run and participate.

“But there are ways of making changes to allow all Games to be inclusive.

“Some of the Games are independently run, so we would need to work with them to ensure they see the worth of new, inclusive Games in the community.

“This can be easily done by adopting best practice, so it shouldn’t overburden the Games. This will allow Scotland to project modern and inclusive values to visitors from all over the world.”

Rennie also said that while Games receive no public funding at present there is a possibility that when issues are resolved the SHGA could apply to Event Scotland’s Growth Fund which helps promote Scotland’s national and international events.

Rennie said changes would involve training more “handicappers” to allow men and women to compete in the same events, or could see new categories, such as races for women only.

An SHGA spokesman said: “We had a good meeting with representatives from Event Scotland, Scottish Athletics and the MSPs Willie Rennie and Maurice Corry.

“The primary purpose was sharing information and best practice. A number of items are being followed up including attracting more visitors to local games events, improving event management, and attracting more athletes to participate, inclusively and equally.

“To further this aim, the SHGA will obtain information and guidance from partner bodies and provide this to the 60 plus independent community events which form its membership.”

James Morton, manager at Scottish Trans Alliance, said reaching a wider diversity of audiences and competitors will help keep important traditional sports thriving.

“The key priority must be the long overdue full inclusion of women in Highland Games events. However, it is sensible and efficient to proactively consider transgender people rather than try to sweep this complexity under the carpet.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "SHN ROSS"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4886642.1552165906!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4886642.1552165906!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A woman prepares to toss the caber at the North Berwick Highland Games. Picture: Gordon Fraser","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A woman prepares to toss the caber at the North Berwick Highland Games. Picture: Gordon Fraser","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4886642.1552165906!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5746886869001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/business/management/the-big-interview-les-torrance-of-sykes-1-4886586","id":"1.4886586","articleHeadline": "The Big Interview: Les Torrance of Sykes","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1552175056000 ,"articleLead": "

Sykes is possibly the biggest company you’ve never heard of. The Nasdaq-listed organisation, which has its European headquarters in Edinburgh, turned over $1.6 billion in 2018. The business process outsourcer employs around 50,000 people worldwide – more than 1,000 of these in Scotland – and its 70 contact centres serve multinationals such as Sonos, Sony PlayStation, HSBC and Motorola.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4886585.1552149649!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Although Les Torrance works for an American multinational, he insists the company has retained its family feel. Picture: Greg Macvean"} ,"articleBody": "

Part of the reason for the group’s low-key existence, says Edinburgh-based Les Torrance, senior director at the group’s UK arm, is that the firm often views itself as an extension of the brands it represents. “When we employ people to support the client, we really immerse them into the brand so they feel that they’re an extension of the client,” he says. “In Edinburgh, particularly, we say we’re kind of the hidden diamond.

“What you’ve got to remember is that we represent a lot of high-end clients and confidentiality is huge for them. We represent their brand. So whilst most people may not have heard of Sykes, when you look at it, if you’re walking down the high street you’ll see many of our clients’ logos all over the place.”

The European HQ began as a traditional call centre 23 years ago, but has now become what Torrance refers to as a digital marketing and customer service outsourcing provider. “Customer service is the new marketing,” he explains, as Sykes interacts with customers along various channels on behalf of its premium brands, blurring the lines between helpdesk and promoter. Revolutionary technology has redesigned – and continues to shape – the customer service sector, crossing the boundary from passive problem solving to proactive service improvement and even promotion. Torrance terms this journey the “intelligent customer experience”.

“We’re handling a lot of transactions across different platforms and channels right up to social media,” he says. “Typically a contact centre has been a magnet for people’s problems. People don’t call you to say how fantastic the product is; they phone up because they’ve got a problem.

“And we’ve moved that along so that using our technology and the data that we get, we’re a rich source of insight for our clients. That helps us to take our clients to the next level of what we look at as the intelligent customer experience.”

Torrance, who is entering his 20th year with Sykes, found the customer service industry relatively stagnant two decades ago, but the advent of the fourth industrial revolution has powered developments which continue to transform the sector. Ever-evolving technology has led to a host of automated and machine learning capabilities, including self-service videos, robots and co-bots, or “collaborative robots”, which are tools which “sit on your desktop and reference similar situations from the past to suggest the most likely solution in the current case”.

He cites a typical example of intelligent service: if a customer has an issue, their first port of call will probably be an online search engine. If they can’t “self-serve” to resolve the problem, they will then get in touch with the contact centre. Sykes’ model now is aimed at learning where and why the customer “fell down”, information which the firm then feeds into the resolution cycle to improve the self-service capabilities and enable a customer to resolve the issue in the future.

“We want to understand what they’ve done before they come into us,” says Torrance. “How much effort have they made and where did they run into difficulties? That’s essential for us to help and to constantly improve.”

Sykes has made several strategic acquisitions in recent years to drive its digitalisation agenda, including last year’s buy-out of London-based intelligent automation and robotic process start-up Symphony for £52 million. The group also acquired US digital marketing, sales and data science firm Clearlink for a reported $207m in 2016.

Torrance says: “If we drive self-serve, if we drive automation, it is not going to take over the human element because this is going to support the customer experience where it makes sense and then pass over to a human where that makes sense. It makes it a more seamless journey for the customer.

“It seems almost counter-intuitive because this drives down the number of direct contacts. But looking longer-term, if we don’t do this then somebody else will. We’ve got to get in there first and be a pioneer in that area.”

The digitalisation agenda, and a further acquisition, has also allowed the group to invest in flexible working processes. After controlled trials in the US and Canada, Sykes has spent the past two years rolling out its remote working practices in the UK and Europe.

This allows the group to expand its recruitment demographic and has been particularly effective in terms of hiring, and holding on to, multilingual staff, who may move around more, says Torrance. It also broadens the firm’s candidate pool away from the big cities, leading to collaborations with the likes of Highlands and Islands Enterprise to provide opportunities in rural areas.

Sykes employs around 100 staff at its fulfilment centre in Galashiels and a further 900 at its Edinburgh base, which conducts customer support operations in more than 25 different languages. “It’s a fantastic model and it’s difficult to replicate. There’s very few cities where you get that mix of people. The cosmopolitan population within Edinburgh, coupled with the high education that you get from the working population, gives us a great location that meets our needs and we see that continuing.”

Torrance’s affection for the city was also a driver in his decision to join Sykes as an account manager in the Nineties. After working in the air freight sector for 16 years, a friend and former colleague who had moved to the outsourcer contacted Torrance to say the firm was seeking staff with proven client relationship skills.

“The industry was very immature and it was definitely a growing area,” he recalls. “There was a lot of demand for outsourcing, however we didn’t have the necessary experience at management level. People were probably getting over-promoted so they were looking to put someone in who had that bit more experience on the relationship side.”

Faced with the need to relocate in order to progress in his role, Torrance made the jump to Sykes. Now he is responsible for the business’s UK and Hungarian operations, overseeing a financial reconciliation team, the logistics centre at Galashiels and the Scottish capital’s contact centre.

Staff numbers in Scotland rocketed last year from around 700 to more than 1,000, but Torrance maintains that the firm has retained its “family feel”. Established by John Sykes in 1977 and headquartered in Florida, the group is now led by the founder’s son, Charles “Chuck” Sykes, who was voted into the chief executive role in 2004. Torrance attributes part of its sustained growth to the group’s desire to create lasting relationships with clients.

“We really look to form a long-term partnership with a client,” he says. “They rely on us and as a result of that the tenure of our clients, especially for this type of industry, is very long. The average is around eight years, but there are clients in Edinburgh that have been with the firm for 20 years.”

He points to the company’s focus on understanding requirements and expectations, which can change over time. The company’s “wise” expansion strategies have also paid off, he says, with acquisition and developments adding more strings to its bow.

“Our typical business process outsourcing competitors seem to be making acquisitions based on existing capabilities, rather than in new areas.” Torrance cites the shrewd move into finance reconciliation, allowing the firm to handle multi-currency payments and offer customs care, along with the logistics venture which enables Sykes to offer e-commerce sales and shipment services.

“We need to be flexible and agile to be able to change and take the business through the good times and the bad. That can mean anything from implementing new channels or new platforms, developing new technologies or even location strategies,” he says.

This approach allows the Edinburgh site to have more than 30 different clients on the books, with one account served by 200 people and another by a single staff member.

“That one seat today might by 50 in a year’s time. They may grow, they may not, and we’re comfortable with that.

“I do believe that because we have great agility and we’re able to adapt, that’s what will drive us. It may be that no-one’s heard of us but we’ve been here for 23 years, we’ll be here for another 23 years. That’s the plan.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Hannah Burley"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4886585.1552149649!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4886585.1552149649!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Although Les Torrance works for an American multinational, he insists the company has retained its family feel. Picture: Greg Macvean","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Although Les Torrance works for an American multinational, he insists the company has retained its family feel. Picture: Greg Macvean","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4886585.1552149649!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news-2-15012/v-a-urged-to-give-back-500k-from-opioid-billionaires-1-4886670","id":"1.4886670","articleHeadline": "V&A urged to give back £500k from opioid billionaires","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1552165717000 ,"articleLead": "

The V&A Dundee is among Scottish beneficiaries facing calls to return donations from a billionaire family accused of fuelling an epidemic of painkiller addiction.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4886669.1552157339!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "V&A Dundee acknowledged the support of the Sackler Trust and the Dr Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

Details obtained by Scotland on Sunday show the museum received a £500,000 grant from the philanthropic arm of the Sackler family which is embroiled in legal action in the United States amid allegations it helped create an opioid crisis which has killed more than 200,000 people.

The Sackler Trust, which has made charitable donations of more than £60 million in the UK since 2010, also made grants totalling £2.5m to the universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, according to documents filed with the Charity Commission.

Dame Theresa Sackler, the Trust’s chair, is among those named in a lawsuit against family firm Purdue Pharma in which Massachusetts’s attorney general accuses the company of creating the opioid epidemic and profiting from it “through a web of illegal deceit” with its prescription painkiller OxyContin.

Last week Purdue moved to have the legal action dismissed, saying the case mischaracterised records to present a “sensationalist and distorted narrative”. The company “vigorously denies” allegations it acted improperly.

The £80m V&A Dundee opened in September amid hopes it can help rejuvenate a city which has the highest rate of drug deaths in the EU, in part due to the use of so-called “street valium”.

It is one of a number of high-profile institutions across the UK which has received money from the Sacklers over the past few years.

Green MSP Ross Greer said: “Public and charitable bodies in Scotland who’ve benefited from the company’s profits via the Sackler Trust should return those donations or otherwise work to ensure justice is delivered for opioid victims. The V&A and both universities can take the lead on that.”

Labour MSP Monica Lennon said: “Profiting from addiction is never ethical. Transparency around donations is really important as no city or community wants to benefit from the suffering of others.”

Purdue was set up by three Sackler brothers in the 1950s, including Mortimer who studied at Glasgow University. The university received financial backing from the Trust for its Imaging Centre of Excellence at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital which it said would “change and save lives”, while Edinburgh University has the Sackler Centre for Developmental Psychobiology. Both universities said they regularly review donations.

A spokeswoman for Edinburgh University said: “We are following legal developments in the United States closely and keeping our Ethical Fundraising Advisory Group closely informed.”

A V&A Dundee spokesman said: “V&A Dundee has received historic support from the Sackler Trust and the Dr Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation for the creation of the museum, as have many other major cultural projects in the UK.”

A spokesperson for the Sackler Trust said: “We support a range of educational, medical, scientific, cultural and community organisations. It is a privilege to be able to support such vital work and we continue to do so.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Chris Marshall"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4886669.1552157339!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4886669.1552157339!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "V&A Dundee acknowledged the support of the Sackler Trust and the Dr Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "V&A Dundee acknowledged the support of the Sackler Trust and the Dr Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4886669.1552157339!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5840369471001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} ]}}} ]}