Nearly two dozen jobs lost as car dealerships shut down

Administrators still trying to find buyers for two other dealerships in Edinburgh.

Closed: The Kia and Suzuki dealerships in Selkirk have shut down. Google 2020
Closed: The Kia and Suzuki dealerships in Selkirk have shut down.

Two car dealerships have shut down after the company which runs them plunged into administration.

All 23 workers at the Kia and Suzuki showrooms in Selkirk, Scottish Borders, have been made redundant.

Leven Cars Group Limited appointed administrators on January 7, but they have now confirmed the dealerships couldn’t be saved.

They’re still trying to find buyers for two sites in Edinburgh.

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Joint administrator Stuart Robb said: “We appreciate that this is disappointing news for the staff based at Selkirk. 

“Our focus is to ensure that those employees affected by redundancy there receive the best support possible.”


Six consecutive days without coronavirus death in Scotland

Three new cases of Covid-19 confirmed in Scotland in the past 24 hours.

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Various restrictions remain in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Scotland has recorded a sixth consecutive day without a registered death from coronavirus.

The death toll from confirmed cases remains at 2490 but, adding suspected cases, the figure stands at 4175.

There have been three new cases of Covid-19 in Scotland detected over the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 18,368.

A total of 668 patients are in hospital with a confirmed or suspected case of the virus, up 67 from 550 the previous day, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said during her daily briefing.

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Of these, 12 were in intensive care, up six in 24 hours – however only two of those have tested positive for coronavirus.

Sturgeon paid tribute to foreign care home workers and said she will make “strong representations” to the UK Government for them to be included in post-Brexit visa schemes.

It comes after Downing Street confirmed that social care workers do not qualify for the UK Government’s new health and care visa under the plans for a post-Brexit immigration system.

She said: “The entire country is extremely grateful to you for everything you do.

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“And today, let me be very clear that that includes the care home staff who do us the honour of coming to Scotland from overseas to work here, including the six-to-eight per cent of our care home workers who come from other countries within the European Union.

“In my view, it is essential that care home workers are included in any scheme for post-Brexit work visas.

“The Scottish Government will continue to make strong representations on that point to the UK Government.”


FM: Avoid pub or salon if you won’t give contact details

A warning from Nicola Sturgeon as host of places prepare to reopen their doors on Wednesday.

Scots have been warned not to visit pubs, places of worship and hairdressers if they are not prepared to give their contact details.

Pubs, restaurants and hairdressers are set to reopen for business on Wednesday.

As part of the Scottish Government’s contact tracing system, customers are expected to provide contact details so people can be tracked following any potential positive cases of coronavirus.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Data collection is very important, it means that customers or staff can be notified if they come into contact with somebody who is subsequently found to have Covid-19.

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“It’s therefore absolutely crucial to our test and protect system, and it’s one of the measures that we hope will help to build public and staff confidence as more premises reopen.”

Sturgeon was speaking as Scotland recorded a sixth consecutive day without a registered death from coronavirus.

Only two people confirmed to have Covid-19 are currently in intensive care.

After urging businesses to read updated guidance before tomorrow’s opening, Sturgeon added: “I would make a plea to all customers to accept that, if you want to go somewhere like a hairdresser or a place of worship or to a popular restaurant, you will be asked to provide contact details.

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“You should co-operate with anyone who is asking you to do that.

“In fact, if you’re not prepared to provide your contact details, my message to you is pretty blunt: don’t go to these places, because you could be putting others at greater risk.

“Today’s guidance is in the best interest of businesses and the public overall, and all of us, as has been the case throughout this crisis, have a shared interest in making it work effectively.”


No one fined for refusing to wear face mask in shops

Face coverings are currently mandatory in supermarkets and public transport.

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Masks: No fines issued.

No one in Scotland was fined for refusing to wear a face mask in shops at the weekend, police have confirmed.

Face coverings became mandatory in shops on Friday, with officers having the power to dish out £60 fines.

Police confirmed no fines were issued during the first weekend of the new rules.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said anecdotal evidence suggested almost all shoppers were complying.

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Face masks are also mandatory on public transport in Scotland.

People with breathing difficulties and other relevant medical conditions are exempt from the regulations, as are young children.

Pubs and restaurants will be allowed to open their doors to the public again from Wednesday.

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Mischievous cat interrupts SNP MP’s parliamentary Zoom call

SNP MP John Nicolson was blocked by his pet Rocco's fluffy tail during a virtual parliamentary meeting.

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John Nicolson's cat made an impromptu appearance on his Zoom call.

An SNP MP was interrupted by his mischievous cat during a parliamentary Zoom meeting.

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee were meeting virtually when Rocco the moggy made an impromptu appearance.

SNP MP John Nicolson was speaking with Dame Carolyn McCall, chief executive of ITV, about the future of public service broadcasting in the wake of the coronavirus health crisis.

Mr Nicolson was asking TV bosses why subtitles were not put on kids’ TV by default as it was proven to increase literacy, when a fluffy ginger tail appeared on screen.

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Despite initially trying to ignore it, the MP eventually batted it out of the way, saying: “Rocco, put your tail down.”

This is not the first time a cat has interrupted parliamentary proceedings during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Trade expert Sally Jones was speaking to the EU Services Sub-Committee when her pet cat made its way into her office and onto her lap.

While Ms Jones apologised for the animal, the intruder was welcomed by the other members of the committee, with Lord Cavendish saying: “Welcome cat.”

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And it is not just Parliament that has seen feline interruptions.

Tiger the cat was broadcast stealing a vicar’s milk during Canterbury Cathedral’s online prayer service on Monday morning.

Tiger is one of four cats at the Deanery, with another named Leo going viral a few weeks ago for disappearing into Dr Willis’ vestments during a service.


Ex-SNP MSP to quit party for new independence alliance

Dave Thompson said he was joining the new Alliance for Independence, which he predicted could win up to 24 MSPs.

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Thompson said backing Sturgeon’s party in the regional list section will 'achieve nothing'.

A former SNP MSP is to quit the party and join a new pro-independence party being set up for next year’s Holyrood elections.

Dave Thompson said backing Nicola Sturgeon’s party in the regional list section of that ballot will “achieve nothing”.

Instead he said he was joining the new Alliance for Independence (AFI), which he predicted could win up to 24 MSPs in next May’s election.

The new group will run under the slogan “max the Yes”, it was reported, aiming to increase the number of pro-independence representatives in the Scottish Parliament.

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Thompson told the Daily Record: “Every regional list vote for the SNP will have no impact. It will achieve nothing.

“Whereas, if a lot of these votes came to AFI, we can garner a lot of MSPs. We are looking at anything between eight and 24 MSPs.”

He added: “As soon as we launch, and I formally join the alliance, I will leave the SNP.”

His comments come after veteran SNP MP Kenny MacAskill floated the idea of a separate pro-independence party standing in next year’s Holyrood election.

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The former Scottish justice secretary, now MP for East Lothian, said last week that the “Both Votes SNP” tactic that has been adopted by the party “just doesn’t work”.

But constitution secretary Mike Russell insisted his former Holyrood colleague Thompson was “mistaken in his analysis”.

Russell told BBC Radio Scotland: “Anybody is entitled to join or to vote for any party that they wish.

“I know Dave very well, I’ve worked very well with him. I think that he’s mistaken in his analysis.

“I believe that, in order to get independence, we need a unified movement.

“The SNP is clearly a key part of that movement – I’ve been a member of the SNP for more than 40 years and I’m certainly not changing my view.”

When asked about speculation that former first minister Alex Salmond will join the new party, Russell declined to comment.


Food market with 350 capacity ready to reopen after lockdown

Platform will offer up to 350 diners the opportunity to try street food from across the world.

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Platform: Scotland's largest casual restaurant set to open.

A food market claiming to be Scotland’s biggest is set to reopen in Glasgow. 

Indoor pubs and eateries are among the businesses which can reopen from Wednesday under the latest easing of lockdown.

Platform indoor food market will offer seating for up to 350 people in the Argyle Street Arches from Friday.

Coronavirus safety measures will include a thermal scanner and a one-way system to allow staff and customers to navigate the space safely.

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Social distancing will be in place via an ordering app, cashless payments, online bookings and seating spaced two metres apart.

The restaurant will be open on Friday and Saturdays.

Street food influenced by Asia, Italy and America will feature on the menu. 

Scott McCormick, owner of Platform, said: “Like most businesses, we have had to evolve and adjust to a new normal, and the opportunity to create Scotland’s largest casual dining restaurant and street food kitchen will hopefully be one of the few positives to come out of this pandemic.”

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Others reopening include 12 establishments owned by Buzzworks Holdings, including Vic’s and The Vine, both in Prestwick, South Ayrshire.

Among the measures in place at the restaurants are mandatory Covid-19-specific training for staff, with temperatures being taken, venues having a host to put customers at ease, clear signage, sanitisation stations and a limited amount of Perspex screens.


Huawei kit to be stripped out of UK 5G network by 2027

Boris Johnson took the decision following concerns about the impact of US sanctions on the Chinese tech firm.

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Stripped: Chinese tech giant Huawei.

Chinese tech giant Huawei’s equipment will be stripped from the UK’s 5G network by 2027, adding billions to the cost and delaying the delivery of the high-speed mobile network.

The National Security Council took the decision – which will increase tensions with Beijing – after the impact of US sanctions raised concerns about Huawei’s continued involvement in the UK’s 5G infrastructure.

From next year, telecoms firms will be banned from purchasing new 5G equipment from Huawei.

They will also be ordered to shift away from the purchase of Huawei’s equipment for full-fibre broadband networks over a period lasting up to two years.

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The decisions were taken at a meeting of the National Security Council, chaired by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, on Tuesday morning.

It followed an assessment of the impact of US sanctions by experts from the National Cyber Security Centre.

In January, before the tough restrictions imposed by US President Donald Trump’s administration, Huawei had been allowed to play a limited role in the 5G network despite concerns that it was a “high-risk” vendor because of its links to the Chinese government.

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden set out the revised position on Huawei in the Commons, acknowledging that the moves could delay the rollout of 5G by two to three years and potentially add £2bn to the overall cost.

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The Government had faced pressure from Tory backbenchers for a quicker approach to removing Huawei equipment, but Dowden insisted that the changes would mean that, by the time of the next general election – expected in 2024 – the UK would be on an “irreversible path” to a network free from the firm.

Dowden said January’s decisions to restrict Huawei’s role had added a year to the timetable and cost up to £1bn.

“Today’s decision to ban the procurement of new Huawei 5G equipment from the end of this year will delay rollout by a further year and will add up to half a billion pounds to costs.

“Requiring operators in addition to remove Huawei equipment from their 5G networks by 2027 will add hundreds of millions of pounds further to the cost and further delay rollout.

“This means a cumulative delay to 5G rollout of two to three years and costs of up to £2bn.”

The US sanctions were imposed on Huawei in May, banning the firm from access to products which have been built based on US semiconductor technology.

The NCSC concluded that the company will need to carry out a major reconfiguration of its supply chain as it will no longer have access to the technology on which it currently relies and there are no alternatives “which we have sufficient confidence in”.

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That means it is impossible to continue to guarantee the security of Huawei equipment in the future, Dowden said.

The UK is braced for the prospect of reprisals from China in response to the announcement.

GCHQ’s protective signals intelligence network is on stand-by to detect and disrupt any attempt by China to mount cyber attacks on the UK in retaliation for the decision.

Officials say they are already dealing with a sustained high tempo of hostile cyber activity by state-sponsored actors including both China and Russia.

Huawei UK spokesman Ed Brewster said: “This disappointing decision is bad news for anyone in the UK with a mobile phone.

“It threatens to move Britain into the digital slow lane, push up bills and deepen the digital divide.

“Instead of ‘levelling up’, the Government is levelling down and we urge them to reconsider.

“We remain confident that the new US restrictions would not have affected the resilience or security of the products we supply to the UK.

“Regrettably our future in the UK has become politicised, this is about US trade policy and not security.

“Over the past 20 years, Huawei has focused on building a better connected UK. As a responsible business, we will continue to support our customers as we have always done.

“We will conduct a detailed review of what today’s announcement means for our business here and will work with the UK Government to explain how we can continue to contribute to a better connected Britain.”


Scottish FA confirms dates for summer transfer window

Clubs are allowed to add players to their squad from Tuesday.

SNS
The transfer window is now open.

Scottish football clubs can begin to buy and sell players immediately after the Scottish FA confirmed the dates for the summer transfer window.

The traditional football calendar has been thrown into disarray because of the coronavirus pandemic, with last season brought to an early halt and the new SPFL competition starting on August 1 for the Premiership and in October for the other three divisions.

That situation left uncertainty over when clubs would be able to trade players but the SFA has announced that it has approval from world governing body FIFA to open the window immediately and allow players to be bought and sold until October.

The SFA/SPFL Joint Response Group, set up to deal with the impact of the pandemic, said it had taken into account several factors when proposing the new dates for the window.

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FIFA rules say the window cannot be longer than 12 weeks but with Premiership clubs starting their season in less than three weeks, and others not playing until October, an immediate start was recommended.

European Leagues and UEFA have said an end date of October 5 is preferable to keep leagues in line with each other. The closing date also means all business will be completed before the proposed start of the League Cup.

FIFA has also confirmed that the first registration period for Scottish Women’s Football will be from Wednesday, July 15 until Tuesday, October 6.


New rocket test site could create 170 jobs

Scottish rocket firm Skyrora has established the engine test facility in Fife.

Skyrora
Skyrora is looking to launch its first rocket into space.

A new space rocket test site is being launched in Fife, creating 170 jobs.

Scottish rocket firm Skyrora has established the engine test facility as the company continues planning before launching its first rocket into space.

The new complex will bring with it up to 170 jobs by the year 2030 which are mainly technical positions in manufacturing and operations.

The jobs boost, which will be phased in, is being viewed as an opportunity for a generation of young engineers and technicians to help Scotland become a space hub.

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Skyrora has its headquarters in Edinburgh and a production facility at Loanhead, Midlothian.

Credit: Skyrora
The new complex will test all three engines on Skyrora’s rockets. Credit: Skyrora

The company hopes the new test site will enable all three engines used on its rocket suite to be tested for performance data in the one location: the seven-tonne engine for the first and second stage of the orbital Skyrora XL launch vehicle, the 3.5Kn engine for the third stage, and the three-tonne engine for the sub-orbital Skylark L launch vehicle.

Volodymyr Levykin, chief executive officer of Skyrora, said: “The opening of our engine test complex represents a giant leap forward for the UK’s ambitions as a space nation and Scotland’s status as a space hub.

“The location and additional jobs will benefit the UK space industry and help the overall economy grow.

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“It will also allow Skyrora’s highly skilled workforce and a young generation of engineers and technicians to be a part of this space revolution.”

Dr Jack-James Marlow, Engineering Manager at Skyrora, who oversaw the testing, said: “Our engine test complex is a fantastic opportunity for Skyrora and the UK Space industry.

“Scotland is heading towards an unprecedented growth in UK space and our complex is one step closer to achieving this.

“We are planning to test all our engines, which are fully 3D printed and operate on high-test peroxide (HTP, a highly concentrated solution of hydrogen peroxide), at the site.”

The launch vehicle manufacturing company aims to complete the inaugural launch of Skyrora XL from a UK spaceport by 2023. 


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