Train delays after car blocks railway line at station

The black vehicle was discovered lying across the tracks at platforms two and three at the train station.

Car: Vehicle discovered lying across the tracks at train station. Scotrail via Twitter
Car: Vehicle discovered lying across the tracks at train station.

A car on the line at Stirling station has forced trains to divert to avoid the obstruction.

ScotRail is working with the emergency services after the black vehicle “encroached” onto the line on Tuesday morning.

The rail firm posted an image online of the car lying across tracks at platforms two and three at the train station.

British Transport Police said officers were called to the station at 12.17pm following reports of a car on the tracks.


A spokesperson said: “The car is believed to have accidentally ended up on the tracks from the station’s car park. Officers are still determining how the car ended up on the tracks.   

“Thankfully, those in the car have not been seriously injured.”

Rail passengers have been advised that trains will be diverted around the car, with trains heading to Perth and Aberdeen departing from platform six and trains for Glasgow and Edinburgh from platform nine.

Christmas mixing rules set to be ‘tightened around the edges’

Scottish Government finalising rules, which allow up to three households to meet over five-day Christmas period.

GoodPong via Getty Images
Christmas: Expectation is that guidance will 'tighten around the edges'.

Rules allowing people to meet up over Christmas are likely to be tightened when they are set out later.

Up to three households will be allowed to mix over a five-day festive period between December 23 and 27.

They will be able to use the travel window to move between council areas and across the UK to form a bubble – but each household must only join one bubble.

The guidance is not expected to loosen but rather look “tighter around the edges” when officially set out on Thursday.


The First Minister said staying at home should be the “default” position but the easing of restrictions to allow households to gather over Christmas is a “recognition of a reality that exists over the Christmas period, whether I like it or not”.

During a coronavirus briefing on Wednesday, Sturgeon said guidance is still being finalised but the Scottish Government will not be “encouraging” people to meet up.

She said: “The expectation should be that the guidance will probably look to tighten around the edges rather than further expand and that will be true with the travel window of opportunity as well – we want to limit that window, not expand it.”

The UK Government and devolved administrations agreed a joint plan to relax social distancing rules over the festive period.


Sturgeon said in England, due to the current form of bubbles there, “three households there, potentially, depending on how they draw the guidance, could effectively become six households”.

The First Minister added: “I think that would be going too far and it would not be something I would be comfortable with in Scotland.”

Scotland currently has a different form of bubbles than England – north of the border, one person who lives alone or with children under the age of 18 can join another household and become an extended household.

Sturgeon asked Scots not to visit relatives in other households over Christmas if they can help it, despite the relaxation of rules.

“If you can get through this Christmas staying in your own home, within your own household, please do so,” she said.

“I want to stress today that just because we’re allowing people to form a bubble (that) does not mean that you have to do it.

“If you do choose to do it at all, you don’t have to do it to the maximum permitted.


“We are relying on people to make informed choices about whether or not to come together at all over the Christmas period.”

What we know about festive bubbles:

  • A bubble should be formed household to household only. That means different people in a household should not pick their own bubble.
  • Between December 23 and 27, people can meet in bubble composed of three households.
  • Households are not required to use all five days and should keep visits to no more than one or two days if possible.
  • They should stay with their bubble where they are hosted and should follow the travel advice for the level they are in.
  • Within the bubble, they can gather in a home, an outdoor place or a place of worship.
  • In all other settings – such as hospitality – those who have formed a bubble must only socialise with members of their own household.
  • Households deciding to form a bubble will be advised to limit social contact before and after the period of relaxation.

Calls for more social housing to help domestic abuse victims

Shelter Scotland is calling for 37,100 new social homes to be built over the next five years

Kittisak Jirasittichai / EyeEm via Getty Images
Abuse: Charity calling for more social housing.

Calls are being made for tens of thousands more social homes to be built in Scotland amid concerns the lack of it stops people leaving an abusive partner.

Figures from Shelter Scotland show 4832 applications were made to councils from people experiencing homelessness who said they left their old address due to violence or abuse, between April 2019 and March.

The charity is now calling for 37,100 new social homes to be built over the next five years to tackle the need.

Alison Watson, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “We support efforts to change the law so that wherever possible survivors of domestic abuse can stay in their homes, and perpetrators are made to leave.


“But where that isn’t an option, access to social housing must be made easier and the only way to do that is to build the homes Scotland needs.”

The charity has put forward a woman known as Lucy – not her real name – who was sent to a hostel after leaving an abusive partner.

She is now part of the charity’s Time for Change group in Aberdeen.
Lucy said: “It wasn’t safe. There were fights every night. The noise was horrendous. Doors would be slammed.

“I could even hear punches being thrown. Men would chap on my door. It was really threatening and it made me really ill being there.


“I ended up going back to my ex-partner. I was never more at risk of being hurt.”

Government to back MSP’s pubs bill in Holyrood vote

Business minister confirmed they would support the general principles of law brought forward by MSP Neil Bibby.

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Pubs: Government to back MSPs bill.

Legislation reforming some of Scotland’s pubs will be approved in principle by MSPs, after the Scottish Government announced it would back the changes in a vote.

Business minister Jamie Hepburn confirmed the Scottish Government would be supporting the general principles of a new law being brought forward by Labour MSP Neil Bibby.

He is seeking to change the legislation surrounding so-called tied pubs – those owned by breweries where the landlords are required to buy beer from them.

The member’s Bill he has proposed sets out plans for a statutory pubs code and an independent adjudicator in a bid to stop publicans from being locked into restrictive and unfair deals.


The Scottish Parliament’s Economy Committee said earlier this month that with only 750 tied pubs in Scotland, there was not enough evidence to suggest widespread problems that needed to be dealt with by legislation.

The committee report said while MSPs supported the “intent behind the Bill” they were “not agreed that legislation is required” and did not support the general principles of it.

Hepburn said it was a “challenging issue” and that the government had “listened carefully to the evidence, as we said we would do”.

He added: “Whilst most landlord-tenant relationships are strong and effective, it appears to be that this is not always the case.


“Ultimately we want to see fair and equitable treatment within commercial agreements and a successful tenanted pub sector all across Scotland.

“On balance, therefore, the Scottish Government will be supporting the general principles of this Bill and we look forward to working with its sponsor, Neil Bibby MSP, and the Parliament on the next stages of the legislative process.”

Bibby said: “The news that the Scottish Government will back my Tied Pubs Bill at stage one is incredibly welcome, and is good news for all those whose livelihoods depend on the tied pub sector.”

He added: “The Tied Pubs Bill would deliver fairness for Scotland’s tied pub tenants, more choice for consumers and action to protect jobs in the pub and brewing industries.

“A statutory Pubs Code providing a fair share of risk and reward to tenants would help local pubs keep more of the profit they make in the Scottish economy. It would also curb the unfair practices of those PubCos who have taken more than their fair share from their tenants for too long.”

Sunak: UK’s economic emergency has ‘only just begun’

Scotland's funding to increase by £2.4bn as chancellor paints grim economic picture for UK.

STV News

The chancellor has said Scottish Government funding will increase by £2.4bn, as he set out his spending review.

Rishi Sunak made the announcement as he warned the economic emergency facing the UK, caused by the coronavirus pandemic, had “only just begun”.

Official forecasts showed the UK economy was expected to shrink by 11.3% this year, without returning to pre-crisis levels until the end of 2022.

Speaking to the House of Commons, Sunak said: “Our health emergency is not yet over and our economic emergency has only just begun.


“So our immediate priority is to protect people’s lives and livelihoods.”

Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts show recovery is expected over the coming years, with growth of 5.5% forecast next year as coronavirus restrictions are eased, then 6.6% in 2022, 2.3% in 2023, 1.7% in 2024 and 1.85% in 2025.

The UK Government will borrow an eye-watering £394bn this year, equivalent to 19% of GDP – the highest ever recorded in peacetime.

While Sunak continued to allocate large sums to tackling the ongoing emergency he confirmed there would be restraint in pay awards for public sector workers and a cut in overseas aid.


According to the OBR forecasts, UK unemployment is set to soar to 7.5% in the second quarter of 2021 – with 2.6 million people out of work – falling to 4.4% by the end of 2024.

The chancellor set out a near £3bn restart programme to help get people back into work. The national living wage will increase by 2.2% to £8.91 an hour.

Sunak said £280bn was being spent on the coronavirus response this year.

Next year some £55bn was earmarked for public services dealing with the crisis, including an initial £18bn for testing, personal protective equipment and vaccines.

Scotland’s finance secretary Kate Forbes said the spending review illustrated the “damaging impact” of Covid and called for investment in recovery.

She added: “Not long ago, we were applauding key workers, many of whom are the lowest paid in the public and private sectors.

“Freezing their pay or suppressing the minimum wage isn’t fair, and makes very little economic sense at a time when we should encourage spending and consumption.


“In just over a month, the end of the transition period will see Scotland removed from the EU and yet the spending review hasn’t replaced in full, as promised, EU funding for our communities, research institutes or rural economy.

“The spending review was never going to replace the scrapped Autumn budget, and offers little clarity on tax rates or policies that inform the Scot Gov’s budget.”

More on:

Sturgeon: ‘We’re not encouraging you to get together this Christmas’

Nicola Sturgeon said Scots don't have to create a bubble when rules are relaxed over the festive period.

loridambrosio via Getty Images

Nicola Sturgeon has said the Scottish Government is “not positively encouraging people to get together” over Christmas even though restrictions will be eased.

Up to three households will be allowed to mix indoors for up to five days over the festive period.

They will be able to travel between council areas and across the UK between December 23 and 27 to form a ‘bubble’ – but each household must only join one bubble.

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 briefing on Wednesday, the First Minister said: “That does not mean we are positively encouraging people to get together.


“I want to stress today that just because we are allowing people to create a bubble, it does not mean that you have to do it.

“And if you do choose to do it at all, you don’t have to do it to the maximum permitted.”

She added: “We are relying on people to make informed choices about whether or not to come together at all over the Christmas period.”

Sturgeon said guidance will be issued on Thursday.


Key points will include encouraging people to stay at home if they can, as well as limiting visits to other households.

Other suggestions include meeting family and friends for a walk and exchanging presents outdoors.

The First Minister said: “These are all difficult things to live by. As we head towards Christmas all of this will feel even more difficult – and that is saying something – than it has over these past eight months.

“As we go through this tough winter and tough festive period for all of us, let’s keep our eyes on that light that is getting brighter almost every day that passes right now that is there on the horizon.

“The end is in sight, let’s not forget that as we keep ourselves motivated through the remainder of this pandemic.”

At the briefing, Sturgeon revealed that a further 44 people have died in Scotland after being diagnosed with coronavirus.

Total confirmed cases of the virus has risen to 90,961 – a jump of 880 in the past 24 hours.


The official death toll in Scotland now stands at 3588, however weekly figures on suspected Covid-19 deaths recorded by National Records of Scotland suggest the most up-to-date total is at least 5380.

Of the new cases, 260 are in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde region, 190 are in Lanarkshire, 122 are in Grampian and 94 are in Lothian.

The remaining cases are spread across eight other health board areas.

According to management information reported by NHS boards across Scotland, 1161 people are in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 – a decrease of 36 overnight. Out of those, 84 patients are in intensive care.

Pal fresco: Friends who met for Covid cuppa at border go viral

Tim Porteus and Sheila McWhirter came up with an innovative way of seeing each other amid Covid restrictions.


Two friends forced apart by the coronavirus pandemic went viral after meeting for a cuppa on either side of a council border.

Tim Porteus, 58, and Sheila McWhirter, 57, came up with an innovative way of seeing each other.

Restrictions on moving between council areas meant the old friends could not meet for a brew.

They both lived in council areas which were in level three of the Scottish Government’s restrictions – banning movement into other areas.


But to make sure they could still have a catch-up and a tea they met either side of the council border – with a flask and folding chair each.

Tim, who works as a storyteller, lives in Prestonpans, East Lothian, while Sheila, who is a singer, lives in Portobello, Edinburgh.

The pals, who have known each other for 30 years, were desperate for a catch up and a chat, and decided to walk to the council boundary signs so they could see each other without breaking the rules.

Tim brought a flask of tea and some folding wooden chairs, and they sat four metres apart beneath the council boundary signs.


Dad-of-five Tim said: “I came up with the idea on the spur of the moment.

“It was freezing, we were looking at the restrictions and saying we weren’t supposed to cross council boundaries.

‘I said ‘why don’t we just meet at the border’, and my wife dropped me off – I don’t think Sheila expected me to bring chairs, she burst out laughing and I set up the cafe.’

Tim Porteus

“We have both been struggling a bit with the lockdown, and we’ve known each other since the late 80s.

“We always have a laugh and we understand where each other is coming from.

“Sometimes being behind a screen reinforces the feeling of separation.

“I said ‘why don’t we just meet at the border’, and my wife dropped me off – I don’t think Sheila expected me to bring chairs, she burst out laughing and I set up the cafe.

“It was cold but we had the tea.


“People were honking their horns and waving.

“It was really good fun, it seemed a bit of a mental thing to do.

“We have always had a creative connection.

“Because we set it up on the border, we knew we weren’t breaking any rules.

“It was like we were in our own bubble, a friendship bubble.

“We had a really big laugh about it.

“It was a bit like we were in a cafe.”

Additional support needs school closes after Covid outbreak

The Ogilvie School Campus in Livingston will be closed until December 1 after cases of the virus were detected.

© Google Maps 2020
Outbreak: Additional support needs school closes due to coronavirus outbreak.

A school for children with additional support needs has closed following an outbreak of coronavirus. 

The Ogilvie School Campus in West Lothian will be closed until December 1 after cases were detected.

Staff at the Livingston school have been asked to isolate and children told to stay at home.

Cederbank, another additional support needs school, has also reported cases of the virus, as have high schools and primaries across the county. 


The schools affected are: Broxburn Academy; St Kentigern’s Academy, Blackburn; Whitburn Academy; Boghall Primary School, Bathgate;  Croftmalloch Primary, Whitburn; East Calder Primary School ; Eastertoun Primary, Armadale; Our Lady of Lourdes, Blackburn; St Anthony’s Primary School, Armadale and Bathgate Early Years Centre.

A West Lothian Council spokesperson said: “Whilst a number of schools have been impacted by Covid-19 in the last week, this number is reducing and still only involves a small percentage of pupils.

“The majority of pupils and staff contracting Covid-19 is through community transmission out with school.

“We would appeal to all West Lothian parents/carers and pupils to help us reduce the spread of Covid-19.  When a child attends schools with Covid-19 symptoms, it often means that a number of their classmates have to isolate as a result.


“Children should attend school as normal, unless one of the reason below apply: they are showing symptoms of Covid-19 – a new, continuous cough; fever; or loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste; someone in their household has the above symptoms; they are waiting for the results of a Covid-19 test; they have been asked to isolate by Test and Protect; or they have returned to the UK from any country out with the exempt list in the last 14 days.

“Anyone who needs specific advice on their situation concerning Covid-19 and attending school should call the NHS on 111. They can also speak to their school to discuss their situation in confidence.”

Reporting by local democracy reporter Stuart Sommerville

Fans will be allowed back in stadiums ‘when safe to do so’

Jason Leitch spoke about the issue at the Scottish Government's coronavirus briefing on Wednesday.

Craig Foy via SNS Group

Allowing football fans back into grounds should not come at the expense of larger numbers of coronavirus cases, hospital admissions or even deaths, Scotland’s national clinical director has said.

Professor Jason Leitch spoke about the issue at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing on Wednesday after a football governing body appealed to the First Minister to let fans return to games “very quickly”.

Neil Doncaster, the chief executive of the Scottish Professional Football League, made the plea on behalf of the country’s 42 professional clubs – warning they could face a “death knell” if supporters continue to be shut out.

He argued clubs in Scotland “have been hit far harder by the lockout than those in England because we depend much more heavily on gate receipts”.


Prof Leitch said while England has announced a “route back for fans” in some tiers after its lockdown, there is “mixed opinion” among public health experts about the move.

“We are cautious but we have a route back for fans,” he said.

“The route back for fans is lower levels (of coronavirus) – and lower levels rely on prevalence in the community.

“That doesn’t mean that we don’t engage in dialogue and the minister for sport, officials, clinical leaders, me, others who work with me are very happy to continue to engage with the football authorities and to get that back.”


He added: “But it is a risk-based choice. We understand the nature of the football business and we need to both support that financially but also support it to get that revenue back for them.

“But not at the expense of prevalence, hospital admissions and death.
“And that is the same conversation we have with every sector, whether it is oil and gas, or nightclubs or sport.”

Mr Doncaster, who wants an emergency meeting with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, said: “Every major club in Scotland has very detailed, well-founded plans in place for safely returning fans back to stadiums, and thousands upon thousands of Scottish fans are simply desperate to get back quickly to watching their teams in the safety of a carefully managed, open-air environment.”

With the UK Government having announced plans for up to 4,000 spectators to attend some matches after the England-wide lockdown comes to an end in December, the SPFL chief added: “We are now calling on the First Minister to do the right thing by Scotland’s hard-pressed football supporters.

“If it’s good enough for English fans, it must be good enough for Scottish fans.

“If the First Minister refuses to allow football fans all over Scotland to watch their beloved teams in carefully regulated, limited numbers, complete with track and trace, she will have to explain to them the clinical difference between Scottish fans and English fans.

“Make no mistake, failure to get fans back in the very near future will sound the death knell for some of our best-loved clubs and no-one wants that.”


Sturgeon accepted things are “difficult for football” but added the pandemic makes life “difficult for lots of people, lots of businesses, lots of sectors right now”.

She added: “We do have a situation in Scotland where fans are allowed back into stadiums in limited numbers in Level 1 areas, we have seen Ross County had fans back in the stadium.

“So we monitor that and we continue to look at how we can safely increase numbers.

“But the emphasis has to be in everything we are talking about right now about how we strike the balance that keeps people as safe as possible.”

Government could face no-confidence vote over Salmond

A vote could happen if ministers refuse to hand over legal advice about its unlawful investigation of Alex Salmond.

Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images
No-confidence: Vote could take place if ministers refuse to hand over legal advice.

The Scottish Government could face a vote of no-confidence if ministers continue to refuse to hand over legal advice about its unlawful investigation of Alex Salmond, following a second defeat in Parliament.

Holyrood has again voted to demand the government immediately release the legal advice it received during the judicial review about the botched investigation of claims of sexual harassment by the former first minister.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney was accused of “cynically running down the clock” after failing to provide the information to the inquiry into the government’s handling of the investigation.

Opposition parties united to defeat the government for the second time in three weeks on the subject of the legal advice by 65 to 55 votes on the non-binding motion.


Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton suggested that the Deputy First Minister may face another vote of no-confidence if the legal advice is not handed over to the committee.

Mr Swinney previously survived a vote of no-confidence called in August in the wake of the exam results fiasco.

Opening the debate, which called on the government to release the legal advice “without any further delay”, Scottish Tory MSP Murdo Fraser said the government must respect the will of Parliament “if they want to have any shred of credibility left”.

Mr Fraser argued that the Committee on the Scottish Government’s Handling of Harassment Complaints has been asking for the advice “for months” and the government “should not be scurrying around at the last minute, trying to make excuses as to why vital documentation should not be made available”.


He explained that the committee has set a Christmas deadline for hearing oral evidence and it would be “extremely difficult, if not impossible to meet that deadline unless the legal advice is forthcoming”.

“It is hard, therefore, to avoid the conclusion that this is a government which is cynically running down the clock on the inquiry, hoping that time will overtake us, and we will not be able to do the job that Parliament expects,” Mr Fraser added.

Mr Swinney told MSPs that “no final decision has been made by the government” about publishing the advice, but claimed there could be a “very real potential for negative consequences”.

He suggested that it could create a precedent that could “potentially undermine the ability of the government to receive legal advice”.

Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said the pace of the Deputy First Minister “makes a snail look like a sprinter”.

She said: “The Scottish Government like to think of themselves as world leaders and indeed they are – world leaders at dissembling, obstruction and secrecy.”

Ms Baillie quoted First Minister Nicola Sturgeon who, in January to Parliament, said the committee would receive whatever information it required, but said this now appeared to be a “hollow and meaningless promise”.


Ms Baillie added: “This Parliament voted by majority for the release of the legal advice. This Parliament asked the Deputy First Minister to get on with doing so and if he refuses to do so, he and his government are holding the Parliament in contempt, and it is becoming increasingly evident that he does have something to hide.”

Mr Cole-Hamilton said “the optics of this are terrible” in denying access to the legal advice, adding: “Everything about it wreaks of cover-up.”

He said: “Our patience is at an end and should the Deputy First Minister not deliver to us what we seek in short order then he may well face another motion in the coming days – one which tests the confidence of members in those responsible for blocking the will of Parliament.” 

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