VJ Day Red Arrows flypast cancelled due to cloudy weather

The display over Edinburgh was due to mark 75 years since Imperial Japan surrendered during WWII.

A Red Arrows flypast over Edinburgh for VJ Day was cancelled due to cloudy weather.

The commemorations to mark 75 years since VJ Day were supposed to include the Red Arrows flying over Edinburgh, Belfast, Cardiff and London for the first time since the 2012 Olympic Games.

Hundreds of spectators were gathered in anticipation of the flypast that had been scheduled for approximately 11.30am.

However “low cloud outside of safety limits” in Edinburgh meant the pilots diverted to fly over Prestwick Airport, where they landed to refuel and met three veterans of WWII.

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The Red Arrow’s Twitter account said: “Our aircraft have safely landed @GPAPassenger but, unfortunately, due to low cloud outside of safety limits at #Edinburgh, we could not carry out the flypast over the city.

“Weather particularly challenging in parts of the UK today – meaning this could impact plans.”

The three veterans who were greeted by the Red Arrows were 96-year-old Whitson Johnson, Albert Lamond, 94, and 93-year-old Bernard “Barney” Roberts.

Mr Johnson served in the RAF from 1942 to 1947, deciphering codes in support of the Fourteenth Army in the Far East and also spent time in Bombay, Calcutta, Chittagong, Hmawbi and Burma.

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Royal Navy serviceman Mr Lamond served from 1943 to 1947 as a signalman.

He fought at Sword Beach during the D-Day campaign and was later attached to the Pacific fleet that joined with the American navy under the command of Admiral Halsey in the Far East.

Mr Roberts also served in the Royal Navy, from 1942 to 1947, initially serving on a minelayer to protect the Arctic convoys from German U-boats before fighting in Italy and North Africa.


‘Let me be a designated visitor to support my mother’

Natasha Hamilton wants more access to her mother Anne, who has dementia and lives in a care home.

Natasha Hamilton via Email
Support: Nominated relatives could help care home residents wellbeing.

The Scottish Government is being put under pressure to introduce legislation to give a nominated relative or friend the same access rights to care homes as staff. 

Natasha Hamilton is calling on the First Minister to introduce ‘Anne’s Law’ in honour of her 62-year-old mother, who is battling dementia and resides in a care home in East Kilbride. 

Anne Duke is a former care home therapist who was diagnosed with dementia seven years ago.

Her family made the difficult decision to put Anne into care in 2018 as at-home support was not available for people under 65. 

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“That was one of the hardest things we’ve ever done. I remember the first day taking Mum to the home and just thinking I’ve abandoned her, I’ve left her on her own,” Natasha said.

“My Mum worked in a care home her whole life. Can you imagine having to live in your workplace for the rest of your life?” 

Anne with husband Campbell

Natasha has only been allowed indoors at her mother’s care facility three times, and this was only after a health scare in December allowed Natasha to make these emergency half hour visits. 

Since then, she hasn’t been able to visit at all and Natasha fears her Mum “may not have much time left”. 

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“Before Covid, I used to spend a good six, seven, eight hours in my Mum’s room just sitting with her. We were still a part of Mum’s care plan,” she said.

Natasha says allowing residents a designated visitor would help their mental and physical wellbeing. 

“We have to recognise the importance of family connection, keeping the person with dementia active and keeping whatever is still inside their brain there. That’s what we have a responsibility for.”

The petition has already been signed by more than 86,000 people and is being backed by all of Scotland’s opposition parties. 

“I think the number of signatures says a lot for what it’s asking for. Just one person to be allowed into the care home, the same way staff are, it’s not too much to ask,” Natasha added,

Campbell is also backing the campaign for Anne’s Law.

Anne’s husband Campbell, a retired social worker who previously spent 40 hours a week by his wife’s side, is also backing the campaign. 

He says “If Anne hadn’t worsened, I wouldn’t be allowed inside so it’s a mixed blessing. You can’t really gauge if my two hours a week are improving Anne’s condition or not. You can’t do much with two hours.

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“Her condition has definitely deteriorated. She’s lost a lot of capacity and I would be fairly certain that’s not just because of the Alzheimer’s. It must be because she’s being kept apart from the family and friends that mean so much to her.

“She needs hands on communication and companionship.” 

Natasha is worried her mother won’t meet her newest grandchild.

Natasha is pregnant with her first child and is worried that, because of restrictions, her Mum won’t meet her newest grandchild. 

“I understand the risk of Covid. My Mum had it, I know how terrifying it is. But I can’t stop thinking about the residents in care homes and how sad they must be not seeing their families,” she said.

“It terrifies me that the isolation that’s happening to her, I don’t know, will she make it past six months and meet her grandchild?

“She was the first person I told. She managed to keep the secret. But the continued isolation just makes it a lot harder.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said:“We understand the severe impact this pandemic has had on people’s lives across Scotland and that it has been a particularly difficult time for people living in care homes, and their loved ones.

“Essential visits should continue to be supported at all stages of the pandemic, in all areas, no matter the current level. 

“The move to temporary lockdown in mainland Scotland is not what anyone would have hoped for given that we are making progress on indoor visiting. Our aim is to keep this situation under control while the vaccination programme continues to make progress and get case numbers back to very low levels again.  

“A legal right to visit has been raised by relatives at a meeting with the Health Secretary, and while we believe improvements underway to current measures offer the fastest route to improve the situation, we are exploring all options and engaging with people, including relatives of care home residents and care home providers, whom the Health Secretary met again this week.” 


Queensferry Crossing closed as snow sweeps in across Scotland

The Met Office has issued a number of weather warnings across the country.

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Queensferry Crossing: The bridge has been closed due to a risk of falling ice.

The Queensferry Crossing has been closed due to a risk of falling ice.

The bridge, which carries the M90 motorway across the Firth of Forth, was shut to traffic in both directions during the early hours of Thursday morning as snow swept in across the Scotland.

Motorists now face a 36-mile diversion via the A985 Kincardine Bridge.

Bear Scotland warned drivers that the Forth Road Bridge “should not be used as a diversion”.

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A spokesperson said: “Bear Scotland staff are monitoring conditions closely and will reopen the Queensferry Crossing as soon as it is safe to do so.

“Further updates will be provided as and when the situation changes.”

The Met Office has issued a number of weather warnings across the country.

STV News
Ochil Hills: Weather warnings have been put in place across Scotland.

An amber alert was put in place across south and south-east Scotland on Wednesday evening, with around 30cm of snow expected to fall overnight.

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The warning, which remains in place until 8am on Thursday, covers areas such as South Lanarkshire, Lanark, Jedburgh, Melrose, Lauder, Peebles and Penicuik in Midlothian.

Blizzard-like conditions are expected to develop on Thursday in Moray and the east Highlands and could affect roads on higher ground.

Snow is also expected to fall across most of central Scotland, western Fife and Stirlingshire.

A yellow warning for rain has also been put in place in the north-east of the country.

The alert, which runs through Thursday until 12pm on Friday, affects Peterhead, Fraserburgh and Banff in Aberdeenshire as well as Wick and Thurso in the Highlands and the Orkney Islands.

Winds will also be an issue for the north and north-east as Storm Christoph heads into the North Sea on Thursday.

The north of Lewis, north Highland coast, Orkney, Shetland and coastal Moray and Aberdeenshire could see gusts of up to 50mph.


New Covid drug screening hub launched at Glasgow Uni

The facility has been established at the University of Glasgow's centre for virus research.

STV News

A new Covid-19 drug screening and resistance hub (CRUSH) aimed at uncovering medical treatments to combat the virus has been launched at the University of Glasgow.

The facility has been established at the uni’s centre for virus research.

The CRUSH Project has received £2.5m of funding to accelerate the research and a bid to understand the virus that has stopped the world.

In a bid to find drugs that will kill the virus without harming people they have been growing Covid in the lab to try and understands how it works and mutates.

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Dr Agnieszka Szemiel from CRUSH said: “Sometimes when you get home it’s 10pm and you are just collapsing in bed you feel like ‘why did I volunteer’. But on the other hand if we are able to provide medication that works, this will help.”

Professor Massimo Palmarini from the University of Glasgow Centre of Virus Research said: “There was a certain level of realisation that this our time that we can contribute and normally we do research as really as going long term objectives where you don’t see the practical obligation right away. When instead with this, it was a bit different.”

Despite increased hope vaccines will help the world beat covid, Professor Palmarini says it’s crucial we also have anti-viral drugs.

He continued: “The vaccine will never be universal, so there will never be 100% of individuals vaccinated so you need to have other therapeutics that can act at the single patient level.”


Government urged to negotiate with Biden to remove whisky tariffs

Sir Keir Starmer said there was an opportunity for the UK to 'reset' its relationship with the White House.

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Cheers: Sir Keir Starmer has called on the Government to negotiate with Biden’s administration to remove US tariffs on Scotch whisky.

Sir Keir Starmer has called on the UK Government to negotiate with Joe Biden’s administration to remove US tariffs on Scotch whisky, according to a report.

The Labour leader said there was an opportunity for the UK to “reset” its relationship with the White House following the departure of Donald Trump.

Tariffs of £5.6bn were imposed by former president Donald Trump’s administration in retaliation for state support given to Airbus, with products including Scotch whisky badly affected by the measures.

Writing in The Herald, Sir Keir said: “With Joe Biden now in the White House, the United Kingdom has the opportunity to reset our relationship with the United States. It is a chance for both nations to work together to reverse some of the economic damage done by Trump and his administration.

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“This will take time and it will not be easy. One particularly harmful legacy Trump leaves behind is the punitive tariffs imposed on Scotch whisky and other vital Scottish exports.

“When businesses are working flat out to weather the storm of the coronavirus, the 25% imposed on Scotch whisky and other UK goods was an act of economic and diplomatic vandalism.

“Now, with a new president and a new administration in place, the UK Government must seize this opportunity and appeal to Joe Biden to reverse Trump’s harmful tariffs.”

The EU responded to the move by Trump’s administration with tariffs on £3bn of US goods over subsidies given to Boeing.

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In December, the UK announced it would suspend those measures from January 1, presenting it as an olive branch to the US post-Brexit.

The Government hopes the move will help bring the US towards a reasonable settlement over the Airbus-Boeing row and show that the UK is serious about reaching a negotiated outcome.


Coronavirus: More than 500 deaths recorded since last week

At least 97 of the deaths have occurred in care homes, according to statistics by National Records of Scotland.

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More than 500 deaths linked to coronavirus have been recorded in Scotland since last week.

During First Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Nicola Sturgeon confirmed a further 92 people have died after being diagnosed with Covid-19.

That takes the number of confirmed and suspected coronavirus deaths registered since January 11 to 531.

At least 97 of the deaths have occurred in care homes, according to statistics by National Records of Scotland (NRS).

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The death toll of those who had tested positive stands at 5468, however weekly figures on suspected Covid-19 deaths recorded by NRS suggest the most up-to-date total is at least 7448.

Total confirmed cases of the virus has risen to 166,583 – a jump of 1656 in the past 24 hours.

The daily test positivity rate is 7.5%, down from the 11.1% reported on Tuesday when 1165 cases were recorded.

According to NHS boards across Scotland, 2003 people are currently in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 – an increase of 14 overnight. Out of those, 150 patients are in intensive care.

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On Wednesday, NRS revealed there were 368 deaths linked to Covid registered between January 11 and 17, down 23 from the previous week.

Of these, the majority were in hospital at 240, with 97 in care homes, 27 at home or in a non-institutional setting, and four in other institutions.

A total of 44 took place in Glasgow, 39 in Edinburgh and 34 in Fife.

NRS also revealed there were 6324 more deaths in Scotland in 2020 than the average over the previous five years.

The statistics body found the provisional total number of deaths registered over the year was 64,084.

This compares to an average of 57,760 over the previous five years, resulting in 6324 excess deaths.

Of the 6834 deaths involving Covid-19 between March and December 2020, 93% had at least one pre-existing condition.

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The most common main pre-existing condition was dementia and Alzheimer’s, accounting for 28% of coronavirus deaths.

During her statement to the Scottish Parliament, Sturgeon revealed that 309,909 people have now received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.


Heavy snow, blizzards and flooding to hit Scotland

Amber weather warning issued for the south and south-east of Scotland.

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Parts of Scotland could see up to 30cm of snow fall overnight, with flooding likely in other areas.

An amber weather warning has been issued in the south and south-east of Scotland from 6pm on Wednesday until 8am on Thursday, covering areas such as South Lanarkshire, Lanark, Jedburgh, Melrose, Lauder, Peebles and Penicuik in Midlothian.

Hills around the Borders areas of Lauder, Galashiels, Peebles, Innerleithen, Melrose, Dewar, Hawick and Jedburgh could see 30cm of snow by the morning.

Blizzard-like conditions are likely to develop on Thursday in Moray and the east Highlands and could affect roads on higher ground, with snow on Wednesday night in Inverness and the north Highlands.

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Snow will also fall across most of central Scotland, western Fife and Stirlingshire.

STV meteorologist Sean Batty said: “Today has been one of the busiest forecasting days for a long time here in Scotland, with so many things going on in the next 24 hours.

“We’ve got four main things going on – heavy snow and rain in the south east, heavy snow in the east Highlands and inland Moray, heavy rain and flooding on the north-east coast and strong winds developing in the north too.”

Heavy rain could cause flooding in Moray, north Aberdeenshire, Caithness and Orkney, with 40-50mm possible.

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Winds will also be an issue for the north and north-east as Storm Christoph heads into the North Sea on Thursday.

The north of Lewis, north Highland coast, Orkney, Shetland and coastal Moray and Aberdeenshire could see gusts of up to 50mph.

Sean said: “This added to the heavy rain in these areas will make for an extremely miserable day here, and potentially dangerous conditions on high level routes from blowing snow.”

The weather is likely to calm down on Friday and into the weekend, although wintry showers are expected in the far north and west.

Sean said: “Longer term, while temperatures will be up and down from day to day, it generally looks like the remainder of January and through the start of February will be colder than normal.

“That means that snow is still likely to be an issue from time to time in the coming weeks.”


Over-80s vaccine target date ‘refined’ as rollout picks up pace

Nicola Sturgeon was pressed on the issue during First Minister's Questions at Holyrood on Wednesday.

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Scotland’s coronavirus vaccination programme is “picking up pace”, Nicola Sturgeon insisted as she told MSPs the target timetable for delivering injections to the over-80s has been “refined”.

She was pressed on the issue by Scottish Tory Holyrood leader Ruth Davidson, who claimed hundreds of thousands of doses of the vaccine have “gone unused for weeks”.

The Conservative challenged the First Minister to explain why rollout of the vaccine is “lagging behind in Scotland”.

The exchanges, during First Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, came after John Swinney said the Scottish Government has not yet received all supplies of the vaccine allocated to Scotland.

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A total of 309,909 Scots have so far received their first dose of the vaccine, according to the latest figures.

Davidson said on Tuesday that while Scotland had already received 717,000 doses, “more than 400,000 have yet to reach patients”.

But Swinney, the deputy first minister, insisted: “We do not have that volume of vaccine in our hands, we cannot distribute that because it has not arrived with us yet.”

Meanwhile, Sturgeon stressed there is a difference between the supplies that have been allocated to Scotland and “what we have in hand”.

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She said: “The majority of doses that are in Scotland are actually already in people’s arms.

“The rest of them will be supplying GPs and other vaccination centres over the next few days to make sure that they get into people’s arms. That is how a supply chain of anything works.”

Sturgeon insisted the vaccination programme “is not lagging behind in Scotland”.

She said the Scottish Government had “very deliberately” focused first on elderly residents in care homes, in a bid to reduce deaths – with more than 90% of this group now having received their first dose of the vaccine.

The First Minister added: “The reason why the overall numbers therefore are lower at this stage, because of that focus on care homes, is because it takes longer and is more labour intensive to vaccinate in care homes than it is in the community.”

But she said vaccinations amongst those aged over 80 are “picking up”, and the target of giving all those in this age group their first dose should be met by the first week in February.

Davidson said health secretary Jeane Freeman had previously committed to giving everyone in this group their first injection by the end of January, and asked Sturgeon: “Why are we already falling behind?”

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Sturgeon initially said there had not been any change in the target, though she said later that it had been refined.

The SNP leader told MSPs: “On this point about end of January versus the beginning of February, we refine these target dates as we go along, based on our developing understanding of supply.”

Davison commented: “There we have it, it’s not a slip, it is a refinement.”

But she insisted it is “important that the First Minister acknowledges problems” in the vaccination programme and “starts to fix them”.

The Tory claimed: “There are hundreds of thousands of vaccine doses that have gone unused for weeks while GPs are desperate to get their hands on it.

“Problems here have been building for some time and the Scottish Government continues to stand by and furiously repeat that everything is fine but GPs and the BMA (British Medical Association) are sounding the red flag and raising the alarm, not to be awkward but because they and us and everyone wants this vaccination programme to work and time is of the essence.”

Sturgeon later told interim Scottish Labour leader Jackie Baillie about 1% of doses of the vaccine have been wasted so far – while plans allow for a wastage rate of 5%.

Baillie said a wastage rate at the weekend of 1.8% meant that in real terms, “something like 5000 doses” had been lost “when people desperately need this vaccine”.


CCTV appeal after number of attacks on women at park

The assaults happened in The Meadows area of Edinburgh between 10.30pm and 11.30pm on Monday, January 11.

Police Scotland

Police have released CCTV footage of a man they want to track down following a number of attacks on women at an Edinburgh park.

The assaults happened close to Melville Drive in The Meadows area of the city between 10.30pm and 11.30pm on Monday, January 11.

Police said several women were approached separately by a man before being attacked.

Investigating officers believe the man captured on CCTV will be able to assist with their enquiries.

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He has been described as Asian, slim, aged between 20 and 30, and around 5ft 7-9in.

The man was also wearing a dark slim-fit puffer-style jacket.

Detective inspector George Calder said: “A number of women were approached by a man who assaulted them and we believe the man shown in these images can help with our enquiries.

“Officers are also keen to speak to anyone who may have seen the man walking towards the city centre or near Argyle Place or who may have dashcam footage, particularly from driving along Melville Drive at that time of night.

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“Anyone who has not spoken to officers already and may be able to help identify the man, or the man himself, can contact Police Scotland on 101.”


Police hunt driver after man badly injured in hit and run

The 55-year-old was left seriously injured after being struck by a car.

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Injuries: Described as serious but not life threatening.

A man has been left seriously injured after being struck by a car in a hit and run.

The 55-year-old was hit by a silver VW on the A701 near Gowkley Moss roundabout in Midlothian at around 2.45pm on Tuesday.

Emergency services attended and he was taken to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary for treatment to his injuries, described as serious but not life threatening.

The car left the scene following the incident and police are now looking to trace the driver as they appeal for information.

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Constable Kevin Liddell of Dalkeith Road Policing said: “We are appealing for the assistance of the public to trace the vehicle involved.

“I would ask if you were in the area at the time of the incident and may have witnessed the collision that you get in contact with officers.

“I would also appeal to anyone who has any dashcam or mobile phone footage that could assist with our investigation.

“Police can be contacted by calling 101.”


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