Edinburgh’s King’s Theatre stages funding plea as closure looms

Bosses said repeated calls for help have gone unanswered.

The King’s Theatre in Edinburgh has warned it will permanently close if it does not receive emergency funding.

The theatre – its stage graced by the likes of Sean Connery and Billy Connolly – is run by Scotland’s largest theatre charity, Capital Theatres, which says coronavirus has resulted in a 90% loss in income.

A necessary refurbishment of the venue, which opened in 1906, was due to take place this year in order to make the building, which bosses describe as being in disrepair, safe and accessible for all.

The King’s Theatre on Lothian Road, Edinburgh.

But since the theatre closed its doors in March, Capital Theatres has been forced to use the redevelopment fund to keep the wider company afloat; using it to support staff and its other venues the Festival Theatre and The Studio.

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Bosses say they’re being ignored by Creative Scotland and the Scottish Government after repeated calls for help.

“We seem to be missing out on every single fund that comes along,” said Iain Ross, director of finance and HR at Capital Theatres.

“Either we’re too small, or we’re too big, or we’re too resilient.

“I worked in agriculture and industry before this and I’ve never worked at a company that could survive 90% loss of income without being affected severely.

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“And that’s where we are now. We’ve got a very serious problem.”

Iain Ross has worked for Capital Theatres for 10 years.

“We have 54 staff members whose jobs are at risk of redundancy and we are currently getting no support. It’s very strange.”

The £25m refurbishment, which was due to take place in 2021, has already been pushed back because of coronavirus. Now there are worries that it might not happen at all.

“We’re having to use the money that we desperately need to make this theatre a 21st century theatre, available and accessible to all; we’re having to borrow that money just to keep going,” said Mr Ross.

“What that means is when we ultimately do get out of this pandemic, we’re going to have much less money for the project. So that means it’s either going to be delayed even further or it’s going to be reduced massively in scale, or – the real jeopardy here – is it’s not going to happen at all.

“If that doesn’t happen, this theatre will close. And if it closes once, it will not reopen.”

Creative Scotland said commercial theatres would soon be able to apply for help from a new £31.5m fund announced by the First Minister last week.

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It added in a statement: “Criteria for these funds are being finalised as a matter of urgency and will be announced as soon as possible.”

The multi-million redevelopment will make the theatre accessible to everyone.

Biggest names in the business

In its 114-year history, the King’s Theatre has played host to some of the biggest names in showbiz, including Sir Billy Connolly, Sir Sean Connery, Dame Maggie Smith and Sir Ian McKellen.

The theatre is also home to Scotland’s biggest panto which, for the last 22 years, has starred Allan Stewart, the country’s longest-serving panto dame.

‘If it closes once, it will not reopen’

Iain Ross, Capital Theatres

Stewart was the last person to perform at the King’s before it closed in March. He says the the theatre has played a huge part in his career.

“It’s one of those theatres that’s warm. You can be working in there rehearsing and it feels like there’s an audience in it,” he said.

Allan Stewart (pictured at the Kings in 1997) is Scotland’s longest-running panto dame.

“It’s not too big – only 1350 seats, and it’s just got an amazing atmosphere”.

The entertainer was due to perform his 23rd panto at the theatre this Christmas, however the show was cancelled last month due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Allan added that panto fans shouldn’t lose faith yet.

“The panto as we know it isn’t going to go ahead,” he said.

“But I do say that if the government could just open up with no social distancing, as they are doing in France at the moment, I believe that Andy [Gray], Grant [Stott], Jordan [Young] and myself will have a show at the Kings at Christmas.”

‘I believe Andy, Grant, Jordan and myself will have a show at the Kings at Christmas’

Allan Stewart, entertainer
Allan was the last person to perform at the Kings before the curtain came down in March.

The theatre is known for it’s unique programme that features touring productions and Scottish theatre as well as being home to many of the Capital’s amateur dramatics groups.

Toni MacFarlane first took to the stage at the King’s when she was just two months old.

Toni performing at the Kings in an amateur dramatics production.

Since then, the 24-year-old has performed in a show almost every year alongside mum Fiona.

“It was really emotional walking in right now. This theatre is so important to so many people,” said Fiona.

“With all the work we’ve done in the King’s, we know the permanent [backstage] crew and their livelihoods depend on this place.

“The emotions are so high because it’s so special. It’s so special to so many people in Edinburgh.

“It’s irreplaceable.”

Mother and daughter AmDram stars Fiona and Toni MacFarlane.

“I feel really at home here,” added Toni.

“It’s a really sad thought to think that might go away.”

Reflecting on the last few months of lockdown, Iain Ross said the theatre was not asking for special treatment, but simply asking to be considered for help.

“We don’t want to be a special case,” he said. “We just want to be a case. We want to be considered, as so many other organisations are, for support.

“We really would like someone to come and speak to us to explain why, in our eyes, we aren’t being treated as equally as everyone else.”

Creative Scotland have been approached for comment.


Businesses given ‘grace period’ to implement Covid passport scheme

Nicola Sturgeon said firms will have time to operationalise and test the arrangements they put in place.

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A ‘grace period’ will be given to businesses in Scotland to allow them to prepare for the implementation of Covid passports, Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed.

The First Minister explained that although the legal obligation for the scheme will come into effect from 5am on Friday, it will not be until October 18 that any business could face enforcement action for non-compliance.

Speaking at the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, Sturgeon said that the two-week period will allow firms to “test, adapt and build confidence” in the practical arrangements they will need to put in place for the scheme.

It comes after nightclub bosses last week launched a legal challenge over the vaccine passport scheme.

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The First Minister also confirmed that capacity limits, in place for stadia and live events, will be lifted.

“We have continued to engage with businesses as we have developed the detail of the certification scheme,” Sturgeon told MSPs.

“I understand that many businesses have concerns about certification – however, I am grateful to all those that have nevertheless engaged in these discussions so constructively.

“The Government remains of the view that a targeted certification scheme does have a part to play in
driving vaccination rates up as high as possible, and providing an additional layer of protection over the
winter months as we seek to achieve the potentially difficult task of keeping Covid under control while
keeping our economy fully open.”

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“Indeed, many other countries are already demonstrating the value of Covid certification.

“It is for these reasons that Cabinet decided this morning to proceed with the laying of the regulations
that will bring such a scheme into operation.

“However, we are also determined to listen and, as far as possible, respond to the reasonable concerns
of business, so that the introduction and practical implementation of the scheme is as smooth as
possible.”

Sturgeon said businesses will be able to operationalise and test the arrangements they put in place.

“I can confirm therefore that Cabinet this morning agreed a change to our original plans for the scheme’s
commencement,” she told Holyrood.

“The new, staged approach we are proposing now is designed to help businesses adapt to the requirement
that the scheme will place upon them, and give them a period in which they can operationalise and test
their arrangements in practice.”

She continued: “I can therefore confirm that after the legal obligation comes into force at 5am on Friday this week, we intend to allow a further period of slightly more than two weeks – until October 18 – before any business could
face enforcement action for non-compliance.

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“This period – effectively a grace period – will allow businesses to test, adapt and build confidence in the practical arrangements they will need to put in place to be compliant with the scheme.”

The First Minister added: “The pragmatic compromise that I have just outlined in relation to a staged introduction of the scheme demonstrates, I hope, that we are listening to business about the practical challenges they face and that we are determined to work with them to overcome these.”

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross hit out at the SNP over the scheme. (Scottish Parliament TV)

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross urged Sturgeon to admit it is a “botched scheme”.

He told the First Minister: “Warning after warning from businesses for weeks were ignored by this government and only now does Nicola Sturgeon finally admit that this is a botched scheme.

“In a little over 48-hours time, it will come into force, yet the Government is still publishing vital new information and guidance about how to administer the scheme.”

He continued: “It’s more of the same last-minute, rushed, chaotic planning we’ve seen time and time again from this SNP government.”

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said: “Can I plead with (Sturgeon) again to please consider the role of testing, as making sure someone is negative going into a venue is still more important than if they are vaccinated.”

Alex Cole-Hamilton, the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, urged the First Minister to abandon the scheme.

He told MSPs: “The 18-day delay in enforcement is an admission that the Government and businesses are nowhere near ready and we have evidence that shows that the passports don’t even work.”

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COP26: Glasgow set for ‘extreme’ disruption as road closures revealed

The Clydeside Expressway will be closed for 23 days forcing traffic on to other already busy routes.

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The city's motorway network, already the busiest in the country, is expected to be "significantly busier than usual".

Glasgow is set to see “extreme” traffic disruption as a large area of the city centre is to be locked down during the United Nations climate summit.

COP26 is being hosted on the banks of the Clyde at the Scottish Exhibition Centre and routes around the area will be closed on the lead-up to the conference as well as during, between October 31 and November 12, and afterwards.

As well as pressure from road users, up to 100,000 people are expected to take part in an activist march on November 6, with other “unofficial fringe activity” possible throughout the twelve days.

Get Ready Glasgow via GCC
Red shows areas at risk of congestion with roads expected to be significantly busier than usual on the first day of the conference.

Pedestrian and cycle routes around the SEC will also be affected with campaigners saying the closures go against the ethos of the conference.

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Trains and buses will be busier than normal and they will also be at risk of disruption.

The city’s motorway network, already the busiest in the country, is expected to be “significantly busier than usual” with the M8, M77 and M74 all at risk of major congestion.

The Clydeside Expressway, which normally sees around 100,000 vehicles each day, will be closed between Partick and Anderston for 23 days, between October 23 and November 15.

Get Ready Glasgow via Glasgow City Council
Alternate routes for the COP26 road closures from October 23 until November 15.

The council’s official alternate routes involve drivers using some of the busiest roads in the city with them being told to go through the Clyde Tunnel, travel parallel to the Expressway on Dumbarton Road and Argyle Street, or use Great Western Road, through Charing Cross.

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The scale of the event in Glasgow is unprecedented in the UK.

Around 10,000 police officers per day will be deployed, mostly from Police Scotland with support from other forces across the UK, as high-profile guests such as the Queen, the Pope and US President Joe Biden are expected to visit.

An outer security fence around the SEC will provide a suitable “stand off” in “the event of a terrorist attack”, a council report said.

As part of its advice for those affected by the disruption, the council said roads that remain open “will be extremely busy”.

The Clydeside Expressway is the busiest road in Glasgow, with only the urban M8 motorway carrying more traffic through the city.

Get Ready Glasgow via GCC
National Cycle Route Closures and Diversions during COP26

Stobcross Road, which runs between the Expressway and the SEC, has already been closed due to works, and will not be open again until November 21.

Pressure from those unable to use their usual routes is expected to be diverted on to the A739, which runs north to south under the river as the Clyde Tunnel, as well as Paisley Road West, Great Western Road and Dumbarton Road.

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The disruption from COP26 comes on top of traffic chaos already being caused by the ongoing repairs to the M8 Woodside Viaduct north of the city centre.

Congestion on the motorway through Glasgow will be even more severe during the climate summit and Charing Cross could be particularly bad.

A Glasgow City Council said: “COP26 will be unlike other major events Glasgow has hosted, bringing its own unique challenges for our travel network.

“Due to the scale and complexity of the event, which involves the likes of world leaders and climate activists, we will experience changes to the movement of traffic around the city.

“Businesses and residents directly affected by planned disruption will receive specific, direct communications forewarning them of the likely impact during specified periods and business engagement sessions will be publicised and held closer to the event.”

COP26 Road Closures

  • Congress Road, closed from 6am, October 10, until 6am, November 17.
  • Congress Way, Finnieston Quay, Tunnel Street, Stobcross Road (section parallel to A814) and Castlebank Street, subject to lane restrictions and closures between October 17 and 23, with full closure from 9pm on October 24 until 6am on November 21.
  • Clyde Arc (Squinty Bridge) and Lancefield Quay, closed from 9pm on October 23 until 6am on November 15. The roads will be open to service buses only.
  • Finnieston Street, from Houldsworth Street to Lancefield Quay, closed from 9pm on October 24 until 6am on November 15. Local Access southbound will be maintained until October 28.
  • Clydeside Expressway, from Partick Interchange to Anderston (Junction 19), closed from 9pm on October 23, until 6am on November 15.
  • Minerva Street and West Greenhill Place, closed from 6am on October 28, until 6am on November 13, with local access to private carparks maintained.
Get Ready Glasgow via GCC
COP26 Road Closures: SEC and Finnieston
Get Ready Glasgow via GCC
COP26 Road Closures: Partick and Transport Museum
Get Ready Glasgow via GCC
COP26 Road Closures: Anderston and M8

Man accused of murdering woman and toddler as well as raping girl

Andrew Innes allegedly killed Bennylyn Burke, 25, and her child, Jellica Burke, at a house in Troon Avenue, Dundee.

Police Scotland
Court: Andrew Innes, 51, has been accused of murdering Bennylyn and Jellica Burke.

A man has been accused of murdering a mother and her two-year-old daughter.

Andrew Innes allegedly killed Bennylyn Burke, 25, and her child, Jellica Burke, at a house in Troon Avenue, Dundee.

Prosecutors claim the 51-year-old then hid the bodies under the kitchen floor of the property with a further accusation that he also raped a seven-year-old girl.

Innes faced the charges as he appeared via video-link at the High Court in Glasgow on Tuesday.

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The alleged murders are said to have occurred between February 20 and March 5 this year.

It is claimed Innes stabbed Ms Burke on the body with a knife as well as repeatedly striking her on the head with a hammer and the handle of the blade.

The indictment alleges Innes murdered her two-year-old daughter Jellica and that he did “asphyxiate her by means unknown”.

Innes then faces a charge of attempting to defeat the ends of justice.

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This includes a claim that he did wrap the body of Ms Burke in a rubble bag, blanket and tarpaulin and then concealed the corpse in concrete under the kitchen floor at the Troon Avenue property.

Jellica’s naked body is also said to have been hidden there.

The charge also features a claim that Innes told police investigating Ms Burke’s whereabouts that he had driven her, Jellica and another child to the Old Inns Cafe in Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire, on February 28.

He is said to have told the officers he left them with an “unknown male” and that he had no contact with them afterwards.

Innes also allegedly pretended to a young girl that Ms Burke was in hospital and Jellica was in Bristol.

Innes is separately accused of assaulting, raping and attempting to rape that same child as well detaining her against her will at the house in Dundee.

This is also said to have happened between the same dates of the alleged murders.

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No plea was entered at the hearing on Tuesday.

Innes had no lawyer acting for him in court. The nature of the charges means he must get legal representation for any possible trial.

Prosecutor Alex Prentice QC told the court: “I understand that he has made an application for legal aid and that was refused.

“He has instructed an Edinburgh solicitor (Stephen Knowles) on a very limited mandate.

“I have been in touch with the solicitor in person today and he has knowledge of the case.

“My understanding is [Innes] does not intend to instruct legal representation for further hearings.

“The Crown then moves that Mr Knowles is appointed by the court.”

Lord Armstrong confirmed with Innes what was stated by Mr Prentice was right.

The judge went on: “Given the nature of the case, I am going to formally appoint a solicitor. You have no difficulty with that?”

Innes replied: “That is correct.”

The case was adjourned until a further hearing in December.

Homes evacuated after bomb squad cordon off tenement block

Police were called to Edinburgh's Comely Bank Street at around 2.35pm on Tuesday.

© Google Maps 2020
Officers put up a cordon and those living in neighbouring properties were evacuated.

A tenement block has been evacuated after reports of an explosive being found in an Edinburgh property.

Police were called to Comely Bank Street at around 2.35pm on Tuesday.

Officers put up a cordon and those living in neighbouring properties were evacuated.

Police Scotland said the evacuations were a precaution and that there was no risk to the wider public.

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A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Around 2.35pm on Tuesday, September 28, we received a report of possible ordinance found with in a property on Comely Bank Street in Edinburgh.

“A cordon has been put in place by officers and several neighbour properties evacuated as a precaution. Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) are currently on scene.

“There is no risk to the wider public.”


Glasgow bin lorry disaster case opens as council sues First Bus

Glasgow City Council is suing First Bus, the former employers of the bin lorry driver Harry Clarke.

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Bin lorry disaster: Glasgow's George Square in 2014.

A hearing has begun into the Glasgow bin lorry disaster which claimed the lives of six people.

Glasgow City Council is suing First Bus, the former employers of the bin lorry driver Harry Clarke, over the job reference the firm provided.

Mr Clarke collapsed while at the wheel of a bin lorry in the city centre in December 2014.

The vehicle hit pedestrians, killing six people and injuring more than a dozen others.

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At a Court of Session hearing in Edinburgh on Tuesday, Roddy Dunlop QC, representing First Bus, and Andrew Smith QC, representing the local authority, took witness statements from medical professionals linked to Mr Clarke and his former employers.

The hearing heard Mr Clarke’s GP, Dr Gerard McKaig, confirm that he had been misled on Mr Clarke’s medical history prior to the crash.

Mr Clarke told his GP that he fainted in a warm canteen building in April 2010, but it later transpired that he had lost consciousness behind the wheel of a stationary bus, the case heard.

In a witness statement, Dr McKaig said had he known about Mr Clarke fainting behind the wheel of a bus, he would have “warranted a much fuller investigation” into his health at the time.

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Witness statements were also given by the former clinical lead for Bupa’s occupational health services in Scotland, Dr Peter Warnock.

Dr Warnock told the hearing had he been made aware of Mr Clarke’s loss of consciousness behind the wheel in 2010, he would have deemed him “unfit for work” until a health investigation was carried out to the DVLA’s satisfaction.

The hearing continues into Monday afternoon.

A 2015 inquiry into the incident heard the tragedy took just 19 seconds to unfold.

Erin McQuade, 18, and her grandparents Jack Sweeney, 68, and Lorraine Sweeney, 69, from Dumbarton; Stephenie Tait, 29, and Jacqueline Morton, 51, both from Glasgow; and Gillian Ewing, 52, from Edinburgh, died in the crash.

A further 15 people were injured when the Glasgow City Council truck veered out of control.

It travelled along the pavement in Queen Street before crashing into the side of the Millennium Hotel in George Square.


Tributes to climber who died after fall on Isle of Skye

Mike Campbell, 63, died after he plunged 80 metres while climbing down Blaven.

SWNS
Conditions on the hillside deteriorated significantly on Sunday.

A dad-of-two who tragically fell to his death on a climbing expedition has been described as a caring man and passionate lover of the great outdoors by one of his best friends.

Mike Campbell, 63, died after he plunged 80 metres while climbing down Blaven on the Isle of Skye on Sunday, September 26.

Three of his party were saved by a helicopter dispatched from Inverness at around 1.30pm after conditions on the hillside deteriorated significantly, according to a Facebook post by Ben Wear of the Skye Mountain Rescue Team.

Adverse weather meant that further air rescues were impossible and a search party set out on foot.

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Mike’s body was found at around 5pm and his companion, Kirsty McLelland, was helped to safety.

In total, 32 rescuers were involved in the search for the missing climbers.

Mark Dootson, chair of the Kilmarnock Mountaineering Club of which Mike was a member, remembered his friend as a “very caring” man.

Mike worked for Thales, an aerospace and defence firm based in Glasgow, and stayed locally for many years before moving to Dunoon, Argyll and Bute, only a few months ago, where he was in the process of renovating a bungalow.

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Mark said: “When we had novices with us he was always very caring towards them. I don’t really know any other way to explain him.

“He took me under his wing after he completed the Munros and we were concentrating on getting mine.”

The two joined the Ayrshire outdoors club around 10 years ago and became fast friends.

“We got to know each other through the club and our hillwalking and climbing,” Mark continued.

“Both of us would go to gigs regularly, any Scottish indie or folky stuff that was playing in Glasgow.

“Only last week we were at a gig in St Luke’s and we would always go to Celtic Connections.”

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “Around 1.20 pm on Sunday, September 26, 2021, a concern for a person call was made to police after a 63-year-old man had fallen on Blaven, Isle of Skye, and could not be traced by his companion.

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“Skye Mountain Rescue attended and the man was found to be deceased and his body recovered from the mountain.

“There would appear to be no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death and a report has been submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.”


Scottish Parliament calls for Universal Credit cut to be scrapped

MSPs backed a motion calling for the UK Government to abandon plans to end the £20 benefit uplift.

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Only the Scottish Conservatives opposed the call.

A plan to cut £20 per week from Universal Credit should be scrapped, Holyrood has declared.

MSPs have voted to call for the UK Government to maintain the benefit uplift introduced towards the start of the coronavirus pandemic rather than end it as planned on October 6.

Social justice secretary Shona Robison said the end of the £20 uplift would be “senseless and harmful” and said thousands of families will face the “terrible decision” of choosing to heat their homes or feeding themselves.

Only the Scottish Conservatives opposed the call and instead wanted the Parliament to pass a motion stating that it was the “right time for the uplift to be reviewed” given that the majority of coronavirus restrictions had been eased.

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Opening the debate, Robison said: “This cut is not inevitable, nor is it something that is happening because it is expected to improve the lives of those affected – we know it isn’t going to.

“This is a conscious decision to remove support from people who rely upon this uplift as a lifeline to allow basic needs to be met and to live with a modicum of dignity.”

Scottish Conservative MSP Alexander Stewart claimed that Universal Credit had “helped employment rise to record levels in the months leading up to the pandemic”.

He added: “I was pleased to see the six-month extension to the uplift confirmed in the March budget following calls from members in these benches, but it would be remiss of me not to mention the continuing uplift and the cost.

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“Those on the opposite benches tell us that they believe the problem of funding is a non-issue. Well, I’m sorry, it’s not a non-issue.

“But less than a week ago, in this chamber, we saw the SNP social security minister stand in the chamber and refuse to say whether he would permanently double the carers allowance supplement. And the reason for that was budget considerations.”

Ahead of the debate, Scottish Labour’s social security spokeswoman Pam Duncan-Glancy said: “The uplift was a response to a failing social security system, gutted by the Conservative Government.

“This money went on basics like food, bills and travelling to work or school. For millions of people struggling to make ends meet, slashing that money now will be an assault on their basic human rights.

“This cut will do untold damage to communities and all those opposed must stand together to fight it – but we need deeds as well as words from the Scottish Government.

“Poverty has been climbing under the Tories and the SNP. If they don’t act to reverse this, they will fail future generations and undo all the progress made under the previous Labour Governments.

“The SNP and the Conservative Governments must use all the powers at their disposal to take bold transformative action to tackle poverty and inequality right now.”

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Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Willie Rennie said: “The Conservatives seem to be concerned about the cost of this £20 cut to the overall exchequer, but they’ve also said that work is the best route out of poverty.”

A UK Government spokeswoman said: “We’ve always been clear that the uplift to Universal Credit was temporary.

“It was designed to help claimants through the economic shock and financial disruption of the toughest stages of the pandemic, and it has done so.

“Universal Credit will continue to provide vital support for those both in and out of work and it’s right that the Government should focus on our Plan for Jobs, supporting people back into work and supporting those already employed to progress and earn more.

“The Scottish Parliament has significant welfare powers and can top up existing benefits, pay discretionary payments and create entirely new benefits in areas of devolved responsibility.”


Boris Johnson says crisis on petrol forecourts is ‘stabilising’

The Prime Minister said he sympathises with those who have been worried about their journeys.

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He said the indications from the industry are that the situation is beginning to improve with supplies returning to normal levels.

Boris Johnson has said the situation on the filling station forecourts is “stabilising” as he urged motorists to go about their business in the normal way.

Following days of chaos, with long queues for petrol and stations running dry, the Prime Minister said he understood the frustration felt by drivers as they struggled to fill up.

However he said that the indications from the industry were that the situation was beginning to improve with supplies returning to normal levels.

“On the forecourts the situation is stabilising and people should be confident and just go about their business in the normal way,” he said in a pooled interview with broadcasters.

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His appeal came as Sir Keir Starmer accused the UK Government of reducing the country to “chaos” through its failure to deal with the fuel crisis.

The Labour leader said the haulage industry was “beyond frustrated” at the lack of a clear plan by ministers to alleviate the problems caused by the shortage of tanker drivers.

“The Government has reduced the country to chaos as we track from crisis to crisis. The Government is not gripping this,” he told BBC News.

“This problem was predictable and predicted and the Government has absolutely failed to plan.”

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But with the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) reporting “early signs” that the crisis was coming to an end, the Prime Minister expressed confidence the worst was over.

Johnson said the Government was putting in place measures to ensure the entire supply chain could cope in the run-up to Christmas.

“I want to say first of all how much I sympathise with people who have been worried about their journeys, worried about whether they will be able to use their cars in the normal way,” he said.

“I know how frustrating and worrying it must have been to worry about a shortage of petrol and fuel.

“We are now starting to see the situation improve. We are hearing from industry that supplies are coming back on to the forecourts in the normal way.

“What we want to do is to make sure we have the preparations necessary to get through to Christmas and beyond, not just in the supply of our petrol stations but all parts of our supply chain.”

Johnson rejected calls for healthcare staff and other workers to be given priority access to fuel, suggesting it was unnecessary given the easing of the situation.

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After the Government announced it would be issuing 5000 temporary visas to foreign lorry drivers to alleviate the shortages which led to the crisis, he also dismissed demands for more overseas workers to be admitted.

“What we want to see is a an emphasis on a high wage, high skill, high productivity approach to our economy,” he said.

“What I don’t think people in this country want to do is fix all our problems with uncontrolled immigration.

“We tried that for a long time and in the end, people could see that it was leading to a low wage, low skill approach without enough investment in people or in equipment.

“That’s not the way we want the UK to develop and grow.”

His comments came after UK transport secretary Grant Shapps acknowledged that Brexit, which cut off the supply of drivers from the EU, had been a “factor” in the crisis.

“No doubt it will have been a factor. On the other hand it has actually helped us to change rules to be able to test more drivers more quickly,” he told broadcasters.

“So, it has actually worked in both ways.”

Meanwhile PRA executive director Gordon Balmer said the numbers of filling stations reporting they had run dry was falling as fuel deliveries recovered.

“There are early signs that the crisis at pumps is ending, with more of our members reporting that they are now taking further deliveries of fuel,” he said.

“We have conducted a survey of our members this morning and only 37% of forecourts have reported being out of fuel today.

“With regular restocks taking place, this percentage is likely to improve further over the next 24 hours.”

Ministers have insisted throughout the crisis that fuel stocks remain high and that panic buying was unnecessary.

They argued the sudden surge in demand was driven by reports of of a shortage of a small number of tanker drivers leading to some hold-up in deliveries.

Nevertheless the Government announced on Monday that it was putting troops on standby to drive tankers as a “precautionary step” if problems persisted.

But with long queues for petrol continuing some senior Tories urged ministers to go further and begin actively deploying the military to restore public confidence.


CCTV images of man released after teenage girl attacked

The incident took place on Clyde Walkway in Glasgow on May 22.

Police Scotland
CCTV images have been released by Police Scotland as they continue their enquiries.

CCTV images of a man police believe could help with their enquiries into an assault on a 15-year-old girl have been released.

The incident took place earlier this year on Saturday, May 22, at around 6.45pm on Clyde Walkway in Glasgow.

The girl had been walking with a group of friends on the grass area near the band stand when the assault took place.

Officers believe that the man pictured in the CCTV images can help with their ongoing investigation into the incident.

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He is described as being white, with short dark hair, as wearing dark clothing at the time, and was carrying a distinctive yellow bag.

Anyone with information or who recognises the man in the images has been asked to get in touch with the police, as well as if the man sees the images himself.

Those who may be able to help are asked to contact Police Scotland on 101, quoting incident number 3185 of Saturday, May 22, 2021, or they can make a call anonymously to the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.


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