Free parking to remain in Angus to help hard-hit businesses

Parking to stay free until March 31, 2021, to help struggling traders.

Free parking: Angus Council extend scheme. Getty Images
Free parking: Angus Council extend scheme.

Drivers can park for free in Angus for another six months, in a bid to support the local authority’s struggling high streets.

The council bagged its off-street meters at the beginning of lockdown in March, so workers could help with vital services during the Covid outbreak.

That decision was reviewed at a meeting on Thursday, where it was agreed to extend free parking until the end of the financial year on March 31, 2021.

Councillor Mark Salmond said: “None of us know how long the effects of Covid-19 are going to impact negatively on Angus high streets, therefore today the administration group are asking full council to agree that Pay to Park charges are suspended until the end of this financial year.

ADVERT

“Excuse the pun,  but I believe this is the best vehicle.”

The directors of infrastructure and finance were consulted, the meeting heard. The costs of the parking extension will be £238,000.

Councillor Bill Duff said delaying parking charges was “a very sensible step”.

Story by local democracy reporter Hannah Brown


First Minister set to ease restrictions on outdoor meet-ups

The First Minister will make a statement in Holyrood on Tuesday afternoon.

Russell Cheyne/PA via PA Wire
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon could announce an easing of restrictions on outdoor meetings.

An easing of the restrictions on outdoor meetings could be announced by Nicola Sturgeon in her latest coronavirus update.

The First Minister is due to give a statement on the ongoing fight against Covid-19 to MSPs in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday afternoon.

She has already indicated a change in the rules on outdoor meetings – which at the moment only allow for two people from two different households to get together – could be coming.

On Friday, Sturgeon indicated “good progress” with the vaccination programme and the falling number of infections could mean that “greater normality is firmly on the horizon”.

“The First Minister has been clear that we will try to relax lockdown as quickly as we possibly can do, but we have to do it in a sustainable manner.”

Deputy First Minister John Swinney
ADVERT

She said then she was “hopeful” the Scottish Government may be able to make some “relatively minor, but I think important, changes in our ability to meet outdoors and also how young people are able to interact with their friends outdoors”.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney confirmed on Monday any changes to the current lockdown regime would be set out by Sturgeon.

He added: “The First Minister has been clear that we will try to relax lockdown as quickly as we possibly can do, but we have to do it in a sustainable manner.

“That means taking the appropriate steps in the appropriate sequence to make sure we don’t run the risk of the virus running away from us again.”

ADVERT

The easing of lockdown restrictions began in February when children in the first three years of primary, as well as nursery youngsters, were able to return to the classroom.

Older primary children are expected to return to school full time from next Monday, March 15 – with secondary school pupils also to get some time back in the classroom from this date, before returning full-time after the Easter holiday.


Reaction to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Oprah interview

A series of shocking claims were made by the couple during a two hour interview covering racism, mental health and the Royal Family.

Joe Pugliese via Harpo Productions
The interview with Oprah Winfrey was broadcast on STV on Monday night.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have said the institution of the Royal Family failed to care for them while their mental health suffered or protect them from racism in the tabloid press.

Harry and Meghan made a series of shocking statements during their interview with Oprah Winfrey broadcast on STV on Monday night.

Meghan said she had suicidal thoughts and was refused help by senior staff in the Royal household.

She also told Ms Winfrey that Harry had been asked about “how dark” their son’s skin would be. The Duke said he would never reveal the details of the conversation had with an unamed family member, but Ms Winfrey later said that it was not the Queen or Prince Philip.

ADVERT

During the two hour interview, which was first aired in the US overnight on Sunday, the couple revealed their second child, due in the summer, is a girl.

Harry and Meghan moved to the US in 2019 after deciding to “step-back” as working royals. Meghan said that the Royal Family institution failed to protect her and Harry from false stories in the tabloid press.

In a previously unseen section of the interview, Harry said the British tabloid media is “bigoted” and that this filtered out to the rest of society.

Asked about the Royal Family, Prime Minister Boris Johnson refused to comment beyond praising the Queen.

ADVERT

At the Downing Street press conference on Monday, he said: “I have always had the highest admiration for the Queen and the unifying role that she plays in our country and across the Commonwealth.”

But on “all other matters to do with the royal family, I have spent a long time now not commenting on royal family matters and I don’t intend to depart from that today”.

Sir Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour party, said: “The issues that Meghan has raised of race and mental health are really serious issues.

“It’s a reminder that there’s a lot more to do. Nobody but nobody should be prejudiced because of the colour of their skin or mental health issues.

“Well they’re serious allegations, and we’ll have to see how the institution reacts to this.

“It’s bigger in a sense than just the Royal Family, because that experience of racism, I’m sad to say, is too prevalent still in the 21st century. We have to take that very, very seriously.”

The Society of Editors said the UK media “is not bigoted and will not be swayed from its vital role holding the rich and powerful to account”.

ADVERT

Ian Murray, executive director of the Society of Editors, said: “It is not acceptable for the Duke and Duchess to make such claims without providing any supporting evidence.”

Buckingham Palace is yet to publicly respond to the interview.

If you or someone you know needs help, Samaritans operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year, by calling 116 123. Or, if you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at jo@samaritans.org

Man accused of murdering woman and two-year-old girl

Andrew Inness is accused of murdering Bennylyn Burke, 25, and two-year-old Jellica Burke.

Avon and Somerset Police via Facebook
The charge states that Bennylyn Burke was repeatedly hit with a hammer.

A man has appeared in court charged with murdering a woman and her two-year-old daughter.

Andrew Innes, 50, appeared at Dundee Sheriff Court on Monday.

He was charged with repeatedly hitting 25-year-old Bennylyn Burke with a hammer and murdering her.

Innes is also accused of assaulting Jellica Burke by “means unknown” and murdering the two-year-old.

ADVERT

It’s alleged both murders took place at a property in Troon Avenue, Dundee, between February 17 and March 5.

Innes, who made no plea, was held in custody following the hearing while the case was continued for further examination.


Teen charged after ‘attempted murders’ at football pitches

Three men were taken to hospital after being stabbed in Glasgow.

Police Scotland
The stabbings happened at Greenfield Football Centre on Duror Street.

A teenager has been arrested and charged in connection with two attempted murders and a serious assault in Glasgow.

Three men, two 21-year-olds and a 19-year-old, were stabbed at Greenfield Park football pitches on Duror Street, in the east of the city, on Saturday, February 27.

A 19-year-old has been charged in connection with the incident which happened at around 8.20pm and resulted in the three men being taken to Glasgow Royal Infirmary with serious injuries.

Detective sergeant Stephen Greenshields, of Shettleston CID, said: “We would like to thank the local community for helping us with our investigation and providing information.”

© Google Maps 2020
Greenfield Football Centre on Duror Street (Google Maps)
ADVERT

The 19-year-old is due to appear at Glasgow Sheriff Court on Tuesday, March 9.


Medieval skull removed from auction after ‘unethical’ warning

Antiquarians say human remains should be 'treated with respect' as skull recovered from excavation is pulled from sale.

Pexels via Pixabay
Skull was due to be put up for auction in Edinburgh.

A medieval skull expected to fetch £700 when it went under the hammer was removed from auction – after experts warned it was unethical to sell human remains.

The skull, recovered from a Victorian-era excavation near Durham, was pulled from sale at Ramsay Cornish Auctioneers in Leith, Edinburgh.

Antiquarians had raised concerns about the skull, due to be sold on Saturday, claiming the sale of human remains raised ‘ethical and moral’ issues.

Dr Simon Gilmour, director of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, said while it’s not illegal to sell human remains, they should be ‘treated with respect’.

ADVERT

He said it was a grey area but that he wanted to work with auction houses to stop the sale of human remains, and close the “loophole” which allowed it.

Dr Gilmour said: “The key thing herd is that selling such an item is legal – that is the core thing.

“There is a blind spot where human remains are concerned. You cannot own a human body or remains so we find it odd that you can sell them.

“It is a grey area and it is one that we want to tackle and close the loophhole.

ADVERT

“For us, it is an ethical issue.

“You are talking about part of a human body, a person, someone’s son or daughter and it should be treated with respect.

Dr Gilmour said archaeologists and those working with human remains were bound by a strict code of ethics with disturbed remains to be reburied following analysis.

He added: “If remains end up being sold, then it is very unlikely that it will be re-buried.”

A skull which belonged to the Edinburgh artist Sir William Mactaggart and which was used as a studio prop fetched £900 at the auction house in December.

A spokeswoman for the auction said a market existed among those with an interest in the macabre, as well as oddities and curiosities.

But she added they would not auction off any more skulls until “a wider debate can be had”.

ADVERT

The British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology (BABAO), described the sale of human remains as unethical.

They said there have been “numerous cases” in recent years where human remains have been bought and sold for financial gain.

A statement said: “It is ethically objectionable to commodify the remains of people as objects, and the concept of ‘ownership’ of most human remains is not recognised in law.”

It said there was a wider concern that trade encouraged looting of both archaeological and contemporary burial sites.

A spokeswoman for Ramsay Cornish Auctioneers said the item was removed soon after contact was made by Dr Gilmour.

She added: “The skull came from a dig, a burial site, and that is why we wanted to remove it.

“A skull which comes from a medical provenance might be viewed differently. It is very delicate territory but I am comfortable with the decision.

“There is a lot of censoring of objects and there are debates to be had, with each side listened to.

“Some might question whether it is legitimate to excavate a burial site. The reality is these are very important issues.

“Our leaning would be not to include any more skulls until a wider debate has been had.”

Driver attacked as teenagers ‘tampered’ with bus

The number 26 bus was travelling along towards Corstorphine Hill in Edinburgh on Friday when the gang targeted the vehicle.

SNS via SNS Group
Lothian Buses confirmed services including the number 26 would return to Clermiston as scheduled with an increased police prescence.

A bus driver was assaulted by a teenager as he tried to stop a gang from tampering with his vehicle in Edinburgh.

The number 26 bus was travelling along Drum Brae Drive towards Corstorphine Hill at about 10pm on Friday.

As it came to a halt at a bus stop, police say the group of youths – three males and a female aged between 15 and 18 – tried “tampering” with the vehicle from the outside when the driver got off.

He was attacked by one of the group, who is described as 6ft tall, of slim build and wearing a black jacket.

ADVERT

Inspector Johnny Elliott said: “This was an unprovoked assault on a man who was simply trying to do his job and it is vital we trace the individuals involved.

“I am appealing for anyone who was in the area on Friday evening and either witnessed the incident, or noticed a group of youths matching the above description behaving suspiciously, to get in touch.

“I would also ask any motorists with dashcams who were on the roads at the time to please check their footage in case they have captured anything which could be of significance.

“Anyone with information should contact police on 101, quoting incident number 3774 of March 5. Alternatively, you can contact the Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

ADVERT

Lothian Buses initially removed services, including the number 26, after “a serious incident of anti-social behaviour”.

But on Monday the operator confirmed services would return to Clermiston as scheduled with an increased police presence.

Operations director Sarah Boyd said: “Our drivers have played a critical part in keeping services operating for keyworkers and those that require to make essential journeys across the last 12 months and it is extremely disappointing that we are being targeted at various locations across Edinburgh and the Lothians.

“Following a serious incident on Friday evening and a significant increase in instances of antisocial behaviour, we made the difficult decision to remove services from the Clermiston area on Saturday and Sunday evenings.

“While we offer our sincere apologies to any of our customers who were inconvenienced, the safety of our drivers and customers remains our absolute priority and we will not hesitate to take similar action again if necessary.

“Working closely with Police Scotland we will continue to monitor the situation as our services return to Clermiston this evening.”


Autistic teen sends almost 700 thank you cards to NHS staff

Paddy Joyce hopes to send more than 5,000 letters by the end of the year.

NHSGGC/PA via PA Wire
Paddy Joyce has sent almost 700 thank you letters to hospital staff.

An autistic teenager has sent almost 700 thank you cards to staff at a hospital to share messages of support with those on the front line dealing with Covid-19.

Paddy Joyce, 17, from Glasgow, began writing to healthcare staff in mid-January as a way to help with his anxiety after he became very upset over the death statistics.

With the assistance of staff at Glasgow Royal Infirmary (GRI), he has now been able to hand-write 663 individually named cards to members of the team.

So far Paddy, who has autism with significant global development delays, has written more than 1,000 cards and hopes to send more than 5,000 by the end of the year.

NHSGGC/PA via PA Wire
Hospital staff have been touched to receive the cards (NHSGGC/PA)
ADVERT

He said: “I saw how sad and upset they were on the news. My mum said I should write to someone, so I asked her to find someone and lots of people wanted one, so I want to write to everyone.”

His mother Indra said writing the letters helps with Paddy’s concerns about Covid.

She said: “Statistics make sense to him because they are numbers and organised.

“He honed in on Covid death stats and they made him very upset, but he couldn’t stop looking at them.

ADVERT

“Now, he’ll read them, and they make him determined to write more cards so he can help make the doctors and nurses happy.

“And because a fair few respond to him, he feels he is making a difference. He now feels he has purpose.”

The first of the cards were opened by people working in the intensive care unit (ICU) at GRI and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) said staff have been touched by Paddy’s gesture of kindness.

Pat Cruickshanks, charge nurse within the ICU, said: “This last year has been so different to anything we’ve known and it’s not over yet.

NHSGGC/PA via PA Wire
The cards have been sent to staff at Glasgow Royal Infirmary (NHSGGC/PA)

“We’re still very busy with both Covid and non-Covid patients and gestures like these provide something of a boost to keep us going.

“I know that everyone in the team and across the hospital is really grateful and I hope, at some point, we all get to meet Paddy to say thanks to him in person. He should be so proud of what he has done.”

Margaret Cooper, an auxiliary within the ICU, said: “You sometimes think that no-one else cares or sees what you are going through, so it’s just nice to feel that we’re not forgotten.

ADVERT

“It’s amazing that he’s thought of all of us and the amount of work he’s put in is just fantastic. I really do appreciate it. He sounds like a very kind young man and I hope we can see him soon.”

Paddy will soon be starting sixth year at secondary school and despite his complex needs, he hopes to follow a pathway which could lead to him working within the NHS.

Dr Barbara Crooks, consultant anaesthetist at the GRI, who helped to co-ordinate the task of getting names together for Paddy to write the cards, said: “I know this was a tremendous effort from Paddy to write an individual thank you to so many of our team.

“They have been blown away by Paddy’s heartfelt messages, which have been quite touching and certainly lifted our spirits.

“Thank you to Paddy and his mum Indra for providing a much-needed morale boost.”

Cancer patients ‘relying on handouts for heating and clothes’

Figures show Macmillan Cancer Support provided £1.2m in grants last year to almost 3700 people.

Rui Vieira via PA Wire
Necessities: Figures show Macmillan Cancer Support provided £1.2m in grants last year to almost 3700 people.

Scots cancer patients are relying on “handouts” to pay for essentials such as heating and clothes, according to a charity.

Figures show Macmillan Cancer Support provided £1.2m in grants last year to almost 3700 people to help them pay for necessities.

The charity says this highlights the financial stresses cancer causes and called on political parties in Scotland to pledge their support for the rapid rollout of a model of support, ahead of the Holyrood elections in May.

Janice Preston, head of Macmillan in Scotland, said: “No one dealing with a life-threatening illness should have to worry about how to pay their rent or heat their home.

ADVERT

“While I’m pleased Macmillan was able to give one-off grants to so many people in urgent need, these figures show just how badly cancer can affect people financially.

“That’s why it’s vital everyone with cancer in Scotland is offered an in-depth assessment of their needs, followed by the right support, from benefits advice to counselling.

“In 2019, Macmillan and the Scottish Government pledged £9m each to fund the Transforming Cancer Care programme which aims to make this a reality, and the need for the programme in a post-Covid world was made clear in the recent cancer recovery plan.

“We’re calling on all political parties and candidates to pledge their support for the programme and its rapid rollout across the country.”

Handout via PA Wire
Derek McKeown and Jacqueline O’Neill (handout)
ADVERT

About £150,000 was given to people with cancer to help them afford new beds, mattresses and bedding, while about £85,500 went to cover hospital travel costs.

The charity also provided almost £457,000 to help pay for heating, while another £370,000 was awarded to help them buy new clothes, often needed due to a change in body shape resulting from treatment.

Derek McKeown, a security guard from Inverclyde, was diagnosed with kidney cancer in October.

The 55-year-old was given a £350 Macmillan grant to buy new clothes, which he used to buy a suit for his wedding with Jacqueline O’Neill after losing three stone.

He said: “We are able to sleep at night a little easier thanks to all the help. I’m now two sizes smaller than I was, so the Macmillan grant has also helped to buy a new suit for the wedding.”


Call for school starting age to be raised to seven

The Liberal Democrats want youngsters to have a 'truly play-based' education.

Free-Photos via Pixabay
School: The Liberal Democrats want youngsters to have a 'truly play-based' education.

Liberal Democrats have called for the age youngsters start formal schooling to be raised to seven in an “historic change” in Scotland’s education system.

Until then, Lib Dems want youngsters to have a “truly play-based” education.

The party insists the change could be part of improving Scotland’s education, tackling the attainment gap and giving youngsters the best start in life.

The issue is being raised at Holyrood after Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie used his party conference speech to call for every available teacher to have a guaranteed job, in a bid to cut class sizes and boost learning after the coronavirus pandemic saw school closures and disruption to learning.

ADVERT

Currently, youngsters start primary school when they are just four or five-years-old – with Liberal Democrat education spokeswoman Beatrice Wishart saying this practice dated back to the Victorians.

She insisted that raising the starting age for formal schooling was “an important part of our plans for the next parliament to make Scottish education the best again”.

Wishart will use the Holyrood debate to set out the party’s “commitment to making education truly play-based until the age of seven”.

She insisted education will “still be mandatory” under their proposals, but would “focus on child development, social skills, outdoor learning, and physical and mental health”.

ADVERT

She said: “Countries excelling in education and equity show that this approach better prepares children to shine in literacy and numeracy.

“They might start a bit later but they quickly surge past us. By learning together through play, children develop the critical skills needed for better long-term development and outcomes. I want Scotland’s children to get the same long-term benefits.”

The Liberal Democrat continued: “The best way to close the attainment gap is not to open it in the first place.

“The Victorians didn’t give us the best way to start school. Now we have the SNP conducting national testing of four and five-year-olds against the will of parliament.

“Scottish Liberal Democrats will always be the party of education. It’s time for a historic change to give our children the best start in life.”

But a Scottish Government spokeswoman said there were no plans to increase the school starting age.

She said: “We want Scotland to be the best place to grow up and have almost doubled the entitlement to high quality, funded early learning and childcare to 1140 hours from this August – a transformational policy that will benefit children and families, with quality of children’s experiences and supporting wellbeing at its heart.

ADVERT

“Scotland’s curriculum is already rooted in play for the early years, with a strong focus on ensuring all children benefit from rich outdoor learning experiences. We have no plans to change the school starting age.”


You're up to date

You've read today's top stories. Where would you like to go next?