Park cafe badly damaged after being deliberately set on fire

Hazlehead Park Cafe in Aberdeen extensively damaged following blaze on Friday evening.

Cafe at Hazlehead Park in Aberdeen was set on fire. The Park Cafe - Duthie & Hazlehead
Cafe at Hazlehead Park in Aberdeen was set on fire.

A popular cafe in an Aberdeen park has been badly damaged after being deliberately set on fire.

The Hazlehead Park Cafe has closed indefinitely following the blaze, which happened at around 9.20pm on Friday night.

The cafe’s management posted a message on Facebook on Saturday morning, reading: “It’s with a heavy heart that we can confirm that there was a devastating fire at the Hazlehead Park Cafe last night.

“Thankfully nobody has been hurt, but until the extent of the damage is fully assessed, our doors will be closed for the foreseeable future.

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“Thank you so much to the brave fire teams that extinguished the fires… grateful as always to our amazing emergency services.”

Police are appealing for information about the “wilful fire-raising” incident.

Detective Constable Alan Gordon, Aberdeen CID, said: “The park is a popular place and well used by dog walkers and people out for a stroll or run.

“I would like to hear from anyone who was in the park between 7pm and 9.20pm last night who may have seen people hanging about the cafe or acting suspiciously nearby.

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“If you have any information that may assist our investigation, please call Aberdeen CID via 101 quoting reference number 3460 of 11 December, 2020. Alternatively, Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Blunder over envelope colour for over 70s vaccine letter

The Scottish Government will now send out white, windowed envelopes after a supply issue for blue ones.

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Blunder: Blue envelopes swapped for white ones after supply issue.

White envelopes will be used for the first tranche of coronavirus appointments for those aged 70-79 because blue ones were not ready in time, the Scottish Government has announced.

As the inoculation programme moves through priority groups, several health board areas are beginning to send out letters telling those in the age group when they will receive their first dose of the Covid-19 jab.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman urged people to look out for the “very distinctive” blue envelopes, which are being given priority by Royal Mail.

However on Sunday evening the Scottish Government announced that white, windowed envelopes, with a distinctive black NHS logo on the right, will be used as a temporary measure as the blue envelopes are not ready.

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It said the change has no impact on the vaccination programme timetable, with the first appointment letters expected to be delivered on Monday as planned.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The blue envelopes we hoped to use were not ready in time for the first tranche of vaccine appointment invitations so distinctive NHS branded white envelopes are being used as a temporary measure.

“The absolute priority remains the rollout of vaccinations and this temporary change to the envelope colour has absolutely no impact to our timetable.

“We continue to strongly urge everyone in the 70-79 age group to check all their post in the coming weeks and take up the offer of the vaccine when it is received.

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“Patients may receive a phone call invitation from their local health board as part of the appointment process and all patients aged 75-79 in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde will be invited via phone. ”

A new booking system is also being used by several health boards to schedule appointments for patients in order of priority.

Greater Glasgow, Lanarkshire and Lothian are among the NHS boards which will use the system.

The Scottish Government has said they are on track for all those aged 80 and over to have received their first dose of the vaccine by the end of the first week in February.

This age group will not receive a blue envelope as they are being contacted by telephone or another form of letter.

Ms Freeman said: “I would urge everyone to take up their appointment when they are offered one.

“The vaccination programme is one of three key ways we are working to beat this virus, along with our expanded testing programme to identify cases and break chains of transmission and the important lockdown restrictions everyone in Scotland must follow.

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“All these measures work to greatest effect when they work together.”

Applications set to open for £25m wedding sector fund

Eligible businesses such as photographers, wedding venues and florists can apply for up to £25,000.

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Fund: Businesses can apply for grants up to £25,000.

A £25m fund to support the wedding sector which has suffered a “severe impact” from the coronavirus pandemic will open to applications this week.

The fund will provide one-off grants of up to £25,000 for eligible businesses in the sector which have been hit by the impact of Covid-19, including wedding venues, photographers, florists, caterers and suppliers.

The Scottish Government said that in recognition of the ongoing challenges faced by the sector, a further £10m has been added to the £15m announced in December.

The fund will be managed regionally by Scotland’s three enterprise agencies – South of Scotland Enterprise, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

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Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said: “The pandemic has had a severe impact on Scotland’s wedding sector, and we know that the current restrictions, while entirely necessary in our fight against Covid-19, continue to take their toll on the sector.

“I’d encourage all those who think they are eligible to find out more about applying – we want to help as many businesses survive this pandemic as we can.

“We have allocated over £3bn to help businesses since the start of this pandemic. However, we know it can never compensate for the unprecedented effect this has had on business.

“We will continue to work with the resources available to us to protect businesses and build a stronger recovery for Scotland.”

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Under current coronavirus rules, no more than five people can attend a marriage ceremony or civil partnership registrations in level four areas, and wedding receptions cannot take place.

In levels one, two and three, no more than 20 people can attend a wedding ceremony and reception.

Scottish Wedding Industry Alliance (SWIA) co-founder Caroline Inchyra said: “On behalf of the Scottish wedding industry, we are delighted that the sector has secured £25m funding from the Scottish Government.

“We must thank the Scottish Government for recognising the wedding industry as a vital sector in the Scottish economy, and the enterprise agencies for working with us to ensure this fund has as much impact as possible.

“This funding will give renewed hope to the many businesses who have been unable to operate in a viable way for almost a year.

“The SWIA looks forward to a continued positive working relationship with Scottish Government as the wedding industry navigates a path through the most difficult trading conditions this highly resilient sector has ever faced.”

Other businesses eligible to apply to the fund include videographers, marquee hire (including tipis), wedding attire and entertainment such as bands, DJs, pipers and string quartets.

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Dawn Robson, of Blooms Florist in Dumfries, welcomed the news of the fund after her business suffered from the impact of the pandemic last year.

She said: “I ended up with only two wedding bookings in the whole of 2020, which was completely devastating.

“I am already seeing bookings being cancelled for 2021, with a number of couples deciding to move their weddings back to 2022.

“It has been such a difficult time for everyone, but the wedding industry in particular has been devastated.

“It is good news to see this new fund open specifically for the wedding industry, with any help we can receive really appreciated.”


Temperatures set to fall after yellow alert for snow and ice

The Met Office issued a yellow weather warning from 4pm on Sunday to 11am on Monday.

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Temperatures could fall as low as -13C following a yellow alert for snow and ice across parts of Scotland. 

The Met Office issued a yellow weather warning from 4pm on Sunday to 11am on Monday. 

The worst affected areas will be in the Northern Isles, Moray, parts of Aberdeenshire, the Highlands and the west coast including Lanarkshire and Ayrshire.

Drivers have been warned that the wintry weather could affect the roads.

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STV weather presenter Philip Petrie said temperatures could drop as low as -13C on Monday night – the coldest night of the winter so far. 

He said: ”On Saturday night temperatures dropped to lows of -11.4C in Dalwhinnie, which meant that on Sunday temperatures were slow to rise during the day with many areas struggling to get above freezing. 

“Once again on Sunday night we see widespread frost developing for many central and eastern parts thanks to clear skies and dry conditions, but with further wintry showers expected to move in from the west overnight there is a risk that the rain hitting the frozen ground will turn to ice – possibly causing some travel disruptions through Monday morning. 

“The worst affected areas will be the Northern Isles, Moray, the north of Aberdeenshire, the Highlands stretching down the western side of the country down to Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Dumbartonshire.

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“After an initially showery start to the day on Monday, the showers will fizzle out through the evening leaving another dry and clear night – giving the potential for our coldest night of the winter so far. Back at the start of January temperatures reached a low of -12.3C in Loch Glascarnoch, but on Monday night there is the potential for temperatures to drop to -13C.”


Boy, 12, struck by train in critical condition in hospital

The boy was hit by a train at Prestwick Town railway station in South Ayrshire on Saturday night.

© Google Maps 2020
Boy was hit by train at Prestwick Town railway station.

A 12-year-old boy is in a critical condition in hospital after being struck by a train at a railway station in South Ayrshire.

The boy, who was not on the tracks at any point, was hit at Prestwick Town railway station just after 7.20pm on Saturday night.

He was taken by ambulance to hospital, where he remains in a critical conditon.

British Transport Police (BTP) officers say the incident is being treated as an accident and are appealing for anyone with information to come forward.

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BTP said in a statement: “Last night (Saturday 23 January 2021) at just after 7.20pm, BTP Officers were called to Prestwick Town Railway Station, South Ayrshire, after reports of a 12-year-old boy being struck by a train.

“Colleagues from Police Scotland also attended.   The Scottish Ambulance Service took the young man to hospital where he remains in a critical condition.  

“The incident is currently being treated as an accident.  If you have any information about this incident, please contact BTP by texting 61016 or calling 0800 40 50 40 quoting reference 432 of 23/1/2021.”


Women rescued from Ben Lomond charged with Covid breach

Two women charged in connection with culpable and reckless conduct after needing assistance from emergency services.

G Kelly & S Tinley via Lomond Mountain Rescue Team (@LomondMRT)
Two women were rescued from summit of Ben Lomond.

Two women have been charged with breaching coronavirus restrictions after being rescued from Ben Lomond in Stirlingshire.

The women, in their twenties, had travelled from Fife to go walking but needed to phone for help after getting into difficulty in poor weather on Saturday afternoon.

Lomond Mountain Rescue Team and emergency services assisted the two walkers from near the summit of Ben Lomond to the foot of the mountains by around 6.30pm.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Officers were called to assist Mountain Rescue partners on Ben Lomond at around 2pm on Saturday, 23 January, 2021 after two female walkers requested assistance to descend the hill in deteriorating weather conditions.

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“The women were assisted and walked off the hill and both uninjured. They have been charged in connection with culpable and reckless conduct.”

G Kelly & S Tinley via Lomond Mountain Rescue Team (@LomondMRT)

Coronavirus travel restrictions are in place across the whole of mainland Scotland – meaning people should only leave their homes for an essential purpose, including caring responsibilities, essential shopping, exercise and being part of an extended household.

Sturgeon will ‘refute’ allegations of misleading parliament

First Minister says she doesn't accept claims made by her predecessor Alex Salmond that she broke the ministerial code.

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Nicola Sturgeon says she doesn't accept claims made by Alex Salmond.

Nicola Sturgeon has said she will refute accusations she misled the Scottish Parliament – a claim made by her predecessor as first minister Alex Salmond – when she appears before a committee of MSPs.

Asked about Salmond’s claims on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, she said: “I don’t accept that and I will refute that vigorously.”

Sturgeon said she had hoped to appear before the Holyrood committee investigating the Scottish Government’s handling of harassment complaints this coming week, but her appearance had been delayed by a “couple of weeks”.

She said: “I will sit before that committee and I will set out my account of what happened, given the very difficult situation that I faced, and people can make their own judgements on that.”

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Salmond has claimed that his successor as First Minister misled MSPs with “false and manifestly untrue” statements about when she first knew of sexual harassment allegations against him.

But Sturgeon said she does not believe she lied to parliament and Deputy First Minister John Swinney says she will use her appearance before the inquiry to dispel the “absolute nonsense” put forward by her predecessor.

Sturgeon initially told Holyrood she first heard of complaints of sexual misconduct against Salmond when they met at her home on April 2, 2018.

It later emerged she had a meeting with Salmond’s chief of staff, Geoff Aberdein, in her Holyrood office four days earlier.

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The SNP leader told the Scottish Parliament committee she “forgot” about that encounter.

Asked by Marr if Salmond was “spinning false conspiracy theories”, Sturgeon said: “What I certainly reflect on is that at times I appear to be simultaneously accused of colluding with Mr Salmond to somehow cover up accusations of sexual harassment on the one hand.

“And then on the other hand, being part of some dastardly conspiracy to bring him down.

“Neither of those are true.”

She continued: “I, at the time I became aware of all of this, just tried hard not to interfere with what was going on and not to do anything that would see these swept aside rather than properly investigated.”

Sturgeon said the Scottish Government had made “mistakes” in its handling of the complaints, which would be the subject of the Holyrood committee’s inquiry.

More than 23,000 given coronavirus vaccine in last 24 hours

The First Minister said on Sunday that 95% of care home residents have now been given the vaccine.

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Covid: Vaccine roll out continues across Scotland.

More than 23,000 people have received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine in the last 24 hours, figures have shown.

On Sunday, the latest figures showed 404,038 people have received their first coronavirus vaccination, an increase of 23,371 since Saturday.

The figures also stated that 5383 people have received their second dose.

It follows comments made by the First Minister on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, during which she said 95% of care home residents have now been vaccinated.

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Nicola Sturgeon said: “We took a deliberate decision in line with JCVI advice to focus initially on vaccinating older residents of care homes.”

She continued: “I heard Matt Hancock on the programme earlier say that about three quarters of care home residents in England had been vaccinated, in Scotland that figure right now is 95% of care home residents.”

The First Minister said this approach was more “resource intensive” and Scotland was now “rapidly catching up” on vaccinating over-80s in the community.

She added: “We’re all working to the same targets, overall I think we will see that we all are making good progress through this vaccination programme.”

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Sunday’s figures released by the Scottish Government stated there were 1195 new cases of Covid-19 reported, with 2011 in hospital with the virus.

Of that number, 157 people were in intensive care, a decrease of two from Saturday.

The total number of deaths after confirmed coronavirus in Scotland now stands at 5705 after one death was reported on Sunday.

Reported deaths from coronavirus are typically lower on weekends as register offices are usually closed.


Former postie set to enter charts with viral sea shanty hit

Nathan Evans' sea shanty Wellerman is on course to be the highest new entry on the Official Singles Chart.

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Nathan Evans has signed a record deal with Polydor Records.

Postman Nathan Evans is poised to enter the top ten on the Official Singles Chart with his viral sea shanty Wellerman.

The song, which has been a smash hit on TikTok, is set to be the highest new entry on the chart, according to the official first look, based on preliminary sales and early streaming reports.

Evans, 26, from Airdrie, Scotland, has quit his job as a postman after kick-starting a new viral craze of sea-shantying on TikTok, dubbed ShantyTok, and signing a record deal with Polydor Records.

Evans previously told the PA news agency: “Back in the day when the shanties were sung, it was to bring everybody together, to keep them all in time, to keep the morale high.

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“Especially in this time when everybody’s stuck at home, they’re doing their remote working – they can join in, and it kind of brings everybody together.

“So I think it’s just kind of brought it into this day and age. It makes it feel like you’re all united. Especially seeing how creative everybody can be with it.”

Wellerman is a cover of Bristol group The Longest Johns’ 2018 song, which also entered the Official Top 40 just last week, debuting at Number 37.

Evans has released his own take on the shanty, plus a dance remix produced by 220 Kid and Billen Ted, which is tipped to enter the charts at number four.

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Wellerman is the most downloaded song of the week so far, two days into the tracking week, the Official Charts Company said.

The Official Chart: First Look, which aired on BBC Radio 1 on Sunday evening, offers a first glance of the top 20 ahead of Friday’s Official Singles Chart Top 100.

Olivia Rodrigo, 17, is poised to spend a third week in the top spot with her smash hit Drivers License.

Teenage girl sexually assaulted at city park

Seventeen-year-old girl was attacked at Tollcross Park in the east end of Glasgow on Saturday night.

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Teenager was sexually assaulted inside Tollcross Park.

A teenage girl was sexually assaulted inside a Glasgow park on Saturday night.

The 17-year-old was attacked at Tollcross Park, in the city’s east end, between 9pm and 11pm.

Police Scotland said: “Police are investigating a report of a 17-year-old girl being sexually assaulted within Tollcross Park, Glasgow, between 9pm and 11pm on Saturday, 23 January, 2021.

“Enquiries are at an early stage to establish the full circumstances surrounding the incident.”

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