New licensing system delayed for short-term property lets

Councils are being given until April 2022 to introduce the new measures.

It could be April 2022 before a new licensing system for Airbnb-style short term lets is up and running across Scotland.

As a consultation on its proposals was published, it emerged local authorities will be given up to a year to introduce the measures.

Details of the implementation period emerged as housing minister Kevin Stewart vowed the Scottish Government would bring in new laws if the licensing scheme fails to tackle problems linked to short-term lets.

In addition to requiring hosts to obtain a licence before letting out a property on a short-term basis, minsters also propose that councils can introduce control areas – where such lets can be restricted or barred altogether.

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The changes are being brought in after concerns were raised about the impact these type of property lets have in areas such as Edinburgh – one of the most popular places for Airbnb listings.

Research for the Scottish Government found that in May 2019 there were just under 22,100 active listings of whole properties on Airbnb in Scotland.

The Government consultation paper said while the new measures are “expected to come into force in April 2021” it was understood that local councils – who will run the the licensing schemes – would require time to implement then.

“We recognise that some local authorities will be more advanced in their planning to do this than others,” the paper said.

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“For this reason, we are giving local authorities discretion as to when they bring the provisions into force in their area.

“However, all local authorities must have a live licencing scheme open to receive licensing applications by April 1 2022.”

To help councils and others prepare for the changes, the Scottish Government will produce new guidance on the scheme in the spring of next year.

Mr Stewart insisted ministers had taken a “proportionate but fair” approach to the issue.

He said the proposals outlined in the consultation “allow us to make progress in this Parliament to address a pressing issue for some of our communities”.

But he added the changes would “not unduly curtail the many benefits of short-term lets to hosts, visitors and the Scottish economy”.

The minister pledged: “We will monitor and evaluate the impact of our proposals to ensure that they are effective and targeted.

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“I am willing to bring a Bill before Parliament in the next session if we continue to see issues; to do so now would result in unnecessary delay.”

He stated: “Short-term lets can offer people a flexible and affordable accommodation option, and they have contributed positively to Scotland’s tourism industry and local economies across the country.

“However, we know that in certain areas, particularly tourist hot spots, high numbers of these arrangements can cause problems for neighbours and make it harder for people to find homes to live in.

“Our proposals will allow local authorities and communities facing the most severe pressures to take action to manage those more effectively from next year.”


Coronavirus vaccine rollout ‘is a seven-day operation’

First Minister defends vaccine programme after significantly fewer jabs took place on Sunday.

Boonchai Wedmakawand via Getty Images
Opposition politicians believe the vaccine programme is moving to slowly.

Nicola Sturgeon has insisted Scotland’s vaccination programme is a genuine seven-day-a-week operation despite a substantial drop in the number of doses administered on Sunday.

Just 11,364 patients in Scotland received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine on Sunday, according to the government’s figures – less than half of the 23,371 people who got one on Saturday.

A further 155 patients also received their second dose of vaccination, down from the 195 carried out the day before.

It is the lowest number of vaccinations administered since the Scottish Government began publishing daily figures, although last weekend’s data only states that 40,151 were carried out across both Saturday and Sunday combined.

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Asked about the significant drop, the First Minister suggested it could be due to a “lag” in reporting the number of vaccines carried out and that the Scottish Government may trial round-the-clock appointments for the general population.

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing, Sturgeon said: “We have a seven-day programme that will continue to develop as more and larger-scale sites come on stream.

“We were also having discussions about this on Friday; looking at piloting 24/7 arrangements so that people – particularly when we get into the wider groups of the population – have choices about the time that they turn up for vaccines.”

Sturgeon also acknowledged England had vaccinated a higher proportion of its over-80 population but suggested this was because Scotland was prioritising “more labour-intensive” vaccinations in care homes.

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Approximately 95% of over-80s in Scottish care homes had received a vaccination while an estimated 90% of all residents have had at least one dose, she said.

Sturgeon also said the rollout of the vaccine to other over-80s who are being prioritised was “picking up pace”, with approximately 46% getting a vaccine – up from 34% on Friday.

“That will grow on a daily basis as we work towards the target, which we are – I would say – well on track to meet for the over-80s population,” she said.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “We’ve warned the SNP’s vaccine rollout has been sluggish for some time but the latest evidence shows it’s a shambles over the weekend.

“Nicola Sturgeon’s claims of a data lag are clutching at straws when this has happened two weeks in a row and the figures are not picking up enough midweek to get back on track.

“They are failing to deliver the seven-day service that was promised, and GPs are still not getting supplies quickly enough from the SNP.”


Edinburgh’s iconic Jenners to close with loss of 200 jobs

Frasers Group says it has been unable to reach agreement over future of iconic store on Edinburgh's Princes Street.

© Google Maps 2020
Jenners department store to close on May 3.

Edinburgh’s iconic Jenners department store will close in May.

Some 200 jobs will be lost and the historic building, on the capital’s Princes Street, will be left vacant.

Fraser Group plc said the company had been unable to reach a tenancy agreement with owner Anders Polvsen.

Jenners opened in 1838 and was Scotland’s oldest independent department store until it was taken over in 2005.

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A spokesperson for Fraser Group plc, which runs the store, said: “Despite the global pandemic, numerous lockdowns and the turbulence caused for British retail, the landlord hasn’t been able to work mutually on a fair agreement, therefore, resulting in the loss of 200 jobs and a vacant site for the foreseeable future with no immediate plans.

“Our commitment to our Fraser’s strategy remains but landlords and retailers need to work together in a fair manner, especially when all stores are closed.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank our Jenners staff for their hard work and dedication.”

Danish billionaire Povlsen, and David Chipperfield Architects want to restore the Victorian building to “its original glory and quality”.

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One of the highlights of the restoration will be the central atrium – a three-storey, top-lit grand saloon, which the building’s owners say will be “returned to its former splendour”.

‘We’re not coping’, say parents of children with special needs

Parents call for schools for pupils with additional needs to be reopened.

STV News

Parents of children with special needs are having to deal with increasing levels of violence in their home because of a lack of support during lockdown. 

Charities are calling for Scotland’s additional needs schools to be reopened fully, as they are in the rest of the UK.

They also want staff to be given the Covid vaccine as a matter of priority to help relieve stress on families.

For ten-year-old Dillan, the loss of routine has meant his world has collapsed. He has Down’s Syndrome and no understanding of lockdown.

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His parents are juggling work with caring for him and their four-year-old, meaning their daughter has had to find her own way around home schooling.

The changes are already having an impact on Dillan’s behaviour.

His mum Maya said: “He is just not understanding and not coping well with the situation.

“We are trying not to focus on that behaviour when it happens and we just try to keep him safe and reassure him that things are going to change back to normal.”

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Ross is attending school just two days a week. The break in routine has led to bursts of violence and he recently kicked three holes in his bedroom wall.

“It’s really really tough and it’s really tough for Ross too,” his mum Carol said. “It’s just tough for all of us. He needs routine, familiarity. He needs his things back that he knows.”

Special schools have remained open in the rest of the UK, but the picture is patchy in Scotland, where they mostly closed until at least the middle of February.

The Scottish Government said pupils with additional needs could return in the first phase of reopening.

Children’s minister Maree Todd said: “We are now thinking about how quickly and how soon can we get children and young people back into school settings and how many can we get in.

“Children with additional support needs are at the forefront of our thinking there because we recognise just how hard it is for them not to be in school.”


‘Cautious optimism’ hospital admissions starting to slow

According to NHS boards across Scotland, 2016 people are currently in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19.

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Nicola Sturgeon has said there’s “cautious grounds for optimism” that coronavirus hospital admissions are starting to tail off.

According to NHS boards across Scotland, 2016 people are currently in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 – an increase of five overnight. 

Out of those, 151 patients are in intensive care – six fewer than what was reported on Sunday.

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s Covid briefing on Monday, the First Minister said: “I don’t want to overstate this because the pressure on our NHS continues to be acute and is likely to be so for some time yet, but we think we may have some cautious grounds for optimism that admissions to hospital are starting to tail off slightly.”

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Sturgeon confirmed that a further four people have died in Scotland after being diagnosed with coronavirus.

The death toll of those who had tested positive now stands at 5709, however weekly figures on suspected Covid-19 deaths recorded by National Records of Scotland suggest the most up-to-date total is at least 7448.

Total confirmed cases of the virus has risen to 172,953 – a jump of 752 in the past 24 hours

The daily test positivity rate is 8.6%, up from the 7.4% reported on Sunday when 1195 cases were recorded.

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Of the new cases reported on Monday, 224 are in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde region, 138 are in Lanarkshire and 87 are in Ayrshire and Arran.

The rest of the cases are spread out across ten other health board areas.

Sturgeon said there has been “early evidence” that lockdown measures across the majority of Scotland are working.

She said: “We are seeing some early evidence that these restrictions are working, which is positive.

“We think they are starting to reduce case numbers and while it will take a bit of time yet to feed properly into admissions to hospital and ICU, we also hope that we might be starting to see some early positive signs too.”

As of 8.30am on Monday, 415,402 people have received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

The First Minister said the Scottish Government is on track to meet its target for the vaccination of everyone over the age of 70, which has been set for the middle of February.

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Sturgeon told the briefing that 95% of residents in adult care homes and 95% of health workers have now been vaccinated, with 46% of all people over the age of 80 given a jab, up by 9% since Friday.

From Monday, Scots aged between 70 and 79 will receive letters inviting them for their inoculation.

The First Minister said: “It’s in your interests and obviously in everybody else’s interest for you to accept the appointment and get vaccinated as soon as possible.”


Singer’s online show interrupted by police after complaint

Marion Tillbrook was in the middle of singing Rainy Days and Mondays by The Carpenters when officers chapped on her door.

Marion Tillbrook via Facebook / SNS Group via SNS Group
Police: Officers interrupted Marion Tillbrook's online show.

Police called to break up a house party instead interrupted a one-woman online show.

Marion Tillbrook was in the middle of singing Rainy Days and Mondays by The Carpenters when officers chapped on her door in Edinburgh on Friday night.

Ms Tillbrook, who was streaming her performance on Facebook Live, said she got a “fright” when she opened her door to find six officers waiting outside.

Police checked the flat for partygoers in response to a complaint, but soon left after concluding Covid restrictions had not been breached.

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Ms Tillbrook told STV News: “I have to say they were really nice. 

“They took a look round the house to make sure I wasn’t having a party then left.

“The police were happy enough to let me continue as long as I turned it down a little.”

Ms Tillbrook, who has lived in the Leith flat for more than a decade, has been performing on Facebook Live since last May.

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She said: “It helps my mental health and cheers people up in these dark times.

“I’ve been a singer for 20 years. Covid has turned my life upside down and these lives give me a purpose.”

Ms Tillbrook, who previously asked her neighbours for permission to perform at home, said this is the first police complaint.

She added: “I did have some woman come screaming at my door in July, but she was gone by the time I got outside to see who she was. 

“That was during my Sunday show which I stopped as I didn’t want to upset anyone.”

Following Friday night’s incident, the singer contemplated stopping her shows completely but has since decided to carry on after speaking with her neighbours and online viewers.

Ms Tillbrook said: “I understand people may find it loud, although I do monitor the volume throughout but I’m very approachable. 

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“I do these lives to give folk a wee boost. 

“I have elderly parents who watch. My dad in particular is very ill and housebound so this is the only way he gets to watch me perform. 

“I do 90 minutes on a Friday night. I’ve picked a time slot – 7pm until 8.30pm – earlier in the evening so as to try and not disturb people. 

“I just want to bring a smile to people’s faces for a bit because let’s face it, there really isn’t much to smile about right now.”

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Around 7.30pm on Friday, police received a report of a potential Covid breach at a property in Dickson Street, Edinburgh.

“Officers attended, however no restrictions were being breached.”


Woman, 91, found dead after fire rips through house

Emergency services were alerted to the blaze in Main Street, Crossmichael, at around 4am on Monday.

© Google Maps 2020
Crossmichael: Emergency services were alerted to the blaze on Monday morning.

A 91-year-old woman has died following a house fire in Dumfries and Galloway

Emergency services were alerted to the blaze in Main Street, Crossmichael, at around 4am on Monday.

Police said the pensioner was pronounced dead at the scene.

Enquiries into the cause of the fire are ongoing.

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A Police Scotland spokesman said: “Emergency services were called to the report of a house fire in Main Street in Crossmichael at around 4am this morning.

“The fire was extinguished by the fire and rescue service. 

“The sole occupant of the house, a 91-year-old woman, was pronounced dead at the scene. 

“Enquiries into the cause of the fire are ongoing and a full report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal in due course.” 


Vaccine letters start for over 70s as blue envelopes delayed

White windowed envelopes, with a distinctive black NHS logo on the right, will be used as a temporary measure.

WPA Pool / Pool via Getty Images
Covid-19: The fight to stop the spread of the deadly virus goes on.

Coronavirus vaccination appointment letters for Scots aged 70-79 will be delivered from Monday, but plans to use distinctive blue envelopes have been delayed.

Health secretary Jeane Freeman initially urged people to look out for the “very distinctive” blue envelopes, however on Sunday evening the Scottish Government announced that they weren’t ready.

White windowed envelopes, with a distinctive black NHS logo on the right, will be used as a temporary measure and are being given priority by Royal Mail.

The Scottish Government said the change will have “absolutely no impact” on the vaccination programme timetable.

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According to its vaccine deployment plan, the 70-79 age group should receive their first dose by mid-February.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “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.

“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.

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

Vaccinations for the over 80s are continuing, with that group on track to receive their first dose of the vaccine by the end of the first week in February.


Aberdeen mass vaccination centre close to completion

Work has been ongoing to prepare the P&J Live at TECA stadium in the city.

Jane Barlow/PA via PA Wire

A mass coronavirus vaccination centre is in the final stages of preparation for opening in Aberdeen.

Work has been ongoing to prepare the P&J Live at TECA stadium, with the first jabs expected to take place from Monday, February 1.

It is intended the majority of immunisations in the city will take place at the venue.

Project manager Clare Houston said: “P&J Live at TECA offers us enormous flexibility.

A public information sign that has been put up at the new mass covid vaccination centre at the P and J Live Arena in Aberdeen. PA Wre/Jane Barlow.
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“The whole vaccination programme will have to adapt according to the supply of vaccine, approval of new vaccines and availability of staff; in this space we will be able to expand our provision without interrupting existing clinics.

“We have consciously decided to start on a smaller scale to allow us to ‘bed in’ but have the potential to vaccinate many thousands of people each day when operating at full capacity.

“It is important to stress that this will not be a ‘drop-in’ facility.

The P and J Live Arena in Aberdeen, where a new mass covid vaccination centre has been set up. PA Wire/Jane Barlow.

“People will be offered appointments here in the same way that they will be offered appointments at any vaccination clinic.

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“Wherever possible, we need the general public to help us by accepting the appointment they are given.

“While we will always try to accommodate individual choice, this is the biggest mass vaccination programme the UK has ever seen and we need people to make the necessary arrangements to attend the appointment issued.”

Baby tyrannosaurs were ‘size of Border Collie dog’

A project led by Scots researcher has found that baby tyrannosaurs were only the size of a border collie dog when taking their first steps.

University of Edinburgh
An artist's impression of how a baby tyrannosaur might have looked.

Baby tyrannosaurs were only the size of a Border Collie dog when they took their first steps, a team of palaeontologists has discovered.

Led by Dr Greg Funston, a University of Edinburgh researcher, the team examined fossilised remains of a tiny jaw bone and claw which had been found in Canada and the US.

They were revealed to belong to a baby tyrannosaur – cousin of the fabled T-Rex – in 3D scans and are the first-known fossils of tyrannosaur embryos.

It suggests the creatures which lived more than 70 million years ago were only around three-feet long when they hatched, despite being able to grow to 40ft long and weigh around eight tonnes.

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The team has also estimated that tyrannosaur eggs – remains of which have never been found – were around 17 inches long.

Distinctive tyrannosaur features were found in analysis of the three-centimetre long jaw bone, including a “pronounced chin”, which the team say suggests physical traits were also present before they hatched.

Dr Funston, of the university’s School of GeoSciences, said: “These bones are the first window into the early lives of tyrannosaurs and they teach us about the size and appearance of baby tyrannosaurs.

“We now know that they would have been the largest hatchlings to ever emerge from eggs and they would have looked remarkably like their parents – both good signs for finding more material in the future.”

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The study is published in the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences and was supported by the Royal Society, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and National Science Foundation.

Researchers from the universities of Alberta, Calgary, Montana State and Chapman were also involved.


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