Nicola Sturgeon ‘extremely concerned’ about rising energy prices

The energy price cap is set to rise by £139 a year (12%) to £1,277 for a typical gas and electricity customer from October 1.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she is extremely concerned about rising energy prices. (Fraser Bremner/Scottish Daily Mail/PA via PA Wire
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she is extremely concerned about rising energy prices.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she is “extremely concerned” about the rise in energy prices and its impact on consumers as the universal credit uplift ends.

Sturgeon said she has concerns about the “significant impact” it may have on domestic consumers particularly when some of the poorest families in the country will see their benefits cut.

She will be chairing a meeting of the Scottish Government committee later on Wednesday to discuss the issues.

The energy price cap is set to rise by £139 a year (12%) to £1277 for a typical gas and electricity customer from October 1 while the UK Government’s “uplift” in Universal Credit, intended as a temporary measure during the coronavirus pandemic, ends on October 6.

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The price rises come after the cost of gas on wholesale markets rocketed at unprecedented rates, up 70% since August and 250% since the beginning of the year, according to trade body Oil & Gas UK.

UK Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has said that families will face a “difficult winter” with rising energy bills and cuts to benefits.

Sturgeon said: “I am extremely concerned about the rise in energy prices, the impacts on industry of the wholesale gas price rises but also the significant impact we may see on domestic consumers over this winter period at the same time as the UK Government is planning to take £20 a week away from some of the poorest families in the country.

“I will be returning to Edinburgh later today to chair a meeting of the Scottish Government’s resilience committee to look at these issues – most of them are reserved to the UK Government but I want to ensure the Scottish Government is doing everything we can to try to deal with the impact of what is a very worrying set of circumstances.”

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Asked whether she regrets that the Scottish Government has not set up a state-owned energy company, she said: “The issues around that are complex. We set out our intentions in the manifesto that we won the election on, the issue with energy prices is nothing to do with the Scottish Government’s plans for a publicly-owned energy company.”

The UK Government and regulator Ofgem have agreed the price cap will remain in place despite concerns within the energy industry about the impact it will have on firms left unable to pass on costs to customers.


‘Surfers saved my life when my heart stopped on the beach’

Cardiac arrest survivor backs new campaign to create national database of defibrillator locations.

British Heart Foundation via Contributed

Bill Shackman collapsed when his heart stopped while he was out surfing in St Andrews in December last year.

He doesn’t remember anything about that morning or the hours after his cardiac arrest – but when he woke he was told the remarkable story of how his life was saved.

A group of fellow surfers took it in turns to perform CPR while one of them, a retired firefighter, ran to get a heart-starting defibrillator as they waited for an ambulance.

“I have a vague recollection of putting my wetsuit on in the morning and seeing some of the waves, but I don’t remember anything from the day,” said 48-year-old Bill, an academic editor and father of three.

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“Quite simply, I wouldn’t be here without them [the lifesavers] to see my children grow up, to spend time with my family.

“They were ready to respond and determined to keep me alive. I am so grateful to the whole community that came together to save me. 

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Bill with his wife Emily.

“I, my family and my friends can never thank them enough. What happened has definitely made me think about what is really important in life – family, friends. Knowing you could go at any moment, makes you hold on to every moment.”

’15 minutes without a breath’

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One of the lifesavers, Scott Mitchell, said the group didn’t think Bill was going to survive.

“Bill was unresponsive, he wasn’t breathing and he had no pulse,” he said. “None of us thought he was going to make it, it was a long time to be without oxygen.

“It was, I think, 15 minutes he didn’t have a breath in him.”

Bill was taken from East Sands beach to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, where he was later diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and fitted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD).

He is now backing a major campaign to create a national database of defibrillators so emergency control rooms can direct people to them.

The Circuit – the national defibrillator network – connects heart-starting devices to NHS ambulance services across the UK, so that in the crucial moments after a cardiac arrest they can be accessed quickly.

James Jopling, head of British Heart Foundation Scotland, said: “Someone’s survival rate drops by ten per cent every minute that goes by where they’re not given CPR or not given access to a defibrillator.

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“So it’s a critical part of keeping someone alive after a cardiac arrest. That’s why we’re so keen that people register their defibs with The Circuit.”


Queen spends night in hospital for ‘preliminary investigations’

The monarch returned to Windsor Castle at lunchtime on Thursday, and remains in 'good spirits'.

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It is understood the trip to hospital on Wednesday afternoon was expected to be for a short stay for some preliminary investigations.

The Queen spent Wednesday night in hospital for “preliminary investigations”, Buckingham Palace has confirmed.

The monarch, who was ordered to rest by doctors and advised to miss a trip to Northern Ireland, returned to Windsor Castle at lunchtime on Thursday, and remains in “good spirits”.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: “Following medical advice to rest for a few days, the Queen attended hospital on Wednesday afternoon for some preliminary investigations, returning to Windsor Castle at lunchtime today, and remains in good spirits.”

It is understood the trip to hospital on Wednesday afternoon was expected to be for a short stay for some preliminary investigations, so was not announced by the Palace at the time, as well as in order to protect the Queen’s medical privacy.

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The overnight stay was said to be for practical reasons.

The Queen’s medical team are understood to have been taking a cautious approach.

The Queen was said to be back at her desk this afternoon, undertaking light duties.

The 95-year-old monarch was said to be disappointed not to be able to travel to Northern Ireland on Wednesday, and reluctantly heeded the advice of her royal physicians.

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She has had a busy schedule since returning from Balmoral at the start of October, and hosted a major Global Investment summit at Windsor Castle on Tuesday evening, where she looked bright and cheerful as she carried out her royal duties.


MSP urges action to counter spate of ‘spikings’ in Scotland

Investigations are being carried out by police into reports of spiking by injection.

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Scottish Labour has called for the scandal of spiking to be ended 'once and for all'.

Scotland’s chief legal officer and Police Scotland have been urged to work together to counter a spate of reported spikings after investigations were launched into several incidents that may have involved needles.

Pauline McNeill, Scottish Labour’s justice spokeswoman, has written to Police Scotland chief constable Iain Livingstone and the Lord Advocate, Dorothy Bain QC for more information on spiking statistics, while also calling on the police, licensing authorities, the night time industry and universities to work together to keep women safe.

It comes after Police Scotland said they are investigating a “small number of reports” of spiking by injection in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen, while another spiking incident – not involving a needle – is being probed in Stirling.

Police said the incidents do not appear to be linked, despite reports being posted on social media within a few days of each other.

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All reports have come from areas with a high student population.

McNeill said in her letters: “Women are disproportionately the victims of such crimes and they are understandably concerned, not only about being drugged but also the potential dangers to their physical safety following such an attack.

“Spiking via injection may also come with the added risk of needle infection; it also makes it harder for victims to avoid or take personal steps against to protect themselves from being spiked.

“Unfortunately spiking is not a new problem but with this new spate of attacks it is important that perpetrators are found and dealt with accordingly.

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“It was welcome to see that the police have launched a probe into reports of spiking via injection in Glasgow, but I am concerned about the apparent scale of the problem.”

In a statement, she added: “The recent reports of drink spiking have been harrowing.

“This is a disgusting and dangerous criminal act that must be eradicated.

“We cannot have the women in Scotland living in fear of their own safety.

“We need to understand the scale of the problem and what can be done to deal with it.

“That’s why Scottish Labour has today written to the Lord Advocate and to the chief constable of Police Scotland to get clarity on the issue.

“What we need is the police, the industry, licensing boards and universities all working together to keep women safe.

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“It’s time to end the scandal of spiking once and for all.”


Manhunt after teenage woman seriously assaulted in busy nightclub

Officers appealed for any witnesses to come forward.

© Google Maps 2020
Savoy in Glasgow city centre.

An 18-year-old woman has been seriously assaulted by a man in a busy Glasgow nightclub.

The teenager was at the Savoy on Sauchiehall Street in the city centre in the early hours of Monday, October 18 when the incident took place.

Detectives said the club was busy and after the attack at around 1.10am several people came to the aid of the victim.

She was taken to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital but later released.

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Police said the man responsible is described as white, 25 to 30-years-old and of stocky build with short, dark-coloured hair. He was wearing a grey and black t-shirt with dark trousers and trainers.

Officers appealed for any witnesses to come forward.

Detective constable Stuart Mills, from City Centre Police Station, said: “The nightclub was busy at the time and a number of people witnessed the incident then went to assist the injured woman. I would ask any witnesses who have not yet spoken to police, to contact us.

“Any witnesses or anyone who with information should contact 101 with reference number 0196 of October 18. Alternatively, Crimestoppers can be contacted on 0800 555 111, where anonymity can be maintained.”


Spending per pupil ‘higher in Scotland than elsewhere in UK’

Research has been carried out by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

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The biggest increase in the Scottish Government’s funding for schools was a 6% real terms rise in 2019-20.

Scotland has the highest spending on schools per pupil of any UK nation, analysis has found.

Teacher pay rises and additional funding during the coronavirus pandemic have reversed real terms spending cuts during the past decade, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said.

Its research found spending per pupil between 2009–10 and 2014–15 fell by 7% in real terms, but then increased by the same percentage over the subsequent five years.

The biggest increase in the Scottish Government’s funding for schools was a 6% real terms rise in 2019-20, amounting to an additional £400 per pupil, driven by a 7% increase of teacher pay scales and a further backdated 3% rise.

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It means that by 2021-22, Scotland is estimated to be spending £7600 per pupil – more than £800 higher than in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Luke Sibieta, author of the research at the IFS, said: “Over the last decade, there were cuts to school spending per pupil right across the UK.

“In Scotland, large recent increases mean that spending has more than recovered and core spending per pupil is now likely to be over £800 higher than in the rest of the UK.

“Despite recent increases, spending per pupil in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is still close to or just below levels seen a decade earlier.

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“However, it is important to remember higher spending need not automatically translate into better educational outcomes.

“Indeed, international comparisons of test scores suggest numeracy and science scores were declining in high-spending Scotland relative to the OECD average up to 2018.

“It remains to be seen whether extra spending in Scotland since 2018 will arrest this trend.”

Josh Hillman, director of education at the Nuffield Foundation that funded the study, added: “This IFS analysis shows that the increasing divergence in education policy between the four nations of the UK extends to school spending per pupil, where funding to support Scottish pupils has held up better than for their counterparts in the other nations.

“A major cause for concern is that funding for education recovery programmes in response to the pandemic is much lower across all four nations than those being implemented in comparable countries.”

SNP MSP and former teacher Kaukab Stewart said: “This investment is paying off. School buildings are in the best condition since records began, teacher numbers are higher than they’ve been since 2008, this year the number of Higher passes was at its highest since devolution, the number of Scottish students accepted to university is at a record high, and much more.

“As we move out of the pandemic and into recovery, it is vital that our schools are put on a footing to continue to get the best for Scotland’s young people.

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“Closing the poverty-related attainment gap remains one of the SNP Government’s defining missions. That’s why, over the course of this Parliament, we will invest a further £1bn, with a refreshed Scottish Attainment Challenge.”


More people unable to pay energy bills, study finds

Citizens Advice Scotland has warned that the number of people unable to pay their bills could grow.

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It comes ahead of a rise in the cost of energy bills.

Increasing numbers of people are unable to pay energy bills as they run out of money before pay day, analysis suggests.

Polling data collected for Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) indicates the number of people who missed bills rose by 44% between 2020 and 2021.

YouGov polls for CAS found around 9% of people in Scotland were in this category in 2020, going up to 13% this year.

Just over 1000 Scots were polled in May this year, with 3305 surveyed over two months in 2020.

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CAS says the numbers could grow further as bills are expected to rise this winter.

Its senior energy policy officer Alastair Wilcox said: “This increase is hugely worrying.

“One in 10 people unable to pay for their energy because of a lack of cash was unacceptable in the first place.

“That it soared to more than one in seven during the pandemic shows the strain household budgets are under.

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“Sadly, there is a very real risk these numbers will climb higher in the year to come, with energy prices increasing and the ongoing problems in the energy market.

“Many people with suppliers who have gone out of business may end up on higher tariffs, or lose access to the lifeline Warm Homes Discount.

“Help is at hand this winter from the Citizens Advice network.

“Our advice is free, impartial and confidential and you can get help from your local CAB or online.”


Holidaymaker dies in Crete while rescuing grandsons from sea

Jonathan Smith, from Carluke, got into difficulty in the water near Gouves as he tried to save the two boys.

STV News

A Scottish man has died after rescuing his two grandsons from the sea off the coast of a Greek island.

It is understood that Jonathan Smith, from Carluke, was on holiday in Crete with family when two boys got into trouble in the water near Gouves, a resort east of Heraklion.

The 61-year-old was able to save the two grandchildren before getting into difficulty himself.

A spokesperson for the National Center for First Aid (EKAB) in Crete told Greek TV that the boys were unharmed but were taken to hospital as a precaution.

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An eyewitness told Greek broadcasters that he and other rescuers threw lifejackets out to the children and Mr Smith.

“The two children we got them out, we saved them, but the man we couldn’t save, there’s rocks here so he may have hurt himself,” he said.

“And we couldn’t save him, we didn’t have the time, the water took him in. The children were scared when they got onto the boat, I realised it was their grandad, they started crying, as soon as they got onto the boat they were shaking through fear.

“I’m proud that we saved the children, that was our priority, but the man we didn’t make it to save him. We feel guilty but we did what we could.”

‘The children were scared when they got onto the boat, I realised it was their grandad, they started crying, as soon as they got onto the boat they were shaking through fear.’

Eyewitness
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Mr Smith previously worked for North Lanarkshire Council and was central to developing its Syrian Resettlement Programme in 2015.

The project assisted a number of families who have fled ongoing conflict and provided a safe and secure future for them.

Des Murray, chief executive of North Lanarkshire Council said: “The news about Jonathan has been a terrible shock to everyone who knew and worked with him at the council and beyond over many years.

“Jonathan was held in the highest regard, and the work he did to forge long-lasting links and friendships with communities and partners across North Lanarkshire is testament to the passion and tireless dedication he gave to everything he did.

“He was also pivotal in community engagement and participation, maintaining relationships with many of our local community groups and addressing local needs.

“He was a wonderful, kind and considerate family man, who will be deeply missed and all our thoughts are with his family at this time.”

Central Scotland Conservative MSP Meghan Gallacher said: “This is really sad news. Jonathon worked alongside local communities and councillors during his time at North Lanarkshire Council.

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“Thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues.”

The UK Foreign Office told STV News it was supporting the family of a British man who had died in Crete and was in contact with the Greek authorities.

The Cretapost website reported life jackets were thrown into the water to assist the man.

A local worker said: “We tried to pull him ashore but the currents were very strong and we could not.”


Clarkston Disaster: ‘The shops were blown to bits’

50th anniversary of the day 22 people were killed when a gas explosion ripped through a row of shops.

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Engineers were trying to find a gas leak when an explosion ripped through a row of shops at Clarkston Toll shortly before 3pm on October 21, 1971.

Twenty-two people – 20 women and two men – were killed as ten shops were blown out and vehicles plunged into the debris from a rooftop car park.

More than 100 others were hurt, including some who were rescued hours later as emergency workers and good samaritans dug desperately through the rubble.

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Vehicles plunged from the rooftop car park into the shops following the blast.

Most of the victims were customers and shop workers, and even though many of them had already complained that week about a smell of gas, no-one was held responsible for the blast.

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The victims of the Clarkston Disaster will be remembered during a 50th anniversary memorial service in the East Renfrewshire town on Thursday afternoon.

‘Shortly after that, it blew up’

Ted Flannigan’s life was saved by chance – he went into a restaurant in Clarkston for something to eat, but changed his mind and left the scene just minutes before the explosion.

“By almost a whim, I saved my own life,” the 75-year-old told STV News as he returned to the scene half a century later.

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“I came out of a restaurant and drove up the road a little bit – shortly after that, it blew up.

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Two passengers were killed after getting off this bus just before the explosion.

“The roof had come down, crashed through the shops, the front and back of the shops were blown to bits and poor people who were either shopping or working lost their lives.

“As an engineer, I’ve seen various things in my life, but nothing quite as horrendous as this.

“I spent three nights working there, trying to do anything that I could do. People were all mucking in, everybody was trying to help.”

What happened in Clarkston?

Shopworkers had reported a smell of gas in the six-year-old shopping centre on Busby Road, but engineers were unable to find out where it was coming from.

Unbeknown to them, gas was actually leaking through a crack in a pipe three feet below the road surface into empty, unventilated cellars beneath the shops.

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Engineers were still on the scene when the gas was ignited by a spark, causing an explosion so fierce that it killed two people who had just got off a bus – and injured passengers still in their seats.

A fatal accident inquiry reached its conclusions within just four months of the explosion, a jury deciding that no one was to blame.

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This car was left covered in rubble following the blast.

Remembering the victims

A special 50th anniversary service will take place for victims’ families and survivors on Thursday at the memorial tree in the Clarkston Halls car park.

There will also be a minute’s silence across East Renfrewshire at 2.50pm.

The full story of the Clarkston Disaster was also told in an episode of The People’s History Show, which is available on the STV Player.


Two arrested after man injured in ‘altercation’ outside Central Station

An area at Glasgow Central's Union Street entrance was taped off by police on Thursday.

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The incident took place at around 1.10pm on Thursday, October 21.

A man has been taken to hospital after an altercation involving three people outside Glasgow Central Station.

Police taped off an area at station’s Union Street entrance following the incident on Thursday afternoon.

Officers have confirmed that a man and woman have been arrested, whilst enquires are carried out.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Officers were called to Union Street, outside Glasgow Central Station, at around 1.10pm on Thursday, October 21, 2021, following an altercation involving three people.

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“A man and a woman have been arrested in connection with the incident, and a second man taken to hospital for treatment.

“A police presence remains while enquiries are conducted at the scene.”


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