PM: Scotland to receive more than £1bn from social care levy

The UK government will introduce a new health and social care levy by increasing national insurance contributions.

Funding: Scotland to receive £1.1bn from social care levy. Paul Ellis via Getty Images
Funding: Scotland to receive £1.1bn from social care levy.

Boris Johnson has said Scotland will receive more than £1bn as he announced plans to raise additional cash for social care reform across the UK.

The Prime Minister announced that in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic the UK Government is to introduce a new health and social care levy, based on a 1.25% increase in national insurance (NI) contributions.

Johnson insisted this was a “reasonable and the fair approach” to paying for the reforms – despite breaching a manifesto pledge not to raise NI contributions.

However the SNP warned the changes would be the Prime Minister’s version of the “poll tax”, with the party’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford accusing the Tory of taxing Scottish workers twice.

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Blackford said: “By raising this levy across the UK, the Tories are taxing Scottish workers twice – forcing them to pay the bill for social care in England as well as at home in Scotland.

“This is the Prime Minister’s poll tax on Scottish workers to pay for English social care.”

In 1990 riots broke out after then Conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher attempted to reform council financing via the community charge – dubbed the poll tax – a policy which was introduced first in Scotland.

Johnson however insisted that the three devolved nations would “benefit from an extra £2.2bn a year”, adding that “this is about 15% more than they would contribute through the levy”.

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In a letter to the first ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Conservative told them that by 2024-25 “Scotland will benefit from an additional £1.1bn, Wales from £700 million and Northern Ireland from £400m”.

His comments came as he insisted: “The Government is committed to supporting our NHS and to improving health outcomes for citizens across the country.”

But in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which has put both the NHS and the care sector under massive pressure, Johnson said the “scale of the challenge we all face requires a new approach”.

He added: “The Government will therefore make available an additional £12bn in health and social care across the UK on average per year. This is a significant and permanent increase in public spending.”

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said that the new health and social care levy “will provide around £1bn extra a year for care services in Scotland, helping tackle post-Covid backlogs and ensuring that the most vulnerable people in our communities receive the support they need”.

Jack added: “Britain’s NHS, so precious to us all, went above and beyond during the pandemic. As a result, it is now facing huge challenges right across the UK. At the same time, all parts of the UK are facing the issue of reforming social care.

“We tackled the pandemic as one United Kingdom, and it is vital that we work on our recovery together. That includes working together to get public services in all parts of the UK back on track.”

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His comments came as Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon pledged her government would bring forward legislation within the coming year to set up a National Care Service north of the border.

She said she hoped the new service would be up and running by the end of this Holyrood term in 2026, adding that it would be “arguably the most significant public service reform since the creation of the National Health Service”.


Ambulance crisis caused by more than pandemic, senior surgeon warns

Professor Michael Griffin said less than half of the Scottish health service’s problems are due to Covid.

Scottish Ambulance Service via SAS
Ambulance: Crisis 'caused by more than pandemic'.

A majority of the issues in Scotland’s hospitals and the knock-on effect to the ambulance service are not due to Covid, a top surgeon has said.

Professor Michael Griffin, president of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, warned Scotland has “a real workforce problem in the NHS and in social care” that needs to be addressed and it is causing a “vicious circle” impacting all parts of the health service.

He told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme that increasing numbers of Covid cases and infected patients in hospitals are adding to the “very, very complex problem” facing the health service – including under pressure paramedics.

It comes after the Scottish Government officially requested help from the army to support the ambulance service amid deteriorating response times.

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“It’s not just due to Covid,” Prof Griffin said, adding that the pandemic is responsible for “probably 30-40% of the issues that we’re seeing”.

He said: “With the reduction in elective surgery in many of the health boards across Scotland, it’s not just Covid.

“It has a significant contribution, but there are other multiple factors involved and it’s quite a complex situation.

“We have staff absences from illness, recruitment and isolation, such that we’re not able to staff certain areas.

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“There’s a real problem with getting patients out of hospitals at the moment and into social care, because there is a care home workforce crisis which is causing issues and bed blocking.”

Addressing the specific problems facing paramedics and waits for ambulances, Prof Griffin continued: “If the hospital beds are all full, it’s extremely difficult for the ambulance drivers to get their patients into hospital, on to trolleys, into A&E and into beds if they need admission.

“It is a bit of a vicious circle.”

Warning the “huge backlogs” in the NHS will take years to address, he welcomed the Scottish Government’s recovery plan and proposals for diagnostic hubs as “really good steps forward”.

But he added: “They’re not going to be any good to us in the short-term unless we can staff them and at the moment we are very much short of nursing staff to be able to staff them.

“It’s all very well having surgeons and having anaesthetists, but if we don’t have the extended surgical team and the crucial nursing staff and other healthcare workers, we can’t actually do our jobs.”

The comments appear to contradict Nicola Sturgeon’s insistence that the crisis in the ambulance service is “largely caused by the Covid pressure” and it is “the latest in a number of significant challenges posed to us as a result of this pandemic”.

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During First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, Sturgeon apologised to people who had endured long waits for ambulances, including the family of 65-year-old Gerard Brown, from Glasgow, who died while waiting 40 hours for treatment.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar urged Sturgeon: “Please do not use the pandemic as cover for your government’s failure,” as he described reports of people dying or being left in agony while waiting for ambulances as an “avoidable human tragedy”.

The First Minister replied: “I accept there were pressures on the ambulance service, as there were pressures on the entirety of our health service before this pandemic.

“But I do think anybody who suggests that the pandemic is not a significant contributory factor to what our health service is dealing with right now is stretching credibility.

“The pandemic has created the most challenging conditions for our National Health Service probably since the National Health Service was created and that is being felt acutely in Scotland.”

Pauline Howie, chief executive of the Scottish Ambulance Service, told Good Morning Scotland: “We’re currently experiencing an unprecedented period of significant and sustained demand on our services.

“That’s a result of increasing Covid-19 cases and also increasing non-Covid demand through illnesses and injuries.

“We’ve seen increased turnaround times at hospitals and staff absences due to isolating and these factors are all causing these unacceptable delays for patients.”

Asked what the winter will hold for the ambulance teams, she said: “It’s going to be extremely challenging, there’s no doubt about it.

“That’s why we’re looking at a whole range of measures to see what else we can possibly do ahead of winter to put in place capacity, not just in the ambulance service but across the whole of the health and care system.”


‘More than half of schools’ had Covid case in first two weeks of term

The data was released under freedom of information legislation.

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More than half of all schools in Scotland reported at least one positive case of Covid-19 among pupils in the first two weeks of term, new figures show.

A freedom of information request submitted to Public Health Scotland (PHS) shows that 1455 schools in Scotland recorded a positive case between August 16 and August 27, the first two weeks of term – 58.7% of all schools.

According to Scottish Government figures released in December, there are 2476 schools registered in the country.

While it is not clear how many of the cases in schools were contracted there as opposed to the community, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has repeatedly said the return of schools in Scotland contributed to the spike in Covid-19 cases seen in recent weeks, which she said this week has shown signs of dissipating.

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Meanwhile, PHS data also shows nearly 15% of cases during the same time period could be linked to an educational setting, a nursery, school, college or university, although higher education had not yet returned for the new term during the time the data covers.

A total of 8113 positive cases during the first two weeks of the school term reported having been in an educational setting in the seven days before they developed symptoms, 14.2% of the cases reported during that time.

Larry Flanagan, the general secretary of the EIS teaching union, said: “Since pupils and staff returned to schools last month, we have seen a substantial increase in Covid infection rates across the country.

“There have been significant outbreaks linked to schools, with Covid-related absence rates amongst pupils and teachers at record high levels.

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“This highlights the continuing need for appropriate safety mitigations in our schools to reduce the infection risk, and also confirms the importance of continuing the vaccination programme including the planned rollout of the availability of vaccines for 12 to 15-year-olds.”

Despite the new figures, Tory education spokesman Oliver Mundell said it was important that schools remain open, but that measures are put in place to limit the spread.

“An increase in cases was expected when schools returned. But the SNP-Green Government need to ensure that they are striking a balance of mitigating the risk of case numbers against causing further disruption to education.

“The World Health Organisation and the children’s commissioner are clear that for young people’s mental health and wellbeing, and for some their safety, the number one priority must be to keep schools open.

“The SNP-Green Government need to guarantee that every robust measure is in place to keep our schools as safe as possible from being a place where the virus is transmitted.

“That will ensure that in-person learning can continue and pupils will hopefully return to a normal learning experience as quickly as possible.”

Both the Scottish Greens and Lib Dems said the decision to offer vaccines to young people aged between 12 and 15, announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon earlier this week, would be vital to keeping youngsters safe.

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“There is a real risk of disruption to pupils’ education if these outbreaks are not swiftly crushed,” said Lib Dem education spokesman Willie Rennie,

“That’s why it will be so important to encourage young people to come forward and get their vaccines.”

Green education spokesman Ross Greer said: “The decision to offer Covid-19 vaccinations to most secondary school pupils will certainly help reduce this disruption, if its rollout is swift.

“However, the government really needs to get to grips with the slow progress on improving ventilation in schools, a matter I’ve repeatedly raised with the First Minister.

“We must do everything we can to make our schools safe for both pupils and staff.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We continue to closely monitor the impact of Covid-19 cases in schools.

“In light of the latest data and evidence, we have decided to extend the period for safety mitigations in schools to remain in place until at least the October holidays.

“We have also strengthened guidance for staff and pupils identified as being low-risk contacts of positive cases.

“They are now being asked to take a Lateral Flow Device (LFD) test before coming back to school. This is in addition to current advice for staff and secondary pupils to take an LFD test twice a week and to record all results.

“The current rate of Covid-19 related absences among pupils is around 4%. It remains the case that the vast majority of Covid-19 absences – about 69% – are pupils who are isolating, with around 28% being due to Covid-related sickness.”

Adeline ‘can’t wait to make friends’ after life-saving transplant

Adeline Davidson is on the road to recovery - but her younger sister Josie has just been diagnosed with the same condition.

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A little girl who waited two years for a life-saving bone marrow transplant is set to start nursery – as her sister faces a health battle of her own.

Four-year-old Adeline Davidson underwent the treatment to tackle a rare blood cancer and is now “desperate to make friends”.

But as Adeline’s life continues to get increasingly normal, her sister Josie has been diagnosed with the same condition.

The two-year-old is facing “a long road”, however her condition is not currently life-threatening.

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Their mum Steph Davidson, from Alness in the Highlands, told STV News: “I think deep down I knew that Josie had something similar and it turns out that there’s two mutations in Adeline and Josie’s got one.

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Josie Davidson has been diagnosed with same condition as her older sister Adeline.

“The condition can still lead to bone marrow failure, but at the moment she is stable, so we are going with that and taking everything as it comes.”

‘She’s desperate to make friends’

Meanwhile, Adeline is well on the road to recovery and is set to start nursery in two weeks.

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“Things are really good,” said Steph. “We are nearly seven months post-transplant and her test results and blood counts are all great.

“She’s gone from hypocellular marrow, which means no cells, to 80 to 90 per cent cellularity, so nearly the same as any other normal person.

“She’s starting nursery in two weeks – I am thrilled, she’s thrilled, everyone’s thrilled. She’s ready to go.

“She is desperate to have friends and learn things and it’s a chapter we have been waiting for for two-and-a-half years – we are here, we have made it.”

STV News
Adeline Davidson can’t wait to start making friends.

Adeline has Shwachman-Diamond syndrome, a rare, inherited bone marrow failure. Symptoms can include low number of white blood cells, poor growth due to difficulty absorbing food and, in some cases, skeletal abnormalities.

Her treatment was delayed due to the pandemic, which the family said remained a big issue for them.

“It is still an obstacle, but we are at the point where we can’t keep delaying things for Adeline – it is always going to be there,” said Steph.

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“There are other bugs and viruses, which we are prepared for, so we have just got to get on with it and be as normal as possible.”

‘Nothing more important’

In 2019, more than 300 people turned up at an open donor drive in Inverness to have swabs taken and sampled in a bid to find a match for Adeline.

Her match was eventually found abroad and the family want people to get tested and declare themselves as potential donors.

So far, Adeline has required more than 100 blood transfusions to support her health.

Steph said: “It kept her alive for two-and-a-half years. There’s nothing more important than that and I know there are so many other children and adults that need the same thing.”


Warning over ‘challenging times’ for care homes as Covid cases rise

The CEO of Care Scotland has urged people to do all they can to support their local care home residents and workforce.

aerogondo via IStock
There has also been an increase in the number of staff absences due to Covid-19.

A warning has been issued over the “exceptionally challenging times” for care homes in Scotland as figures indicate a rising number of positive Covid cases.

Statistics published by the Scottish Government show that 206 positive cases were confirmed amongst residents in Scottish care homes between September 6 and September 12, the latest figures on record.

It is a marked increase on the 155 cases recorded in the previous period between August 30 and September 5.

In stark contrast earlier in the year, between May 31 and June 6, only four positive cases amongst residents were confirmed, with the total figure not rising above 49 until August 23 when it jumped to 104.

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Similarly, there has been a rise in the number of positive Covid cases confirmed amongst care home staff.

In the latest period, between September 6 and September 12, there were 201 cases confirmed.

The figure did represent a slight drop in the number recorded in the previous period between August 30 and September 5 (219), but it was still a rise on the 144 cases recorded between August 23 and August 29.

Between May 31 and June 6, there were 19 confirmed positive cases recorded in all Scottish care homes.

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The number of staff absences due to Covid-19 has also risen of late, with 3028 absences (from the week to September 14), 3298 absences (from the week to September 7), and 3089 (from the week to August 31).

It is an increase on the 1983 staff absences due to Covid-19 reported from the week to August 24.

On Friday, the CEO of Scottish Care, Donald Macaskill, warned of the challenge facing the sector.

He wrote: “These are exceptionally challenging times for care homes in Scotland.

“We have the highest number of Covid outbreaks since Feb and sadly the highest number of deaths since March.

“Please do all you can to support your local care home residents and workforce.”

St Andrews ousts Cambridge and Oxford in Times university rankings

It took first place this year due to student satisfaction, research, teaching quality, entry standards and graduate outcomes.

University of St Andrews via University of St Andrews
St Andrews: Named as best university in the UK.

The University of St Andrews has been ranked the top university in the United Kingdom for the first time.

Situated in Fife, the uni tops The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022, published on Friday.

It is the first time in the near 30-year history of the definitive Guide, and UK university league tables in general, that a university other than Oxford or Cambridge has topped the rankings.

Founded in 1413, St Andrews is the oldest university in Scotland and the third oldest in the English speaking world and has consistently been in the top three of the Times and Sunday Times Guide in recent years.

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It took first place this year by virtue of its strong performances in student satisfaction, research, teaching quality, entry standards and graduate outcomes.

St Andrews via St Andrews
St Salvator’s Quad hearts from above. University of St Andrews

The methodology used by the Guide editors to rank the UK’s universities has not changed this year.

Guide editor Alastair McCall said: “St Andrews’ achievement in topping our institutional table should not be underestimated.

“Never before has any university other than Cambridge and Oxford finished top of our – or any other – domestic ranking of universities.

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“It is no fluke. The university has been closing in on the Oxbridge duopoly for several years, buoyed by outstanding levels of student satisfaction which have peaked during the past year of pandemic disruption on campus.

“Strange to say for an institution that has been around for 600 years, but topping our UK rankings for the first time truly marks St Andrews ‘arrival’ as a serious challenger to Oxford and Cambridge.”

University of Edinburgh. via University of St Andrews
St Andrews students: Jack Campbell, from Glasgow, Ignacio Ugalde from Buenos Aires, Estelle Smalstig from Chicago, Samiyah Lunat from London, Chloe Chuck from Lincolnshire and Carmella Neal from Seattle.

The president of St Andrews Student’s Association welcomed the news that she says is testament to the hard work and dedication of staff and students during a difficult year.

Lottie Doherty said: “It’s amazing news. It’s brilliant that St Andrews has made number one, not just for the university and its staff but for all the students here as well.

“It really is a testament to how well the last year has gone despite the difficult conditions.”

University chancellor, Lord Campbell of Pittenweem, said: “This welcome and deserved achievement reflects the outstanding nature of the student experience at St Andrews University.

“Under the inspired leadership of the principal, professor Sally Mapstone, and her senior team, the standards set in these difficult times in teaching, research, and management at every level are truly remarkable.”

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And principal and vice-chancellor, professor Mapstone, is hoping the triumph over the Oxbridge duo will inspire others.

She said: “I am thrilled for our students, staff and alumni. They are the people who made this happen.

“As one community, we strive constantly for excellence, and have a strategy that hasn’t been afraid to believe St Andrews could challenge at the very top by combining the best teaching, world-leading research, and an unswerving commitment to student satisfaction and achievement.

University of St Andrews via University of St Andrews
Red Gown ambassadors on St Sallies Lawn. University of St Andrews.

“Of course we’ll enjoy this remarkable result, and I expect there may be a little good-natured cross-border teasing amongst colleagues.

“Principals have a longstanding tradition of celebrating good league table results, and quietly ignoring those that may not be so flattering, and I have every intention of observing that tradition.

“I hope the fact that the staff and students of a small, Scottish institution have been able to break through the hitherto impenetrable Oxbridge ceiling will inspire others, and show that the status quo is only that if you allow it to be.”

In addition to the institutional ranking, the university also tops seven of the subject league tables.

St Andrews is top in the UK for business management and marketing, computer science, English, Middle Eastern and African studies, philosophy, physics and astronomy, and international relations.

Mystery donor gives cat and dog home £26,000 in cryptocurreny

The Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home relies solely on donations to rescue, reunite and rehome animals.

bluecinema via IStock
Last year, the home cared for 610 dogs and 247 cats.

A cat and dog home is celebrating after receiving an anonymous donation of more than £26,000 worth of cryptocurrency.

The mystery donor gave the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home the virtual cash after the animal welfare charity started accepting cryptocurrency donations just last week.

The home, in Seafield, relies solely on the generosity of others and said the surprise gift will help them look after their animals.

Karlyn Robertson, development manager, said: “We wish we could thank this donor in person but instead we would like to send them a message – I hope you know how much this is appreciated and what it means to us.

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“The home is entirely funded by donations and your generosity will go a long way to helping us keep our animals fed, sheltered and having the veterinary care they need.”

It costs the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home around £2m a year to rescue, reunite and rehome stray and unwanted pets across East of Scotland.

Last year, the home cared for 610 dogs and 247 cats.

The charity also works in the local community to tackle pet poverty, keeping animals in loving homes with its dedicated food bank.

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The large donation was made anonymously, through The Giving Block website, in the Ethereum (ETH) currency.

It came just days after the charity launched its platform for accepting the virtual coinage and since then the home has received donations in a range of cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin.

Ms Robertson said: “Cryptocurrency donations are a new area for the home but it’s amazing to see this take off so quickly and what a huge impact it can have on the care of our dogs and cats.

“It comes at the perfect time for us when other income streams like in-person events have been disrupted, so we couldn’t be more grateful for this lifeline.”


Equal pay discrimination set to run for ‘almost three more years’

A settlement, worth over £500m, was agreed with around 16,000 current and former employees in 2019.

SNS Group via SNS Group
Glasgow City Council: A settlement, worth over £500m, was agreed with around 16,000 current and former employees in 2019.

Equal pay discrimination at Glasgow City Council is expected to run for almost three more years — with predominantly female workers continuing to be paid unfairly, according to trade unions.

A settlement, worth over £500m, was agreed with around 16,000 current and former employees in 2019, but a new pay scheme still needs to be introduced.

It is estimated that it could take until April 2024 to put the pay and grading system in place — and unions claim the cost, along with 5000 new claims, could run into hundreds of millions of pounds.

They say it is “intolerable” low-paid, mainly female workers have to “wait a total of six years to get the monies they were due and are owed”.

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A council spokesman said all parties agreed other claims would be “dealt with at a later stage” at the time of the 2019 deal.

Councillors will get an update on a job evaluation process next week, with the results set to be used to create the new pay system.

A report reveals the evaluation process could be finished between December 2022 and June 2023, with modelling and costing of the pay scheme and consultation to follow.

There is an “optimistic” first new pay date of October 2023, but a “realistic” date of April 2024.

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Wendy Dunsmore, regional officer at Unite, said: “Equal pay is still and will continue to be the biggest cost Glasgow City Council has to face.

“It also has to face the additional recurring costs of a fair and equitable pay and grading structure being agreed.

“An interim settlement up to 2018 was welcome but there now needs to be a further payment to all those who have outstanding claims as it is intolerable that low paid, predominantly women workers have to wait a total of six years to get the monies they were due and are owed.”

Brian Smith, from Unison, said: “Until the new pay and grading scheme is implemented, thousands of women workers still experience pay discrimination every day they go to work.

“This is because the payouts made a couple of years ago only went up to March 2018, and there are also 5000 new claims for pre-2018 still to be settled too.”

He said talks are “not progressing as we had hoped” and claimed the cost will be hundreds of millions.

Ongoing revenue spending will be needed from 2024 to deliver a “fair” pay and grading scheme, Mr Smith added.

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The council spokesman said new claims are currently being discussed, and the council is “keen to progress this work and officers are ready to meet claimants’ representatives”.

“All parties agreed at the time the 2019 settlement was negotiated that other claims, not covered by that deal — including any covering the period between 2018 and implementation of a new pay structure — would be dealt with at a later stage,” he added.

The Covid-19 pandemic has delayed the job evaluation exercise, and interviews with staff to gather information about their roles now requires a “remote engagement model”.

A report by Robert Anderson, head of HT, states some council employees have “limited access” to council-issued IT.

Those staff can attend council hubs to use equipment or, in an “exception”, have face-to-face meetings.

The team is interviewing a representative sample of job holders, expected to be 5%, which means there are around 900 interviews left to complete.

Mr Anderson said: “From the perspective of equal pay, the contribution of job evaluation is the creation of a ranked order of jobs.

“It is with this that a new pay and grading scheme can be designed and then implemented. That act of implementation brings the challenge of equal pay to a conclusion as the council will then have a robust defence against future equal pay claims.”

By local democracy reporter Drew Sandelands

Owners reunited with cat which went missing ten years ago

The cat, called Forbes, was found within two miles of where he went missing in the Rosemount area of Aberdeen.

SSPCA via PA Wire
Forbes the cat is reunited with its owners after being reported missing 10 years ago.

A 12-year-old cat has been reunited with its owners after being reported missing ten years ago.

The long-lost pet, called Forbes, was rescued after a member of the public spotted him looking thin and in need of medical treatment in the Ferrier Gardens area of Aberdeen – about two miles from where he went missing.

Animal rescue officer Greg Stevenson found Forbes was microchipped and managed to trace his owners who told him that their cat had been missing for a decade.

Forbes’ owners, Neil and Lucy Henderson, who have since moved from Aberdeen to Edinburgh, said they had searched for their pet for months after he went missing before giving up and assuming the worst.

SSPCA via PA Wire
Forbes had been missing for over a decade (Scottish SPCA)
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Mr Henderson said: “When Forbes first went missing in March 2011, we were distraught.

“We’d had him from when he was a kitten and we had such a special bond.

“He was such a unique and friendly character, we absolutely adored him.

“Our friend made posters and we went door-to-door in the area we lived in Rosemount.

SSPCA via PA Wire
Forbes in the arms of his owners after they went to collect him in Aberdeen (Scottish SPCA)
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“We asked people to check garages and sheds as we thought he may have just been locked inside.

“After eight or nine months, we very sadly had to come to the realisation that the worst may have happened.”

But after receiving the call from the Scottish SPCA a decade later, the Hendersons jumped in their car and drove to Aberdeen to be reunited with their long lost Forbes.

“My wife phoned when I was on the motorway and she told me I had to pull over,” Mr Henderson said.

“I was completely unprepared for what I was about to be told and hearing that Forbes had been found left me completely astounded.

“I have to admit that I was completely overcome with emotion and turned the car round immediately to go home.

“We travelled to Aberdeen the next day and when he was brought out, I recognised him immediately. Forbes did give me a big cuddle so I’m hopeful that he remembered us.”

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Mr Henderson added: “Since coming home he has adopted habits he used to have.

“In my younger days I used to stay up late and Forbes would come in the room and start meowing at me until I turned off the video game I was playing and went to bed.

“This was so he could come and cuddle in to me.

“He’s started doing the same thing again which is so heart-warming.

“This is just the best outcome for us. We never thought we would see him again. It’s like a closed chapter has just opened up. It’s a dream come true.”

Officer Stevenson said: “I was amazed to hear how long Forbes had been missing for.

“He was found looking rather skinny and was in need of veterinary attention for fleas and mites.

“Forbes was found less than two miles from where he went missing though we have no way of knowing where Forbes had been all this time or what adventures he might have been on.”


Hunt for driver after horse dies following collision on rural road

The animal was startled by a car revving its engine and collided with another vehicle.

Marco VDM via IStock
Police: Looking to trace car that startled horse and caused crash.

A horse has died following a collision on a rural road in Falkirk.

Police are appealing for information to trace a car that caused a crash on the unnamed road to Armadale, from the B8028 at Avonbridge, at around 5.15pm on Thursday.

The incident involved a horse and its rider, along with a blue Land Rover.

It is believed that the animal was startled by an overtaking vehicle, which loudly revved its engine and caused the collision.

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As a result of its injuries, the horse had to be euthanised. A second horse and rider were uninjured.

The car in question is described as being similar to a Ford Fiesta ST, orange in colour, with a black spoiler.

Constable Joseph Wood, from Livingston Road Policing Unit, said: “Our thoughts are with the horse’s owner and family at this time.

“We’re appealing for anyone who was in the area around the time of the incident and may have potential dashcam footage to please come forward.

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“We would welcome any information which could help us establish the full circumstances and also trace the driver of the orange vehicle.”

Anyone with information can call police on 101.


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