Sturgeon ‘keeping options open’ on vaccine passports

The First Minister said she was ‘highly cautious’ about the use of such certification.

Vaccine passports: The First Minister said she was ‘highly cautious’ about the use of such certification. PA Media via PA Ready
Vaccine passports: The First Minister said she was ‘highly cautious’ about the use of such certification.

Nicola Sturgeon says she is keeping her options open on whether to introduce Covid vaccine passports domestically in Scotland.

The First Minister said she was “highly cautious” about the use of Covid passports but she wanted to consider whether they could play a role in the future.

As she announced the move beyond level zero on Tuesday, Sturgeon said the Scottish Government was considering “very carefully the possible, albeit limited, use of Covid status certification for access to certain higher risk venues in future”.

An app is under development to allow for such certification for those travelling abroad, she said, but it could also allow for vaccine certification domestically.

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Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie and Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur questioned the First Minister about her plans during a virtual session of the Scottish Parliament.

Harvie said the use of vaccine passports “raises human rights implications if our ability to live our lives is dependent on our health status”.

McArthur said: “I’m concerned the government is still humming and hawing about domestic vaccine passports a full nine months after we first pressed them for a decision.”

The First Minister said vaccination did not eliminate all risks from the virus.

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Referring to her earlier statement to MSPs, she stressed that no decision on the domestic use of Covid status certification had been taken yet.

She said: “I wasn’t seeking to emphasise it or pull it out as the big next thing that we’re definitely going to do.

“I wanted to be frank with parliament that we are keeping our options open.”

The app would not immediately have functionality for domestic certification but it could be used in the future, she said.

Sturgeon added: “I am highly cautious about Covid passports, to give them the colloquial term, for all the reasons that Patrick Harvie has set out.

“I would be passionately and fundamentally opposed to their use for access to public services or anything that was seen as essential for people.”


Man accused of murdering mum Louise Tiffney found dead in Spain

Sean Flynn was due to go on trial over the death of his mother who disappeared in 2002.

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Ms Tiffney’s remains were found in a shallow grave, near a stately home in Longniddry, East Lothian in 2017.

A man accused of murdering his mother has been found dead in Spain, his lawyer has announced.

Sean Flynn was due to go on trial over the death of Louise Tiffney, who disappeared from her home on Dean Path in Edinburgh in May 2002.

The 38-year-old’s address was given as Berlin, Germany, in court documents and a warrant was issued for his arrest after he failed to turn up at Livingston High Court on Tuesday.

Sean Flynn leaving the High Court in Edinburgh with his mother Louise Tiffney in 2002.

On Friday, Flynn’s solicitor Aamer Anwar said: “I can confirm that this morning, we were advised that Sean Flynn, aged 37, who failed to appear for trial for the murder of his mother, Louise Tiffney 19 years ago, was according to the police found dead in Spain, after taking his own life.”

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In 2005, the then 21-year-old was prosecuted for his mother’s murder but acquitted at Perth High Court.

Mr Anwar said Flynn had maintained his innocence throughout the 22-day trial and claimed his mother had walked out after a row.

In April 2017, Ms Tiffney’s remains were found in a shallow grave, near a stately home in Longniddry, East Lothian and a new prosecution was brought by the Crown under double jeopardy legislation – allowing for an individual to be tried again for the same crime.

Louise Tiffney’s remains were discovered in 2017.

Flynn had been charged with murdering Ms Tiffney and of attempting to defeat the ends of justice by concealing her body in the boot of a car, driving it into a wooded area and disposing of it there before cleaning the vehicle.

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At a previous hearing in January, his lawyer said Flynn denied the charges.

Mr Anwar said: “Any loss of life is a tragedy, Sean Flynn’s next of kin has been informed and there will be no further comment.“

A Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) spokesperson said: “COPFS are aware of the reports concerning the death of Sean Flynn and are awaiting official confirmation from the Spanish authorities.”

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “We were notified by Spanish police on Thursday, 21 October, about the death of a 38-year-old man in the Alicante region.

“Formal identification is still to be carried out however the family of Sean Flynn have been informed.

“We will continue to work with the Spanish police to establish the full circumstances but at this time, the death is not believed to be suspicious.”

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Paul Ross and Christopher Magee, who were both 17-years-old, were killed in the crash on January 14, 2001.

Flynn was jailed in June 2002 after admitting to causing the deaths of two friends in a car crash.

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His cousin Paul Ross and Christopher Magee, who were both 17-years-old, were killed and another friend, Mario Gaglardini, was injured in the incident in Mid Calder on January 14, 2001.

Ms Tiffney disappeared on May 27, 2002, four days before her son admitted the charge.

It was three years later that he stood trial accused of killing his mother.

STV News
Flynn was jailed in June 2002 after admitting to causing the deaths of two friends in a car crash.

Red to black: Struggling NHS board moves to highest risk level

NHS Lanarkshire is facing 'relentless 'pressures as Hairmyres, Monklands and Wishaw are all at maximum capacity.

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NHS Lanarkshire has confirmed it is at the highest risk level (black) due to “critical occupancy levels”.

The struggling health board is facing “relentless” pressures, bed shortages and staff shortages due to sickness, stress and self-isolation and Hairmyres, Monklands and Wishaw are all at maximum capacity.

The military was drafted earlier this week to help under-pressure staff due to a rise in Covid-19 admissions and a backlog in care.

As a result, the board received three nurses, 45 military medics, 12 general duties troops and three drivers to assist.

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The health board has also stood down elective procedures including some cancer procedures due to the current pressures.

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The military was called in to assist NHS Lanarkshire earlier this week. MOD Crown copyright.

Laura Ace, strategic commander and deputy chief executive, said: “NHS Lanarkshire is currently at critical occupancy levels across its three acute hospitals.

“The sustained pressure continues across our three acute hospitals and is showing no signs of easing. 

“We are facing relentless pressures, bed shortages and staff shortages due to sickness, stress and self-isolation and University hospitals Hairmyres, Monklands and Wishaw are all at maximum capacity

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“The safety of our patients and staff is our top priority and we are working through short and medium term actions to increase staffing and also improve the flow of patients out of hospital. The military are providing additional support within our hospitals.

“We took the decision at the end of August to temporarily postpone the majority of non-urgent planned care procedures and, unfortunately, the current pressures mean we are having to further stand down elective (planned) procedures including some cancer procedures, which we will reschedule as soon as possible.

“The current situation is unprecedented and marks a different level of risk for NHS Lanarkshire as a whole and moves our current status to the highest level of risk.”

She continued: “We issued a message on social media this week warning patients to expect long waits at A&E as they are overwhelmed by the number patients attending and needing admitted.

“This means patients are having to wait much longer to be seen that we would like, and well in excess of our target of four hours. A high number of these patients need to be admitted which is causing severe pressures throughout our hospitals.

“To help free up hospital beds, we have also asked for any assistance from family members to allow us to discharge people home or to interim care placements as soon as possible.

“We know the impact of the current pressures are being felt right across the health and social care system, including GP practices which remain extremely busy.

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“We recognise that our staff are doing everything they can and showing the highest levels of professionalism, commitment and resilience.  We hope that the current actions being taken will help reduce the pressures on our staff and services in the coming days.”

Last month soldiers throughout the country started supporting the Scottish Ambulance Service amid growing NHS pressures.

More than 200 army personnel were deployed to assist the service by driving ambulances and operating mobile coronavirus testing units.


‘Stop these faceless criminals’: Clubs urged to act amid spiking ‘crisis’

The Girls Night In campaign comes as police investigate a number of incidents across the UK.

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Nightclubs and bars are being urged to demonstrate action to tackle the “crisis” of spiking incidents.

A campaign, Girls Night In, has gained strong support across the UK following a series of reports of spiking, which are being probed by police.

It includes multiple cases of people being physically spiked by a needle.

The campaign has called for a boycott of nightclubs and bars on October 28 in protest at safety concerns not being taken seriously.

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This week, several venues including in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee, have announced new measures aimed at tackling the issue.

Body checks upon entry, enhanced staff training, and poster campaigns outlining what people can do to seek help, are amongst steps being taken.

Paige Gilbride, part of the Girls Night In campaign in Edinburgh, welcomed the measures being implemented, but highlighted the need to see action being taken.

Speaking to STV News, Paige said she got involved in the campaign after it was highlighted on social media, with people speaking out about their own experiences of being spiked in venues.

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She explained that the protest is aimed at highlighting the severity of the situation.

“The turnaround has been good, but still it’s not enough just to kind of sit there and say they’re going to do these things, we need to see action, we need to see them actually doing it in place,” she said.

“With this protest on Thursday 28, us all standing together, it really will hit home and meet with these nightclubs that we’re not tolerating this and also it will show the people doing it that we don’t tolerate it.

“We shouldn’t think about a night out and think, ‘oh, my pre-drinks, going to the club, and then potentially getting spiked. It just shouldn’t be the case.

“We’ve been through a pandemic, we’ve been kind of pushed away out of nightclubs, and now again, we’re again feeling that kind of fear and that anger against it.”

Paige indicated that higher penalties should be implemented for perpetrators of spiking, as well as more preventative measures being introduced by the nightclub industry.

“This is just a huge crisis right now and it’s with faceless criminals,” she explained.

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“This isn’t us saying to people ‘stay at home, don’t go to nightclubs’, this is saying that measures have to be better security, people looking out for each other as well to kind of get these criminals really, really brought to justice.

“So, it’s a message to Parliament to implement higher penalties for these crimes and more preventative measures in the nightclub industry.

“That’s really it, it’s just higher measures and really getting these criminals brought to justice for what they’re doing because it’s a horrible thing to happen to vulnerable girls and everyone else.”

She added: “It shouldn’t be happening in this day and age.”

Assistant chief constable Judi Heaton said that Police Scotland continues to investigate a “very small number of reports” across the country of people having been spiked either with a needle or in their drink.

Heaton pledged that anyone who reports having their drink spiked or who has been assaulted will be taken seriously.

“We are not always able to determine the reasons why a perpetrator carries out an assault in this way, and it may not always be for a sexual purpose,” she said.

“It can put people at significant risk of harm. We will take every report extremely seriously and investigate robustly.

“Women, and men, should be able to go out for a night out without fear of being spiked. We are working with a range of partners, locally and nationally to ensure pubs and clubs are safe spaces for all. This includes working with licensees.

“Anyone who reports having their drink spiked or has been assaulted by whatever means, will be taken seriously.

“We would encourage anyone who believes they have had their drink spiked or been assaulted in this way to contact Police Scotland on 101 or in an emergency 999.”

Helpline

Rape Crisis Scotland

  • Telephone: 08088 01 03 02
  • Mobile: 07527 410 027
  • Email: support@rapecrisisscotland.org.uk

Rail strike to go ahead during COP26 after talks fail to resolve dispute

ScotRail was accused by RMT of 'offering nothing of any consequence' during talks.

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RMT has said there is still time to 'avoid the chaos' of a transport shutdown during COP26.

The planned rail strike during COP26 will go ahead after talks between ScotRail and the RMT union failed to resolve the ongoing pay dispute.

Last week, the union announced that rail workers will go on strike during the summit in Glasgow after a ballot of its members.

It means that train services in the country will be shut down, with Caledonian Sleeper staff also set to strike.

On Friday, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch hit out at ScotRail, accusing them of offering “nothing of any consequence” during talks.

He said: “There was a golden opportunity for Scotrail to make serious progress in talks today but instead they offered nothing of any consequence and as a result our action throughout COP26 goes ahead as planned. 

“There can be no climate justice without pay justice and it’s about time Scotrail, the SNP and Transport Scotland woke up to that fact. The same message applies to our Scottish Caledonian Sleeper members. 

“There is still time to avoid the chaos of a transport shutdown during COP26 if the key players get back with some serious proposals. We remain available for talks but the ball is firmly in their court.”

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Ian McConnell, ScotRail chief operating officer, said: “I’m disappointed and incredibly frustrated that RMT representatives have point blank rejected our latest proposal.

“The RMT leadership, despite stating that the only matter needing to be resolved was rest day working, have now moved the goalposts without consulting their members. It can only indicate they’re not serious about moving forward and delivering a successful COP26.

“Time is now running out to reach agreement and, despite a pay offer of 4.7 per cent over two years, a £300 payment for COP26, and a rest day working enhancement, it seems RMT bosses are intent on sabotaging Scotland’s Railway’s role during COP26.

“With the threat of industrial action remaining, we’re continuing to develop contingency plans to provide a core service for the duration of the summit.”

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A Transport Scotland spokesman said that it was “disappointing” that RMT leadership did not put the pay offer to a vote of its members.

They said: “We acknowledge that the RMT has at last contacted ScotRail to reject this offer nearly two weeks after it was made.

“This is a disappointing response from the RMT leadership particularly as we understand ASLEF and TSSA have accepted the pay offer and Unite recommending it to its members who they are currently balloting. 

“It is therefore disappointing that RMT leadership did not put this very good pay offer to a democratic vote to its members.

“In the interest of collective bargaining, we understand that ScotRail would need to reengage all four unions to determine next steps. The RMT leadership has made clear its problem is with Rest Day working and that would need to be the focus for any further discussions.

“We are keen to see this issue resolved ahead of COP26 so everyone who works in Scotland’s Railways can play their part in welcoming the world to our country and showcase our efforts towards building  greener, cleaner railway.”

On Thursday, the TSSA, which represents managers in the conductors and revenue teams, ended its dispute with ScotRail after accepting a pay deal.

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The union said it had accepted an offer that amounts to a 2.5% pay increase backdated to April 1, 2021, and a 2.2% increase effective from April 1, 2022.

There will also be a one-off £300 payment for staff working during COP26.


Police appeal in search for 25-year-old man missing from Glasgow

Lee Broll was last seen outside a premises on Dumbarton Road in the Partick area on Thursday, October 21.

Police Scotland
There are growing concerns for his welfare as police appeal for information.

Police are appealing for information in the search for a 25-year-old man missing from Glasgow.

Lee Broll was last seen on Thursday, October 21 at around 3.30pm outside a premises on Dumbarton Road in the Partick area.

There are growing concerns for his welfare and officers are eager to establish his whereabouts.

He is described as being around 6ft tall, of medium build, with shoulder length dark brown hair.

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When he was last seen, he was wearing grey chino trousers, grey trainers and a navy blue jacket.

Inspector Bart Simonis said: “We are keen to hear from anyone who may have seen, or spoken to Lee, since yesterday afternoon.

“If Lee sees this appeal, we’d ask that he contacts police or someone he trusts so that we can ensure he is safe.”

Those with information are asked to contact Police Scotland via 101 and quote incident number 2127 of October 21 2021.


Glasgow Green councillors call for road proposal to be scrapped

Phase three of the 'regeneration route' would run from the Forge shopping centre to Provan Road.

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An attempt by Glasgow’s Green group to remove the £60m proposal from the list lost out in a vote.

Glasgow’s SNP group says there is “no question” of a four lane road cutting through the East End being progressed, after Green councillors called for the scheme to be scrapped.

Phase three of the “regeneration route” would run from the Forge shopping centre to Provan Road and was planned by the previous Labour administration, with £500,000 spent on design work.

It has stalled since then but was listed among projects which could be included in bids for UK Government funding in June this year.

An attempt by Glasgow’s Green group to remove the £60m proposal from the list lost out in a vote, with council leader Susan Aitken saying she was “sceptical” about the project but analysis should be carried out.

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Now, Green councillors are calling for the scheme to be dropped once and for all, and have launched a petition to gather support before presenting a motion at next week’s full council meeting.

They believe the failure to kill the scheme off is blocking more climate-friendly plans.

SNP councillor Allan Casey said the SNP has no plans to take the scheme forward, and has taken steps to make the city less car focused.

The Greens want the old Riddrie railway line, alongside Alexandra Park, to be transformed into a new route for walking and cycling. They also want to see investment in the “neglected” Hogarth park.

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Cllr Kim Long said: “We’re in a climate emergency, but Glasgow City Council is still clinging on to a 1960s plan to build a giant flyover through the East End.

“Greens voted against the new road at every turn. We’re calling for the SNP council to get off the fence, scrap EERR3, and instead transform the old Riddrie railway line alongside Alexandra Park into a new route for walking and cycling.”

Green candidate for Dennistoun, Anthony Carroll, said: “1960s car-centric design has failed Glasgow — it’s time to move into the 21st century and tackle the climate crisis.

“We want to invest in neglected Hogarth Park instead of building a road through it, and transform the railway line from a fly-tipping magnet to a better way for people to get to the Forge, the new Parkhead Health Hub and beyond.”

Cllr Casey, who represents Dennistoun, said the SNP group opposed plans for the road before the election in 2017.

“We continue to oppose it now, there is no question of this road being progressed.

“This City Government has taken steps to rectify the car focused and poor quality urban planning of past administrations and we will continue to work with communities to create vibrant and liveable neighbourhoods for residents of this city.

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“Prioritisation of walking, wheeling and cycling is an important part of that and is evidenced in the active travel networks already underway and those outlined in the recent citywide active travel network plan.”

The road was on a list of 24 projects under consideration for applications to the UK Government’s Levelling Up fund, which were set to be assessed before bids were submitted.

Council officers had put together a longlist of potential infrastructure projects and engagements sessions were held with each department, arms-length organisations and external stakeholders.

It was reduced to a shortlist of 35 projects, which were invited to submit expressions of interest, and 24 were received by the deadline.

At a meeting in June, Cllr Aitken said inclusion on the list did not mean the project would be submitted but the assessment process would show whether the scheme “doesn’t contribute to, or may detract from, our climate ambitions”. 

“I don’t think it will meet any of those objectives, but we’ve never actually done that piece of work,” she said. “I think it would be very helpful to have the evidence that allows us to either rule it in or rule it out. My preference would be to rule it out.

“Without pre-empting any of that process, I suspect that it would be ruled out. Building a road through the East End is unlikely to contribute to reducing carbon emissions.”

By Local Democracy Reporter Drew Sandelands


Half of 12 to 15-year-olds in Scotland receive first dose of vaccine

A total of 117,627 young people in this age group have had their first jag to date, which is equivalent to 50.2%.

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So far, 1148 (0.5%) 12 to 15-year-olds have received both doses of a coronavirus vaccine.

More than half of 12 to 15-year-olds living in Scotland have received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, Public Health Scotland has confirmed.

A total of 117,627 young people in this age group have had their first jag to date, which is equivalent to 50.2%.

So far, 1148 (0.5%) 12 to 15-year-olds have received both doses of a coronavirus vaccine.

The age group has been able to book in for a vaccine since September 20 after Scottish ministers accepted advice from the four UK chief medical officers (CMOs).

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According to the latest Scottish government figures, 19 coronavirus deaths and 2902 cases have been recorded in the past 24 hours.

It means the death toll under this daily measure, of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days, is now 9031.

The daily test positivity rate was 8.8%, up from 7.4% the previous day.

There were 894 people in hospital on Thursday with recently confirmed Covid-19, down 23 on the previous day, with 60 in intensive care, up two.

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So far 4,299,649 people have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccination and 3,888,408 have received a second dose.

The news comes as the coronavirus pandemic continues to put the NHS across the country under pressure, with the Army being called in to provide assistance in some health board areas and to the Scottish Ambulance Service.

More on:

Trader refused permission to operate stall over ‘dangerous balloons’

Trading standards staff seized the balloons from trader Rowland Hill’s staff after hearing they had failed safety checks elsewhere.

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Rowland Hill wanted a licence to sell goods outside the Botanic Gardens during the GlasGLOW event.

A Glasgow street trader has been refused permission to operate a stall during the upcoming GlasGLOW event after councillors heard he sold dangerous balloons for children. 

Trading standards staff seized the balloons from trader Rowland Hill’s staff after hearing they had failed safety checks elsewhere.

Hill, who wanted a licence to sell goods outside the Botanic Gardens during the GlasGLOW event,  said staff burst the balloons costing £3.50 each in front of him.

Hill’s son was also accused of being “abusive” during the incident, a licensing and regulatory committee heard this week. 

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Describing the confiscation of the products Hill said: “They literally just stabbed them in front of us with a pen. No qualms – they said they had heard about them being illegal in England.”

Hill pointed out the items were sold in 2018 and were a “best seller.” 

Committee chair Councillor Alex Wilson, SNP, said the products were not marked with manufacturer, importer or identification details. There was no warning that they were unsuitable for children under three-years-old. 

Councillor Wilson added: “The exposed LED wire from the balloon formed a noose which did not separate under testing. This means children under three could wrap the wire around their head becoming tangled and potentially lead to strangulation.”

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He told the meeting the battery compartment could be easily accessed by children. 

Councillor Wilson added: “It looks as if these products were substandard and were being sold in Glasgow.”

Hill replied: “I totally agree. We stopped selling them straight away.”

Insisting he didn’t know about the safety risk, he claimed the “whole of Britain was selling them for about 19 months.”

The meeting heard the products had failed safety checks elsewhere and trading standards staff asked Hill for supplier information.

He hasn’t handed over the details to date.

Concerns were also raised about congestion in the area around the street trading site outside the Botanic Gardens with people heading to the event.

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Hill added: “This is my livelihood. I have plenty of kids to keep.”

Hill was refused a licence to operate at the west side of Queen Margaret Drive, 30 metres north of Great Western Road between October 26 and November 14. 

By Sarah Hilley, Local Democracy reporter


Army veterans help restore one of city’s oldest buildings

Dundee's St David’s Halls dates back to the 1600s with the underground vaults thought to be even older.

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A group of army veterans and volunteers have been giving up their free time over the last year to restore one of the oldest buildings in Dundee.

St David’s Halls is tucked away behind the Nethergate and dates back to the 1600s with the underground vaults thought to be even older.

Throughout the centuries the building has had many uses including being a bakery, housing and, most recently, a social club and home to a Masonic Lodge.

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St David’s Halls restoration

Ronald Marr, a volunteer and chairman of the lodge, said: “The building has been used on the social side by the people of Dundee.

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“Many can remember, going back to the 50s, getting their money from here when it was a co-operative.

“St David’s had been well used by the people of the city.”

Part of the building was destroyed when the Nethergate was built during the first wave of regeneration works in Dundee during the 19th Century, and hundreds of years’ worth of bad weather has taken its toll on the building.

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The volunteers are all ex-service personnel.

Stuart Niven, the project manager of St David’s Restoration, said: “The roof has been in disrepair for years, to the point [water] would run through three floors into the basement.

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“It’s completely perished all the beams, the roof joints and there’s been a lot of damage to the cornicing.

“So we’re starting from the top and working our way down, and we’re 60% of our way through the roof now, which is nice because when you’re at the social club you don’t have to empty buckets of water.”

Mr Niven and the volunteers are all ex-service personnel, with many having served in the Para Corps, with engineers, electricians and stone masonry skills.

STV News
Water ingress had rotted the wooden beams.

 “We’ve had lots of interest from members of the public with maybe two or three a week coming to ask what we’re doing and have a look at the building,” he told STV News.

The future plans for the building do not just involve the social club, the team here are hoping everyone will be able to use it.

“The future is renovating the basement to open it up to the public, and that’s where they can see some of the history of the building some of the old vaults,” Mr Niven said.

STV News
The volunteers are all ex-service personnel, with many having served in the Para Corps, with engineers, electricians and stone masonry skills.

“Upstairs we’re looking to build a veterans centre and a support centre for those in the NHS and veterans, with a soft lounge a meeting place for them.”

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Mr Marr said: “It’ll take another few years to complete everything all together but I’m sure it’ll be for the benefit of Dundee and the people in the city.”


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