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Energy bills are ‘unaffordable for 12% of Scots’

A Citizens Advice Scotland survey of 3,505 people found 12% consider energy prices too expensive.

Energy: Prices too expensive for 12% of Scots.
Energy: Prices too expensive for 12% of Scots.

Energy bills are unaffordable for more than one in 10 Scots, according to a report by Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS).

The survey of 3,505 people found 12% consider energy prices too expensive, with increasing numbers of consumers switching to smaller, cheaper suppliers.

More than a quarter of respondents said they switched their energy supplier in 2019, up from 21% when CAS began its reports on the state of the energy market in 2017.

Half of all those who switched providers used a price comparison website, resulting in just 16% opting for any of the so-called big six energy companies.

Although British Gas retains the largest proportion of customers at 18%, followed by ScottishPower at 16% and SSE at 15%, the percentage of people using one of Scotland’s six largest companies fell from 75% to 67% between 2017 and 2019.

Dr Jamie Stewart from CAS said: “This major report gives us a really useful insight into the state of the energy market in Scotland which policymakers in Government and industry may wish to consider.

“It’s notable that more than one in 10 consumers feel their bills are unaffordable.

“Our report highlights the key divide in the nation, with some appearing to manage the cost of energy while a significant proportion of society continue to struggle.

“We strongly believe that more needs to be done to ensure that the essential service of energy is affordable for everyone in Scotland.”

The report also found fewer Scots are using electricity to heat their homes, with a shift towards gas – the most popular primary source of heat, accounting for 73% of homes.

Use of electric heating as the primary source of heating was highest in Glasgow, where 22% of respondents use it, and north-east Scotland, where 20% reported it as their primary heat source.

Almost half of consumers could qualify for extra support with their energy supply through the priority service register but only a quarter of consumers are enrolled in the scheme, according to CAS.

Consumers aged over 65, vulnerable people and those with disabilities or mental and physical ailments are eligible for the Ofgem-run service which provides priority support during power cuts and more-flexible meter-reading and payment arrangements.

“It’s also concerning to note too that only a quarter of consumers were enrolled in the Priority Service Register when nearly half were eligible,” Dr Stewart said.

“This is a vital scheme which delivers better support for vulnerable customers and more needs to be done to promote it.”


Copenhagen goalscorer charged with police assault in Celtic game

The incident allegedly occurred during the Europa League match on Thursday night.

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Match: Copenhagen goalscorer Michael Santos puts his side 1-0 up.

Copenhagen goalscorer Michael Santos has been charged with assaulting a police officer during Thursday night’s clash with Celtic at Parkhead.

The incident allegedly occurred during celebrations after Copenhagen went 2-1 up in the Europa League match.

Police Scotland confirmed the 26-year-old and a 42-year-old member of the Copenhagen backroom staff had been charged with assault.

A force spokesman said: “Two men, aged 42 and 26, were charged in connection with an assault. A report will be made to the Procurator Fiscal.”

Copenhagen’s entire squad returned home to Denmark after the game.

A statement on the Danish club’s website said: “After Pep Biel’s 2-1 goal at Celtic Park there was turmoil in front of the FCK fan section after an official grabbed Pep Biel during the celebration.

“One of our stewards tried to prevent a clash and was led away and talked with Scottish police.

“Michael Santos also talked with the police, who subsequently have charged them both.

“They travelled home with the team, and we are now waiting to see if the Scottish police will pursue the case. We will co-operate if they want more information from the club.”

Six home supporters and two away fans were also arrested at the match for alleged minor disorders.

Celtic went on to lose 3-1 on the night and 4-2 on aggregate.


Ex-Waverley captain sexually abused three teenage boys

David Neill, who was captain of the famous paddle steamer, has been jailed for seven years.

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David Neill: Continues to deny sexually abusing the teenagers.

The former captain of the Waverley paddle steamer has been jailed for seven years after being convicted of sexually abusing three teenage boys more than 30 years ago.

David Neill, 75, of Galston, Ayrshire, still continues to deny the charges against him.

At the High Court in Glasgow Judge Tom Hughes QC sentenced Neill and said: “You sat through the trial and showed no remorse or regret.

“You were actually grooming them and used them for your own selfish evil sexual gratification.”

During his trial, the victims, all now in their 50s, had to relive their ordeals at the hands of Neill, who captained the Waverley from 1975 to 1997.

The court heard Neill lured all three teenagers with the promise of jobs on the ship and then a career in the Navy.

The four charges of indecent assault were committed between March 1982 and September 1987.

Police began investigating Neill after one of the victims came forward.

Neill did not give evidence, but denied the allegations and told police : “I’m aghast at it all, I really am. There is no way I would be interested in sex with any males.”

He was placed on the sex offenders’ register.

Neill was jailed for three years in 1998 at Glasgow Sheriff Court after being found guilty of abusing five teenage boys in his cabin.

The offences took place in the captain’s cabin while the Waverley was on trips on the Clyde or berthed at Anderston Quay, Glasgow, between 1981 and 1987.


Heart failure: ‘How many more Christmases will I get?’

Figures have shown a 54% increase in the number of people discharged from hospital with the disease in the last 10 years.

Diagnosed: Brian Waller, 54, from Angus.

Almost 48,000 people are living with heart failure in Scotland, with just half of people surviving more than five years after diagnosis.

Figures have shown a 54% increase in the number of people discharged from hospital with the devastating disease in the last ten years – up from around 11,000 in 2008-9 to more than 17,000 in 2018-19.

Health charity Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland has warned urgent steps are needed to ensure proper support is in place for people with a diagnosis and their families.

Heart failure is usually incurable and means the organ cannot function properly, struggling to pump blood around the body.

The rise in numbers is thought to be partly down to an increasing number of people surviving events such as a heart attack, which damages the organ, and Scotland’s ageing population, as heart failure becomes more common with as people get older.

However, in some cases it can affect younger people out of the blue, often as a result of undetected heart conditions.

‘How many more Christmases would I get?’

Brian Waller, 54, from Angus, was diagnosed with heart failure in November of last year, which came as a huge shock to him and his wife Wendy.

He said: “Just a few months ago I was fit and healthy, with no sign that anything was wrong, then in November I suddenly found myself in hospital having endless tests and scans, after falling unwell.

“A cardiologist broke the news that I had heart failure, probably as a result of cardiomyopathy.

“Christmas was particularly difficult for me and my family, while we tried to understand what had happened and what it would mean for the future.

“I found myself wondering how many more Christmases I would be able to spend with my family. Since then there have been some dark moments but my wife Wendy has been an amazing source of strength, despite going through a lot herself.”

‘Heart failure is deadly’

Jane-Claire Judson, chief executive at Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland, called for a renewed focus on making sure people with heart failure get the support they need.

She said: “When people think of heart disease it’s often heart attacks that come first to mind, but heart failure is far more deadly, and is on the increase.

“If we don’t give heart failure the attention it deserves, people won’t be given the best chance to have the best possible quality of life.”


Mane attraction: Lion cubs settle in to life in Edinburgh

Edinburgh Zoo has shared adorable footage of their playful six-month old Asiatic lion cubs.

Edinburgh Zoo has shared adorable footage of their playful six-month old Asiatic lion cubs, Mitaali, Keshari and Kushanu. 

Staff say the cubs, who were born in August last year, are spending more time outside as they continue to grow and become more confident. 

Their mum Roberta was selected to be paired with resident male Jayendra through the European Endangered Species Programme.

She was chosen as the best match for Jay due to her genetic characteristics, as it is extremely important to conserve the genetics of the species.


New Bank of Scotland £20 note enters circulation

The Forth Bridge and Queensferry Crossing appear on the reverse of the polymer note.

Celebration: The new £20 note entered circulation on Friday.

Bank of Scotland’s new £20 note – featuring an image of the Forth Bridge with the Queensferry Crossing – has entered circulation.

The front of the polymer note continues to feature the portrait of Scottish novelist and poet Sir Walter Scott, alongside an image of The Mound in Edinburgh.

Forth Bridge: The Queensferry Crossing is visible in the background.

On the reverse, a new image of the Forth Bridge is accompanied by the Queensferry Crossing in the background.

The Queensferry Crossing has also been celebrated in its own right with a limited number of special commemorative £20 notes.

The notes feature a series of anti-counterfeit measures, such as a ‘window effect’ which can be found in the windows of The Mound.

They also have a holographic depth stripe, the top of the foil features a northern lights effect when tilted, and the clouds on the notes will move left to right when tilted east to west.

Like the £10 polymer note, the £20 notes have the ‘tactile emboss’ feature to aid the visually impaired.

Queensferry Crossing: The bridge appeared on a limited number of notes.

All existing paper Bank of Scotland £20 notes will now be gradually withdrawn, but any in circulation will continue to be accepted at shops, banks and cash payment machines.

Tara Foley, managing director of Bank of Scotland, said: “It is important to us that any new bank note we produce proudly represents the values and history of Scotland, and our new Bank of Scotland polymer £20 note is the result of months of careful work.

“We encourage people to keep an eye out for the new design and take a moment to spot some of the new features.” 

Note: Sir Walter Scott remains on the front.

Earlier this month, Bank of Scotland auctioned a total of 50 special commemorative notes containing the most sought after serial numbers with the AA pre-fix.

The auction raised £112,590, which will be donated to the bank’s charity of the year, Mental Health UK.

Brian Dow, chief executive of Mental Health UK, said: “At Mental Health UK we know there is a growing need for support for young people.

“That’s why, with funding from Bank of Scotland and the rest of Lloyds Banking Group, we created Bloom – the largest UK-wide programme for 14-18 year olds – which focuses on supporting young people’s mental health resilience.

“With this support we can expand our reach to over half a million young people, equipping them with the tools and knowledge needed to support their mental health now and in the future.”


Donald Trump’s son in row with Scottish Greens leader

Eric Trump described Patrick Harvie 'irrelevant and spineless' after money-laundering allegations in parliament.

Patrick Harvie was branded a 'disgrace to the Scottish Parliament' by Eric Trump.

Eric Trump has branded Patrick Harvie “an irrelevant and spineless politician” after the Scottish Greens leader suggested US President Donald Trump could be involved in money laundering.

Trump said Harvie’s calls for an investigation into how his father was able to afford the purchase of land for golf resorts in Scotland were “wildly inappropriate allegations to advance his own political agenda and gain attention”.

The US President’s son, who is a trustee and executive vice-president of the Trump Organisation, demanded Harvie “retract his libellous statements” and called him a “disgrace to the Scottish Parliament”.

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, Harvie asked Nicola Sturgeon to apply for unexplained wealth order because of “big questions over Trump’s business dealings in Scotland”.

Referring to evidence heard by the US House of Representatives suggesting the land bought by President Trump could be linked to potential money laundering, Harvie said:  “The purchase of Menie and the Turnberry golf resort were part of [President] Trump’s huge cash spending spree in the midst of a global financial crisis.

“[President] Trump’s known sources of income don’t explain where the money came from for these huge cash transactions.

“There are reasonable grounds for suspecting that his lawfully obtained income was insufficient.

“Scottish ministers can apply via the Court of Session for an unexplained wealth order, a tool designed for precisely these kinds of situations.”

A letter from campaigners calling for President Trump to be investigated was passed to the lord advocate in May 2019 by the Scottish Government.

Responding to the remarks, Trump said: “Mr Harvie’s disgusting statements, made without any supporting evidence and having absolutely no basis in fact, are reckless, irresponsible and unbecoming for a member of the Scottish Parliament.

“An irrelevant and spineless politician, Mr Harvie has long expressed deep-seated animus toward the Trump Organisation, its principles and its projects, making wildly inappropriate allegations to advance his own political agenda and gain attention.

“Over the past decade, the Trump Organisation has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Scotland while creating thousands of jobs.”

He added: “Mr Harvie is a disgrace to the Scottish Parliament.”

Harvie made the comments while speaking in the Scottish Parliament, so is protected under law from defamation action.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Any decision about whether or not to apply for an UWO is made on behalf of Scottish ministers by the Civil Recovery Unit, which reports to the lord advocate.”


Homes evacuated after ‘suspicious device’ found

Police said the item was found by a member of the public in Aberdeen on Thursday evening.

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Aberdeen: Police closed the roads and evacuated residents.

Residents were evacuated from their homes and a bomb squad called after a “suspicious device” was discovered in Aberdeen.

Police said the item was found by a member of the public in Wallfield Crescent on Thursday evening.

Emergency services attended and closed a number of nearby roads.

Residents in “close proximity” were evacuated while the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit made the device safe.

The roads reopened and residents returned to their homes by 2.15am on Friday.

Officers will remain in the area throughout Friday as enquiries into the incident continue.

Inspector Mark Stephen said: “I would like to thank the public for their support and patience during this incident. 

“Police officers will be the area during Friday as enquiries continue, but there is no threat to any members of the public.”

Woman injured after drivers forced to take ‘evasive action’

The 43-year-old victim suffered neck and back injuries in the two-car collision in Fife.

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Fife: The collision happened on the A92.

A woman suffered back and neck injuries in a two-car smash in Fife.

Police said the crash, involving a Mini and a Nissan, occurred because the drivers were forced to take “evasive action due to other road users”.

The collision happened on the A92 between Kilmany and the Five Roads Roundabout at around 3pm on Thursday.

A 43-year-old woman was taken by the Scottish Ambulance Service to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee for treatment to back and neck injuries.

Police are appealing for information and want to track down the driver of a silver or grey Mercedes car.

Sergeant Paul Hunter said: “We are eager to trace the driver of a silver or grey Mercedes car, which is possibly a newer shape and the registration may contain the letters VDR or similar, to help with our investigation into the crash.

“We are also appealing for any dashcam footage of the incident or of the Mercedes car both before and after the crash or any other information that will help with our enquiries.”

If you can help the investigation, call 101.


Drinking water plant reopens after fuel pollution in loch

Kirbister Water Treatment Works in Orkney was closed due to fuel in a burn which runs into the loch.

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Water: The Orkney plant is back up and running.

A water plant in Okrney has resumed operating after fuel polluted a loch.

Kirbister Water Treatment Works (WTW), which receives raw water from the Loch of Kirbister to serve around 7300 properties, was closed on Monday after a burn which runs into the loch was polluted.

Scottish Water shut the plant, which serves the east mainland of Orkney, as a precautionary measure as work was carried out to fix the problem.

While clean-up efforts were ongoing, drinking water was supplied from storage capacity within the Orkney network.

Kes Juskowiak, Scottish Water’s water operations general manager, said: “Our teams have been working since the first reports to contain and clean up the pollution affecting the Loch of Kirbister.

“We have continued to supply safe drinking water to customers from storage tanks within the network and are pleased to have now returned the water treatment works to normal operation.”


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