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Celtic go ten points clear as Rangers lose at Kilmarnock

Celtic beat Hearts 5-0 as Rangers were beaten 2-1 by Kilmarnock.

Celtic thumped bottom of the table side Hearts. SNS
Celtic thumped bottom of the table side Hearts.

Celtic stretched their lead at the top of the Premiership table to ten points as they thumped Hearts while title challengers Rangers lost at Kilmarnock.

Neil Lennon’s Celtic side were expected to come out on top against bottom of the table Hearts and they piled on the goals, winning 5-0 at home.

Olivier Ntcham, Christopher Jullien, Callum McGregor, Ryan Christie and Jozo Simunovic all scored for the hosts, while new signing Marcel Langer was sent off for Hearts.

Rangers travelled to Kilmarnock hoping to take three points at a venue where they won in August. Scott Arfield put Steven Gerrard’s side in front after half an hour but the hosts kept in the game and drew level through Stephen O’Donnell with 13 minutes left to play.

Alfredo Morelos hit the bar and then had a goal disallowed as Rangers pushed for a winner but they were stunned when Eamonn Brophy hit the winner for Killie after 88 minutes.

Motherwell remain in fourth after they were beaten 2-1 by St Johnstone in Perth. Callum Hendry gave the home side the lead but the Steelmen levelled when Saints goalkeeper made a mess of stopping a tame shot from Chriser Long.

A late own goal from Peter Hartley gave Tommy Wright’s side three points.

Hibs cruised to a 3-0 victory over Ross County at Easter Road with Marc McNulty, Christian Doidge and Adam Jackson all on the scoresheet, while goals from Steven Lawless and Lyndon Dykes gave Livingston a 2-1 win over St Mirren.


Council tax to rocket by nearly 5% in Glasgow and Edinburgh

Local authorities in Scotland's two biggest cities agreed their budgets on Thursday.

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Council tax: Edinburgh and Glasgow residents to see near 5% rise.

Council tax rates are set to rocket by almost 5% in Scotland’s two biggest cities.

Local authorities in Glasgow and Edinburgh agreed their budgets on Thursday, with the Scottish capital to raise council tax by the maximum 4.8% allowed by the Scottish Government.

Meanwhile, Glasgow City Council will increase rates to 4.64% after the SNP minority administration struck a deal with Green councillors.

In Edinburgh, the SNP-Labour coalition is seeking to make savings of £88m, while Glasgow councillors agreed to £42m of cuts.

The effect of the rate increase would mean, in Edinburgh, paying around £83 a year more in council tax a year for a Band D property.

In Glasgow, the same band will cost around £82 extra annually in council tax.

Both cities generally charge council tax in ten monthly instalments from April to January, meaning monthly bills for Band D residents will rise by more than £8.

This morning, protesters gathered outside the Edinburgh City Council ahead of the anticipated cutbacks, with hits to funding ultimately agreed for education, health and social care services.

Over the next three years, more than £9m will be stripped from adult health and social care services, while replacing swathes of nursery teachers with early years practitioners is expected to save £900,000.

Funding for community policing will be pulled, saving an estimated £2.1m, and free music tuition will be “reassessed” with the potential for a £500,000 saving.

In Glasgow, the city’s public golf courses have also been earmarked for change with plans to remodel how the facilities are run, intending to save around £750,000.

Glasgow could also introduce a charge for bulk uplift, which has previously been free.

And the Blairvadach centre in Helensburgh, where many Glasgow school pupils have been able to experience outdoor activities, will close.

Boy severed man’s spine after repeatedly stamping on head

The 17-year-old boy has been jailed for life after killing Frank Sinclair in a brutal attack.

Riverton: Frank Sinclair died after being stamped on by the teenager.

A schoolboy who “internally decapitated” a 61-year-old man after repeatedly stamping on his head has been handed a life sentence for murder. 

The 17-year-old boy killed Frank Sinclair in a brutal attack which took place in East Kilbride in January 2019. 

The youth, who cannot be named for legal reasons, preyed on Mr Sinclair because he believed the pensioner had earlier pushed him outside a community hall. 

The schoolboy scraped his face off a wall at the complex and this caused him to attack Mr Sinclair. 

The High Court in Glasgow heard how the boy and three schoolgirls found Mr Sinclair lying on the ground at the rear of the community centre at around 8pm. 

A pathologist told jurors that the blows were so intense that Mr Sinclair’s spine had been severed. 

On Thursday, at the High Court in Edinburgh, judge Lord Burns told the boy that he’d have to serve at least 11 years in custody. 

Telling the boy that he’d only be released when the parole board were satisfied that he no longer posed a threat to public safety, Lord Burns added: “You by your actions killed Mr Sinclair in an attack which was so far as I can see wholly unprovoked by him. 

“You proceeded to stamp on a vulnerable and immobile 61-year-old man who you had encountered lying on the ground. 

“By this terrible act you killed him and deprived his family and friends of his love and companionship and they will have to live with that for the rest of their lives and you have to live with that for the rest of your life.

“You acted as you did so it is the most serious of crime. You fled the scene knowing Mr Sinclair had been injured.”

The boy was convicted of murder following a trial last month. 

He was also found guilty of an unprovoked attack on an 18-year-old man by punching him on the head and body at Westwood Stores, in East Kilbride’s Leeward Circle.

At proceedings last month, a teenager told the court how she, two other girls and the boy, found Mr Sinclair lying on the ground. 

She said the boy tried to help Mr Sinclair by lifting him up from the ground, but both fell and the boy injured his face, scraping it off the side of the building. 

One of the girls phoned for an ambulance and the teenage boy walked away. 

The court then heard how the boy returned about 15 minutes later with the witness adding: “He was more annoyed than he left.”

The girl, who is also 17, said one of her girlfriends grabbed the boy and tried to hold him back but failed. 

The girl, who also can’t be identified, said: “He ran up to Mr Sinclair, raised his foot and put it down on his face. 

“I could hear the sound of his foot hitting the head – the stamps were hard and forceful.” 

Pathologist Sharon Calvert told the court that Mr Sinclair had been “internally decapitated” after having his head repeatedly stamped on. 

She said Mr Sinclair had 19 injuries to his face and neck including a fractured hyoid bone. 

An internal examination showed that a vertebrae at the top of the spine near the larynx was fractured. 

Mr Sinclair’s friend David Henderson,50, said he had been with him earlier in the evening and had enjoyed some drinks. 

He said that he left Mr Sinclair at around 6pm and his pal was sitting on the steps of the community centre rolling a cigarette.

The teenager gave evidence during proceedings. He admitted to prosecution lawyer Liam Ewing QC that he attacked Mr Sinclair.  

When Mr Ewing asked what his intention was as Mr Sinclair lay on the ground, the teenager replied: “To hurt him.”

He added: “I just lost my temper. I just lost it. I thought he’d be knocked out. 

“I didn’t know what I did to him would kill him.”

On Thursday, defence advocate Bert Kerrigan QC told Lord Burns that his client came from a stable background and a loving family. 

However, the court heard the accused had anger management issues and had a “propensity to resort to violence.”

Mr Kerrigan added: “It is a sad feature.”

Mr Kerrigan also told the court his client had expressed remorse for his actions. 

He added: “I would ask your lordship to exercise a degree of leniency and to take his age and his contrition into account when passing sentence.”

Lord Burns also sentenced the boy to two years to in relation to the assault charge. He ordered this sentence to be served concurrently with the 11-year punishment part.

Lord Burns added: “I must pass sentence of detention without limit of time.”


Woman stabbed sister 23 times after asking child for weapons

Carla McGhee jailed for six years after attacking Shannon McGhee at a flat in Glasgow.

Carla McGhee asked a child to get her 'more weapons' before carrying out the attack.

A woman who stabbed her sister 23 times in a brutal murder bid has been jailed for six years.

Carla McGhee attacked Shannon McGhee after asking a child to get her “more weapons” before breaking down a door.

The 31-year-old struck when she flew into a rage at the flat in Glasgow’s Gorbals last September.

McGhee was sentenced on Thursday having earlier pleaded guilty to attempted murder.

The High Court in Glasgow heard how Shannon, who was left scarred for life, had forgiven her.

Lord Beckett told McGhee: “This was a determined attempted murder on your sister. It must have been terrifying for all concerned and would have cost your sister’s life, but for medical intervention.”

McGhee will be supervised for a further four years on her release.

An earlier hearing was told how scared people at the flat, including Shannon, hid in a bedroom, barricading themselves with a wardrobe.

But prosecutor Duncan McPhie said: “She stabbed a kitchen knife through the bedroom door.

“She repeatedly threw her body against the door until it came off its hinges.

“She shouted ‘I’m going to f*****g kill youse’. A child was at the side of the door near to her screaming as she was armed with a knife.

“McGhee instructed him to obtain more weapons for her.”

Police raced to the flat after a number of 999 calls. The child told officers: “She is stabbing her. Someone stop her.”

McGhee, of the city’s Maryhill, was held while her sister was rushed to hospital with “multiple stab wounds” to her head, neck, back and hand.

Shannon was put into a coma and later needed surgery for a bowel injury as well as a blood transfusion.

McGhee went on to attack a female police custody officer after being told her clothes were being taken for evidence at Cathcart police station.

Mr McPhie: “McGhee became aggressive, repeatedly punched her on the face and pulled a clump of hair from her.”

The hearing was told it was done with such force the officer has been left with “some permanent hair loss”.

McGhee also pleaded guilty to that assault.


Transgender reforms ‘can be completed before 2021 election’

Scottish ministers are 'determined' to press ahead with proposals despite a backlash from within their own party.

Plans to make it easier and quicker for people to change their gender could be approved before next year’s election, the cabinet secretary responsible for the reforms has said.

Shirley-Anne Somerville said the Scottish Government is “determined” to press ahead with the controversial proposals, which include removing the requirement to provide medical evidence to a panel before you can switch gender.

The draft legislation would also lower the minimum age of applicants from 18 to 16, and reduce the time an applicant has to spend in their new gender before being legally recognised from two years to six months.

Speaking to STV’s Scotland Tonight, with around a month to go of a public consultation on the government’s plans, Somerville insisted she aims to build “maximum consensus” around them.

The draft Bill would keep the stipulation that applicants must make a solemn statutory declaration they have been living in their acquired gender for three months and intend to do so permanently.

A minimum three-month period of reflection between applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) and confirming the application would also be introduced as part of the draft legislation.

It would mean applicants must have lived in their acquired gender for a minimum of six months before a certificate is granted – just a quarter of the time people have to wait under the current system.

The Scottish Government insists its proposals are in line with international best practice, but stalled its plans last summer to conduct further consultation amid controversy and resistance, including from within its own ranks.

Chief among the concerns of opponents is that a system of so-called self-identitication, or self ID, will be abused by predatory men to get into women’s spaces, with examples frequently cited including women’s toilets and prisons.

But Somerville said there had been “a lot of misunderstandings” – raised alongside legitimate concerns and questions – about the government’s proposals.

‘We have women’s rights and we have trans rights – I don’t see those aspects as mutually exclusive.’

Shirley-Anne Somerville

She told STV: “I absolutely appreciate that women’s rights are exceptionally important.

“They have been long-fought for and long-campaigned on and there is absolutely nothing I would do as a member of this government to jeopardise any of that.

“So that’s why I really do make sure that I listen to the concerns that are out there on the issue, because we not only want to protect what we have as women but we want to make sure our rights are extended.”

She added: “We have women’s rights and we have trans rights – I don’t see those aspects as mutually exclusive.”

The minister emphasised the legal right of people to change gender has been enshrined in law since Westminster passed the 2004 Gender Recognition Act.

“That right has to exist. We are required to have that and I think that’s quite right,” Somerville added.

She continued: “What we’re talking about here isn’t something that’s new. These people are in our community, they’re part of our community.

“But they talk to us very specifically about how the current system deeply impacts on them, about the state of their mental health and particularly the high suicide rates within the trans community because they can’t be recognised for who they are.”

Somerville added: “These may be a small number of people in our Scottish population but their rights are very important.”

Shirley-Anne Somerville Scotland Tonight interview for February 20 2020.
Reforms: Shirley-Anne Somerville says she will press ahead.

The cabinet secretary pledged to “move forward” with the government’s plans despite accepting they had “generated a lot of heat”, and urged people with an interest to contribute to the consultation which ends on March 17.

Asked if the legislation would be passed by the end of this parliament, Somerville answered: “Yes – it can be done in time for next year’s election.”

But one vocal opponent of the plans within the government’s own backbench ranks, SNP MSP Joan McAlpine, claims the measures are “ideological”.

McAlpine said: “It’s a really profound change because you’re expanding the group of people who can change their sex from a small group of people who have gender dysphoria, which is diagnosed, to a much larger group of people who have no medical diagnosis and who could be changing sex for all sorts of reasons.

“It’s an ideological move, not an administrative move. 

“We’re just saying this change in the law which says sex is a feeling in your head is unscientific, wrong and dangerous.”

But the Scottish Government officially has support for the principle of self ID from all of Holyrood’s opposition parties except the Scottish Conservatives, despite notable internal divisions on the issue within Scottish Labour.

Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said: “Those battles are not going to be won for progressive values if we see the equality movement fragmented.

“We know that there are forces, particularly on the religious right, who see this issue of trans people’s rights as a wedge to fragment and split an equality movement that is too strong for them to oppose when we are united. 

“To see some of the rhetoric that I remember so weirdly from the 80s and 90s, from the Section 28 era, it was directed at gay men, lesbians, bisexual people in those days.

“It is now being directed at trans people with exactly the same venom, and it’s being done in a way that risks fragmenting our community.”

Analysis: ‘This debate has sparked bitter divisions’

By STV political correspondent Ewan Petrie

Few measures have provoked the levels of division, anger and abuse as plans to reform the Gender Recognition Act.

This is a debate that has polarised opinion and split campaign groups.  

It is also one where abuse has become a prominent feature. 

Much of it is online. Both sides say they are on the receiving end, and both sides condemn it.

It has also become a highly sensitive political issue, with the proposals seeing bitter divisions within different parties – including the SNP which is pushing forward the reforms.

Around 50 of its members set up the Women’s Pledge last year to uphold women’s rights.

It has the support of senior members, who are urging the First Minister not to rush ahead with the plans.

If the new bill becomes law, Scotland would follow countries like Argentina, Malta, Canada and Ireland which have adopted self-identity systems, while changes to the law in England and Wales are being considered.

A public consultation on the proposals ends next month    

The Scottish Government would then have to have legislation passed within the next year if it is to avoid this becoming an election issue next May.  

‘The current system is offensive and intrusive’

James Morton from Scottish Trans Alliance.
James Morton: Transitioned in the 1990s.

James Morton began his transition as a teenager in the 1990s, before legal rights protecting trans people were put in place.

It was also back when Section 28 was still in force and prevented teachers from providing any information on LGBT issues.

He went on to manage the charity the Scottish Trans Alliance.

“I’m one of the people who has applied for a GRC and I found it really offensive and really stressful trying to get that birth certificate changed,” said James.

“It just felt really humiliating to give that to a panel of strangers for them to decide if I was distressed enough to merit getting my birth certificate changed.”

“What we are asking for is for it to be closer in alignment to how you change your passport – and not have the same level of intrusive medical evidence and psychiatric reports and length of time you have to wait from when you’ve changed everything else.”

‘Trans community is being damaged by self-ID’

Trans woman Seven Hex on Scotland Tonight February 20 2020.
Diagnosis: Trans woman Seven Hex believes medical process helped her.

Seven Hex transitioned more than 10 years ago.

She feels the removal of a medical diagnosis for people going through the gender recognition process robs them of the chance to have other underlying issues addressed.

“For me the medical process was very appropriate.  It worked for me, and I don’t see there is anything particularly wrong with it,” Seven said. 

“The original Gender Recognition Act was specifically written for and made for transsexual people, and now that’s being carved up to include anyone and everyone. 

“There has been a huge resistance to this and rightly so. 

“Self ID isn’t even law and yet many principles are currently in practice. 

“We can’t then as transsexuals, with this transgender umbrella over us, escape the criticism.

“We take that flak too, and our reputation has been and is being damaged by self ID and its proponents who seek to use transsexuals as the gateway to legitimise what they have done.”

‘Sixteen is too young to decide to permanently switch gender’

Detransitioner Sinead Watson on Scotland Tonight February 20 2020.
Detransitioner: Sinead Watson is trying to reverse gender switch.

Sinead Watson transitioned to male in her early 20s, believing it would solve many of her issues.

But after a few years living as Sean, she realised she had made a mistake and is now trying to reverse the process.

“I’m not just speaking for myself at this point any more, I’m talking to a lot of other detransitioners,” Sinead told STV.

“There are people who can be so certain in their 20s or their 30s who can still make a mistake. 

“The idea that a 16-year-old can sign statutory declarations saying that they intend to permanently live as their acquired gender – I mean, they’re not old enough to smoke, they’re not old enough to drink. 

“I find it really concerning that they would deem a 16-year-old emotionally mature and developed enough to have the foresight to say they are going to identify this way for the rest of their lives.”

She added: “I can’t undo what the testosterone has done to me, I can’t undo the double mastectomy. 

“I’m only 29 and I need to live with this for the rest of my life, so there is bitterness.”

For more on this debate, tune into Scotland Tonight at 7.30pm on Thursday.

Foreign nationals and some prisoners now allowed to vote

MSPs voted for the Scottish Elections (Franchise and Representation) Bill.

Holyrood: MSPs passed the new legislation.

Holyrood has passed historic new legislation that will give foreign nationals and some prisoners the right to vote in Scottish elections.

But MSPs voted down proposals from the Scottish Greens that would have seem asylum seekers permitted to take part in ballots.

Constitution secretary Mike Russell said while he had the “greatest sympathy” for the move, there were “practical concerns” about extending the franchise to asylum seekers.

The passing of the Scottish Elections (Franchise and Representation) Bill means that foreign nationals, including refugees, will be allowed to vote in both Holyrood and local council elections.

In addition prisoners serving a sentence of 12 months or less will also be permitted to take part.

Mr Russell hailed the “historic legislation”, which was approved by 92 votes to 27.

To become law it had needed a “super majority” of at least 86 MSPs to vote for it – the first time this has happened at Holyrood.

The extra numbers was required because the legislation changes the electoral franchise.

Mr Russell said voting needed to be extended to some prisoners in order for Scotland to comply with the European Court of Human Rights.

And while he accepted it was an “emotive issue” he said the changes were “driven by a compelling need to meet human rights obligations”.

In contrast he said extending the vote to foreign nationals as driven by the “reality and the aspiration of modern Scottish society”.

Mr Russell told MSPs: “EU and Commonwealth citizens already have the franchise. We must also recognise the enormous contribution brought to our country from people from all over the world, that is why we are extending the right to vote in devolved elections to all foreign nationals resident in Scotland who have leave to remain.”

He described this as being a “major step forward”.

Green MSP Mark Ruskell had tried to amend the legislation so that asylum seekers whose case was still being considered could be given the vote – pointing out they could be “in limbo” for several years waiting for a decision.

He said: “The right to vote is seen by asylum seekers as a fundamental human right, for many it is seen as being even as important as the right to work.

“It is an acknowledgement of their very existence, it is an acknowledgement that they have a voice, and that they are valued.

“And they see the right to vote as a powerful invitation to integrate with the community as well. It is a recognition they are not alien, they are not others, they are part of our communities.”

However MSPs voted by 32 to 87 against the Green amendments after Mr Russell said electoral registration officers had  “practical concerns” about how to accurately maintain records of eligible asylum seekers.

Meanwhile, Conservative MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston said: “There can be little hiding from the fact that this Bill will bring prisoners into our elections, and it will be a consequence of a decision made here in Holyrood, not one of compliance with a court in Strasbourg.”

He added: “Many simply disagree that prisoners, people who have stepped beyond the rules set by our society, should have the right to vote for those who set those rules while they are still being punished and still have yet to be rehabilitated and reintegrated into our community.”

And while he said only about 900 prisoners across Scotland would become eligible to vote, he said the SNP had “u-turned on its previous position” and “jettisoned its own principles”.

Conservatives voted against the Bill, but SNP MSPs, together with Labour, the Greens and the Scottish Liberal Democrats supported it.

After the Bill was passed Lorna Gledhill, policy officer with the Scottish Refugee Council, said: “This is a really significant moment.

“The right to vote is a crucial human right that everyone in Scotland should be able to enjoy.

“The decisions made by the Scottish Parliament and local councils affect everyone living in Scotland. We believe everyone living here should have a say in how the country is run.”


Edouard scores as Celtic draw 1-1 with Copenhagen

Fraser Forster saved a penalty to ensure the sides are level ahead of next week's decider.

SNS
Odsonne Edouard put Celtic ahead in the first half.

A second half penalty save from Fraser Forster helped Celtic to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Europa league last 32 tie with FC Copenhagen.

Odsonne Edouard had given Celtic an early lead but Dame N’Doye equalised after the break before Forster denied Jens Stage from the spot.

Celtic almost had the perfect start when Ryan Christie played Edouard in on goal after just 20 seconds but the Frenchman’s shot was saved by Karl-Johan Johnsson and his attempt from the rebound was cleared.

Edouard then had a second chance just minutes later and was again thwarted by Johnsson, who then saved from Olivier Ntcham.

Third time lucky, Edouard opened the scoring after Ryan Christie has picked out Callum McGregor on the edge of the box and the midfielder played a perfect pass for his striker, who dinked in a composed finish.

In an open match that was allowing both sides plenty of the ball, Celtic had claims for a penalty when Edouard went to ground under close attention from Copenhagen captain Zeca but no spot kick was given.

Neither side was able to add to the scoring in the first half but Celtic would have been the more unhappy at not having made more of their opportunities. After the break Copenhagen found their feet and started to impose themselves on the opposition more.

Their higher tempo approached paid off quickly. Olivier Ntcham lost possession just outside his own penalty area and Rasmus Falk picked out N’Doye, who fired past Fraser Forster.

After 68 minutes, Copenhagen had the chance to take the lead. Referee Sergei Kasarev consulted VAR and awarded a penalty for handball by Ryan Christie.

Stage stepped up and struck the spot kick but Forster got a touch to the low shot and it cannoned back off the post.

Neither side could fashion a late chance and the finely-balanced tie will now be settled in Glasgow next week.

Poor state of building made hospital ‘difficult to clean’

Healthcare inspectors recorded mould on shower trays, plug holes and shower curtains, dust and grime on floors and "significant" dust on movable patient equipment.

QEUH: Poor state of building made it 'difficult to clean'.

An inspection of a hospital neurology department found it difficult to clean effectively because of the poor state of the building.

Healthcare inspectors recorded mould on shower trays, plug holes and shower curtains, dust and grime on floors and “significant” dust on movable patient equipment at the Institute of Neurological Sciences at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) in Glasgow.

They also noted “multiple” issues with the building, such as water ingress on ceiling tiles, extensive damage to walls and shower trays and broken PVC sealant on showers, sinks and toilets.

Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) inspectors made an unannounced visit to QEUH, the Institute of Neurological Sciences and the Royal Hospital for Children in November following an earlier inspection in January last year.

Their inspection included child cancer ward 6A, which was closed to new admissions last August after three patients contracted infections – before reopening in November – while inspectors also examined the maternity unit.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) has been under pressure after an infections scandal at the flagship £800m QEUH hospital campus, which opened in 2015.

In the report published on Thursday, inspectors said the standard of environmental cleaning has improved in the emergency department and initial assessment unit since their visit in January 2019 and also found good staff compliance with standard infection control precautions.

But it raised concerns about the Institute of Neurological Sciences, which is an older building on the campus.

NHSGGC has been asked for comment.

Ian Smith, head of quality of care at Healthcare Improvement Scotland, said: “Since our previous inspection in January 2019, good progress has been made to meet the requirements in our report.

“The standard of cleaning has improved in the emergency department and initial assessment unit at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.

“We also saw good staff compliance with standard infection control precautions, including the Royal Hospital for Children.”

He added: “Within the Institute of Neurosciences, some significant repairs had taken place since our last inspection.

“However, the fabric of the building remains in a poor state, making it difficult to effectively clean.”

Inspectors also praised the fact that since their last visit domestic staff have been recruited to ensure flexible cover.

HIS issued one recommendation and 14 requirements, including that the health board must ensure the “patient environment” and patient equipment in the Institute of Neurological Sciences is clean and ready for use to reduce the risk of cross infection and that the “domestic resource meets the demands to enable effective cleaning and ensure infection prevention” in the institute.

The health board has been escalated to level four on a five-level scale of Government involvement in the authority amid concerns over the QEUH.

Meanwhile, a public inquiry will take place to examine issues at the site and the delayed Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh.


Energy tech firm hopes to bring £150m factory to Dundee

AMTE Power confirmed at an event on Thursday they’ve narrowed their location search to Dundee and another site in England.

Dundee: The Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc.

By Susan Nicholson

Dundee is in the running to become home to a £150m battery cell factory.

The investment in a ‘Giga Plant’, creating around 300 jobs, could be made at the Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc (MSIP) after the tyre factory closes.

On Thursday, AMTE Power confirmed at an energy storage event at the MSIP that they’ve narrowed their location search to Dundee and a site in Teesside.

Dundee: John Fox, left, hopes to bring AMTE Power to the city.

The company, which already has a plant in Thurso, is working with the UK Government to develop a major manufacturing base to make battery packs to power electric vehicles.

“Dundee is one of two sites which have been selected, so clearly we are entering into a different stage of our negotiations where we look at how do we make that feasibility study become a reality for the region,” explained AMTE Power’s John Fox.

“Initially you are looking at 50 to 100 people, but it will certainly go through several hundred, probably up to 300 staff in the long term.

“The Michelin site is attractive to us as it’s an industrial plant, it has all the infrastructure that we require, but probably the key attraction for us is the people.

“When you walk around here there is a vibe, they understand the need for quality assurance, they understand the manufacturing process.”

Conference: Leading innovators in the energy storage industry met in Dundee.

John Reid, chief executive of MSIP, added: “The closure of the tyre plant affects 850 people, so this development would be a significant part of the work that we’re doing to try to recover the jobs in Dundee.”

AMTE Power says it needs backing from the Scottish Government to bring the factory to Dundee. If successful, bosses anticipate it would take two to three years to establish.

Arcola Energy, which develops hydrogen cells to power vehicles, trains and boats, also intends to set up a base at the MSIP, creating up to 100 jobs.

The firm’s Dr Ben Todd said: “What we’d create would be a fuel cell power train development, manufacturing and after-service centre.

“There are incredible staff here that we can hire, they’re ready, they know each other.

“I’m itching to sign a lease. If I’m not here in six months I’m going to be really disappointed.”

Michelin announced in November 2018 that it would be closing its plant in Dundee, which specialises in smaller tyres, because of a shift in the market towards low-cost products from Asia.

The plant opened in 1971 and manufacturing is scheduled to stop this summer.

It’s hoped the £60m MSIP – a joint venture between Michelin, Dundee City Council and Scottish Enterprise –  will create new jobs and investment in clean transport, low carbon energy and sustainable mobility.


Student fearful for family in centre of coronavirus outbreak

Feiya Hu feels 'helpless' as the death toll of the epidemic continues to rise.

By Jenness Mitchell and Louise Scott

A University of Edinburgh student is fearful over the safety of her family who are living in the centre of the coronavirus outbreak.

Feiya Hu has been able to FaceTime her grandparents, who are on lockdown in Wuhan, China, but said she feels “helpless” as the death toll of the epidemic continues to rise.

Ms Hu, who followed her parents to Scotland around two decades ago, told STV News: “There doesn’t seem to be an end in sight at the moment because there are so many people infected.

“Because the numbers are going up and up and up of people being infected and people dying, it’s just all really surreal and we know that our family is so close to everything that’s going on.

“It’s just terrifying.”

Ms Hu’s aunt also lives in the region and is a doctor within an accident and emergency department.

Ms Hu added: “Both sides of my family are from Wuhan, so all of my extended family are over there.

“We’re all really worried over here because we’re seeing everything going on – on the news, and seeing it all unfold online and on social media, so we just feel really helpless and really far away, and it’s really scary for everybody.”

As of Thursday afternoon, a total of 327 people in Scotland have been tested and given the all-clear.

There have been nine confirmed infections within the UK.

Overall, there have been at least 2126 deaths and nearly 75,000 confirmed cases.

New facilities have been set up in Glasgow and Edinburgh to carry out any Scottish tests.

But while laboratories at Glasgow Royal Infirmary and the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh will carry out the work, if someone does test positive for the disease a confirmatory test will be carried out at Public Health England’s Colindale laboratory in London.

Scotland’s chief medical officer, Dr Catherine Calderwood, said although there have not been any confirmed cases of the virus in the country, there is a “high likelihood” that a patient will test positive for the disease at some point.

Coronavirus

  • Wuhan novel coronavirus is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, China.
  • As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world. Typical symptoms of coronavirus include fever and a cough that may progress to a severe pneumonia causing shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.
  • Generally, coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.

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