Murray takes positives from Battle of the Brits despite defeat

However, the Scot lamented his inconsistencies on court after a semi-final defeat to Dan Evans.

Andy Murray to take positives from competition.
Andy Murray to take positives from competition.

Andy Murray will take a number of positives away from the Battle of the Brits but the Scot lamented his inconsistencies on court after a semi-final defeat to Dan Evans.

The former world number one showed glimpses of the form that brought him three grand slams before a hip injury stalled his career, but Evans battled back in Roehampton to snatch a 1-6 6-3 10-8 victory in a riveting contest.

This was Murray’s fourth match in five days in his first event since last November, having been sidelined because of bone bruising on his pelvis, and he has enjoyed the physical challenge.

But following his defeat on Saturday afternoon in the behind-closed-doors exhibition event, Murray said: “I thought I started the match well and then like in all of my matches this week, my levels dropped off a bit after that.

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“I’ve just not been able to sustain a high level for long enough. My game is there, I just need more time to practise and prepare and I’ll get there.

“It was a big step up this week from what I’ve been doing, and I coped with it physically relatively well, I thought I moved better with each match and was a bit more confident. It was a positive week.

‘It was a big step up this week from what I’ve been doing, and I coped with it physically relatively well, I thought I moved better with each match and was a bit more confident. It was a positive week.’

Andy Murray

“Some of the tennis this week has been very encouraging, I just wasn’t able to do it for long enough in the matches.

“That’s something that when I was up at the top of the game and competing regularly, my level was the same throughout whereas I’m struggling to maintain that, probably just with lack of matches.”

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Murray suggested he will not compete again until the ATP Tour resumes with the Citi Open, which is scheduled to start on August 14.

However, the Scot plans to skip the following week’s Cincinnati Masters, which has been moved to New York this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, as he does not want to risk an injury surfacing on the eve of the US Open.

He added: “It’s just so close to a slam and I would hate to pick up a niggle or something that prevented me from playing in New York.

“I would rather play Washington and miss the event the week before the US Open, if they all go ahead.”

British number one Evans was impressed with Murray’s serving and believes the two-time Wimbledon champion has every reason for optimism going forward.

Evans said: “His serve is the main thing which has really got back to normal since his hip. He can work on the other parts of his game.

“His serve is coming back to its best and if he can do that for long periods of time, there’s only one way he’s going again.”

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As for beating Murray, Evans added: “It’s great. I’m immensely proud to have been on the court in this environment, in the semi-final, you don’t get to do that every day, so it’s great to come through with a win.

“I’m just really happy with the way I played, especially the way I moved.” 


Sturgeon to confirm move to phase three of lockdown easing

The First Minister will give a statement to the Scottish Parliament on Thursday.

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First Minister: Nicola Sturgeon will give a statement to the Scottish Parliament on Thursday.

Nicola Sturgeon will confirm on Thursday if Scotland can move into the third phase of its plan for easing coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

Phase three would see customers able to return to hairdressers, restaurants and drink inside pubs, although the First Minister has suggested that not all restrictions would be lifted at the same time.

Sturgeon said she was “hopeful” Scotland could move to phase three of its route map for easing lockdown and is expected to give a statement to the Scottish Parliament outlining when and how measures will be lifted.

She previously announced plans for hairdressers, indoor pubs, museums, galleries and libraries to open on July 15.

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According to the Scottish Government’s route map, offices and call centres will also be able to reopen in phase three, while universities and colleges can begin a phased return of in-person teaching – all with physical distancing measures in place.

Depending on the latest public health advice, the First Minister could also announce an easing of restrictions for live events – both indoor and outdoor events – as well as the reopening of gyms.

Non-essential shopping centres could also be able to reopen, along with holiday accommodation, museums and libraries.

Public transport is due to resume more services, albeit with reduced capacity and mandatory face coverings for most passengers.

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Places of worship are also expected to be able to reopen during phase three for congregational services and communal prayer, while an easing of restrictions on attendance at funerals, marriages and civil partnerships could also feature in the First Minister’s announcement.

Sturgeon has already confirmed that, from Friday, Scots will be able to meet in extended groups outside and a maximum of two other households indoors – if physical distancing is maintained – and that children will be able to play organised outdoor sports from Monday.

Hotel attack victim ‘feared he would die’ after stabbing

Badreddin Abadlla Adam was shot dead by police after six people were injured in the attack in Glasgow.

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Glasgow: Badreddin Abadlla Adam injured six people in the attack.

A man who was stabbed in a knife attack outside a city hotel has said he feared he was dying as he lay bleeding on the pavement.

Badreddin Abadlla Adam, 28, from Sudan, was shot dead by police after his attack at the Park Inn Hotel in Glasgow, which left six people injured including 42-year-old police constable David Whyte.

Mex Abin, 20, said he was the first person to be attacked after encountering Adam as he walked along West George Street to meet a friend on June 26.

He said Adam called him over and then slapped him on the face before stabbing him in his right side, then his left.

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He told the Daily Record: “I think the knife was small. I didn’t even see it. I felt something had happened to my body but I didn’t know he had stabbed me. 

“I was shocked. I panicked. I just wanted to run but he wouldn’t let go of my t-shirt. I was screaming and struggling.

“His face was cold and calm. God must have saved me because I don’t know how but I pulled back – my t-shirt ripped and I broke free.”

Attacker: Badreddin Abadlla Adam, 28, from Sudan, was shot dead by police.

He said he ran towards his friend, who helped him to sit down, while a kitchen worker from the hotel rushed over and applied pressure to the wounds.

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Mr Abin, who is from the Ivory Coast, said: “I was on a pavement, sure I was dying. I thought of my mum. I thought if I closed my eyes I would never wake up again. I was afraid to die.”

The other people injured were men aged 17, 18, 38 and 53, with all victims taken to hospital for treatment.

Two of the injured are members of staff at the hotel while three are asylum seekers.

Mr Abin told the newspaper that Adam was “quiet and kept to himself” and said he did not really know him.

He praised the medical staff who treated him in hospital, saying: “I thank them a thousand times for saving my life.”

He also said he forgives Adam for stabbing him and that the attacker “lost his mind and that is not his fault”.


Bag of Covid-19 test samples found on Highland road

The samples were being transported to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.

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Investigation: Covid-19 test samples were found on a Highland road.

A bag of Covid-19 test samples was found by a member of the public on a road in the Highlands.

The samples were being taken from Caithness General Hospital in Wick to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, according to a statement from NHS Highland.

The bag was found by a member of the public on the A9 near Tain and taken to a local police station.

The health board has said it will investigate how the bag managed to end up on the road.

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An NHS Highland spokesman said: “We can confirm that samples being transported from Caithness General Hospital in Wick to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness were found on the A9 near Tain.

“The samples were handed in to the local police station and are now with the laboratory team at Raigmore.

“We are investigating how this could have happened to ensure this will not happen again and would like to reassure everyone that at no point was there a danger to the public from these samples.

“They were packed properly and remained intact.

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“We are very grateful to the gentleman who handed the box of samples to the police.”

Young and unemployed ‘most affected by feeling hopeless’

A survey found that certain groups have been more affected than others during the pandemic.

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Feeling hopeless: Young people and unemployed most affected.

Young adults and the unemployed have been disproportionately affected by feelings of hopelessness during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to new research.

A survey of 2004 adults by the Mental Health Foundation Scotland found that as the pandemic has progressed, certain vulnerable groups are being more severely affected than others.

The research, carried out between June 18 to 26, found one quarter of 18 to 24-year-olds said they felt hopeless as a result of the pandemic in the two weeks prior to the survey.

Those who are unemployed are also being seriously affected by feelings of hopelessness, with 25% of that group also saying they have struggled.

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A total of 26% of those with pre-existing mental health issues said they felt hopeless in the two weeks prior to the survey.

In comparison, one in seven (16%) adults over the age of 24 have experienced feelings of hopelessness.

Lee Knifton, director of Mental Health Foundation Scotland and Northern Ireland, said: “What the research shows is that even as lockdown is easing, millions are still struggling. Overall, about one in seven people in Scotland are experiencing of hopelessness.

“But dig down a bit deeper into the research and you find that we’re not all in this together. Some are particularly vulnerable.

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“In particular, our research showed that young adults, people with existing mental health problems and unemployed people are struggling more than the rest of the population as a whole.

“It’s clear the pandemic remains a much more devastating experience for certain groups That is why we need to urgently see a whole-government mental health response and recovery plan.”

However, the research found levels of anxiety and worry have fallen, down from 64% at the beginning of lockdown in March to 49% in the last survey at the end of June.

Mr Knifton said that is good news, but it must not obscure the fact vulnerable groups are still struggling.

He added: “The Scottish and UK governments must respond to their needs, and take an all-government approach.

“Intervention is needed urgently to prevent many people’s current mental distress from escalating into tragic consequences.

“This research clearly identifies where some of those areas of most need are – including young adults and people with existing mental health problems.”


Burger King could be forced to shut one in ten UK outlets

The fast food firm's UK boss said that up to 1600 jobs could be lost as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Burger King
Burger King: The fast food firm may have to permanently close outlets as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Burger King UK’s boss has warned that up to 1600 jobs could be lost as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Only about 370 of the restaurant chain’s 530 UK stores have reopened since the nation went into lockdown.

Chief executive Alasdair Murdoch told Newscast the economic damage stemming from the crisis could ultimately force the company to permanently close up to 10% of its stores.

He said: “We don’t want to lose any [jobs]. We try very hard not to, but one’s got to assume somewhere between 5% and 10% of the restaurants might not be able to survive.

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“It’s not just us – I think this applies to everyone out there in our industry.”

Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Wednesday unveiled a £30bn support package to help boost the nation’s economic recovery, which included plans to subsidise restaurant bills throughout August to encourage people to dine out.

However Mr Murdoch added that Government schemes do not do enough to compensate restaurants for the combination of fixed costs and lost sales throughout the pandemic, telling Newscast: “I don’t think you can ever get over the top of this problem.”


Ofgem proposes £20 energy bill price cut in £25bn investment

The energy watchdog has vowed to take money out of shareholders' pockets.

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Gas: Energy bills will be cut under Ofgem's proposal.

The energy watchdog has vowed to take money out of shareholders’ pockets to improve investment in a green energy network while slashing bills.

Ofgem said households stand to save around £20 a year on their gas and electricity bills under its proposals, which are set to come into force from next year.

However, the proposals were attacked by some of Britain’s biggest energy networks, which will have to shoulder the cost.

Under its plan, Ofgem will halve the rate of return that companies will be allowed to take from their investments.

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The regulator argues that companies and investors will still be willing to put their cash on the line to invest in upgrades to the system as the UK’s energy networks are a very low-risk investment.

“Strong evidence from water regulation and Ofgem’s offshore transmission regime shows that investors will accept lower returns and continue to invest robustly in the sector,” Ofgem said.

Meanwhile, the watchdog is setting aside £25bn for investment in the UK’s energy networks, including those run by National Grid.

There will also be a package of around £10bn in additional funding which is only available for clean energy investment, but companies will need to apply on a project-by-project basis.

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More money may be set aside if Ofgem receives enough good proposals.

The regulator will scrutinise proposed investments and only give them permission if they cut carbon at a low cost to customers.

This could include a recently proposed National Grid project to install electric car charging points up and down British motorways, and innovative solutions such as switching the gas grid to run on hydrogen.

Ofgem will also set aside £630m to encourage new research and development in green energy.

It is the latest announcement from the regulator ahead of next year’s change to the rules on how much of investment costs networks can pass on to customers.

The current rules, known in industry jargon as RIIO-1, are set to expire next year. They will be replaced by RIIO-2, which will last until 2026.

Ofgem has proposed that the allowed rate of return be set at 3.95%. It is around half of what was allowed under RIIO-1, and will save British households some £3.3bn each year until 2026.

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Currently around a quarter of the average household’s energy bill goes to pay for the network.

The news angered some of the companies which will be the hardest hit.

National Grid said it will be pressing for changes that will incentivise investment and protect consumers ahead of Ofgem’s final decision in December this year.

A spokesperson said: “We are extremely disappointed with this draft determination, which risks undermining the process established by Ofgem. This proposal leaves us concerned as to our ability to deliver resilient and reliable networks, and jeopardises the delivery of the energy transition and the green recovery.”

Meanwhile, SSE said it is “disappointed and deeply concerned”.

Rob McDonald, managing director of subsidiary SSEN Transmission, said: “Whilst our stakeholder-endorsed and evidence-based business plan was in step with the Government’s low-carbon investment ambition, Ofgem’s first pass at a settlement resembles a worrying return to austerity.

“Ofgem’s draft determination is a barrier towards achieving net-zero and damaging to the green economic recovery.”

However, the move won support from Citizens Advice chief executive Dame Gillian Guy.

She said: “Today’s announcement is another step closer to a price control that stops network companies from overcharging energy customers by billions of pounds.

“These decisions are extremely technical, but they matter. Ofgem has struck the right balance between shareholder returns and value for money for energy customers, while making sure networks can continue to attract investment.”

Ofgem chief executive Jonathan Brearley said: “Ofgem is working to deliver a greener, fairer energy system for consumers. This is why we are striking a fair deal for consumers, cutting returns to the network companies to an unprecedented low level while making room for around £25bn of investment needed to drive a clean, green and resilient recovery.

“Now, more than ever, we need to make sure that every pound on consumers’ bills goes further. Less of your money will go towards company shareholders, and more into improving the network to power the economy and to fight climate change.

“Ofgem’s stable and predictable regulatory regime will continue to attract the investment Britain needs to go further and faster on decarbonisation.”

A final decision will be made in December after the companies have had time to feed in.


Non-EU applicants to Scottish universities jump by 16%

The number of applications from those within the EU has dropped by 2% - continuing a trend seen in recent years.

Uni: Number of non-EU applicants has risen.

Applications to attend Scottish universities from students outside the EU have risen by 16%, the latest statistics show.

Data from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas), which processes millions of applications each year for colleges and universities across the UK, shows the increase, which contributed to a 3% rise in the total number of applications to Scottish institutions.

The statistics cover the most recent application cycle, which ended on June 30.

Between January and the deadline, a period which included an extensive lockdown due to coronavirus, 4,730 applications were made compared to 3,380 during the same period last year – an increase of 40%.

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The total number of Scottish-domiciled students who have applied up to and including the most recent application cycle is up slightly from 47,110 last year to 47,250, while the number of applications from those within the EU has dropped by 2% – continuing a trend seen in recent years.

When broken down by socio-economic background, the number of Scottish-domiciled applicants from more deprived areas show a decrease of 10 from 7,760 to 7,750, while those from more affluent areas dropped by 2% from 12,510 to 12,230.

Alastair Sim, director of Universities Scotland, said the data is “encouraging” but he added: “It will be September before universities know for sure whether offer-holders intend to take up their place.

“Not all international students apply through Ucas, so we can’t yet be sure if the positive trend shown in Ucas’ data for overseas applicants will be borne out across all international applicants.”

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Responding to the figures on the backgrounds of applicants, Mr Sim said:

“Since the pandemic hit, universities have consistently said that they will not let it deter them from efforts to widen access and that they will offer more flexibility to applicants because of the major disruption to schools, to exams and to people’s lives in general.

“Today’s data suggests that there’s been no negative impact, so far, on applicants from the most deprived 20% of Scotland’s areas wanting to go to university – applicant numbers have held steady.”

However, Mr Sim said the “key data point” will come next month when final exam results for Scottish pupils will be announced and dictate how many places at colleges and universities will be taken up.

This year’s exam diet was cancelled due to the pandemic, with teachers instead asked to help decide the final grades of their pupils.

Dr Donna McKinnon, director of access at the Scottish Funding Council, said: “This is encouraging news for Scottish universities who are working hard to be able to provide a safe, high-quality undergraduate experience for the next academic year. We will continue to keep a close eye on the figures.”


Auditors uncover £15m in savings for the public purse

Audit Scotland compared data held about individuals at different public bodies to identify issues like housing benefit fraud.

Money: Audit Scotland published the results of its National Fraud Initiative.

More than £15m in savings for the public purse have been uncovered after a data-sharing exercise identified fraud and errors.

Audit Scotland published the results of its National Fraud Initiative (NFI) on Thursday, covering 2018 and 2019.

It compared data about individuals held by different public bodies to identify potential errors or fraud.

In its report, the auditing body also warned the Covid-19 pandemic could make the public sector more vulnerable to fraud as staff come under pressure and new schemes are rolled out quickly.

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The NFI found fraud and errors totalling £15.3m over the two-year period.

These included £4.3m in wrongly reduced or removed council tax payments and £3.2m in pensions being paid out after their recipient had died.

They also uncovered 35 cases of overpayments being made from councils to care home providers, collectively worth around £400,000.

These take place when a care home resident has died and the local authority has not been informed. Audit Scotland said 71% of these overpayments are being recovered.

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Irregularities with 3215 blue badges, which allow people with mobility problems to park for free on streets, were also found.

Fiona Kordiak, director of audit services at Audit Scotland, said: “These results demonstrate the value of data-matching to Scotland’s public finances at a time when Covid-19 has put budgets under intense pressure.

“The pandemic has also brought additional fraud risks that will be important for public bodies to identify and manage.

“Many staff are working remotely under extreme pressure, which makes good governance and sound controls more important than ever.”


More than £12m granted to Scots groups through lottery fund

Among 11 community buildings being developed will be The Pyramid in Anderston, Glasgow.

Lottery: Community groups to benefit.

More than £12m will be shared between 311 Scottish groups and associations thanks to the National Lottery Community Fund.

Announced on Thursday, the Lottery is granting more than £12m to Scottish organisations, the majority of which will help transform buildings into vibrant community hubs.

More than £7.4m will go towards 11 new community buildings to either develop or new build to create new community hubs.

Among those is The Pyramid at Anderston.

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The group, behind the renovation of the B listed building in Glasgow, has received £1.1m to renovate the space so that it can continue hosting a wide range of community groups and welcome many more.

Chairman Tom Moffat said he was delighted with the funding, adding: “The award will enable us to make our iconic building more inclusive and accessible and to continue to be a place for the communities of Anderston and Finnieston to connect, create and celebrate.”

The Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust was granted more than £1m to extend and develop An Laimhrig, a vital community hub.

Business development manager for the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust, Rebecca Long, said: “Eigg was one of the first community buyouts in Scotland and the original build of An Laimhrig completed in 1998 was the very first flagship project undertaken by Eigg’s community.

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“It is now 23 years later and with a 70% positive population increase the building is fit to bursting, with Eigg’s only shop, cafe, visitor-facing businesses and community offices unable to keep up with all the demands put upon them.

“This vital expansion will aid the island’s economic, social and cultural development and secure Eigg’s future for the next generation of residents and visitors alike. Without National Lottery players, this award and project would not have been possible.”

The National Lottery Community Fund’s Scotland chairwoman Kate Still said: “These awards, made possible by National Lottery players, recognise the incredible work happening across Scotland to create stronger, more connected communities.

“I am delighted that some of this funding will be used to transform existing buildings into vibrant community hubs that will carry on the strong community spirit that has been so evident in recent times.

“National Lottery players can be proud to know that money they raise by buying tickets is continuing to make such a difference.”


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