What is social distancing like for the visually impaired?

If you can't see other people and rely on your sense of touch to navigate - life outside lockdown can be tricky.

STV

Most people have been enjoying more freedom as the lockdown begins to ease but, for those who are visually impaired, measures to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 can make life difficult.

Jonathan Attenborough and his guide dog Sam are finding everyday tasks more complicated.

Jonathan explained guide dogs are trained to walk in straight lines and are not capable of keeping a two-metre distance from others as required.

He is asking people to make their presence known as they approach a visually impaired person to make social distance easier for them.

Murder investigation launched after discovery of teenage girl’s body

Amber Gibson, 16, went missing in Hamilton on Friday night.

Police Scotland
Police Scotland can confirm that the body of a young female found near to Cadzow Glen, Hamilton, has been formally identified as 16-year-old Amber Gibson.

The death of a missing 16-year-old girl is being treated as murder after her body was discovered in a wooded area in South Lanarkshire.

Amber Gibson, also known as Amber Niven, disappeared in Hamilton shortly before 10pm on Friday.

She had last been seen on Cadzow Street, after leaving her home in the Hillhouse area around 9.15pm that night.

On Sunday morning, at around 10.10am, emergency services were alerted to a body near to Cadzow Glen.

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On Monday, Police Scotland confirmed the formal identification of the body and said the death was being treated as unexplained.

But on Tuesday night, officers announced the launch of a murder investigation into the killing.

They have appealed to the public for help discovering what happened to Amber.

Detective superintendent Raymond Brown, from Police Scotland Major Investigations Team West, said: “Our thoughts very much remain with Amber’s loved ones and we will continue to support them through this terrible time.

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“Whilst our enquiries continue, we are asking for anyone with any information on what happened to Amber, or anyone who believes they saw her at any point of her movements between Friday and Sunday, to please come forward.”

Chief inspector Briony Daye, Local Area Commander, said: “I’d like to reassure the local community that this is believed to be an isolated incident and there is not any risk to other members of the public.

“There will continue to be an increased police presence in the area over the coming days and anyone with concerns can speak with local officers at any time.”

Anyone with information can call police on 101, quoting incident 1281 of November 28. Alternatively, you can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, to remain anonymous.

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FM: Nine cases of Omicron in Scotland traced to single private event

Nicola Sturgeon said that those who have tested positive have so far not required hospital care.

Scottish Parliament via Scottish Parliament TV

Nine confirmed cases of the Omicron variant in Scotland can all be traced back to a single private event, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

STV news understands the outbreak is linked to a birthday party.

The First Minister said that those who have tested positive have so far not required hospital care.

In a statement at Holyrood, Sturgeon explained that those who attended the event on November 20, have all been self-isolating.

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“I can confirm that as of 5pm yesterday (Monday), there are nine confirmed cases in Scotland,” she told MSPs.

“Five of these are in Lanarkshire and four are in Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

“We have preliminary information on all nine of these cases which is the basis of the information I am about to share with Parliament, however I want to stress that health protection teams are continuing their investigations.”

She continued: “Let me say firstly that none of the people who have tested positive for this new variant have so far required hospital care.

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“All nine were tested on or around November 23 and because they had tested positive, they have all been self-isolating.”

The First Minister said that as the known cases are so far linked to the single event, community transmission may still be limited.

She told MSPs: “None of these individuals, as far as we know, has any recent travel history to, or known links with others who have travelled to the countries in Southern Africa where the variant was originally detected.

“However, while the contact tracing exercise is still ongoing, health protection teams have established that all nine cases are linked.

“They all trace back to a single private event on November 20.

“Indeed, we fully expect that there will be more cases identified over the coming days that are also linked to this event.

“In summary, the lack of any known travel or overseas connection to these cases does suggest that there is some community transmission of Omicron already happening in Scotland.

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“However, the fact that all known cases are so far linked to this single event suggests that community transmission may still be limited.”


Storm Arwen’s impact on Scotland’s power network ‘unprecedented’

The number of faults across the network was around three times higher than in the Beast from the East in 2018.

Owen Humphreys via PA Ready
Storm Arwen knocked out electricity supplies to thousands of homes over the weekend.

The impact of Storm Arwen on the power network has been “unprecedented”, energy secretary Michael Matheson has said.

The Scottish Government minister said the number of faults across the network was around three times higher than in the Beast from the East in 2018.

Storm Arwen knocked out electricity supplies to thousands of homes over the weekend, with at least 17,000 homes enduring a fourth night without power on Monday.

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Extreme weather wreaked havoc across the country.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks remained at red alert status for the north of Scotland on Tuesday morning.

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Matheson appeared before Holyrood’s Net Zero Committee on Tuesday to discuss the government’s fuel poverty strategy.

Conservative MSP Liam Kerr asked him about the plans to replace gas and oil heating with electrically-powered heat pumps.

He said: “What contingency planning would be done such that if everyone were to move to electric-powered heating, that if we have the catastrophe that we’ve had over the last few days, they’re not left freezing in houses in rural areas?”

Matheson said in the wake of major events utility companies would be expected to minimise any future power losses.

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He said: “I think we have to reflect on the fact that the level of faults and difficulties which have been experienced across the network is unprecedented.

“I’ve heard over the course of the last few days – I think it’s three times the number of faults experienced during the Beast from the East.

“At one point we had over 500 faults in the system.”

The minister said district energy systems, where heating is provided to a number of properties in an area, would provide greater resilience.


Glen Cinema disaster: Memorial to victims of ‘Black Hogmanay’

Hundreds of children packed into a Paisley cinema on Hogmanay 1929, but many would never return home.

Renfrewshire Council via Supplied

A permanent memorial to one of Scotland’s worst tragedies has been unveiled, 92 years on from the disaster that killed 71 children.

It became known as Paisley’s Black Hogmanay.

During a matinee showing at the Glen Cinema on December 31, 1929, smoke from a film canister filled the auditorium.

The thick black cloud caused panic and the hundreds of children in the audience rushed to the exits, many of those who died were crushed to death.

“You never forget, the memory is always there” said Emily Brown.

Renfrewshire Council via Supplied
Emily Brown and Robert Pope, survivors of the disaster.
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She was just five when she was caught in the Glen Cinema and is one of the two living survivors of the disaster.

“You lost pals and friends and you still remember them,” she told STV News.

“How lucky we were to get out the cinema alive when so many lost their lives” said Robert Pope, 98, the second living survivor.

Until now, there has been no permanent memorial to those who lost their lives in the town centre. After nearly two years in the making, a statue of a child holding her baby sibling was revealed as a marker to the deadly event.

STV News
The statue was unveiled on Tuesday, November 30, 2021.
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“It’s poignant, it’s right, it’s correct” said Tony Lawler, who started a community group in 2004 that now meet every Hogmanay on the anniversary of the disaster.

“For a long number of years the tragic events of Hogmanay 1929 weren’t talked about. It’s important we talk about it. It’s important we don’t forget.”

The statue entitled Rattle/Little Mother is located in Paisley’s Dunn Square and was unveiled at a ceremony on Tuesday, November 30.

It is designed by artists Kerry Stewart and Rachel Lowther who met with community groups including the STAR Project, Paisley Community Trust, and pupils from Paisley Grammar School.

Renfrewshire Council via Supplied
The statue was unveiled on Tuesday, November 30, 2021.

They said: “Having met with survivors Emily Brown and Robert Pope and processed, through research and community engagement, what happened on that terrible day, we wanted to produce something that spoke to and of the children.

“We have tried to create a sculpture that is playful yet serious, that hovers between a nostalgic lost object – a portal to the children of Paisley, 1929 – and a sacred or devotional object, carrying the story of the children as their own protectors.”

The memorial was funded by the Rotary Club of Paisley and through Future Paisley – the council’s cultural regeneration programme.


Cloak-wearing robbers jailed over armed raids on jewellery stores

Connor Willis was involved in both robberies, which took place within a month of each other in 2019.

CCTV via Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service

Three robbers who took part in armed raids at jewellery stores in Edinburgh and Dundee have been jailed.

Connor Willis was involved in both robberies, which took place within a month of each other in 2019.

Anthony Wheeldon and Dean King were involved in the Dundee robbery.

The three men plead guilty at the High Court in Edinburgh on October 7 and were sentenced to a total of 32 years in prison on Tuesday.

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Willis, 24, was one of four men who carried out the robbery at Miena Jewellery on Great Junction Street, Edinburgh on August 31, 2019.

The men, who were all masked, arrived at the shop in a car stolen from a house in Edinburgh the night before.

One stayed in the car as three of the men used a sledgehammer to force their way through the locked door.

The robbers threatened to kill the shop owner and one attacked him with an axe while the others smashed display cabinets grabbing silver chains, necklaces and bangles, gold bars, chains and coins, watches, and earrings worth around £27,000.

CCTV via Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service
King bent down in the doorway to tie his shoelace, preventing the door from closing.
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The robbers sped off in the getaway car after the shop owner set off the fire extinguisher and filled the shop with fog.

Wheeldon, 40, and King, 28, and Willis were involved in a separate armed robbery in Dundee the following month, along with two others.

Just before 11am on September 23, 2019, a stolen car pulled up outside Walker the Jeweller on Union Street, Dundee and Dean King got out. He walked to the shop and a member of staff unlocked the door to allow him access.

King bent down in the doorway to tie his shoelace, preventing the door from closing. When he didn’t move, the staff member became suspicious and tried to push the door closed.

Three men came out of the car and into the shop carrying an axe, hammer and mallet. They threatened staff and customers and smashed the display cabinets, taking two Rolex watches worth £17,850. They fled when staff set off an anti-robbery fog device.

A customer who tried to fight the robbers was hit on the head with the mallet and had to be taken to hospital for treatment.

Jennifer Harrower, Procurator Fiscal for Specialist Casework, said: “These men travelled to Scotland, armed themselves and carried out violent robberies in broad daylight.

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“These were both terrifying ordeals for the staff and customers involved, particularly the two men who were attacked and injured during the robberies.

“It is thanks to thorough investigative work and co-operation with police forces in other parts of the UK that these three men have been brought to justice.”


‘I’ll be devastated if I can’t get home from Australia this Christmas’

Claire Hughes, who currently lives in Brisbane in Queensland, hasn’t made it back to Scotland in three-and-a-half years.

Simonbradfield via IStock / STV News

By Jenness Mitchell & Brandon Cook

A Scot who planned to return home from Australia for Christmas has said she’ll be “devastated” if further travel restrictions are put in place over the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Claire Hughes, who currently lives in Brisbane in Queensland, hasn’t made it back to Scotland in three-and-a-half years.

She was due to visit family and friends during the summer of 2020, however the pandemic put a spanner in the works.

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Ms Hughes, who has lived in Oz for almost seven years, is booked to fly back later this month. However, the threat of the new Covid variant is causing uncertainty over her plans.

Speaking to STV News, she said: “I was excited about coming home this Christmas, but obviously these new plans are kind of throwing things into a bit of disarray.

“Not sure now what the UK is doing, so trying to keep up with it all is getting pretty confusing.

“And again, it’s bringing back that uncertainty and that worry about what’s next. You try and not get your hopes up too much.”

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Nine cases of the Omicron variant have been identified in Scotland so far – five in the Lanarkshire area and four in Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

In response to the new threat, those entering the UK from any destination abroad will have to take a PCR test within two days of arrival and self-isolate until they have a negative result.

Previously, vaccinated travellers only had to take a day two lateral flow test, and did not have to self-isolate unless they received a positive result.

The UK’s travel red list was also expanded over the weekend to include ten African nations: Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, forcing arrivals into hotel quarantine for ten days.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, urging him to introduce a tougher four-nations approach to travel restrictions.

The FM has proposed that those coming into the UK from overseas should be made to self-isolate for eight days, taking PCR tests on both the second and eighth day after arrival.

4FR via iStock
Queensland: The Brisbane skyline at night.

Ms Hughes, who tries to get home once a year, said she feels “privileged” to live in Queensland, where it’s been “fairly safe” with low Covid numbers.

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But she added: “Obviously it’s been super difficult during this time knowing that if anything were to happen, I literally cannot get back to Scotland and my family can’t get out to see me.”

With Queensland’s borders expected to open later in December, Ms Hughes quickly snapped up a ticket home.

Although she doesn’t normally fly back at Christmas due to the cost, she said: “This time the cost was no barrier.

“It was just that kind of hope of being able to spend that time with my family that I haven’t seen in three-and-a-half years.”

Ms Hughes’ mum has got all the Christmas food ordered, and there’s been excited discussions about who’s picking her up from the airport.

She’s even made plans to catch up with friends who’ve had babies she hasn’t met.

Ms Hughes said she’s “super excited” to get home, but added: “Again, you try and not get your hopes up too much because you just never know what will happen.

“But secretly at the back of my mind, if these rules do come in and stop me from getting home it will be pretty devastating. It will be really gutting.”


Man who raped two women and sexually assaulted four-year-old jailed

David Cox told one of the victims that he had a 'god given right' to have sex with her.

Paul Devlin via SNS Group
High Court: Rapist jailed for seven years.

A man who raped two women and sexually assaulted a four-year-old girl has been jailed for seven years.

David Cox told one of the victims that he had a “god given right” to rape her during one of the attacks.

The 70-year-old former oil industry employee committed the offences between 1983 and 2013 at addresses in Banchory, Aberdeenshire.

He preyed on the young girl when she was between the ages of four and six.

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A judge told Cox at the High Court in Edinburgh that custody was “the only appropriate disposal” due to the serious nature of the offences.

Cox denied a series of offences but was found guilty of three rape charges and a further crime of indecent conduct towards a child at his trial.

Judge Alison Stirling told Cox, who watched the sentencing proceedings via a video link to prison, that he would be placed on the sex offenders’ register indefinitely.

The judge said one adult victim described Cox forcing himself on her “telling her it was your God given right to have sex with her”.

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A second woman was subjected to repeated sex attacks and said he was too strong for her to stop him physically.

The court heard that Cox was employed in the oil and gas industry both in the UK and abroad during his working life.

Defence counsel Drew Mckenzie said: “He maintains his innocence and will do so until his dying breath.”

He added that Cox did recognise that these kinds of offences were serious and did cause serious harm.

Mr Mckenzie said Cox had previously undertaken a course of anger management which he had described as being helpful.


Man dies at crash scene after Audi leaves road and smashes into tree

The crash happened on the B993 Torphins to Kincardine O’Neil road, Aberdeenshire, at around 9.05pm on Monday.

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Ambulance: A male driver was pronounced dead at the scene.

A man has died in Aberdeenshire after his Audi A3 left the road and smashed into a tree.

The crash happened on the B993 Torphins to Kincardine O’Neil road at around 9.05pm on Monday.

The driver was pronounced dead at the scene.

The man is still to be formally identified, however his family has been informed.

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Enquiries into the cause of the crash, which happened near to Ardmore Wood, are ongoing and investigating officers are appealing for anyone with information to get in touch.

Sergeant Christopher Smith said: “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the deceased at this time.

“We are conducting extensive enquiries into the circumstances of this incident and I am appealing for anyone who witnessed the crash, the car prior to the collision or who has dashcam footage which may assist to get in touch.”

If you have any information, call 101.

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TSB announces plan to close 70 bank branches across UK next year

The business said that it would have 220 branches left at the end of June 2022, compared to 290 today.

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TSB said that it will mean 150 fewer roles.

TSB plans to close 70 bank branches across the UK next year as customers switch to online banking.

Seven of the branches set to close are located in Scotland.

The business said that it would have 220 branches left at the end of June 2022, compared to 290 today.

It will still have the country’s seventh largest branch network.

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TSB said that it will mean 150 fewer roles but that all staff who work at the closing branches will be offered alternative roles at the bank.

It is two years since TSB set out a plan to scale back its branch network but the shift to digital banking has accelerated during the pandemic as customers have been stuck at home.

Nine in 10 transactions are now done online, and 90% of mortgage appointments are video calls, TSB said.

There is “no prospect of branch transactions returning to pre-Covid levels”, the bank said.

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There is a Post Office or a free-to-use cash point within a mile of every branch that is set to close.

TSB chief customer officer Robin Bulloch said: “Closing branches is an incredibly difficult decision to take, but we have to respond to the changes in the way people bank and provide the right mix of services for all our customers now and into the future.”

Scottish TSB branches that will close next year include:

Ellon – 36 Bridge Street – April 19, 2022

Forfar – 20 East High Street – April 14, 2022

Forres – 156 High Street – April 27, 2022

Fort William – 6 Tweedale High Street – April 20, 2022

Lanark – 25 Bannatyne Street – April 27, 2022

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Stranraer – 21 Castle Street – April 28, 2022

Thurso – 12/14 Traill Street – April 21, 2022


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