Storm Ciara: Damage and disruption as gales and rain blow in

A pub collapsed in Perth, while a bus was blown into a ditch in Aberdeenshire.

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Three people were injured after part of a pub roof collapsed as Storm Ciara sweeps across the country.

Emergency services were called to the scene in St John Street, Perth, at around 7.25pm on Saturday.

The Venue: The pub’s roof collapsed.

The fire service said three people were passed into the care of the ambulance service.

Police said a cordon has been put in place around the area until the damage can be assessed by experts.

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In a post on Facebook, staff at The Venue said: “Unluckily tonight our neighbouring building’s chimney breast fell through our roof causing the roof to cave in and the top front of our building to be dislodged.

“Thankfully nobody has been seriously harmed but the business will be closed until we find out the extent of the damage caused to our building.

“A big thanks to the emergency services, Perth police, fire and ambulance for all their help.

“We will not know anything more until the professionals have finished their surveying.

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“Massive thanks to all our customers and friends concerns and we hope to see you all very soon.”

Police said no one had been seriously injured.

A Scottish Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said: “We were alerted at 7.25pm on Saturday, February 8, to reports of a structural collapse on St John Street, Perth.

“Operations control mobilised two appliances and a height vehicle to the scene, where the chimney of a tenement building had collapsed.

“Three casualties were handed into the care of the Scottish Ambulance Service.”

Aberdeenshire: The coach was recovered on Sunday morning.

In Aberdeenshire, a coach overturned into a ditch due to the severe gales on the B9000 near Newburgh.

The accident happened at around 6.45pm on Saturday.

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Police said no one was seriously hurt, but one person suffered a slight injury to their knee.

The bus was eventually recovered on Sunday morning.

A Police Scotland spokesman said: “Police were called at around 6.45pm on Saturday to reports of a bus on its side on the B9000 at Newburgh.

“The ambulance service was called, but there were no reports of serious injuries.

“There was one minor injury to someone’s knee, but nothing serious.

“The road was closed at 8pm. The bus was recovered at 9.30am on Sunday.”

Part of a cafe and guest house collapsed into a river as Storm Ciara battered Scotland with high winds and heavy rain.

Police were called to Bridge House Guest House and Sonia’s Bistro in Hawick in the Scottish Borders at around 9.30am on Sunday to reports of structural damage.

Emergency services said the building on Sandbed had been evacuated and there were no reports of any injuries.

Authorities have warned the storm is likely to cause “significant disruption” and transport is likely to be affected.

The Met Office has issued yellow warnings of strong winds across Scotland on Sunday with gusts of up to 80mph possible in some areas.

It warns winds and flying debris may pose a danger to life while there may also be damage to buildings, travel disruption and power cuts.

An amber warning of heavy rain in the Borders was also in force from 2am to 10am on Sunday.

Flooding: A street in Leith was turned into a ‘river’ on Sunday.

Homes and businesses could flood, with a chance some communities may be cut off by flooded roads.

There is also the potential of danger to life from fast-flowing or deep floodwater.

Avoid Govan Walkway across from Riverside Museum

Posted by Craigton, Glasgow on Sunday, February 9, 2020

A multi-agency response team – based at the Traffic Scotland national control centre in South Queensferry, West Lothian, will be operational for the duration of the weather warnings to monitor the conditions and “help deploy response teams where necessary”.

Transport secretary Michael Matheson said: “The Met Office is telling us that we are facing a prolonged period of adverse weather, with Storm Ciara bringing strong winds and rain to most of Scotland this weekend.

“We’re also being told to expect snow and high winds throughout Monday and on Tuesday morning, so there is the potential for significant disruption on the trunk road network, as well as other modes of transport.

“It’s important that people check the latest information before they set off, drive to the conditions and follow Police Scotland travel advice.”

Shortly after 11am on Sunday, Edinburgh Waverley railway station was closed to new customers due to overcrowding.

Passenger Russell Roberts posted a picture of the long queues onto Twitter, and joked: “When I was belting out ‘I would walk 500 miles’ last night I didn’t actually think I would be.”

At around 12.10pm, Traffic Scotland advised that the Forth Road Bridge had been closed to all vehicles, while the Queensferry Crossing had been shut to double-decker buses due to the wind.

Shortly after 5pm, double-deckers were permitted along the Queensferry Crossing.

The Forth Road Bridge was also reopened, except to vehicles with trailers, motorcycles, cyclists and pedestrians.

Network Rail said winds of up to 90mph are expected on the West Highland Line and the Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh routes on Sunday and services will be suspended during the worst of the weather.

Ferry company Caledonian MacBrayne warned there is a “very high possibility of weather-related disruption to services” across all 28 of its routes and advised people to keep track of the status of their sailing online and on social media and to be prepared for delays and cancellations.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) has issued 15 flood alerts and 38 flood warnings.

Nigel Goody, Sepa duty flood manager, said: “Storm Ciara has arrived with a dangerous combination of high tides, high storm surge and high inshore waves across coastal areas.

“Avoid crashing waves and follow the advice of emergency services and local councils.”

Renfrew: Flooding at The Ferry Inn.

Inspector Davy Hynd, of Police Scotland’s Road Policing Unit, added: “There is a high risk of disruption in the affected area and, if you do travel, you are likely to experience significant delays.

“If you must travel please plan your route, as well as alternative routes, in advance.”

STV meteorologist Sean Batty

Explanation: STV meteorologist Sean Batty.

Rainfall:

  • The heavy rain from overnight will be clearing in the south. Some of the rain gauges in the Borders have had around 70-80mm of rainfall since yesterday. This is around three quarters of the rainfall you’d expect during the whole month of February.
  • Some of the rivers are running very high, and not just here but across central and southern Scotland generally.
  • The rain will be replaced today by heavy thundery showers of rain, sleet hail and snow over hills. The winds will be particularly gusty during the showers.
  • Several centimetres of snow can be expected on higher ground by tomorrow morning and a few centimetres down to 100m in a few parts of the north and west.

Wind:

  • There’s still a small possibility that an amber warning could be issued for the central belt.
  • The centre of Storm Ciara passed over the Isle of Lewis at midday and will be in Norway by midnight tonight.
  • The strongest winds look like they will occur over central and southern Scotland between midday and 4pm with a risk of gusts up to 70mph in the central belt. I’d still cater for winds up to 80mph across the Inner Hebrides.
  • In the far north and Northern Isles winds will be much lighter as the centre of the storm passes over here. That being said, there will be a peak in winds with 50-70mph gusts as the storm drifts away across the North Highlands and Orkney.
  • Strong winds will continue for the next few days, and in some spots the winds will be stronger on Monday and Tuesday than they are today, although this will no longer be Storm Ciara.

Flooding:

  • Even though the rain will be clearing from the south this afternoon, water will still be coming off the hills and could lead to some rivers bursting their banks even into Monday.
  • The bigger issue now will be coastal flooding around high tides with large waves and a storm surge in the west.
  • Orkney, Ayrshire, Inverclyde and Renfrew are at risk around lunchtime Sunday and then around midnight again.
  • Argyll and the Hebrides will be at risk around 6-7pm this evening and then 6am Monday.
Storm Ciara.
Advice: Top tips to stay safe in a storm.

Stay safe in a storm

Before the storm:

  • Secure loose objects such as ladders, garden furniture or anything else that could be blown into windows and other glazing and break them.
  • Close and securely fasten doors and windows, particularly those on the windward side of the house, and especially large doors such as those on garages.
  • Park vehicles in a garage, if available; otherwise keep them clear of buildings, trees, walls and fences.
  • Close and secure loft trapdoors with bolts.
  • If the house is fitted with storm shutters over the windows then ensure that these are closed and fastened.
  • If chimney stacks are tall and in poor condition, move beds away from areas directly below them.

During the storm:

  • Stay indoors as much as possible.
  • If you do go out, try not to walk or shelter close to buildings and trees.
  • Keep away from the sheltered side of boundary walls and fences – if these structures fail, they will collapse on this side.
  • Do not go outside to repair damage while the storm is in progress.
  • If possible, enter and leave your house through doors in the sheltered side, closing them behind you.
  • Open internal doors only as needed, and close them behind you.
  • Take care when driving on exposed routes such as bridges, or high open roads, delay your journey or find alternative routes if possible.
  • Slow down and be aware of side winds, particular care should be taken if you are towing or are a high-sided vehicle.
  • Do not drive unless your journey is really necessary.

After the storm:

  • Be careful not to touch any electrical/telephone cables that have been blown down or are still hanging.
  • Do not walk too close to walls, buildings and trees as they could have been weakened.
  • Make sure that any vulnerable neighbours or relatives are safe and help them make arrangements for any repairs.

Seven more deaths of people with coronavirus in Scotland

It's the highest number of fatalities in the country since June 17, while there are 640 new cases.

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Seven more people with coronavirus have died in Scotland, the highest daily total since June 17.

It takes the death toll among patients who died within 28 days of their coronavirus test to 2519.

Separate weekly figures from National Records of Scotland show that up to Sunday, September 27, a total of 4257 deaths have been registered where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

That includes ten deaths last week – five in hospital, four in care homes and one in another setting.

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These weekly figures include those who died more than 28 days after testing positive for the virus, as well as those who were suspected to have it but were not tested.

Speaking at the daily Covid briefing, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “We, of course, should never think of these deaths as statistics, every single one of them represents the loss of a unique and irreplaceable individual.

“I want to send my deepest condolences to everyone who has lost a loved one, and that particularly includes those who have lost loved ones in the last few days.”

The country has confirmed 640 new Covid cases overnight, the FM added, which amounts to 10.3% of newly-tested Scots, down from 11.5% and 806 cases on Tuesday.

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Of those cases, 232 – more than a third – are in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board area, where a campus cluster at the University of Glasgow is ongoing.

There are 160 new infections in Lothian and 73 in Lanarkshire.

A total of 137 people around Scotland are in hospital being treated for coronavirus, which is a rise of 14 in 24 hours.

Of these patients, 14 were in intensive care, down two from the revised figure of 16 the previous day.

Sturgeon said there were 94 new hospital admissions for the virus last week – up 60% from the figure of 58 the previous week.

This means “we could not afford complacency”, she told the briefing.

Nominate unsung heroes for Pride of Scotland Awards

The event - which will mirror the successful Pride of Britain Awards - will be shown on STV later this year.

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Celebration: Nominations are now open for the Pride of Scotland Awards.

A new awards ceremony will celebrate ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

The Pride of Scotland Awards will honour unsung heroes who’ve transformed the lives of people around them – and will include the STV Children’s Appeal Child / Teenager of Courage Award.

The event – which will mirror the successful Pride of Britain Awards – will be shown on STV later this year.

The 90-minute programme will see famous faces from the worlds of showbiz, sport and politics celebrate the bravest, most remarkable people from every corner of Scotland. 

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Nominated by the public, the inspirational award-winners will come from all age groups, and all walks of life. Nominations are now open, but will close at 5pm on Friday.

Pride of Scotland: The awards will be shown on STV later this year.

Award categories

  • STV Children’s Appeal Child / Teenager of Courage Award
  • TSB Community Hero
  • Young Fundraiser of the Year
  • Outstanding Bravery
  • Special Recognition
  • Emergency Services Award
  • Lifetime Achievement

For more information and to nominate, click here.


Tory MSP thrown out the chamber for calling Sturgeon a liar

Oliver Mundell accused the FM of lying to parliament when she pledged full transparency to Holyrood's Salmond inquiry.

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A Conservative MSP has been ejected from the Holyrood chamber after accusing the First Minister of lying to parliament and then refusing to apologise for the remark.

Dumfriesshire MSP Oliver Mundell claimed Nicola Sturgeon had lied when she previously pledged full co-operation and transparency with Holyrood’s inquiry into how harassment complaints against Alex Salmond were dealt with.

On Tuesday, the Scottish Tories suggested the FM had “misled” parliament amid frustration among MSPs on the inquiry with the lack of evidence it has received, with its convener going as far as to accuse the Scottish Government of “obstruction”.

Mundell, who is the son of former Scottish secretary David Mundell, raised this as a point of order in the Scottish Parliament chamber on Wednesday.

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Challenged about his use of language by presiding officer Ken Macintosh, he refused to withdraw his accusation that the First Minister had “lied to parliament”.

The presiding officer then demanded he leave.

Outright accusing another elected member of telling a lie in the chamber is deemed unparliamentary language.

After Salmond successfully took the Scottish Government to court in 2019 over its botched handling of harassment complaints against him, a special committee of MSPs was set up to investigate what had happened.

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Regarding the committee’s work, on January 17 the First Minister told MSPs: “The inquiries will be able to request whatever material they want, and I undertake today that we will provide whatever material they request.”

She also repeatedly pledged the Scottish Government would “cooperate fully” with the probe and offer maximum possible transparency.

But SNP MSP and inquiry convener Linda Fabiani said on Tuesday the committee is experiencing “frankly, obstruction” from the Scottish Government.

It has previously complained of missed deadlines for evidence and key files heavily redacted or withheld by the government, with officials citing legal reasons for doing so.

Fabiani said the committee still awaits written submissions from the Scottish Government, from SNP chief executive Peter Murrell – Sturgeon’s husband – and from Salmond himself – and “simply cannot proceed” without the evidence it needs.

Citing the First Minister’s remarks to the chamber in January, Mundell repeated the Conservative accusation that she had misled MSPs.

He said: “Will the presiding officer ask the First Minister to explain why she lied to parliament?”

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Macintosh said the issue is being looked at by the committee and suggested Mundell raise the matter with it directly or ask the question during a parliamentary debate.

The presiding officer then asked the Tory MSP to “apologise for using the term ‘lied’ in the chamber”.

But Mundell declined, and said: “I do feel it is the appropriate word, and I can’t find anything else that would express the sentiment.”

Macintosh urged him to make his point “without personalising and making pejorative terms which are disrespectful to other members” and said his remarks were not “befitting of Mr Mundell’s character”.

The Dumfriesshire MSP hit back: “I think it’s disrespectful to the parliament for the First Minister to make a promise and not to keep it.

“But I can’t withdraw the word, no.”

The presiding officer answered: “I’m going to have to ask you to leave the chamber, I don’t think that language is acceptable.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said any suggestion Sturgeon had misled Holyrood is “demonstrably false”.

She added: “The First Minister has agreed to personally give evidence to the committee – and as we have made clear, not only is the government providing all possible material to the committee, we intend to initiate legal proceedings seeking to allow the release of further documents.”

Full list of Scottish TSB branches earmarked for closure

The bank announced on Wednesday the cuts would affect around 300 jobs in Scotland.

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TSB: The bank intends to close 73 branches in Scotland.

TSB has revealed the 73 branches it has earmarked for closure in Scotland next year.

The Edinburgh-based bank said the cuts will affect 300 jobs.

The company intends to close 164 branches across the UK, reducing its headcount by around 900, following a “significant change in customer behaviour” as fewer people use branches in favour of online banking.

Branches have been selected to ensure 94% of customers in Scotland are still within 20 minutes’ travel time of one that will remain open.

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Six of those set to close are in Aberdeen – Culter, Dyce, Kincorth, Mannofield, St Machar and Torry.

Another six will close in Glasgow – Anniesland, Dennistoun, Drumchapel, Easterhouse, Partick and Springburn.

In Edinburgh three branches will close – Costorphine, Gorgie and Pilton.

Meanwhile, two in Dundee will close – Craigiebank and Lochee.

The remaining branches to close:

  • Aboyne
  • Alexandra
  • Alford
  • Anstruther
  • Banchory
  • Bathgate
  • Bearsden
  • Berwick-upon-tweed
  • Blairgowrie
  • Bo’ness
  • Broxburn
  • Buckhaven
  • Bucksburn
  • Burntisland
  • Campbelltown
  • Carnoustie
  • Castle Douglas
  • Coatbridge
  • Coupar Angus
  • Cowdenbeath
  • Crieff
  • Cumnock
  • Cupar
  • Dalkeith
  • Dingwall
  • Dunoon
  • Girvan
  • Grangemouth
  • Grantown-on-Spey
  • Hawick
  • Helensburgh
  • Huntly
  • Insch
  • Johnstone
  • Kelso
  • Kilbirnie
  • Kilsyth
  • Kirkaldy, Templehall
  • Largs
  • Larkhall
  • Lochgilphead
  • Montrose
  • Nairn
  • North Berwick
  • Peebles
  • Penicuik
  • Pitlochry
  • Port Glasgow
  • Prestwick
  • Renfrew
  • Rosyth
  • Rothesay
  • Saltcoats
  • Thornliebank
  • Turriff
  • Wick

Eight lockdown deaths at hotel used to shelter homeless

The deaths of four men and four women at the Alexander Thomson spanned a four-month period.

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Hotel deaths: The Alexander Thomson on Argyle Street.

Eight people have died at a hotel in Glasgow used to shelter the homeless during lockdown.

The deaths of four men and four women at the Alexander Thomson on Argyle Street happened between April and August.

Authorities called the situation “tragic” and said other people staying at the hotel have been offered support.

Seven of the deaths have been treated as unexplained, pending the outcome of a post mortem, while one was considered non-suspicious.

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The first was a 38-year-old woman on April 25, before a 21-year-old man died on May 17.

A 43-year-old man died on June 7 and a fortnight later another man, 43, died at the hotel.

On July 28, a 25-year-old man and 44-year-old woman died on the same day.

Almost a month later on August 27, a 49-year-old woman died. The following day, the only death at the hotel confirmed as non-suspicious – a 48-year-old woman – was reported.

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Glasgow MSP James Kelly said it was a “horribly sad situation” and a “real cause for concern”.

The Labour politician added: “It’s long been clear that real action must be taken by Glasgow City Council to improve the conditions in homeless hostels throughout the city.

“Particularly at this time, while we are in the middle of a global pandemic and on the cusp of a second wave of Covid-19, people must be able to access the correct resources to keep themselves and others safe.”

Glasgow’s Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) said help was available to those who need it.

A spokeswoman said: “These deaths are tragic and our thoughts go out to the friends and families of those who have passed away.

“We have ensured the hotel is well supported by staff from voluntary organisations and the HSCP who provide in-reaching services and assistance to those who require it.

“These services provide accessible routes into mental health and addiction treatment services. We continue to review these arrangements with key partners regularly and where necessary, will make changes ensuring those with the most complex needs are supported.

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“We have also located our Housing First Assessment Team in the hotel to support people into more settled accommodation as it becomes available with the lifting of Covid restrictions and as the city’s Registered Social Landlords return to business as usual.”

The Alexander Thomson Hotel has been approached for comment.


Worker embezzled £240k in drugs and cash from Crown Office

Katherine Vaughan also stole other items during her job as a production keeper in Aberdeen.

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Guilty plea: Katherine Vaughan appeared at the High Court in Edinburgh.

A woman has been told she faces jail after she admitted embezzling more than £90,000 in cash and taking £147,000 of drugs and other items from the Crown Office.

Katherine Vaughan appeared at the High Court in Edinburgh on Wednesday and her guilty plea was entered by her lawyer, Ximena Vengoechea.

The court heard the 34-year-old, from Aberdeen, worked as a production keeper for the Crown Office in the city when she took £91,832.82 between January 1 2011 and September 27 2019, as well as a wide range of other items.

All had been lodged during the course of criminal investigations and it was her job to keep them safe.

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Her crimes began to unfold after Crown Office administration manager Kelly Goate made plans to rotate staff to give them a broader experience.

When told of her intention to move her position on September 24 2019, it was heard Vaughan became emotional.

The court was told she then approached Ms Goate to tell her the production store had been left open at the weekend.

A police investigation was sparked when it was found that items had been tampered with and an interview was carried out with Vaughan on September 27, 2019.

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Alex Prentice QC, for the Crown, said: “At that point, Vaughan spontaneously stated that she suffered from mental health issues, that she had been stealing cash productions from the production store throughout the year to subsidise her income, and that there were further cash productions in her home address.”

It was heard subsequent searches at her Great Northern Road home saw substantial amounts of money recovered, as well as £147,720 worth of drugs and other items.

These included sanitary pads, a stun gun, cigarette ends, chewing gum, jewellery, cling film and a safe.

Mr Prentice told the court it is not clear what happened to the money she embezzled, although it is possible she “squandered” it.

It was also heard Vaughan – who has since been working at restaurant chain Nando’s – did not appear to have taken the drugs for profit or use.

The substances included crack cocaine, cocaine, MDMA and cannabis.

Ms Vengoechea asked judge Lord Beckett to adjourn the case for eight weeks to allow more time for psychiatric reports to shed light on her client’s mental health, however only four weeks were given.

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The judge told Vaughan: “You have pled guilty to extremely serious criminal conduct, the court does not know the whole background.

“But whatever that background, this amounts to extremely serious criminal conduct.

“Given the gravity of this case and the inevitable prison sentence, I don’t consider it appropriate to continue bail and you will be remanded in custody.”

The case is due to recall on October 28 at the same court.


Cast assembled, now it’s time for Steve Clarke to direct his play

Scotland have the opportunity to reach a major finals for the first time since 1998 if everything goes to script.

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Clarke faces a definitive week.

As curtain raisers go, it was pretty low key.

There was little drama on Tuesday as Steve Clarke revealed his Scotland squad to face Israel in next week’s Euro 2020 play-off semi-final, but the announcement drew focus to arguably the national team’s greatest opportunity in 17 years.

Back then, in 2003, a play-off against Netherlands offered a chance to reach the Euros and after a 1-0 win in Glasgow raised hopes beyond reason, a 6-0 defeat to a surgical Dutch side (re-)introduced fans to the theatre of cruelty.

Since then, as World Cup cycle followed Euros cycle, the side in dark blue has seen qualification campaigns end in sporting tragedy or comedy, or some grotesque combination of the two.

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Next Thursday, Clarke can take Scotland one step closer to the biggest stage, with a win against Israel putting the team 90 minutes away from a first bow at a major finals since 1998. Assembling a squad is only the first part and the performance might define his time at Hampden.

The former Kilmarnock boss wasn’t responsible for the booking, of course. It was Alex McLeish who led Scotland to win their Nations League group and secure the play-off spot. It was only supposed to be insurance, a ‘Break in case of emergency’ if the team failed to make it through the proper qualifiers.

Looking ahead to next week’s game, the key to a showdown with Norway or Serbia in the final, is an invitation to look back to a match in November 2018 where McLeish’s side won 3-2 to ensure a second chance at reaching the Euros.

The opposition? Israel. The location? Hampden. The squad? The key players? The pressing issues? Different and the same.

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Scotland’s three goals that night were created by Ryan Fraser and Ryan Christie, with both in the squad this time around. Fraser has been recalled after missing the last international camp because he was without a club when the season started. A Bournemouth player then, a new recruit at Newcastle now, he could be a significant addition to Clarke’s armoury.

Christie and Fraser’s creativity that night allowed James Forrest to help himself to a first hat-trick in a Scotland shirt. The Celtic star was absent from Clarke’s list of players this time around, injured and leaving his international boss the first of several questions to be answered next week.

It isn’t the most pressing and those that are the most concerning were unresolved issues two years ago when the play-off place was earned.

Back then, McLeish named a back line of Andy Robertson, Scott McKenna, David Bates and Callum Paterson. It was only the latest attempt to find a defence that might stand up to the acute stresses of international football and the fact that Bates isn’t in the latest squad, while Paterson is included primarily as a forward is all you need to know.

Kieran Tierney was injured back then, sparing McLeish the question of how to accommodate him and Robertson in the same team.

Clarke’s approach, judging by the recent double-header against Israel and Czech Republic, is to keep his captain wide and make Tierney one of a back three, as he is growing used to at Arsenal. It looks like it could work but Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay being pressed into action in the back three doesn’t. Clarke claims his players are “comfortable with the two systems we’ve given them” but he has a decision to make about his defensive shape and personnel.

Ryan Porteous, a surprise call-up, is unlikely to take McTominay’s place with the manager at pains to explain that the defender was suspended from under-21 games but could join the senior team and benefit from the experience. It would be a surprise if the Hibs stopper was pitched in against Israel but he may get his chance against Slovakia or Czech Republic after the main event.

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The other area where Clarke faces the same puzzle as his predecessor is in the striker’s position. McLeish opted for Steven Fletcher but the veteran forward failed to get in on the act as Forrest helped himself to goals.

Fletcher didn’t make Clarke’s squad but the manager was happy to talk about the options he did have at his disposal. Lyndon Dykes returns after his decision to commit to Scotland over Australia brought him a goal in his second appearance last month. Oli Burke is in having found playing time at Sheffield United, while club teammate Oli McBurnie is back having found fitness. Paterson is an alternative for Clarke and Lawrence Shankland an appealing choice now the Dundee United striker is fit again.

It’s a varied selection with different strengths but a glaring concern. The five forwards in the squad have three international goals between them and none have scored double figures in a season in a top-flight professional league. For reference, Israel forward Eran Zahavi has 20 international goals from his 54 caps. Potential play-off final opponents Norway can call upon Erling Haaland who has as many international goals as all the Scotland strikers combined. He scored them in just four games. He’s only 20.

Headaches at the back and questions about who can deliver goals at the sharp end are nothing new for a Scotland manager. Clarke has experimented with varying success in both areas but he has to get it right this time with little time to prepare.

The manager seemed unruffled when asked if he had concerns about the lack of preparation time with some players, saying that the groundwork had been laid in previous international camps. There’s a plan in place and Clarke has had a long, long time to prepare for a situation he knows can light a fire under the team and usher in a new period of optimism, or see another missed opportunity leave the nation debating the same old issues.

Next week it all has to come together. The manager has assembled his cast and now comes the hard part: making sure it all goes to script.


Prestwick Airport sale grounded after bidder pulls out

Transport secretary Michael Matheson confirmed the prospective buyer has walked away due to the impact of coronavirus.

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Prestwick Airport: The preferred bidder has pulled out due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The planned sale of Prestwick Airport has been grounded after the preferred bidder pulled out.

On Wednesday, transport secretary Michael Matheson confirmed the prospective buyer has walked away from completing a deal due to the impact of coronavirus on the aviation industry.

He said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the aviation sector globally and, unfortunately, it has now affected the planned sale process of Glasgow Prestwick Airport.  

“We have been advised that the company selected as preferred bidder does not wish to complete the purchase of the business at this time.  

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“While this is a disappointing development, we understand businesses across the aviation sector are having to take difficult decisions to respond to the collapse in demand.”

The South Ayrshire airport was taken into public ownership in November 2013, after being threatened with closure following heavy losses.

The Scottish Government paid a token £1 for the airport, which has since cost taxpayers tens of millions of pounds in failed loans.

Talks with the prospective buyer began in late 2019 after it was put up for sale last June.

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Matheson said ministers would now “consider future options”, but is “confident” the airport has a role to play in Scotland’s aviation sector.

He said: “It’s important to remember that Glasgow Prestwick Airport continues to develop as a specialist airport, carving a niche in a very competitive market.  

“The recent financial results – showing an increase revenue and reduction in operating losses – are encouraging and underline the significant efforts of the Prestwick team. 

“We will now consider future options for Glasgow Prestwick Airport in light of this development, as well as the ongoing challenges for the industry, but remain confident it has a role to play in Scotland’s aviation sector. 

“As we have done throughout this process, we will update Parliament at the appropriate times.

“More widely, we remain committed to working with all of Scotland’s airports to help restore connectivity for business and tourism to help our economy recover”.


Soldiers parachuted into power lines during bungled jump

The duo's parachutes got caught in the cables during a night-time training mission over Cupar in Fife last month.

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High-voltage: Two soldiers parachuted into power lines during a training mission.

Two soldiers cheated death when their parachutes got caught in high-voltage power lines during a bungled jump.

The duo collided with the cables during a night-time training mission over Cupar in Fife last month.

Fortunately the pair escaped uninjured, but briefly wiped out the electricity supply to around 480 nearby homes.

ScottishPower said it was alerted to two failures on the network within the space of an hour at around 10pm on August 31, which were “restored within a matter of seconds”.

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The incident happened on the outskirts of the town, around seven miles from the military base at Leuchars.

A spokesperson from the MoD said: “We are aware of an accident in the Cupar area involving military personnel last month.

“No personnel were injured. As an investigation is ongoing it would be inappropriate to offer additional comment.”


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