Houses evacuated as fire crews battle church blaze
More than 30 firefighters are in attendance at the scene in Glasgow.
Fire crews are tackling a well developed blaze at a church in Glasgow.
More than 30 firefighters are in attendance at the fire at St Simon’s Catholic Church on Bridge Street, Partick.
They were called to the scene at around 2.40am on Wednesday, close to Byres Road and Dumbarton Road.
The Scottish Fire and Rescue service say one person was given precautionary treatment at the scene.
Nearby residents have been advised to keep windows and doors closed and some have been evacuated.
A spokesperson for the SFRS said: “We were alerted at 2.40am on Wednesday, to reports of a fire within a church on Partick Bridge Street, Partick, Glasgow.
“Operations Control mobilised six fire appliances including two height appliances and more than 30 firefighters are in attendance and working to extinguish the fire.
“One person was assisted from the property and given precautionary treatment at the scene. Adjacent properties have been evacuated as a precautionary measure and nearby residents are advised to keep windows and doors closed due to smoke.
“Road users should avoid the area to allow access for emergency service vehicles and due to road closures.
“Crews are expected to remain in attendance for some time.”
Tributes are being paid to the “loved” 162-year-old church.
Robert Hynd, Moderator of the Presbytery of Glasgow (Church of Scotland) said, “It is tragic to see such damage to a proud and historic church building. St Simon’s has an important place in the life of Partick and is particularly loved by members of Glasgow’s Polish community.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the congregation of St Simon’s. Denominations are meaningless at times such as this and we will offer whatever support we can to help in their recovery from this tragic event.”
STV meteorologist Sean Batty said: “The amber warning stretches from Ross-shire through Inverness and over to Aberdeen.
“The rain in the eastern end of the warning area will turn more showery through Wednesday, but some of these showers will be intense and thundery leading to localised issues.
“The most persistent rain through Wednesday and into Thursday will be around Easter Ross, Loch Ness, Inverness and along the Moray coast.
“The persistence of this rain along with some heavy bursts also brings a risk of flooding, with some spots possibly seeing in excess of 60mm of rain – which is a month’s worth today alone. Issues could be exacerbated in towns and Inverness by the recent hot and dry weather, which may have blocked some of our drains.
“Anyone in the amber area concerned about the possibility of flooding issues today or tonight should keep up to date with SEPA’s advice over the next 24 hours.”
Forres, on the Moray coast, is one of the areas to have seen flooding overnight, with the Mosset Tavern closing its beer garden and advising guests to avoid the main entrance.
ScotRail has implemented a number of speed restrictions on routes in the Highlands and north-east until Thursday morning including on the Aberdeen-Inverness line and Highland line line between Perth and Blair Atholl.
Meanwhile, the Scottish Government Resilience Room (Sgorr) has been convened to respond to the alert and ensure preparations are in place.
Deputy first minister John Swinney warned Scots against flooding, saying: “The decision by the Met Office to issue the amber warning for thunderstorms signals a potentially damaging and dangerous risk of flooding in some areas.
“Flooding could happen quickly, even in areas not usually prone to flooding. Some communities might become cut off if roads flood, and power cuts might occur.
“Please take extra care if you are out and about, do not attempt to walk or drive through flood water, avoid camping near watercourses and ensure water conditions are safe if spending time in the water.
Douglas Cairns, Traffic Scotland’s operations support manager, warned drivers of what could be hazardous conditions due to heavy rain.
“It’s important people plan their journeys before they set off and make sure their routes are available,” he added.
“The Traffic Scotland Twitter page is regularly updated and the mobile website, my.trafficscotland.org, lets people get the latest information on the move.
“If you are planning to travel by train, ferry or plane, please check with operators to see if the conditions are having any impact on your services.”
While David Faichney, the duty flooding manager at Sepa said: “It’s important that those out and about, holidaying, engaging in activities near rivers and streams or out hillwalking are aware of the hazards and stay safe.
“Some rivers and streams can rise to dangerous levels very quickly, so avoid camping near water and be very mindful of conditions if considering activities such as swimming or canoeing.
“Fifteen regional flood alerts have been issued, and people living and working in affected areas are advised to plan their journeys and consider the steps they need to take now to be prepared, including keeping flood protection products, such as sandbags, in place in high risk areas.”
Scottish swimmer Duncan Scott has won his second medal of the Olympic Games in the men’s 4×200 metres freestyle relay.
Scott becomes the first Scot to win Gold at Tokyo 2020, but it was a team effort that sealed victory for Team GB at the city’s aquatics centre on Wednesday morning.
Following his victory on Tuesday, Tom Dean became the first British male swimmer to win more than one gold medal at a single Games since 1908.
Dean started solidly if unspectacularly, perhaps feeling the exertions of his recent endeavours, and it was Guy who got Team GB into the lead at halfway before Matthew Richards and Duncan Scott closed the show in style.
The time of six minutes and 58.58 seconds set a new European benchmark and was just three hundredths of a second behind the world record still held by a Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte inspired United States 12 years ago.
It was a special moment for Guy, who won two relay silvers at Rio 2016 and finished fourth in the individual 200m freestyle event there. Having finally scaled the mountain, he was in tears by the time Scott touched the wall.
Scott was runner-up to Dean the day before in a historic one-two finish but the Glaswegian’s effort on Wednesday made sure Britain scooped their third swimming gold at an Olympics for the first time in 113 years.
Dean, who revealed he has had coronavirus twice inside the past year, said: “It feels pretty special. Double Olympic champion sounds pretty good. The last 24 hours have been unreal, a complete whirlwind.
“This was our best, best, best case scenario. The way Jimmy and I have been training in Bath and the times he’s been dropping, I’ve never had a shadow of doubt in my mind and it came together like we knew it would.”
His earlier success was followed by a video emerging showing his family and friends celebrating in his hometown of Maidenhead. Asked whether his latest gold would bring more of the same he replied: “They might be. They love it.”
The Russian Olympic Committee took silver, pipping third-placed Australia by three hundredths of a second, but the teams were more than three seconds behind Britain, thanks to a late surge from Scott.
“It meant quite a lot, (especially to) myself and Jimmy,” said Scott, who now has a gold medal to go with his three Olympic silvers. “It was great to do it with him.”
The United States had won this event at the past four Olympics but, without Phelps and Lochte, they settled for fourth.
A tidal turbine described as the “most powerful” in the world has started generating energy off Orkney.
The O2 has the ability to create two megawatts of energy every year – potentially providing electricity to around 2000 homes.
The company behind the project, Orbital Marine Power, hailed a major step forward for the tidal sector in Scotland.
Chief executive Andrew Scott said: “I’d like to think this is possibly, excuse the pun, turning the tide here a bit.
“We’ve been very much focused on our research and development programme for the last 15 years and developing technologies of this nature in the marine environment is not a job which happens quickly.
“We hope that this is a milestone that triggers a commercial era for the tidal stream sector.”
How does it work?
Assembled by an 80-strong team in Dundee, the O2 is 74 metres long, with ten-meter blades under the water which capture the energy from the powerful tidal stream and change direction depending on the movement of the tide.
Based at a site run by the European Marine Energy Centre at the Falls of Warness, power is then transferred by cable along the seabed to the onshore electricity network.
It’s hoped the technology – launched just months before Glasgow hosts the Cop26 climate conference – could also help create jobs in Scotland.
Orkney already generates more electricity than it needs from renewable sources, but has been unable to export it to the mainland due of a lack of infrastructure.
Hot meal or a bath?
There is a real issue with fuel poverty on the islands, where around 60% of households struggle to heat their homes.
The charity Tackling Household Affordable Warmth (THAW) was set up to help people.
Robert Leslie, from THAW, said: “We had one case where a woman had looked at how much she had left on her prepayment meter and it was enough to either cook a hot meal or have a bath.
“For folk to be having to make choices like that in this day and age is atrocious. It gives an indication of how bad things are for a lot of folk in the islands.
“They certainly don’t recongise Orkney as a great place to live when they are choosing between heating and eating.”
‘Just the start’
The company said that the tidal turbine had the ability to offset around 2200 tonnes of carbon dioxide production every year.
And while the firm realises that tidal will not be the single solution to climate change or reaching net zero, they believe it has a crucial role to play
Mr Scott added: “We believe we can go on and build more of these machines and deploy them in more sites around the UK and ultimately around the world.
“We can see tidal stream play a role in helping to decarbonise the world.”
Gerard Garvey’s mum will never know if her son could have lived longer – but she hopes a new study will help others like him.
He was just 17 when he died in 2008 having been left extremely prone to respiratory illness by a rare chromosome abnormality, which also caused learning disabilities.
It was six months after his birth before he was diagnosed with an ‘uncoordinated swallow’, which meant food was going straight into his lungs.
“If we’d found out earlier, there might have been less damage to his chest,” his mum Mary, from Glasgow, told STV News.
What did the study find?
The Scottish Learning Disabilities Observatory, based at Glasgow University, examined data from more than 90,000 people with learning disabilities over the past 24 years.
It concluded that people with learning disabilities are up to 11 times more likely to die from respiratory disease than the rest of the population and called for action.
For adults with learning disabilities, the risk of death was 6.5 times greater than it was for adults in the general population.
The rate of death from pneumonia was almost 27 times higher.
‘He was amazing’
“Gerard was prone to infections, he was taking one after another,” Mary said. “I’ll always wonder whether, if we knew earlier about the uncoordinated swallow, would it have prevented the chest infections?
“He had multiple complex issues, but we will never know if he could have lived a bit longer.”
Mary recalled how, during his short life, Gerard repeatedly defied doctors’ expectations.
“He was amazing,” she said. “We were told when he was born that we wouldn’t have him for long and that he wouldn’t do anything. Boy, did he prove them wrong.
“He had a condition which meant he couldn’t open his eyelids, but he learned that, if he lifted them with his thumbs, he could see what he was doing and play with his toys.
“Even though he was in a wheelchair, he was very boisterous, into all sorts of mischief.
“He was the centre of the family, he touched so many lives. He was absolutely amazing.”
It’s estimated that more than 120,000 people in Scotland live with a learning disability.
The report’s lead author said many people were dying prematurely and greater awareness needed to be raised in the medical profession.
Dr Maria Truesdale said: “The research highlighted a number of inequalities in the care of people with learning disabilities.
“People with learning disabilities are dying prematurely from causes that could be prevented.
“There is an urgent need for greater understanding and awareness across health and social care of the specific health and care needs of people with learning disabilities, and in particular of the specific risk factors that contribute to premature deaths.
“We must act to now reduce preventable deaths.”
What are researchers calling for?
Raised awareness among doctors of the links between dysphagia and recurrent chest infections
Action to increase uptake of relevant vaccination programmes
Addressing the common risk factors related to a higher risk of respiratory-associated deaths
‘This could help others’
Meanwhile, Mary hopes that with potential health care reforms and more awareness, change will come for those with learning disabilities.
“The study could help another family,” she said. “More research is only a good thing so children and their parents can get the support they deserve.”
A number of police officers are facing months off work after a string of assaults in Tayside.
Six officers have been attacked in the past two weeks, with some suffering serious injuries and requiring long recovery periods.
Police chiefs described the “rising trend” of assaults on officers in the region as “unacceptable”.
‘Attacks hurt families’
“It’s totally unacceptable – it isn’t part of their job to be assaulted,” said Dundee-based Superintendent Iain Wales.
“They are not only a police officer; they are a husband, a wife, a mother, a father, and we are having to send officers home to their families that have been assaulted and the family then have to live with the aftermath of that, it is not acceptable.”
The Scottish Police Federation (SPF) said officers in Tayside were currently at higher risk of assault than those in Scotland’s capital city.
“What we’re seeing is an increase in assaults on police officers across Scotland, but specifically in the Tayside area,” said the SPF’s David Threadgold.
“Statistics will show that you are four times more likely to be assaulted as a police officer in Tayside than you are, for example, in Edinburgh.”
‘Some people think it’s OK’
Assaults on police staff rose by more than six per cent in 2020-21, compared to the previous year, with 6942 incidents being reported.
More than 1000 of them were linked to coronavirus and included spitting and coughing on officers.
But police in Tayside don’t believe the latest spate of assaults can be blamed on the pandemic.
“Yes, spitting has increased during the pandemic, but this is a behavioural thing where people think it’s OK to assault police officers,” said Supt Wales.
“When people join Police Scotland, they don’t join up to be assaulted as part of their daily duties and we will not tolerate that.
“Along with the Courts Service and the Crown Office and the Procurator Fiscal Service, we will take a very robust line on anyone who assaults a police officer.”
Some of the officers have been so badly assaulted that it could take months for them to recover from their injuries, and the psychological damage can be much longer-term.
“It’s the mental impact of it, it’s the change in their behaviour when they go home when they deal with their children and their husband and their wives and what that impact has on them,” said Mr Threadgold.
“We have to get a grip of this and society has to accept that what is going on at the moment cannot be sustained.”
Movies featuring Oscar winner Nicolas Cage and Star Wars star Adam Driver will premiere at this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival.
The 74th edition of the annual event will mix in-person and digital screenings and is the first since the coronavirus pandemic.
It will open with the European premiere of Michael Sarnoski’s Pig, starring Nicolas Cage as a reclusive truffle hunter.
Leos Carax’s Annette, starring Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard and co-written by pop veterans Sparks, will be shown for the first time in the UK, fresh from success at the Cannes festival, where it won Best Director.
A special preview screening of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, with Sharon Horgan and Richard E Grant, and the UK premiere of Here Today from comedy hero Billy Crystal – which will close the festival – will also feature.
The festival will take place from August 18 to 25 and includes 31 new features and 73 shorts, with 18 world premieres.
The majority of screenings will take place at the Filmhouse, with the opening gala and special preview at Festival Theatre and others taking place across Scotland.
Scottish films include the documentary Prince Of Muck and Hebridean drama The Road Dance, based on a book by STV News presenter John MacKay, who also stars.
International movies will focus on issues including refugees, the justice system in Iran and South Africa’s legacy of apartheid.
Culture minister Jenny Gilruth said she is “delighted to welcome the festival back after its absence last year to remind us of the magic of watching films on the big screen.”
Gilruth said: “This year’s festival programme includes an exciting series of screenings, events and networking opportunities, as well as a series of talent development initiatives, which I am pleased to support.
“Through the Scottish Government’s Place programme, over £124,500 has been awarded to the festival to support a range of activity including a talent lab for professional development; script starter, a new screenwriting programme for under-represented writing talent from across Scotland; and a dedicated youth programme, designed to engage young people directly and support aspiring film makers.”
Nick Varley, lead guest programmer of the festival, said: “Despite the obvious challenges of presenting a festival during a pandemic… we are delighted to share this smaller than usual line-up with audiences.
“This year we have worked hard to ensure a diverse range of voices among the UK, European and international premieres, including achieving gender parity in our main selection.
“It’s been a joy working with such a fantastic team of programmers and we hope cinemagoers enjoy the films as much as we enjoyed selecting them.”