Cameron House fire victim’s mum to fight inquiry ruling

Jane Midgley criticises Crown and says she is determined to appeal decision not to hold fatal accident inquiry.

MIDGLEY FAMILY HANDOUT

By Sharon Frew and Kevin Scott

The mother of a man killed in a fire at Cameron House hotel says she still needs answers about her son’s death.

Jane Midgley told STV News she was determined to appeal a decision not to hold a fatal accident inquiry into the fatal blaze on the banks of Loch Lomond in December 2017.

Simon Midgley, 38, and his partner Richard Dyson, 32, died after a fire ripped through the five-star resort.

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Earlier this month, Crown Counsel said there would be no fatal accident inquiry into the cause of the fire, reaching that decision following an investigation that led to two criminal convictions.

The hotel was fined for breaching health and safety laws, while a porter was given a community payback order.

Ms Midgley criticised the Crown Office and said a fatal accident inquiry was in the public interest.

She said: “I’m never going to get justice, but if we can save someone else’s life by having this fatal accident inquiry I’ll feel like I’ve done something.

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“I’ve got to do something for the boys, I can’t just put a full stop and end it.

“I look at his photograph every day and I say ‘Simon, I’m going to fight for you’.

“(I’m determined) more than ever because I know if Simon was here, he would be saying ‘mum, you’ve got to fight, you’ve got to stop this happening again’.

“This (fire) could have been stopped and it wasn’t, they (Cameron House) just carried on and carried on and I don’t just want recommendations – not many people go on recommendations.

“Things have got to be put in law and businesses have got to realise they can’t get away with it through having other things to do.”

Ms Midgley says she has never been able to properly grieve for her son, as she continues to seek face-to-face meetings with the Lord Advocate, fire chiefs and Cameron House officials.

She believes doors have been closed on her every time she has tried to get answers, adding that Crown Office officials told her a fatal accident inquiry was not in the public interest.

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She said: “I was lost for words because once again I just thought ‘after all these years, why did you ask for that meeting (with me), why did you want to know why I wanted a fatal accident inquiry?’.

“I didn’t get my justice in the first place, and I know getting a fatal accident inquiry isn’t getting justice but it’s about looking after everybody else now, everybody else’s future.

STV News
Cameron House: Simon Midgley and Richard Dyson died.

Earlier this year, the hotel’s owner was fined £500,000 and Christopher O’Malley, a night porter who admitted breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act, was given a community payback order.

As a result, Crown Counsel said they were satisfied that the reasons for the fire had been established and that the circumstances of the deaths were publicly identified during the prosecution process.

A spokesperson for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service said: “The FAI decision was communicated to the families of Richard Dyson and Simon Midgley at meetings and both families were advised of their rights to request a review of the decision.

“The family of Mr Midgley have indicated they will exercise their rights to ask for a review of the decision not to hold a fatal accident inquiry into the deaths of Mr Midgley and Mr Dyson.

“Once that request has been received, the review will be conducted by Crown Counsel with no previous involvement in the matter.

“The families of Mr Midgley and Mr Dyson will be advised of the decision following the review.”

As well as the decision not to hold a fatal accident inquiry, Ms Midgley said she was shocked at the fine handed out to the hotel’s owners.

She said: “They could have got fined £750,000 but because they pleaded guilty a couple of days before, the sheriff gave them a reduction of £250,000.

“As a mum, you’re never going to think you’ve got justice – so no fine, no jail sentence will ever be enough, but it just went from bad to worse – from all the failings to the individual just getting a community order, to Cameron House getting a fine but a massive reduction because they pleaded guilty.

Police Scotland
Simon Midgley (Police Scotland/PA)

“What about Simon and Richard? What about my Simon? (I’m) lost for words. Every time I read through the narratives, every time I think back to what happened in that court case, I can’t understand or I just think it’s all so unfair and it’s heartbreaking.

“I have so many questions and obviously now I’m not allowed to ask them until after the review of the fatal accident inquiry, but I think people need to know of all the failings, of everything, and I think people will be totally shocked.

“Any parent that has lost a son, or a daughter, or anybody in that kind of situation, would not be able to understand how they could get away with all these failings – and they were massive failings.”

How did the fire start?

The fire that ripped through five-star Cameron House at around 6.40am on December 18, 2017, was started after ashes were left in a cupboard.

More than 200 guests were evacuated from the building, including a family of two adults and a child who were rescued from the second-floor.

Dumbarton Sheriff Court heard how O’Malley emptied ashes and embers from an open fire in the main reception into a plastic bag before putting them in a cupboard.

Firefighters arrived at the hotel by 6.51am. However, they later had to withdraw from the building as it was showing signs of structural instability.

The fire was not brought under control until the early hours of December 19.

‘Simon was my rock’

Ms Midgley told STV News she has seen the CCTV footage of the ashes being placed in the cupboard, saying that it broke her heart.

“I knew about the ashes in the cupboard for quite a while, but that’s all I knew because I did ask repeatedly ‘what do you mean, ashes in a cupboard?’ but it wasn’t till we came to the court case that we found out all the failings,” she said.

“Why has nobody gone ‘where do we put these ashes?’ and I do believe it’s because a lot of people that work for businesses like that are scared to put a complaint in or they think ‘I’ll leave it for someone else, I don’t want to cause trouble’, but it happened and it took two young, happy, healthy lives away for no reason at all.

“Simon was my rock. Both boys were so loving, kind and caring – they didn’t have a bad bone in their body.

“Everybody that met them always said what wonderful people they were and they were just in the prime of life – they were just enjoying life and wanted to look after everybody.

“It was in their nature and, gone, just like that… they had so many dreams for the future.

“I’ve never known such a pain and it never goes away. Even three-and-a-half years later, the pain is just as hard as it was on day one.”

Election 2021: Live results as more seats declared

Final results due to be declared throughout Saturday.

Peter Summers via Getty Images

A second day of counting is ongoing across Scotland in the 2021 Holyrood election.

With the normal overnight count cancelled to ensure Covid safety, it will be later on Saturday or possibly Sunday before the final results are known.

The SNP have claimed 52 of the 61 seats declared so far, with results due for the remaining constituencies and regions over the next few hours.

You can follow all the results as they happen right here.

Constituency seat results

ConstituencyResults (Turnout)
Aberdeen CentralSNP HOLD (56%)
Aberdeen DonsideSNP HOLD (58.2%)
Aberdeenshire EastSNP HOLD (64%)
Aberdeen South
& North Kincardine
SNP HOLD (64%)
Airdrie & ShottsSNP HOLD (59%)
Almond ValleySNP HOLD (61%)
Angus North
& Mearns
SNP HOLD (64%)
Argyll & ButeSNP HOLD (68%)
AyrSNP GAIN (68%)
Banffshire
& Buchan Coast
SNP HOLD (56%)
Caithness Sutherland
& Ross
SNP HOLD (65%)
Carrick, Cumnock
& Doon Valley
SNP HOLD (59%)
Clackmannanshire
& Dunblane
SNP HOLD (66%)
Clydebank & MilngavieSNP HOLD (70.8%)
Coatbridge & ChrystonSNP HOLD (63%)
CowdenbeathSNP HOLD (61%)
Cumbernauld & KilsythSNP HOLD (65.2%)
Cunninghame NorthSNP HOLD (64%)
Cunninghame SouthSNP HOLD (58%)
DumbartonLabour HOLD (68%)
DumfriesshireConservatives HOLD (66%)
Dundee City EastSNP HOLD (58%)
Dundee City WestSNP HOLD (57%)
DunfermlineSNP HOLD (66%)
East LothianSNP GAIN (69%)
EastwoodConservatives HOLD (76%)
Edinburgh CentralSNP GAIN (63%)
Edinburgh SouthernLabour HOLD (71%)
Edinburgh WesternLib Dems HOLD (71%)
Ettrick, Roxburgh
& Berwickshire
Conservatives HOLD (64%)
Falkirk EastSNP HOLD (63%)
Falkirk WestSNP HOLD (62%)
Glasgow
Anniesland
SNP HOLD (58%)
Glasgow Maryhill
& Springburn
SNP HOLD (52%)
Glasgow PollokSNP HOLD (55%)
Glasgow ProvanSNP HOLD (52%)
Glasgow SouthsideSNP HOLD (59%)
Greenock
& Inverclyde
SNP HOLD (63%)
Hamilton, Larkhall
& Stonehouse
SNP HOLD (61%)
Inverness & NairnSNP HOLD (64%)
Kilmarnock
& Irvine Valley
SNP HOLD (61.5%)
KirkcaldySNP HOLD (57%)
LinlithgowSNP HOLD (62.2%)
Mid Fife & GlenrothesSNP HOLD (58.9%)
Midlothian North
& Musselburgh
SNP HOLD (61%)
MoraySNP HOLD (65%)
Motherwell and WishawSNP HOLD (59%)
Na h-Eileanan an IarSNP HOLD (66%)
North East FifeLib Dems HOLD (69%)
Orkney IslandsLib Dems HOLD (65.4%)
PaisleySNP HOLD (62%)
Perthshire NorthSNP HOLD (70%)
Perthshire South & Kinross-shireSNP HOLD (70%)
Renfrewshire North
& West
SNP HOLD (68%)
Renfrewshire SouthSNP HOLD (65%)
RutherglenSNP HOLD (63%)
Shetland IslandsLib Dems HOLD (66%)
Skye, Lochaber
& Badenoch
SNP HOLD (68%)
StirlingSNP HOLD (69%)
Strathkelvin
& Bearsden
SNP HOLD (72%)
Uddingston & BellshillSNP HOLD (61%)

Suspicious ballot paper seized by police at Edinburgh count

A suspected case of personation was reported in the Holyrood election in the Edinburgh Northern and Leith constituency.

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A possible case of personation is being investigated by police at the Edinburgh count.

A possible case of electoral fraud is being investigated by police at the Edinburgh count for the Holyrood election.

A suspicious ballot paper was seized after a would-be voter in the Edinburgh Northern and Leith constituency tried to vote, only to be stopped because someone had already cast a ballot in their name.

Candidates and polling agents were summoned on Saturday morning as counting got under way in Edinburgh to witness count staff and police attempt to track down the vote in question.

Depute returning officer Chris Highcock confirmed that the vote allegedly cast in someone else’s name – a crime known as personation – had been located and was being investigated by police.

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The votes cast in another person’s name will still be counted in the final tallies in case it turns out to be genuine, Mr Highcock said, but it has now been removed and placed in an evidence bag should police need to test for fingerprints.

The person who was unable to vote would have been able to secretly write who they intended to vote for in a sealed envelope which could then be revealed in the event of a legal challenge or court case.

The potential case of electoral fraud occurred at St Serf’s Church in Ferry Road, Inverleith, on polling day.

Mr Highcock said: “In this case, it looks like someone has turned up pertaining to be somebody else and they have been issued with the vote having said ‘Yeah, I’m that person’.

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“In cases like that, it’s important to the police because it’s a crime to pretend to be somebody else and get their vote.

“What happens then is that the ballot paper is traced, the ballot paper is taken out the box, it is put in an evidence bag and the police hold that and they do an investigation, to try and find out who it was and see what happened.”

He added: “Because it involves the ballot box, we’ve got to have candidates, agents and police there, so as we did that there were lots of people watching and it was in full view of any observers who need to be there.”

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “Police have received a report of voter personation which occurred at a polling station in St Serf’s Church, Edinburgh.

“Inquiries are ongoing to establish the full circumstances surrounding the incident.”

The Edinburgh probe comes after police launched an investigation earlier into a report of possible electoral fraud in West Dunbartonshire.

Police Scotland said inquiries are ongoing into a report of voter personation at a polling station in St Patrick’s Primary School in Dumbarton.

Services cancelled as ‘cracks found’ on high-speed trains

Trains serving Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Inverness and Glasgow have been affected, with some services delayed or cancelled.

PA via PA Media
Disruption: High-speed trains taken out of service.

Rail passengers are being urged not to travel after a number of high-speed trains were taken out of service after ‘cracks were found’.

LNER trains serving Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Inverness and Glasgow have been affected by the issue on Saturday, with some services delayed or cancelled.

The Class 800 Hitachi trains were taken out of service as a “precautionary measure”.

Network Rail said some Great Western Railway (GWR), Hull Trains, London North Eastern Railway (LNER) and TransPennine Express (TPE) trains of the Hitachi 800 model were taken out of service.

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Great Western Railway said cracks were detected on “more than one” Hitachi 800 train, so all 93 Hitachi 800s in their fleet are being inspected as a “precaution”.

A spokesman said: “There’s a crack that’s been spotted and as a result of that – as a precaution – we’re checking all the trains, and while that’s taking place it’s better that they’re not used.

“It’s been found in more than one train, but we don’t know exactly how many trains because the fleet is still being inspected.”

Asked how long the disruption will last, the GWR spokesman said: “It’s a question of how quickly the trains can be inspected – it’s highly likely that it will certainly persist through to the end of today.

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“Once more inspection has been carried out we’ll have a better understanding as to whether that disruption is going to continue into tomorrow.”

The spokesman added that the issue is affecting long-distance journeys between cities, which are being refunded, but that suburban and rural GWR services are still running as normal.

A LNER spokesperson said: “A number of Class 800 series Hitachi trains from several train companies have been taken out of service today for checks as a precautionary measure. 

“This problem is being investigated by Hitachi and once trains have been checked, we hope to be able to release them back into service as soon as possible. 

“This could affect a significant number of our services and passengers are advised not to travel today.”

Mick Lynch, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, said: “RMT is fully aware of the issues that have led to the cancellation of services on LNER today and that similar problems with cracks appearing in the fleet on Great Western are also emerging.

“Hitachi needs to ensure the highest safety standards and properly investigate and rectify the issues.”

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Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association, said passengers should not be charged extra in future to pay for repairs.

“It’s welcome news that railway engineering staff have found these cracks before they led to an accident,” he said.

“This rolling stock must not be allowed back into service until we are 100% certain these trains are safe.

“It’s important to point out that the affected trains are relatively new, in which case the manufacturers should foot the bill for any repairs, not passengers or taxpayers.”

Hitachi Rail has apologised for the disruption caused.

A spokesman said: “We are working with all partners to resolve this issue as quickly and safely as possible.

“We would like to offer our sincerest apologies to passengers for the impact this may be causing for their travel plans.”


Lib Dems candidate misses election count to give birth

Aude Boubaker-Calder is being induced at the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy on Saturday.

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Scottish Lib Dems: Aude Boubaker-Calder has had to miss the Holyrood election count.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats candidate for Dunfermline has apologised for being unable to see the result in person – because she is in hospital about to give birth.

Aude Boubaker-Calder, who is married to Fife councillor James Calder, is being induced at the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy on Saturday after reaching the 42-week milestone without any signs of arrival.

In a statement, she said: “I was hoping to be able to be present during the results on Saturday but our little bundle of joy has decided otherwise and I will need to be induced this weekend as I am reaching the 42-weeks milestone.”

Boubaker-Calder had been due to give birth to her child around a week before the election.

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Speaking around three weeks ago, she said: “I’m expecting a child in the next couple of weeks – we don’t know what it is yet.

“It’s really important to me that I am engaged, as a feminist, in politics because the issue of women in politics is so important.

“We’ve seen accounts of women working in politics and motherhood at the same time – just look at the prime minister of New Zealand [Jacinda Ahern] who was in exactly the same situation as me.”

The count is currently ongoing for Dunfermline at Glenrothes’ Michael Woods Sports Centre.

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By local democracy reporter Jon Brady


Mother’s fundraising plea to help daughter be able to walk

Four-year-old Ella has diplegic cerebral palsy and her family hope she can have surgery next year.

Tree of Hope via Email
Ella: Plea for funds to help youngster be able to walk.

A mother whose fiancé died suddenly of heart failure at the beginning of the pandemic needs to raise £35,000 to help her four-year-old daughter walk.   

Ella and her twin Aaron were born prematurely at 26 weeks and aged two, Ella was diagnosed with diplegic cerebral palsy and uses a walker to get around.  

Mum Jennifer Faulds, 45, is hoping her daughter can have Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy surgery in early 2022.

However the family need to raise £35,000 to cover the specialised physiotherapy Ella will need after the operation.  

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Jennifer recently relocated to Bearsden, East Dunbartonshire where her Mum lives after the sudden death of her fiancé Alex Williams, 47, in May 2020, just before they were to move into their dream family home in Hither Green, London, with their twins.   

“Alex had heart problems which were being monitored but his hospital check-up just before he died was cancelled due to Covid,” Jennifer said.

“One day he went round to his old flat which he still owned and never came back. His brother found him dead with the TV still on.

“I realised I would need more support, especially with Ella’s surgery coming up, so once I’d checked that her needs could be catered for here, I cancelled the house purchase and have temporarily moved in with my mother while I look for something to buy.

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“People have been incredibly helpful – I recently bought Ella a special trike but it was in Portsmouth and the delivery charges I was being quoted were shocking. But then The Home Removals Company who looked after our move from London to Scotland offered to bring it up for free – even picking it up from Portsmouth.’ 

Tree of Hope via Email
Ella with twin brother Aaron

“Ella is a typical four-year-old who likes Paw Patrol and PJ Masks and loves putting on shows for us with characters from these programmes. 

“She also loves horse riding with Riding for the Disabled. Her brother Aaron is very sweet and gentle with her, bringing her things that she can’t easily get for herself, for example.

“But it is frustrating for her not being able to do everything he is able to do and while she will never be able to do everything he does, the operation and following physio may allow her to walk independently and enable her to do so much more.”

Following the operation Ella will need private physio up to five times a week for at least two years.  

The family are being supported by Children’s charity Tree of Hope, which helps families fundraise for children like Ella with healthcare needs and provides charity status to benefit from gift aid, corporate support whilst also providing donor reassurance.   

Tree of Hope CEO Gill Gibb said: ‘“We are delighted to be supporting Jennifer in her fundraising and wish her and her family all the best.”

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To support Ella, please visit the Tree of Hope website.


Ballot counting to resume as SNP majority hangs in balance

The SNP currently have 39 seats, Liberal Democrats four, Conservatives three and Labour two.

Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images

Counting is set to resume in the Scottish Parliament election on Saturday, as an SNP majority hangs in the balance. 

On Friday 48 of the 73 constituency results were declared, with the SNP taking 39 seats, Liberal Democrats four, Conservatives three and Labour two.

The SNP picked up key seats in Edinburgh Central, Ayr and East Lothian.

However under Holyrood’s proportional representation system, those successes could see the party lose out on the regional list which make up the remaining 56 seats.

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Due to the coronavirus pandemic, traditional overnight counts were abandoned in favour of a longer counting process over a number of days to allow for social distancing. 

The SNP need 65 seats to achieve an outright majority in the Scottish Parliament, and if successful, could see the party call for a second independence referendum. 

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said on Friday that she would offer Scots “the choice of a better future” in a second independence referendum “when the time is right”.

Seat-by-seat results (After 48 of 129 seats declared)

  • SNP – 39
  • Lib Dems – 4
  • Conservatives – 3
  • Labour – 2
  • Greens – 0
  • Other – 0

On Friday, Labour’s Jackie Baillie held on to her Dumbarton constituency – which had been the most marginal seat in all of Scotland and a top target for the SNP.

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Baillie had a majority of just 109 from the 2016 Scottish Parliament election, but increased that to 1483.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar lost out to Sturgeon in Glasgow Southside but said he was pleased to increase his party’s share of the vote in the constituency.

Labour’s Daniel Johnson held Edinburgh Southern on 20,760 votes to SNP candidate Catriona MacDonald’s 16,738.

But Labour’s Martin Whitfield lost East Lothian to the SNP’s Paul McLennan.

Former Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw increased his majority in Eastwood as did Oliver Mundell in Dumfriesshire.

Rachael Hamilton also held Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire for the Tories, although with a reduced majority.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats retained all four of their constituency seats with leader Willie Rennie increasing his majority in North East Fife, as did Alex Cole-Hamilton in Edinburgh Western.

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However there was disappointment for the party in Caithness, Sutherland & Ross and Shetland – which they failed to take from the SNP.

Elsewhere, former first minister and Alba Party leader Alex Salmond said the measure of his party’s success would be “our existence as a political party”, adding it is “here to stay”.


Man charged over quad bike crash after passenger injured

A 31-year-old man has been arrested and charged in connection with the incident.

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Crash: Passenger treated in hospital for serious injuries following the incident.

A man has been charged following a road crash involving a quad bike which left a passenger in a serious condition in hospital.

The crash occurred on Thursday around 6.45am on the roundabout at Kenilworth Avenue, Wishaw, near the junction with Lammermoor Terrace.

The passenger of the quad bike sustained serious head injuries and is being treated at the Queen Elizabeth II University Hospital in Glasgow.

The 36-year-old remains in a serious but stable condition.

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A 31-year-old man has been arrested and charged in connection with the incident.

He is due to appear at Hamilton Sheriff Court at a later date.

Sergeant Scott Sutherland, of the road policing unit, said: “I would like to thank everyone who assisted us in our investigation into this incident.”


First look at gentoo penguin chicks at Edinburgh Zoo

The first two eggs hatched on May 1 to parents Muffin and Mittens.

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Cute: The first two eggs hatched on May 1 to parents Muffin and Mittens.

The first images of this year’s newly-hatched gentoo penguin chicks have been captured at Edinburgh Zoo. 

Staff at the wildlife conservation charity were delighted to report nine chicks have emerged so far and hope more will follow in the coming weeks.

The first two eggs hatched on May 1 to parents Muffin and Mittens.

Cute: The first two eggs hatched on May 1 to parents Muffin and Mittens.

The first month is critical and keepers will be keeping a close eye on the new arrivals.  

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Gentoo chicks weigh around 98g when they hatch, which is the equivalent to half an avocado.  

Keen penguin cam viewers have been able to catch a glimpse of the youngsters on the charity’s live website camera and visitors hoping to see the chicks in-person must pre-book zoo tickets before their visit.

Airport gives heads-up for increased military flight activity

The public has been warned to expect war planes to be performing manoeuvres throughout May.

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Chinooks: Resident spotted the aircraft hovering above Prestwick in March.

A pensioner is delighted Prestwick Airport has let residents know in advance there will be more military flights in the area this month. 

Martin Dorans, an unpaid carer, raised concerns about a lack of notice regarding low flying aircraft at night in the town. 

Speaking on behalf of a number of residents, the community council member appealed for a heads-up on future exercises.

And his concerns seem to have been addressed after the airport issued an update on Thursday, May 6, telling people to expect more war plane activity in the coming weeks. 

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Mr Dorans, 68, said: “I would like to thank Prestwick Airport for having the courtesy to inform us about future military activities.”

He described seeing three Chinooks hovering above the Prestwick area up to 10.30pm during an evening in March.

Mr Dorans said there had been half a dozen incidents since January up until then.

It is understood the helicopters were taking park in defence training operation Exercise Chameleon.

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A Prestwick Airport social media post said: “Glasgow Prestwick Airport would like to make local residents and the general public aware that throughout this month, May 2021, and the beginning of June there will be an increase of Military flight activity around the airport.

It added: “The airport will be supporting UK and NATO Military training exercises.

“Glasgow Prestwick Airport will work alongside personnel taking part in the exercises to ensure there is minimal disruption to local residents during this period.”

Story by local democracy reporter Sarah Hilley


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