Plans to make Glasgow world’s second National Park City

Council officials are in discussion with the Glasgow National Park City campaign group.

Glasgow: Council in discussion with campaign group. Georgeclerk via IStock
Glasgow: Council in discussion with campaign group.

Plans are being considered to turn Glasgow into a ‘National Park City’ – with commitments to make it greener and better connected to nature. 

London was the first in the world to declare the status in 2019. 

Council officials are now in discussion with the Glasgow National Park City campaign group who are promoting the concept. 

Aims include making the city a place where children can learn and have fun in nature every day and everyone being engaged with the outdoors. Other objectives include the city having clean, healthy air and water and for all residents to be able to access sustainable travel.


Councillors were presented with the potential scheme at the environment, sustainability and carbon reduction city policy committee last week. 

Glasgow City Council landscape design and development manager Rachel Smith said: “The potential for declaring a national park city presents an opportunity for Glasgow to join an emerging international network of cities committed to this concept.”

Ms Smith said the aims of the group have the potential to build on the council’s work so far on biodiversity, pollination, and open space strategy.

Describing the idea as “positive,” Committee chair councillor Angus Millar, SNP said: “We are very keen to sign up to in principle. It is about moving it forward and doing the work required to explore it further.”


Councillors will receive an update to the committee at a later date with further details after more discussions take place with the Glasgow National Park City campaign group.

Labour councillor Matt Kerr said: “I am absolutely delighted we are going this direction in Glasgow. Of course there is a lot of work to do. It wouldn’t be worth doing otherwise. It is very encouraging. I’m 100 per cent behind this and good luck to all involved.”

The Glasgow National Park City campaign group website said the concept is about using the “familiar idea of a national park to inspire a shared vision for Glasgow, as a greener, healthier and wilder city for everyone – where people places and nature are better connected.” 

In order to gain the status, Glasgow must complete an application process to the National Park City Foundation.

Story by local democracy reporter Sarah Hilley

Fatal stabbing of MP Sir David Amess declared terrorist incident

The 69-year-old was fatally injured while meeting constituents at Belfairs Methodist Church in Essex.

UK Parliament via Website
Sir David Amess MP was fatally stabbed as he held a surgery in his Southend West constituency.

The fatal stabbing of Conservative MP Sir David Amess has been declared a terrorist incident, the Metropolitan Police has confirmed.

The 69-year-old, who had been an MP since 1983, was fatally injured while meeting constituents at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea near Southend at midday on Friday.

In a statement, the Met said Senior National Coordinator for Counter Terrorism Policing, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon, had formally declared the incident as terrorism.

The investigation is being led by counter-terrorism officers.


The early investigation has revealed “a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism”, the force said.

A 25-year-old man arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder is in custody at an Essex police station.

Official sources told the PA news agency the man is believed to be a British national with Somali heritage.

As part of the investigation, officers were also carrying out searches at two addresses in the London area, the Met said.


The force believe the man acted alone and are not seeking anyone else in connection with the matter at this time, but inquiries into the circumstances of the incident are continuing.

According to reports, the knifeman was waiting among a group of people to see Sir David at the church and launched the attack shortly after the MP arrived.

Local councillor John Lamb, who arrived at the scene shortly after the incident, told the Daily Mail Sir David was with two female members of staff – one from his constituency office and one from his parliamentary office – when a man “literally got a knife out and just began stabbing him”.

Home secretary Priti Patel has asked all police forces to review security arrangements for MPs “with immediate effect” following the attack.

Chief constable of Essex Police Ben-Julian Harrington said 69-year-old Southend West MP Sir David was “simply dispensing his duties when his life was horrifically cut short”.

Tory veteran Sir David, who was described by Prime Minister Boris Johnson as “one of the kindest, nicest, most gentle people in politics”, had been an MP since 1983 and was married with five children.

Patel met police and representatives of the security and intelligence agencies after the stabbing, which took place as Sir David held a surgery in his Southend West constituency.


“The Home Secretary has asked all police forces to review security arrangements for MPs with immediate effect and will provide updates in due course,” the spokesman for Patel said.

The Daily Telegraph said the review would examine Operation Bridger, a nationwide police protective security operation established in 2016 after several threats to MPs following Parliamentary debates on Syria.

Patel will make a statement to Parliament on the review on Monday, The Times reported.

The attack on Sir David came just five-and-a-half years after Labour MP Jo Cox was killed by a far right extremist in her Batley and Spen constituency in West Yorkshire.

The Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said police were contacting all MPs to check on their security in the wake of Sir David’s killing.

“It is about doing the right things working with the police constabularies right across the United Kingdom because it is about joining that up,” Sir Lindsay told BBC2’s Newsnight.

“I know that they are contacting all the MPs to check about their safety, to reassure them, because in the end we have got to make sure that is a priority.”

He added: “Those people who do not share our values or share democracy, they will not win and we won’t let them win. We will continue to look at security, that is ongoing and it will continue.”

Sir Lindsay said earlier that while it was right that security was reviewed following the latest incident, it was important to avoid “knee-jerk” reactions.

He told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme: “What we want to do is make sure MPs can carry out their duties. We have got to make sure MPs are safe.”

His sentiments were echoed by the the Father of the House – the longest-serving sitting MP – Sir Peter Bottomley.

“I predict all over the country this weekend, next weekend and in the months to come, MPs will hold advice sessions. That is what we do,” he told the PA news agency.

“There is no perfect security for anybody. My view has always been that in many other walks of life you are at far greater risk than a Member of Parliament.

“MPs may get exceptional publicity. We are not exceptional people. We’re ordinary people trying to do an ordinary job as well as we can. We accept the risks.

“The question is – should MPs stop meeting their constituents face-to-face? The answer is we will go on meeting our constituents face-to-face.”

Man admits raping and murdering pensioner in her own home

Jason Graham killed Esther Brown at her Glasgow home before purchasing cigarettes using her bank card earlier this year.

STV News / Woodlands Community Development Trust via Website

A man has pleaded guilty to the rape and murder of a pensioner who was found dead in her home.

Jason Graham, 30, appeared at the High Court in Glasgow on Friday, where he admitted to assaulting and killing Esther Brown.

The court heard Graham then purchased a packet of cigarettes using the victim’s bank card following the murder.

The 67-year-old’s body was found at her address in West Princes Street in Woodlands, Glasgow, on Tuesday, June 1 after she had been missing for four days.


A week after the last sighting of her, officers arrested and charged Graham over her death.

The court heard the accused had a previous conviction for attacking and raping an older woman in 2013 and was sentenced to seven years in prison.

He was released in 2018 before his licence expired in 2020 and he has been a registered sex offender since.

Police Scotland
Jason Graham has been convicted of rape and murder.

Ms Brown has been described as a “much loved and active member of the community” and was devoted to St Silas Church.


In a statement read out in court, friends described her life as “full and rewarding” and “dedicated to helping others”.

Addressing Graham in court, judge Lord Armstrong said: “You now stand convicted of the gravest of crimes involving the most depraved actions on your part, characterised by utter brutality, extreme and sustained violence against a defenceless woman in her own home.”

Defence lawyer Brian McConnachie QC told the court Graham had “no recollection” of the attack, but has “insight” into the impact Ms Brown’s death has had on the community.

He said the accused is on medication for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in relation to a “traumatic childhood event”, and that he had consumed “a substantial” amount of alcohol on the night he broke into Ms Brown’s property.

Mr McConnachie said: “It seems to be clear that the combination of the drugs and alcohol have contributed to the offences.”

After drinking in a nearby pub, Graham accessed Ms Brown’s property through an open door into the building’s stairwell before knocking on her door.

The court heard the two were not known to each other.


Following the murder, Graham returned to a relative’s property and told his cousin he had “done something bad” and said “they are coming for me”, the court heard.

People in the community known to Ms Brown grew concerned for her welfare after she failed to show up to an organised walk and her regular church service.

Friends visited her home, but called the police before entering the property as they “sensed something was wrong”.

Ms Brown was found dead with multiple lacerations and bruises to her body.

Prosecutor Alex Prentice QC said a postmortem examination showed signs that Ms Brown was “fighting for her life” during the attack and had injuries “consistent with sexual assault”.

He said the victim suffered “sustained beating from pieces of wood from a broken chair” that was damaged during the incident.

Lord Armstrong deferred sentence on Graham until November 12 at the High Court in Edinburgh for reports, including on his psychiatric history.

Graham, who appeared in court wearing a blue jumper and blue jeans, remains subject to Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009.

Speaking to STV News, detective superintendent Suzie Chow said: “Jason Graham is a dangerous predator and thankfully he has now been arrested and convicted for this crime.

“It’s been a really devastating time for Esther’s family and the community of Woodlands.

“She was a much-loved and much well-respected member of the community there and the family have had a real tough time coming to terms with what’s happened to Esther.

“Esther was a major part in the community.

“She worked for voluntary organisations and helped out in charities and the community garden within Woodlands.

“And the community itself gathered round after this brutal attack. The community came together, they assisted the police in their investigation and supported the police and the family throughout that time, so I’d like to thank the community for their help and assistance.”

Dr Annie Gemmill, a friend of Ms Brown, paid tribute to her ahead of Friday’s hearing.

She said Ms Brown was “a single lady but she had a great love”, adding “no one’s life should ever be ended as hers was, and we miss her so much.”

Military drafted in to help two under-pressure NHS boards

NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Borders are facing 'significant' strain.

MOD Crown Copyright. via
Military assistance to ease the pressure on two NHS health boards.

The Scottish Government has requested military assistance to ease the “unprecedentedpressure on two NHS health boards.

NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Borders are facing “significant” strain due to a rise in Covid-19 admissions and a backlog in care.

NHS Lanarkshire will receive three nurses, 45 military medics, 12 general duties troops and three drivers who will be working in acute settings.

NHS Borders will receive 14 military medics, two nurses and four additional military personnel will provide assistance in acute settings.


Two military medics will oversee operations from the army’s headquarters in Scotland at Redford Barracks in Edinburgh.

The support personnel will be from the Royal Navy but the medically qualified staff will be from the Army.

Judith Park, director of Acute Services at NHS Lanarkshire, said the “very welcome” assistance would be in place across the board’s Monklands, Hairmyres and Wishaw hospitals.

The 86 personnel in total will arrive in Scotland on Sunday, October 17, and are currently set to begin work on Tuesday, October 19.


The Ministry of Defense said support would initially be provided until November 10, but this will be reviewed nearer that date.

The military is already providing 114 personnel as drivers for the Scottish Ambulance Service and 111 at Covid-19 Mobile Testing Units.

Brigadier Ben Wrench, commander of Joint Military Command Scotland, said: “The Armed Forces in Scotland as always stand ready to support civil society in Scotland and the rest of the UK.

“The ability of trained military healthcare professionals and their support team to deploy at short notice and provide short term support to cover a critical gap shows the utility of the Armed Forces and the strength of the ongoing relationship with partner civilian organisations.”

Health secretary Humza Yousaf said the NHS was experiencing unprecedented pressure due to coronavirus admissions and a backlog in care.

“In the NHS Borders and NHS Lanarkshire areas, staff shortages because of Covid-19 are affecting bed capacity and temporary military assistance has been requested to support the boards at this time,” he said.

“With increasing levels of social mixing and close social contact it is expected that this winter COVID-19 will circulate alongside respiratory viruses, such as flu, adding to the winter pressures usually faced by the NHS.

‘Guide Dogs gave me my life back’: Charity celebrates 90th birthday

At 23-years-old, Scott Cunningham thought his life was over until he met his first guide dog.

STV News

In the space of three weeks in 1993, Scott Cunningham lost his sight.

The 23-year-old lay in pain in a bed at what was then the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow.

“My optic nerves had died away suddenly due to this condition that I’ve got,” he told STV News.

“Basically, my world had caved in because there was no future. There was no real reason to continue on with life, to be fair.

Guide Dogs via Handout
Then and now – development of services showing My Sighted Guide.

“You know, I had a car in the driveway I had a job, I had everything to live for and then all of sudden I had to try and accept being a member of the blind community.”

Now 51-years-old, Mr Cunningham remembered how he struggled to come to terms with the loss of his sight.

He was living like a “hermit”, too scared to leave his home and drinking heavily to deal with how he felt.

But in 1995 something changed.

“I started building up trust, confidence in this amazing creature who became my best friend.”

Scott Cunningham

One of only two Guide Dogs charity centres in the country was ten minutes from his parents’ home and he had been invited to come and train with them.

“I remember vividly the first walk, with the harness on, Debbie the trainer let go of her lead, my right arm went out rigid, I was beyond petrified”, he said.

“I grew a bit of a backbone, and I started building up trust, confidence in this amazing creature who became my best friend, gave me the confidence, gave me the mobility, gave me my independence back.

“I was able to go to shops, be able to go to pubs, restaurants myself, be able to get fit again, lose that massive amount of weight I’d put on.”

Guide Dogs via Handout
Then and now – road crossing

Thanks to his first guide dog Ike, Mr Cunningham was able to go back to full-time education and he completed an HND course.

He went on to return to employment and said it was all thanks to Guide Dogs.

Mr Cunningham has just completed a twelve marathon challenge and to date has raised more than £350,000 for the charity.


The organisation began 90 years ago, initially helping soldiers blinded in the first world war.

Guide Dogs via Handout
Historical shot of guide dog training

Now in the 21st Century, roads are a lot busier but the basic principles remain.

With new services, new technologies, staff, dogs, and supporters, Guide Dogs plans to double the number of people it helps by 2023.

As the charity marks its birthday, it is asking for the public’s support to help people with sight loss live the lives they choose by joining its Guide Dogs 90 Appeal.

For more information click here.

Missing mother and son found safe after police search

Officers had become increasingly concerned for their welfare.

MarioGuti via IStock
Police have located missing mother and son.

A mother and son who were missing in the Highlands have been found safe and well after a police search.

Concerned officers appealed for help to find Linda Newlands, 30, and her 10-year-old son.

The pair were last seen in Dingwall on Wednesday at approximately 7.40pm, with police suggesting they may have travelled to Edinburgh.

On Saturday morning, Police Scotland announced that the pair had been located.


A statement from the force said: “Thank you to everyone who shared and responded to our appeal.”

More on:

Guest actors revealed for upcoming Doctor Who series

The series will begin later this month.

BrendanHunter via IStock
Jodie Whittaker, Mandip Gill, John Bishop and Jacob Anderson will return to the show for the 13th series.

Robert Bathurst, Thaddea Graham and Blake Harrison are among the guest actors who will be appearing in the upcoming series of Doctor Who.

They will be joining regular stars Jodie Whittaker, Mandip Gill, John Bishop and Jacob Anderson in the show for the 13th series, titled Doctor Who: Flux.

The series will begin later this month on BBC One.

Toast Of London star Bathurst, The Irregulars star Graham and The Inbetweeners actor Harrison will be joined by Downton Abbey’s Kevin McNally and Line Of Duty star Craig Parkinson in the new series.


Unforgotten actress Sara Powell, The Split’s Annabel Scholey, Cold Feet actor Gerald Kyd and The Crown’s Penelope McGhie will also feature.

Executive producer Matt Strevens said: “I can’t wait for the audience to come on the Flux ride with us.

“It’s our biggest adventure yet with so many brilliant characters to fall in love with.

“We had a blast making it.”


Whittaker, who has played the Time Lord since 2017, said in July she will be leaving the sci-fi drama.

She will feature in the upcoming series before exiting the BBC show in a trio of specials next year.

The first special will air on New Year’s Day 2022, the second will be later in the spring and the third, when the Doctor will regenerate, will air in autumn 2022 and will form part of the BBC’s centenary celebrations.

The new series of Doctor Who begins on October 31.

Several major tourist attractions to be closed during COP26

Glasgow Life say six sites will be closed to 'minimise disruption' during UN climate change conference.

georgeclerk via IStockPhoto
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum will be closed during COP26.

Several major tourist attractions in Glasgow will close during the UN climate summit being hosted on the banks of the Clyde.

Glasgow Life, which runs the city’s culture and leisure venues, announced six sites would be closed to “minimise disruption” during COP26.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, the Riverside Transport Museum and the Gallery of Modern Art will be closed throughout the conference.

GlasgowLife via GlasgowLife
The Gallery of Modern Art

A statement from the organisation said COP26 would have an “inevitable” impact on operations in the city.


But across the venues that have reopened since the easing of coronavirus restrictions, Glasgow Life said it hoped to “operate business as usual as far as possible”.

Glasgow Life, which runs the venues on behalf of the city council, said it had lost £38m due to the closure of venues during the pandemic.

Hundreds of jobs are to be cut at the organisation which runs libraries and sports centres, due to its struggling finances.

GlasgowLife via GlasgowLife
Riverside Museum

Glasgow is set to see “extreme” traffic disruption as a large area of the city centre is to be locked down during the United Nations climate summit.


COP26 is being hosted by the River Clyde at the Scottish Exhibition Centre and routes around the area will be closed on the lead-up to the conference as well as during, between October 31 and November 12, and afterwards.

As well as pressure from road users, up to 100,000 people are expected to take part in an activist march on November 6, with other “unofficial fringe activity” possible throughout the twelve days.

The Riverside Museum will be closed from Saturday, October 23, until Tuesday, November 16, the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum’s doors will be shut from October 28 to November 14, and the Gallery of Modern Art in the city centre will close on October 31 not to reopen until November 14.

Kelvin Hall will be closed from October 28 to November 1 and the Kelvingrove Lawn Bowls and Tennis Centre will also be shut from October 31 to November 2.

The People’s Palace, which is closed for “essential maintenance”, will remain shut to the public.

The Emirates Arena will remain open throughout but may be busier than usual as certain areas will be supporting the delivery of COP26.

Glasgow Life said all the dates were subject to change as citing requirements for the climate summit and the major security operation surrounding the event.

New digital system could resolve criminal cases ‘quicker’

The Scottish Government has issued a contract worth £10m to pilot an evidence sharing system.

Paul Devlin via SNS Group
The new system will be piloted in spring 2022.

An evidence sharing system is to be piloted next year which will resolve criminal cases quicker and lead to potentially fewer trials, according to the Scottish Government.

Axon Public Safety UK Ltd has been contracted by the Scottish Government to deliver the Digital Evidence Sharing Capability service (DESC).

The contract, worth £10m, will see the new system piloted in spring 2022.

It will change how evidence is collected, managed and shared – allowing police officers, prosecutors, court staff and defence agents to access evidence digitally.


The Scottish Government said it will reduce costs involved in managing and transporting evidence such as CCTV footage, video interviews and physical forensic images.

It said the system will lead to quicker resolution of cases and potentially fewer trials as a result of earlier consideration and disclosure of evidence through the system.

Justice secretary Keith Brown said: “This is an important step in improving the experience of victims and witnesses in the criminal justice process.

“It will make a real difference to the time taken for cases to come to court, allowing those involved in criminal cases to move on with their lives sooner.


“Earlier resolution of cases is just one of the benefits this programme will bring.”

Andrew Laing is leading the project for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS).

He said: “Sharing of evidence has become more complicated in recent years as digital information is often held in a myriad of formats.

“The DESC service will allow COPFS to more easily access evidence gathered by the police and share it with the accused and their defence quicker and more efficiently.

“COPFS is committed to working with all partners to ensure the new system provides benefits for all and improves our service to the public.”

Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service chief executive Eric McQueen said: “This will facilitate faster resolution of cases through early disclosure of evidence, while streamlining evidence presentation in courts by moving away from multiple formats and manual handling of evidence.”

Police Scotland assistant chief constable Kenny MacDonald said the new system will “provides each criminal justice partner with a secure shared platform to store and access digital evidence before the start of a trial”.


He added: “We believe this will encourage earlier resolution of cases and reduce the re­-traumatising of victims and witnesses when attending court.

“Early resolution will also mean less policing hours lost to court commitments allowing officers to continue serving the public on the frontline.

“DESC presents an opportunity to modernise our processes by removing the need for digital evidence to be duplicated and shared in hard copy format as well as providing the opportunity for a greater range of evidence to be presented in a digital format.”

The Scottish Government said digital evidence in the system will only be accessible by approved personnel, such as police officers, fiscal staff and defence agents and that access to information will be “fully audited and monitored”.

Man in wheelchair dies after being struck by lorry on busy road

The 36-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene and his next of kin have been informed. 

MarioGuti via IStock
Crash: Man dies following HGV crash.

A wheelchair user has died after being hit by a lorry in Ayrshire.

The incident occurred around 3.10pm on Thursday on the A76 at Castle, New Cumnock.

The 36-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene and his next of kin have been informed. 

Sergeant Craig Beaver of the Road Policing Unit said: “Our thoughts are with the man’s family and friends at this very difficult time.


“Enquiries are continuing into the full circumstances surrounding the crash and the road was closed for around five hours whilst collision investigation was carried out.

“I would ask anyone who may have witnessed the incident or who may have dash-cam footage, and has not yet spoken to or provided this information to officers, to contact us as soon as possible.

“Anyone with information should call Police Scotland on 101, quoting incident number 1939 of October 14.”

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