Toughest rules considered ‘closely’ in west of Scotland

The First Minister said the prevalence of the virus in the west of Scotland was 'stubbornly high'.

Coronavirus: 220 new cases announced in Greater Glasgow on Monday. SNS Group via SNS Group
Coronavirus: 220 new cases announced in Greater Glasgow on Monday.

A move to a level-four lockdown in the west of Scotland is being considered “closely”.

The toughest coronavirus restrictions could be announced for council areas in the Greater Glasgow and Lanarkshire health boards on Tuesday.

Non-essential shops, pubs and restaurants would have to close on Friday in any areas put into level four of the Covid alert system.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the move may be necessary to ease the pressure on hospitals over the winter and could allow a “limited” lifting of restrictions over Christmas.

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Of the 717 new cases recorded in Scotland on Monday, 220 were in Greater Glasgow and 136 in Lanarkshire.

Sturgeon said: “These areas have stable but still stubbornly high prevalence of the virus. Stubbornly high prevalence causes us concern for a number of reasons.

“Firstly it means that we don’t have enough assurance or as much assurance as we’d want to have that our hospital and intensive care services are able to cope as we go deeper into the winter.

“We know that the winter always brings additional pressures on the NHS and ensuring it can cope with those pressures, as well as Covid, is absolutely crucial.

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“That’s why regional hospital and intensive care capacity are important factors in our decision making when we consider what level of restrictions will be assigned to each area.

“The second reason I want to highlight is this one, stubbornly high prevalence means that we might have less flexibility to offer some limited and careful easing of restrictions over the Christmas period, which we are very keen to do and I’m sure all of you are very keen for us to do as well.

“Moving to level four restrictions for a limited period in some areas, while not a decision we’ll ever take lightly because of the wider economic and social impact, would help us to address both of these concerns.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie believes if a significant number of local authorities are to move to level four restrictions, a parliamentary debate should happen first.

He said: “If half the population of the country is to be moved to level four we must have a full parliamentary debate and vote first.

“Level four is the equivalent of a lockdown with the closure of most of the High Street.

“It is therefore only right that if such a major change is to be implemented it must have the explicit support of the Scottish Parliament.”

Almost 50 coronavirus cases linked to secondary school

Moray Council said 48 positive cases have been associated with Elgin Academy since April 14.

Moray Council via Website
Elgin Academy: Moray Council said 48 positive cases have been associated with the school since April 14.

Almost 50 coronavirus cases have been linked to a school in Moray, an area where residents have been warned not to let the region “get left behind” as the country continues out of lockdown.

Moray Council said 48 positive cases have been associated with Elgin Academy since April 14.

More than a quarter of the school’s population of around 1000 pupils have since been ordered by public health officials to self-isolate.

The council said the students have been able to access remote learning while in quarantine.

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NHS Grampian earlier said it was aware of 46 cases, with no evidence of spread within the school.

Headteacher Kyle Scott has now written to all families with children at the academy.

He said: “I want to thank so many of our amazing pupils for following the rules both in and out of school. 

“I also thank parents/carers for their support throughout; it has been so encouraging to read and receive words of support and I personally thank all those members of our school community for taking the time to do this. 

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“It’s by following the rules that we will suppress the virus, and as a school community it is so important that we continue to work together in following the guidance and adhering to these rules.

“If we continue to do these things and remain proactive in our response, I firmly believe that we will beat this virus.

“We are here for you as your school and we want to help in any way that we can.

“We will continue to work hard, liaise with public health as necessary and will do all we can to maintain the safety of our school and prevent any pupils from having to isolate and therefore miss time in school.”

Like other schools in Moray, the building is under an enhanced cleaning schedule, with daytime cleaners who continually clean touchpoints like door handles, toilets and communal areas.

The school is cleaned every night and sanitised ready for the next day, and staff continue to reinforce the importance of mitigations like face coverings and hand hygiene.

Moray Council’s head of education, Vivienne Cross, said: “These have been some of the toughest weeks of the pandemic for our school staff and families.

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“We’re reassured by public health that our strong Covid protection measures mean that transmission is not happening within our schools, and ask our residents to make the most of the expansion of testing for mild or extended symptoms, and community testing for those without symptoms, to help stop the spread and further disruption to our children and young people’s learning.”

Scotland is due to move into level two of the Scottish Government’s five-tier Covid alert system on May 17, however Moray now has one of the highest rates of coronavirus in the country.

As reported by STV News last week, the region recently accounted for close to 50% of NHS Grampian’s cases – despite being home to less than 17% of the health board’s population.

Although cases are scattered across the region, Elgin has seen the majority.

As a result, NHS Grampian has expanded its testing and is urging those with symptoms including sore throats, headaches and diarrhoea to book tests immediately, as well as encouraging people to take up asymptomatic testing. 

Ahead of the May Day weekend, Susan Webb, NHS Grampian’s director of public health, said: “We really are on a worrying trajectory in Moray and it is vital everyone ensures they are sticking to the rules to ensure the area isn’t left behind as the rest of the country unlocks. 

“Until now Moray has escaped the worst of the pandemic, but we could now see Moray get left behind as the country unlocks.”


Rangers and Celtic in talks to enter ‘B’ teams in Lowland League

The Glasgow giants could enter 'Colts' sides in next season's competition.

Ross MacDonald via SNS Group
Colts teams already participate in the SPFL Challenge Cup.

Rangers and Celtic are in talks with the Lowland League over plans to enter ‘B teams’ into the competition for next season.

The plans, which are still at an early stage, would see the two Glasgow sides commit to their development or ‘Colts’ teams playing in the SLFL for one season.

Colts teams have been permitted to play in the SPFL’s Challenge Cup competition in recent seasons, but proposals to see them join the full SPFL league set-up have been rejected by member clubs.

A statement released by the league on Wednesday detailed the move. It read: “The Scottish Lowland Football League (SLFL) can today confirm that it has entered into discussions to invite Rangers and Celtic ‘B’ teams to enter the league for next season (2021/22) on a one-season basis.

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“The discussions, which are at an early stage, have come following an invite to open talks from the Lowland League to both clubs to help solve the gap which exists in the player development pathway in Scotland, helping some of the countries best young players for a year, and also bringing significant benefit to the Lowland League and our clubs.

“Discussions have been productive and will continue over the coming days. We share a common consensus with Rangers and Celtic that player development and the importance of the pyramid system need to be priorities for the game in Scotland.

“The SLFL Board made it clear at the outset that no current member club would be adversely affected in any way by the proposal, in fact the opposite, and ultimately as a member’s organisation the clubs would need to vote in favour of this. All of our clubs have the exciting proposal and consultation will be with them first and foremost.”

League chairperson, George Fraser, said that the proposal was for one season because of wider talks designed to improve the game in Scotland. Fraser said that the interim step would be for the benefit of all involved.

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“It is clear from the discussions we have had that both Celtic and Rangers are looking for a league to put their ‘B’ teams into where they can develop as players,” he said. “Having been on the PGB sub group tasked with further developing the well-publicised ‘Scottish Football Innovation’ paper, a project which is still on-going and may well be implemented for season 22/23, it was absolutely clear to me that there is a major gap in the player pathway which would, if not addressed, impact a generation of our best young talent.

“That is why the Lowland League, as a modern progressive organisation, have identified an opportunity, and are open to embracing positive change which will have massive benefit for our own clubs and league but importantly also for the wider Scottish game.

“Over the last few years the Lowland League has proved to be a well-run professional league and both these clubs feel their teams and players will develop by being part of it, while importantly for us we will be able to generate new revenues and shine a spotlight on the aspirational and ambitious clubs we have within our ranks. As always league integrity and the importance of the pyramid will be paramount and this will be unaffected by this plan and this was also a priority for both Rangers and Celtic who fully respect this.

“We will continue to have discussions with various parties over the next week or so and see how they progress. Hopefully this will result in an exciting outcome which is a clear demonstration of the Lowland League leading the way in how to modernise our football structures for the benefit of all.”


Couple devastated after dog mauled to death outside home

Nurse Lorraine Doherty had taken her Lhsa Apso Jinky out for a walk when he was brutally attacked by another dog.

Lorraine Doherty via Submitted
The tiny nine-year-old pooch suffered awful wounds in the attack which Ms Doherty's partner described as terrifying.

A heartbroken nurse is traumatised after witnessing her pet dog being mauled to death outside her home in North Lanarkshire.

Lorraine Doherty had taken her Lhsa Apso Jinky out for his last walk of the day on Monday, April 26, when a much larger dog jumped on him from behind.

The tiny nine-year-old pooch suffered fatal wounds in the attack which Ms Doherty’s partner described as “terrifying”.

Ms Doherty, a nurse at Glasgow’s Royal Infirmary, had stepped from her doorstep across a car park and on to Coatbridge Road in Glenmavis at around 10pm.

Lorraine Doherty via Submitted
Jinky, 9, was left lifeless following the attack in Glenmavis (Submitted)
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Co-owner Julie Wilkinson, also a nurse, told STV News: “They had literally just stepped on to the main street, Jinky was on a lead his happy wee self, and completely out of nowhere this big monster of a dog jumped on the top of him.

“He was torn apart in front of her, it’s just unthinkable.”

The attacking dog, believed by the couple to be a Rhodesian Ridgeback, was finally restrained by neighbours and passers-by, but Jinky was completely limp with his tongue hanging loosely from his mouth.

The pet was rushed to an emergency veterinary clinic. He had suffered massive damage to his spine, his bladder had been punctured and his spleen torn. His owner was only able to be with for minutes before she had to leave to allow the staff to try and save Jinky.

Lorraine Doherty via Submitted
Vets could not save Jinky after the attack (Submitted)
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The following morning the vets called the couple to inform them they could not save him.

Ms Doherty had had Jinky since he was born and the pooch had helped her through some tough times including illness. With both nurses working on the frontline during the coronavirus pandemic, coming home to him had proven a real comfort, Ms Doherty’s sister said.

Karen Barre said her sister had been in her bed, struggling to sleep and without any appetite since the incident. Although police were called to the scene immeadiately, they confirmed that they were taking no further action, having referred it to the dog warden.

North Lanarkshire Council said the matter had been investigated and action was being taken.

Ms Barre said: “The only comfort they’ve had over the last year is coming home to this wee dog, he was treated like a wee human.

“Everytime Lorraine closes her eyes, it’s the last vision of her wee dog she sees. You’re trying to prevent anything like this from happening, but I think it will happen again.”

A Police Scotland spokesperson said : “We received a report of a dog attacking another dog at 10.20pm on Monday, April 26, 2021, in Coatbridge Road, Airdirie. Enquiries were carried out and the matter was passed to the dog warden.”

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A North Lanarkshire Council spokesperson said: “Our animal welfare officer has investigated this matter and appropriate action is being taken.”


Murder accused said baby son had suffered ‘choking episode’

Brian Penn was quizzed after Kaleb Penn was rushed to Crosshouse Hospital in Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire, in November 2017.

Georgeclerk via IStock
Court: Brian Penn is standing trial over the murder of his son.

A father accused of murdering his baby son told doctors the child had suffered a “choking episode”.

Brian Penn was quizzed after Kaleb Penn was rushed to Crosshouse Hospital in Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire, in November 2017.

Jurors heard how Kaleb, who was almost two months old at the time, had earlier been found to be unresponsive.

The evidence was heard as Penn went on trial on Wednesday at the High Court in Glasgow.

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The 30-year-old has been accused of murdering his son at a house in Ayr, South Ayrshire, on November 1, 2017.

Prosecutors claim Penn did “repeatedly inflict blunt force trauma” on the child by “means unknown”.

It is also alleged he did compress and shake Kaleb.

The boy is said to have died at the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow two days later.

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Penn, of Mossblown, Ayrshire, faces a separate charge of earlier attempting to murder the baby at the same house between October 13 and 31, 2017.

He denies the accusations.

A nurse was the first witness in the trial.

The 64-year-old was working at Crosshouse when Kaleb arrived by ambulance.

The witness told how she had been tasked with looking after the baby’s parents.

Prosecutor Erin Campbell asked her: “While with them, were you present when they were spoken to by doctors?”

She replied: “Yes.”

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Ms Campbell then asked: “Were they asked to give an account as to what happened to Kaleb?”

The nurse said it was Penn who spoke, adding: “It was that he had been feeding the baby and there had been a choking episode. 

“He [Kaleb] had vomited, but that it was not vomit.”

The nurse said she heard the child’s dad give that account “quite a few times” to doctors.

Brian McConnachie QC, defending, later asked the witness: “Is it fair to say both parents were upset and tearful?”

She replied: “Yes.”

Mr McConnachie then asked: “From what you seen, there was nothing untoward in their reaction to the situation?”

The nurse responded: “No.”

A paediatric intensive care consultant at the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow also gave evidence. 

The 47-year-old claimed he examined Kaleb, who had dilated pupils, and that the soft part of his head “felt full.”

Prosecutor Erin Campbell asked what this meant.

He said: “There may be bleeding or swelling to the brain occurring.”

A CT scan on the baby revealed a significant brain injury, a skull fracture and bleed to the brain.

Miss Caldwell asked: “What was the likely outcome?”

The doctor replied: “He would die and if he survived it would be with a serious brain injury.”

He claimed he asked the parents for a medical history and they “gave the same history from the 999 call for a second time.”

The medic was referred to a statement he gave to police.

In it, the doctor stated: “I asked if he had any bumps on his head as I was trying to establish the cause of the bleed to the skull.

“At that point Brian told me three weeks ago Kaleb had fell on a changing mat but seemed fine.

“He said there was a lump on his head but he didn’t say exactly if they had sought medical help.”

Miss Caldwell asked if that would explain the level of injury on the CT scan, but the doctor replied: “No.”

Mr McConnachie asked if the skull fracture was recent or something old.”

The doctor replied: “I can’t age a skull fracture.”

The trial, before judge Lord Weir, continues.


Emma Faulds: Police dog ‘gave positive indication in car search’

Prosecutors allege Ross Willox killed the 39-year-old youth worker at Fairfield Park in Monkton, Ayrshire, in 2019.

Police Scotland
Murder trial: Emma Faulds was found dead in June 2019.

A police dog trained in the scent of dead bodies gave a “positive indication” during the search of a car in the missing Emma Faulds investigation, a court has heard.

PC Neil Gunderson was giving evidence at the trial of Ross Willox, 41, who denies murdering the 39-year-old youth worker at his home in Fairfield Park, Monkton, Ayrshire, on April 28, 2019.

Jurors heard how a Jaguar car was examined by PC Gunderson and his dog Max on May 8, 2019.

PC Gunderson said Max specialised in “victim recovery” and had previously helped find a body near an area of water in South Queensferry.

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He recalled how they had been asked to check a number of vehicles weeks after Willox allegedly murdered Ms Faulds.

The trial was shown the footage of Max searching the Jaguar car. 

PC Gunderson – based at Fettes station in Edinburgh –  told prosecutor Paul Kearney it appeared Max had “heightened interest” in the vehicle.

The officer added: “He is very aware…that there is something there that he would like to get closer to.”

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Later in the footage, the dog appears to repeatedly bark at the boot area of the Jaguar.

PC Gunderson said to him it was “clear” Max was giving “an indication”.

Mr Kearney went on to ask: “Do you have any doubt of it being a positive indication from your dog in what he is trained to find?”

PC Gunderson: “I have no doubt whatsoever.”

Willox denies the accusations.

The trial, before judge Lord Mulholland, continues.


Leaked report shows dozens of council venues at risk of closure

South Lanarkshire libraries, community halls and golf clubs appear on a list of possible closures.

© Google Maps 2020
South Lanarkshire Council officials have identified 29 'red venues' which they have suggested could be closed or transferred to the community to run.

Up to 50 South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture (SLLC) venues could close following a review of the leisure trust.

A leaked draft report has revealed the facilities that could face the axe if the cross-party working group on leisure and culture agrees to take them forward.

South Lanarkshire Council officials have identified 29 ‘red venues’ which they have suggested could be closed or transferred to the community to run.

These include libraries in Bothwell, Burnbank, Halfway, Hillhouse and Lesmahagow and golf courses at Biggar, Langlands and Strathclyde Park.

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A number of community halls, including five in Clydesdale, are on the red list while leisure centres in Lesmahagow, East Kilbride, Uddingston and Harelesshill could also be at risk.

Abington, Carstairs, Tarbrax, Red Deer and Murray bowling Clubs have also been included on the red list.

A further 21 ‘amber venues’ have also been identified. It is not currently suggested that these would be at risk of closing but that may change depending on the results of the leisure and culture review and the sustainability of the facilities.

These include nine community halls in Clydesdale, three in East Kilbride and Avondale, five in the Hamilton area and two in Rutherglen and Cambuslang.

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Coalburn Leisure Centre, the Jock Stein Centre and Stonelaw Dual Use are also on the amber list.

No formal recommendations have been made yet and the cross-party working group on leisure and culture are currently reviewing service provision and what venues will be needed going forward.

Michael McGlynn, executive director for community and enterprise resources, said: “It is untrue to suggest that the venues in the list have been recommended for closure or transfer.

“The cross-party working group (CPWG) was set up to look at how future provision of leisure and culture services in South Lanarkshire might best meet the needs of local communities.

“As part of this, the focus has been on what leisure and cultural outcomes the council request of SLLC. This has also been the subject of extensive consultation with the public and users groups. The use of all local facilities, how much subsidy is required per user and the availability of alternative provision for local residents to use have all been considered to assist this work. However it would be premature to make any recommendations on the use of any facility before the group completes its work.

“It will be for the CPWG to consider how it wishes to proceed with this information, and if any venues might be better utilised in other ways. Any recommendations that emerge from the CPWG would then be presented to the executive committee/council and the SLLC board for consideration.”

SLLC venues on the red and amber lists

Venues marked with an asterix are on the amber list and would be retained subject to “outcomes from other service reviews and future considerations [regarding] ongoing sustainability and shared outcome delivery”.

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Clydesdale

  • Abington Bowling Club
  • Abington Hall
  • Auchenheath Hall
  • Biggar Golf Course
  • Braehead Hall*
  • Brocketsbrae Hall*
  • Carmichael Hall*
  • Carstairs Bowling Club
  • Carstairs Junction Hall*
  • Coalburn Leisure Centre*
  • Coulter Hall*
  • Dolphinton Hall
  • Elsrickle Hall
  • Lesmahagow Library
  • Nemphlar Hall*
  • Pettinain Hall*
  • Roberton Hall*
  • Symington Hall*
  • Tarbrax Bowling Club
  • Thankerton Hall

East Kilbride and Avondale

  • Ballerup Hall*
  • Chapelton Hall*
  • Duncanrig Dual Use
  • Glassford Hall
  • Kirktonholme Hall*
  • Langlands Golf Course
  • Murray Bowling Club
  • Red Deer Bowling Club
  • Stewartfield Community Centre
  • Westwood Hall

Hamilton area

  • Bothwell Community Centre*
  • Bothwell Library
  • Burnbank Library
  • David Milne Centre*
  • Eddlewood Public Hall*
  • Ferniegair Hall*
  • Hareleeshill Sports Barn
  • High Blantyre Hall
  • Hillhouse Library
  • Jock Stein Centre
  • Larkfield Neighbourhood Hall*
  • Low Waters Hall
  • Springwells Hall
  • Strathclyde Park Golf Course
  • Uddingston Dual Use

Rutherglen and Cambuslang

  • Halfway Library
  • Spittal Community Centre*
  • Stonelaw Dual Use*
  • Toll Pitch Community Centre*
  • Westburn Community Hall

Story by local democracy reporter Stephen Bark

Man accused of actor’s murder acquitted of 13 other charges

Bradley Welsh was fatally shot at his flat in the west end of Edinburgh in 2019.

Ross Parker via SNS Group
Murdered: Bradley Welsh was fatally shot in 2019.

A man accused of murdering a Trainspotting T2 actor has been acquitted of 13 other charges.

Bradley Welsh, 48, was fatally shot at his flat in the west end of Edinburgh on April 17, 2019.

Sean Orman, 30, pleaded not guilty to all 15 charges against him, including murder, attempted murder, firearms and drugs offences, and is on trial at the High Court in Edinburgh.

The Crown removed 13 of the charges from the indictment on Wednesday, including assault, drug and driving offences.

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Judge Lord Beckett told him he had been acquitted of these allegations.

Orman remains charged with murdering Mr Welsh and the assault and attempted murder of David McMillan in March 2019.

Giving evidence on Wednesday, Orman claimed to have never heard of Mr McMillan until the trial got under way.

The 30-year-old denied being at a property in Pitcairn Grove, Edinburgh, on March 13, 2019 when the attempted murder was said to have taken place. He said he could not recall where he was.

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Orman said: “I can’t remember, I have no reason to remember.”

He claimed to have got involved with being paid to move stolen cars by a man he had met in prison, known as Omar, after his release in February 2019.

Orman had received a five-year jail term for assault and robbery at a bookmakers, the court has heard.

The trial before judge Lord Beckett continues.


Pensioner injured after teen on bike snatches handbag

The 70-year-old fell to the ground after the boy stole her bag on Tuesday evening in Glasgow.

Mrdoomits via IStock
Injured: Pensioner sustains minor injuries after bag stolen.

A pensioner has been injured after her handbag was snatched by a teenager on a bike in Glasgow.

The 70-year-old was walking along Battlefield Road in the city at around 9.45pm on Tuesday when she was passed by a teenage boy on a bike.  

The male, thought to be around 16 to 18-years-old, snatched her bag, causing her to fall to the ground.

Police Constable Jamie Whitton of CID in Glasgow said: “The victim sustained minor injuries as a result of this incident and is extremely upset. 

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“The suspect is described as being about 16 to 18 years old around 5ft 6ins in height, tanned skinned, with dark hair. He was wearing a light coloured baseball cap and a light coloured tracksuit left in the direction of Battlefield Road towards Prospecthill Road.

“We are reviewing CCTV and carrying out door to door enquiries but would like to speak to anyone who may have been in the area.  

“I would appeal to motorists and cyclists who may have dashcam or CCTV footage and captured the incident to please get in touch.

“Anyone who has information that will assist this investigation to contact us through 101 quoting reference number 3529 of Tuesday, May 4 2021.  

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“Alternatively Crimestoppers can be contacted on 0800 555 111, where anonymity can be maintained.”


Police ‘rescue 14 dogs and seize cannabis’ in raid

A search warrant was executed at a property in Logangate Terrace, Logan, on Tuesday morning.

Cupcakegill via IStock
Operation: Police Scotland teamed up with the Scottish SPCA for the raid.

Police Scotland said it rescued 14 dogs following a joint raid with the Scottish SPCA in East Ayrshire.

A search warrant was executed at a property in Logangate Terrace, Logan, on Tuesday morning.

As well as the dogs, a quantity of what is believed to be cannabis was also seized.

A 24-year-old man was arrested and charged in connection with drugs offences and is expected to appear before Ayr Sheriff Court at a later date.

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A separate report will be submitted by the Scottish SPCA in relation to the rescued dogs in due course.

Inspector Julie McLeish said: “This operation was the result of a well-planned and coordinated approach between the SSPCA and Police Scotland which has led to a number of dogs being rescued, as well as disrupting further drug supply and the impact it can have within the local community. 

“I would like to thank the SSPCA for their hard work and continued partnership with Ayrshire Police Division.”

If you have any concerns about the supply of illegal drugs in your area, call 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.


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