Woman dead after crash between cyclist and van

The road was closed for approximately nine hours for collision investigations to be carried out at the scene.

The driver and passenger from the van were both uninjured (Andrew Milligan/PA) Andrew Milligan/PA via PA Wire
The driver and passenger from the van were both uninjured (Andrew Milligan/PA)

A cyclist has died after a crash with a van in Dumfries.

The incident happened at around 1.05pm on Sunday on the A710 near Southwick.

A white Peugeot van travelling eastwards was involved in a crash with a cyclist riding a black Trek bicycle which was heading east at Southwick Bridge.

Emergency services attended and 44-year-old Helen Renton from Dumfries was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police Scotland
44-year-old Helen Renton from Dumfries was pronounced dead at the scene (Police Scotland)
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Her next of kin has been informed.

Sergeant Leigh McCulloch from Police Scotland’s road policing unit based in Lockerbie said: “Tragically as a result of this crash the cyclist has lost her life and our thoughts at this time are with her family and friends.

“Several people stopped to help at the scene and our inquiries continue to establish what happened.

“I’d ask anyone who saw the crash to get in touch with officers as a priority to help our investigation.

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“I’d ask anyone who was recording with dashcam on the A710 who may have captured either the van or bicycle prior to the crash, to check their systems and provide officers with any relevant footage as soon as possible.”

The driver and passenger from the van were both uninjured.

The road was closed for approximately nine hours for collision investigations at the scene.


‘My future has been cut off’: Major new study into long Covid

Sharon Hyland is living with long Covid complications, as a new study looks to identify how many are affected in Scotland.

STV News

By Sharon Frew and Kevin Scott

Sharon Hyland was a busy hairdresser just 18 months ago.

The 53-year-old from Bellshill had her own salon and another craft-making business. But then the pandemic struck.

Sharon had to close her shops during the first lockdown in March 2020.

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Then, just before Christmas, she and her partner Lee both tested positive for Covid-19. Sharon’s condition was more severe and she needed intensive care.  

But that was just the start of her ordeal. Since leaving hospital in February, Sharon has struggled to regain her strength.

She has a range of symptoms her doctor attributes to long Covid including extreme fatigue, poor concentration, tremors in her right arm and leg, and a stammer.

Sharon told STV News that most days she is unable to get out of bed, which is having a huge impact on both her physical and mental health.  

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She said: “I had what I classed as a normal life. I loved my work. Ever since I was at school, I wanted to be a hairdresser. I took pride in my work and now I can’t see what is in front of me but I’m here.

“I took Covid in December, we are now in May. It takes me all my time to walk to the car. Energy-wise, I don’t have any energy. My hair is falling out, it’s falling out in handfuls. I think because I’m stuck in this situation I feel as if my future has been cut off. “

Sharon has been unable to move back into her own home as it cannot be adapted for her health needs and she is now living with her partner’s mother and relying on her savings.

The hairdresser fears she will never be able to work again and feels her future “has been cut off”.  

She told her story as it was revealed a new study is to examine the long-term health of people who have had coronavirus.

The Covid in Scotland Study (CISS) will begin recruiting soon, funded by the Scottish Government Chief Scientist Office and led by the University of Glasgow.

Researchers hope to identify how many people in Scotland continue to be unwell after having the virus, known as long Covid, as well as what their symptoms are and how it affects their lives.

Sharon welcomes the study and says anything that helps others in the future is welcome. But she also feels there needs to be more help and aftercare for people now.

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Professor Jill Pell, professor of public health at the University of Glasgow, will lead the study in collaboration with Public Health Scotland and the NHS in Scotland.

She said: “Most people recover quickly and completely after infection with Covid-19, but some people have reported a wide variety of long-term problems.

“It is crucial that we find out how many people have long-term problems, and what those problems are, so that we can set up systems to spot problems early and deal with them effectively.”

Using NHS health data records, all Scottish adults who have had a positive test – as well as a sample of people who tested negative for the disease – will be sent a text message inviting them to take part.

University of Glasgow via E-mail
Text message people will receive asking if they want to participate in Covid in Scotland Study.

If they agree, individuals will be asked to use a specially designed app to answer questions about their health, before and after Covid-19, and whether the virus has had any lasting effects on their lives.

Participants who tested negative will be asked similar questions about their current and past health so researchers can compare answers with those who had the virus.

Scotland’s chief medical officer Dr Gregor Smith said: “We recognise the longer term impacts Covid-19 is having on the physical and mental wellbeing of people in Scotland.

“Government, clinicians, specialist healthcare professionals and third sector organisations are working hard to ensure people have access to the support they need for assessment, diagnosis, care and rehabilitation in a setting that is as close to their home as possible.

“This new study will be a valuable tool to help us learn more about the effects of what is still a relatively new illness and ensure people receive the best possible treatment and care.

“If you are contacted to take part in the study I would strongly encourage you to participate – your insight will be extremely valuable.”

More information is on the website.

Hugging and indoor visits allowed as restrictions ease

The First Minister confirmed on Tuesday that Covid rules will be relaxed further from May 17.

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Scots will be able to hug their loved ones from Monday, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

During the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing on Tuesday, the First Minister confirmed that the majority of mainland Scotland will move to level two of the Scottish Government’s five-tier Covid-alert system as scheduled from May 17.

From that date social distancing during meetings indoors or in private gardens will be dropped.

Sturgeon said: “I actually feel a wee bit emotional saying this, from Monday, as long as you stay within permitted limits, you can hug your loved ones again.”

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The restrictions will remain in place away from homes and private gardens.

Moray is expected to remain in level three following a surge in cases and an increase in hospital admissions. A decision will be made later this week.

In the rest of the mainland, six people from three households will be able to meet indoors, the same number can meet in a hospitality venue and eight people from eight houses can meet outdoors.

Alcohol can be served indoors in pubs, cafes and restaurants, and cinemas, bingo halls and amusement arcades can reopen.

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Many of Scotland’s islands will move to level one due to vaccination coverage and low case numbers.

The Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland are included, as are all islands in the Highland Council area except Skye. The move will also apply to islands in the Argyll and Bute council area.

Updates from the briefing:

  • Most of mainland Scotland will move to level two of the Scottish Government’s five-tier Covid-alert system as scheduled on Monday, May 17.
  • Moray could be left in level three due to rising coronavirus cases. A decision will be made later this week.
  • Islands including Shetland and the Western Isles will move to level one.
  • Six people from three households will be able to meet indoors, the same number can meet in a hospitality venue and eight people from eight houses can meet outdoors.
  • Hugs are back. From Monday, the rules on physical distancing will be dropped for personal gatherings inside and outside people’s homes. The restrictions will remain in place away from homes and private gardens.
  • Alcohol can be served indoors in pubs, cafes and restaurants until 10.30pm from Monday.
  • Cinemas, bingo halls and amusement arcades can reopen. Adult outdoor contact sports and indoor group exercises can resume.
  • International travel will move to a ‘traffic light system’ from Monday.

Regarding the easing of international travel, Sturgeon advised that Scots should “think seriously” about taking holidays and “err on the side of caution”.

Announcing the move to a new ‘traffic light system’ from Monday, the FM said: “Even though the rules on non-essential travel are starting to change, that doesn’t mean we’re saying that non-essential international travel is desirable.

“Everyone should think seriously about whether they should travel abroad this summer.

“When it comes to holidays abroad, my advice continues to be to err on the side of caution and to staycation this summer.”


UK economy fell by 1.5% following lockdown restrictions

The ONS said that the hit was smaller than first feared as growth rebounded in March.

Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images
Lockdown: Economy impacted by restrictions at start of year.

Lockdown restrictions saw the UK economy contract at the start of 2021 but the hit was smaller than first feared as growth rebounded in March, according to official figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that gross domestic product (GDP) – a measure of the size of the economy – fell by 1.5% between January and March as lockdown took its toll.

A resilient performance in March helped soften the blow, with GDP rising by a better-than-expected 2.1% month on month despite restrictions remaining firmly in place.

The ONS said the reopening of schools in March and solid retail spending helped drive the recovery.

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It comes after GDP also lifted by an upwardly revised 0.7% in February as the economy becomes more adept at weathering Covid lockdowns.

But this was not enough to offset a 2.5% fall in January – revised down by the ONS from a previous 2.2% estimate – at the start of the lockdown.

The ONS added that first-quarter GDP was still 8.7% below levels seen before the pandemic struck, though the gap narrowed in March to 5.9% below the pre-Covid monthly level.

Darren Morgan, ONS director of economic statistics, said: “The strong recovery seen in March, led by retail and the return of schools, was not enough to prevent the UK economy contracting over the first quarter as a whole, with the lockdown affecting much of the services sector.

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“However, construction grew strongly over the quarter and, in March, was above its pre-pandemic level.

“Manufacturing also recovered from an initial fall, increasing strongly in February and March, as businesses continued to adapt and make themselves Covid-19 secure.”

Experts expect GDP to recover strongly from the second quarter onwards as restrictions lift and the rapid vaccine rollout boosts household and business confidence.

The Bank of England last week hiked its 2021 growth outlook to 7.25% – which would be the best year of growth since the Second World War.

The March rebound was helped by a recovery in the hard-hit services sector, which grew by 1.9% in the month, according to the ONS.

It said retail sales “continued to show strength”, rising by 2.9% in March, though schools and education output was the biggest driver of the services growth.

The construction sector also powered ahead, with growth of 5.8% in March, and manufacturing grew for the second month in a row, by 2.1%.

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Alpesh Paleja, lead economist at the CBI business group, said: “Households and businesses have clearly adapted better to working and living under Covid restrictions, despite the brutal cost of doing so.

“A range of indicators, including CBI business surveys, point to a rebound in activity heading into summer – with the economy opening up and pent-up demand waiting to be unleashed.

“But this is a recovery that will be felt more by some. Undoubtedly, hardest-hit sectors and households have a longer road ahead.”


At-a-glance: What Covid restrictions are easing from May 17?

First Minister confirms that most of mainland Scotland will move into level two of coronavirus restrictions from next Monday.

SNS Group via SNS Group
Pubs can serve alcohol indoors until 10.30pm from Monday.

Most of mainland Scotland will move to level two of the Scottish Government’s five-tier Covid-alert system as scheduled from next Monday.

A decision will be made later this week on whether Moray should remain in level three. Covid rates – at 94 cases per 100,000 people – are around four times higher in that area than across Scotland as a whole.

Many of Scotland’s islands will move to level one due to vaccination coverage and low case numbers.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Tuesday that Scots will be able to hug their loved ones again as social distancing restrictions during meetings indoors or in private gardens are dropped.

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Eight adults from up to eight households will be able to meet up outdoors from next Monday.

The FM also confirmed Scotland will join with the rest of the UK in implementing a ‘traffic light system’ for international travel from next week.

The Scottish Government’s updated framework on the planned easing of restrictions is available here and the key changes can be viewed at a glance below.

All of the indicative dates are subject to change in accordance with the prevalence of the virus and the progress of the vaccination programme.

From May 17:

Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images
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Levels: Most of mainland Scotland will move to level two of coronavirus restrictions. A decision will be made on Moray later this week. The Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland will move to level one, as will all islands in the Highland Council area, except Skye. Most islands in the Argyll and Bute council area will also move to level one.

Socialising: Six people from three households can socialise indoors in a public place, such as a cafe or restaurant. Six people from three households can also socialise inside a house and stay overnight. Eight adults from up to eight households are able to meet up outside.

Hospitality: Venues can open and sell alcohol indoors until 10.30pm or outdoors until 10pm.

Sport: Outdoor adult contact sport and indoor group exercise can restart.

Recreation: Cinemas, theatres, amusement arcades, casinos, bowling alleys, snooker/pool halls, and bingo halls can open.

Further education: Universities and colleges can return to a more blended model of learning. Non-professional performance arts can resume outdoors.

Worship: Communal worship can open, subject to capacity constraints.

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Weddings and funerals: Up to 50 people can attend weddings and funerals

Stadia and events: Outdoor seated and open space events are advised to operate with a maximum capacity of 500 people. Outdoor grouped standing events are advised to operate with a maximum capacity of 250 people. Small seated indoor events are advised to operate with a maximum of 100 people.

Not permitted to reopen: Soft play, funfairs, nightclubs and adult entertainment must remain closed.

From early June:

hxyume via IStock

Levels:  Scottish Government plans to move Scotland into level one in early June.

Socialising: Under level one restrictions, up to eight people from three households can socialise indoors in a public place, such as a cafe or restaurant. Six people from three households can socialise inside a house. Twelve adults from up to twelve households are able to meet up outside.

Hospitality: Hospitality can remain open until 11pm.

Events: Attendance at events can increase, subject to capacity constraints.

Weddings, funerals and places of worship: Up to 100 people can attend weddings and funerals.

From late June:

Fizkes via Getty Images

Levels: The Scottish Government plans to move Scotland into level zero by the end of June.

Socialising: Under level zero, restrictions up to ten people from four households can socialise indoors in a public place, such as a cafe or restaurant. Eight people from four households can socialise inside a house. Fifteen adults from up to fifteen households are able to meet up outside.

Offices: A phased return of some office staff.

Scottish McVitie’s factory to close with hundreds of jobs lost

Plans would see the Tollcross biscuit making site close next year.

© Google Maps 2020
The firm said the planned closure was a result of excess capacity in the business' factories.

Glasgow’s McVitie’s factory is set to close with hundreds of jobs at risk, the brand’s owner has announced.

Pladis, the global company that owns the Tollcross site, said the closure would mean 468 people’s jobs were threatened and the proposal was subject to consultation.

The factory’s operations would cease in the latter half of 2022, with production moved to other Pladis sites in the UK.

The firm said the planned closure was a result of excess capacity in the business’ factories and is necessary to ensure its future success.

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The factory first opened in 1925, as part of the Macfarlane and Lang’s Victoria Biscuit Works, and has since been where Hobnobs and Rich Tea Biscuits have been made.

David Murray, Pladis UK and Ireland managing director, said: “We know this news will be difficult for our colleagues at Tollcross.

“Our priority now is to provide them with the support they need during the consultation process. Pladis is home to some of Britain’s best loved brands which have been part of the fabric of our society for nearly 200 years.

“In order to protect them for generations to come, we must take steps to address excess capacity in the UK. This overcapacity limits our ability to make the right investments in future capabilities to meet the very big changes in our industry.”

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Pladis, formed in 2016, is behind some of the UK’s best known snack brands including McVitie’s, Jacob’s, go ahead! and Carr’s. With its headquarters in the UK, the firm operates seven factories and its research and development hub across the country.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said: “Throughout the pandemic these workers were told by the company that they were essential to the nation’s response to the crisis.

“But now, after decades of underinvestment, they have decided to close this iconic factory. This is a kick in the teeth to that dedicated workforce and McVitie’s owners must think again.

“This pandemic has created a jobs crisis in Scotland and this news will devastate almost 500 families. My thoughts are with them today.

“We urgently need a jobs plan as part of a national recovery. Ministers both in Edinburgh and London cannot sit on their hands and let more Scots end up out of work. They must act urgently to protect livelihoods in the east end.

“Scottish Labour stands ready to work with trade unionists, Scottish Enterprise and both of Scotland’s governments to keep this iconic brand and these vital jobs in Glasgow.”

Unite Scotland, the union, called the news devastating and urged Glasgow City Council, Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Government to meet with trade unions to look at ways of keeping the site operational.

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Pat McIlvogue, Unite industrial officer, said: “The news that hundreds of jobs are at risk at McVitie’s Tollcross factory is devastating. The factory has been present in the local area for 100 years, and the McVitie’s brand which was established in Scotland, has a footprint dating back 200 years.

“We can’t allow a world-renowned Scottish brand to have no workers left in Glasgow and Scotland. Closure simply isn’t an option.”

Glasgow East MP David Linden said: “Today’s news comes as a total body blow to our community.

“Above all, it’s a massive kick in the teeth to the loyal workforce at Tollcross – many of whom have worked there for decades.

“Since 2017, I’ve been engaging with Pladis around the challenges they face as a business and I was genuinely encouraged to learn that things had started to turn a corner.

“Therefore, news of proposed closure comes as something of a bolt out of the blue.

“My sole focus right now is on engaging with Pladis, local and national government, as well as the trade unions.

“This is a deeply worrying time for everyone associated with the factory at Tollcross and no stone must be left unturned as we fight to protect local jobs.”

Gary Smith, secretary of the union GMB Scotland, said: “This is an utterly shameful decision by pladis – the lowest of the low after a wretched year.

“Staff have worked through the Covid-19 pandemic because management insist these are key workers, helping this business increase its lockdown sales into billions of pounds, but instead of re-investing some of that money back into the Tollcross plant and its dedicated workforce, management are rewarding them with the closure of their site within a year.”

An Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are concerned to learn that Pladis UK is entering into consultation with its workforce over the potential closure of its Tollcross site. This is a huge blow to the company’s staff, their families and the local area who will be affected by this decision.

“The Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise has offered support and ministers have spoken to Glasgow City Council to discuss our partnership approach going forward.

“Scottish Enterprise has been working with Pladis UK and will continue to engage with the company throughout its consultation period to explore all possible options to support the business and its workforce.

“We greatly value the food and drink industry in Scotland so this is a matter of concern both locally and nationally. Our priority will be to work in partnership with the company, the unions and the local authority to provide every support possible to help ensure a productive future for the Tollcross site and its workforce.

“Should job losses happen, we will provide support to all affected employees through our initiative for responding to redundancy situations, Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE).”

Search for family of soldier who died in ‘forgotten Dunkirk’

Keller Len Scott was hidden by a French family following battle of St Valery-en-Caux in Normandy in 1940.

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Soldier: Search for family of man who died following' forgotten Dunkirk'.

A search has been launched to trace the family of a fallen hero who died following “the forgotten Dunkirk” more than 80 years ago.

The 51st Highland Division soldier evaded capture during the battle of St Valery-en-Caux in Normandy and was hidden by a French family, but was later discovered by the Germans and shot.

The Second World War battle on June 12 1940 led to around 10,000 mainly Scottish soldiers from the 51st Highland Division being captured.

They continued the fight on the Continent in support of the French after the Dunkirk evacuations had been completed, but a flotilla of ships sent to rescue the troops was unable to reach them due to fog and the proximity of German artillery above the town.

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Following the commemorations to mark the 80th anniversary of the battle last June, St Valery resident Patrick Prieur contacted veterans charity Poppyscotland and other organisations for help to trace the relatives of a soldier who was sheltered by a local family.

He is taking on his late father’s quest to find the family of the man, whose name was Keller Len Scott.

Mr Prieur, 65, whose grandparents and father remained in the town throughout the war, said: “A soldier from the 51st Highland Division was hidden by a local family in the village. They bonded, and the family learned that he was a married man, with a wife and two daughters waiting for him to return home.

“For several weeks, the soldier remained hidden, but regretfully he was eventually discovered by German troops and marched through the town to the municipal cemetery.

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“After being forced to dig his own grave, he was positioned against the cemetery wall and shot. His death deeply upset the townspeople, who had been aware of his hiding, and especially my father, who was only 11 at the time.

“In later years, the Franco-British military cemetery was built, and his body was moved there. His grave is marked as ‘Known unto God’, and my father and other villagers tended to it for decades after the war ended.

“My father had been gifted a piece of paper on which the soldier’s name was written, ‘Keller Len Scott’, and this became his prized possession.

“He desperately wanted to find the soldier’s family to tell them what had happened to their beloved and where he was laid to rest, but, having very little information, he struggled.

“In 2014 my father passed away and, being eager to finish what he started, I recently contacted Poppyscotland and the Highland Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association to ask for help.”

Michelle McKearnon, head of engagement at the Highland Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association, said they were only able to get so far with their research into the soldier’s identity, and appealed for help.

She said: “We believe the name order on the piece of paper may have been written in military fashion, with the surname preceding any given names, so the family name might be Keller.

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“We’re now at an impasse, struggling to find additional information through our own resources, so we need the knowledge of the wider community to continue our efforts.”

Last year, pipers from across the world took to their doorsteps at 10am on June 12 to perform Heroes Of St Valery in an event organised by Legion Scotland, Poppyscotland and Royal Caledonian Education Trust: Scotland’s Armed Forces Children’s Charity, and pipers are being urged to take part again this year on the same date at 10am.

Dr Claire Armstrong, chief executive of Legion Scotland, said: “As we approach the 81st anniversary of the battle, we hope to identify this Scottish hero, give him the recognition he deserves, and bring peace to his family.”


Crewman fatally injured after being struck on head by tow bar

Investigation finds Indonesian man was struck by a scallop dredge towing bar while vessel was off the coast of Aberdeen.

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Crewman working on board a scallop dredger was fatally injured

A crewman working on board a scallop dredger was fatally injured after he was struck on the head by the vessel’s towing bar, an investigation has found.

The Indonesian man was on the deck of the Olivia Jean vessel when the incident happened at around 10pm on June 28, 2019.

He was struck on the head by a scallop dredge towing bar while the vessel was approximately 39 miles north-east of Aberdeen.

The fisherman suffered crush injuries to his head and was airlifted to hospital for emergency treatment but died 12 days later.

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An investigation by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) said: “The crewman had replaced two worn dredges on the towing bar and stood clear as the skipper used the winches and derrick to lift and realign the gear against the vessel’s tipping door.

“Unfortunately, one of the towing bar’s securing chains had not been released and the dredge gear became snagged.

“Although the skipper shouted instructions to the crewman to remain clear as he attempted to free the gear, the crewman stepped between the snagged bar and the accommodation superstructure just as the snagged bar released and swung inboard.”

The accident happened out of the skipper’s line of sight, according to the MAIB report, and he was relying on a CCTV screen behind him to monitor the area – suggesting the deck operations “were not being properly supervised or controlled”.

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It also found the “deck crew’s level of English comprehension was poor, and they did not speak a common language”.

Recommendations have been made to Olivia Jean’s managers, TN Enterprises Ltd, to improve safety on board its fleet, however the MAIB report details a similar incident last year.

Just after 6am on August 2, 2020, a British crewman on the Olivia Jean was struck by a towing bar during a dredge gear shooting operation.

The man moved out of the designated safe zone before being given the clearance to leave, stepping into an unsafe area and being struck by the towing bar when it unexpectedly moved.

He was also taken to hospital for emergency treatment to chest injuries.

The MAIB report added: “Learning lessons from previous accidents can prevent injuries and save lives.

“In this case, the lessons learned and corrective action implemented did not prevent a near identical accident from occurring to the crew on board in August 2020.

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“It was very fortunate that it did not result in another fatality.”

FM confirms ‘traffic light system’ for international travel

From Monday countries around the world will be sorted into lists depending on the state of the pandemic within their borders.

Scottish Government via Twitter / encrier via IStock

Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed Scotland will join with the rest of the UK in implementing a ‘traffic light system’ for international travel from next week.

From Monday, May 17, countries around the world will be sorted into lists depending on the state of the pandemic within their borders.

On Friday, UK transport secretary Grant Shapps announced the 12 countries and territories on the green list of the traffic light system – visits to which would have no quarantine requirement – and the First Minister confirmed they were the same for Scotland.

The green list destinations are Portugal, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Singapore, Brunei, Iceland, Gibraltar, the Falkland Islands, the Faroe Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands and St Helena, Tristan de Cunha, Ascension Island.

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Although there is no quarantine requirement for these countries, travellers will be expected to take a PCR test for coronavirus. The First Minister also said that the green list countries would be the “exception not the rule” with most destinations instead appearing on the amber list.

Sturgeon also announced the three counties currently on the red list, visits to which require managed isolation in a quarantine hotel for ten days at the cost of £1750 for a solo traveller.

Those red list destinations are Turkey, Nepal and the Maldives.

The First Minister said that most countries will be on the amber list, visits to which will require self-isolation at home with two PCR tests taken during that period.

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Concerns have been raised over the cost of PCR tests, with private tests costing as much as £120 on the high street. However, airlines, airports and holiday companies have been offering cheaper test packages to travellers with many costing around £60.

At the coronavirus briefing on Tuesday afternoon, the First Minister said: “Let me be very, very clear… we still intend to be highly cautious on international travel given the risk of new variants.

“We have a consistent four-nations position, made possible because the decisions the UK Government has arrived at are appropriately cautious.”

But Sturgeon said that should the situation change and a different approach would be better for Scotland, then decisions will be made that “are right for Scotland”.

Despite the changes, the First Minister asked Scots to err on the side of caution and staycation this summer.

She said: “Even though the rules on non-essential travel are changing, everyone should think seriously about whether they need to travel abroad this summer.”

Responding to the First Minister’s announcement, Airlines UK, AGS Airports and Edinburgh Airport issued a joint statement calling the lack of countries on the green list a “missed opportunity”.

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It read: “We are again in the position of being a week away from a major change to operations and are waiting on details of how the Scottish Government wants this to work and how it will be managed. We need that detail as soon as possible to allow everyone to understand what is required.

“We appreciate there are many things to consider but we encourage the Scottish Government to work with us on making testing more affordable rather than it being a barrier for those who need and want to travel. We would also encourage government to take advantage of the vaccination rollout to open up many more green countries in the EU at the new review point in three weeks, as the EU themselves have proposed, and to work where possible as the four nations to ensure consistency and avoid confusion for operators and passengers.

“The Scottish Government must also be very clear about when and how we can encourage visitors from green list countries to try and save the thousands of jobs in Scotland that depend upon international travellers.”

The Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association (SPAA), the professional body for travel agents and the travel sector in Scotland, welcomed Tuesday’s announcement.

Joanne Dooey, president of the SPAA, said: “The inclusion of Portugal on this list is very significant and important for Scotland – it’s one of the most popular holiday destinations for Scots ranking in the top choices along with Spain, Greece and Turkey.

“We expect to see airlines and operators transferring any spare capacity to flights to Portugal this summer and consequently travel agents across Scotland are ready to advise travellers and to help them to make their plans safely.

“PCR tests remain an expensive option, particularly for those travelling as a family group. Our position remains that the cost of testing – particularly the requirement for a PCR test for each traveller on return to the UK – is too high and that affordable testing in the form of antigen and lateral flow is needed.”

Scotland’s tourism industry also welcomed the changes, noting that the found-nations approach is an important step.

Marc Crothall, CEO Scottish Tourism Alliance, said: “The loss of inbound travel has had a critical impact on so many businesses across different sectors within Scotland’s tourism industry and I know that there will be some relief for many.

“Forty-three percent of overnight tourism spend in Scotland comes from our international market; it would require around seven million domestic overnight stays to replace that lost income.  

“From  the research the STA has undertaken which we will be releasing this week, we can see that we are quite some way from the staycation tourism boom that has been referenced in various media reports and by other commentators recently.”

Green list countries – From May 17

  • Australia
  • Brunei
  • Falkland Islands
  • Faroe Islands
  • Gibraltar
  • Iceland
  • Israel
  • New Zealand
  • Portugal
  • Singapore
  • South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands
  • St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha

Teenage girl sexually assaulted in nature reserve attack

The attack on the child is said to have taken place on Saturday night in the Merkland Nature Reserve in Kirkintilloch.

Police Scotland
Police said they are pursuing a number of lines of enquiry into the incident.

Police are investigating after a report of a 14-year-old girl being sexually assaulted in an East Dunbartonshire park.

The attack on the child took place on Saturday night in the Merkland Nature Reserve in Kirkintilloch.

Police said they are pursuing a number of lines of enquiry into the incident and anyone who may be able to help is urged to get in touch.

The previous week, on Friday, April 30, a woman was sexually assaulted on the canal footpath in the town. Police said that there is currently no evidence to suggest the two attacks are linked but that investigators are keeping open minds.

Police Scotland
Officers revisited the scene of the April 30 attack on Friday, May 8 (Police Scotland)
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A Police Scotland spokesperson told STV News: “We are exploring various possibilities as part of the ongoing investigation.”

The April 30 attack happened between 11pm and 11.20pm when a 20-year-old woman was walking on the north canal path between Hillhead Road and Canal Street.

She spotted a man walking towards her who briefly spoke to her before grabbing her and sexually assaulting her. The attacker is described as white with a Glaswegian accent, short brown or dark hair, 5ft 9ins to 6ft tall, aged in his 20s or 30s and of slim build. He was wearing a dark-coloured hoodie with the hood up and joggers.

A spokesperson for the force said: “An investigation is under way after a report that a 14-year-old girl was sexually assaulted at Merkland Nature Reserve on the evening of Saturday, May 8, 2021.

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“We are currently gathering as much information as we can about this incident and are pursuing a number of lines of enquiry as part of this.

“We want to thank the community for their assistance so far. Anyone who may be able to help us is urged to contact Police Scotland on 101, quoting incident 1343 of May 9, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”


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