Albert Finney, celebrated British actor, dies aged 82

Albert Finney has died today after a short illness aged 82.

The Salford-born actor rose to fame in Britain’s film industry during the 60s, establishing his career. He was nominated for five Oscars, four times as best actor and once for best supporting actor.

The actor was offered a CBE in 1980 and a knighthood in 2000 for his contributions to cinema. He turned down both, calling them “a disease which perpetuates snobbery.”

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Albert Finney: 9th May 1936 – 8th February 2019

Finney earned a place at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, learning his trade alongside the likes of Alan Bates and Peter O’Toole.

Finney was first cast in small TV film roles such as She Stoops to Conquer (1956).

Arguably his most prominent role was in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960).

The late actor disappeared from screens after starring in The Bourne Ultimatum and Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead in 2007 while he battled with cancer. After successful treatment, he went on to star in The Bourne Legacy and Skyfall in 2012.

Edinburgh tram extension budget rises to over £207 million

(Credit: Edinburgh Council)

The cost of an extension to the Edinburgh tram lines has risen by 25% to £207.3 million.

The proposed 2.8 mile extension to Edinburgh’s trams would go from the city centre to Newhaven. The initial estimation was for a total cost of £165 million.

After a “thorough tendering process” the operation has been allocated a budget of £196 million and with a “significant additional risk allocation” of 6%. The total budget eclipses the previous estimation,  a 25% rise.

The council claims that the project will be funded by future tram fare revenues, with the projected number of passengers for the first year being 16 million. However, the original project to reintroduce trams to Edinburgh cost twice the original estimation and is subject to an ongoing inquiry.

The final business case was tested against previously completed tram projects by the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School and they found the project is “more likely than not to be delivered within budget” but also recommend an extra £50 million to cover all eventualities.

The soaring budget estimate has had a mixed reaction from the public on Twitter:

The final business case is to be reviewed by councillors in March following the opening of a special data room in the City Chambers today.

Council Leader Adam McVey said: “All Councillors will be taking the opportunity to examine in detail the FBC and associated documents in detail so that we can collectively make as informed a decision as possible come 14 March. If Council moves ahead with this project, we’ll be working hard to make sure we deliver this project on time, on budget.”

Depute Council Leader Cammy Day said: “A tram to Newhaven would not only provide a direct link for the people of Newhaven and Leith to the city centre and out to the airport, but would connect residents and visitors to major employment and travel hubs along the route.

Construction is planned using a “one-dig” approach closing each site only once and opening only when all works are complete. This approach reflects on lessons learned from the previous tram project.”

 

Sturgeon’s North America trip: round-up and reaction

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Sturgeon undertaking business engagements in New York. (Credit: Scottish Government)

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been touring the United States of America and Canada this week, giving speeches and meeting governors to “strengthen trade and cultural links between Scotland and the USA and Canada” and in the process, promoting Scotland’s place on the world stage. Here is everything you need to know about Sturgeon’s ongoing excursion across the pond.

Ahead of her trip, The First Minister said:

“Scotland has a longstanding relationship with North America across family, friendship, culture and business. The latest figures released just this week show how important our trade relationship with North America is for our economy.”

The figures she was referring to were those published by her government this week which stated that the USA was Scotland’s leading export destination in 2017 with £5.5 billion going there and a combined £6.1 billion going to North America. The exports to the United States from Scotland was up by 11.1% since the previous year, and it’ll be the first time a First Minister has visited Canada in more than 10 years.

Monday:

Monday was Sturgeon’s first day of five in the States and she kicked off in Georgetown University in Washington DC to deliver a speech on the “real and growing risk” that the UK will leave the EU with no deal in less than two months’ time.

She also reaffirmed her calls for a second Brexit referendum and hinted to revealing the timing for a second Scottish Independence referendum.

The First Minister said: ”

“I as First Minister have said I will outline my thoughts on the timing of another independence referendum in the next few weeks – once the terms of Brexit have become clearer.

“But amid the confusion and the uncertainty of Brexit, one thing is clearer I think than ever, Scotland’s national interests are not being served by a Westminster system which too often treats Scotland as an afterthought, or too often sees our interests as not being material.

“In my view, those interests can only properly be served by becoming an independent country, but an independent country that then seeks to play its part in an interconnected world.

“And that is a vision that I think more and more people in Scotland, in the wake of the Brexit experience, find very attractive.”

Sturgeon also had an interview with PBS NewsHour about the effects of Brexit in Scotland, as well as conducting business meetings with US companies with connections to Scotland including Verdant Power and the sponsors of Glasgow Warriors rugby team, Leidos.

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Nicola Sturgeon meets representatives of the American tech company, Leidos. (Credit: Scottish Government)

Tuesday

Sturgeon spent her second day in Washington DC and then travelled to New Jersey.

She met CEO of Marriott International Arne Sorenson in Washington DC to acknowledge Marriott’s continued investment in Scotland and to hear from Mr Sorenson about trends in global tourism.

She hopped to New Jersey to meet the Governor there, Phil Murphy and they signed a joint agreement to tackle climate change.

Following the meeting, the First Minister said:

“Climate change is a global problem and agreements like these, working in partnership with like-minded administrations, will help us tackle the harmful effects it has on the planet.”

Wednesday

On the third day, the Sottish leader travelled to New York for a number of business engagements. She met with Conway Inc, an American economic development company as well as announcing Scotland will host the 2022 World Forum for Foreign Direct Investment.

It is important to note that there are 550 US-owned enterprises in Scotland that employ over 106 thousand people and have a combined turnover of more than £30 billion.

Sturgeon said:

“Scotland’s performance on FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) is exceptionally strong, and an indicator of the talent, skills and ingenuity in our economy… Hosting the 2022 World Forum for FDI will allow us to build on that momentum, firmly positioning Scotland on the global stage.”

She then attended a Scotland Is Now investor lunch, hosted by IBM, where she addressed an audience of around 50 senior business people about Scotland’s strengths and assets as an investment location and trading partner.

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Sturgeon addresses 50 senior business people at Scotland Is Now investor lunch in New York. Credit: Scottish Government

Then it was on to Morgan Stanley’s Fusion Center where she discussed technology innovation and collaborative projects. The company employs 1,550 people in Scotland and is a key part of Scotland’s financial services industry.

Later, she was appointed the inaugural #HeForShe Global Advocate by UN Women:

Thursday

Thursday was billed as the day of the official opening of the Scottish Government in Ottawa, Canada.

The announcement of the opening of a Scottish government office in Canada came in August of last year and was scheduled to be opening the following month.

The Scottish government stated that the Ottawa office will:

  • encourage investment between Canadian and Scottish businesses and organisations
  • promote Scotland as a place to work, study and visit
  • develop relationships in key policy areas like climate change, equalities and social enterprise
  • encourage collaboration between business, research, education and cultural institutions

Later, she was joined by Scotland’s national chef Gary Maclean and GlobalScot chef John Higgins who cooked a range of dishes to showcase Scottish cuisine. The menu featured Scottish food and drink available in Canada, including Scottish langoustines, smoked salmon, Scotch Beef, haggis and a selection of Scottish cheeses.

Friday

On the fifth and final day of her excursion, Nicola Sturgeon is on her way to Toronto, the capital of the Canadian province Ontario. There, she will open the Toronto Stock Exchange, visit West Neighbourhood House social enterprise and meet with the Toronto Region Board of Trade.

The first minister stated:

“Scotland and Canada have strong historical links spanning family, friendship and trade. And today, Canada is an important market for Scottish exports, including our growing quality food and drinks products.”

Reaction

There has been a lot of noise on Twitter from Scottish voters and it has been a mixed bag for the leader of the Scottish National Party.

Some have voiced their support for the First Minister:

Pamela Nash writes for The Scotsman:

“The Scottish Government is right to promote Scotland around the world, and that means that ministers must also – from time to time – travel abroad to do so… but not [to promote] the cause of independence.”

And some give a more scathing review of Sturgeon’s overseas expedition:

Writing in The Spectator Stephen Daisley said:

“Mostly the tour has been about Sturgeon playing make-believe world leader. She has given a (flat, predictable) speech on Brexit at Georgetown university… She’s done the rounds at the UN and even been made the inaugural #HeForShe global advocate, which I think means she gets to star in the next Gillette advert.”

 

Small Edinburgh energy supplier ceases trading

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Customers are advised not to change energy provider, as they will be allocated with a new one. (Photo credit: Pexels.com)

Edinburgh-based energy supplier, Our Power has folded today.

Our Power’s 38,000 person customer base will be reallocated a new power supplier by Ofgem’s safety net.

Our Power is one of many small energy providers that have been forced to shut their doors in recent years; amongst them are Economy Energy, Spark Energy, Extra Energy, Future Energy, National Gas and Power, Iresa Energy, Gen4U, One Select and Usio Energy.

The energy regulator, Ofgem has reassured customers that they will not need to worry.

They said: “The energy supply of Our Power’s customers will continue and pre payment meters can be topped up as normal. The outstanding credit balances of domestic customers will be protected.”

Ofgem’s advice to Our Power’s customers in the meantime is:

  • Do not switch to a new energy supplier
  • Take a meter reading ready for when your new supplier contacts you.

Ofgem hope that this will make the transition for customer affected as smooth as possible.

Philippa Pickford, Ofgem’s director for future retail markets, said:

“Our message to energy customers with Our Power is there is no need to worry, as under our safety net we will make sure your energy supplies are secure and your credit balance is protected.”

“Ofgem will now choose a new supplier for you, ensuring you get the best deal possible. Whilst we’re doing this our advice is to ‘sit tight’ and don’t switch. You can rely on your energy supply as normal. We will update you when we have chosen a new supplier, who will then get in touch about your new tariff.”

“We have seen a number of supplier failures over the last year and our safety net procedures are working as they should to protect customers.”

Find out more with Money Savings Expert

Today’s national news

Final talks on teacher’s pay offer.

Council leaders are set to meet today to decide whether or not to make an improved pay offer which still falls short of what the teaching unions want.

The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) teaching union are campaigning for a 10% pay rise and are threatening a strike ballot.

If the EIS vote against the improved pay offer then strike action will be planned.

The revised offer was decided upon two weeks ago, but council leaders still need to meet to decide if they are going to offer it to the teachers union.

The proposed wage rise will be funded by the Scottish Government.

Read more about this story here.

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Special Needs Drivers striking in solidarity. Credit to GMB

 

Nurse convicted of dragging elderly patient by ankles

A nurse has been ordered to carry out unpaid work after being convicted of dragging an 88-year-old patient down a hospital corridor by her ankles.

Steven Campbell, 50, pleaded not guilty to assault but was found guilty after his trial by sheriff Mary McCrory.

His crime was reported by relatives visiting another patient in the Glasgow’s Gartnavel Hospital after they saw him pulling patient Jessie Colquhoun along the corridor and into her room.

Campbell’s victim had dementia, a heart condition and arthritis.

 

Aberdeen’s Deputy Provost resigns in wake of sexual assault charge 

Deputy Provost Alan Donnelly has quit his role after being charged with sexual assault.

The incident allegedly took place in Trinity Hall in Holburn Street last November.

Donnelly was suspended from the Conservative party earlier this month and reported to police.

Police Scotland said a 64-year-old man had been charged and a report would be sent to the procurator fiscal.

 

Changes to food labels proposed after the death of 15-year-old girl

More descriptive food labelling has been proposed following the death of 15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse.

Natasha collapsed on a British Airways flight after she had an allergic reaction to sesame seeds on a Pret a Manger baguette in 2016.

All packaged food such as sandwiches and salads could be required to list the full ingredients.

Under current laws, the company was not required to publish allergen information on the product which caused Natasha to go into cardiac arrest.

 

Scotrail passenger satisfaction falls to 45%

Consumer satisfaction for Scotrail has hit a six-year low as it drops to 45% according to consumer group Which?, with one in four passengers complaining trips are ‘regularly stressful’.

Only 45% of those asked said they were happy with the Scottish train operator’s services, which is down 6% from last year.

Scotrail was voted 23rd out of 30 British train services, although the survey only provides a small glimpse of public opinion, with only 143 respondents.

 

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Scotrail’s ironic slogan. Credit: Scotrail

 

Human bone found in Primark socks

Police are investigating a human bone which has been found in a pair of Primark socks in Essex.

Essex police say the socks were bought in a Colchester store and the bone does not appear to be a result of recent trauma.

Police said the socks were bought on December 10 and was reported to police on January 2.

Police said without further testing, they could not determine the age or origin of the bone.

 

Santander axes Edinburgh and Lothian branches

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Santander Branch on Leith Walk set to close on 9th May. (Picture Credit: Graham Millar)

1270 jobs are being put at risk by the Spanish-owned bank Santander as they begin cutting 140 UK branches. 

Amongst the closures are three in Edinburgh and Lothians. Branches at Leith Walk and  Morningside Road in Edinburgh and George Street in Bathgate are all set to shut their doors permanently.

The banking giant has pointed to “the way customers are choosing to carry out their banking” as the reason for the downsizing of their banking network.

They claim: “The number of transactions carried out via Santander branches has fallen by 23% over the past three years, while transactions via digital channels have grown by 99% over the same period.”

Susan Allen, Head of Retail and Business Banking, said:

“The way our customers are choosing to bank with us has changed dramatically in recent years, with more and more customers using online and mobile channels. 

“We will support customers of closing branches to find alternative ways to bank with us that best suit their individual needs. We are also working alongside our unions to support colleagues through these changes 

“We expect the size of our network to remain stable for the foreseeable future.”

Closures

The closures will begin on April 25 this year and will continue until all 140 closures are complete with the last sites to be shut on December 29, 2019.

George Street, Bathgate will be amongst the first branches to close on April 25, followed by Leith Walk on May 9, and finally Morningside Road on December 12.

Banks all over Britain have been systematically closing down branches over recent years and this is because of many reasons, one of which Santander claims is that the vast majority of their customers are now using online banking and have little or no need to go into their local bank.

However, there are other reasons, such as financial pressure from the recession.  A house of Commons report from 2018 states that between the years of 2007 (the year the recession started) and 2017, there was a staggering 37% drop in the number of bank branches.

In addition, running a bank branch is expensive, between paying for the building and the staff, banks spend millions running these locations.

Find out if your branch is closing with the Which? Bank Branch Closure Checker

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Notice in Santander Branch on Leith Walk. (Picture credit: Graham Millar)

Gareth Shaw, Head of Which? Money, said:

“These closures will come as a blow for all those who rely on access to traditional banking services across the UK, at a time when branches are disappearing at a rate of more than 60 a month.

“While online banking is on the rise, a third of the country still does not use it and, as we’ve seen from a recent spate of IT failures, such systems are not infallible.”

Reaction

The closure of banks will hit some members of the public, such as old people isolated from electronic banking, more than others.

Karen Irvine, a Bathgate resident and Santander customer said:

“I tend to use the Livingston branch more anyway because I shop there more and it’s easier for parking and more convenient.

“I also don’t like using cash lines outside so would rather use Livingston’s inside.

“But I disagree that people will use online instead because I don’t think it’s safe. I do use my iPad at home to check accounts and to transfer from my own account — one to another, but I don’t use it for anything else.”

Jobs at Risk

Santander say they have consulted their trade unions on the changes and will “seek to find alternative roles for the 1270 colleague affects wherever possible.”

They expect to be able to keep on a third of those employees.

Future Branch Changes

Santander plan to spend £5 million over the next two years to refurbish 100 branches.

They say the future branch network “will be made up of a combination of larger branches offering improved community facilities to support local businesses and customers and smaller branches using the latest technology to offer customers more convenient access to banking services.

“The refurbishments will include a range of changes with a focus on personal service, convenience and community engagement.”

Alternatives

Santander states that all current and business account holders can carry out their banking at any Post Office branch across the UK, of which there are over 11,000 locations.

Samantha Wrench, Media Realtions Manager for Santander explains that the branches closed are ones with alternative locations in close proximity, she says:

“For instance, the nearest local branch from Morningside Road 0.1 miles away — it’s actually on the same road, while the nearest local branch to Leith Walk is 1.7 miles away on Hanover Street.”

The local branch in relation to Morningside Road Ms. Wrench references is a Post Office.

According to Moneysavingsexpert.com, you can access basic banking services from your Post Office; such as depositing cheques, withdrawing cash and checking your bank balance, but there are things that you are unable to do unless you are at a bank branch location and these are:

  • Opening new products
  • Setting up standing orders
  • Reporting a lost or stolen card
  • Getting personalised advice

More information on using your Post Office.

 

 

 

 

Edinburgh Burns’ Night – What’s on?

Celebrations are imminent for Burns Night, the annual commemoration of the famous Scottish poet and author’s birthday.

Scots all around the world look forward to the 25th, celebrating the timeless poet’s work with a meal of turnips (‘neeps), potatoes (tatties) and haggis – and, perhaps, the odd recital.

Over the course of the weekend, beginning Thursday 24th January – Saturday 26th, Edinburgh is offering a whole range of exciting and unusual events for revellers to attend.

Below is a list of interesting experiences available to all party-goers and culture-lovers who will be in the nation’s capital over the most Scottish night of the year.

1.Burns Night at Prestonfield House

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On Thursday the 24th December, the Prestonfield House is hosting another one of their famous Burns nights being hosted by Grant Stott.

The Prestonfield House is known for its exceptional food and with Grant Stott making a performance it’s a guaranteed entertaining night.

Preston House Burns night booking

 2.  Burns Supper at The Royal Yacht Britannia 

If it’s food – rather than poetry – that you’re more concerned about then the supper on The Royal Yacht Britannia is for you. A 4-course dinner is on the menu, prepared by their Executive Chef Mark Alston and his team in the original Royal Galleys. A fairly luxurious Burns night, where you’ll be served by butlers in the fine surroundings of the Royal Yacht.

It will be a traditional Scottish meal on the menu with a traditional Scottish music performance from Britannia’s musicians, as well as an ‘Address to the Haggis’ and a whisky tasting.

Royal Yacht Britannia Burns night booking

3. Abba Meets Burns at Akva

Next, a more quirky option for you party lovers.

In this little bit different take on Burns Night, Rabbie Burns meets Sweden (not literally). This special Burns supper is where haggis meets Swedish meatballs (literally).

As well as the supper, there will be lots of fun, dancing and a Swedish raffle. This is all in aid of disabled children’s charity Whizz-Kidz.

Akva Burns night booking

4. Burns Night at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Another traditional Burns night supper for you at the Edinburgh Royal Botanic Garden. An evening offering a three course Scottish meal, Ceilidh, address to the haggis and to top it off: a hot toddy when you arrive!

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Burns night booking

5. The Ghillie Dhu Rabbie Burns Experience

5236256_924f377fIf you’re really craving the sound of some bagpipes –  it is the most patriotic night of the year, after all – then The Ghillie Dhu is the place for you.

The Ghillie Dhu will be celebrating Burns night with a series of suppers and Ceilidhs from 19th January – 28th January. Guests will receive a dram on arrival and a four-course menu including (obviously) haggis.

There will be a reading of Burns poetry and a traditional toast, the evening coming to close in a Ceilidh with a live band.

The Ghillie Dhu Burns night booking

So there you have it, five of the best Burns events Edinburgh has to offer. There are many, many more options from which to choose and you can find out more at the Visit Scotland website.

 

Teachers Union urges Scotland Colleges to ‘return to negotiations’ amidst strike action

Disagreement over wages has sparked strike action amongst college lecturers

The teacher’s trade union,  Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), has strongly urged Colleges Scotland to ‘return to negotiations’ with EIS further-education lecturers over the proposed living-cost pay rise.

 

 

College lecturers across Scotland went on strike on Wednesday, forcing several colleges to close their doors for the day. Lecturers went on strike over a dispute with Colleges Scotland after they failed to meet their demands.

Members of the EIS Further Education Lecturers’ Association (FELA) are campaigning for a ‘fair’ cost of living pay increase and are yet to reach an agreement with Colleges Scotland.

The EIS claims that FE lecturers have not received a cost of living pay increase since April 2016.

Lecturers voted, overwhelmingly, to picket last month, with 90% of those voting backing the action.

The EIS also states:

“Over the period of the dispute, the EIS has amended its pay claim on a number of occasions in a bid to engage college management in meaningful negotiations.

Since mid-December, the EIS has been seeking further talks with Colleges Scotland in the hope of avoiding strike action by reaching a negotiated solution. However, Colleges Scotland has refused to engage in further negotiations prior to today’s strike.”

Many college lecturers have in fact had a substantial pay rise more recently than 2016, due to an agreement to equalise rates of pay at different colleges. Many would also get such payments this year.

However, some other lecturers – especially those who worked at the colleges which previously had the highest rates of pay – have seen their basic salaries remain unchanged for three years.

As well as branding the pay demands ‘unreasonable’, Colleges Scotland states this as one of the reasons as to why the proposed living cost pay rise is unfeasible.

Colleges Scotland says:

“The minimum pay increase any lecturer in Scotland will receive is £2,600, while some are getting huge increases of almost £20,000.

We urge the EIS-FELA to suspend their disruptive strike action which hits students the hardest and, for the first time in this process, seriously engage with colleges
and recognise how incredibly generous this overall package is.”

However, EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan believes Colleges Scotland are using the delivery of equal pay as ‘a barrier to negotiations’ and distorting figures to obscure the facts.

Negotiations are ongoing and EIS-FELA are planning more picket lines for the future.

 

Today’s UK News

Prince Philip involved in car crash which left two women injured

The Duke of Edinburgh is recovering after being left shocked and shaken from the car crash but has walked away unhurt.

Price Philip is 97-years-old and was driving his Land Rover Freelander when he collided with another car when he pulled out of a driveway near the Queen’s Sandringham Estate in Norfolk.

The woman driving the other vehicle, a Kia, and her female passenger needed hospital treatment, while a witness said there was also a baby in the car.

Witness Roy Warne, 75, told the Sun he overheard the Duke tell police he had been “dazzled by the sun”. He said the Land Rover “came across the A149 like a somersault. It was turning on its side over and over.”

The police did not confirm if there was a baby in the car.

Coincidentally, the Norfolk County Council was set to discuss the speed limit on the road today, it is likely to be reduced from 60mph to 50mph.

21-year-old amateur boxer killed in a shooting at a pub

Tom Bell was shot dead in the Maple Tree pub in Doncaster.

The talented boxer was victim to an alleged drive-by shooting, but the full details of the incident have not yet been released by the South Yorkshire police.

Bell, 21, was rushed to a local hospital last night after the attack, but has since died.

No-one else was hurt in the attack and no arrests have been made.

Doncaster Plant Works Amateur Boxing Club, where Mr Bell trained, said in a statement: “We are absolutely devastated to announce the passing of a great warrior who has spent a huge amount of time over the years boxing with our club.

“We are shocked beyond words to hear this sad news and would like to offer our sincere condolences to Tom’s family and closest friends.”

Police plan to dig for missing girl in 43 year old cold case

Detectives plan to excavate land in West Dunbartonshire in the search for a teenager who vanished almost 43 years ago. Mary Duncan disappeared from her home in Third Avenue, Bonhill, on 19 March 1976 when she was 17. Despite an extensive investigation, no trace of the young mother was ever found.

Mary had told her family that she was going to meet a friend, but never returned. She had given birth to a baby girl, named Laura, at the age of 15 on 17th February 1975. She did not take her baby with her when she disappeared, however the baby died of natural causes in 1976.

The police have plans to begin digging just before what would have been Mary’s 60th birthday, after appeals by Mary’s sisters.

Kirkcaldy Shopping centre bids to start at £1

The Postings shopping centre is to be auctioned off with a reserve of just £1 after it failed to attract enough tenants.

14 of the shopping centre’s 21 lots are vacant and is being sold by its owners, a pension fund company, Columbia Threadneedle next month.

This is another in a long line of retail closures in the Kirkcaldy area as shopping increasingly moves to online.

The Postings opened in 1981 and cost £4.25m to build. But the cost of the annual upkeep of the site is now thought to be higher than the £152,000 it generates from rent, prompting Columbia’s decision to sell.

Man dies after five-vehicle crash in Moray

The collision took place place on the A96, near Forres Enterprise Park in Moray at around 5pm on Thursday. Police said a 61-year-old man was airlifted to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary where he died. Three males were taken to Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin for treatment, however their ages are unknown.

 

 

Charity calls for ‘Right to Rehab’ in Scotland

Jane-Claire Judson Chief executive Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland delivers speech. credit to Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland

The Chest, Heart, and Stroke Scotland charity has published a report calling for more funding and accessibility for rehabilitation services in Scotland, claiming that many people lack access to the services.

The One in Five Report highlights what life is like for the estimated one in five people who live with the effects of chest, heart or stroke conditions.

The charity said ministers needed to invest in physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech and language therapists to match demand.

They carried out an extensive report on suffers of ailments such as asthma, COPD, heart disease and strokes. They have found that a vast number of patients have little or no access to any after-care. Many find that after their direct medical treatments, they are left to their own devices in terms of rehabilitation and psychological support.

A survey of 1164 respondents revealed that many people who have experienced these illnesses feel their mental health was affect as a direct result of it.

Jane-Claire Judson, Chief Executive Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, said,

“Too many people are struggling to cope with the impact of their chest, heart or stroke condition. This is unacceptable in modern Scotland.

“Opportunities are being missed to support people to live life to the full and current services need to rise to the challenge. That’s why we are urging the Scottish Government to commit to and invest in establishing a universal ‘Right to Rehab’ so everyone affected by these conditions can rebuild their lives.

“This report should serve as a call to action to all of us. All services need to be better connected. We need to be doing things differently and working together to make sure that there is no life half lived in Scotland.”

“Action on this is a matter of life and health.”

The figures speak for themselves:

  • People with COPD are up to 10 times more likely to have panic attacks
  • After a stroke, people are 2-3 times more likely to have depression
  • One half or respondents suffering from heart conditions say their confidence is expecting

The report also highlights how sufferers with lower incomes are even more vulnerable to mental and physical decline because they are less likely to be able to access personal private healthcare, attend rehabilitation classes – because they may be too far away to commute to or too costly, or receive psychological support from friends, family or professionals:

  • In the most deprived areas of Scotland the mortality rate from stroke is 39.5% higher than in the least deprived
  • 20% of people after a stroke have resorted to paying for private treatment

According to the report, there is not enough availability for rehabilitation services and not enough people are being made aware of the services available to them:

  • Only 9000 out of 69000 people can access pulmonary rehab for chest conditions.
  • 29% of people who have had a stroke want more access to therapists such as physiotherapists, occupational therapists, or speech and language therapists.
  • Around 1 in 5 people say they simply don’t know what support is available to them locally, which suggests that they are not being properly signposted to it.
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Debbie Matthew, stoke survivor from Perthshire describes her struggles. Credit to Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland

Debbie Matthew, from Perthshire is a stroke survivor with a young son. Debbie had a stroke at just age 40. She faced the additional struggles of living in a remote area and feeling unsupported as a result:

“After my stroke, I wasn’t able to drive for nearly a year and because I live in a remote part of Scotland without a regular bus service it meant getting anywhere was really difficult. Transport is only available to the over 65s in my local area so because I was in my early 40s when I had my stroke, the only options for me were to rely on taxis which were really expensive or the goodwill of family and friends. Neither of these options were good for me.”

 

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