Man jailed for attacking pensioner with a hammer

A man who forced his way into a pensioners home after beating her round the head with a hammer has been sentenced to five and a half years.

James Hume, 26, showed up at 76 year-old Phyllis Biggar’s home at 4am on October 15th armed with a hammer before demanding she give him money.

Mrs Biggar has spinal cancer and was able to raise a disability alarm which alerted her carers before the attacker could do more harm. He repeatedly struck her on both arms and the head while she was crying for help with the intentions of robbing her house afterwards.

The police were eventually called when one of Mrs Biggar’s carers heard the assault over a loud speaker in her home. The convict fled the scene at the sound of police sirens before the victims daughter arrived at the house to find her mother on the hallway floor soaked in blood.

Mrs Biggar was then taken to hospital where she was treated for serious wounds to the head. The court heard that she will be scarred for life.

Hume was understood to be living with his aunt in a house located on the street behind Mrs Biggar’s. He pleaded guilty to the attack at the High Court in Glasgow.

Lord Arthurson told Hume:

“This was a vulnerable lady who you attacked with a hammer. Your criminal conduct must have been absolutely terrifying.”



Scotland’s labour market continues to tighten

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(Credit: Wikipedia)

Demand for permanent and temporary staff in Scotland has increased in the past few months, according to a new jobs survey.

Statistics put together by Royal Bank of Scotland have indicated that IT and computing saw the highest level of permanent vacancies in January. However, while temporary positions have increased slightly overall, the largest number of unfilled part-time vacancies were in medical, nursing and care professions.

The Royal Bank of Scotland’s Report on Jobs determined that the rate of deterioration in permanent staff supply was the strongest it has looked since 2014. The report consists of multiple responses to a survey sent to around 100 recruitment and employment consultancies.

Sebastian Burnside, chief economist at Royal Bank of Scotland, said:

”Continued expansion in permanent job placements and temporary staff billings across Scotland was seen in January, indicating further signs of a tightening labour market.

”Overall, survey data portrayed a favourable labour market for workers in Scotland, with pay pressures rising as a result of strong imbalances in staff supply and demand.”


Children’s Mental Health Week rounds off fourth consecutive year

(Credit: Let The People Speak)

Children’s Mental Health Week comes to an end in the UK this weekend after the ‘Place2Be’ campaign received an overwhelming amount of support on social media.

Overseeing school talks and spreading awareness has been the main focus for mental health organisations this week after figures were released late last year showing that one in eight people under the age of 19 suffered from mental health issues.

The ‘mental health of young people and children survey’ conducted by the NHS was launched in November 2018 and provided evidence to suggest that one in five children were victims of cyberbullying, statistics many organisations have highlighted to underscore the importance of awareness campaigns like Children’s Mental Health Week this year.

Place2be‘ has focused this week around their ‘Health: Inside and Out’ campaign which attempts to spread awareness around the physical wellbeing of children and how it can affect their mental state.

However, much attention has now been drawn towards the social media aspect of the campaign after reports surfaced of children attempting to commit suicide as a result of online bullying in the past few months.

According to government surveys, at least 40% of parents are concerned about their child’s wellbeing in relation to online bullying.

Many public figures have been spreading awareness on Twitter using ‘#ChildrensMentalHealthWeek’, sparking high levels of online debate regarding recent issues.

Tom Watson, deputy leader of the Labour party used the hashtag to push for better access to arts and sports in schools:

Mick Coyle, presenter for Radio City Live in Liverpool, highlighted a public art project that saw 200 pairs of childrens’ shoes laid out, representing the annual suicide rate for young people:

Government proposals have now been put forth as a part of Children’s Mental Health Week and MP’s are now expected to introduce sanctions on social media websites in order to tackle the ongoing cyberbullying crisis.


The links between depression and genetics

A new Edinburgh University study highlights the link between depression and genetics. (Credit: Sebastian Faugstad)

An international study conducted by the University of Edinburgh has revealed a clear link for the first time between depression and genetics.

Researchers analysed over 2 million people and discovered 269 new genes that can now be associated with depression, which many scientists are claiming will open the door to new treatments in the future. The study was the largest of its kind to date and oversaw the analysis of personal data spread throughout 20 countries.

The study found that genetic variations were impacting nerve connections controlling both decision making and personality in certain parts of the brain. The discovery has shed light on a significantly dark area surrounding the roots of the illness and has highlighted specific personality traits that could be at risk.

With depression now known to be running within families, scientists estimate that over a third of all previous and existing cases could be linked to genetics. As many as one in six people will be affected by this illness in their lifetime.

Edinburgh University (Credit: Wikipedia)

Findings indicate that people who carry such genes will also be at risk of schizophrenia, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and neurotic personality traits. However, research suggests that something as simple as DNA screening would be able to indicate whether a person will be affected by this genetic disorder long before they start experiencing symptoms.

Professor Andrew McIntosh, the lead scientist on the study, is optimistic about the positive impact the findings will have on the future of mental health.

He said: “These findings are further evidence that depression is partly down to our genetics. We hope that by launching the GLAD study, we will be able to find out more about why some people are more at risk than others of mental health conditions, and how we might help living with depression and anxiety more effectively in the future.”

Evidence has also suggested that smoking could be directly related to depression in multiple cases, despite environmental factors remaining the number one cause for the illness.

Over 40,000 people throughout the UK will now be tested in the next phase of research which will require participants to submit their saliva for genetic analysis and fill out a health and lifestyle questionnaire.

Revealed: the cleaning crisis in Edinburgh schools

cleaning schools photo.png

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A number of schools in Edinburgh have such poor levels of cleaning that it is “compromising health and safety standards”.

Unite, the trade union representing cleaners, have taken testimony from a number of members who tell of cleaners being shipped from school to school in the space of only one afternoon, potentially jeopardising standards.

This news comes on the day that council leaders meet to discuss how best to cut £33 million from the council budget.

Following Edinburgh city councils budget cut of an estimated £250 million in the last five years, cleaners have reported a shocking neglect of both staff and resources, forcing a supervisor to contact her union.

It has been noted that one individual employed by a major high school in Edinburgh was forced to visit several other community buildings to ensure the school did not run out of essential materials.

In another case, prior to complaints regarding a lack of cleaning materials, teachers were seen bringing in baby wipes to work to ensure the tables were clean for students to work on.

Mary Alexander, Unite’s Deputy Scottish Secretary, has labelled the situation as “ridiculous”.

She said: “Unite has heard numerous stories from cleaners across the city highlighting the lack of cleaning materials, and staff due to council cuts. Cleaners are in some instances being transported around schools to address the lack of provisions. The situation is compromising health and safety standards”.

It is estimated the Edinburgh City Council will face at least £41 million worth of cuts in the next year as well as a further £106 million in the following three years.

Midlothian council “fly in the face” of the Scottish Government by axing all music tuition for school pupils

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Midlothian council will be the first in Scotland to scrap musical tuition for all school pupils who are not participating in Higher or National five exams, a move that “flies in the face” of Scottish Government guidelines.

The recent council proposal, denying all pupils below S4 the right to study a musical instrument outside of school hours, is expected to be announced before the boards budget meeting on the 12th of February.

The cuts are set to be introduced after a campaign was set up last year, actively criticising multiple local authorities who implemented high pricing for musical lessons. Midlothian council currently charge £205 a year for instrumental lessons and are the only board in Scotland enforcing charges for pupils who sit exams in music, raising concern amongst parents who have been questioning the authority on their child’s right to a free education.

Scottish policy dictates that no parent should have to pay any form of tuition if their child is sitting SQA examinations in that subject.

However, elsewhere Moray council has revealed plans to increase musical tuition to £699 a year, making it the highest in Scotland.

An experienced Edinburgh based instrumental teacher and union representative who spoke to us on the condition of anonymity claims the recent cuts contradict the Scottish Governments attitude towards free education.

He said; ‘It means that only the better off will have access to private tuition and the range of instruments will be limited. It flies in the face of recent Scottish government guidelines that tuition should be free.’

A spokeswoman for the council claims the cuts are an inevitable measure given an £11.5 million shortfall in the councils budget this year.










Man found guilty of murdering a pensioner

A man has been convicted of robbing and murdering a pensioner in his own home in Aberdeenshire.

Steve Sidebottom, 25, was found guilty of murdering Brian McKandie, 67, by a jury at the High Court in Aberdeen early this morning.

The sentence is still to be carried out, however the judge informed the accused that he will inevitably be sentenced to life.

Mr McKandie’s death was originally reported as an accident by the local police prior to a post-mortem examination which showed the pensioner received at least 15 blows to the head.

The motive of the attack is understood to be related to the amount of cash Mr McKandie was known to have in his house, despite Sidebottom’s lawyer making the point that there was no clear evidence that there was cash taken from the house.

Police found over £200,000 in cash hidden away in sweet tins and shoe boxes after searching the house and it was later discovered that locals were aware Mr McKandie accepted cash-in-hand payments for performing car repairs in his garage.


(Photo credit: Police Scotland)

Mr McKandie was known to have acquired a successful business over the years and was respected locally as a handy man and a mechanic. He often told customers how the cash would fill his shoebox.

Sidebottom was understood to be planning something criminal in a pursuit for a significant amount of money and soon came to police attention after officers found inconsistencies in the information he had provided regarding his whereabouts when the crime took place.

The 25 year old spent thousands of pounds around the time of the murder and bought expensive gifts for his student girlfriend.

The sentencing will be carried out at the High Court in Edinburgh on the 6th of March.

Illegal levels of air quality found in Edinburgh’s most polluted streets

pollution article photo

(Photo credit: Friends of the Earth Scotland)


As many as four streets in Edinburgh have been found to be breaching European regulation for pollution, according to recent findings provided by ‘Friends of the Earth’.

The most recent analysis carried out has determined that air quality in the busiest areas of both Glasgow and Edinburgh has worsened in the past year, with figures in Nitrogen Dioxide and Particulate Matter rising above the legal limit. The latest insurgence means that air pollution is now 50% higher than what is legally accepted by the government and is set to increase given the areas use for cars and busses.

Edinburgh’s Queensferry Road was the highest on record for the contamination of Nitrogen Dioxide with a figure of 51 micrograms per cubic metre (mcg/m3). Shortly behind was Nicolson Street, one of Edinburgh’s most congested streets for traffic, which gave a reading of 49 mcg/m3. The European ambient air quality directive allows for there to be a maximum of 40 mcg/m3, however with St Johns road showing a reading of 46 mcg/m3, it is now currently the city’s third street in violation of NO2 regulation.

Nitrogen Dioxide and Particulate Matter are the only two measures of air pollution and can only be impacted directly by fossil fuel engines.

Edinburgh is the one city in Scotland going over the Scottish air quality objective for Particulate Matter, which is capped at 18mcg per cubic metre. Both Queensferry Road (26mcg) and Salamander Street (21mcg) were the only two areas in the city breaching the capped limit.

Gavin Thomson, Air Pollution Campaigner for Friends of the Earth Scotland, claims “the Scottish Government’s ‘Cleaner Air for Scotland’ strategy has clearly failed to deliver” and draws attention towards the impact these results have on health.

He said; “Air pollution is responsible for over 2,500 early deaths every year in Scotland. It has been linked with heart attacks, strokes, and cancers, and vulnerable groups such as the young, the elderly and those already suffering ill health are at particular risk. The health evidence on the impact of air pollution is overwhelming. We need to act now.”

The Scottish government has enforced a low emission zone (LEZ) in Glasgow, setting emission standards which are compulsory for up to 20% of busses that pass through the city centre. Similar zones are set to be introduced in Edinburgh by 2020 despite environmentalists claiming it will have very little impact within the next year.

Chas Booth, the green councillor for transport, claims the recently published figures are “absolutely avoidable”.

He said; “With bold action both from the council and the Scottish government we could be significantly reducing the air pollution and the toxic air that our citizens are forced to breathe every day. With significant investment in active travel and a boost for public transport, we could be getting a proper grip of this epidemic.”

Despite multiple environmentalist groups drawing serious concern towards the issue, the Scottish government insist Scotland still has better air quality than most countries in Europe and continue to persist with strict targets.



Comedian Jeremy Hardy dies aged 57

Hardy photo

(Photo Credit – Wikimedia Commons)


The comedian, Jeremy Hardy, has died aged 57 after losing his fight to cancer, according to his publicist Amanda Emery.

Hardy was a regular feature on BBC radio 4, taking his place on multiple panel shows such as ‘The News Quiz’ and ‘Sorry I Haven’t a Clue’.

The comedian wrote regular columns for The Guardian and was an active campaigner for Jeremy Corbyn during the Labour party leadership election.

Hardy’s career extended past radio on many occasions, featuring on BBC TV programmes such as ‘Black Adder’ and ‘Mock the Week’.

In a statement his publicist Emery said;

“He was with his wife and daughter as he died.

“He retained to the end the principles that guided his life, trying to make the world more humane, and to be wonderfully funny.

“He will be enormously missed by so many, who were inspired by him and who laughed with him.

“A fitting memorial will take place, details to be announced soon.”

The news of Hardy’s death has received  attention from many colleagues and friends on social media.

Guardian Columnist, Owen Jones, said;

‘Utterly devastated to hear of Jeremy Hardys death. He was such a wonderful guy, hilarious, full of humanity and heart, committed to fighting for a world without injustice. Just a lovely bloke. F*** cancer. RIP Jeremy Hardy.’

Singer and songwriter, Billy Brag also said;

‘Very sorry to hear that Jeremy Hardy has passed away. He was a stalwart at left wing benefit gigs and will be greatly missed by friends and fans. My thoughts are with his family.’


St Mirren v Hibernian: Match Preview

Hibernian will be looking to avoid an upset this Sunday as they travel to St Mirren park in a bottom of the table clash.

Neil Lennon’s side have failed to win in their last five league games and will be looking to turn things around this weekend in pursuit of closing the gap on the top 6. The Hibees currently sit in 8th place, 7 points behind local rivals Hearts who sit comfortably in 6th.

St Mirren will be trying to push themselves off the bottom of the table this weekend after winning just one of their last five games in the league. They sit just one point behind Dundee and will be looking to bounce back from their 4-0 defeat at Celtic park midweek.

St Mirren manager, Owen Kearney, has expressed how he has not started to feel the fear of the drop just yet and insists the recent run of fixtures have not been kind to his team. Despite a tight contest with Dundee at the bottom of the table, Kearney is adamant he is not focused on the results of other teams and remains determined to improve St Mirren poor run of form.

St mirren stadium

St Mirren Stadium. (Photo credit: FraggleRock52 on Wikipedia)

Hibs can take confidence from their previous encounter with St Mirren on away ground where they prevailed with a 1-0 victory. However, the buddies managed to hold out for a 2-2 draw when the two sides met at Easter road in December and believe they can do better on home soil.

Lennon claims his team’s poor run of results has been down to losing several players since the summer.

He said: “We’ve lost a lot of quality players in the last 6 months from July, there’s no denying that. But it’s an opportunity for the players that are still here to step up and take responsibility.”

Lennon also blames a lack of consistency for Hibernian’s current form and is determined to kick it out of their game.

He added: “We’re not doing the basics well enough, our decision making has been poor. We’ve been working on it in training again and again until it becomes second nature.”

The match will be covered live on Sky Sports from 1pm.


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