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28 February 04
North Action Group Meet
Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm In Inverness
of the North Action Group travelled to Inverness by train on Saturday 28
February after requesting a meeting with health minister Malcolm Chisholm.
The group consisting of chairman George Bruce and members Highland
councillor Bill Fernie, Martin Duffy and two mothers Kerry Mackenzie and
Aelex Bain met with Mr Chisholm at the Palace Hotel, Inverness.
Arriving earlier than expected for the ten minute meeting he stayed
talking to the group for 45 minutes and listened to the members outline
the fears of people in the north for the safety of mothers and babies in
the maternity side of the hospital but also emphasised the growing fears
of many about what would happen to gynaecology patients who also required
the services of consultants.
Caithness Car Club = Track day 21st March 2004
track-day will be held at Littleferry, Golspie on Sunday 21st March at the
cost of £35 per driver payable on the day. A Scrutineer will be
available, allowing all drivers an opportunity to check that their cars
comply with the championship regulations for the start of the 2004 season,
and also to make sure that their MSA log books are in order where they are
needed. This is particularly important for drivers of Modified Production
cars, as the MSA regulations have changed for the 2004 season.
Spectators Entrance £2
26 February 04
HOME ZONE AT ORMLIE
Councillors this week visited one of only four Home Zone projects in
Scotland to check on the progress of the £250,000 community safety scheme.
Councillor Charlie King, Chairman of the Transport, Environmental and
Community Services Committee, joined members of the Caithness Area
Committee in looking at the project at Ormlie, Thurso. The
Council has contributed £150,000 towards the innovative project, which
will see a range of traffic calming, road realignment and pedestrian
friendly measures as well as new street lighting and environmental
features introduced on Marr Terrace, Ironside Place, Provost Sinclair Road
and Lord Thurso Court.
BUILD A BIRD BOX DAY AT
Dunnet Bay Visitor Centre turned into a busy workshop for eager bird box
builders last Sunday when over 20 volunteers turned up to 'Build a Bird
Box Day'. The event was organised by Rangers in The Highland
Council's Planning and Development Service in response to the Local
Biodiversity Action Plan which highlighted a need for specialised bird
boxes. Instead of the more common tit and robin type nest boxes, the
volunteers tried their hand at building tree creeper and communal house
sparrow boxes. The tree creeper boxes will be erected in broadleaf
woodlands such as Dunbeath and Achvarasdal and the communal house sparrow
boxes in towns through out the county.
25 February 04
SHARP RISE IS HIGHLAND CONSUMER DEBT CASES
The number of consumer debt cases dealt with by The Highland Council's
Money Advice Service in the first six weeks of this year has risen by 57%
over the same period last year. So far in 2004, the Money Advice Service
has received 130 new contacts, 100 of whom have multiple debts.
Excessive use of credit cards over the Christmas period is blamed for the
festive hangover across the country. Consumers are being advised not
to compound their problems by borrowing more money to repay debts. Instead
they are being encouraged to seek free, impartial help and advice locally
throughout the Highland area from the Money Advice Service or from
voluntary sector agencies.
23 February 04
Brian Mackay Reports On Saturdays' Win For
afternoon Thurso F.C won their sixth trophy since formation in 1998 after
defeating Balintore in The PCT Cup Final 1-0 at Dudgeon Park in Brora.
The only goal of the game was scored by former Brora Rangers forward Lee
MacDougall with approx. 15 minutes to go. It was a deserved win for Thurso
as agreed by the opposition in the social club afterwards.
20 February 04
Caithness Glass Calls In The Receivers
Deloitte Touche the well known accountancy firm have been called in as
receivers for the well known Caithness firm of glass makers that have
premises in Wick, Oban, Perth and King's Lynn. The firm have changed
hands a number of times over the years and are well known for their paper
weights and their long association with the Mastermind trophies. Up
to 50 staff are employed at Wick. A representative for Deloitte
Touch interviewed on television today said they were hopeful of finding a
buyer for the business which they are continuing to operate meantime.
The firm is one of the largest private employers at Wick and it would be a
severe blow to the area if staff were to be made redundant in an area
already suffering a high rate of unemployment.
ESS PRESENTS SPECIAL RECOGNITION AWARD TO
OFFSHORE WORKER FROM THURSO
Mike Russell, from Thurso, Caithness, has been presented with an award in
recognition of his work with ESS Support Services Worldwide onboard the
ChevronTexaco operated Captain Wellhead Protector Platform (WPPA).
Mike Russell was presented with the Special Recognition award at the first
ever ‘Be a Star’ awards ceremony and dinner dance held by the offshore
division of ESS, at the Queen’s Hotel in Aberdeen. More than 130 employees
and customers attended the inaugural dinner where six awards were
presented to three outstanding employees and teams.
Deaf Communication Project Appoints New
A project to improve
communication between deaf and hearing people in Highland appointed a new
Manager, Jenny Liddell, on 19th January 2004, to take the project into its
next development phase. The Deaf Communication Project, which
is jointly funded by the European Social Fund, Highland Council and NHS
Highland, has been providing courses in sign language, lip-reading and
other communication skills since 1997 and is building up a staff of
experienced deaf tutors. The new Deaf Communication Project
Manager hopes to further expand the range of training on offer and to
develop new services to assist people who need hearing support. Ms
Liddell is a graduate in Communications and will draw on her background in
marketing, PR and fundraising to develop the project.
18 February 04
DOUNREAY TO RECRUIT 1000th ENGINEERING APPRENTICE
Dounreay is to recruit its 1000th engineering apprentice
in the same year that the UK Atomic Energy Authority is fifty years old. A total of 993 young people from
across the Highlands and Islands have joined UKAEA's engineering
apprenticeship scheme at Dounreay since the first intake in 1955.
Recruitment adverts for the next intake
of seven engineering apprentices in August this year are being published
in local newspapers this week.
16 February 04
CALL FOR EARLY ANNOUNCEMENT
ON REMOVAL OF COUNCIL TAX DISCOUNTS
ON SECOND HOMES
"In some communities in the Highlands more than half the houses are
registered as either second homes or holiday homes". The
Highland Council Convener Alison Magee has written again to Scottish
Executive Finance and Public Services Minister Andy Kerr urging him to
make a firm and public commitment to remove the 50% council tax discount
on second and holiday homes and to make a speedy announcement to enable
the change to be factored into the Council's 2004 - 2005 Budget.
15 February 04
Rob Gibson MSP Hits Out
At Long Patient Waiting Times In Highland
SNP MSP Rob Gibson for the Highlands and Islands has reacted angrily to
provisional patient waiting time figures that show that patients in the
Highlands and Islands have to wait over a month more than the average to
be seen. The figures were revealed by Health Minister Malcolm
Chisholm after a question by SNP MSP Linda Fabiani. The
figures for Highland shows that Outpatients/first appointments have to
wait on average 72 days to be seen (the average for the region should be
43 days). Inpatients/day cases (for Highland) have to wait 75 days
(average 40 days).
11 February 04
SCREEN MACHINE - THE SEQUEL
best traditions of the Hollywood blockbusters it has brought to
communities throughout the Highlands and Islands, the pioneering Screen
Machine mobile cinema is to have a sequel. A grant of £428,000 from the Scottish
Arts Council's (SAC) National Lottery Fund, along with £150,000 from
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and funding from Scottish Gas,
Scottish Rural Challenge Fund and Volvo has enabled owners and operators
HI-Arts to order a new vehicle. Building on the experience of five years
on the road with the prototype, Screen Machine 2 will bring a true cinema
experience to more film fans across the Highlands and Islands.
10 February 04
Voluntary Groups Share In £2.4 million
For Rent Deposit Schemes
New services, to help people who find it difficult to
scrape together the initial deposit to rent a home, will be running across
Scotland by the end of the year. Funding for a new development worker to
drive forward work on improving access to private rented accommodation was
announced as part of a £2.4 million funding package for the voluntary
sector. Rent deposit or guarantee schemes
support people who do not have enough money saved to pay the deposit for a
private rented house or flat.
10 February 04
ROB GIBSON MSP CALLS FOR NEW GAMING LAW
Rob Gibson SNP MSP for Highlands and Islands has called on the
Scottish Executive to review the game laws. This follows EU legal action
against the UK for failing to ensure sufficient protection for black
grouse, ptarmigan, red grouse and partridge.
10 February 04
COUNCIL TAX AND RENT INCREASES TO BE
CONFIRMED ON THURSDAY
A rise of £50 at Band D, a 5.1% increase (£1,039), is being recommended
for approval when The Highland Council meets on Thursday to set the
Council Tax for 2004-2005. This follows the decisions taken last
week when the Council agreed a budget of £438.4 million, which shows a net
increase in spending of almost £22 million. The Council will also be asked
to confirm that council house rent increases be contained to the Retail
Price Index plus 1% i.e. 3.5%. This will result in the average rent
increase in 2004-2005 being £1.74 per week.
10 February 04
New Contract Sees Fisheries
Flights Move to Inverness
The Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency is set to relocate its
reconnaissance aircraft from Prestwick to Inverness Airport following a
contract award with Highland Airways. The Agency has signed a
five-year deal with the regional air operator to maintain and crew its two
Cessna F406 reconnaissance aircraft, which will operate out of Inverness.
The contract will commence on 1st April 2004. The aircraft will be
based in Inverness and carry out patrols over Scottish waters. The
contract will see Highland Airways employ 12 new members of staff.
9 February 04
Caithness West CC Tours Dounreay
And Picks Up Donated Computer
Six members of
Caithness West Community Council recently visited Dounreay. They
toured the site and saw at first hand the work being carried out to
decommission the Prototype Fast Reactor. UKAEA Dounreay have donated a PC
to the community council.
9 February 04
Train To Work In Tourism And Hospitality
Following on from
the success of a pilot programme last year, people in Caithness and
Sutherland considering working in the tourism and hospitality industry are
once again to be given an opportunity to acquire the essential skills
required to gain employment in that sector. A limited number of
places are available on two separate pre-season training courses, which
are to be funded by Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise (CASE), to be
delivered at venues in Wick and Dornoch. The courses will run from 1st
March – 19th March in Dornoch and 8th March – 26th March in Wick, and will
be approximately 30 hours per week.
COUNCIL BUDGET RECOMMENDS 7.1% GROWTH
The Highland Council agreed at a special meeting on Thursday (5
February) to set a budget of £438.4 million for 2004-2005 - which includes
budget growth of £29.7 million or 7.1 %. The proposed budget should
permit the Council to restrict an increase in the Council Tax to £50 at
Band D when it meets again on Thursday 12 February to set the Council Tax
for the new financial year. The current Band D is £989.
Waterproof Writing System For Marine Activities -
Produced In Thrumster
new innovative business has started in Thrumster, with help from Caithness
and Sutherland Enterprise (CASE). Jo Bartlett - who moved with her husband
Paul to the area from Leicester last year - has taken the family's passion
for sailing and identified a gap in the market for waterproof data
Operating as MICS Ltd www.marinecard.com , Jo and Paul have invented a
waterproof system to allow fellow sailors to take and record vital
information on the water. One method currently used by watersports
enthusiasts is pen and paper - which is obviously unsuitable in wet
conditions - but the MARINECARD will allow them to print and record data
on laminated pouches, which are secured in a moulded plastic holder and
attached to the wrist or equipment with a Velcro strap.
2 February 04
TRANSPORT MINISTER VISITS HIGHLANDS
TO ANNOUNCE TIMING ON A9 CAITHNESS UPGRADE
Transport Minister Nicol Stephen today said work on the first phase of
a major £12 million upgrade of the A9 from Helmsdale to Ord of Caithness
is expected to begin in late spring, subject to statutory procedures being
completed. Mr Stephen said the upgrade would improve access and
would be completed in two phases, with the first section from Allt Briste
North to North of Ord of Caithness to start soon. The Minister
today visited Helmsdale with local MSP Jamie Stone and local MP John
Thurso to look at the upgrade route and to examine calls for a footway
link on the A9. He also visited Tain, announcing the Executive would
improve road markings at the Tain Bypass to enhance junction safety.
1 February 04
Burst Water Main In Wick
supplies were stopped for a short time early on Sunday morning on
the south side of Wick. Teams from Scottish Water managed to
reconnect supplies from the main and worked for the rest of the day on
repairing the break. Water leaked into the foundations of one house.
1 February 2004
CAITHNESS PUPILS' DESIGN SUCCESS
Two pupils from Caithness were presented with £200 worth of stationery
for their schools and a DVD player for themselves after featuring in the
prize list of an art competition to design the cover of The Highland
Council's 2004 Lyreco catalogue for office supplies. Stephanie
Webster (7), Wick North Primary, won the Primary 1-4 category and Liam
Larnach (11), Pulteneytown Primary, Wick, the category for special needs
pupils. They were presented with their prizes at a meeting of The
Highland Council's Education Culture and Sport Committee last week at