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Caithness News Bulletins January 2004

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30 January 04
Thurso FC V Alness United - Saturday 31 January
Following on from last week's progression to their second cup final of the season having defeated league leaders Golspie 5-0 in The PCT Cup Semi on Saturday, Thurso F.C now concentrate back on to league duties as they face a tough away trip to Alness to take on Alness United. The game kicks off at 2 p.m and the bus leaves The Dammies at 10.45, weather permitting of course.

 29 January 04
Urgent works required at Thurso Burial Ground and Scalesburn Road in Wick have been given the go-ahead with funding of £300,000 assured from The Highland Council's central capital budget of the Transport, Environmental and Community (TEC) Services.  Highland Council members at the TEC Services committee today approved £150,000 funding for Thurso Burial ground and a further £150,000 for works at Scalesburn Road to be carried out in the current financial year.

29 January 04
Snow Scenes In Caithness
Wendy Sutherland has already been out with her camera and send us a picture of Wick last night and a few of Thrumster today


29 January 04
Due to a continued deterioration in weather conditions and a concern for pupil safety, The Highland Council's Education Culture and Sport Service decided there would be no school transport operating today (Thursday) in Caithness. Sutherland and other Highland counties.  The A9 was closed at Berriedale today.

29 January 04
Winter In Sutherland
A few seasonal scenes from the Sutherland Collection.  these pictures are from an earlier winter but no doubt the pictures will be very similar with today's weather in the north of Scotland

29 January 04
All Schools In Caithness Closed Today
With more snow forecast for today and school transport already cancelled all Caithness schools have taken the decision not to open to prevent the problems of trying to get pupils home again in worsening conditions.  Snow was falling heavily in Caithness and across various parts of the Highlands this morning.

29 January 04
Caithness Takes Two Highlands And Islands Media Awards
Young Journalist of the Year is Ally McGilvray of the John O'Groat Journal, Wick, whose colleague Corrina Thomson, was highly commended in the Features' section.  Photographer of the Year is John Baikie (left), a freelance from Castletown.


25 January 04

The Government has agreed to work in partnership with The Highland Council and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar over a review of shipping safety in the Minches. The Councils won this assurance at a meeting with Shipping Minister, David Jamieson MP, in London today (Monday) when they highlighted their safety concerns and their misgivings about the sinking and subsequent unsuccessful salvage of the freighter, MV Jambo, and its cargo last summer.

 26 January 04

The Highland Council is to urge the Scottish Executive to modernise outdated legislation surrounding school transport to significantly increase the number of pupils qualifying for free travel to and from school.
Members of the Education Culture and Sport Committee want the Executive to change the rules governing eligibility so that children under eight years qualify if they live one mile or more from school and children 8 years and over qualify if the live two miles or more from school. The current thresholds are two miles and three miles respectively.

26 January 04

A new scheme aimed at encouraging young people from low-income households to remain in full-time education between the ages of 16 to 19 will be introduced into Highland Schools from August 2004 and is expected to be fully operational by 2006.  Funded by the Scottish Executive, the new 'Education Maintenance Allowances' will be administered by The Highland Council's Education, Culture and Sport Service and will replace the existing system of Higher School Bursaries.

25 January 04
AEA Batteries On Mars The Best By Millions Of Miles

As science enthusiasts celebrate the initial success of Mars Express's mission, scientists at AEA Battery Systems are also celebrating their role in the mission... the power behind the science.  As European space science takes a great leap forward with the broadcasting today of the first video sequence featuring famous Martian landmarks and other initial results of the Mars Express orbiter's mission, British scientists from AEA Battery Systems, who provide the power to the Mars Express, are among many raising their hopes of discovering the lost Beagle 2 Lander.  AEA Battery Systems designed, developed and tested the battery which is at the core of the central power subsystem of the Mars Express orbiter, delivering energy to the seven instruments which are conducting the remarkable science seen over the past few days.  However, AEA's Lithium-ion battery on Mars Express also supported the orbiter's renewed search for the Beagle 2 Lander over this weekend.

24 January 04

A JOINT Police operation in Shetland has resulted in the seizure of controlled drugs with a street value of £25,000.  Around 25 officers, mainly from Northern Constabulary but including officers from Grampian, took part in the raids which all came under the banner of Operation Lapel.  Also used during the searches were drug detection dogs from the Shetland-based charity Dogs Against Drugs.   Large quantities of Heroin, Ecstasy tablets and Cannabis resin were recovered from various addresses in Lerwick at the end of a lengthy operation which spanned several months.

23 January 04
Local businessman Kevin Imlach (23) has drawn on the assistance available in his area from a Royal source to help develop his business as fencer and drystane dyker.  The Prince's Scottish Youth Business Trust (PSYBT) gave help at the outset of Kevin's enterprise at the end of last year with a funding package of £2000 as well as professional business support to guide the transition to self employment.  Mr Imlach said; "It has been a long process in getting my business off the ground but making contact with the PSYBT has been invaluable with their understanding of my circumstances and guidance into working for myself. This help has been extended to give financial assistance towards a vehicle, which has proven to be a necessity in a widespread area like Caithness.

22 January 04
North Airports’ Passenger Figures Rise to Over 700,000
More than 700,000 passengers flew via airports in the North of Scotland in the past nine months.  Figures for the third quarter of 2003/04 issued by Highlands and Islands Airports today (22nd January 04) show that 726,751 travellers used the company’s 10 airports in the nine months to end of December. This is an increase of more than 50,000 passengers on the previous year’s running total.

21 January 04
Divers, fishermen and local people asked to look out for rare underwater plant
Divers, inshore fishermen and local people from West Sutherland and North West Ross are being asked to report sightings of a rare underwater plant.  Common Eelgrass, (Zostera marina) is a species of seagrass with leaves that are said to look like green eels when they move with the current of the sea. It is the subject of a survey being carried out this year by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) to find out where it occurs around the north coast.  Common eelgrass likes a sheltered sand or mud substrate to grow in and does not like to grow deeper than 10m. There are three different species of eelgrass in the UK and all are considered scarce. It is an important species for the biodiversity of Scotland's marine environment by providing shelter for flatfish and, in some areas, for cephalopods such as squid and octopus.

21 January 04
UKAEA Support For Salvation Army White Water Rafting Event
Dounreay has recently donated money to the Salvation Army in support of their highly successful sponsored white water rafting fund-raising event that was held in John O'Groats last year.  Margaret Shortreed, Salvation Army Songster Leader, said 'We are very grateful to all the organisations who have contributed towards the white water rafting and to Dounreay for their additional donation and also to the Dounreay Firefighters who took part.  The monies raised will assist with the wide variety of ongoing work of the Salvation Army within the local community in the Thurso area'.

19 January 04
Charity Triples
The Town & County Bowls Club held its annual Billy Bain Memorial Charity Triples Competition on Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th January, which is sponsored by UKAEA.  There were a total of 28 teams entered with each team being made up with members from different clubs around the county.  The total raised over the weekend for Crossroads Care was £585.

19 January 04
CASE Monthly Report December 2003

17 January 04
Fur and Feather Show

For the seventh year in a row The Highland Council has achieved continuous improvement in its In-Year Collection Rate for Council Tax.   In 2002/2003, the Council collected 92.6%, or £62.4 million. This was above the Scottish average of 91.5%.  For all years from 1996 to 2003, the Council has achieved an overall collection rate so far of 95.1%. The Scottish average was 93.7%.

13 January 04
New Emergency Dental Service for Caithness
NHS Highland’s has secured approval from the Scottish Executive's Health Department for its proposals to establish a Caithness Emergency Dental Service.
A spokesman said today:
“We are delighted that the Scottish Executive has agreed to this proposal. The Caithness Emergency Dental Service (EDS) will be operational by the 26th January 2004. It will have the capacity for a total of 12 patients per day from Mondays to Fridays. This service will be provided by a dentist in Thurso and a dentist in Wick.

Nuclear Dumping Question Gets Politicians Going
An article in the Northern Times last week has sparked a round of argument and comment amongst politicians at national and local level,   Comments by John Thurso alluding to Greenpeace activist as scaremongering have now brought comment from MSP Rob Gibson and a reiteration of SNP policy.  Getting in on the act are Jamie Stone and local councillor for Golspie & Rogart Ian Ross as questions again arise about sites proposed in the 1970's at Strathy, Altnabreac, 
the Ben Armine area, Rogart, Shin Forest, Scourie, and Loch Laxford to Enard Bay.

12 January 04
Scottish Socialists Call For Councillors To Resign From Health Posts
The Scottish Socialist Party is calling on Highland councillors to follow the example of council Convenor Alison Magee and resign their consultative positions on the Health Trusts Quangos, and begin the process to democratise the new unitary authority.  These include David Alston (Black Isle North) and Garry Coutts (Beauly & Strathglass)

8 January 04
Two public meetings are being held later this month in the Highlands to explain the health and safety reasons for the decision to pre-distribute stable iodine tablets to occupied premises within a two kilometre radius of the Ministry of Defence nuclear submarine moorings in Loch Ewe, West Ross, and Broadford Bay, Skye. The pre-distribution of tablets has already been introduced near the nuclear establishment RNTE Vulcan on the Dounreay site in Caithness, as well as at the Torness Power Station, East Lothian, and the decision to follow these examples of good practice in West Ross and Skye results from a recent risk assessment, which requires NHS Highland and The Highland Council to have in place appropriate plans and counter-measures to offset any potential hazard at the moorings.  The Emergency Planning Department of Highland Council have confirmed that in Caithness over 600 people have had stable iodine tablets distributed mainly in the Reay area but also to farms and houses and the local primary school and Achvarasdal Home for the Elderly.

7 January 04
On Friday 30th January, at the Portland Arms Hotel, Lybster, Caithness, from 9.00am until 4.00pm  The Local Economic forum for Caithness and Sutherland has identified the lack of available good quality affordable housing as a major constraint to development. To help remedy this problem members of the Forum decided to organise a Seminar for the wider Community to consider options.  All interested parties, whether community housing association or groups, professional architects, builders or private developers as well as those with an interest in the latest low cost technologies for energy efficient housing for their own use, are invited to this Seminar with national and international speakers.

6 January 04

Northern Constabulary's festive drink drive figures are up on last years figures by 50%, however positive public feedback is the reason for the rise.   Last year 271 people were breathalysed with 62 people positive however of the 349 people breathalysed this year, 95 people proved to be over the limit.
The figures show that male drivers are still the highest with 86 men detected drinking and driving compared with last year's figure of 55 men being caught. 
Nine women have been detected during the 3 week campaign compared to 7 females in 2002/3.

5 January 04
Young Culture Vultures Encouraged
To Enter Website Competition

Primary 4 to 7 children in the Highland Council area are being invited by Highland Libraries to take part in the Am Baile Children's Competition.  The competition consists of 10 questions and has been designed to encourage children to find out more about the Scottish Highlands and Islands and what has gone on in its past. All the answers can be found in the Am Baile website which can be accessed at www.ambaile.org.uk, and up to 18 lucky winners will receive a £10 book token each.

5 January 04
Final Tribute For Alex Steven
A final tribute was paid to Alex Steven whose funeral took place in Wick on Saturday 3 January.  some of the trucks from the firm D Steven and son were lined up at Wick harbour for the funeral procession which went via the harbour where Mr Steven had operated the firm his father had started for many years.   The business has been run by his sons for several years.

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