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Caithness News Bulletins January 2005

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An information day is being held in Inverness on Friday 4th February, which aims to attract people into, and further develop the careers of those already in, Social Work employment in the Highlands.  People who are already working in social work are invited to attend and those with relevant degrees in psychology or social services who may have taken a career break to raise families or might consider re-training in social work are welcome. Anyone interested can drop in at Hedgefield Management Centre, Culduthel Road in Inverness, at any time between 11am to 2pm on Friday 4th February.

Calling Highland Craft Makers - Exhibition Opportunity
Craft makers are wanted to participate in an exhibition, particularly in jewellery, basket making, casting (metal, glass) and stone.

Highlands and Islands MSP Rob Gibson has welcomed the constructive and collaborative approach of the participants in the Responsible Deer Management consultation where the aim is to produce a framework on how to deal with Scotland's burgeoning deer population. Following the passage of the Nature conservation Act last summer Mr Gibson who has worked closely with Non-Governmental Organizations, responsible estate owners and with colleagues in the Environment and Rural Development Committee in this consultation says that real and sustainable progress is being made..."Any reasonable estate owner who looks at the findings and progress of the deer management proposals contained in the motion lodged for debate in Parliament cannot help but be impressed by its approach. This why it is galling to read such nightmarish myths and lurid fantasies that are currently being pedalled by those who really should know better."

The Highland Council is to seek support from the Scottish Executive to repair storm and flood damage to property, roads, bridges, car parks and harbours caused by the severe weather experienced on 11/12 January.  The Council is required to meet the first £500,000 of the repair bill but, once a full assessment is made of the damage, it will apply to the Scottish Executive for 85% funding towards the cost of emergency repairs.  Members of the Transport Environmental and Community Services were told that the storm damage was extensive, especially in the West Highlands, most notably in Skye and Lochalsh, Wester Ross and Lochaber. Flooding occurred at Caol, Inverness and Thurso, while there was damage to harbours at Gairloch, Kinlochbervie and Uig.

Highland Councillors have decided not to bid for the contract for the management and maintenance of the North West Trunk Road Network, which is being renewed by the Scottish Executive in April next year.  Members of the Transport Environmental and Community Services Committee concluded that the Council ran too high a risk of making a significant annual loss on the five-year contract and that they should instead seek sub-contracting work from the successful consortium.
Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Maureen Macmillan has written to Transport Minister Nicol Stephen over the contract for trunk road maintenance and winter road clearance, which is due to go out for tender in April, 2006.  Mrs Macmillan commented, "Since taking over trunk road maintenance in 2001 the operations of BEAR Scotland in the Highlands has attracted repeated criticism, regarding both the quality of winter road clearance and summer maintenance of verges and roundabouts. I believe all Highland MSPs have received repeated complaints regarding BEAR and I have, over the duration of their contract, met several times with both BEAR's staff and Executive officials to try and resolve matters. It is obvious that all of the problems surrounding BEAR's operations relate to the terms of the original contract and what the company was specifically contracted to do or not to do.

Caithness Based Writers Publish New Book For Tsunami Aid
Caithness writers have combined to have published a wee book called "The Ballad of Hercules Mackenzie and other Stories" which is selling for £3 will all profits going to the Tsunami Disaster Fund. The group though small is very successful and most of the contributors are either published and/or competition winners. The content of the booklet is mostly very light with a great deal of humour and we are getting very positive feedback from purchasers so readers can have a delightful read and help a very worthy cause. There is a foreword by John Thurso.

Highland Included In Rural Priority Areas List
Twenty parts of Scotland have been designated Rural Services Priority Areas (RSPA) after the identification of disadvantage in service provision, access to services and subsequently opportunities.  The status will enable government, local authorities and other agencies to focus improvements in services in the most disadvantaged rural communities, aiming to find innovative solutions to providing, for example, health care, training or childcare services.

New Procurator Fiscal And Depute Start On Monday 31 January In Wick
Mr Alasdair MacDonald has been appointed by the Lord Advocate Colin Boyd QC to the post of Procurator Fiscal for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross. Mr MacDonald will take up his post on the 31 January 2005.  Mr MacDonald will retain his commission for Tain and Dornoch where he is currently District Procurator Fiscal and will be supported at Wick by a newly appointed Depute Fiscal, Mrs Christine Ball, who will also take up post on 31 January 2005.

Helping Square A Debt - Charity Slave Raises Amazing Amount In A Few Hours
The 2003 festive season is one UKAEA, Dounreay employee, Ishbel Mcdonald, will not forget.  After a series of tests it was confirmed that she was suffering from lung cancer.  “However I was told it was treatable provided I had my left lung removed,” said non-smoker Ishbel.  “It was a big decision to take, but because I had always kept myself fit, I had to go for it.”  In the event the operation was a complete success, Ishbel received the all-clear, and is now back hale and hearty processing accounts in UKAEA’s finance department in Naver House, Thurso. 

council secures funding for caithness and sutherland women’s aid
A service to provide support and refuge for women affected by domestic abuse received a vital assurance of funding from The Highland Council’s Housing and Social Work Committee today. Caithness and Sutherland Women’s Aid currently provides an Outreach service giving support to women suffering from domestic abuse but it has also worked with the Highland Council and Pentland Housing Association to set up a refuge which can assist women with children and single women who become homeless as a result of domestic abuse. Today the service received an assurance of £127,000 funding from the Highland Council which will ensure that this vital service to the community can be established and the purpose built refuge opened for use.

council secures funding for caithness and sutherland women’s aid
A service to provide support and refuge for women affected by domestic abuse received a vital assurance of funding from The Highland Council’s Housing and Social Work Committee today.  Caithness and Sutherland Women’s Aid currently provides an Outreach service giving support to women suffering from domestic abuse but it has also worked with the Highland Council and Pentland Housing Association to set up a refuge which can assist women with children and single women who become homeless as a result of domestic abuse. Today the service received an assurance of £127,000 funding from the Highland Council which will ensure that this vital service to the community can be established and the purpose built refuge opened for use.

The funding of a long-awaited floodlit all weather pitch within the grounds of Wick High School was secured today (Thursday) following a plea by Caithness members attending The Highland Council's Education Culture and Sport Committee. Meeting in Inverness today (Thursday 20 January 2005), the Committee unanimously accepted the Caithness arguments for an additional allocation of £345,000 on top of the previously agreed £525,000 towards the cost of the project and allows
work to start in the new financial year.

Skills Grants Available
People in Caithness and Sutherland who aren't working or who work part time and want to move into full time employment are being encouraged by Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise (CASE) to take up an individual skills development grant.  CASE offers help, advice and funding - up to £750 a year depending on circumstances - to people who can't find work or who are working part-time and want to improve their job prospects. Funding support ranges from 25 per cent of costs for non certificated courses to 75 per cent of costs for certificated courses.  Donna Booth, a development manager with CASE, said: "Re-establishing workplace skills and knowledge is key to finding a job. At CASE, we recognise that if you have been out of the job market for some time, you need a hand to get going again. Our funding support for people preparing for work is flexible and takes account of individual circumstances.

Caithness Editor Wins Feature Writer Award
Editor of the John O'Groat Journal/Caithness Courier, Alan Hendry, is Feature Writer of the Year. His reporter Ally McGilvray was highly commended in the Young Journalist of the Year category.

A Highland doctor is encouraging 13-25 year olds who have not been immunised against Mumps to attend their GP to be immunised. This advice comes as the numbers of cases of mumps are on the increase nationally, although the increases in the Highlands are not as high an increase as in Scotland as a whole.  Dr Geoff Cramp, Locum Consultant in Public Health, said: "In 2004 in the Highland Health Board area, there were 66 cases of Mumps notified to Public Health. 36 of these have been confirmed by laboratory testing and 30 are unconfirmed cases. This is in contrast to 2003 when there were 9 notified cases of mumps in Highland, only 2 of which were confirmed. There is therefore a 7.5-fold increase in the number of notified cases and an 18-fold increase in the number of confirmed cases in Highland. This is less than in Scotland as a whole where there has been an 19-fold increase in notified cases and a 35-fold increase in the number of confirmed cases."

Caithness.org Launches Flower Patch Web Site
Well known Wick flower shop The Flower Patch now has its own web site to make it easier to contact staff get few ideas.  Phone them or email them it couldn't be easier to get flowers for any special occasion.

Wick River Overflows At Car Park
These latest photographs in show the Wick river overflowing into the car park at high tide today.  Sandbags were being delivered by council staff to businesses and premises in the area but it was thought that the water level would subside before it reached them.  Sandbags will be in place tonight just in case there is another surge tonight.

Storms Lash Caithness And The Whole Of Highlands & Islands

Castletown Harbour Sees Very High Water

Scrabster Harbour Flooded As Gales Combine With Rising Tide
Scrabster was another port hit with flooding as the rising tide combined with the high winds to drive the water onto the piers and buildings around the harbour area.  High tide tonight will be watched closely by the harbour staff and businesses in the harbour.  No boats were damaged due to the hard work of people at the harbour.  No reports of property damage as sandbags were out fast.

Transport Delays In The North
Travelling was taking longer today as a number of bridges such as the Dornoch and Kessock were closed for a period early.  No trains were running north of Perth and with the Forth and Tay Bridges closed anyone trying to get north faced serious delays.  Fallen trees have caused further delays on many roads.  Most flights and ferries were cancelled today.

Harrow Harbour Sees Waves Crashing Over Pier
A boat at Harrow Harbour looks as if it was lucky to be on the inside of the Harbour Pier and not outside it as waves crashed over the top of the pier today.


A Closer Look At The Thurso River Flooding

More Views Of Stormy Weather From Thurso
More pictures from Thurso of the stormy scenes and Thurso river in flood.  These latest in are from Allan Lannon recently retired as head of Miller Academy primary school.   Digital pictures are flowing round everyone's email and we have received one set three times as folk pass them round.  Thanks to all who have sent items in and anyone is welcome to add to the gallery by sending pictures to bill@caithness.org 

Wick Christmas Tree Snaps As Gales Continue In The North
The wind although lessening still has some force left in it as seen by the snapped trunk of the Wick Christmas tree in Market Square .  The tree which was slightly listing from the battering overnight finally succumbed this morning.

Thurso River Flooding As Seen From A Janet Street Window
Flooding can clearly be seen in these pictures taken from Janet Street looking over to Millbank Road in Thurso.  The fire Station and squash courts had water coming in and there could be damage to the courts if water got into the flooring.  Further down the river the British Legion and business premises along the street were flooded into the buildings.

Thurso Takes Full Force Of High Winds and High Tide
Thurso was hit hard by the gales last night and early this morning with the High tide being a particularly severe problem.  The Thurso river burst its banks with flooding problems being created.

Lidl's Supermarket At Wick Loses Roof Tiles With Dangerous  Metal Sheeting Flying Around
With extremely high wind speeds over night inevitably some roofs have suffered.  Lidl's supermarket at Wick has been badly damaged and police were advising people not to use the car park in case more sheeting blew off this morning.  Some pieces of sheet metal were found down the main street heading into Wick.

Caithness Scouting Area Climbing Wall Re-opened
A climbing wall had been installed in the Wick Scout Hall and was occasionally used until 3 or 4 years ago. Not many other scouting groups in the area knew about the facility and weren’t using it. It was decided to get the climbing wall reinstated so that the young scouts could get some experience of climbing in a safe warm environment.

Thurso Branch Of British Legion Fund Raiser For Tsunami Disaster
The Royal British Legion in Thurso is undertaking various activities over the next month to raise funds for the Asian Disaster Appeal www.dec.org.uk  
On Friday the 21st January at the Legion Club in Thurso we are holding a prize bingo with all profits going towards the cause admission £1
On Friday the 4th February at the Legion Club in Thurso we are holding a 60s, 70s, & 80s School Disco Revival for all adults 18 or over, tickets £5 available from the club.
We are also organising a raffle with a first prize of TWO TICKETS TO BRYAN ADAMS at the SECC on Saturday 14th May plus various other prizes which will be advertised. The draw will take place at the School Disco Revival on the 4th February.

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