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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

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Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 2nd February 2002
Issue No 268

River Ness Put Forward as City Centrepiece

The River Ness could form an identifiable centrepiece for Inverness, according to Deputy Finance Minister Peter Peacock.

He compared the Ness to Spanish city Seville's River Guadalquivir and its stunning riverside walks. "Seville's river is the centrepiece of a hive of activity around the city. Inverness has that capacity right on its doorstep. The river may be Inverness's future." He said that Inverness has the chance to develop the river as a feature, something which is not available to other cities - or in the case of Glasgow has been poorly developed. The Minister's comments were echoed by Highland Council convener David Green who spoke of the Ness as a symbol of Inverness. "I think it is a tremendous opportunity. People will sit and look at the river for a long time. That's part of the attraction of Inverness. It is fast moving, it's energetic, it has got enthusiasm and I think it is a tremendously under utilised asset," Councillor Green declared. Inverness already has a number of hotels, restaurants, galleries and Eden Court Theatre on the riverside. The Minister was speaking on a recent visit to Inverness which is included in the Executive's on going review of Scotland's five cities. The initiative, led by Minister for Finance and Local Government Angus Mackay, is looking at the prospects for the economic, environmental and social development of Scotland's cities and attempting to identify policies which will improve their prospects. During the informal meeting, also attended by Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber MP David Stewart, Mr Peacock said Inverness has a number of other unique features not shared by Scotland's four other cities. In particular, on the subject of social disparities, he said that apart from a "few pockets of intractable difficulty such as Merkinch" Inverness does not have the same wide gaps as other cities. "Our cities are full of contradictions," Mr Peacock stated. "Glasgow has some of the fittest athletes in the land alongside some of the most chronic health problems." Speaking about future development and the need to avoid transport problems, Mr Peacock said: "Inverness can learn from other cities before congestion becomes a problem. Compared to Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen, Inverness's boundaries are unconstrained." Councillor Green said: "Inverness has a lot more to do to become an integrated transport hub, in particular the dualling of the A9 south and expansion of the airport. "Ideally, if we could get another dozen charter flights into the airport that would bring in 12 million at the least." He said if Inverness developed as the capital of a vast hinterland it would make it quite different from Dundee and Glasgow which both expanded because of the Industrial Revolution. Mr Peacock pointed out that Inverness is not a "post industrial" city, so does not have those problems and it is still growing.

Historic Trail

A Highland man has retraced the footsteps of a 19th century whisky expert to compile a book on the national drink. Speyside author and whisky enthusiast Malcolm Greenwood recently launched his book, Unique Distilleries of Scotland and Ireland, in the Whisky Shop, Inverness. The book, the author's fourth, follows an earlier whisky trail, taken by Alfred Barnard in 1885. Barnard completed his epic tour of UK distilleries in two years and recorded it in his book, The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom. Mr Greenwood, who has 25 years experience of the whisky trade, said his own tour, which took a year, had its moments. He said: "Barnard was a fanatic - in those days, it was all hard travelling by horse and cart. "He was very much a technical man, who describes everything in intricate detail - but he never mentions the taste of the whisky. He doesn't say how good they are. But we've rectified that - we forced ourselves and the distilleries were very helpful with that." The journey proved to the author that the Scotch whisky on the market is of a very high standard. He said: "I believe quality has leapt higher and higher in the Scottish whisky industry, through better control and technology. "There are fewer whisky makers - they still are there, though in reduced numbers." Mr Greenwood also confessed to a chilling experience while he was researching his book on Islay. He believes it might have been the ghost of his predecessor. He said: "At Bruichladdich, I met up with the new distillery guy, who put me in a bed and breakfast next to the distillery, where I slept for the night. "I didn't sleep that well. I kept waking up and there was a very strange feeling about the room. "Later, I was told it was exactly the same room Alfred Barnard had stayed in 120 years ago." Mr Greenwood added: "That's a true story but, mind you, I had taken quite a few Bruichladdich drams that night before I went to bed."

First Year Celebration

Members of an award winning Highland youth "parliament" gathered recently to celebrate their achievements over its first year. Highland Youth Voice members drove forward new initiatives on drugs, crime and public transport as well as reflecting on the success of the last 12 months when they met at Carbisdale Castle, Sutherland recently. The group, which was set up to allow young people in the area to have a say on the issues concerning them, recently won a Highland Council Quality Award for its pioneering work and will be going forward to compete in a similar event later this year. Tackling drugs is a number one priority for the Youth Voice and at one of the workshops held recently, members were given professional help in producing a series of adverts to be shown in cinemas which will highlight the drugs issue for young people. The group is also taking an active role in supporting the bid being made by Inverness and the Highlands to be European Capital of Culture in 2008, with members being asked how best to ensure local participation in cultural events. Calum Duncan, a sixth year pupil at Inverness Royal Academy and chairman of Highland Youth Voice said: "A year is not a long time for any organisation to be active but the Youth Voice has accomplished and outstanding amount in such a short time."

Historic Bog Woodland on Show

Scottish Forestry Minister Rhona Brankin recently opened a new display exploring the flora and fauna of the Highlands' ancient bog and woodlands, which are some of Europe's most precious wet woodland areas. Following a tour in Glenmore Forest Park Ms Brankin launched the innovative display at Glenmore Visitor Centre. The exhibition has been built as part of the Wet Woods Life project, a scheme to breathe new life into rare fragments of ancient bog woodland and floodplain forest. The new display explores the world of bog woodlands and highlights the importance of their protection. The project has focused on Abernethy and Inshriach forests in the Cairngorms, Monadh Mor near Tore on the Black Isle, the River Conon and Pitmaduthie near Invergordon. The work has been carried out by a partnership of SNH, the Forestry Commission, the RSPB and Highland Birchwoods.

Power to the Isles

Plans to 'piggyback' computerised communications on the proposed electricity interconnector in the North West Highlands were unveiled recently by Western Isles Labour MP Calum MacDonald. He proposed that a fibre optic cable be laid at the same time as the interconnector - if that is given the green light by a study commissioned recently by Energy Minister Brian Wilson. It would enable large insurance or credit card companies or other businesses relying on massive data exchanges, to take advantage of cheaper electricity and staff in the Western Highlands and the Hebrides. But Mr MacDonald admitted that while the electricity link would be largely funded by electricity generating companies in a private finance initiative project with the Government and be likely to pay its own way, the broadband cable would require considerable state support. Mr MacDonald, who was instrumental in persuading the DTI to commission the electricity interconnector study, said: "It would be difficult, if not impossible to justify the broadband communication facility by itself, but I think we could see it piggybacked on top of a subsea power cable. "It would enable the Hebrides to leapfrog into the front rank in modern communications." He added: "The danger is that, if we do not get broadband, the Hebrides will be left behind with 20th century technology."

Holidays Link Skills and Scenery

One of the original presenters of the popular children's programme How has started an activity holiday venture in the North. Bunty Gunn, or Bunty James as she was known to viewers, has put together specialist packages aimed at people wanting to enjoy the area's scenery while pursuing a particular interest. Breathing Spaces has been started up by Mrs Gunn, who taught TV journalism and public speaking after her spell of fame on the small screen. She and her husband, Iain, have helped start up a number of enterprises from their home at Lybster, including an art gallery, a centre for creative glassmaking and a harbour heritage complex. She believes there is a niche market for her new venture in which travel and accommodation packages are linked with a week long focus on a specialist interest. She said: "The aim is to encourage visitors to enjoy the scenery and ambience of the North while learning or perfecting a skill." On offer this year are a creative writing course and bird and botany week, both based in the remote Strathmore Lodge in Caithness; a painting course in Lybster; a history trail run from Inverness; and an insight to Orkney's rich history, based in Kirkwall.

Crossroads and Hospice Link

In the first partnership of its kind, a new scheme to care for people with terminal illness and their relatives was launched recently at Eilean Donan Castle. Highland Hospice is to partner Crossroads Care in a project to improve the lives of people in Skye, Lochalsh and Wester Ross. The pilot project between the two charities could lead to similar work benefitting people all across the Highlands. The hospice will train Crossroads Care attendants to enhance their skills in palliative care and bereavement support. Palliative care is the care and treatment of people for whom their is no possibility of cure. With their newly trained skills, Crossroads Care attendants will be able to care for more people with illnesses such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and motor neurone disease, enabling people to live at home instead of facing long journeys into hospital where their friends and relatives may find it difficult to see them. Donnie Munro launched the scheme at Eilean Donan Castle. Mr Munro, the director of development of Sabhal Mor Ostaig Gaelic college and ex-Runrig lead singer, was joined by staff from the hospice and Crossroads Care attendants Liz MacDonald, Marie Campbell, Fiona Lawrie and Chrissie Gibbs who will be the first to be trained. Martin Edwards of Highland Hospice said: "We are delighted to be launching this major scheme. It will enable many other people who live a long way from the hospice in patient unit to benefit from the care we can provide. This is a major step forward in our plan to provide locally based care for people all across the Highlands."

Charity Event

Highland Hospice has a new syringe driver costing 1000, thanks to the generosity of an English firm carrying out contracting work at Dounreay. Contractors Faithful and Gould's planning manager Ian Mackenzie said: "The Dounreay decommissioning is a major contract for Faithful and Gould, adding "It was very important to show support for local charities like the Highland Hospice by putting something back into the community in which the firm was working."

Political Roundup

Do We still Need a Scottish Secretary?

Scots Secretary Helen Liddell was asked recently to justify her job - in a grilling by a committee of unelected peers. Liddell had been called to give evidence to a special House of Lords inquiry into devolution which questioned whether there is still a need for a Scottish Secretary of State. The role of Scots Secretary has been called into doubt since devolution because the vast bulk of the job's responsibilities have passed to the Scottish Executive.

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Cloudy, rain at first, becoming sunny in the E. Blustery showers with thunder in the W. Winds SW'ly gale/severe. Temperature 6c to 11c.
Saturday Night
Showers in the W, risk of being heavy/thundery. Dry in the E. Cloud increasing later. Winds gale force SW'ly severe in the N. Temperature 4c to 8c.
Sunday
Winds easing and coming from a S-SE'ly direction. Mild but cloudy with showers or longer spells of rain.
Monday
Becoming dry in the morning but showers returning pm, turning to rain by evening. Mainly fresh S'ly winds.


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Caledonia



This is Caledonia ( Caley for short ) A Ness-Scape family member and mascot. She is a White German Shepherd. Caley has decided to take over the editing of Nessie's Loch Ness Times, and she's sure she'll make a good job of it. What do you think?

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