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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

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Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 19th August 2000
Issue No193

Countdown to Independence

Ministers have been warned to draw up plans to quell a nationalist uprising in Scotland.

A Whitehall report claims an economic slump north of the border could spark discontent and lead to the break up of the UK. And it says that by 2015 Scotland could have closer political and economic links with Sweden and Denmark than with England and Wales. The report, prepared for the Department of Trade and Industry, warns that unless Ministers radically restructure government, they will fall victim to "institutional impotence" in Scotland. SNP leader Alex Salmond claimed the report represented the first official admission that Scotland is heading towards independence. He said: "Labour are obviously firmly on the back foot. We have them on the run in Scotland. "This report shows they believe it's only a matter of time before the people of Scotland decide that independence is the best option for them." The report was written by businessman Michael Wild, on secondment to the DTI from information technology company ICL. Wild warns that if Labour's economic boom fizzles out in Scotland, it could create an alienated underclass who would see separatism as a viable alternative to the Union. The bleakest prospect is of a UK in freefall, with Scotland straining to join an alliance of Scandinavian countries and England falling prey to a resurgent nationalism. In such a scenario, Wild predicts: "The UK is engaged in continual low intensity trade wars, both inside and outside Europe, and soft security threats mass on the borders of the EU. "Scotland is threatening to break away, seeing its future with the Nordic countries rather than the UK." Ministers dismissed the report as the speculation of one man. Trade Secretary Stephen Byers and Scots Secretary John Reid denied commissioning the report and claimed they hadn't read it. Reid said: "The paper was not asked for by Stephen Byers. It was not read by Stephen Byers. Stephen Byers does not believe it. "It was a speculative piece by one businessman. If a businessman wants to speculate about what will happen, that's up to him. I am not going to speculate." A DTI spokeswoman said: "This was a discussion document prepared a year ago for a meeting of officials. "It was never put to Ministers and it does not represent Government policy." A Scottish Office source added: "There are thousands of memos and briefs floating about Government departments and across Government. "No one in Government has read it. Lots of papers are submitted by consultants. That does not mean it is the view of the Government." Unions warned Ministers against dismissing the report out of hand. GMB general secretary John Edmonds said: "It shows the case for an overhaul of the way government functions. "Ministers have been keen to call for modernisation of almost every other area of society. "Now the time has come for them to put their own houses in order."

Editors note: "Watch This Space Folks."


To the Rescue

A faithful dog has saved his mistress from drowning in her own bath. May Mackay described how she had passed out in her bath when 16 year old Ben leapt to her rescue. The water was over her mouth and nose when Ben grabbed her hair and began frantically tugging. The collie-labrador cross failed to pull her out but his efforts were enough to revive her and she struggled from the water which by this time was freezing cold. Mrs Mackay, from Caol, Fort William, said: "I am on medication for a heart condition and this often makes me drowsy. "On top of that, I run my baths far deeper than I should and I dozed off and began to slide under the water. "When Ben started tugging at my hair and brought me round my face was well under the water. Ben saved my life. If it wasn't for him I could have easily drowned. "I always leave the door open in case I collapse in the bath, and I think Ben sensed something was wrong and came to my help. I think he worries about me because I don't keep in good health."


A Dream Come True

After years tilting at windmills, an Inner Hebridean island community has at last seen its dream come true. A windpower scheme - the first of its type in the UK - was officially switched on recently on Muck by Scottish Executive minister Alasdair Morrison. It means that after almost seven years of campaigning, the 37 islanders are now enjoying what the rest of the country takes for granted - a 24 hour electricity supply. It has ended their dependence on a battery of diesel generators which meant shipping 20,000 litres a year of expensive fuel from Mallaig, a two hour ferry journey away.

One of Scotlands Finest

The Reelig Glen Wood near Kirkhill has been selected as one of the finest small woods in Scotland. It was commended in the Scotland's Finest Woodlands Awards for its range of recreational facilities. Forest Enterprise, which manages the area, was awarded the prize for maintaining and developing the wood whilst conserving its natural character. Over 25,000 people a year visit Reelig to enjoy the walks, wildlife and variety of trees. The wood has been improved recently by the installation of information panels telling the history of the glen and d giving details of different types of trees. Malcolm Morrison of the Inverness Forest District office said: "The award recognises the hard work our staff have put into developing this special wood into a peaceful haven for people and visitors to the area. "We are keen to make Reelig accessible to all members of the public, therefore a lot of work to upgrade footpaths and car parking facilities has been undertaken. Much of the footpath is now accessible to wheelchair and less abled users."

Africa Trip

Four Highland youngsters who scooped top national prizes in an environmental competition jetted off recently on a two week dream holiday. John Barr (17), his sister Eilidh, Mary Somerville, and Jack Coe, all 16, from Abriachan, near Inverness, were the winners of BP Amoco's Grizzly Challenge, a competition for 14 to 18 year olds aimed at promoting environmental improvement through local projects. The youngsters were given a holiday of their choice anywhere in the world and opted for Kenya, with one week on safari and the second at Mombasa. The team, Active Abriachan, fought off the challenge from 70 other teams, with a replica of a Bronze Age thatched hut, similar to those used centuries ago by inhabitants of the forests along Loch Ness. Eilidh, Jack and Mary are pupils at Charleston Academy in Inverness. John recently left the school and begins engineering studies at Robert Gordon University Aberdeen, in the Autumn. The team constructed the dwelling using traditional eco friendly materials, complete with five metre high heather thatched roof. It will be used as a rain shelter by visitors to Abriachan Forest.

Nairn Tribute

Nairn has commemorated the life and work of one of its most notable citizens of yesteryear by holding a special day in his honour. William Gordon, known in his lifetime as "Poetie" is remembered not only for his prolific output of verse, but also for his pioneer attempt to fly from a local hill, using a pair of metal wings he fashioned himself. The central event at the first ever William Gordon Day was a paper aeroplane flying competition from Bunker's Brae, overlooking the golf links, to commemorate Gordon's attempt to fly, of which little is known except that it took place from the top of the brae. William Gordon (1780 - 1860) was born near Forres, but came to Nairn as a young man to set up s tinsmith's business. He subsequently taught himself watchmaking and set up as a watch and clock repairer. He published at least two books of verse and a play. A new volume of 12 of his poems are to be republished.

Rings for the Ospreys

Two osprey chicks were ringed recently at country's best known nest in the foothills of the Cairngorms. The nature reserve around Britain's most famous wild bird nest is visited by more than 40,000 people each summer. Visitors can observe the nesting birds from a hide on close circuit TV screens. The chicks, which hatched in May at Loch Garten, were ringed so they can be identified when they return to Scotland following emigration to Africa. Osprey Centre manager Richard Thaxton said: "We hope they come back to Scotland after they have bred, but we will not know until maybe three years if they make the journey back from Africa." Ospreys have successfully nested at the Loch Garten centre every year since the first pair arrived in Scotland in 1954 after a gap of 50 years. This year there were 130 pairs breeding in Scotland.

Charity Event

The regulars and staff at an Inverness bar have completed an amazing "treble" for Chest, Heart and Stroke funds in Scotland. Over the past three years a team of hardy cyclists from the Tarry Ile have repeatedly "doubled" their efforts to raise cash at the charity's annual bike ride. This year the caring customers brought in 5,220 to add to their achievements at previous fund raisers and take the total over three years to an incredible 9,368.

Political Roundup

Teaching Crisis

Scotland is running out of teachers because of the Government's demand for more doctors. David Adams, principal of Northern College, Dundee, said the profession was heading for a crisis and that pupils would suffer. He said cash which previously went into teaching was now going to medical teaching at universities and the number of places available to trainee teachers had shrunk.

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Bright periods. Showers, some heavy/thunder risk. Winds light variable. Temperature 13c to 18c.
Saturday Night
Showers, easing but persisting. Clear spells. Winds light/mod N-NE. Temperature 8c to 11c.
Sunday
Plenty of sunny spells. Light winds. The chance of some scattered showers in the afternoon.
Monday
Sunny and dry, but some showers affecting the N coast and Hebrides. Becoming breezier.


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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