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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

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Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 2nd September 2000
Issue No195

Bridge Toll Confusion Mounts

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy has accused the Lord Advocate of stonewalling over the Skye Bridge tolls.

And Mr Kennedy, MP for Skye and Inverness West, says a letter from Scotland's senior law officer has left him baffled. He had written to Mr Boyd seeking clarification on the validity of the controversial Skye Bridge assignation statement entitling the operating company to collect tolls. It follows the milestone opinion delivered in June by Edinburgh University Scots law expert, Professor Robert Black, QC, after extensive examination of official documents. The professor openly backed anti-toll campaigners' claims that Miller Civil Engineering had no lawful authority to demand tolls on behalf of the bridge's operating company, Skye Bridge Ltd. Prof Black claims a valid assignation statement signed by the Scottish Secretary, giving the company the right to collect tolls, does not exist and that Miller is allegedly committing a criminal offence by demanding payment. Mr Kennedy asked Mr Boyd whether the assignation staement was signed and dated and therefore a legal document. But Mr Kennedy said: "To say I am baffled by the Lord Advocat's reply is an understatement." He said his simple request appeared to have baffled Mr Boyd, who "has not even bothered to address my question". Mr Boyd had said he had not seen Prof Black's opinion, and, said the MP, had been "hardly helpful" by referring him to a ruling on the issue by Lord Sutherland in December of last year. Mr Kennedy said it was unbelievable that the Lord Advocate, or Sheriff James Fraser - who has adjuducated on the majority of toll non-payment cases - seemed unable to identify part of Lord Sutherland's ruling which clearly stated that the assignation statement was valid. He said: "I believe the Lord Advocate is running scared. He knows that the assignation statement is an unlawful document. "He knows that people have been wrongly prosecuted and convicted for not paying the tolls." Mr Kennedy added: "He knows full well what the repercussions of this admission would be but he cannot stonewall for ever. "I have written once again to Mr Boyd and I hope that this time he will do me and my constituents the courtesy of a full and truthful answer. Mr Boyd's reply to the MP brought an angry response from anti-toll campaigners, the Scottish People's Mission, who called on Scottish Executive Justice Minister Jim Wallace to intervene. A spokesman said: "For the Lord Advocate to simply tell Mr Kennedy after a week that the 'documentation was considered recently by the Appeal Court' and to completely snub his request for a meeting is a gross insult to our democratically elected representative and brings the proper channels into disrepute."

Successful Bid

Inverness Museum has outbid Edinburgh's National Museum of Scotland for possession of a rare brooch of a type worn by Mary Queen of Scots. The 400 year old gold ring brooch which has blue, white and green enamelling is one of only three discovered. The other two are in the national museum. It will go on display in the Highland Capital from the end of the summer. The brooch was found near ruined Ardvreck Castle on Loch Assynt by a man using a metal detector. The castle belonged to the MacLeods and was where the Marquis of Montrose was held after his capture in 1650. The archaeologist at Inverness Museum, Patricia Weeks, declined to reveal how much the brooch has cost, but the finder will be awarded the amount under the treasure trove law. "It is rare to find a Scottish ring brooch of gold with such detailed enamelling on both sides," she said. "They were usually made of silver or copper alloy and were fairly plain. To find a gold one with this sort of detail is quite unusual." The reverse side of the brooch carries the date 1600 and an inscription in old Scots "Feir (fear) God in Hairt (heart)", followed by the intials CMA.

Get Rural Areas on the Net

Highland MSP Fergus Ewing tabled several questions recently asking for Executive answers to breach the digital divide. Calling attention to an article in Scottish Business Insider that referred to rural regions as "no grow areas", Mr Ewing highlighted the quality differential between urban and rural Scotland. He said: "At a time when rural areas should be more connected than ever and when distance should mean less than it did in the past, rural areas are missing the competitive lifeline that could have saved numerous rural businesses in the dawn of e-commerce. "Small businesses, particularly tourist businesses, rely on internet communication to attract customers from throughout the United Kingdom and abroad. They are starting behind the 8 ball if they cannot compete with the latest technology."

Open Glen

The Scottish Landowners Federation is co-operating in plans to open up the Great Glen Way long distance footpath and help generate vital jobs in the Highlands. Working with Highland Council, which has been responsible for implementing the project from November 1999, owners of land have been identified whose agreement is needed to arrange for unhindered public access in livestock or wildlife areas vulnerable to disturbance or where occupiers have views over the effect on their privacy. The SLF has offered to check information held on a local authority database and, where possible, provide contact names addresses and phone numbers.Those responsible for the project initiated by Scottish Natural Heritage, have been glad of help from the landowners involved.

Tradition Revival

One of the great traditions of the Royal National Mod is set to be revived at this years event. The crowning of the bard ceremony, last performed in 1977, is to be reintroduced as a feature of the Literary Day at the 2000 MOD. The ceremony aims to celebrate the work of the person who has contributed most to the Royal National Mod in terms of Gaelic poetry, prose and literature. The last winner of the Bardic Crown was the late Rev Roderick Macdonald who subsequently translated Robert Burns songs into Gaelic. Peter Macintyre, president of An Comunn Gaidhealach and a board member of the Royal National Mod Company, said: "This is an important step for Gaelic as it highlights a section of the Mod which is deserving of more prominence. Previous winners will be eligible for consideration and adjudication will be marked for the categories of poetry, prose and literature." The Royal National Mod 2000 takes place in Dunoon next month.


Parliamentary Gaelic

Work has started on a glossary of Gaelic terms in a bid to move towards a bilingual Scottish Parliament. The glossary, which will be completed by February 2002, will also be available for use by local authorities and other areas of public services and the private sector. The Glossary Project - Faclair na Parlamaid - has been pushed forward by development agency Comunn na Gaidhlig (CNAG) and is backed by the Scottish Executive, the Gaelic Language Promotion Trust and the Gaelic Society of Inverness. MSPs already hold some debates in Gaelic, with the use of translation headsets. Hugh Dan MacLennan, chairman of the steering group set to monitor the production, said he hoped that the glossary would mean a move towards a more secure status for the country's native language.

Mix Up

The strength of the penny - not the pound - was at the centre of a hilarious shopping incident involving a German holidaymaker in the Highlands recently. A coachload of tourists from Hamburg arrived at the Scottish Crafts & Whisky Centre in Fort William, and several visitors took a fancy to some very inexpensive children's rings. At 59 pence apiece the hematite jewellery items were a real bargain. But when one German woman handed over a 50p and a 10p for a ring, she was mindful of the instructions from their tour bus courier, "Always ask for your change to be in English money". So she requested, "English change please". Highly amused, Christopher Purdon, joint proprietor of the gifts store told her, "I'm sorry, but we only have Scottish pennies." The German woman solemnly put the ring back on the stand and left.

Charity Event

Charity swimmers tackled the length of Loch Ness in their birthday suits recently to raise cash for children's organisations. The six naturists took the plunge at 8am in near perfect conditions. The event was organised by the Central Council for Naturism to raise cash for Children in Need and Children 1st. Five of the swimmers were from the South of England, while one was from California.

Political Roundup

Gaelic Glossary

Work has begun on the production of a Gaelic Glossary of procedural terms to be used in the Scottish Parliament. The Glossary project which will be designed for use in the Scottish Parliament, local authorities ans other areas of public services and the private sector, is being managed by development Agency, Commun na Gaidhlig.

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Showers a.m.. Sunny spells later. Winds light/mod varable.Tempersture 12c to 16c
Saturday Night
Clear periods, mist/fog patches later. Winds light variable. Temperature 4c to 9c.
Sunday
Generally dry and settled with sunshine. Remaining settled by night. Light winds.
Monday
A sunny and dry start. Winds increasing bringing cloud and rain.


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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