The Tay Road Bridge is closed to double decker buses due to high winds which are battering the country. There is also a 30mph speed limit in force for other vehicles crossing the bridge. https://twitter.com/trafficscotland/status/974202043442302976 More to follow.
Wind and rain battered Courier Country with the Tay Road Bridge and Friarton Bridge both closed to high sided vehicles on Wednesday morning. The Forth Road Bridge and Clackmannanshire Bridge are also closed to high sided vehicles and a flood alert has been issued for parts of Tayside. Commuters face a wet and windy morning journey with a yellow 'be aware' weather warning still in place for Perth and Kinross. The A85 Methven to Crieff road was partially blocked around 7.20am due a fallen tree, while areas of Bankfoot were flooded after the Garry Burn burst its banks. A flood alert has been issued by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) for Tayside. Streets have been flooded in Bankfoot after a local burn burst its banks, with Nicoll Drive among those affected. Flood warnings issued for the following areas: the Upper Tay, Innerpeffray to Bridge of Earn, Logierait to Victoria Bridge, Glen Lyon, Crieff to Innerpeffray, Carse of Lennoch to Lochlane, Bridge of Ruthven to Leitfie, Ballinluig to Logierait and Almondbank. Parts of Scotland could be battered by winds of up to 90mph today as Storm Georgina arrives. A gust of 60mph was recorded on South Uist overnight, and 54mph at Port Ellen on Islay. https://www.thecourier.co.uk/news/scotland/585994/wind-warnings-and-travel-disruption-as-storm-georgina-arrives/
Thousands of people are expected to attend this year’s Perth Show, with its organisers claiming it will be “bigger and better” than ever. The 155th agricultural, equestrian, food and fun extravaganza takes place at Perth’s South Inch on August 4 and 5. More than 1,200 head of livestock will compete in 340 classes while other show supporters will vie for prizes in cooking and handcraft. Trade stands, sideshows, entertainment, activities, music and parades will add to the vibrancy of the annual crowd pleaser. Visitor numbers should be boosted by the announcement that the event has secured a prestigious double by hosting two national cattle shows - the second National Highland Cattle Gathering and the Scottish National Simmental Show. Peter Stewart, chairman of Perth Show, said securing the two national cattle shows in the one year was a “terrific achievement.” “Both will bring business to the city and crowds to Perth Show, with many involved opting to stay locally for the whole weekend,” he said. “The organisers of both these gatherings have chosen the Perth Show because they know we host such events extremely well and we’re delighted to welcome them as a key part of this year’s offering.” The two-day extravaganza will also feature show jumping, champion farriers in action, sheep shearing demonstrations, kids’ activity centres and food and drink. Perth Show’s festival partner Perthshire on a Plate will include celebrity chefs Jean-Christophe Novelli and Nick Nairn, the parade of champions, vintage vehicles, pipe band, pet competition, craft stands, Scottish Women’s Institutes’ showcase competitions and agricultural and commercial trade stands. The programme on August 4 will also include a rare gathering of Scotland’s entire World Championship-winning farrier team with manager, farrier Jim Balfour from Tealing. Meanwhile, the Royal Highland Education Trust (RHET) will offer a range of hands-on activities for children throughout the two days, including a lambing simulator, an oilseed rape press and the ever-popular Daisy – the milking cow. RHET will also host some Scottish beekeepers complete with their live observation hive and craft activities. Show secretary Neil Forbes added: “Perth Show attracts thousands of visitors each year. “This year’s show will continue to feature many of the traditional aspects of agricultural shows, valued by generations of farmers, as well as the new and exciting visitor attractions. “The two-day event promises lots to see and do - whether it be pouring over the latest state-of-the-art agricultural machinery, admiring the finest four-legged competitors, watching a celebrity chef in action, trying your hand on a challenging sideshow, enjoying hospitality at one of the many trade and business stands or stopping for a tasty bite or a brew at the food marquee. “Our two-day festival will draw to a close with the show’s ceilidh in the park’.” He continued: “Perth Show is so much more than just a day out for the farmers. This year’s event is bigger and better than ever.”
A convicted sex offender who fantasised about raping and murdering children dodged jail despite sending an email to a Perthshire MP highlighting his perversions. Sacha Parkin, 46, of Atholl Street, Perth, sent Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh MP an email entitled "how the SNP can help reduce child sexual exploitation" in which he spelt out his attraction to children, stating he had fantasies he thought he couldn’t control. He also claimed Ms Ahmed-Sheikh, her colleagues and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon were being “stupid” in their efforts to deal with sex offenders, and suggested they were doing too little to protect and help people such as him. Parkin admitted at Perth Sheriff Court that on April 18 he sent an email message for the attention of a member of Parliament in which he outlined his sexual attraction towards children in general. The court had previously heard how Parkin told police he dreamed of raping and killing children and was struggling to control his disturbing urges to the extent it was “only a matter of time” before he acted on them. Solicitor Jamie Baxter, defending, said his client had been receiving recent psychological treatment which had helped matters. Mr Baxter had previously said his client had sent the email to Ms Ahmed-Sheikh as a “cry for help.” Sentencing Parkin, Sheriff Gillian Wade re-imposed the terms of a community payback order, previously handed out in March, which resulted in him being banned from public parks and swimming pools and ordered him not to approach or contact children under the age of 17 for three years. He is also not allowed to own more than one mobile phone or computer at any one time, and also told not allowed to access the Internet. In addition, he will have to let his social work supervisor or the police know if he changes a password on any such device . Parkin was also ordered to continue with his psychological treatment and put on the sex offenders’ register for three years.
The owner of a closure-threatened Perthshire arts venue said a community effort to keep it open has “restored his faith” in mankind. David Campbell, project leader of Strathearn Artspace in Crieff, said he was “delighted” with local residents raising £3100 to replace an out-of-date boiler. The venue, which has attracted the support of Star Wars actors Ewan McGregor and Denis Lawson, had been forced to install extra heaters due to the building plummeting 12 degrees through the day. Mr Campbell said: “It’s been really, really good and is nice to know just how many local people are behind the venue. "We managed to raise the money within two weeks which is incredible." He continued: “We had a show on here on Saturday and had to use five electric heaters for those who attended. By replacing the boiler we can fully use the building again. “We had aimed to raise £2700 to replace the boiler but in the end were given £3100. This has restored my faith in mankind. “Many of the people who contributed have not been to the venue so it shows the backing we have in Crieff. We have a performance due this Saturday and I was getting worried as the replacement boiler had gone missing through a courier service, but it looks like it will be installed by Thursday.” And Mr Campbell emphasised how an article in The Courier helped the fundraising effort. “Having the article in The Courier definitely helped,” he added. “We were given a further £700 just after the newspaper article and then I received a cheque for £350 the day after, so the publicity definitely helped. We were at a community market the day after the article was published and lots of people were talking about it.” Strathearn Artspace hosts film screenings, performances by comedians and many other events, including hosting life-drawing classes.
A VAT officer said she felt a figure of almost two and a half million pounds put against the total net value of sales by a Perthshire potato merchant was “very high.” Chrystal Symons, 59, a compliance officer with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), was giving evidence at Perth Sheriff Court at the trial of Scott Coupland, 48, of Leadenflower Road, Crieff, who is accused of two separate charges of VAT evasion. On Monday, the civil servant told depute fiscal John Malpass that she has been a VAT officer since 1993. Ms Symons explained how foodstuffs such as potatoes are “zero-rated” in terms of VAT and how VAT returns submitted by Coupland, a sole director with WDR Coupland (Produce) Ltd, began to “cause her concerns.” Ms Symons said Coupland had cancelled three meetings with her “at the last minute,” when she was told he was “out of the country” in August and October 2012. “On one occasion I left a phone message with Mr Coupland asking to contact me about the VAT returns but he never got back in touch,” she said. “My last arranged visit was in October 2012, when I felt he had ample time to arrange his records but this was again cancelled at the last minute. A repayment detailed in VAT returns of August 31 that year was then inhibited by us. “By visiting businesses, it helps confirm that the submitted VAT returns are correct.” The court heard that Ms Symons had spoken to her manager about “high levels” of repayments submitted by the accused that required checking. As a result, an HMRC investigations team were called in and they visited Coupland’s business premises and “uplifted” the VAT records. Ms Symons said Coupland had previously notified HMRC back in 2009 when a “computer error” by him led to a mistake in some of his VAT returns for 2007 and 2008. And she told the court that the total net value of sales – listed as £2,242,410.55 in accrual business from March to May 2011 – was “very high.” “You would need to have a large company to be doing that amount of business,” she said. “Also, I felt the figure of £2,092,296.65 given for the net value of purchases, which covers expenses incurred such as haulage, phone use, stationary and computers in the same records, was high.” Coupland denies knowingly submitting false VAT claims to HMRC and fraudulently evading VAT totalling £124,172 at an address in Crieff’s East High Street between March 1 2011 and May 31 2012. He has also pleaded not guilty to being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of a second sum, amounting to £37,056.78, between June 1 2012 and November 30 2012, by submitting false VAT repayment claims. The trial, heard before Sheriff William Wood and a jury continues.
Traders and shop owners in one of Perth’s most prestigious city centre streets are breathing a sigh of relief that an end is in sight for £1 million of street work that have caused turmoil. Work in the city’s High Street is scheduled to be completed by September 23, with the first phase of Mill Street works expected to be finished by the end of October. This announcement has been broadly welcomed by many businesses, especially those working in George Street, who are all keen to let the Perth public know they are still operating. The works are part of the last stage of a controversial £10m revamp at Perth and Kinross Council’s High Street headquarters. Due to the work currently taking place both at the bottom of High Street and at Horsecross Plaza there are a number of traffic flow disruptions which have caused confusion for some regular visitors to the city centre. Fiona McLellan, of Pharos Parcel, said: "George Street has been particularly quiet since the roadworks started and we think that people are basically a bit lost. "We're all still here and open and with 19 independent shops selling everything from olive oil to parcel postage and jewellery its worth a little extra effort to reach us. “The great news is there are plenty of parking spots right now." A spokesperson for Perth and Kinross Council said that access to George Street is being maintained by reversing the one-way system on Watergate and diverting traffic into George Street. “The environmental improvement works taking place in Perth city centre currently are to improve accessibility to city streets and buildings for all and to develop the cultural quarter around Perth Theatre and Perth Concert Hall – all of which will have benefits for residents and businesses alike,” she said. “There is signage in place to advise visitors and residents that the diverse mix of independent traders in George Street are very much open for business throughout the works, as well as indicating the diversions and alternative parking options. “As the council recognised that there would be some disruption as a result, the arrangements for the works were discussed over the course of a number of meetings with city centre businesses. All businesses have also been given direct contacts within the council to liaise with during the works, as well as direct contacts with the contractors to deal with any issues that may arise for individual businesses.”
A woman was found safe and well following a search of the River Tay in Perth. Police Scotland has confirmed that emergency crews were called to Tay Street following concerns for a woman seen near the water at Queen's Bridge around 9.30pm on Monday. A police spokesperson said: "Police Scotland attended at the River Tay near to Queen's Bridge in Perth on Monday evening around 9.30pm after concerns for a woman near the edge of the water. "The woman come away from the water and was taken home." One witness said two fire engines and the police rescue boat attended as well as other emergency vehicles. Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said that Perth Water Team and a water team from the Kingsway in Dundee were called but were not required. Tay Street, from George Street to High Street, was closed during the operation. One witness said two fire engines and the police rescue boat attended as well as other emergency vehicles. Police confirmed the incident had been concluded at 10.40pm.
Crippling rates bills could see Tayside and Fife's public leisure centres forced out of business, it has been warned. The arms-length bodies which run the centres face bills totalling more than £6 million if controversial "swim tax" proposals are introduced. It is feared councils may be forced to increase prices or even close some sites if the Scottish Government decides to levy rates on leisure businesses, following recommendations in the Barclay Report. Facilities such as Dundee’s flagship Olympia Leisure Centre could face a business rates bill of £368,100, while arms-length operator, Live Active Leisure (LAL) could have to pay £245,245 for Perth Leisure Pool. In Fife, the Michael Woods Sports and Leisure Centre in Glenrothes could face a rates bill of £329,400, with the Forfar Community Campus is in line for a £313,200 bill. The total rates bills for leisure sites in Perth and Kinross would be £2,169,035; £1,360,372 for Dundee; £1,496,475 for Fife and £1,023,300 for Angus. The Barclay Report was commissioned by the Scottish Government in March last year and headed up by Ken Barclay, former head of Scottish operations for Royal Bank of Scotland. Derek McKay, Scotland's Finance Secretary, welcomed the report and said the Scottish Government would "respond swiftly" to its recommendations. However, Murdo Fraser, Scottish Conservative MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, has dubbed the proposal the “swim tax” and slammed Mr McKay for not consulting leisure organisations about the proposal. A decision on whether the Scottish Government will roll out the proposals is expected to be announced in December. Jim Moyes, LAL’s chief executive, said the proposed move would have a detrimental impact on their services. “I am concerned about key recommendations within the Barclay Report and the inexplicable failure to engage in any consultations during the review,” he said. “LAL is working collaboratively with similar organisations through Sporta Scotland to ensure that, prior to reaching final decisions, Government officials and Ministers have a heightened awareness of the potential, and surely unintended, consequential impact on highly valued local venues and services.” He continued: “A move like this would fly in the face of national and local priorities such as tackling obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiac disease, social isolation and poor mental health.” Mr Fraser added: “Imposing huge rates bills on organisations that provide community sports facilities is completely counterproductive, and would undoubtedly result in pared-back services or closed facilities. This isn’t the way to encourage more people to lead healthy and active lifestyles. “I have called on Mr McKay to meet with Live Active Leisure to fully understand the catastrophic impact that dropping rates relief would have on services. It’s time to axe the ‘swim tax.’” Kirsty Hunter, chief executive of Angus Alive leisure trust said: “Angus Alive is a member of Sporta Scotland, and Sporta Scotland in partnership with VOCAL Scotland has provided information on behalf of all members to the Cabinet Secretary in response to the Barclay review recommendation.” Eileen Rowand, Fife Council’s executive director of finance and corporate services, commented: "Local authorities await an indication from the Scottish Government on whether or not they plan to implement this recommendation so it would be speculative for us to comment at this stage." A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government is engaging further on the recommendation to levy business rates on arm's-length external organisations and will confirm the outcome later this year. The biggest threat to Scotland’s public services, including leisure facilities, is continued UK Government austerity.”
Legal investigation into proceeds of crime against former businessman ‘fraught with difficulties’, court told
The legal representative for a former Perthshire businessman who dodged thousands of pounds of tax claimed investigations into the matter are “fraught with difficulties.” Kevin McCallum QC, who appeared at Perth Sheriff Court on Tuesday on behalf of Stuart Newing-Davis, 48, said there had been difficulties with transport arrangements so his client couldn’t be at court. And he outlined issues concerning a house owned by Newing-Davis that his family were living in over in France that forms part of the proceeds of crime investigation. “My client is currently serving a prison sentence at HM Castle Huntly but could not be here today,” he said. “I am here because there are difficulties associated with a home owned by my client over in France, that Mrs Sarah Newing-Davis and the children were living in. “The problem is that she took ill following the court case here, was hospitalised and is now in a mental health sanatorium in France. A curator been appointed to look after her affairs. “There is outstanding default on the mortgage on this property, which was occupied by Mrs Newing-Davis when the family re-located to France.” Mr McCallum explained that he has made contact with a solicitor in France regarding the situation with the property to get his opinion and he understood the Crown would be making their own inquiries into it. “I am asking for time to speak to another solicitor in France and to see if any equity can be released from this property,” he added. “However, I must say this property in France is fraught with difficulties.” Depute Fiscal Carol Whyte revealed the Crown had received a “bundle” of documents associated with the home in France from the proceeds of crime unit in Edinburgh. Newing-Davis had been sentenced to 32 months in jail in June at Perth Sheriff Court, after being convicted of a £174,000 VAT fraud. He had pled guilty to five charges of fraudulently evading VAT totalling £174,179.33 while a director of Trainpeople.co.uk on dates between March 3, 2010, and June 7, 2011. Latterly, Newing-Davis had been working as a London bus driver. The Crown and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) aim to recoup some of the money owed by investigating his assets, including the aforementioned home in France. Sheriff William Wood agreed to hold another proof hearing into the proceeds of crime investigation which will take place at court on February 23.