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Angus & The Mearns

Wedding bells to custody cells for St Cyrus couple

September 12 2016

Angus newlyweds spent their wedding night apart behind bars following an off-licence bust-up just three hours after tying the knot — and within days of a compassionate sheriff sparing the groom from prison so he could walk up the aisle. Graeme Leslie will now have an extended honeymoon in custody after being remanded following Friday’s rammy in Montrose when wedding bells descended into booze-fuelled hell for staff and customers at a high street shop called Party Time. The pair delivered a volley of foul abuse after a failed attempt to buy cider to keep the wedding party going, with ex-soldier Leslie telling one police officer: “I’ll do time for you, I was in Perth when Perth was Perth, not like Butlins today.” His new bride, Margaret, winked as the 61-year-old was led from the cells and into the dock beside her at Forfar, the couple separated by a G4S security ‘attendant’ as they sat together for the first time since the happy day turned sour. The couple, both of Scotson Place, St Cyrus admitted behaving in a threatening or abusive manner at Montrose High Street on September 9 and depute fiscal Jill Drummond revealed the incident happened just three hours after the wedding ceremony, which had been followed by a small party in a local pub. The newlyweds went to the off-licence and Leslie bought two bottles of cider, prompting a customer to joke: “I drank that once, that’ll give you some hangover.” The throwaway comment triggered a barrage of foul abuse from the Falklands and Northern Ireland Royal Artillery veteran, before Leslie knocked over £25 worth of goods when he was told he was not going to be served. A frightened assistant activated the shop’s panic alarm and when Leslie was asked by another customer if it was his wedding day he told them: “**** off, what the **** has it got to do with you.” Once outside the shop, his new bride joined in the abuse, screaming “You ******* ruined my wedding day, you *****.” Police arrived and the new Mrs Leslie was still shouting and threatening the shop assistant, with shocked families looking on as the high street bust-up was played out. They were taken to Arbroath police station and kept in separate cells for their first hours of their wedding night, with the new groom appearing in the dock still wearing his grey pinstripe suit and primrose shirt wedding attire. Leslie’s solicitor, Nick Markowski said his client had little recollection of events but had already paid for the damaged stock. He said his client had been released on a high tariff deferred sentence on September 1, adding: “He got married for the third time on Friday, but has indicated it is not third time lucky. “Alcohol has unfortunately blighted his life. He just couldn’t keep his mouth shut. “The only question is whether he spends his honeymoon in St Cyrus or elsewhere. He feels he has let the court down and let his wife down,” added Mr Markowski. Solicitor Nick Whelan, for Mrs Leslie, said the 56-year-old had played a lesser part in the offence and got involved after believing her husband was being wronged when he came out of the shop. “She didn’t envisage spending the evening of her wedding in a police station, but that’s what happened,” said Mr Whelan. Sheriff Gregor Murray deferred sentence on the pair until October 6 for reports, remanding Mr and granting Mrs bail.

Angus & The Mearns

Rock or busted? AC/DC fans Thunderstruck by witty Twitter cops

April 30 2016

The boys in blue have nailed Twitter with their love of Back in Black. As thousands of rock fans invaded Kirriemuir for the town's 10th anniversary homage to AC/DC frontman Bon Scott, tweeting cops raided the legendary band's playlist for a string of amusing messages encouraging revellers to enjoy their weekend safely and sensibly. From their @AngusPolice Twitter account the witty bobbies set the ball rolling with a welcome message on the theme of the band's most famous album. https://twitter.com/AngusPolice/status/725314175258529792?lang=en-gb Having managed to sneak in the early reference to the 1980-released album - the second best-selling of all time behind only Michael Jackson's Thriller - they followed it up with a track-packed tweet taking inspiration from some of AC/DC's other legendary hits. Hell's Bells, For Those About to Rock and Long Way to the Top all featured in the follow-up encouraging those making their way to the wee red town and the dedicated Bonfest site- a new addition for 2016 featuring a big top stage for the headline acts- to have fun and Play Ball. https://twitter.com/AngusPolice/status/725575422562426883?lang=en-gb Unseasonal Angus weather then made things tricky for drivers, but as the snows hit they also delivered a gift to get the safety message across with another of the band's most famous tracks capturing exactly the state of the area's roads. https://twitter.com/AngusPolice/status/725931077236203525?lang=en-gb The Bonfest Twitterfest then continued in the shadow of the big top with another message encouraging fans to have fun during the busy weekend. But despite declaring that Rock'n'Roll Ain't Noise Pollution, it's a safe bet that Police Scotland didn't come good on their promise to Have a Drink On Me for every one of the estimated 3,000 fans from as far afield as Australia who flocked to the event. https://twitter.com/AngusPolice/status/726010473439760384?lang=en-gb Over the decade since it was established by community group DD8 Music, Bonfest has built a reputation as a good-natured gathering and the weekend has continued that theme with the international language of rock bringing together the leather and denim-clad visitors of a host of nations. For the tweet-savvy police it's definitely a good thing that AC/DC fans like to live life at High Voltage but aren't always Spoilin' for a Fight which might lead them into custody. The last thing the Angus cops would want to risk is a Jailbreak. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXXO9_3gb3o      

Angus & The Mearns

Forfar Academy champions lifesaving campaign with overwhelming response to Anthony Nolan plea

April 27 2017

Forfar Academy pupils have been hailed for their remarkable response to a lifesaving partnership project by the firefighter whose own blood cancer diagnosis sparked the vital programme. In the latest stage of a drive which it is hoped will eventually involve secondaries across the whole of Tayside, the Angus school staged a registration event for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Anthony Nolan charity initiative, which has already delivered potentially lifesaving matches for those in need of a stem cell transplant. The scheme was launched in 2009, a year after Ally Boyle, a fire service area commander from Hamilton, was diagnosed with blood cancer. The condition forced his retiral from the service four years ago, but since then he has been a driving force behind the initiative to educate young people about the need for stem cell donors and develop positive citizenship through the partnership involving SFRS colleagues and the charity. The programme has added thousands of people aged 16 to 30 to the Anthony Nolan register of potential stem cell donors, including around 80 names from the Forfar Academy session – a statistic several times the normal 25% 'conversion' rate the scheme would expect from such events. Senior Academy pupils trained as partnership champions encouraged their peers to sign up for the registration session and they joined local firefighters in administering the event. Kingsway East SFRS station manager Fraser Scott, the tactical lead in the Tayside programme, which already involves Monifieth High and will hopefully soon expand to Perth, said a ‘conversion’ rate of 80 from around 100 expressions of interest in the run up to the event was well in excess of what would normally be expected. “We come out to the schools, give presentations and recruit the champions, and then get them to talk to their peers in the hope that they will be willing to join the register. Young people who register give a simple and quick saliva sample, expanding the database the charity can search when it is searching for a genetic match for a patient requiring a stem cell transplant. Mr Scott added: “We hope to become embedded in the culture of the school, returning on an annual basis with a new group of champions in the senior year.” Mr Boyle said: “When I was diagnosed and learned about Anthony Nolan I realised the fire service and the charity existed for exactly the same reason – to save lives – and thought there was something very positive that we could do together. “It also gives us a chance to develop a really positive relationship with young people and promote active citizenship, through the schools and the young champions who play such an important part in this.”

Other sports

Gordon Shedden aiming to McFly at Thruxton

May 4 2016

Back to the future would do reigning BTCC champion Gordon Shedden nicely at the UK’s fastest race circuit this weekend. The countdown to the third round of the 2016 title chase at Thruxton is underway and with Fifer Shedden tucked in just a handful of points behind Halfords Yuasa Racing teammate Matt Neal at the top of the drivers’ table, the 37-year-old Knockhill business development manager would happily settle for a 2015 re-run. Last year Shedden led Neal to the chequered flag in close formation, and after a commanding one-two finish for the Honda Civic Type R in the most recent BTCC outing at Donington Park the squad is optimistic it can build on the early season success that has also seen it head the Manufacturers’ battle. Thruxton’s sweeping layout will see the touring cars hit almost 160 miles per hour on a lap averaging 115mph and Shedden heads to Hampshire buoyed for the fight. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8QBfcWjLA8 Flash said: “Thruxton is one of those circuits where you need to take a deep breath, tighten the belts a bit more and just hang on. “It’s somewhere that always generates great racing and entertainment and historically, the Civic has gone very well there, so we’re hoping for more of the same. “The Type R is really nicely-balanced with an excellent chassis, which is essential at Thruxton. “The key factor is the speed and flow you can carry round the back of the lap, which is where our car is particularly strong and we need to take advantage of that.” He added: “With the success ballast on board, we’ll have to work hard again in qualifying but we’ll give it our best shot and ultimately, our objective is simple - to score more points than anybody else.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEVxTbgKhqE      

Angus & The Mearns

Countdown on to new era for Forfar’s Chapelpark

September 29 2017

Tenants who will soon call Forfar’s former Chapelpark school home have been given the chance to see the project’s progress toward completion. Angus Council’s £5.6 million Academy Court project is transforming the B-listed building — the town's old Academy before becoming Chapelpark primary — into 29 affordable homes for social rent, comprising 18 one-bedroom flats, six two-bedroom flats, one three-bedroomed flat and four five-bedroomed townhouses. At a drop-in event at the town’s Reid Hall, the authority’s housing team gave the soon-to-move-in tenants an opportunity to see plans and drawings, as well as samples of bathroom and kitchen fixtures and fittings which will grace their new homes. Architects, technical experts and community housing and waste management teams were also present. They were joined by the council’s communities convener and vice-convener, councillors Craig Fotheringham and Lois Speed, as well as local elected members and representatives from Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Tayside Contracts, local community groups and other agencies who are involved in the development. Cllr Fotheringham said: “We have kept our new tenants up to date throughout this project so far, and this was another great opportunity for us to meet with them and offer an exciting insight into the homes they will shortly move into. “We had the right people here to ensure that a range of advice was available for our tenants and any questions they had were answered. “This will help to make their move simple and straightforward. “This is a significant housing development for Forfar and Angus, one which will breathe new life into this landmark building. “Academy Court will provide modern, affordable and energy efficient accommodation for a new generation of our residents. Houses that people can be proud to call home.” Chapelpark's early role as the town's first Academy was highlighted in a Meffan exhibition earlier this year to mark the opening of Forfar's new community campus. Photographs and memorabilia from the old building was on display alongside items charting the history of its replacement, officially opened by The Queen Mother in 1965, but now a memory after being bulldozed to make way for the final phase of the campus project.

Angus & The Mearns

Angus and Mearns Matters: Brechin’s upturn hits the skids

April 3 2017

For a place that’s built its recent success on how fast folk can get from top to bottom, it’s unsettling to see things going downhill in Brechin. This week brought the disappointing news that the burgh is going to miss out on its noisy, colourful, leather-and-chrome clad hogfest with community group Bravo Brechin’s decision to pull the plug on the summer Harley-Davidson in the City festival. For so many reasons, HDITC was something to celebrate. In addition to the obvious one of bringing so many fantastic, rumbling machines onto the streets of the cathedral city and the rural roads of Angus for us to enjoy, it also tied the heritage of an old stone cotter house to those much-admired sportsters, soft tails and fat boys and the glorious rumble of a v-twin. Sadly, running the event has been nothing like as silky smooth as the ride of a well-sorted H-D. https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/local/angus-mearns/396152/problems-silence-the-roar-of-thunder-at-brechin-harley-davidson-celebration/ Relations between the community group and enthusiasts who lovingly rebuilt the Davidson Legacy cottage at Netherton from where Sandy and Margaret set off from in pursuit of the American dream have been lumpy to say the least, and Bravo’s effort in getting Harley-Davidson approval to make a big deal of the day have also hit several bumps in the road. A few years ago the dynamic and ambitious band of local volunteers also set up the UK’s biggest street water slide as a sideshow attraction for when the bikers were in town and what instantly became a foam-filled family hit will also be absent in July. I’ve been down the slide and it was probably as much fun as you could ever expect to have on a plastic lilo with all your clothes on. But not nearly as much fun as pulling the crash helmet visor down and strapping myself into a roofbox mounted on a racing chassis for the 40mph thrill of the Brechin cartie races. Unfortunately, a lack of entries and the huge undertaking of putting on the Scottish championship event put paid to it in 2016. Bravo hoped the carties would return in 2017, but with the roar of thunder now silenced and water slide hopes evaporated it all seems to be on a bit of a slippery slope for Brechin.

Angus & The Mearns

Angus council tax bills to rocket by up to 26%

February 13 2017

Top band Angus residents are facing a 26.2% increase in their council tax bill in this week’s local authority budget. A 3% increase is set to be agreed by councillors on Thursday, but with the double whammy of a Scottish Government increase for higher level properties, the Band H figure is set to jump more than £550 to a total figure of £2,705. At Band D, the proposed 3% hike will see bills rise from £1,072 to £1,104 next year. In its drive to balance the books, the council is planning a £3.273 million package of savings, which will lead to the loss of up to 50 jobs across its 4,000-strong workforce. Details of what local residents can expect in Thursday's budget were revealed in a council briefing on Monday. Finance spokesman Bill Duff said that somewhere around 75% of Angus households would be paying 3% more Council Tax and be unaffected by the Holyrood-imposed increase for Bands E to H due to come into place in April. The fine detail of the savings package includes plans to increase burial charges, axe the Angus local rail travel concession scheme and look at the future of some public toilets, which may be closed if they are not taken on by the community. * For much more on this story don't miss Tuesday's Angus edition of The Courier, also available in digital format.

Other sports

McLaren’s Mitchell solid at the Rock as fastest lap awards keep coming

May 1 2017

Angus teenager Sandy Mitchell bagged his first podium of the year with a second place finish in the  latest round of the British GT4 Championship. Starting from fourth on the grid for the two-hour race at Rockingham speedway in Northamptonshire, 17-year-old Mitchell and 20-year-old Scots teammate Ciaran Haggerty were involved in a titanic battle for honours in their Black Bull Garage 59 McLaren 570S GT4 for the entirety of the two-hour race. “We’re really pleased to get our first podium of the year,” said Mitchell, who with fellow McLaren GT Academy member Haggerty won two races and bagged three pole positions last season “After difficulties in the opening race weekend, it was important we came back and delivered the result we know we’re capable of. "This result will give us and the Black Bull Garage 59 team a real boost for the coming rounds. “Of course we would have liked the win, but over the season there are circuits which suit some cars better than others,” said Mitchell of the thrilling fight against the victorious Ginetta G55 of  Stuart Middleton and Will Tregurtha. The Dundee High teenager, who also scooped his second Sunoco fastest lap of the race award in succession, added: “The Black Bull Garage 59 team did a great job in maximising the potential of what we could achieve at Rockingham and it gives us the platform to go on and push for more wins as the season progresses.”

Angus & The Mearns

Investigation launched after rare hen harrier’s satellite signal lost in Angus glens

May 22 2018

Police and RSPB Scotland are investigating the disappearance of a rare hen harrier whose satellite tracking signal was last recorded in Angus three months’ ago. The young bird, named Saorsa, is one of two hen harriers which have gone missing in recent months, leading to RSPB calls for tighter legislation to protect the raptors. They were fitted with satellite tags as part of the RSPB’s EU-funded Hen Harrier LIFE project, with Saorsa tagged on a nest in Ross-shire in June 2017. Her tag was transmitting regularly with no signs of any technical problems, showing her journey across Scotland after fledging, until it suddenly ceased transmissions in the Angus Glens on February 16 this year. Data from her tag indicated she had been in the area since November 2017, but the bird has not been seen or heard from since. The Scottish Gamekeepers Association has called for an independent probe into the situation, highlighting work going on in Angus to alter historic reputations relating to persecution and growing numbers of raptors on moors in the area as an illustration of positive progress. The other harrier, Finn, was tagged on a nest in Northumberland in July 2016, one of only three successful nests in the whole of England for that year. Her tag showed movements into southern Scotland until March 25, when transmissions ceased near Moffat. Hen harriers are one of the UK’s rarest birds of prey and one of the most threatened. Most of the population is found in Scotland and conservation bodies have said measures to protect them in this country are vital. Duncan Orr-Ewing, RSPB Scotland’s head of species and land management said: “Satellite tags are more than 90% reliable and we would expect, if the birds had died from natural causes, to be able to recover both the tag and the body. But this has not been the case. “The sudden disappearance of these protected rare birds shows that current legislation is not sufficient. “We believe the introduction and enforcement of licensing of driven grouse shooting is now vital to help protect the hen harrier, as well as asserting other public interests in the way large areas of our upland landscapes are managed both sustainably and within the law. “We are pleased that these matters are being considered by the current independent review of grouse moor management in Scotland, and look forward to some firm recommendations to Scottish Government from this panel in due course”. A spokesman for The Scottish Gamekeepers Association said: “We sincerely hope these two birds will be found. “The loss of tag transmission in Angus, like the tag in Moffat, merits further, independent, investigation,” said the spokesman. “There has been a commitment in Angus over the last few years to changing past reputations. “The high numbers of raptors on local moors are proof of that and the first harrier breeding attempt for some time, last year, in the region was a sign of progress. “We know talks have been held between sporting estates regarding translocating a pair of breeding harriers so those on the ground will be seeking further evidence and an accountable explanation regarding this loss of satellite tag transmission.” Tim Baynes, director of the Scottish Moorland Group, said: “When the satellite tag on any protected bird ceases to work it is a cause for concern and we support any appeal for information on these two hen harriers. "It is disappointing that it has taken so long – more than three months in one case – for a call for information to be issued. "It is perplexing for their disappearance to be linked to “driven” grouse moors as there are no driven grouse moors near Moffat, and the grouse moor community in Angus has made a wide commitment to harrier conservation through the PAWS/SNH Heads Up For Harriers project. "We believe that Police Scotland are not pursuing a formal investigation into either disappearance. "What this matter does highlight is the need to establish independence in how satellite tag data is processed. "It is not unknown for tags to stop transmitting for a variety of reasons and confidence needs to be provided to all organisations with an interest in this area. "This can only be achieved by an independent body being responsible for data from satellite tags rather than being processed by organisations actively seeking restrictions on grouse shooting.”

Other sports

McLaren marvel Mitchell gunning for cracking British GT opener at Oulton

April 14 2017

Angus teenager Sandy Mitchell returns to British GT Championship action this weekend - targeting the GT4 title in his 180mph Black Bull Garage 59 McLaren 570S Twice a race winner in his 2016 debut season, Mitchell became the series’ youngest ever victor and shared Rookie of the Year honours with teammate and fellow Scot Ciaran Haggerty. Now 17 and legally able to get behind the wheel of a road car – with L-plates of course – Dundee High pupil Mitchell will again partner 20-year-old Haggerty and the pairing hope to hit the ground running at Oulton Park in Cheshire. “Pre-season testing has gone very well so we’re feeling positive heading into the first round,” he said. “We identified a couple of things we can improve in relation to the set-up, but overall the tests were excellent. “Our lap times were good too, but of course, we won’t know where we really stand until the first qualifying session. But we’re feeling quietly positive.” Mitchell has tested the McLaren at Oulton, Rockingham and Silverstone in the build-up to this weekend’s race. “It’s been a while since we won the final race of the season at Donington last year so I can’t wait for the race weekend buzz,” added Mitchell, who has added vital backing from worldwide outfits Christie Digital and Stampede Global to local companies Thorntons, Close Brothers, Stirfresh and SGM who continue their support from last season   “Primarily we’re focusing on challenging for race wins right from the start of the season. “If we manage to consistently push for wins and bag podiums, that will evolve into us challenging for the championship as we get towards the end of the season. “Obviously the GT4 title is the ultimate goal. “We’ve got the champions from last year back, so it’s going to be a tough grid, but we’re determined to do everything we can to push for the title.”