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Angus & The Mearns

Islam convert told to ‘go and eat bacon’ by stepson in Facebook volley

January 12 2017

A Dundee man told his Islamic convert stepfather to “go and eat bacon” in a religiously and racially offensive Facebook tirade. Dean McAndrew used the social media’s messaging software to contact Christopher McAndrew from the Westport area of Arbroath. The 28-year-old appeared at Forfar Sheriff Court and admitted threatening the man on December 6. Depute fiscal Jill Drummond said: “Witness McAndrew is the stepfather of the accused. “Mr McAndrew is in the process of converting his religion to Islam. He has completed paperwork to change his name. “The accused does not use Facebook but uses Messenger as a means of communicating with his family. “In recent weeks the accused has had difficulties … and witness McAndrew was giving him advice on Monday the fifth of November. “At 6.49pm on the sixth of November he messaged witness McAndrew ‘go and eat some bacon’.” Ms Drummond also said McAndrew described the man as “black” and used an obscenity. Before hearing the full list of messages, Sheriff Gregor Murray interjected and said he would require reports before sentencing McAndrew. Sheriff Murray told him: “I’m going to defer sentence on you for a report from the criminal justice social work department. “You will have to co-operate with them in its preparation. “I hear you’re a first offender but that does not stop me from thinking this is serious, from the charge and what I’ve just heard.” Sentence was deferred to February 9 for reports, and McAndrew was granted bail on the special condition that he does not approach or attempt to approach his stepfather. Defence agent Ian Flynn agreed no further reports would be needed ahead of sentencing. McAndrew, of Aboyne Avenue, Dundee, admitted using a public communications network to send grossly offensive or indecent, obscene or menacing messages with racially and religiously offensive content to Mr McAndrew in Westport, Arbroath on December 6, and threatened him with violence.

Angus & The Mearns

Angus Travellers may be made homeless in human rights quandary

March 6 2017

Families at an illegal Traveller camp will be made homeless this week if Angus Council chiefs agree to send in enforcers. The local authority has struggled to solve the unauthorised occupation of land in Hillside, near Montrose, for more than 12 years. It has been decided to send in Sheriff Officers after an attempt to raise criminal proceedings against the site operator ended at Forfar Sheriff Court. Prosecutors dropped an attempt to convict the landowner east of The Knowe, Kinnaber Road, due to witness problems. And councillors will be asked on Tuesday to rubber-stamp “direct action” by evicting the occupants and their children, before impounding and selling their caravans. But the head of planning and place, Vivien Smith, has warned there may be “implications” under human rights legislation relating to the “free enjoyment of their possessions” and “interference with home or family life”, and the council may not recoup its financial outlay to evict the Travellers. “It is considered that any such actual or potential infringement of such Convention rights is justified,” she adds. “Any actual or alleged infringement is in accordance with the council’s legal powers under the planning Acts and is necessary in the general interest for the proper control of land use and development in Angus.” Councillors will be asked whether they believe a new application by James Forsyth Jr would be approved via the latest Angus Local Development Plan – which officers advise would not be the case. Ms Smith adds: “The continued siting of caravans on the site is a matter of concern for the local community. “The matter was reported to the Procurator Fiscal and it appeared that the matter would be progressed through the courts with the party responsible for the breach of the Enforcement Notice prosecuted. “However, the Procurator Fiscal advised that the case would not be pursued. “Whilst the case was initially taken up by the fiscal it was subsequently dropped due to issues regarding the availability of witnesses.” It is understood two caravans are currently at the site, with up to six having been seen previously. Councillors will be told direct action has been “delayed” due to the lack of Sheriff Officers willing to execute the order, and the availability of storage for the caravans. It is hoped any affected families will leave for other sites in Angus such as St Christopher’s in Montrose, or Balmuirwood by Tealing. The latter has been earmarked as having enough space. A spokesman for Scottish equality centre PAS said Travellers should have access to private as well as public sites, such as Tealing, which would reduce the number of unauthorised sites and “ill-feeling” towards the community.

Angus & The Mearns

Bon Scott joins icons at Kirriemuir gallery

April 30 2016

Scottish rock legend Bon Scott joined a “pantheon” of stars including Keith Richards, Bob Dylan — and Oor Wullie — at an Angus art exhibition. Kirriemuir’s 10th annual celebration of Bon and AC/DC, Bonfest, kicked off in rebellious style with a host of bands on Friday night. A permanent tribute to the former frontman, who died tragically in 1980 as the global phenomenon was just beginning, will be unveiled in his home town this afternoon. And the rock icon has now been immortalised as a piece of pop art. Artist Robert McSpadyen was approached to frame Bon in technicolour screen print, a format he has used to encapsulate the essence of stars such as Lee Marvin, Ava Gardner and Shirley MacLaine. Mr McSpadyen, 43, is a member of Glasgow Print Studio and creates prints which reflect his own pop cultural and cinematic preoccupations and obsessions. A selection of his work is now on display alongside Bon at the town’s Bank Street Gallery, and sales of Bon prints will support the work of DD8 Music, the music-driven youth project behind Bonfest. “I work in screen printing, as that suits the style of the characters I like – brash and bold,” he said. “I stick to working with the influences I have, and Bon fits in with that whole pantheon of rock and roll legends. “Bon and the Young brothers (musicians Angus, Malcolm and producer George) were all from Scotland before they emigrated to Australia, and so were a big part of what you could call Scotland’s biggest band. “It’s only fitting that there’s a statue getting unveiled here.” Gallery owner Susie Clark said she is “delighted” to host a first-of-its-kind artwork. “Robert is building a shrine to a deeply personal pantheon of the late 20th century's sharpest icons,” she said. The Bank Street Gallery exhibition runs until June 10. This year’s Bonfest sees the evening gigs played in a big top on the town’s south side. Last night’s headline band was the all-female quintet BACK:N:BLACK, supported by Reddog, and The Ruckus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDOeDSlvn_U This followed a day of live music around the town’s pubs and a re-enactment of the AC/DC video Long Way to the Top by German band Bon: The AC/DC Show on the back of a vintage vehicle. Today, the statue of Bon will be officially unveiled in Bellies Brae at 1pm by special guests Mark Evans, Mary Renshaw, Tony Currenti and Bob Richards. BON The AC/DC Show is tonight’s featured act, supported by Ferus Cane and The Smokin' Bugler Band. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIVtTi0_5QI Mark Evans played bass on four Bon-era albums and will give a talk and Q&A about his time in the band at 1pm tomorrow in Kirriemuir Town Hall. Former AC/DC drummer Tony Currenti will play tomorrow night, performing the entirety of the High Voltage album with Pure/DC. Mary Renshaw will also appear and discuss her book about Bon, entitled Live Wire.

Angus & The Mearns

Angus foodbank use at ‘all-time high’

May 23 2017

An Angus politician has slammed the spiralling need for foodbanks in the county. Angus North and Mearns MSP Mairi Evans spoke out during an emotional speech at the Scottish Parliament on the rising need for foodbanks across Scotland — with usage reaching record levels in Angus last year. Ms Evans praised the new Brechin Community Pantry during a debate on foodbanks, which heard more than 25% of Scotland’s children are classed as living in poverty. But she insisted the UK Government must tackle the issue of child poverty by avoiding cuts to the benefits system. She said: “In Angus, figures were published in the past week that shows that emergency food supplies had to be provided to 2,771 adults and 824 children last year. “This is an all-time high and an increase of 917 on the previous year. “The Trussell Trust has stated that the biggest increases have been seen in areas where Universal Credit has been rolled out. “The simple fact is we have a social security system that has been so utterly ravaged that it is no longer the safety net it was designed to be. “Instead, it humiliates and dehumanises the very people it is supposed to help. “Over the past few years the Tory-led UK Government have introduced the seriously flawed Universal Credit system, the bedroom tax, benefit sanctions, cuts to Employment Support Allowance, a freeze on working-age benefits, and a complete cut to housing benefits for 18 to 21-year-olds. “The family element of child tax credits has been removed, there have been cuts to bereavement benefits, and the new PIP system has seen many of those transferring to it from the Disability Living Allowance lose their entitlement altogether, with only 42% of new claimants get any sort of award.” A spokesman for the DWP defended the Universal Credit system, which collapses all benefits into one and is being rolled out across the UK. He said: "The majority of UC claimants are confident in managing their money and we work closely with local authorities to support those who need extra help. "Budgeting support, benefit advances, and direct rent payments to landlords are available to those who need them."

Angus & The Mearns

Scottish and US wrestling stars to collide in Tayside at SWE Hell For Lycra XIII

August 27 2016

Shining stars from the world of professional wrestling have gathered in Dundee today for a local company’s “supershow” of the year. SWE Hell for Lycra XIII takes place at the Caird Hall, with seven matches announced involving the cream of wrestling talent from Scotland and the US. Scottish Wrestling Entertainment runs family-friendly show throughout Tayside and north Fife, and has found an annual home in the birthplace of Scottish wrestling. The 13th annual event will see seven matches: SWE World Heavyweight Championship Stallyon defend his title against The Very Good Mr Euan G. Mackie, a six-man tag match between DBD and Blair, Riot and Riccio, Lou King Sharp defend his SWE Future Division Championship in a fatal four-way ladder match, Kirsty Love will face Sara Marie Taylor, Felix Fortune takes on Ian Ambrose, and American star Colt Cabana faces off against a mystery opponent. A match that has generated a lot of nationwide attention is a triple-threat between former WWE and current TNA star Drew Galloway from Ayr, US star EC3, and ICW favourite Joe Henry. Live music will come from Emerald Sunday. A spokesman said: “Every year Hell for Lycra gets more exciting and we never fail to bring some of the best talent to Scotland. “In the past we have had a variety of world renowned superstars to grace the SWE and wow our crowds alongside our very own home-grown talent.” An autograph signing takes place at 2pm, doors open at 6.15pm and first bell is 7pm. Tickets are still available from the City Square box office.

Angus & The Mearns

Thrums Up! Arts world coming to Kirriemuir for celebration of JM Barrie

May 9 2016

An Angus town will capture Scotland's imagination again this week as it prepares to launch its first art, food and literature festival. Today marks 156 years since Peter Pan creator Sir JM Barrie was born in Kirriemuir, which was immortalised in his first novel, A Window in Thrums. Culture and heritage charity the Saltire Society is 80 this year and its local branch has decided to mark Barrie’s impact on the world with an “exciting programme of talent” at Thrums Up! – A Celebration of Inspiration on Saturday. It has been more than a century since Peter Pan appeared in Barrie’s novel The Little White Bird and stage play The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up - the first of thousands of books, plays, films, and works of art inspired by the character. The free event will include visits from Saltire award winning writers Meaghan Delahunt and James Robertson, and BBC Scotland’s poet in residence Rachel McCrum. Mr Robertson, author of And the Land Lay Still, said he is “very pleased” to be involved. “Scottish culture in all its forms is thriving not just in the cities but in communities of all shapes and sizes right across the country,” he said. “Kirriemuir, which happens to be just a few miles from my home, is one such place, and I don’t doubt that the day will be full of surprises and delights.” Thrums, a Scots word for the ends of warp threads or scraps of waste threads, was the word Barrie affectionately used for his home town. And an assortment of local artists, photographers and designers will feature accordingly, with guests also able to sample local food and drink. Attendees at the Town Hall will be able to view the work of 16 locals including Jonathan Mitchell and Maureen Cosby, and sample the creations of bread maker and chocolatier Johanna from 88 Degrees, beer maker Colin McIlwrathe and Kim Cameron from Gin Bothy in Glen Isla. The event, running from 10am to 7pm, is organised by the Angus branch of the Saltire Society as part of its anniversary programme. Committee member and Kirrie resident Andrew Lendrum said the event would celebrate “the wealth of cultural and culinary delights” his town has to offer. He added: “The Saltire Society aims to support and promote creativity and I think this festival is a brilliant way to get  people from throughout central Scotland and the north east involved and to show them just how inspiring and creative Kirriemuir and its people can be. “Thrums Up! is a great opportunity to see artists you admire, but there is a place too for the joyful serendipity of coming to an event where you  might just be surprised by a sight, a taste, or the spoken word.” Kirriemuir has seen a major boost to its tourism due to the recent Bonfest music festival celebrating former AC/DC singer Bon Scott. A statue to the frontman, who died aged 33 and spent some of his childhood in the town, was unveiled before thousands of people on April 30, ahead of the music taking over. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgVScdkUtWI Staff at the Gateway to the Glens Museum are giving visitors a rare opportunity to view the Peter Pan “book sculpture” until May 28, marking Barrie’s birth. The intricate paper sculpture was made by a mystery sculptor, commissioned by the Scottish Book Trust in 2012. The same sculptor left a series of beautiful and anonymous works of art around Edinburgh in 2011, and the Pan sculpture is usually on display at the National Library of Scotland in the city. Museum officer Rachel Jackson said: “We are delighted to have arranged the loan of the Peter Pan book sculpture for the month of May so that visitors to Sir JM Barrie’s home town can view the creation.” The museum at 32 High Street celebrates its 15th anniversary on May 18, and the loan has been organised as part of the Festival of Museums between May 13 and 15.

Angus & The Mearns

Tayberry chef Adam Newth to triple staff with new St Andrews and Kinnettles ventures

January 17 2017

One of Scotland’s top young chefs will bring his signature style to two new ventures in Angus and Fife this year. Adam Newth, chef proprietor of the Tayberry restaurant in Broughty Ferry, is to launch a second restaurant in St Andrews in the spring and has taken on the catering at the relaunched Kinnettles Castle near Forfar. The 26-year-old said the move will triple his dozen staff. Kinettles Castle has been relaunched as an exclusive use wedding and private events venue, and the forthcoming Kinettles Hotel is due to open its doors in April. “I’m excited about the new openings,” he said. “They’re different in scope but both will reflect our classic and modern techniques and passion for using the best and freshest ingredients we can get hold of.” Mr Newth won the first young chef of the year title in the 2016 Catering Scotland (CIS) Awards, and spoke proudly of what competitions have done for his career to date. “Winning a competition gives your business a buzz,” he said. “It gives you the reassurance you’re doing a lot of things right and indicates to the outside world you’re a trusted brand. “You get the wind behind you and it boosts your profile. “Articles go in the press and social media, and readers say ‘I must try that place'. “Winning awards has a positive impact on staff too. “Even if the award is given to me, they know they’ve played their parts.” Mr Newth first worked at a cafe in his home town of Arbroath aged 14, studied cooking at nearby Angus College and left home at 16 to work at former Rangers FC chairman David Murray’s Circus restaurant in Edinburgh. He honed his skills at establishments including The Seafood Restaurant in St Andrews under Craig Millar, Angels with Bagpipes in Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, The Kitchen and No. 1 @ The Balmoral in Edinburgh, and Martin Wishart’s at Cameron House on Loch Lomond. His other awards have included young Scottish chef and young Scottish seafood chef of the year at ScotHot in 2013, and sustainable trout chef of the year in 2015. When he opened Castlehill, the city’s first two AA Rosette restaurant, one restaurant critic wrote: “Adam Newth may be the best thing to hit Dundee since Desperate Dan.”

Angus & The Mearns

St Cyrus Travellers decision ‘disappointing for all’ says group

September 16 2017

The decision to clear out a controversial Mearns Traveller site has been criticised as “disappointing for all” by a human rights group. North Esk Park near St Cyrus was developed virtually overnight in 2013, prompting a four-year argument between residents concerned at increased flood risk and Travellers fighting for their right to remain. Aberdeenshire Council gave retrospective permission for the site, which lies along the North Esk’s banks on the county border with Angus, in 2016. But this was called in at Holyrood and reversed by a ministerial representative on Thursday. A Reporter said the life-threatening risk of flooding outweighs the need for a Traveller site in that area. Landowner William Macdonald has been given till the end of July 2018 to clear the settlement, which has developed into a fully-fledged cluster of homes with power and drainage. The period for removal has been extended to mitigate disruption to families who live there. A spokesman for Mr Macdonald’s organisation, at Monarch of the Glen park homes estate in Montrose, said it was too early to discuss the case. “We are not in a position to make a comment on this at the moment,” he said. “We are taking legal advice and it wouldn’t be appropriate.” A Court of Session appeal against the decision would have to be lodged within six weeks. Lynne Tammi, chief executive of Montrose-based Article 12 in Scotland, said the park’s residents had “little choice” but to build their own houses due to a lack of suitable accommodation. “This is disappointing for all concerned,” she said. “Whilst the intentions of the extended period for compliance is welcome, there can be no doubting the impact this will have on the children and young people who have settled into schools in the area.” Mearns Liberal Democrat councillor and Aberdeenshire Provost Bill Howatson said he supported the Scottish Environment Protection Agency’s view that the flood risk was too great. “In my view it was fundamentally wrong to allow development of this nature on a flood plain,” he said. “This was also the considered opinion of SEPA and there can be no argument that flooding has occurred over the years on that site.”


Scottish working class poets given new life with People’s Journal collection

January 26 2017

An insight into the life of Victorian Scotland’s “forgotten” poets published in Dundee has been brought back for a modern audience. The People’s Journal, printed by John Leng & Co and then DC Thomson in the city edition between 1858 and 1986, was billed in the 19th Century as “a penny Saturday paper devoted to the interests of the working classes.” Each edition included poems by people from all walks of life across Tayside, who used the format to talk about strikes, trade unions and politics, among many other topics. Strathclyde University academic Kirstie Blair has collected more than 100 of these poems from 1858 to 1883, in a volume entitled Poets of the People’s Journal: Newspaper Poetry in Victorian Scotland. Publishers the Association for Scottish Literary Studies hope the book will give modern readers a “vivid portraits of their writers’ lives”. Contributors would send in material under their own names and pseudonyms such as Eriphos, Harpoon, and Trebor. The collection also illustrates how the infamous poet William McGonagall, represented by An Address to Thee Tay Bridge from September 15 1877,  was part of a wider culture of “bad” verse in papers. Professor Blair said: “It was a popular practice for many people in the 19th Century to go home after work and write a poem. “A lot of them had extremely hard lives but it was an aspirational and highly regarded pursuit. “It was also a badge of pride for them to display their literacy skills. “People in Scotland in this period were very proud of the idea that Scotland had more ‘people’s poets’ than any other nation on earth, and every Scottish town or village had its own bard. “There was a great deal of competition between towns and local readers followed the careers of ‘their’ poets. “A lot of these poets are entirely forgotten now because they were published in newspapers, rather than in books or magazines, but the poetry is of a far higher quality and far more entertaining than might have been thought. “The book includes poems by and about William McGonagall, who has become known as ‘the world’s worst poet’, though I show here that he was actually part of an established culture of deliberately bad newspaper poetry and became a major comic poet through it. “Most of these poems cover subjects which are surprisingly relevant today.” The anthology also contains selected poems from the People’s Friend, which was originally a spin-off from the People’s Journal and is still published today.   The growth of weekly news Newspapers of the early 19th Century were subject to stamp duty of up to four pence per copy, which made daily consumption of news too expensive for many working-class readers. Weekly digests offered a cheaper option, and provided an outlet for a wave of Scottish writers. Following the success of publications such as the People’s Journal, poetry and fiction were often introduced to daily newspapers, and this material was often a way around paying more stamp duty. After the tax was repealed in 1855, many writers in Scots enjoyed a surge in readership, and the popularity of serialised books continues to this day. The Journal’s most influential editor, Fife autodidact William D Latto, first appeared in the paper as a contributing writer. His “Tammas Bodkin” columns helped popularise the use of Scots in the Victorian print era.

Angus & The Mearns

Recycling cut would be a ‘double whammy’ for Monifieth, claims MSP

July 19 2017

A plea has been made to Angus councillors over the future of a closure-threatened recycling centre. The local authority has announced a pause in its overhaul of facilities across the area, with the creation of a working group to look at potential changes. The Courier previously revealed how Angus Council’s new administration planned to delay this month's closure of Monifieth recycling centre and the reduction of opening hours at Brechin and Carnoustie skips. A Member Officer Group (MOG) has now visited each skip before making plans of how to save almost £250,000 a year. Their findings will be made public in September. Scottish Conservative MSP Bill Bowman has written to members asking for a rethink on Monifieth. He said residents face a double whammy of council tax increases with a Scottish Government imposed rise as well as an across the board hike of 3% set by the council. Mr Bowman said: “People living in Monifieth are paying higher rates of council tax than any other part of Angus, yet they face losing an important local service under these plans. “This was an issue that was raised during the local election campaign, not just in Monifieth, but in many other parts of the county. “The decision to form a working group offers the chance to rethink the proposals and come up with something that better serves local residents and ensures that communities have easy access to the facilities they need. “We are putting a much greater emphasis on recycling – so it is more important than ever that people have easy access to local facilities.” Figures show that Monifieth and District ward has the highest volume of properties paying Band E-H rates in Angus. The letter to Council leader Bob Myles I write following the decision of the new Angus Council administration to pause planned changes to Angus recycling facilities. I was pleased to see a 10-week delay introduced and the formation of a Members and Officers Group (MOG) to review the previous administration’s proposals. I know there are concerns amongst constituents across Angus about local recycling facilities, but I write with particular concern about the planned closure of the Monifieth recycling centre. Following the Scottish Government’s re-banding of council tax, and the 3% increase across Angus, it has been brought to my attention residents in Monifieth face paying some of the largest increases in Council Tax anywhere in Angus. Monifieth will contribute a far higher percentage of overall council tax take, yet these proposals would leave Monifieth without any recycling facilities. Monifieth would be faced with a “double whammy”, an increase in council tax and a reduction in services. At a time when we are expecting people to increase their level of recycling, and relying on local people to help Angus hit even more ambitious recycling targets, it seems counterproductive to close this facility. Has the added cost of clean-up for fly-tipping been properly included in this decision? If this facility closes will we face increased incidences of this crime, costing the council thousands in clean-up costs and damaging our local environment. I do hope you can consider moves to save this recycling facility, and I hope you may pass on my concerns and the concerns of local residents to the rest of the Members and Officers Group.