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UK & World

Government wants to wait before deciding on future of civil partnerships

May 14 2018

Ministers want to wait until next year before consulting on the future of civil partnerships.Government lawyers told the Supreme Court the wait was “justified” so four whole years of data could be gathered following the introduction of same-sex marriage.The court is hearing the case of Rebecca Steinfeld, 37, and Charles Keidan, 41, who want a civil partnership but are prevented by legislation which says only same-sex couples are eligible.The academics, who live in Hammersmith, west London, suffered defeat at the Court of Appeal in February last year, but were given the go-ahead in August for a Supreme Court hearing.A panel of five Supreme Court justices, including the court’s president Lady Hale, began considering the couple’s appeal on Monday. James Eadie QC, representing the equalities minister, told the court the Government wants to wait until September next year before it considers what to do and would launch a public consultation.He said civil partnerships are “essentially identical” to civil marriage and were created to give legal recognition to same-sex unions at a time “when society was not felt ready” to recognise such relationships as marriages.Mr Eadie told the judges it is accepted Ms Steinfeld and Mr Keidan have a “genuinely held” objection to marriage, but the Government’s decision to “take some time” before deciding on the future of civil partnerships is “justified”.He said: “These are highly sensitive social (and indeed political) issues in which the Government and Parliament are currently, actively and seriously engaged on a defined timescale and process.“The process has taken some time – a fact that is in part due to an understandable and legitimate concern to gauge the reaction over a period of time to the introduction of the Marriage Act 2013.”He later added: “The future of civil partnerships raises difficult questions of social policy for which there is no obvious answer and Parliament has a Bill before it with different options to deal with those difficulties.”Mr Eadie told the court the number of civil partnerships formed in England and Wales fell by 85% in the first two years after the introduction of same-sex marriage. Karon Monaghan QC, representing Ms Steinfeld and Mr Keidan, argued the delay was unacceptable as they were “instantly” discriminated against from the moment the Marriage Act came into force.She told the judges the couple are in a “long-term and committed heterosexual relationship”.She added: “They share a profound and serious objection to the institution of marriage.“Whilst the appellants wish to formalise their relationship, their conscience does not permit them to do so through marriage.“Rather, they wish to enter into a civil partnership with one another.”In a statement outside court before the hearing, Ms Steinfeld and Mr Keidan called on the Government to “stop making excuses” and give everyone the choice to enter a civil partnership.The couple, who have two daughters aged eight months and two years, claim the Government’s position is “incompatible with equality law”.The Court of Appeal agreed the couple had established a potential violation of Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which relates to discrimination, taken with Article 8, which refers to respect for private and family life.But, by a majority of two to one, the judges said the interference was justified by the Government’s policy of “wait and evaluate”.They heard the couple have deep-rooted and genuine ideological objections to marriage and wish to enter into a legally regulated relationship which does not carry “patriarchal baggage”.The Government said it was decided, after public consultations and debate in Parliament, not to extend civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples, abolish them or phase them out at that stage.The aim was to see how extending marriage to same-sex couples impacted on civil partnerships before making a final decision which, if reversed in a few years, would be disruptive, unnecessary and extremely expensive.The hearing is expected to last two days.

Readers' letters

READERS’ LETTERS: Don’t rip the heart out of rural communities

May 8 2018

Sir, – Our Angus councillors are to be congratulated for rejecting the ill-founded and deeply unpopular decision by officials to close Stracathro School. The proposed closure was not based on financial concerns we were told, but on the disadvantages the pupils suffer by going to Stracathro. Judging by the 100% support for keeping the school open by present and past parents, and by the excellent record of former pupils, this reason seems flimsy. To have closed the school would have ripped out the heart of a strong rural community. This was never considered by the decision makers, and it reinforces the perception that there is a clear preference for centralisation among many employed by Angus Council. This can be shown by the irrational reorganisation of the recycling provisions in Angus and by the presumption against housing, even affordable, in rural areas. More than a quarter of the residents in Angus live in the countryside (40% if small rural towns are included), and it is time their interests are also recognised. Rural areas in Angus face unprecedented threats (and opportunities) through Brexit and we all need to work together to ensure that rural communities are not disadvantaged. We must encourage development, and ensure there is a sufficiency of affordable houses to achieve this. There has to be a change of attitude by officials, and the end to irrational decisions such as closing thriving country schools. Hughie Campbell Adamson. Millden of Stracathro, Brechin.   Hard facts of austerity Angus Sir, – I have observed with some despair the recent decisions of Angus Council to restrict the opening hours of the tips and to propose imposing parking charges. Both courses of action are counter productive. Making it less convenient for people to use recycling centres may result in more fly tipping in our countryside. The proposed parking charges may impact further on the viability of local shops that are already struggling. However, I do understand that local councillors face difficult decisions trying to balance what they cut with ways to increase income. These decisions are in the context of 10 years of cuts from Westminster. The austerity policies of the UK Government have also brought increased child poverty, stagnant wages, standstill productivity and increased government borrowing and the more Westminster sticks to these policies the more our standard of living is eroded. The overwhelming opinion of economists is that “austerity” as a policy does not work – it stifles growth, increases inequality and results in stagnation, at best, depression at worst. The more these policies continue, the more we will face cuts in local services. Austerity means the only arguments to be made locally among the political parties are over what bits to cut and what charges to increase – parking charges here and cut backs in recycling services there. It is of no credit to our MP, who criticises councillors about decisions on cuts to local services when she is part of the governing party that has imposed austerity on the many while giving tax cuts to the rich. “Austerity” as a policy is only supported by one political party in Britain. So the solution to this politics of despair is deceptively simple – don’t vote Tory. Brian Batson. Lour Road, Forfar.   Who needs the Lyon’s den? Sir, – I read the article on Craigie Primary School which will have to pay an outdated quango £1,800 to retain its school badge, which has been in place since 1952. What a nonsense to apply a 300-year-old act of a defunct Parliament. Do we really need such an office, whose only practical function is to look after the Queen’s official duties in Scotland, which I am sure could be handled by many others? What does it cost per annum to keep this outdated facility operational? What does Joseph Morrow (Lord Lyon) get paid for his office? The parent who suggested letting the children design their own badge makes a lot of sense – as does the idea of telling the Lord Lyon to look for income elsewhere. George Sangster. Logie, Montrose.   Dundee stars deserve acclaim Sir, – I read the recent article on the Discovery Walk of Fame, and would like to nominate two Dundonians worthy of plaques in the walk. The plaques have to be merited regardless of sex, and my two nominees are both gentlemen in every sense of the word. George Kidd was a gentleman of the wrestling world and winner of many international titles; and boxer Dick McTaggart was a very highly-regarded Olympian, having won gold in the Melbourne Olympics in 1956. It would be lovely to honour two locals in this wonderful walk, and I hope consideration will be given to their admission into the Walk of Fame, Dundee. Norma Duncan. Well Street, Monifieth.   Referendum remains a goal Sir, – My wife and I took part in the “All under one banner” march in Glasgow on Saturday. It was one of the biggest political demonstrations in Scotland’s history: 91,000 people (the initial police assessment of the numbers) of all parties and none, Scots of all nationalities, marching for the right to run our own country. And they say there is no demand for another referendum. Les Mackay. Carmichael Gardens, Dundee.   Independence numbers game Sir, – As thousands march in favour of separatism in Glasgow, Nicola Sturgeon will nonetheless be painfully aware opinion polls are consistently against her teenage independence dreams. However enthusiastic Ms Sturgeon’s devoted band of dyed-in-the-wool supporters may be, in the event of another independence referendum, let’s all remember it would be one person, one vote. Martin Redfern. Woodcroft Road, Edinburgh.   Waiting for an opening Sir, – Lesley Laird complains that I haven’t raised her attendance as a councillor “in an open forum”. The only “open” events where I come across Mrs Laird these days are council meetings with fixed agendas and rules. It would be inappropriate to raise the subject there. After the recent meeting in Inverkeithing there was a non-public workshop for councillors. I stayed and took part; Mrs Laird left. The only other times we see her are at the informal, non-public ward meetings that the councillors have every six weeks. In Ward 6, these are on Fridays to fit her parliamentary week. We had one on Friday and I was looking forward to asking Mrs Laird how she fits the duties of a councillor into an MP’s spare time. Unfortunately, she didn’t show up. Perhaps I’ll get a chance next month. Cllr Dave Dempsey. Carlingnose Park, North Queensferry.   Remembering not just the Few Sir, – Thomas Brown’s fine letter (May 5) about his encounter with a Lancaster bomber at Strathallan airfield would have struck a chord with many. Andrew Mitchell, my mother’s first husband, lost his life along with thousands of others in Bomber Command, while serving as a mid-upper gunner in a Lancaster. She’d watch his Lancaster take off on each raid and when elderly and in tears she would sometimes sing “When you come home once more...” We should always remember The Few, but we should also remember our Many. Strathallan, I am sure, served well in that regard. Leslie Isles Milligan. Myrtlehall Gardens, Dundee.   Entertainment wins the day Sir, – I was disappointed to read Steve Scott’s negative and parochial comments re the European Tour Golf Sixes on the basis that no home grown or women’s team reached the semi-finals. It was great entertainment irrespective of who was playing. All of the teams displayed fine sportsmanship aligned to a very high standard of play and Ireland ran out worthy winners. Ian Stewart. 12 Boyack Crescent, Monifieth.

Perth & Kinross

VIDEO: Detective Superintendent’s full statement on ‘suspicious’ death of woman in Perthshire

May 14 2018

Police are yet to establish the circumstances surrounding the death of a woman whose body was found on a Perthshire roadside last week. Detective Superintendent James Smith said the force is "still trying to establish the full set of circumstances" after Annalise Johnstone, of Ardrossan, was discovered dead on the B8062 between Auchterarder and Dunning on Thursday afternoon. A "bashed up" Ford Galaxy was seized by police from Green Julian Place in Inchture, about 25 minutes’ drive from the scene at the weekend. The 22-year-old’s death triggered a major police investigation. Det Sup Smith said the force is keen to find out more about the movements of the Ford Galaxy, registration ST67 HXL, and urged anyone who spotted the vehicle to come forward. She is believed to have travelled to the area in the vehicle. However he added that the damage to the car was consistent with a "minor collision" which is believed to have taken place "elsewhere". Det Sup Smith said the cause of Ms Johnstone's death is the "question he wants to answer on behalf of the family", adding: "They've got exactly the same question, 'How did she die?' "This is a complex set of circumstances which we have here. The scene itself is complex. Annalise clearly has injuries. "I obviously can't give you any detail around that but it's taken a lot of interpretation, a lot of use of experts in seeking expert opinion to inform me and investigation as to what has actually happened here. "So it's not clear and for the family and the investigation we need to establish exactly that question." Ms Johnstone, 22, left her home in Ayrshire on Wednesday, May 9 and subsequently travelled around Tayside. She was last seen in Ruthven Court, Auchterarder at about 10pm on the same day. Officers are also looking to trace her iPhone 5S, which is lime green with a red flip case, a Marvel superhero wallet and a clear bag of medication about 4in - 5in in size. Forensic examinations are on-going at the scene. For more, watch the video above.

UK & World

Ministers urged to ‘stop making excuses’ over civil partnerships for all couples

May 14 2018

A heterosexual couple who want the right to have a civil partnership have called on the Government to “stop making excuses” and make them available for everyone.Rebecca Steinfeld, 37, and Charles Keidan, 41, want a legal union through that route but are prevented because the Civil Partnership Act 2004 says only same-sex couples are eligible.The academics, who live in Hammersmith, west London, suffered defeat at the Court of Appeal in February last year, but were given the go-ahead in August for a Supreme Court hearing.A panel of five Supreme Court justices, including the court’s president Lady Hale, began considering the couple’s appeal on Monday.In a statement outside court ahead of the hearing, Ms Steinfeld and Mr Keidan said: “Throughout our campaign we have met hundreds of couples like us who love each other and want a civil partnership so they can celebrate their commitment and strengthen the security of their family unit.“Their reasons for not wanting to marry vary from bad personal experiences to expense to conscience – but that doesn’t matter.“All they want is the choice of marriage or a civil partnership to suit them, which is currently available only to same-sex couples.“We have a new Equalities Minister and she should take this opportunity to look afresh at the Government’s position.“It’s time for the Government to stop making excuses which play with people’s lives, and give choice to all now.”The couple, who have two daughters aged two and eight months, claim the Government’s position is “incompatible with equality law”.Their barrister Karon Monaghan QC told the court: “They have deep-rooted and genuine ideological objections to marriage. “I want to observe that they are not alone in holding those deep-rooted objections.”She said matrimony was “historically heteronormative and patriarchal” and the couple’s objections were “not frivolous”.Ms Monaghan added: “These are important issues, no small matters, and they are serious for my clients because they cannot marry conformable with their conscience and that should weigh very heavily indeed.”The Court of Appeal agreed the couple had established a potential violation of Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which relates to discrimination, taken with Article 8, which refers to respect for private and family life.But, by a majority of two to one, the judges said the interference was justified by the Government’s policy of “wait and evaluate”.They heard the couple have deep-rooted and genuine ideological objections to marriage and wish to enter into a legally regulated relationship which does not carry “patriarchal baggage”.The Government said it was decided, after public consultations and debate in Parliament, not to extend civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples, abolish them or phase them out at that stage.The aim was to see how extending marriage to same-sex couples impacted on civil partnerships before making a final decision which, if reversed in a few years’ time, would be disruptive, unnecessary and extremely expensive.Speaking before the hearing, LGBT and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said: “It’s time for ‘straight’ equality.“The ban on opposite-sex civil partnerships is discrimination and a violation of human rights.“It is outrageous that the Government is unwilling to legislate equality and that this couple are forced to go to court to get a basic human right – the right to be treated equally in law.“It cannot be fair that same-sex couples now have two options, civil partnerships and civil marriages, whereas opposite-sex partners have only one option, marriage.”The hearing is expected to last two days.

Lifestyle

James Yorkston: How the ‘freedom’ of Fife’s East Neuk helped forge a musical and cultural phenomenon

May 11 2018

As Tae Sup wi' a Fifer returns with another eclectic line-up in Kirkcaldy, East Neuk-based event founder and musician James Yorkston speaks to Michael Alexander about his Fence Collective roots and how his recent ventures have grown from strength-to-strength. If there’s one thing that East Neuk-based singer-songwriter James Yorkston has learned from his musical travels home and away over the years, it’s that “people are people”. But when the 46-year-old father-of-two is asked whether having children has changed his view of the world, he admits that he now wouldn’t consider staying away from home for longer than a fortnight – unless someone paid him “extraordinary amounts of money” to do so. “The kids are getting older now so I can Skype them, and that helps,” he says. “But I still feel it when I’m away. I was doing a show at the southern tip of India last year and you think ‘this is bizarre that I’ve travelled all the way from Cellardyke.’ “It just seems such a long distance away from my children and all I’m doing is singing silly wee songs. I enjoy travelling but really miss my children. It makes you think.” The universal language of music will continue transcending boundaries in James Yorkston’s world. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8p4rTxfvQM But on Friday May 18 he will face just an hour’s commute from Cellardyke to Kirkcaldy with the return of his highly popular eclectic live music showcase Tae Sup wi’ a Fifer at the Adam Smith Theatre – the first of three spring-summer shows. Organised with support from Creative Scotland, the show features Ian McMillan – writer, broadcaster and presenter of BBC Radio 3’s The Verb; folksinger, songwriter and activist Grace Petrie, and Withered Hand – aka Dan Wilson – who is regarded as one of the finest voices of the Scottish alt-folk and indie scene. This will be followed on June 16 by influential American alt-folk music legend Michael Hurley; comedian, actor and performance poet Phil Jupitus and unorthodox indie-pop/folk-noir artiste Siobhan Wilson. The July 14 show will feature an ultra-rare performance by American experimental musician Carl Stone performed in surround sound; the return of eloquent electronic folk-pop maestro The Pictish Trail along with a performance by Irish Traveller Thomas McCarthy. Tae Sup began in 2015, when James was invited to curate some live music and spoken word nights for the Adam Smith Theatre. It quickly developed a reputation for its quality, diverse line-ups and laid-back, welcoming nature. Diverse sets over the years have ranged from The Vaselines, Phil Selway (from Radiohead) and Scott Hutchison* (Frightened Rabbit) to Steve Mason (Beta Band), Karine Polwart and King Creosote. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6pII42seo8 As a fan of “stripped down” music and song writing, James, who started releasing records in 2001, is pleased with the way the largely “left of centre” event has slowly seen audiences develop, with the complimentary talents from different global avenues of indie, rock, folk, electronic and spoken word performance regularly capturing the imagination within the intimate 180-capacity venue. But Tae Sup is about more than just putting on concerts. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXndmItdpQY “For me it was all about bringing music back to Fife, because when I was growing up I don’t really remember having the opportunities to go and see that kind of artist,” reflects James, who grew up in Kingsbarns. “It’s almost as if Fife is overlooked because it’s so close to Edinburgh. People maybe play Glasgow and maybe Perth, but they don’t come to Kirkcaldy so much. “I’ve been delighted with the way it’s landed - the way it’s been received. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RC4BJrw_F1I “The thing I’ve heard here the most is people saying thank you for putting it on, which is very gratifying.” James recalls there was a dearth of live music opportunities growing up in Kingsbarns. But he and his friend Vic Galloway –who went on to work for BBC Radio Scotland - started discovering music through his dad’s rock and roll collection. Later, he was introduced to the sounds of radio DJ John Peel who “totally opened his eyes” to the realisation that he could listen to everything without being hemmed in by a particular genre. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zq9OpJYck7Y He’s not sure why at the age of 13, and living in the East Neuk, he got into Linton Kwesi Johnson who was singing about the descendents of the Windrush generation and their struggle to find their place in London. “Maybe it was the rhythm of his lyrics,” he laughs. However, he does know that the East Neuk has influenced him – even if it’s taken him a while to admit it. “When I used to be asked this question I would always say no, (it wasn’t an influence),” he says. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-Jtgx0vPRg “But if you grow up in a rural area there’s a lot more peace and quiet. There’s the colours, the proximity to the sea, just the general feeling of space. "It must contribute to what one does as a musician or as an author, a writer or whatever. "Purely from a career point of view, the very fact we don’t have 30 gigs on every night as you do in London, because we’re not surrounded by that it does let you develop your own voice.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OiG3NgpPOkU It was this creative freedom to develop without, as he puts it “worrying about a one-star review in a magazine”, that led to James being an integral early member of the Fence Collective - that loose collection of Fife-based musicians including KT Tunstall, The Beta Band and Lone Pigeon - that became a cultural phenomenon. Working with Anstruther-based Fence founder Kenny Anderson, aka King Creosote, the motivation to perform was “purely for pleasure” at a time when no one was looking to the East Neuk of Fife for music. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7s87kZ_FS0 But when word spread and the record companies did start knocking, it awakened a wider appreciation from across the world. “When Fence was running at full capacity as it were, I remember one gig at the Cosmos in St Andrews,” he says. “It was a funny gig, we were just mucking around – we were just having fun as ever, but we realised Domino Records were there, Mute Records were there. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IUra6Qcatg "It was like ‘hang on, all these guys from London have come up to see what’s going on’. “I talk to them about it now and they always say what excites them is when there is a scene of people helping each other and just joining in, a feeling of camaraderie, they really value that because the music has strong roots and the people growing out of it tend to have a strength a flavour that will last beyond one album. Everyone wants something that’s rare.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cn6YRGLtzOg James, who is signed to Domino Records, says the beauty of the East Neuk “really added a magic” to what was going on. People would travel from all over mainland Europe and North America to see the East Neuk ‘Home Game’ shows. But crucially, as well as the music there was a feeling of inclusion between the musicians and the visitors. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtnnKsqiTPk “There was no snobbery,” adds James. “There was no green room. There was no back stage. It was just everyone. It was a natural extension of Kenny and myself horsing around in the wine bar at Aikmans (in St Andrews)!” he laughs. James missed those kind of events when Fence scaled back its big events a few years ago. But it was from those Fence experiences that James’ own  Tae Sup wi’ A Fifer was born. “One of the great things about Fence was that you’d see all these amazing artists in your home town – for me in Cellardyke and Anstruther – and I kind of missed that. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piavfDPr4Ww “So working with someone who was at the Adam Smith Theatre at that time, we came up with the idea of Tae Sup. “We got some amazing people in like Sheena Wellington, Karine Polwart. We started off with a really strong line up and it’s kind of gone on from there. "Also thanks to Creative Scotland we’ve been able to get artists who normally wouldn’t come up to Kirkcaldy.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2gMHd0Fpd0 James says Tae Sup has also grown in strength thanks to the word of mouth support of artists. “I’m a touring musician myself and it’s very different when you get to an anonymous venue and there’s no one to welcome you, it’s not a supportive environment or maybe you’re headlining and you have support but you get put in a different room and you don’t really meet them,” he says. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=684cvMS-GCo “There’s a lot of venues on the road like that. “But with Tae Sup I always try to welcome them with a good relaxed feel. "Everyone gets the same set length really. There’s no real headliner, it’s programmed, everyone gets their slot. And there’s always three amazing artists. “Word is spreading and it’s through that I’ve recently managed to get people like Philip Selway from Radiohead and The Vaselines, Scott Hutchison from Frightened Rabbit. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7aaXEHiYKcs “It’s a fun gig, easy and they are well treated." James says that part of the fun for him is just programming the events - the "joy" of getting people up. Everyone he's booked is someone who’s music or poetry he's really into or he's really just wanted to see live. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpZtnmqlF9U “In general, I’m a fan of more stripped down music and song writing, so when you hear someone like Scott Hutchison from Frightened Rabbit or Steve Mason, or King Creosote doing it solo - that’s always something I’ve always enjoyed," he adds. “I just love hearing the roots of the song. “How they sound just with the guitar or just with the accordion. You can really get to the heart off the lyrics or the melody. That is something that really appeals to me.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhnoJapRndk *James Yorkston presents Tae Sup wi’ A Fifer – Ian McMillan/Grace Petrie/Withered Hand – Friday May 18, Adam Smith Theatre, Kirkcaldy. For information on all the forthcoming dates go to www.taesup.co.uk * This interview took place before the disappearance of Frightened Rabbit singer Scott Hutchison.

UK & World

Heterosexual couple take civil partnership fight to UK’s highest court

May 14 2018

A heterosexual couple who want the right to enter into a civil partnership are taking their fight to the UK’s highest court.Rebecca Steinfeld, 37, and Charles Keidan, 41, want a legal union through that route but are prevented because the Civil Partnership Act 2004 says only same-sex couples are eligible.The academics, who live in Hammersmith, west London, suffered defeat at the Court of Appeal in February last year, but were given the go-ahead in August for a Supreme Court hearing.A panel of five judges, including the court’s president Lady Hale, will consider the couple’s appeal on Monday.Ms Steinfeld and Mr Keidan, who have two daughters aged two and eight months, claim the Government’s position is “incompatible with equality law”.After being given permission for the hearing, Ms Steinfeld said: “We hope the Supreme Court will deliver a judgment that will finally provide access to civil partnerships for thousands of families across the country.” Mr Keidan said: “The incredible support from many thousands of people who have signed our petition and backing from MPs across the political spectrum has enabled us to come this far.“What started out as a personal effort to become civil partners has taken on wider significance as we realised that as many as 3.3 million co-habiting couples are affected by the status quo.“Over the last few years, we’ve heard the same message: whilst most couples want financial and legal protection for themselves and their families, not all feel comfortable with marriage.“Civil partnerships offer a legally binding arrangement that is fair, popular and good for families and children.”The Court of Appeal agreed the couple had established a potential violation of Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which relates to discrimination, taken with Article 8, which refers to respect for private and family life.But, by a majority of two to one, the judges said the interference was justified by the Government’s policy of “wait and evaluate”.They heard the couple have deep-rooted and genuine ideological objections to marriage and wish to enter into a legally regulated relationship which does not carry “patriarchal baggage”.The Government said it was decided, after public consultations and debate in Parliament, not to extend civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples, abolish them or phase them out at that stage.The aim was to see how extending marriage to same-sex couples impacted on civil partnerships before making a final decision which, if reversed in a few years’ time, would be disruptive, unnecessary and extremely expensive.The couple are expected to make a direct appeal to the Government to support the extension of civil partnerships to all.

News

Boat trips along the Tay between Perth and Dundee launched

May 12 2018

The first in a summer series of boat trips along the River Tay was officially launched on Friday. The return journeys between Perth and Broughty have been launched in a collaboration between Perth and Kinross Council and the Tay and Earn Trust. Bosses say the Tay is "the jewel in Perth's crown" and the venture is an exciting new way to make the most of one of the city's greatest assets. It follows the success of similar trips last year. The schedule has now been extended from May to July, offering passengers a fresh way to view Elcho Castle, Kinnoull Hill and other landmarks from the river. Shorter voyages, from the Fergusson Pontoon to Kinnoull Hill are also on offer, taking people under the Friarton Bridge and past the Willowgate Activity Centre before returning to Perth. The council and the trust are working in partnership with David Anderson Marine who will be providing the Broughty Ferry trips and Tay Maritime Action (Taymara). Perth and Kinross Council's environment, enterprise and infrastructure convener, councillor Angus Forbes, said the team were delighted to be able to offer the service this summer. "Qualified crews will provide safe access to the exciting River Tay marine environment, providing a memorable experience for all," he added. Perth and Kinross Provost Dennis Melloy said: “The Tay is an important and unique asset for Perth and improving access to it by offering boat trips is a great way to attract visitors to the area. “It is important that we continue to develop opportunities on the river. Having the pontoons in place is an important stage in continuing the delivery of the infrastructure to support this. “I hope that visitors and residents of Perth and Kinross will take advantage of this wonderful opportunity." Simon Clarke, chairman of the Tay and Earn Trust said: “This year's visitors will not only be able to explore the Activity Centre but also be able to sample the home made cakes at Willowgate Café. “The Willowgate destination continues to grow and is proud to be working with Perth and Kinross Council in introducing and re-introducing people to the jewel in Perth’s crown that is the River Tay." Due to the tidal nature of the river, the trip will run at different times throughout the day. Tickets start at £9 per adult and can be found at perthcity.co.uk/boating-on-the-tay.

UK & World

Man to be sentenced over Cheeki Rafiki yacht deaths

May 11 2018

The director of a yachting management company is to be sentenced for failing to ensure the safety of four sailors who died when the Cheeki Rafiki yacht sank mid-Atlantic.Douglas Innes, of Southampton, Hampshire, was acquitted of the manslaughter of the four men following a retrial in April.But the 43-year-old and his company, Stormforce Coaching Limited, were convicted at the first trial held in July 2017 of failing to operate the yacht in a safe manner contrary to section 100 of the Merchant Shipping Act and are to be sentenced at Winchester Crown Court.The Cheeki Rafiki, named after a character in the Lion King, lost its keel as the crew were returning the 40ft yacht from Antigua to the UK in May 2014 when it got into trouble 1,000 miles from the United States.Lost at sea were all four crew members – skipper Andrew Bridge, 22, from Farnham in Surrey; James Male, 22, from Southampton; Steve Warren, 52, and Paul Goslin, 56, both from Somerset.The US Coastguard was criticised for calling off its search after two days, but after protests from family and friends and intervention by the British government, the search was re-started and the boat found but without any sign of the four men.Prosecutor Nigel Lickley QC told the court the yacht had an undetected fault with bolts holding the three tonne keel to the hull, which then failed causing it to fall off during the bad weather during the voyage.Mr Lickley said the yacht, which had grounded on two earlier occasions, had been “unsafe and unsound” because Innes had “neglected it” by not maintaining it or having it inspected for several years.In contrast, Innes told the court the Cheeki Rafiki had been regularly maintained and inspected with no evidence of damage to the keel.He said the yacht was taken out of the water for nearly five months in early 2013 for the hull to be stripped back and repainted as part of its maintenance programme and no fault with the keel or hull had been found.After the verdicts, Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) chief executive Sir Alan Massey warned of the dangers of failing to maintain vessel safety and said the organisation would have to “look hard” at its “regulatory environment” and expressed sympathy for the bereaved relatives.After the hearing, a spokesman for the families said: “We have lost our loved ones and our lives have been changed forever. Nothing was ever going to bring Andy, James, Paul and Steve back. They will never be forgotten.“It is clear from the jury’s comments that there is a need to tighten up marine guidance so that the regulations cannot be misinterpreted.“This will help to make our seas a safer place…a fitting legacy for our four men.”

Sport

Denis Betts bemoans lack of video referees as Widnes exit cup

May 11 2018

Widnes boss Denis Betts has called for video referees at every fixture after claiming his team were denied a place in the next round of the Challenge Cup by a refereeing decision.His Vikings fought back from a 23-10 deficit and should have won the game against Leeds at the death as he insisted his half-back Aaron Heremaia forced the ball over the line for a game-clinching try. “We should be in the hat for the next round as Aaron got the ball down,” Betts said.“This just reinforces the fact that we need video refs at every game now. Their first try was offside too and Aaron is adamant he grounded the ball. The game has been decided by a poor decision.”Leeds were in charge and should have kicked on after scores from Tom Briscoe, Richie Myler, Ashton Golding and Stevie Ward, but they were stunned by the Vikings.Matt Whitley crossed for a brace and Alex Gerrard and Charley Runciman efforts put Widnes within touching distance before the controversial call.Betts added: “It was tough to take when you get those calls. This stuff can break people’s seasons. “We put an awful lot of energy into this game and got nothing out of it. Both sides busted themselves.“But ultimately it’s been decided on a few key moments that we should get right (meaning the officials). Both sides went after each other and the way we fought back was great but it’s a tough one tonight to stomach.”Leeds coach Brian McDermott said his team were coasting before they were clawed back by the valiant Vikings.He said: “We looked in control and we were on the cusp of putting 30 more points on them but credit to them they came back at us. The main thing is the win and we’re in the next round.“I thought we were robust in the first half but too robust. We had a few opportunities missed. We were solid and we came out after half-time and went over for two tries but we could have done more.“Our strength of character was good and I thought we were ready to open up and we didn’t and we put pressure on ourselves.“Credit to Widnes, they came back at us. They are not a poor team and they are not that far off and they may have few Ls next to their name which could well be Ws. “We were not playing a team that is out of sorts and there was some big moments in the last 15 minutes of the game to reflect upon, sometimes as a young group you have these games. “There’s a group of frustrated men out there but we have won and we are in the next round.”Betts would not be drawn into any comments regarding the Vikings’ attendance of 1,865, their lowest of the year.“I just coach the team, don’t ask me about that,” he said.“To the ones that came, thanks for coming – you saw a fantastic game.”

Dundee FC

Dundee’s Calum Ferrie looking to bright future for himself and the club

May 14 2018

Dundee goalie Calum Ferrie admitted he fully understood his manager’s anger and frustration after the Dark Blues were beaten by Partick Thistle on Saturday. However, the 19-year-old was determined to put the disappointment behind him and look to what he hopes is a promising future for himself and the club. Dens boss Neil McCann did not hold back in his assessment of his players’ performance as they lost to a Jags side desperate for a result to avoid automatic relegation, accusing the team of “short-changing” the fans. Ferrie, who had been handed his first start for Dundee against Partick, was unable to prevent the opposition prevailing thanks to a solitary Kris Doolan goal. The keeper was desperately disappointed he could not celebrate his big day with a clean sheet with the defeat sparking his manager’s reaction after the final whistle. The keeper said: “It is just football. You win games, you lose games . . . the manager is happy or upset. “Everywhere you play it’s the same whether from Sunday League up to Champions League. “It is just something in football and rightly so because it wasn’t the greatest performance overall. “At the end of the day, I just did my job but conceded a goal. “I am very annoyed not to have been able to keep a clean sheet because that’s what goalies live off. “We hate conceding goals and I will probably have a nightmare about that one. “But we move on and try to focus on next season now and go as high as we can.” After securing their safety in Dingwall last Tuesday, all the pressure was off Dundee before the Partick game but McCann was not willing to accept any excuses. He said: "I am not agitated. I am angry. It is unacceptable. "I am just not putting up with that. We are trying to set standards at the club. "You don't get handed results in this league, never mind a side who are fighting for their lives. That is short-changing the fans.” Meanwhile, former Dundee boss and current Rangers scout John Brown was at Dens on Saturday and it is understood he was keeping tabs on Dark Blues midfielder Glen Kamara.

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