Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...
Newport’s very own home-grown show Newport Sound returns on Friday March 24 with special guests Kid Canaveral, Randolph’s Leap and poet Lindsay Macgregor. The event, which has sold out several times in recent years, takes place at the Rio Community Centre, Newport-on-Tay, from 7.30pm. Following sell-out shows featuring King Creosote, Spare Snare, Jonnie Common, RM Hubbert and Rick Redbeard, this is also a special night for organiser, host and musician Dominic Venditozzi, as his band Sonny Carntyne release their new e.p., ‘Saltstraumen’. Dominic said: “We’re always really excited about the gig and have a different line up whenever we play live, so we have a set of old and new material. “It’ll be great seeing as many friends of the show and new faces as possible to make it a success. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKn-Th9IANQ “Besides us, Kid Canaveral are great fun and uplifting to see live so I can’t wait for that as well as Lindsay and Adam from Randolph’s Leap. “We’re lucky to have such a strong line up in a wee village.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LARTvQoaGEc Newport Sound has gone from strength-to-strength since its inception as an acoustic gig in a Newport café to an event sought out by leading alternative artists from around Scotland. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfYo5ZeQGsU Advance tickets are £10.50, available through Paypal using the email address email@example.com, from the Rio itself or Groucho’s Records, Dundee. Tickets can be purchased on the door but advance tickets are non-refundable. BYOB
A campaign has been launched for a lasting memorial to five West Wemyss residents who died in an explosion near the village during the second world war. Little is known about the tragedy that shook the community on January 23, 1941 apart from the fact it happened near Lady's Rock and claimed the lives of 15-year-old pithead worker Peter Graham and four coal miners Colin Smart, George Storrar, James Anderson and David Laing. Jake Drummond is leading the memorial campaign and has started to piece together archive information and accounts from elderly village residents. He believes the group were killed trying to save others from being harmed by a sea mine which had washed up on the beach. "Somebody had seen the mine and got in touch with Storrar, who was a special constable in West Wemyss, and Smart, who was with the home guard," Mr Drummond said. "Obviously there were boys there who knew what they were doing and had gone along to try to retrieve the mine. "They were trying to stop the mine from being washed towards the village because the prevailing tide from Lady's Rock is towards the village. So in trying to prevent one tragedy they got themselves into another. "The blast was so severe it actually blew the windows out of the orangery at Wemyss Castle." Mr Graham, Mr Storrar (38) and Mr Laing (69) all died at the scene shortly before 11am. Mr Anderson (58) was brought to Randolph Wemyss Memorial Hospital, where he died that afternoon. Mr Smart (36) hung on to life in hospital for another 11 days but his injuries proved fatal. Some believe the incident and an almost identical tragedy five months later in Buckhaven were covered up because the mines were British. During the war the Royal Navy laid defensive minefields in the Firth of Forth. Few details were published in the newspapers, but Mr Drummond does not support the theory that it was covered up rather overlooked because it happened during the war when there was so much happening on home shores and abroad. On June 2, 1941, on Buckhaven Miners' Gala Day, a disaster known as Buckhaven's Secret claimed the lives of eight children and two adults. It is thought a group of boys found a mine near the waters' edge and were trying to haul it across a cobbled stable yard, or load it on to a cart, when it exploded. In January 2006, a plaque was unveiled to remember the victims, and Mr Drummond said it was only right that West Wemyss did the same to remember its own secret tragedy. He is hoping to get in touch with relatives so they can see the plaque being unveiled on the 70th anniversary next year. He is a distant relative of one of the victims Mr Smart's mother was his great-grandmother's sister. "A lot of old people in West Wemyss remember this and it's a shame it was never commemorated," he added. Tom Moffet from Methil Heritage Centre said, "I was shocked when I found out nothing was done to commemorate this, especially when there was a plaque for the Buckhaven one. "Nothing was written down in the papers because they didn't want people knowing locals were being blown up by our own mines. "We don't know if it was a cover-up or just wasn't documented, but there was no mention of it at all in the papers at the time." Mr Drummond can be contacted on 01592 650562.
The names of the 15 victims who lost their lives in two separate tragedies in Levenmouth 70 years ago have been added to the Civilian Roll of Honour. On January 23, 1941, 15-year-old pithead worker Peter Graham and coal miners Colin Smart, George Storrar, James Anderson and David Laing were fatally injured near Lady's Rock in West Wemyss after a sea mine that had been washed up on the beach detonated. Peter died at the scene along with Mr Storrar (38), a special constable, and Mr Laing (69). Mr Anderson (58) died later that day at Randolph Wemyss Memorial Hospital and Mr Smart (36), who was with the Home Guard, hung on for a further 11 days before succumbing to his injuries. Just five months later, on Monday, June 2, eight children and two adults were killed in another disaster in Buckhaven. Townsfolk were celebrating their annual gala in 1941 when beachcomber Robert Birrell dragged a large section of pipe from the water's edge and, helped by his friend Henry Wilkie, hauled it into a cart and carried it to a stable. The activity attracted eight lads, the youngest of them only 10. The two men and the boys died instantly when the pipe, which turned out to be a mine, exploded. In wartime Britain the incident was simply regarded as "one of those things" and was buried in history until 2006 when a book detailing the event was published and a special plaque was erected by the Levenmouth Regeneration Initiative. The 10 victims were Mr Birrell (31), George Irvine (13), George Jensen (14), Robert Jensen (15), Joe Kinnear (13), William Kinnear (10), John Thomson (12), Henry Walton (14), Mr Wilkie (36) and James Wilkie (12). The names of the victims from both tragedies have all been added to the Civilian Roll of Honour, thanks to the efforts of Jim Grant from the In From The Cold Project (IFTC) and local man Jake Drummond.
A severe shortage of doctors could force the closure of vital community hospital beds in Fife. The Courier has learned that eight beds could be axed at Cameron Hospital in Windygates, where just one doctor has been working up to 60 hours per week in an effort to treat 80 patients on his own. Health chiefs have been unable to recruit additional medical staff, despite offering locum rates of £85 per hour. It is understood the only doctor covering Glenrothes Hospital is also considering leaving. A briefing note, seen by The Courier, states that the Cameron doctor is at increased risk of going off sick as a result of his workload and adds: “Were he to go off ill, there would be no Cameron doctor.” The situation has been described as high risk with no resilience and it has raised serious questions about the Scottish Government’s flagship policy of integrated health and social care, which hinges on ensuring patients who do not need acute hospital care are moved into a community setting as quickly as possible to free up acute beds. In Fife, it has meant a huge reduction in delayed discharges and people being treated more quickly but community beds are operating at full capacity and staff are said to be under immense pressure. Scottish Labour’s deputy leader Alex Rowley said it was imperative that people knew the extent of the difficulties the NHS was operating under. The mid Scotland and Fife MSP said: “I am concerned that whilst the community beds are operating at full capacity there seems to be an appetite within NHS Fife to cut the number of beds to meet the financial cuts being forced on the board. “This would not be acceptable under any circumstances and makes no sense given the level of demand on beds. “I believe there is a need for greater transparency around this provision and around the shortages of specialist staff, including consultants and nurses and what it is costing to plug the gaps.” Mr Rowley added: “Staff in hospitals are run off their feet, are under immense pressure and are being asked to do more and more to meet the gaps caused by cuts to budgets and the failure of workforce planning.” Michael Kellet, director of Fife’s Health and Social Care Partnership, said one of two doctors covering Cameron and Randolph Wemyss Memorial Hospital in Buckhaven had left and efforts were continuing to find a replacement. “Support is being provided in the interim by locum doctors and advanced nursing practitioners to ensure we continue to provide the highest quality of care until a permanent appointment is made,” he said. Some patients previously requiring acute in-patient treatment remain under the care of their consultant, based at Kirkcaldy’s Victoria Hospital.
A number of people had a miraculous escape following a high speed car crash in Fife on Friday night. A Vauxhall Corsa ended up on its roof after smashing into another car in East Wemyss and demolishing a garden wall. Police said the five occupants of the Corsa sustained only minor injuries, while the female driver of the Seat was not hurt. All of those involved were taken to hospital by ambulance where some received treatment. Four were later discharged. A 22-year-old man has since been charged with road traffic offences and is expected to appear at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court on Monday. Horrified witnesses said they saw the Vauxhall racing towards the East Wemyss 20mph zone, pursued by police at 9.45pm, minutes before the impact at the junction of Main Street and Randolph Street. The road was closed overnight for investigations, only reopening at 7.45am on Saturday. Traffic was diverted via the A915 Standing Stane Road, although buses due to pick up passengers in nearby villages doubled back for them. Householders in nearby Coatown of Wemyss reported hearing loud revving from a car as it sped past their homes at around 9.40pm. Drivers who saw the Corsa coming towards them said they were terrified. One woman, who was travelling with her seven-year-old daughter, said she had been overtaken by the crashed car and added: "I don't think I've ever been passed by anyone going so fast." She said that in her opinion the police had been travelling at a safe distance behind the Corsa. Another witness said: "Whoever was driving was flying."
An ailing widow was deprived of a visitor after staff locked the hospital doors and drew the blinds because it was a bank holiday. Margaret Wallace (75), of Ravenscraig, Kirkcaldy, took the half-hour bus journey to Randolph Wemyss Hospital in Buckhaven to visit widowed Mary Murray, who suffers from motor neurone disease. When she turned up to visit her friend, she was perplexed to discover she could not get in and the hospital looked closed. When she got home and phoned the hospital, she was told by staff that the hospital doors were always locked on bank holidays and that she should have gone to the staff entrance to gain entry via buzzer. Mrs Wallace said there was no notice to tell her this and accused the authorities of ''lacking common sense.'' Mrs Wallace told The Courier: ''My friend, who has few local relatives, was in the Victoria Hospital for two months before being transferred to the Wemyss a week past Friday. ''I went up on Monday to visit but found every one of the doors was locked and the blinds were drawn. There was no way I could get in so I came back home and phoned the hospital and was told that because it was a bank holiday all the doors were kept locked. ''The woman on the phone told me that I should have come to the staff entrance and they would have buzzed me in. But how was I supposed to know that? ''Surely anyone with common sense should have put a notice on the door telling people to use a different entrance. My friend got no visitors as a result. I'm so angry. It's disgraceful.'' The acting general manager for Kirkcaldy and Levenmouth Community Health Partnership, Mary Porter, said: ''Visitors are required to use the side entrance to gain access to the ward during evenings, weekends and public holidays. ''Family members are advised of this procedure as part of the admissions process. These arrangements are in place to ensure the security of our patients and staff. ''We would like to apologise to Mrs Wallace for the inconvenience caused and confirm that the necessary steps will be taken to ensure notices are posted to alert visitors to use the alternative entrance during these periods.'' The Courier reported in February how a young mum who gave birth outside the new maternity unit at Victoria Hospital pressed the wrong buzzer there and blamed a ''confusing entry system.'' A new buzzer system was subsequently installed at the Kirkcaldy hospital.
Two cars collided in an accident in the village of East Wemyss, near Kirkcaldy, on Friday night. The Scottish Fire Service confirmed they received a call at 9.57pm about the accident, which occurred at the junction of Main Street and Randolph Street. Neither of the drivers were trapped upon arrival but ambulance crews were in attendance. The condition of the drivers is unknown. A Scottish Power junction box was also damaged in the accident.
Under-pressure nurses are going off sick at an alarming rate in Fife. Concern has been expressed at the level of absence among nurses and support staff caring for the elderly at community hospitals, including Cameron in Windygates and Randolph Wemyss in Buckhaven. Over the last 16 months sickness rates have remained stubbornly high at 9.3%, more than double the 4% rate deemed acceptable by the Scottish Government. The situation has been partly blamed on the acute sector’s policy of moving patients into alternative care as quickly as possible in a bid to cut the region’s soaring delayed discharge rates. Staff sickness is also said to be partly to blame for a £164,000 overspend in Fife’s continuing care wards. An action plan is now in place to tackle the problem and it is hoped improvements will be seen soon. In a report to the last meeting of the Kirkcaldy and Levenmouth Community Health Partnership (CHP), general manager Mary Porter said it was recognised that the level of absence was not acceptable from a patient, staff or organisational perspective. She added that absence was split fairly evenly between nurses and support workers. The wards in question provide services to frail elderly people with complex needs and have been working at maximum capacity. Fife councillor Andrew Rodger, who sits on the CHP, said the pressure experienced by nurses in community hospitals was a knock-on effect of the strained acute sector. “Because the acute sector is so busy, there is a tendency to move patients on a bit more quickly,” he said. “It puts the community setting under pressure and what we are seeing in Fife is sickness at double the rate it should be for 16 months because of a situation at the Victoria in Kirkcaldy.” He added: “We really need to keep an eye on sickness in the health service in Fife when it’s getting as high as that. “I know action is being taken but we need to get behind the figures to find out how nurses are feeling about things. “Community hospitals are working at capacity and when you’re working at capacity, you tend to discharge early or not admit.”
NHS Fife has come out fighting after high-profile calls were made to investigate the service. The leader of Fife Council, David Ross, was among Labour Party members at the weekend launch of a petition demanding the Scottish Government launches an independent review into the region’s health service. The calls were made despite Health Secretary Alex Neil telling The Courier he feels no such review is needed. NHS Fife’s chief executive, Dr Brian Montgomery, has joined the debate and claimed the pressures felt in Fife are not unique to the region. “Our priority is to provide a safe environment for staff and patients and to deliver care of the highest standards,” he said. “There are currently 131 people in beds in NHS Fife hospitals who do not need to be there. “Their needs would better be met at home or in care homes but the necessary support packages and placements are not available. “Similarly, there are people in the community who are not receiving the support needed to maintain them at home and so are consequently at risk of being admitted to hospital.” He added: “Significant work is already under way to address the challenges and we will continue to work with patients, staff and local communities to plan, develop and deliver services. “NHS Fife in isolation cannot resolve the situation. “We remain committed to working in partnership with Fife Council to strengthen services and develop initiatives which allow people to be cared for in the community without the need for hospital admission.” The problems faced by the NHS in Fife have been well documented, with complaints of staff shortages, low morale and so-called “bed blocking”. A recruitment drive to take on an additional 100 nurses was announced to ease the strain on staff, although 38 consultant posts are understood to remain vacant. David Ross, the Labour leader of Fife Council, was at Randolph Wemyss Hospital in Buckhaven to launch the Fit for Fife petition. He said: “Care services for older people are overstretched in Fife because of under-funding by the Scottish Government. “NHS Fife can’t cope and council social work services are having to pick up the pieces. This can’t go on.”