Crime writer vows to “hunt down” arson yobs

By Paul Thornton

SCOTS crime writer Ian Rankin has vowed to track down yobs who torched FIVE wheelie bins outside his home.

Rankin, 49, found the blazing bins in his street in the Merchiston area of Edinburgh on Wednesday morning.

Police have described the act as “mindless vandalism” and are appealing for witnesses.

But Rankin – whose Rebus detective novels have made him a household name – has decided to put his own crime fighting skills to the test.

In a tongue in cheek tweet following the incident Rankin said he was looking for someone with “v long legs” because of the gaps between burnt bins.

He also warns the vandals “we will hunt you”.

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Scots Police slam mobile phone drivers with £1.2m fines during 2009

By Oliver Farrimond

CHATTY drivers in Scotland have had to pay up almost £1.2 million this year for using their mobiles while driving.

Scotland’s police forces issued nearly 20,000 statutory notices to careless road users, worth £60 each.

The figures, obtained through a Freedom of Information request, show that police in Strathclyde issued by far the most – including two to their own officers.

However Andrew Howard, head of road safety at AA, said that more should be done to catch careless drivers.

He said: “When you consider that there are millions of drivers in Scotland, and millions of mobile phone users, it’s clear that these fines represent only a fraction of those actually committing the offence.

“Using your phone whilst driving is more than just a distraction – you can lose your peripheral vision, and drivers prosecuted following fatal accidents for mobile phone use can end up in jail. Continue reading

Firefighters battle blaze in snowy Edinburgh

By Oliver Farrimond

FIREFIGHTERS battled a fierce winter blaze in Edinburgh on Wednesday night.

Five fire engines were called to a first floor flat engulfed in flames at Melgund Terrace in the Capital, and fought the blaze for more than an hour.

A man was rescued from the flat by firefighters, who carried him to be treated for severe smoke inhalation.

He was later taken to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary for treatment.

Lothian and Borders Fire Service confirmed that two more residents in the building fled to safety on emergency ladders.

They added that the cause of the blaze was unknown.

See more of our pictures at our Flickr site and videos at our dedicated channel,  Deadline TV.

Fears grow for missing teen

By Paul Thornton

FEARS were growing last night for the safety of a “vulnerable” teenage girl who has gone missing from her home in Edinburgh.

Ashleigh Wallace, 18, was last seen by friends in the Restalrig or Lochend area of the city on Boxing Day.

Miss Wallace,who is 5’8’’ tall, with long black hair, is from the capital’s Northfield area but is also known to frequent Leith.

Of stocky build, Miss Wallace often wears he hair in a ponytail. She has brown eyes.

When last seen she was wearing blue trousers, black jacket, yellow cardigan, cream boots and a black scarf.

Her boyfriend reported her missing on December 27 however there have been no sightings of her and police are appealing for the public’s help.

A spokeswoman for the Lothian and Borders force said: “We are growing increasingly concerned for Ashleigh’s well being, not least because of the current weather conditions.

“She is a vulnerable young woman, who does not have a mobile phone and it is not known if she would have any money in her possession.

“We would appeal for anyone who may have seen her, or who may know where she is, to contact police as a matter of urgency.

“We also want to reassure Ashleigh that she can contact us or Crimestoppers in complete confidence and we would urge her to do that so that we know she is safe and well.”

Police name fatal car accident victim

By Oliver Farrimond

POLICE have named the passenger killed in fatal road smash on Sunday morning.

Subramaniyam Thavaselvam, 39, died after the Daewoo Leganza he was in collided with a Ford Fiesta on the A701 south of Tweedsmuir just before 10.30am.

The 41-year-old driver of the Daewoo suffered chest and stomach injuries, and another man in the car was taken the hospital for observation.

The driver of the Fiesta, which was travelling south when it struck the south-bound Daewoo, was uninjured.

Police are appealing for witnesses to come forward with information about the smash which killed Mr Thavaselvam, from Middlesex, and also saw two passengers of the Ford Fiesta treated for injuries, including an 11-year-old boy.

A Lothian and Borders police spokesperson said: “We are appealing for anyone who was in the area at the time, and who may have witnessed the incident to come forward.

“We would also be keen to hear from anyone who may have seen either vehicle just before the incident.”

Anyone with information should contact police on 0131 311 3131 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

See more of our pictures at our Flickr site and videos at our dedicated channel,  Deadline TV.

£400,000 drop in parking fees for capital

By Andrea McCallum

EDINBURGH’S tram chaos has been blamed for a £400,000 drop in parking ticket revenue.

The fall is being put down to motorists avoiding the congested city centre which has seen months of traffic trouble due to the £545m transport project.

Others claim it is a sign that the capital’s notorious attendants are showing more restraint in doling out fines as well as more responsible parking.

But the figures have raised fears that small city businesses could lose out to bigger out-of-town firms.

Transport bosses at the capital’s council expect the amount of ticket revenue to tumble to around £6.5 million by the end of the financial year – down from £6.9m.

The city’s parking attendants issued 224,274 tickets in the 12 months to October – about 18,600 a month down from 20,000 last year.

On George Street – Scotland’s most ticketed road – the monthly average plunged by about 750 tickets compared to 2005.

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Police search for missing Edinburgh woman

By Oliver Farrimond

POLICE are searching for a woman who has gone missing from her home in Edinburgh.

Heather Combe, 59, was last seen by her family on Monday evening, and police say they are growing “concerned” for her welfare.

She has not been in contact with her family since, and was last sighted by a member of the public on Tuesday morning.

She is described as being 5ft 3-5ins, wearing a red hooded anorak, black walking boots and gloves, with a medium build and short, dyed-blonde hair.

A police spokesperson said: “We are growing increasingly concerned for Mrs Combe’s wellbeing, especially given the freezing weather conditions we are experiencing at the moment.

“We would appeal for anyone who may have seen her, or who may know where she is, to contact police as a matter of urgency.”

Anyone with information should contact Lothian and Borders Police on 0131 311 3131 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

See more of our pictures at our Flickr site and videos at our dedicated channel,  Deadline TV.

Scots parents wasted £160m on unwanted Xmas presents

By Oliver Farrimond

SCOTS parents showered their children with more than £160 million worth of unwanted presents this Christmas.

And 40 per cent of youngsters were left feeling hard-done by after being given a gift costing less than a tenner – with aunts and uncles bearing the brunt of their fury.

It means that the average Scots parent wasted £42.04 on presents – the highest such total in Britain.

The figure is also almost one-and-a-half times the UK average figure, where mums and dads shelled-out just £28.48 on superfluous gifts.

Christmas left one in six Scots kids feeling “disappointed” with the presents they received, according to a new poll, with 17 per cent of those left upset by receiving a book. Continue reading

Firefighters tackle blaze at school

By Paul Thornton

FIREFIGHTERS have been tackling a large blaze at a derelict primary school in West Lothian.

At least 50 firefighters have been working to put-out the inferno at the old Broxburn Primary School in the town’s West Main Street.

Fire workers said that crews responded at around 1.30am on Wednesday morning and more than 35 per cent of the building was ablaze.

It is not known if the fire is suspicious but fire staff say that nobody was evacuated from the building.

Record baby animal boom at Edinburgh zoo

By Oliver Farrimond

FAMOUS Edinburgh Zoo has seen a baby boom in the last 12 months – with 50 more births than in 2008.

Cunning staff at the zoo used crafty techniques to encourage the animals to breed more – including installing mirrors in some enclosures.

As a result, this year has seen the arrival of zebra foals, flamingo chicks and a clutch of baby monkeys – a total of 250 new animals.

A spokeswoman for the zoo said that the animals had kept on breeding right through the year.

She said: “We normally have a baby boom in spring and summer but the babies have kept on arriving right up to the end of the year. Continue reading