Trapped foster family rescued from blaze as thugs torch home

A TERRIFIED foster family had to be rescued by fire-fighters after their home was torched by thugs leaving them trapped inside.

Linda and William Mackenzie were hailed as heroes by emergency crews who said their quick actions in trying to block the flames and smoke at their front door helped save them and foster son aged five.

He was lowered out a front window to safety while they cowered inside waiting or rescuers to save them.

It was thought a plastic bottle containing a liquid and rag was deliberately set ablaze through the letter box of their front door home in Edinburgh’s Pilton Avenue at around 8.30pm on Wednesday.

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Scottish culture changed by mortgages say property experts

STRICT mortgage restrictions are causing a major cultural change in Scotland, property experts claimed today (wed).

New figures show that between July and September of this year there was unprecedented demand for private rented accommodation.

That is because first time buyers are being forced to look for average deposits of £21,500 in some cases to get a foot on the property ladder.

But it has seen a boon in the number of people taking out long term rentals instead.

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Rugby player Max Evans appears in court

SCOTLAND rugby player Max Evans has made a second court appearance over allegations that he glassed a clubber in the face.

The 27-year-old appeared on petition at Edinburgh Sheriff Court today charged with striking Alisdair McCaig in the face with a glass to his severe injury, permanent disfigurement and permanent impairment.

The alleged assault took place at swish Lulu Nightclub on George Street in the early hours of August 1 this year.

The Glasgow Warriors player made no plea nor declaration when he appeared in front of Sheriff Shelagh McCall and was committed for further examination.

Evans was released on bail with the conditions that he doesn’t approach Mr McCaig and that he stays out of Lulu Nightclub in Edinburgh.

The centre is expected to start in Scotland’s first game of the autumn season against the All Blacks on November 13.

REPORT: Cara Sulieman

Storm Lee says Simon Cowell is a ‘nice guy off camera’

By Clare Carswell

FORMER X Factor hopeful Storm Lee Gardner has revealed that judge Simon Cowell is not as nasty as his on-screen persona may suggest.

The Edinburgh-born singer was on the receiving end of some harsh comments from Mr Cowell including being compared to “a singing fly”.

Despite this, Storm Lee said he holds no grudges and has confessed that the pair had a good relationship away from the cameras and described Simon as “a really nice guy”.

He said: “I had some really good chats with Simon.

“Off camera, he is a completely different character and a very nice guy. Continue reading

It’s Network Fail as Bathgate to Airdrie rail event hits buffers

By Amanda MacMillan

TRAIN delays and cancellations signalled a disastrous start to the opening of a new station by Transport Secretary Stewart Stevenson today (mon) as scores of passengers had to be ferried by coach instead.

An overhead line fault at the new Bathgate Station in West Lothian meant that only one line was running on the busy Edinburgh route instead of two, leaving scores of people stranded.

A replacement bus service was eventually put on for passengers – but it was an inglorious start to the first major opening on the new £300m Airdrie to Bathgate project which is due to come on track on December 12.

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson had talked of how the new station will soon allow passengers the chance to travel direct from Helensburgh and Milngavie, in the west, to Bathgate and Edinburgh in the east.

But no-one was going anywhere yesterday as trains to and from the station came to a standstill. Continue reading

Teacher temporarily suspended after trying to get ‘beautiful’ pupil to his house

By Christine Lavelle

A TEACHER who repeatedly offered to pay for a taxi to get a female pupil to his house has been temporarily suspended from seeking another teaching post.

Richard Cantwell, 36, from Airdrie, is accused of communicating with a pupil via a social networking site whilst employed to teach history and modern studies at All Saints RC Secondary School in Glasgow.

On March 22, 2009, Mr Cantwell allegedly participated in an online conversation with a female pupil, using Messenger Plus – more commonly known as MSN.

This was despite having being told by head teacher Gerry Lyon no to make any contact with students through social networking sites just two days before.

A hearing of the General Teaching Council for Scotland heard details of the chat in which the girl told him it was “wrong”. Continue reading

Sacked driving examiner was told to fail more people

By Christine Lavelle

A DRIVING examiner whose pass rate was deemed “too high” by bosses has told how he was sacked for not failing enough candidates.

Jim Kerr, 61, launched a leaflet protest after being let go by the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) earlier this month.

He said: “I have worked as a driving examiner for 23 years and underwent regular spot checks for quality control purposes.

“My decision to pass or fail was never called into question.”

The problem began when the DSA introduced a new “chi-square” mathematical system which collects pass rates for individual testers, and compares their performance to colleagues at the same test centre. Continue reading

Papal tartan welcome as thousands cheer Pope in Edinburgh

By Shaun Milne

THE POPE arrived in Scotland to be greeted by an adoring crowd of some 125,000 people in glorious Edinburgh sunshine on his first State Visit to Britain today.

It dwarfed protests from less than 100 or so people after flashpoints failed to materialise and mar what turned out to be huge success for the city with coverage of the historic visit beamed to a worldwide audience of around a BILLION people.

One lucky schoolboy found himself being hugged by his Holiness Pope Benedict XVI in an impromptu walkabout in Morningside before lunch, while others revelled in being able to grab just a fleeting glimpse of the Catholic leader.

But in his first speech of the four-day UK wide visit, Pope Benedict XVI made it clear that he wanted to extend “the hand of friendship” to everyone gathered. Continue reading

Primary one class sizes set to be reduced to 25

By Amanda MacMillan

EDUCATION Secretary Mike Russell confirmed yesterday (Tue) that regulations to legally limit primary one class sizes at 25 will be laid in Parliament tomorrow.

In 2007 the SNP pledged to cut class sizes to 18 in primaries one to three – but the current legal limit is still 30.

This has created problems for local authorities as they have faced legal challenges for turning down placing requests when trying to limit class sizes.
During a visit to Letham Primary in Livingston, where all primary one to three pupils are in classes of 18 or fewer, Mr Russell said that he still has this target. Continue reading

Graphic novel launched telling of soldier’s trauma after Afghanistan war

By Amanda MacMillan

A GRAPHIC novel which tells the story of a soldier’s return from the war in Afghanistan has been described by war veterans as “absolutely brilliant”.

Dougie’s War went on sale yesterday and tells the story of Dougie Campbell, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan returning home to the south side of Glasgow.

The novel depicts his inner struggle to adjust to civilian life as he battles with his memories of the war.

Scottish veterans, David Cruickshanks and Shaun Davidson, both from Fife Veterans Association, launched the explosive new graphic novel at Edinburgh Castle.

It is the first release by independent Glasgow publishers Freight with words by acclaimed novelist and biographer Rodge Glass and pictures by artist Dave Turbitt. Continue reading