Woman rescues adorable seal pup stranded alone on beach

Little Logan was found lying on the rocks with no mother and was taken to Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary.

Facebook / Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary

A woman rescued a seal pup which was stranded alone on a beach in Shetland.

Katherine Sandison was taking an evening stroll with her friend Helen Budge on St Ninian’s Isle, when they came across the young pup lying on the rocks with no sign of a mother.

With the risk of it spending the night out on its own and birds attacking it Kathrine contacted the Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary.

At the sanctuary they discovered that the little seal is a male and is only a few days old.

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A member of staff at Hillswick said: “Logan, as Katherine called him after realising he was male, is probably the largest of the five seal pups now in our care and also probably the gentlest.

“His voice is a bit hoarse, probably from crying for his mum.

“He is also very thin and in need of feeding up, but he is curious and keen to suckle on just about anything he can find.”

Nurse reunites with family from US as quarantine rules change

Elaine Burt shared an embrace with her sister and her nephews as they arrived at Glasgow Airport.

Andrew Milligan via PA Ready

A nurse who embraced her family at an airport after 20 months apart has hailed the “best present ever” after rule changes mean they will not have to quarantine for ten days.

Elaine Burt, 55, a senior nurse with the NHS, shared an emotional embrace with her sister Michelle Bolger, 50, and her nephews Kaie, 17, and Taran, 12, who were all double vaccinated in the US, as they arrived at Glasgow Airport on Monday morning from Boston via Amsterdam.

Mrs Bolger said: “It’s been so long … it’s been really hard, but we’re here, we made it”, as she arrived in the country to visit her mother Jean, who has been unwell.

She said: “We booked the flight just a week past Monday. It’s been a rollercoaster trying to get here.

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“We still have to test on day two but it’s great, absolutely amazing, I didn’t think I would see this day.

“We’ve done everything by the book just to get here and we’re just excited.”

Ms Burt, from Newton Mearns, said after the reunion: “It was an absolute relief, it just felt as if it was never going to happen and it’s just the best present ever.

“We never thought it was going to happen with all of the different restrictions, but we left it to the last minute to see what was possible.”

‘It was an absolute relief, it just felt as if it was never going to happen and it’s just the best present ever.’

Elaine Burt
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They were among the first to enjoy a relaxation of rules that changed as of 4am on Monday, allowing people who have had both jabs in the US and EU to travel to Scotland without isolating for 10 days.

The Scottish Government made the decision public last week just hours after UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced the relaxation of measures for England.

Subject to countries remaining on the amber travel list, travellers will no longer have to self-isolate for 10 days on arrival in Scotland.

The change does not apply to people who have been in France in the 10 days prior to their arrival, due to concerns over the Beta variant of coronavirus.

Travellers need to show a negative test before departure and produce a negative PCR test result on day two after arrival.

Glasgow University veterinary medicine student Ben Hamilton, 19, from Texas, said it was a “relief” to not have to isolate after he landed back in Scotland, saying: “It’s the first time I’ve got back and not had to quarantine.

“It’s a relief not to have to sit inside myself for 10 days.”

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Colin Morton, 56, was another person enjoying isolation-free travel at the airport on Monday morning.

The engineer, who moved to Italy in his mid-20s and had both his vaccinations in Italy, said he had returned to Scotland to visit his mother, who has been unwell.

He said: “My mother and father live here and they are both elderly and my mother has been unwell, so I’m looking forward to being able to see her.

“There would have been no point coming if I had to quarantine.”

The requirement to take a further PCR test on day eight is being dropped, authorities said.

Those arriving will be required to show either the EU Digital Covid Certificate or the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention’s white card – known as a CDC card – to prove they are fully vaccinated.

Announcing the changes last week, Scottish Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said the change is down to the “overwhelming success” of the vaccination scheme in Scotland, as well as “successful rollouts” of vaccine programmes in the EU and US.

He said: “Fully vaccinated travellers will be able to travel to Scotland under this significant relaxation of international travel measures, providing a boost for the tourism sector and wider economy while ensuring public health is protected.”

He urged people to “continue to think very carefully about travelling – especially given the prevalence and unpredictable nature of variants of concern”.

The relaxation of the rules extends to the four European Free Trade Association members – Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein – and the microstates of Monaco, Andorra and Vatican City.


Dad vows to help five-year-old walk after death of mum

Arabella Green is unable to use her limbs and relies on a wheelchair after she was born with a rare condition.

STV News

A dad is doing everything in his power to help his five-year-old daughter walk after the loss of her mother.

Arabella Green was born with Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita (AMC) – a rare condition which causes joints to stiffen and become fixed into bent or straight positions, restricting movement.

She suffers from Arthrogryposis in both her arms and legs, and although she has already had numerous painful operations, she is unable to walk and relies on a wheelchair.

Her dad William told STV News that soon after Arabella was born, she was “surrounded by about 20 doctors” from the special baby care unit.

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He said: “At first they couldn’t determine what was wrong with her, they just said deformed limbs.

“But she can feel everything, her mind is perfect. She doesn’t like being in the wheelchair, she doesn’t like people looking at her when she’s in the wheelchair. She wants to walk.”   

‘She doesn’t like being in the wheelchair, she doesn’t like people looking at her when she’s in the wheelchair. She wants to walk.’

William Green

Arabella’s world was further turned upside down in March 2021 when her mum Catherine took her own life. She now lives with dad William, who has vowed to do everything he can to continue Catherine’s fight and help Arabella walk.

Last year, Catherine made contact with an Arthrogryposis specialist surgeon based in the United States – Dr David Feldman.

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She travelled with Arabella to his European clinic in Poland for a consultation, where she was told with the help of surgery and rehab, Arabella could gain some movement in her legs.

But unfortunately, when she returned to Scotland to meet with NHS Lothian doctors, they said there was nothing that could be done and the surgery wasn’t suitable for Arabella.

William said: “They said ‘you need to be realistic and think about how you can improve Arabella’s life in a wheelchair’.”

He added: “On hearing that, as any mother, it dashed Cat’s hopes so much.

“Two months later, she took her own life on March 16.

“She wasn’t getting noticed. She was begging doctors to straighten her leg out.”

Catherine’s death has rocked the whole family, especially Arabella, says William, who has now given up his job as an electrician to look after his daughter full time.

‘She’s devastated, she was her best pal, it’s devastated the whole family, now we know how much Cat held everyone together.’

William Green
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“She’s devastated, she was her best pal, it’s devastated the whole family, now we know how much Cat held everyone together. Her mum is an angel, she had a heart of gold.

“She thinks her mum is with her and going to help her walk. We were at the cinema last night and she saved a seat thinking her mum is there.”

Determined to press on with the costly surgery in Poland, William has now set up a GoFundMe page to raise the cash for the trip.

“It’s not going to be cheap, and I won’t give up. Obviously the longer it takes the more Arabella’s muscles are contracting backwards. So she needs it done now.

“I’m her dad and I’m a fighter, my daughter is a fighter, and I believe in Dr Feldman.”

Dr Feldman told STV News: “We have proven that we can straighten knees, not lose function, have children walking at home outside the house.

“So I would invite any surgeon anywhere to come and watch us do it, we do it three times a week.

“We have many children with this condition and I have done this surgery about 150 times now.

“We have shown the results and the results are real. It’s easier to give people a wheelchair and not operate.

“On an individual care, I would not give up.

“You can’t tell someone to accept it. That’s not fair when they have so much potential. I can show case after case of this.”

Dr Tracey Gillies, medical director, NHS Lothian said: “In Scotland, multi-disciplinary assessments from a range of clinical professionals help determine when surgery might be indicated and what the benefits to patients might be.

“This process enables decisions to be made which are centred on the patient’s needs.

“Arabella’s condition remains under review and she continues to receive ongoing care from a range of professionals.

“We understand this is a very difficult time for the family and extend our sympathies to them.

“We would encourage the family to get in touch with us directly if they have any questions or concerns.”


Humza Yousaf seeks legal advice over nursery ‘discrimination’

The health secretary said an application for his two-year-old daughter was refused twice by a Dundee nursery.

STV News

Humza Yousaf has said he is seeking legal advice after raising concerns that his daughter was discriminated against by a nursery.

The health secretary explained that an application for his two-year-old daughter was refused twice by Little Scholars Day Nursery in Dundee.

However, he said that an application made by a white Scottish friend for a child of the same age was accepted within 24 hours.

Meanwhile, a second application under the name ‘Sara Ahmad’ was rejected.

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An investigation by the Daily Record newspaper also found that an application they made under the name ‘Aqsa Akhtar’ to the nursery was rejected, whilst one under the name of ‘Susan Blake’ was offered a choice of four afternoons.

Yousaf said that he has now reported the nursery to the Care Inspectorate, as well as having sought legal advice.

The nursery has said that it is “open and inclusive to all” and said that any claim to the contrary is “demonstrably false”, and that they would refute any such accusation in the “strongest possible terms”.

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Detailing the experience on Twitter on Monday morning, Yousaf said the step taken by him and his wife had not been taken lightly.

He said: “After our nursery application for our daughter was refused a 2nd time, my wife asked her white Scottish friend to put in an application for a Child the same age.

“Within 24hrs of refusing our application my wife’s friend’s was accepted. I was sure there must be rational explanation but my wife felt differently.

“She created a profile with a white Scot name & made an application, she also asked her sister ‘Sara Ahmed’ to submit an application on same day. Her sister was rejected but white Scot application accepted.

“At this point we asked @anniebrownword at @Daily_Record to investigate. She created two profiles with kids same age, their requirements the same.

“‘Aqsa Akhtar’ application was rejected while ‘Susan Blake’ was offered a choice of 4 afternoons. No explanation has been forthcoming.”

Yousaf continued: “I cannot tell you how angry I am. As a father all I want to do is protect my girls, yet aged 2 I believe my daughter has faced discrimination.

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“If this had not happened to me I’m not sure I would have believed it could happen in 2021. How many other families has this happened to?

“We are fooling ourselves if we believe discrimination doesn’t exist in Scotland. I believe evidence we have proves our case beyond doubt. As well as reporting the nursery to Care (Inspectorate) we are also seeking legal advice.”

He later Tweeted that it was his wife’s “gut instinct” that something wasn’t right with the application process, having given the nursery time to offer an explanation, he said.

Opposition party leaders have expressed their support for the health secretary.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar Tweeted: “I know this must hurt. Solidarity with @HumzaYousaf and Nadia.

“Profiling/assumptions based on names happens every day.

“In this case an application for nursery, in others for a job. This story also demonstrates why quality journalism is so important.”

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “This is an awful situation and no family or child should suffer discrimination because of their name and background. This should be investigated and stamped out.”

“We have nothing to hide and look forward to the opportunity to demonstrate the policies and procedures we have in place.”

Little Scholars Day Nursery spokesperson

A spokesperson for Little Scholars Day Nursery said: “Our nursery is extremely proud of being open and inclusive to all and any claim to the contrary is demonstrably false and an accusation that we would refute in the strongest possible terms.

“We also stand by the member of our staff, named by the media today, who has been with us since the nursery opened 14 years ago. She is professional, compassionate, incredibly hard working and a valued member of our team.

“In addition to our owners being of Asian heritage, across more than a decade we have regularly welcomed both children and staff from a range of different religious, cultural, ethnic and racial backgrounds including two Muslim families currently.

“We have also regularly made arrangements to accommodate different lifestyles by, for example, providing a halal menu for those children who come from Muslim families.

“We note Mr Yousaf’s call for a Care Inspectorate investigation and this is something we would absolutely welcome.

“We have nothing to hide and look forward to the opportunity to demonstrate the policies and procedures we have in place to ensure we are a nursery that is open and welcoming to all.”

Speaking to STV News following the response of the nursery, Yousaf called for an explanation or an apology.

He said: “I think their response is woefully inadequate. I’m not being unreasonable, all I’m asking for is a really simple, rational explanation of why three Muslim-sounding applicants, ethnic minority applicants, had their applications rejected, and sometimes within less than 24 hours, children of the same age, same requirements, but they were white-Scottish, were accepted.

“That’s all I want. Whether you serve halal meat, whether you’re Asian owners, entirely irrelevant. Explain why these three applicants were rejected and why three applicants were accepted.

“This defence, which frankly is a paraphrase of, ‘I can’t possibly be racist because my best friend is black’, well I’m sorry, that just doesn’t fly anymore.”

He added: “If they do not provide an explanation, or if they apologise, then we can look at not pursuing this further through the courts.

“If that is not forthcoming, then yes, there’s a Care Inspectorate investigation, I’ve had acknowledgement from the Care Inspectorate of the complaint, but also we are seeking and sought legal advice already.

“And if necessary, we will absolutely pursue this through the courts. Little Scholar’s Nursery and their owners should be in no doubt about that.”


Parents of Olympic champ Duncan Scott delighted with medal haul

The Alloa-born swimmer is the first British athlete to win four medals at a single Olympics.

Tom Pennington via Getty Images

By Jenness Mitchell & Alison McCallum

The parents of Olympic champion Duncan Scott are over the moon following his record-breaking medal haul at Tokyo 2020.

Alloa-born Scott is the first British athlete to win four medals at a single Olympics.

His parents, Nigel Scott and Joy Macnaughton, told STV News the swimmer’s three silvers and one gold have come after years of hard work.

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Mr Scott said: “Really happy for him.

“This has come after a lot of training, a lot of preparation, a lot of development, and it’s lovely to see it happening, so yeah, really pleased for him.”

The champ’s family watched the Games at home, saying it was “great to watch”.

Mr Scott added: “We’ve tended not to go out to the big events, because frankly it’s too costly.

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“But we’re quite good at watching him from home, but that doesn’t stop it from being nail-biting, I have to say.

“And trying to live in Tokyo time for a week has been a bit challenging. We’re a bit shattered from that too.”

The couple said they’ve not had much contact with their son, who likes to shut himself off during competitions.

Mr Scott joked: “No, no chance. The moment he goes off on these trips, he may communicate with other people, but her certainly doesn’t communicate with us.”

Ms Macnaughton added: “But that’s something we’ve always done.”

Mr Scott agreed, stating: “We’ve been used to that, and in fact I think it helps him because he gets in the zone.”

Scott won gold in the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay and silver in the solo event.

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He also won silver in the 200m individual medley and in the men’s 4×100m medley relay.

The family plan to celebrate when he returns home.

Mr Scott added: “Yeah, we tend to go and get something to eat, go and have a meal together and, you know, get the family together and chat, and get Duncan to chat.”


Sturgeon invites Johnson for Covid talks in Edinburgh

First Minister says the UK and Scottish Governments 'must work together where we can' to tackle coronavirus pandemic.

Pool/Pool via Getty Images / WPA Pool/Pool via Getty Images
Nicola Sturgeon has invited Boris Johnson for coronavirus talks in Edinburgh.

Nicola Sturgeon has invited Prime Minister Boris Johnson to Bute House for talks on the current coronavirus situation and recovery plans from the pandemic.

The First Minister wrote to Johnson, who is visiting Scotland later this week, saying although they disagree politically, the UK and Scottish Governments “must work together where we can”.

The letter, which she posted on her Twitter account, read: “I understand you will be in Scotland later this week and thought this might offer us an opportunity to meet in person in Edinburgh for a discussion on the current Covid situation and our respective plans for recovery – focussing, obviously, on the areas where it is important that our governments work together.

“I would be happy to welcome you to Bute House and hereby extend an invitation. If you are suitable, perhaps your Private Office could contact mine to discuss suitable arrangements?”

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The Scottish Government has taken a different approach to that adopted by the UK Government in England with respect to how coronavirus has been handled.

While all restrictions have been lifted in England, Sturgeon is still to confirm if this can happen north of the border from August 9 – with a statement due to be made on Tuesday.

She has also warned people in Scotland that the use of face coverings in places such as shops and public transport will most likely remain in place for some time.

Scotland records 799 new Covid cases and one death

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will announce on Tuesday whether Scotland is able to further ease restrictions.

BlackJack3D via IStock
The statistics were published by the Scottish Government on Monday.

Scotland has recorded 799 new cases of coronavirus and one death in the last 24 hours.

Official statistics published on Monday also showed that 407 people are in hospital with the virus.

A total of 60 people are in intensive care receiving treatment for coronavirus.

Just over four million people have had their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, whilst around 3.2m have had their second dose.

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On Tuesday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will announce whether Scotland will be able to further ease coronavirus restrictions from August 9.

The SNP leader will speak at the Scottish Parliament following a decision being made on whether the country is able to move out of the current levels system.

Ministers have indicated that even if restrictions are indeed eased on that date, a number of measures are still expected to remain in place, such as the wearing of face coverings.

In England, all main legal coronavirus restrictions were lifted by the UK Government on July 19, with social distancing and mask wearing dropped and nightclubs reopening, among other changes.


Man’s heartache over Home Office blunder after grandson’s death

Three-year-old Mohamad passed away in a refugee camp while his grandparents fought to bring him to safety.

STV News

A Syrian grandfather has told STV News of his heartbreak after receiving a Home Office letter refusing his request to be united with his grandson – after the child had died.

Three-year-old Mohamad passed away in a refugee camp while his grandparents fought to bring him to safety in Scotland.

Nidal Ali Al Naboulssi never got to meet his grandson Mohamed.

The child was born amid bombing and air strikes – and died at the age of three at the camp in Lebanon.

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Nidal said: “The child used to call us every single morning. And he used to wake us up.

“My daughters were looking forward to seeing him as well.

“We just wanted to live as a family, happily ever after.”

The 57-year-old fled war in Syria with his wife in 2017, making their home in East Dunbartonshire.

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When he applied to the Home Office for his daughter, her husband and two sons to join them the application was refused. By that time Mohamad had died.

He said: “That made us feel even worse. Just now we are receiving mental health appointments. Because if it wasn’t for the war, we would be living as a family.”

The Naboulssi’s are one of many families split across borders.

Nidal is hoping his daughter and her surviving child will now be allowed to travel to Scotland on compassionate grounds.

He said: “All our neighbours, when they heard the devastating news about our grandson, they came to pay their respects. Honestly I don’t feel they are neighbours or friends… I feel like they are family.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “All applications are carefully considered on their individual merits, the evidence provided and in accordance with the immigration rules.

“We apologise for the distress the correspondence must have caused to Mr. Naboulssi and his family, and our thoughts are with them at this difficult time.”


Scottish Government urged to ‘lead way’ with four-day week

The vast majority of staff questioned believed they could 'adapt their work processes in order to suit a shorter working week'.

Lauren Hurley via PA Ready
Plan: Four-day working week.

The Scottish Government is being urged to “lead the way” by introducing a four-day working week – a move almost nine of out ten of its employees support.

The PCS union urged the Government to make the change and show that in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the future “can be better for workers”.

Union leaders made the plea as the think-tank Autonomy said a poll of a sample of more than 2000 Scottish Government employees showed that 87% favoured a four-day working week being piloted across all areas of the government.

The vast majority of staff questioned (84%) believed they could “adapt their work processes in order to suit a shorter working week”.

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Autonomy’s report also suggested the Scottish Government would benefit from improved recruitment and retention of staff, while it would also be “seen as a pioneer in setting new working time standards for the Scottish economy” and have a happier and healthier workforce.

The call comes after the UPAC Group, a Glasgow-based specialist packaging firm, said it was to introduce a four-day working week – with its staff remaining on the same salary – after a successful trial.

Cat Boyd, PCS national officer, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has shown that we are able to work in ways many employers told us weren’t possible before.

“Through this project, Scottish Government staff are making it clear that the future can be different, that it can be better for workers, employers, the economy and the environment.

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“The Scottish Government should now lead the way on the four-day week by working with PCS to make these possibilities into realities.”

Meanwhile, Will Stronge, director of research at Autonomy, insisted that the four-day week was “an idea whose time has come”.

He said the think-tank’s research showed “the wide breadth of support there is for a four-day week across Scottish Government”.

Mr Stronge added: “The SNP already have a national-level pilot planned, but there is now a strong case for expanding this to include government workers.”

According to Autonomy’s research, 70% of Scottish Government staff reported regularly working over their contracted hours.

Meanwhile, more than half (52%) were unhappy with the amount of free time they currently have – with almost two thirds (63%) saying they do not have enough time to carry out caring responsibilities for family members or within their local community.

While 87% backed the introduction of a four-day working week – with 62% strongly supporting this – just 4% were opposed to such a move, while 9% did not know.

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A Scottish Government spokesman said: “This research has been led entirely by PCS and does not represent a commitment from Scottish Government to a four-day working week.

“The report acknowledges this is complex and requires detailed consideration and staff engagement to ensure it could achieve the outcomes being sought and continue to deliver a high quality service to the people of Scotland.

“There are clearly many significant policy and practical issues which require to be considered given the complex variety of roles undertaken within Scottish Government and its agencies, including the potential need for additional staff acknowledged in the report.

“We will continue to work with trades unions and ministers on evaluating the potential for a shorter working week.”


Main span of new cycle and pedestrian bridge over M8 installed

The bridge, which connects Sighthill and Glasgow city centre, was installed overnight at the weekend.

Glasgow City Council via Video

The main span of a new cycle, pedestrian and wheeler bridge over the M8 has been installed.

The bridge, which connects Sighthill and Glasgow city centre, was installed overnight at the weekend.

A stretch of the M8 was closed in both directions as BAM Nuttall carried out the work on behalf of Glasgow City Council.

The new bridge will form an active travel route between Sighthill and the city centre and is part of the £250m regeneration of Sighthill – the biggest such project in the UK outside of London.

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The bridge will also be part of a wider active travel network connecting Sighthill, the city centre and neighbouring communities in north Glasgow.

The span’s structure is made of weathering steel, which is expected to result in lower maintenance costs and reflects both the area’s industrial heritage and the front of new buildings such as the Sighthill Community Campus. 

During preparation shifts leading up to Saturday night, lighting masts and barriers were removed.

The 1000-tonne bridge span was then bolted to a specialist trailer, known as a SPMT, for transportation.

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The SPMT then drove – very slowly, over a period of some hours – along the M8, with hydraulic jacks used to lift the bridge into place.

The bridge, which is funded through the Glasgow City Region City Deal, is expected to open early next year.

Finance secretary Kate Forbes said: “The installation of this new bridge over the M8 represents another milestone in the delivery of the Sighthill Regeneration Project.

“The Scottish Government is contributing £500m over 20 years to the Glasgow City Region City Deal.

“Investment in this project through the deal will contribute to the region’s economic recovery by creating jobs, encouraging active travel and providing the commercial infrastructure to support and attract businesses to Glasgow and the surrounding areas.”

The regeneration of Sighthill – the Sighthill Transformational Regeneration Area – is a partnership between Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Housing Association, and the Scottish Government, with additional support from the Glasgow City Region City Deal, which is funded by the Scottish and UK governments.

Iain Stewart, UK Government minister for Scotland, said: “Connecting Sighthill to Glasgow city centre, this major new bridge over the M8 is another important step forward in regenerating this part of the city.

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“It will provide a convenient travel link and help boost the local economy.

“The UK Government is investing more than £1.5bn into City Region and Growth deals right across Scotland, helping create jobs and drive growth as we recover from the pandemic.”


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