Wednesday, 29 July 2015

The Ardrossan slave-owner

Newly-published records detailing the names of British slave-owners reveal an Ardrossan woman was compensated for the loss of her ‘property’ when slavery was abolished in 1833.

Jane Adam, whose address was given as 45 Glasgow Street in Ardrossan, submitted a claim to the British Government over the loss of slaves on a sugar plantation on the Caribbean island of St Vincent.  Mrs Adam, whose maiden name was Wilson, received £231-17s-10d, which is the current-day equivalent of almost £20,000.

Along with her husband, John, Mrs Adam moved to Ardrossan from Glasgow.

Records from the 1861 Census show Jane Adam to be a 52-year-old widow, which means she was just 28 when she claimed compensation for the loss of human beings she ‘owned’.  By this time, Mrs Adam was living with her mother at 16 Montgomerie Street, Ardrossan and her occupation was listed as “Landed & House Proprietor”.  The Census showed there were 12 rooms in the Montgomerie Street property “with 1 or more windows” – there was a tax on windows at that time.

On her death in 1889, Jane Adam left an estate valued at £3,746-12s-9d (£318,000 today).

Mrs Adam is the only resident of the Three Towns listed in records detailing ‘Legacies of British Slave Ownership’ compiled by researchers at University College London.

The extensive work of the university is the basis of the two-part documentary ‘Britain's Forgotten Slave-owners’, presented by David Olusoga and shown recently on BBC2.

In total, the British Government paid-out around £20m (£16bn today) in compensation to 46,000 slave-owners when the Slavery Abolition Act was passed in 1833. Amongst those compensated were ancestors of current UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Stolen equipment led to cancelled operations

A 39-year-old Kilwinning man has been remanded in custody after pleading guilty to stealing vital medical equipment from Ayrshire Central Hospital in Irvine.

Daniel Dreghorn committed the offences over a period of two years while he was employed at the hospital’s decontamination unit.  The thefts led to operations being cancelled because equipment was not available, and only came to light in March 2014 when an investigation was conducted after a patient complained.

The value of the potentially life-saving equipment taken by Dreghorn was put at £1.3m, but the High Court in Glasgow today (July 22) heard he sold it to buyers in Hong Kong and America for just £70,000.  The hospital-worker admitted using the money to buy televisions, games-consoles and computers.

When Dreghorn’s home was raided, police found medical equipment, valued at £40,000, stashed in his garden hut. 

Prosecutors told the High Court that Daniel Dreghorn had stolen the equipment instead of sterilising it so it could be used in operations conducted at hospitals throughout Ayrshire, including crucial medical interventions for prostate cancer.  Lawyers also indicated that some of the equipment sold by Dreghorn could previously have been used in operations treating people with HIV or Hepatitis C.

Lord Turnbull deferred sentence on Dreghorn until September to allow the court to receive appropriate reports.

Fight-back against nuisance calls

North Ayrshire Council’s Trading Standards Team is pulling the plug on phone scammers who have targeted local people.

Staff acted after receiving a number of complaints from vulnerable residents of local towns regarding being pestered by callers claiming to be from a range of charities, organisations and businesses.  A Council spokesperson explained, “Often telephone crooks will brazenly try to con residents out of their cash and personal details or try to trick them into buying products that they don’t need.

“Swindlers will often pose as legitimate organisations, such as a bank or another official organisation, in an attempt to lend credibility to their scams.  Others will use high-pressure sales-tactics to entice residents to act quickly for fear of missing an alleged opportunity – or alternatively lose money.

“Over the past few months some of the area’s most vulnerable residents have been bombarded with hundreds of unsolicited calls.  One woman who received more than 860 nuisance calls was also conned out of around £4,500.”

As a result, Trading Standards officers have assisted local residents to install a ‘call blocker’, which works to protect people by stopping nuisance calls before the phone even rings, ensuring only trusted calls can get through.

So far, the initiative has had a staggering impact with around 3,800 nuisance calls having been blocked from reaching vulnerable residents living in North Ayrshire.

Scott McKenzie, North Ayrshire Council’s Protective Services Senior Manager, said, “It’s a big problem.  People receive these cold calls every day and it is all just a way of conning people out of money. Those responsible for these types of scams don’t care about the lasting impact their actions could have on their potentially vulnerable victims and will do almost anything to get their hands on their money.

“It is also important to remember that not all calls people receive from telephone scammers are automated.  Some are UK-based calls, some are from overseas and there are even local numbers being used.  Many scammers will simply be given a list of people to call and will be asked to work their way through it.

“Residents should never feel pressured into buying anything over the phone and should never reveal any sensitive information.  Also, if something sounds too good to be true - it probably is.”

Of the ‘call blocker’ scheme, Mr McKenzie noted, “It has totally changed the lives of a number of our residents by making them feel more secure in their own homes.  It is great to see the difference it has had on people in a short space of time.”

Further information on the scheme is available from North Ayrshire Council Trading Standards on 01294 324100.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Man admits causing death of Stevenston pensioner

A 79-year-old man has admitted killing an 80-year-old woman in Stevenston after he struck her with his car while she crossed the town’s Boglemart Street.

Appearing today (July 21) at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court, Alfred Brand, of Irvine, admitted driving without due care an attention when his car hit Dulcie Richards in April 2014.  Sentence on Brand was deferred and bail continued.

Mrs Richards, who had been a widow for 25-years, was taken to Crosshouse Hospital following the collision but later died.  She had been returning from a shopping trip.

Prosecutor Stephanie Macdonald told the court that visibility had been good on the day Mrs Richards was struck on Boglemart Street, but that Mr Brand claimed not have seen her.  Carriageway tests carried-out following the incident showed the car-driver had made no effort to slow-down.  Ms Macdonald said, “It was noted he [Brand] did not brake until the car had struck Mrs Richards.”

For the defence, solicitor James Irvine indicated Brand is “devastated” he caused the death of Mrs Richards and has shown “genuine remorse and distress” since the incident.

Man dies in Ardrossan fire

A 53-year-old man has died in a house-fire just yards from Ardrossan Fire Station.

The blaze in the town’s Barr Street was reported at around 8:00pm last night (July 20) and two fire crews were on the scene within 3 minutes.  However, a Police Scotland spokesperson said, “The body of a 53-year-old man was found within a flat.  Inquiries are currently ongoing into the circumstances surrounding the incident.”

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) confirmed “several 999 calls” had been received, and that “as a result, two fire appliances were mobilised to the scene from Ardrossan Community Fire Station.”

A spokesperson for the SFRS said, “The initial responding crews were faced with a well-developed fire within a three storey block of residential flats.

“The incident commander immediately committed Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus sets to rescue an occupant still located within [the building] and to fight the fire.

“Due to the size and nature of the blaze the incident commander requested the attendance of further resources, resulting in one additional appliance being mobilised to the scene from Kilwinning Community Fire Station.”

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Man appears in court over Saltcoats assault and robbery

A 27-year-old man appeared today (July 7) at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court, charged with the ancient Scots offence of ‘hamesucken’.

Graeme Bryden, from Stevenston, faces the charge in relation to an incident on June 25, in which a 93-year-old woman woke around 2:00am to find a man in her home at Argyle Road in Saltcoats.

The legal definition of ‘hamesucken’ is “the felonious seeking and invasion of a person in their dwelling house”: the charge formerly carried the death penalty.

Bryden was remanded in custody and is expected to appear at court again next week.

Ruth to challenge for SNP Cunninghame South candidacy

North Ayrshire councillor Ruth Maguire is to seek the SNP nomination for the Cunninghame South constituency, which includes Stevenston.

Mrs Maguire is hoping to replace the current MSP, Margaret Burgess, who has announced she will stand-down at the Scottish Parliament Election in May 2016.

Presently, Ruth Maguire represents Irvine West on North Ayrshire Council, having been elected in 2012.  In addition, she is the SNP Cabinet Member for Finance & Corporate Support, and NAC’s Youth Champion.

Announcing her decision to seek the SNP nomination for Cunninghame South, Cllr Maguire said, “Our current MSP, Margaret Burgess, has been an excellent elected representative and worked tirelessly for the area.  If selected, then elected, I will strive to live up to the example she has set and ensure people here continue to have a hard-working SNP MSP representing them in Holyrood.”

With Margaret Burgess choosing to stand-down from parliament, local SNP activists are now beginning the process of selecting a candidate to contest next year’s election.  Mrs Burgess, also the SNP Scottish Government Minister for Housing and Welfare, won the Cunninghame South seat from Labour in 2011 with a majority of 2,384.

At the recent UK Parliament Election, the SNP’s Philippa Whitford swept to victory over Labour’s Brian Donohoe in the broadly-equivalent seat of Central Ayrshire, securing a majority of 13,589.

The Labour Party has chosen Kilwinning councillor Joe Cullinane as its Cunninghame South candidate for next year’s Scottish Parliament Election.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Man arrested over assault on 93-year-old woman

Police Scotland has confirmed that a 27-year-old man has been arrested in relation to the assault and robbery of a 93-year-old woman in her Saltcoats home on June 25th.

Ayrshire Police Division appealed for help from the public to identify the man who entered the elderly woman’s house in Argyle Road around 2:00am.  The terrified pensioner is believed to have woken to find the man standing in her bedroom.

The 27-year-old man was arrested today (July 4) and will be held in police custody until appearing at court.

A Police Scotland spokesperson thanked the local public and media for their help in tracing the alleged assailant and robber.

New money for education

The SNP Scottish Government has announced it will provide almost £2m to help raise educational attainment amongst children living in some of North Ayrshire’s most deprived communities.

The local area has been identified as having some of Scotland’s highest-concentrations of poverty amongst primary school pupils. 

The announcement of new funding to help local pupils was welcomed by Cunninghame South MSP Margaret Burgess.  “The SNP has a strong track record on education, but more always needs to be done to ensure that children in some of our most deprived communities are able to fulfil their full potential,” said the SNP MSP.

Mrs Burgess explained the purpose of the funding, “The local authority will be equipped with additional support to close the attainment gap and ensure that no child is left behind simply because of their economic background.

“A top-class education is one of the key tools to ensure that children from deprived backgrounds in North Ayrshire are able to meet their potential – and this new investment from the SNP in government will go some way to ensuring that we close the attainment gap and allow all local children to get the best possible start in life.”