Test and protect warning

Neighbourhood Watch has asked that the following message is shared as widely as possible …

NHS Scotland has launched the new test and protect mobile phone app, “designed to help us protect each other, reduce the spread of coronavirus and avoid further lockdowns”.

The app will alert you if you have been in close contact with another app user who tests positive for coronavirus and can help in determining contacts that you may have.

If you are contacted by NHS (test and protect) it will be by phone on a single national telephone number 0800 030 8012.

Be aware that scammers are now exploiting this to commit fraud by contacting the public advising them that they have been in near contact with someone who has tested positive with Coronavirus and as such you must get a test and self-isolate.

Scammers are thereafter asking for payments for booking tests / sending out testing kits by post / courier etc.

ADVICE

NHS Scotland Contact Tracers will:

– in some cases, send a text to let you know that you will be receiving a call from NHS Scotland (if mobile is available)
– call from a single, national telephone number – 0800 030 8012
– always introduce themselves, tell you why they are contacting you and address you by your name
– give you the option to call back the above number to provide reassurance that the service is legitimate

Be aware that phone numbers can be spoofed. Consider phoning back using a different phone from the one your received the call. Call will be received on mobile, if concerned phone back on landline

Contact Tracers will never ask you:
– for information other than your movements and the people you have been physically close to
– to phone a premium rate number
– to make a purchase, payment or donation
– for your medical history unrelated to coronavirus
– for your bank details
– for your social media identities or login details, or those of your contacts
– for your passwords or PIN numbers, or to set up any
– for control of your computer, smartphone or tablet, or to download anything
– to visit a website that does not belong to NHS Scotland or the Scottish Government.

For further information please go to https://www.nhsinform.scot/campaigns/test-and-protect

Anyone with information can contact Police Scotland on 101, Advice Scotland on 0808 164 6000 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Please circulate to family, neighbours, friends and colleagues

Red squirrel at Cran Hill

As one of Aberdeenshire Council’s two red squirrel champions I was pleased to see that one has been reported in Cammachmore, just to the west of Cran Hill.

The other recent sightings have been near Banchory Devenick Crossroads and Burnhead as well as nearer to the Dee. No greys reported.

Please report any sightings of reds or greys via the website: https://scottishsquirrels.org.uk/squirrel-sightings/

Transport round-up

A few highlights from this afternoon’s transport partnership Nestrans board meeting:

• Aberdeen Airport will take three to five years to return to pre-covid levels.

• A survey locally shows there’s positive public sentiment towards walking and cycling, as well as private car use but a 14% decrease in willingness to commute.

• 800 visits so far to the 2040 strategic transport plan consultation (https://www.nestrans2040.org.uk/).

• Edinburgh trains now running as far north as Montrose (originally Dundee) as the network deals with the tragedy at Carmont south of Stonehaven. Meanwhile a service is running between Aberdeen and Stonehaven, calling at Portlethen, providing an hourly service between 7am and 7pm with additional services during peak periods. Replacement bus services continue to be provided between Aberdeen and Dundee and intermediate stations.

• Aspirations to electrify rail services from the central belt to Aberdeen/Inverurie by 2035.

• Work continues to consider in more detail the specific feasibility and costs on improving local rail services. This includes reducing the journey time between Aberdeen and Edinburgh to 2 hrs 10 mins or better; between Aberdeen and Glasgow to 2 hrs 30 mins or better; enhancing commuter services into Aberdeen and Dundee including new stations (maybe Newtonhill?); and more freight paths. This work is led by Transport Scotland and Network Rail.

All the reports can be found here (and a recording of the meeting in due course): https://www.nestrans.org.uk/about-nestrans/board-meetings-2/2020-board-meetings/board-papers-16-09-2020/

Warnings of latest scams

Aberdeenshire Council’s Trading Standards Service today issued its latest warning about scams.

Instances of doorstep calling in Aberdeenshire continues to occur with latest reports suggesting that services relating to driveway work are currently being offered. Residents should be cautious about accepting such offers and consider discussing with friends and family.

When faced with such a situation it’s best to politely but firmly decline the offer. Do not promise to consider the offer and do not part with any money (cash, cheque or otherwise), even in part-payment. Should work be needed on your driveway, use contractors recommended by friends or family, or from a trusted source of information.

Concerns about doorstep callers should be reported to Trading Standards or Police Scotland. When reporting doorstep crime or concerns about doorstep callers, try to remember key details about the trader such as business names, addresses, names, age, accents, descriptions, vehicle type, registrations and signage. Keep all original paperwork, leaflets and brochures.

• A resident received an unsolicited call purporting to be from their bank highlighting unusual transactions on their account. The resident was asked to confirm their bank details to prevent further fraudulent activity but these were instead used by the scammer in an attempt to remove money from the account.

TV Licensing scams remain prevalent with residents reporting receipt of various unsolicited emails and telephone calls advising of overdue payments or that their license has expired. Both involve a request for bank details to resolve the matter and these are obtained either by following a link included in the email or during the phone conversation.

Amazon scams continue to target residents through unsolicited phone calls. Scams associated with Prime Membership or vouchers are the most common. Whether received by email or phone call, scammers portray an element of extreme urgency that encourages the recipient to act NOW. This is a common tactic used by scammers to panic a victim into acting without thinking and clearly used in the instances noted above.

If you are unsure about the source of an email you have received, the information the sender is asking for, what they are asking you to do or the link contained in it, DO NOT reply to it as this may result in the scammer continuing to target you with emails; don’t click on any links in the e-mail and report the scam to Consumer Advice Scotland.

• It has been widely reported in the press that scammers are cold calling residents in Scotland purporting to be from NHS Test and Protect. The caller advises the recipient that they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive with Covid-19 and they will need to issue a testing kit to their home but will need bank details in order to do so. Residents are reminded that NHS testing for Covid-19 is free and anyone who requires or requests one will not need to provide bank details to obtain one. https://www.tsscot.co.uk/contact-tracing-scams/

Contact

For urgent Trading Standards matters, contact Aberdeenshire Council’s Trading Standards at 01467 537222. For non-urgent enquiries, please contact Consumer Advice Scotland at https://www.consumeradvice.scot/ or on 0808 164 600. Contact Police Scotland on 999 if you need urgent assistance or 101 for non-urgent matters.

Plans for more biodiversity sites

Proposals on increasing biodiversity in some of our open spaces are among the reports coming to the next meeting of the council’s Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee.

This would see more grass meadows and the planting of wildflowers, bulbs, orchards, shrubs and trees. There are various sites in Portlethen, Newtonhill, Maryculter, Lairhillock and around the area included.

If approved by councillors on Tuesday, Landscape Services will continue to discuss the proposals with community groups and schools.

The report can be found by clicking on this link (Item 11): https://committees.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/FunctionsPage.aspx?dsid=105192&action=GetFileFromDB

Computer access at libraries

Public computer access is now available at a number of Aberdeenshire libraries. You can book a slot at Stonehaven, Inverurie, Peterhead, Banchory, Fraserburgh, and Ellon libraries.

Hour-long slots allow 45 minutes of use and the chance for staff to clean the area between users, who are asked to wear face coverings.

Unfortunately printing is currently unavailable.

Call the Live Life Aberdeenshire helpline to book slots and for more information on 01467 532929 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday.

Covid-19: transport round-up

I’m reading through the reports for Wednesday’s Nestrans board meeting, and this summary of the local transport situation caught my eye:

BUSES

Bus service levels are generally back to operating at pre-lockdown service levels. However, the passenger capacity of buses is reduced to around 50%, due to social distancing measures (single decker buses having 20 passenger capacity, and double decker buses having 40 passenger capacity). Bus companies are operating with physical distancing guidance of 1m plus mandatory face coverings for passengers. Enhanced cleaning regimes have been introduced.

Firstbus and Stagecoach are both providing information via their Apps on the available capacity of their buses. Both bus companies have put out publicity campaigns supporting the safe return of bus passengers to their services.

RAIL

Across the Scottish network, demand has reduced by around 70%, although there is now evidence of growth returning. Similar to the bus companies, publicity campaigns have been undertaken supporting the safe return of rail passengers.

To the south of Aberdeen, it is highlighted that the rail network is experiencing significant disruption due to the closure of the line south of Stonehaven. This disruption is likely to continue for some time yet, with buses replacing trains between Aberdeen and Dundee. An hourly local rail service has been re-introduced between Aberdeen and Stonehaven [calling at Portlethen]. To the north of Aberdeen, most services have been re-introduced.

AVIATION

The initial lockdown period prompted a substantial reduction in activity at Aberdeen Airport, with many airlines either withdrawing services, or operating only a skeleton service. Operators are now slowly re-introducing services under revised operating protocols.

At the time of writing, access to Heathrow is provided twice-daily, Amsterdam 4 times per day, and Paris once per day. Other Scandinavian and UK regional destinations are being serviced typically with twice-daily frequencies, matching the range of destinations provided prelockdown. A smaller number of leisure routes have resumed, typically on a twice-weekly basis.

SHIPPING

Ferry operations to the Northern Isles have been operating on a restricted timetable and capacity, carrying only those undertaking essential trips. The Northlink ferry service to Orkney and Shetland has resumed its Pre-Covid operational timetable, for both passengers and freight. However, due to physical distancing requirements, passenger capacity is reduced, and on-board facilities are restricted.

WALKING AND CYCLING

Figure 5 illustrates the number of cyclists at various cycle counters across Aberdeen. The dramatic rise in demand and its continued popularity is apparent, particularly routes associated with leisure use.

No fireworks this year

Sad to hear that there will be no fireworks display in Newtonhill this year, but totally understandable.

The village association has decided to cancel the event in the Coastal Park.

Here is the message the NVA posted: “Having looked at the current events guidance, and considered the possibility of large numbers of people coming to Newtonhill because displays elsewhere are cancelled, we have decided it is the most responsible thing to do.”

Hopefully everything can carry forward to next year when life will have returned to a more normal state.

Police report for August

Police Scotland has issued its report for Kincardine and Mearns for August.

Antisocial behaviour, Violence and Disorder:

There has been a slight decrease in the number of antisocial behaviour calls, with 38 incidents reported. Ten related to youth annoyance. The majority of calls related to noise in the form of loud neighbours / music being played.

There were 15 assaults crime files raised – an increase on the previous month – and 11 are detected with four having positive lines of enquiry.

Acquisitive Crime:

There have been eight thefts with two detected, however six are still being enquired into. There have been two housebreakings with both are still under investigation.

Road Safety & road crime:

One report submitted for drug/drink driving; the accused had 85mcg of alcohol in 100ml of breath against the 22mcg limit.

There has been one instance of dangerous driving and it has been reported to the procurator fiscal for consideration of prosecution.

There have been two reported incidents of careless driving with one detected and warned, and the other undetected meantime.

Covid-19:

Compliance with the Government’s regulations and guidance is still at a good level within Kincardine & Mearns. There have only been a few minor issues regarding large numbers gathering and all have dispersed without resorting to tickets.

During the lockdown in Aberdeen, more of the community policing team were deployed to make licensed premises checks in case there was irresponsible management of the premises and failure to adhere to the track and trace protocols. Most premises had systems in place, although not necessarily following the same format.

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