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Summary

  1. New Scots property tax rates cut
  2. SNP to vote on English health laws
  3. Unemployment rises in Scotland, falls elsewhere in UK
  4. Scotland's shops suffer festive fall
  5. Game of Thrones 'put off Scotland'
  6. Andy Murray breezes into third round at Australian Open

Live Reporting

By Thomas McGuigan, Graham Fraser and Paul McLaren

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Goodbye

That's it from the Scotland Live team for Wednesday. Join us again tomorrow, bright and breezy, from 07:00 for all the latest news, sport, travel and weather from around the country as it happens.

Trump in new turbine challenge

Donald Trump has launched

a fresh legal challenge to an offshore wind farm near his golf resort in Aberdeenshire.

Donald Trump
AP

The American billionaire wants a judicial review into his claim that Scottish ministers acted illegally by approving the 11 turbine scheme in Aberdeen Bay.

A previous application had been dismissed.

Mr Trump halted all new work at the Menie estate claiming the wind farm would spoil the view.

Judges at the Court of Session will give a decision on whether a fresh review can be held at a later date.

First Group rules out fare cuts

Bus passengers travelling on FirstGroup services

will not see a reduction in fares despite the recent slump in oil prices.

FirstGroup buses in depot
Other

The company said its hedging policy meant it was committed to buying fuel at higher prices until next year.

A FirstGroup spokesman confirmed the firm would continue to raise bus fares in line with inflation.

But the Aberdeen-based company said its bus pricing strategy had still seen 19 consecutive months of commercial bus passenger volume growth.

BBC Scotland Weather

Latest

Tomorrow: Freezing fog will be slow to clear in places. It will be another largely dry day, with just a few showers for Shetland and the West Coast. The best of the sunshine will be in the North and East during the morning; by the afternoon, cloud will be steadily increasing from the West. It will bring rain into the Western Isles later in the afternoon, and into the West Coast around dusk.

Southerly winds will freshen, becoming strong over Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles by the end of the afternoon. Temperatures will be a degree or so up on today, at 4C or 5C for most by the end of the afternoon, but still just 1C or 2C in inland parts of the North.

Goodwillie signs new deal

Aberdeen striker

David Goodwillie has signed a new contract that will keep him at Pittodrie until the summer of 2016.

David Goodwillie
SNS

The 25-year-old former Blackburn Rovers and Dundee United forward's deal was due to end in the summer.

"It's a huge club, moving in the right direction under the manager," Goodwillie told the Aberdeen website.

"I wanted to remain part of that as I feel something special can happen with this team."

How do the property tax systems add up?

The Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney has revised his planned property tax changes, due to come into effect on 1 April.

Property in Scotland
Thinkstock

His original scheme, announced in October last year, proposed new bands, plus a gradual tax, similar to income tax.

Two months later, UK Chancellor George Osborne adopted the same gradual approach to stamp duty, but with different bands and rates.

That move prompted a re-think by Mr Swinney who has now changed his proposal.

Read here as we take some random purchase prices showing what the tax was under the old stamp duty system; the new UK property tax system; the draft Scottish system and the revised Scottish system.

Coming up...

Reporting Scotland is just about to get under way on BBC One and

you can watch it here.

reporting scotland
BBC

Poison plant alert

Animal owners are being urged to be on the alert for a deadly plant, washed up by the recent storms, which has already killed six dogs who ate it this year.

Hemlock Water-Dropwort
Geograph

Hemlock Water-Dropwort grows on the edges of streams and at high tide marks on beaches.

It has been found along the River Clyde and is believed to grow elsewhere in Scotland.

BBC Scotland Weather

Latest

It will stay largely dry and cloudy till end the day. A few scattered showers continue to affect the coasts this evening, especially Kintyre, Angus and Aberdeenshire, as well as the Northern and Western Isles. But we will also see some clear spells developing and a widespread, sharp frost and freezing fog patches with the risk of ice on untreated surfaces.

The clearest skies will be in the North and East, and temperatures in inland Aberdeenshire and the East Highlands will dip as low as -7C. It will be minus 2 or 3C across much of Central and Southern Scotland, holding above freezing over the Isles.

Police probe threats to Gers director

Rangers director Sandy Easdale has said

police are investigating threats made against him amid the ongoing and acrimonious battle for the Ibrox club.

Sandy Easdale
SNS

Officers are believed to be monitoring his home after internet posts allegedly urged fans to attack his house in a bid to remove him from the club.

Mr Easdale, 47, said he had also received threats by email and letter.

Last week, several hundred fans protested outside Ibrox stadium against the current Rangers board.

Your pictures - Get involved

Email: newsonlinescotland@bbc.co.uk

Elaine Crossan reckons this is "the happiest snow picture ever" as her mum's Jack Russell plays in the white stuff.

jack russell in snow
Elaine crossan

Email us your pictures for our photo gallery and we will use the best.

Police taser discharge 'preventable'

An independent police watchdog has found the discharge of a taser in Glenrothes police station was "preventable".

Taser
PA

No-one was injured in the incident last month but the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner said the device was stored loaded in the armoury, in contravention of police procedures.

He said the force must ensure all divisions comply with the procedures and that all firearms are loaded and unloaded with a safety officer present.

Monkey found in shoebox

An adult marmoset monkey has been handed in to a vet's surgery in Fife a day after

two of the animals were reported stolen from a house in Nairn.

Common marmoset
Thinkstock

A member of the public claimed to have found the animal in a shoebox.

The marmoset is now being kept at the Scottish SPCA's Edinburgh Animal Rescue and Rehoming Centre in Balerno.

Scottish SPCA Inspector Sarah Gregory said: "The person reported finding the animal in a lay-by on the road between Kincardine and High Valleyfield. Unfortunately we have been unable to speak with them ourselves and are appealing to this person to get in touch with us.

"At this stage we can't confirm whether this is linked to the two monkeys who were reported stolen in the Inverness area. We are currently working alongside the police and are asking anyone with information to get in touch."

Douglas Fraser

Business and economy editor, Scotland

tweets: home-buying tax revisions: @RICSnews surveyors welcome rise in starting threshold but "potential for upper end of market to stagnate"

Swinney: New deal is fair

John Swinney has confirmed that he will reduce proposed new tax rates on property purchases in Scotland in response to changes already announced by the chancellor George Osborne.

John Swinney
BBC

The finance secretary said helping first-time buyers and those already on the property ladder based on fairness and ability to pay remain the underlying principles of the tax as announced in October.

Speaking in Holyrood, Mr Swinney outlined the new tax bands and rates to be applied to residential Land and Buildings Transaction Tax from 1 April 2015.

Watch it here.

Hammers offer £2m for Hendrie

Jane Lewis

BBC Scotland

Hamilton full-back Stephen Hendrie

has been the subject of an offer in excess of £2m from West Ham.

Hamilton defender Stephen Hendrie
SNS

However, the London club has not been back in touch to formalise their bid, with the Accies happy to proceed with the sale of the 20-year-old.

Hendrie is out of contract at the end of the season.

The Scotland Under-21 international has made more than 100 appearances for the Lanarkshire side since making the breakthrough in 2011.

Man jailed over bullets and cannabis farm

A 34-year-old man who was

caught with 825 rounds of ammunition and a cannabis farm at his home has been jailed for eight-and-a-half years.

Bodybuilder Parmdeep Singh's house in Langbank, Renfrewshire, was raided on 10 June 2012 by police investigating the theft of gym equipment in the north of England.

Officers found a shotgun, bullets for Kalashnikov machine guns and a £1.5m-capacity cannabis farm.

Sing admitted possessing a firearm and ammunition and producing illegal drugs at Paisley Sheriff Court.

NHS row - Your views

Text 80295

Geoff, Aberdeen: So Jim Murphy says only way to protect the NHS is vote Labour. Protect it from what - only a few months ago he was telling whoever would listen to him, from his Irn Bru crates, that the NHS wasn't at risk. Nobody should trust this man.

V&A inquiry plea rejected

Audit Scotland

has rejected calls to carry out an inquiry into the rising cost of Dundee's V&A museum.

V&A at night
V&A Dundee

A city councillor had written to the financial watchdog requesting an investigation after the price of the design museum rose to £80m.

However, the body said it would not be appropriate for it to intervene while the council is still considering its position.

Councillors will discuss a fixed-price contract for the project next week.

The original cost of the project was set at £45m, but even after being scaled back to sit on land rather than out on the Tay, the cost of Kengo Kuma's design has risen to more than £80m.

Man jailed over Red Bull hold-up

A former soldier

who robbed a woman using a can of energy drink has been jailed for almost four years.

Red Bull can
Thinkstock

Allan Johnston held up Jennifer Pringle in broad daylight near Stirling city centre in August by pretending the can of Red Bull was a gun.

The 40-year-old made off with her handbag but was quickly apprehended.

He pleaded guilty to assault and robbery using an "imitation firearm", but said he would not have used a real gun because "guns kill people".

Jessie J cancels show

Daily Record

Pop star Jessie J has cancelled her show in Glasgow tonight due to a throat infection.

Jessie J
Getty Images

The Bang Bang singer was due to play the O2 Academy to kick off her UK tour, but the show will now take place on February 1.

Murphy: SNP are playing games

Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy believes only Labour can protect the NHS and stop Tory budget cuts.

Jim Murphy
BBC

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had earlier said SNP MPs were prepared to vote on English healthcare in Westminster to ensure that "Scotland's voice is heard".

Mr Murphy told BBC political editor Nick Robinson: "The only way to save the NHS is to elect a Labour government and get rid of David Cameron from office, not these games that the SNP are playing.

"This is serious business, it's a matter of the future of the NHS and the last thing we need is David Cameron back in power."

Watch the interview here.

Case notes problem halts operations

Eleanor Bradford

BBC Scotland Health Correspondent

The BBC has learned that a hospital in Lanarkshire had to cancel some appointments and operations last week because of problems accessing new electronic case notes.

Hairmyres Hospital
NHS Lanarkshire

A total of 21 outpatient operations were rescheduled at Hairmyres Hospital in East Kilbride, along with two operations.

The fault recurred this week but back-up plans allowed medics to continue to work.

NHS Lanarkshire said electronic case notes offered a wide range of benefits and that it was working with IT suppliers to investigate the fault.

Property tax cuts

The proposed

new tax rates on Scottish property purchases have been cut - although people buying the most expensive homes will have to pay more.

property sold sign
PA

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said nobody would pay tax on properties costing less than £145,000, after raising the threshold.

He said a 12% marginal rate would now apply to people buying houses costing more than £750,000, rather than £1m.

The new tax replaces stamp duty in Scotland from April.

Mr Swinney told parliament the revised bands were proportionate and based on the ability to pay.

Chhokar accused's court date

A man has been formally indicted for the 1998 murder of Surjit Singh Chhokar in Overtown, North Lanarkshire.

Surjit Singh Chhokar
PA

Ronnie Coulter, 46, from Wishaw, will appear at the High Court in Glasgow for a hearing on 24 February as the Crown case against him proceeds.

Last year, judges gave prosecutors permission to retry Mr Coulter over the fatal stabbing of Mr Chhokar, 32.

They ruled that two other men, Andrew Coulter, 33, and David Montgomery, 37, could not face trial for a second time.

All three men were previously cleared of murdering Mr Chhokar in 1998.

Game, set and (love) match?

Andy Murray is getting married later this year but his older brother says he hasn't, as yet,

been asked to be best man.

Wimbledon mixed doubles star Jamie Murray said he wouldn't mind if his brother chose someone else for the task.

Andy was best man at older brother Jamie's wedding in Dunblane in 2010
Alan Hutchison Photogrpahy

Jamie told the BBC: "If I don't get asked that's absolutely fine by me."

Wimbledon singles champion Andy announced his engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears in November last year.

In an interview with BBC Scotland Sport, Jamie said: "I haven't been asked yet so I'm still waiting on that one.

"We'll see. If I get asked: great. If not, then it's not the end of the world.

"I'm sure it'll be a good day."

Andy was best man at older brother Jamie's wedding in Dunblane in 2010.

Can he claim for it? Yes he clan

A clan chief has been allowed to claim expenses in

a legal dispute with a council about a gate allegedly blocking public access to a beauty spot.

Path near Kingsteps
Anne Burgess/Geograph

Highland Council was found liable to Alexander Brodie of Brodie, the 27th Clan Chief of Brodie, for costs in the case at a hearing in Edinburgh.

The dispute about Nairn's Kingsteps has been running for two years.

Highland Council has sought to abandon its legal action against Mr Brodie, but may raise fresh proceedings.

Women's rugby squad

Scotland Women's head coach Jules Maxton has opted for a mix of youth and experience for the forthcoming Six Nations campaign.

Worcester prop Tracy Balmer captains the team again in the front row beside 71-time capped Heather Lockhart.

Maxton has brought three new players into the squad, with Wasps outside centre Nuala Deans, flanker Jude Telford of Murrayfield Wanderers and Melrose full-back Chloe Rollie hoping to make their debuts.

Lothian Buses shake-up

David Miller

BBC Scotland transport correspondent

Lothian Buses has revealed all four of its executive directors are to leave the company over the next two years. It follows a bitter boardroom feud between the men, who each earned between £200,000 and £270,000 in 2013.

In a statement, the chairman of Lothian Buses, Ian Depledge, said recent months had been "bruising and damaging" for the council-owned company, and the move was necessary to restore confidence and stability.

Lothian Buses is the biggest bus operator in the capital and has more than 2,000 staff.

BreakingBreaking News

Finance Secretary Swinney announces new proposals for new tax rates on Scottish property purchases.

  • From 1 April, no tax will be paid up to £145,000
  • For monies between £145,000 and £250,000, a rate of 2% will apply
  • Properties between £250,000 and £325,000 will pay 5%
  • Those between £325000 and £750,000 will pay 10%
  • More than £750,000, properties will be taxed at the 12%

Property tax

Douglas Fraser

Business and economy editor, Scotland

Revised Scots property transaction tax: starts at £145-250k: 2%. £250-325k: new 5% band. £325-£750k: 10%. Higher: 12%

Budget speech

Finance Secretary John Swinney starts his budget speech by highlighting positive aspects of economic recovery in Scotland.

Follow our dedicated live text coverage

here.

Scottish Parliament live page
BBC

Oil firms land Norwegian licences

Douglas Fraser

Business and economy editor, Scotland

Scottish-based Faroe Petroleum and Cairn Energy have each been awarded a share in five oil and gas production licences in Norwegian waters.

oil platform
other

They are close to fields in which both companies already have interests.

Meanwhile, Cairn Energy has sold off part of the Catcher field in the UK North Sea, to help reduce the scale of its development costs.

The Norwegian licences do not require companies to start drilling.

However, the new round of licences open up a new part of Norway's northern waters, which had previously been disputed with Russia.

Man arrested over derby match assault

Police investigating

a pub assault after an Edinburgh derby match last year have arrested a man.

The 44-year-old has been charged in connection with football-related disorder, police said.

Two men were seriously injured in assaults at Scotts Bar after the match between Hibs and Hearts at Easter Road on 26 October, ending in a 1-1 draw.

The man has been banned from entering licensed premises as he awaits his court appearance.

Scots votes on English NHS laws

Nick Robinson

Political editor

I have been speaking to Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon about how SNP MPs will vote after the next election.

Nicola Sturgeon
BBC

With the polls predicting a doubling in the party's support and, potentially, a huge increase in the number of their MPs this really matters.

Specifically, Ms Sturgeon says that SNP MPs will vote on the English NHS. Given that the Scottish government has complete control of the Scottish NHS, this is likely to fuel calls for "English votes for English laws".

She says the move is necessary to protect the Scottish NHS from the knock on effects of cuts and privatisation in England.

Stewart aims high

Kenny Crawford

BBC Sport Scotland

Greg Stewart's prolific form for Dundee means he is having to adjust his targets at the season's halfway stage.

Greg Stewart
SNS

The 24-year-old striker has netted 12 times in 24 outings, despite only aiming for 10 over the whole campaign.

"I've got there quicker than I thought," Stewart told BBC Scotland.

"You always want to try to get to at least double figures and I've played lots of games which I wasn't sure I was going to get. If I could get up to 20 that would be absolutely brilliant."

Cold snapped

Fiona Stalker

BBC Scotland reporter

tweets: Great day at the office #bbcwinterwatch #coldsnaps @BBCSpringwatch @MarLodgeNTS

winterwatch
BBC

Douglas Fraser

Business and economy editor, Scotland

tweets: Poundland sales growth of 10%, but analysts warn it's slowing. With 60 more UK outlets a year, are they eating into existing stores' market?

New £2m hospital scanner unveiled

A £2m scanner allowing a more accurate diagnosis of patients has been unveiled at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

Aberdeen Royal Infirmary
BBC

The positron emission tomography and computed tomography (PET-CT) scanner will allow clinicians to see highly-defined 3D pictures of inside the body.

It is aimed at helping medical staff evaluate what treatments are best.

Prof Alison Murray, Professor of Radiology, said: "Patients far beyond Aberdeen will benefit from discoveries made using these fabulous facilities."

Ex-Marine cadet jailed for rape

A former Royal Marine cadet who raped a 16-year-old girl and then confessed by text has been sentenced to 28 months detention.

Mark Morham
Iain McLellan/Spindrift Photo Agency

Mark Morham, 18, from Kelty, admitted raping the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, at his home on 18 January 2014.

Lord Turnbull told Morham that but for his guilty plea he would have sentenced him to three and a half years detention.

Morham was placed on the sex offenders' register.