John O’ Groat Journal headlines for March 7, 2014

A CALL was made yesterday for the Ministry of Defence to “think long and hard” about closing the submarine test reactor at Vulcan in 20215. It came from local MP John Thurso after UK Defence Secretary Philip Hammond announced HMS Vanguard – one of four nuclear ballistic missile submarines – is to be refuelled with a new nuclear core at a cost of 120 million. The decision was made after radiation was discovered following tests carried out a Vulcan in January 2012.

ANSWERS are being demanded from health chiefs over the current level of provision of maternity services at Caithness General Hospital after the top-floor baby unit was plunged into a fresh staffing crisis. NHS Highland announced three weeks ago that the 24-hour obstetric and gynaecological service could be reduced to daytime, as it had only two consultants in post after the sudden death of a specialist who had been appointed. If the reduction in hours was given the go-ahead, pregnant women in Caithness who experienced problems during the evening or overnight, would be forced to travel 100 miles to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness to receive treatment.

A CAITHNESS business is gearing up to increase its workforce of 35 after being taken over. That is the hope of Highlands and Islands Enterprise which has provided a funding package to the new owners. Up to 100,000 has been awarded to Denchi Power Ltd which has bought ABSL Power Solutions Ltd. A loan of 250,000 has also been provided to the Thurso firm.

THE Flow Country of Caithness and Sutherland is to benefit from a 15 million Scottish government research grant. This emerged during a conference in Thurso when the huge tract of blanket bog was said to have changed from a “remote, barren, landscape” to a major driver in Scotland’s fight against climate change.

COMMUNITY councils across Caithness have given mixed views on whether they would support a campaign to scrap the KW postcode from all addresses on the mainland. Thurso community Council reported it had received positive and negative feedback to its campaign for the area to receive a new postal prefix to differentiate itself from Orkney.