Caithness Courier headlines for January 7, 2014

RECOVERY teams are on standby to survey a cargo vessel on which eight men drowned after it sank in the Pentland Firth. With bad weather expected over the next few days, it is not known when a remote controlled vehicle inspection will be able to be carried out on the Cemfjord which capsized 10 miles east of the Pentland Skerries on Friday.

A BID to allow the public to attend a crunch meeting about the future of surgical cover at Caithness General Hospital failed - despite support from some local councillors. Around 30 clinicians, NHS Highland representatives, MSPs and councillors gatheed at Wick Town Hall to discuss the issue yesterday morning. It was to be debated in private despite being described as "the key issue facing Caithness and Sutherland at the moment" and one which is worrying staff at the hospital.

THE last calls are soon to be broadcast from the friendly voices at Radio Remedy as the long-standing service comes to an end. Caithness General Hospital's very own radio station has been running for nearly 30 years but the group of v olunteers in charge, have decided it is time to call it a day. Its last show will be broadcast at the end of January.

MOTORISTS on the A9 will see that work is well under way on the first of two substations being build at Spittal as part of the major upgrading of the electricity grid. The development is a vital link in the multi-million pound scheme to increase the capacity of the mains power line in the north which features a new sub-sea cable between Caithness and Moray.

OUR three Lib Dem MPs, John Thurso, Charles Kennedy and Danny Alexander will be tightening their grip on their seats in the run-up to the General Election in May. Those confirmed to challenge John Thurso for his Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross seat, include 21-year-old-Labour candidate John Erskine, a former Highland Youth convener from Conon Bridge.

TEACHER numbers in the Highlands are at their lowest since 2007, new statistics have revealed. Figures from the Scottish Conservatives show there are nearly 300 fewer primary and secondary teachers in schools across the region. Lindsay McCallum, the party's candidate for Liberal Democrat Charles Kennedy's Westminster seat in the General Election said the plummeting numbers proved the SNP had "taken its eye off the ball".