John O Groat Journal headlines for January 29, 2016

THE permanent downgrading of the maternity department at Caithness General Hospital has moved a step closer following a yet-to-be released report into a baby tragedy at the hospital. One of its main findings is that the consultant-led service in Wick should be turned into a midwifery unit unless the care of newborns is improved.

A CAITHNESS charity supporting people with multiple sclerosis is delighted to hear news that a pioneering treatment has been developed which could prove a cure for people with one of the forms of the condition. MS People Caithness welcomed the announcement made on the BBC's Panorama progremme last week, recognising it as great news for the people with the kind of MS the treatment might cure and hoping it will provide a boost to the many in the county living with the condition.

A LOCAL councillor has hit back at the comments made by a colleague when she resigned as chairman of the new Caithness committee. Landward Caithness Highland councillor, Gillian Coghill, stepped down from the post she held for just 12 days after a row about responsibility payments.

WORK has begun at Wick Harbour to repair the damage which was caused to the outer quay during storms during December and January. Wick Harbour Authority yesterday confirmed it began on Tuesday morning with Lybster-based John Gunn and Sons carrying out the first phase of the job.

A BOWEL cancer survivor is backing a campaign to encourage more people to take home tests to detect the disease early. Hamish Macleod who was diagnosed a year ago had no signs of the disease and is urging others to take the test even if they feel well, as it can often reveal hidden symptoms.

A WIND FARM company is considering whether to appeal against a council decision to reject its plans to install five turbines on the outskirts of Watten. WPD was surprised by a planning officer's decision to turn down its proposed Cnoc Morall wind farm and not allow it to be discussed by councillors for a final decision.

TO celebrate Caithness becoming the first mainly county in Scotland to have it own flag, it has been taken to the county's four extremities. On Tuesday when it was formally unveiled Flag Institute vexillologist Philip Tibbetts travelled with the new banner to mark out the boundaries of its patch.

FAR north residents are being asked to be on their guard against so-called telephone "spoofing" scams. Highland Council's trading standards team and Caithness Citizens Advice Bureau are warning about unscrupulous individuals using what appears to be a local phone number to gain the trust of householders before seeking to defraud them.

A SPATE of reports in the far north, of sheep being attacked by dogs has prompted police to remind owners of their duty to keep their pets under control especially when they are close to livestock. Police have investigated a number of complains about sheep worrying in the Camster area which included one being killed.