East Lothian Council has granted planning permission for a segregated path linking Gullane and West Fenton, with the route being backed by a major Scottish housebuilder.

Campaigners have been calling for a four mile off-road path linking Gullane and Drem, taking walkers and cyclists away from the busy B1345, for 15 years.

After reaching agreement with landowners, housing developer CALA Homes will fund construction of the path linking its current developments at Gullane with West Fenton to the south, and it will be delivered as part of its future development at Saltcoats Field, at Gullane’s southern boundary. 

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Iain Monk, Drem-Gullane Path Campaign spokesman, said: "This is brilliant news. Once constructed, the path will allow residents, young and old, to travel safely between Gullane and West Fenton. We are certain it will also prove popular with visitors to the area. Our thanks to local landowners and CALA Homes for making this happen.

"As a result of the climate emergency and the Covid-19 public health emergency, many more people in East Lothian are choosing to cycle and walk to stay active. That is why more segregated active travel infrastructure, like the Gullane-West Fenton link, is so important to create safe, attractive, healthier places."

Tony Thomas, director of APT Planning and Development, which worked with CALA Homes on its application, said: “We hope that the path will encourage non-car travel including safer access to Gullane Primary School and the village as a whole. 

“CALA has supported the residents of West Fenton in promoting the Quiet Roads initiative at West Fenton and this is the logical extension of that project. 

“The introduction of the path further demonstrates CALA’s long-term commitment to Gullane and we believe that the new homes, new residents and other initiatives, such as this path to West Fenton will all help maintain Gullane as an attractive, vibrant and welcoming place to live.” 

Kenny MacAskill, East Lothian MP, said: “I welcome progress, which is due to dedicated local campaigning. It is a changing world we live in and walking and cycling infrastructure is more needed and wanted than ever. Onwards!”

BT has announced an "unprecedented package of support" to help the Scotland’s 334,000 small businesses get better positioned for recovery and growth following the coronavirus outbreak and as they prepare for a post-Brexit future.

It comes as the telecoms giant said it has taken a big hit from the Covid-19 crisis as the money it made from its sports wing reduced.

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With very little sport to put on TV, pubs, clubs and private viewers stopped using BT Sport to the same extent, hitting revenues, the telecoms giant said.

Partly as a result of that, overall revenue dropped 7% to just over £5.2 billion in the first quarter. Profit before tax also took a hit, down 13% to £561 million.

BT has given a discount to pubs and clubs on its BT Sport packages, and offered unlimited data to NHS workers who get their mobile plans through EE.

Today’s launch of BT’s Small Business Support Scheme sees the company introduce a range of new measures to help small businesses boost their connectivity, cashflow and confidence – key concerns which have been identified by Small Business Britain's recent surveys of its membership.

BT’s action plan includes a commitment to pay its 4,500 small business suppliers promptly and within 30 days of being invoiced, to helping firms fund the cost of ultrafast business connections, as well as access to free resources such as business mentoring, digital skills, marketing tools and mental health support.

Alan Lees, director of BT’s enterprise business in Scotland, said: “With small businesses accounting for more than 99 per cent of all businesses in Scotland, they are the beating heart of our economy, high streets and communities. They deserve the support of each and every one of us to help them thrive into the future.

"At BT, we can use our technology, scale and expertise to help small businesses kick-start recovery and growth by boosting their connectivity, cashflow and confidence. So we’ve listened to the needs of small businesses and are stepping up to deliver a support scheme which should have something for everyone - whether you’re a sole trader, tech-start up, micro business or a larger firm.”

Robbie Bellshaw, IT Manager, HWEnergy, Biomass solution company, Fort William, said: “The last few months have clearly been very difficult for Scottish businesses. It’s meant a need to adapt so that employees can work remotely, including from home.

“We were supported to setup the BT One Phone service so that our customers, who wanted to reach our teams all over the UK, could get through on the landline numbers they already had, including for teams who didn’t previously have a mobile phone. These are all little things that can help make a difference to small businesses during this tricky time.”

Jamie Hepburn, Scottish Government Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills, said: “The past few months have been incredibly challenging for all businesses, particularly our SMEs, and it’s important that business and government work together to drive forward Scotland’s economic recovery and renewal. This scheme from BT will help local SMEs improve their digital capabilities, and is a welcome addition to the support available to businesses.”

Tracy Black, CBI Scotland Director, said: “BT’s commitment to supporting small businesses through these tough times will be incredibly valuable. The CBI has championed digital connectivity and skills as indispensable to all sectors of the economy and in every part of Scotland, and this initiative focussed on support to smaller firms is particularly welcome.”

British Airways' parent company IAG swung to a pre-tax loss of 4.2 billion euro (£3.8 billion) in the first six months of the year.

This is down from a one billion euro (£0.9 billion) profit in the same period a year ago.

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Revenue was 5.3 billion euro (£4.8 billion), some 56% lower than 2019's levels.
IAG announced a plan to strengthen its balance sheet by raising 2.75 billion euro (£2.49 billion) through a proposed capital increase.

Chief executive Willie Walsh said: "All IAG airlines made substantial losses. As a result of Government travel restrictions, quarter two passenger traffic fell by 98.4% on a capacity reduction in the quarter of 95.3%.

"We have seen evidence that demand recovers when Government restrictions are lifted.

"Our airlines have put in place measures to provide additional reassurance to their customers and employees on board and at the airport.

"We continue to expect that it will take until at least 2023 for passenger demand to recover to 2019 levels."

IAG expects it will take until at least 2023 for passenger demand to recover to pre-coronavirus levels.

The firm said it is "restructuring its cost base to reduce each airline's size".

In April it announced that 12,000 British Airways jobs could be cut.

Mr Walsh said customers with pre-existing bookings are continuing to fly to and from Spain despite the UK Government's decision to advise against non-essential travel to the country and re-impose quarantine requirements for people returning.

He told reporters: "People who have had bookings, they appear to continue to be travelling to and from Spain."

He went on: "Our bookings are being suppressed by Government restrictions. When the restrictions of removed we see a significant increase in bookings."

Mr Walsh said the scale of the challenge faced by the airline industry after 9/11 in 2001 and the global financial crisis in 2009 is "much smaller" than what it faces due to the pandemic.

"Anyone who believes that this is just a temporary downturn and therefore can be fixed with temporary measures, I'm afraid seriously misjudges what the industry is going through.

"This will represent a structurally changed industry and that's why we've taken the action that we've taken and that's why we believe now the the right time to raise additional capital."

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