Reform Scotland News: 30 March 201230.03.2012

All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions. Where there is a link to a newspaper’s website, the relevant page reference is highlighted and underlined.

In addition to the newspaper stories outlined below, further news coverage can be found online at BBC News Scotland, STV News and Sky News

 

Politics

Strathclyde Fire & Rescue: Strathclyde Fire and Rescue’s chief officer, Brian Sweeney, is facing calls to quit as the victim’s family posed fresh questions about his handling of the tragedy. The force was criticised for its “inexplicable” failure to prevent the death of a mother of two who fell down a mineshaft. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Daily Record page 1, Daily Mail page 10)

Edinburgh Council: A fifth member of staff at Edinburgh City Council has lost their job in the wake of the ongoing investigation into alleged corruption over housing repairs. Four workers were ousted last December and a further 15 are also thought to have been suspended under the wide-ranging probe, which the police and external consultants Deloitte have been helping with. (Scotsman page 7)

Scotland and green targets: Scotland is on course to meet its ambitious green energy targets, the Scottish government claimed yesterday, after new figures showed around 35% of Scotland’s electricity was generated from renewable sources last year. This surpasses the Scottish government’s own target of 31% and represents almost 40% of the total UK renewable energy generation for 2011. (Herald page 2)

Gas leak: The source of a gas leak that caused the evacuation of three North Sea platforms has been traced to rocks deep beneath the seabed. Five days after the leak was discovered at Elgin platform, Total, the French oil giant, moved to allay fears of a gas explosion, describing the threat as “low a risk as it could be”. The company said the leak had been tracked to a gas well plugged a year ago and lies in a rock formation at a depth of about 4,000 metres. (Times page 11, Daily Mail page 22, Herald page 2, Press and Journal page 7)

Shetland best place to live in Scotland: Shetland wins above all other rural areas in Scotland by scoring highly when it comes to health, safety, life expectancy and employment. Children there are also among the highest academic achievers in the country. (Daily Mail page 29, Scotsman page 18)

Economy

Petrol panic: Panic hits the pumps, as Scots descended on petrol stations amid worry over a possible strike by tanker drivers. Some garages in Scotland ran dry as sales of petrol almost doubled in recent days. It was calculated the increase sales from panic buying brought in more than £32 million extra in fuel excise in one day alone. Meanwhile, First Minister Alex Salmond has urged unions and bosses to resolve the dispute with fuel tanker drivers. He has stressed the need for “cool heads” as both sides agreed to talks with conciliation service Acas. (Scotsman page 1, Scotsman page 9, Press and Journal page 13, Herald page 8, Guardian page 1, Sun page 1, Daily Mail page 1, Daily Telegraph page 1, Times page 1, Daily Express page 1)

Scotland’s museums: Culture secretary Fiona Hyslop will tell leading attractions to strike up new partnerships as part of a new strategy for the sector, which is already worth an estimated £800 million to the economy. A new national development body is being set up to help forge links between bodies such as the National Museums Scotland, the National Galleries of Scotland and Glasgow Life, which runs all of the city’s attractions. (Scotsman page 12, Herald page 5)

Property prices: Scotland was among six of the 13 regions to report a fall in UK house prices over the past year, new figures have revealed. A separate report has shown that UK-wide, the value of homes dropped by 1 per cent compared to February, and fell by 0.9 per cent compared with the same month last year. (Scotsman page 16)

Recession: Britain is back in recession, European economic forecasters said yesterday. OECD said the economy shrank by 0.1 per cent in the first three months of 2011. This follows a slightly larger 0.3 per cent contraction in the economy in the final three months of 2011. (Daily Telegraph page 1, Daily Express page 4)

Education

PE Pledge: Every primary school child will get two hours of PE a week and all students in the first four years of secondary school should have at least two weekly periods of PE of about 55 minutes each, the Scottish government has pledged, as it handed local councils almost £6 million to meet the target by 2014. (Scotsman page 7, Herald page 9, Daily Record page 8, Daily Mail page 28, Times page 13)

Scottish university drop-out rates: Scotland is reportedly the worst in the UK for university drop-outs and for attracting students from the poorest backgrounds. Almost one in ten left in 2009-2010, leaving Scotland behind Wales, England and Northern Ireland. (Scotsman page 21, Press and Journal page 16, Herald page 4, Daily Mail page 8, Daily Express page 12)

Curriculum for Excellence: A survey of the landscape of Scottish secondary schools shows a patchwork quilt of curriculum models for pupils entering the senior phase of their education. The emphasis on giving pupils personalisation and choice, alongside an overriding aim of raising attainment through Curriculum for Excellence, has given schools the freedom to design curriculum structures in a myriad of different ways. (TESS page 12)

Transport

Glasgow rail station: Nearly 25 million passengers crossed Central‘s vast concourse last year, a million more than 2010, according to new Office of Rail Regulation figures. Glasgow rail station is considered the busiest station outside of London. (Scotsman page 3)

Wildfire shuts A9: A massive wildfire closed a major route in the Highlands yesterday when flames more than 20ft high “jumped” across the highway. (Press and Journal page 1)

Orkney ferries: A delegation from Orkney held top-level discussions with Scottish government ministers over the future of island ferry services yesterday. Local MSP Liam McArthur joined council chief executive Albert Tait and council convener Stephen Hagan for talks in Edinburgh. (Press and Journal page 3)

A93 campaigners: Campaigners fighting for improvements to a major road blighted by landslips have taken their case to the Scottish Parliament. They handed over a petition calling for improvements to the A83 Tarbet to Campbeltown road to Dave Stewart, convener of the public petitions committee. It has been signed by more than 10,000 people. (Press and Journal page 10)

Funding bus industry: Emergency talks to discuss the funding crisis affecting Scotland’s bus industry are to be held next week, Transport Minister Keith Brown has announced. The meeting on Tuesday will include senior figures in the bus industry, councils and local authority transport partnerships, and follows concerns that the cuts to government subsidies are driving up fares and forcing operators to withdraw routes. (Herald page 1)

Justice

Celtic bomb trial: Two men accused of sending explosives to Celtic manager Neil Lennon are no longer facing charges of conspiracy to murder. The High Court in Glasgow yesterday heard that a portion of the charges against Trevor Muirhead and Neil McKenzie had been deleted due to insufficient evidence. (Daily Mail page 34, Scotsman page 11, Daily Record page 13)