Daily Political Media Summary: 20 June 2008

Economy

Food prices: Experts at the Royal Highland Show yesterday said that that global food prices will continue to soar for the next two years. The warning came as the Scottish Government launched an investigation into affordable access to food (Scotsman page 1).

Retail sales: Last month saw the biggest rise in retail sales for more than 20 years, according to the Office of National Statistics (Scotsman page 7, Herald page 29, Times page 50, FT page 3, Telegraph page B1).

Inflation: Further comment and analysis on the level of inflation. (Bill Jamieson in the Scotsman, Peter Jones in the Scotsman, Alf Young in The Herald, Gerard Baker in The Times).

House prices: HBOS predicts that house prices will fall by 9% this year (Guardian page 31, Telegraph page B1, Express page 8, P&J page 17).

Crime

Early release from prison: Sheriff Robert Dickson said yesterday that he could not assure the public that they would be protected from criminals because the punishments being handed down by the court were being overruled by prison staff who are able to release offenders early under home detention curfew schemes. His comments followed a case where an offender committed further crimes which he would have been unable to commit if he had not been released early from prison under the scheme (Scotsman page 9, Telegraph page 17, Daily Mail page 4, Times page 15, P&J page 8).

ASBOs for under 16s: Only 14 ASBOs for under 16s, a flagship policy of the last Scottish Government, have been issued, at a cost of £500,000 each (Scotsman page 17, Courier page 11, Herald page 1, Sun page 18, Times page 1, Record page 2).

Transport

CO2 emissions: Planned increases in Scotland’s trunk roads will increase carbon emissions by more than 250,000 tonnes a year, government ministers have admitted. (Scotsman page 13).

Free bus travel: The First Minister confirmed yesterday that he would not raise the age threshold for the free bus pass from 60 to 65, although he did not rule out making changes to the rules about time of travel, routes and distances (Courier page 9, Times page 7, P&J page 7).

Education

University admissions: The President of Edinburgh University Students’ Union comments on universities’ admissions policy on state and private school pupils (The Herald page 15).

Primary head teachers: 33% of vacancies for head teacher posts at Scottish primary schools had to be readvertised because of a lack of suitable candidates (Herald page 10).

PE targets: Councils appear to be moving away from the target to give primary school pupils two hours of PE per week and are instead looking at other measures of performance (TESS page 1).

Health

Health inequality: The Chief Medical Officer for Scotland claimed that Scotland has the best programme for tackling health inequality in the world. The Public Health Minister yesterday outlined a redesign of public services and new funding to tackle health inequalities (Herald page 9).

Local Government

Local income tax: Glasgow City Council yesterday became the latest body to come out against the Scottish Government’s plans for a local income tax claiming it would be left with a funding gap between £60 and £133 million. (Scotsman page 8, Herald page 6, Times page 7 Daily Mail page 18, Telegraph page 15).

Politics

Gordon Brown:
Ross Lydall in the Scotsman (page 26) comments on the problems faced by Gordon Brown in his first year in office.

Shami Chakrabarti: The Director of Liberty indicated yesterday that she may sue the Culture Secretary over comments he made in a magazine article about her relationship with the former Home Secretary, David Davis (Guardian page 9, Telegraph page 7, Daily Mail page 9, Sun page 12).

Scottish Government under spend: The Scottish Government under spent by £42million at the end of the last financial year, the lowest figure yet recorded. The Finance Secretary said this was as a result of prudent financial management (Herald page 7, Courier page 9, Daily Mail page 18).

Miserable Britain: The UK Transport Minister, Tom Harris, suggested on his blog that Britons should stop being “bloody miserable” (Mirror page 14).

Calman Commission: A committee considering ways in which the Calman Commission can engage with the public has recommended that it does not hold town hall-style meetings because it fears they could be “hijacked” by nationalists and other critics (Herald page 1). The Herald (page 7) also has an interview with Sir Kenneth Calman.

Creative Scotland: After Parliament’s rejection of the Culture Bill, Patricia Ferguson, a former culture minister, suggested that a new cultural body could be created without further legislation (Herald page 11).

Warship orders: The Government confirmed yesterday that it has scrapped plans to build two Type 45 destroyers on the Clyde (Herald page 1).

Fergus Ewing: The Communities Minister has been accused of ‘fast-tracking’ a controversial planning application in the Highlands (P&J page 4).