Daily Political Media Summary: 26 August 2009

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Media Summary: 26 August 2009

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

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Economy

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RBS Pensions: The Royal Bank of Scotland was accused of "adding insult to injury" yesterday after it cut the pensions of 60,000 staff, despite having agreed to a £342,500-a-year package for its former chief executive, Sir Fred Goodwin. In a move designed to save the bank £100 million a year, the company is to cap increases in payments to its final-salary pension scheme. (Scotsman page 2, Times page 12, Telegraph page B1, Press and Journal page 11, FT page 1, BBC)

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Diageo: John Swinney was last night handed another business model aimed at saving the hundreds of whisky jobs threatened by Diageo\’s plans to axe its Johnnie Walker bottling plant in Kilmarnock. East Ayrshire Council presented the Finance Secretary with a business case that it believes could safeguard a large number of the 700 jobs that will be lost if the Ayrshire town\’s 189-year association with the famous drink is ended. (Scotsman page 6, Herald page 1, Times page 11, Press and Journal page 14, Courier page 1, BBC)

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Transport 

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High Speed Rail: Network Rail is expected to publish plans today for a possible new high-speed rail line, linking London to Scotland with trains running at 200mph as a way of tackling overcrowding and burgeoning demand on the existing network. The state-owned rail infrastructure company announced last year that it would be conducting a strategic review into how to ease capacity problems on the UK’s main intercity routes. It is widely expected to call today for a second high-speed rail route connecting London with the Midlands and Scotland. (Times, BBC, STV)

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Local Government

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New Lanark: Plans for a groundbreaking eco-town powered entirely by renewable energy and managed by residents have been unveiled in South Lanarkshire; with the project hailed by its backers as an opportunity to "revolutionise" housing developments in Scotland. The 20,000-strong new community of Owenstown, inspired by the pioneering New Lanark industrialist Robert Owen, would live in one of the most ambitious town planning schemes ever undertaken in Scotland. (Herald page 5, Times page 11, Press and Journal page 20, STV)

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Health

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NHS Waiting Times: Most patients in Scotland are waiting less than 12 weeks for hospital appointments and surgery, figures published yesterday showed. By the end of June, 99.9 per cent of patients referred by their GP or dentist for an outpatient appointment waited less than 12 weeks, alongside 99.6 per cent of those needing surgery or day case treatment. The figures also revealed that 97.7 per cent of people attending A&E were seen in less than four hours against a target of 98 per cent. But despite the success, opposition parties questioned why Scotland was moving slower than England in bringing waiting times down. (Scotsman page 12)

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Hospital beds: Hospitals in Scotland continue to be hit by bed-blocking, figures showed yesterday. A census in July revealed that 55 patients were still in hospital six weeks after becoming ready for discharge. The Scottish Labour Party said this was despite a Scottish Government pledge to take the figure down to zero. (Scotsman page 11, Herald page 4, Press and Journal page 15)

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Education

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Colleges Chief Executive: The head of the umbrella body for Scottish colleges has unexpectedly quit his post after less than a year. Chris Travis is stepping down as Chief Executive of Scotland\’s Colleges with immediate effect after what was reportedly a disagreement with the board. Mr Travis was appointed in October last year with responsibility for ensuring the success of a merger between the Association of Scotland\’s Colleges, the Scottish Further Education Unit, Scotland\’s Colleges International and the Colleges Open Learning Exchange Group. (Herald page 12)

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Politics

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Lockerbie Bomber: Justice secretary Kenny MacAskill was last night under pressure to reveal more details of the medical evidence that led to the release of the Lockerbie bomber, after it emerged that only one doctor was willing to say Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi had less than three months to live.  (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Times page 1, Telegraph page 1, Press and Journal page 1, Courier page 1, Guardian page 1, BBC)

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Trident: Gordon Brown faced a renewed call last night to scrap the £25bn Trident renewal programme as he is said to have finally bowed to cabinet pressure to set out a raft of spending cuts ahead of the next General Election. Thus far, the Prime Minister has steadfastly stuck to his election strategy of "Labour investment versus Tory cuts". However, senior colleagues have been privately trying to convince him to accept some cuts in public spending will have to be made – and announced – given the £175bn budget deficit. (Herald page 2)

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The Lighthouse: Scotland’s national centre for architecture and design went into administration yesterday after long-running financial difficulties. The Lighthouse in Glasgow has seen its revenues fall during the recession and has been unable to overcome a budget deficit. The gallery employs 57 full and part-time staff, and will remain open while administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP assess its finances. Eleanor McAllister, chairwoman of The Lighthouse Trust charity, said the decision to call in administrators was “heartbreaking”. (Press and Journal page 12, STV)

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