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Daily Political Media Summary: 1 September 2009

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Media Summary: 1 September 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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Fringe festival: The Edinburgh Festival Fringe broke all records by with more than 1.8 million tickets sold this year, organisers said last night. As its 63rd year came to an end yesterday, the world\’s biggest arts festival had recorded sales of 1,859,235 tickets, a 9 per cent rise on its previous record in 2007, and a 21 per cent rise on 2008, when the box office was dogged by technical problems. This year\’s Fringe was the first with chief executive Kath Mainland at the helm. (Scotsman page 25, Herald page 3, Courier page 7, Guardian page 14)

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Bonuses: Gordon Brown has pledged tough action to clamp down on excessive remuneration for bankers as part of an international effort to rectify the systemic weakness that led to the global financial crisis. The prime minister said that pay and bonuses should be based on long-term success not short-term speculative gains; banks should “claw back” bankers’ rewards if their performance suffered in subsequent years; and regulators should be able to impose higher capital requirements on financial institutions.(FT page 1)

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Small businesses: The head of the division that serves small and medium sized enterprises for the giant Lloyds Banking Group in Scotland has insisted there is no shortage of money to lend and rejected suggestions the bank had been profiting at the expense of small businesses. Donald Kerr, who heads the commercial banking arm of Lloyds\’ Group\’s Bank of Scotland business subsidiary, stressed it was open for business. Maintaining that Lloyds wanted to play its part in helping Scotland get out of recession he said the lender was ready to provide support to all viable customers. (Herald page 26)

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Stagecoach: Stagecoach is believed to be mulling over a last-minute bid for troubled rival National Express. A possible bid from the Perth company comes after National Express rejected a renewed takeover approach from a consortium consisting of private equity group CVC Capital Partners and the Cosmen family, which owns an 18 per cent stake in the company. (Scotland on Sunday page B1)

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Crime

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Short jail sentences: Three quarters of offenders who are sentenced to a short spell in prison are reconvicted within two years of their release, new figures show. And 68 per cent of offenders put under tagging orders are reconvicted within the same time. The rate is higher for those on drug treatment and testing orders; within two years, 81 per cent are reconvicted. The figures were highlighted by the Scottish Government as showing the need for its plan to encourage community penalties instead of short prison terms. (Scotsman page 20, Herald page 1, Courier page 1, Press and Journal page 15)

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Local Government

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Edinburgh City Council: Edinburgh Council has rebuffed a "£110 million-plus" bid for its headquarters from a UK pension fund in the latest sign that prime sections of the city\’s commercial property market remain attractive to investors. The proposed deal for Waverley Court comes only 10 months after the council bought the building from the Norwich Union Life and Pension Fund for £90m, a move that won deal of the year at the Scottish Property Awards. The offer, which envisaged leasing the building back to the council, is understood to be the latest in a series of bids that the city has received for the building in recent months. (Sunday Herald page 50)

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Education

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University principal: Professor Stephen Chapman has been named as the new principal and vice-chancellor of Heriot-Watt University. Prof Chapman, 50, was previously vice-principal for planning, resources and research policy at Edinburgh University. He takes over the post from Professor Anton Muscatelli, who is to become the principal and vice-chancellor of Glasgow University. (Scotsman page 12)

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Politics

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Al-Megrahi:  The UK government is to publish "all relevant" correspondence with the Scottish Executive over releasing the Lockerbie bomber. Downing Street confirmed exchanges between ministers and their Scottish counterparts would be made public today. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Times page 15, Telegraph page 1, Alan Cochrane in Telegraph, Courier page 8, Guardian page 2)

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Jack Straw: UK justice secretary Jack Straw denied fresh allegations that he gave the Scottish government the green light to release Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, in the "overwhelming interests" of wider trade and oil negotiations with the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi. (Guardian page 12, Telegraph page 1)

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Alcohol licensing laws: Small business chiefs today called for the licensing shake-up to be referred to a body that advises ministers on improving business regulation. Leaders of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) are demanding the move amid fears the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 could hit small shops harder than larger stores. Under the legislation, supermarkets and shops will only be allowed to display alcohol in a specific area that has been set aside for drink. (Herald page 6, Courier page 3)

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Public Spending: High public spending in the UK on child welfare and education is failing to deliver results, an international comparative study warns today. The report, by the Organisation for Economic Development (OECD), points out that Britain, although moderately well placed in the rankings, has relatively high rates of teenage pregnancy, drunkenness and young people not in education, employment or training. (Guardian page 12)

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Housing: Pressure is mounting on the Scottish Government to invest an extra £200million a year for new homes for rent. Housing charity Shelter Scotland is calling on Finance Secretary John Swinney to make homelessness and bad housing his top priority in the upcoming budget. It has calculated that an extra £200million would build 30,000 affordable homes for rent over the next three years. There are 17,000 people, including 7,000 children, in temporary accommodation. (Press and Journal page 1)

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Independence Bill: A referendum on breaking up the UK will be the centre point of the legislative programme Alex Salmond will reveal to the Scottish Parliament later this week.The First Minister\’s announcement on Thursday will formally confirm the timetable already set out by the SNP government to bring forward legislation for a referendum early in 2010 ahead of a possible vote later in the year. Mr Salmond\’s spokesman said yesterday the proposals would "place the issue of Scotland\’s future and the powers we need to succeed as a nation at the heart of political and public debate". (Herald page 1, Courier page 1, Telegraph page 4, Times page 5, Sunday Herald page 1)