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Daily Political Media Summary: 15 September 2009

Reform Scotland

Daily Political Media Summary: 15 September 2009

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.

Economy

Budget Cuts: The Scottish Government is planning to cut £500million from its budget, the bulk of which will come from health boards, councils, and central government. Local health services will face a £10m cut, while councils will face a £5m cut each. The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) have warned that hundreds of jobs may be lost. (Scotsman page 1) 

Missile Base: Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy is travelling to Benbecula today to make an announcement about the future of the Hebrides rocket range. Councillor Donald Macsween said last night that the task force has been working hard and put forth a “convincing” case to keep the range open. (Scotsman page 25, Herald page 1)

Whisky Industry: The chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association has warned that more than £600million could be wiped from the value of Scotch whisky imports, should new legislation be enacted. The Scottish Government may introduce a minimum price for alcohol to try and curb the country’s drinking culture. (Herald page 30, The Times page 19, Press and Journal page 11)

Transport 

Forth Bridge: The Edinburgh City Council is expected to ask the Scottish Government to delay plans for a new Forth Bridge crossing until more evidence is shown that construction is vital. The Council is hoping to delay construction until 2011, when an engineering update is to be made available. A council report states that current engineer reports have insufficient evidence to prove the case for a new bridge. (Scotsman page 8)

Car Usage: A report has shown that the use of cars in Scotland has remained the same from ten years ago, despite campaigns by the government and environmental groups to use other means of transport. In 2008, 50 per cent of journeys were made by car, compared to 49 per cent back in 1999. Bus, train, and bike usage have also remained the same. The number of journeys taken by foot has increased slightly from 19.5 per cent to 22 per cent. (Scotsman page 12)

Dalmarnock Station: Dalmarnock Station in Glasgow is set to get a £8million overhaul in preparation for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Planning officials have described its current situation as “unsafe and unpleasant”. The redevelopment is tied with a major economic regeneration of Glasgow’s East End, which planners hope will create 20,000 jobs. (Herald page 10)

Local Government

Calton Hill: The Edinburgh City Council is considering a night ban on Calton Hill to cut down on crime and anti-social behaviour. Council members are to begin drawing up a “management plan” for the historical site, which may also include an increase in its use of special events, the opening of a new visitors centre, and lighting improvements. (Scotsman page 2, Comment page 2)

Princes Street: Senior councillors are still undecided whether to open Princes Street for traffic during the festive season. It had been planned for Princes Street to remain open for pedestrians during Christmas and Hogmanay, but closed to road traffic. A poll of businesses in the city centre has shown they are split on the matter. (Scotsman page 21)

Health

Flu Vaccinations: Scottish GPs are expected to start the process of giving those in high-risk groups their swine flu vaccinations next month. It is expected that 1.3million Scots will be the initial recipients of this jab. Doctors will be paid £5.25 for every flu vaccination they deliver to those in high-risk groups, a decrease from the £7.50 they receive for giving the seasonal flu jab. These inoculations are expected to be worth about £13million for GPs in Scotland. It is estimated that it will cost £100million to inoculate the population of Scotland. (Scotsman page 2, The Times page 23, Guardian page 6)

NHS Greater Glasgow: Police have urged NHS Greater Glasgow not to sign a contract with taxi firm Network Private Hire, which has been previously raided as part of a money-laundering investigation. The firm would be receiving £2million of taxpayer money to transport patients and supplies from Glasgow hospitals. (Herald page 1)

Education

Private School Budgets: Private schools in Scotland are being warned to cut costs or possibly face a 1 per cent decrease in students per year from 2015. Research by Bank of Scotland has shown that above-inflation rises in fees are turning middle-class families away from private education, and this is set to continue. (Scotsman page 15, Herald page 2, Guardian page 6)

Politics

Homecoming: Richard Saville-Smith, the PR Manager of Homecoming Scotland, has testified to a panel that his “cry for help” was “ignored” by managers. Mr Saville-Smith, who suffers from a bipolar disorder, alleges that he was unfairly discriminated against under disability legislation, claiming that he was under an excessive workload with a lack of resources and a poor style of management. (Scotsman page 7, Herald page 11, The Times page 18)

Affordable Housing: Shelter Scotland has released a poll that shows 8 out of 10 Scots think building affordable homes for rent should be the top priority in the next Scottish budget. The charity has demanded that the government should fund 10,000 new affordable homes for rent. (Scotsman page 8, Courier page 6)

Palliative Care: The Palliative Care (Scotland) Bill has been launched in the Scottish Parliament. The bill would make it compulsory for health boards to provide palliative care to all patients, putting the aims of the Scottish Government’s “Living and Dying Well” strategy on statutory footing. There are not yet figures for how much this will cost the NHS. (Scotsman page 11, Herald page 8)

Scottish Marine Bill: Greens are hoping to make an amendment to the Scottish Marine Bill that would turn Scotland’s seas into a dolphin and whale sanctuary. Although hunting and killing whales and dolphins is banned in all British waters, the amendment would mean that all planning applications at sea would have to take dolphin and whale habitats and routes into account. (Scotsman page 23)

Royal Botanic Gardens: Environment Minister Richard Lochhead has ruled out the idea of a £4 entrance fee to the RBGE. The idea of a fee had been introduced as a means of making up the funds the RBGE had lost as a result of funds invested in a failed Icelandic Bank. The garden’s Regius Keeper, Professor Stephen Blackmore has said he hoped the government will help to recover the loss. (Scotsman page 26, Herald page 3)

Cigarette Display Ban: Cigarette firms have asserted that a ban on cigarette and tobacco displays in Scotland will not have the intended effect of discouraging the sale of tobacco products from children. Christopher Ogden, the chief executive of the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association, has stated that this ban would negatively affect local retailers and their communities, which are already suffering the effects of the recession. (Scotsman page 26, Courier page 6, Press and Journal page 9)