Daily Political Media Summary: 27 November 2009

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Media Summary: 27 November 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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Borders:  More than 100 jobs in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Inverness are under threat as book chain Borders has gone into administration.  The company, which has 45 stores across the UK, has been unable to compete with competition from online stores and supermarkets. (Scotsman page 2, Herald page 9, Guardian page 30)

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Fuel poverty:  Scotland’s middle class homeowners in detached, less fuel efficient homes, have been “plunged” into fuel poverty following sharp price increases, leaving many Scots unable to pay heating bills.  (Scotsman page 1)

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GARL:  Business leaders have joined together in an attempt to restart the Glasgow Airport Rail Link (GARL).  An online campaign created to persuade Finance Secretary John Swinney to revise plans to scrap the project has been dedicated to outlining the reasons why the project should not have been cut. (Herald page 5)

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BAE Systems: Almost 640 jobs may be cut as part of a review by BAE of its workload and will include its Integrated System Technologies business site in Fife and other parts of the UK.  (Press and Journal page 4, Courier page 1)

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Crime

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Prison sentences:   A new ruling from appeal court judges will see the current 12 year minimum sentence imposed in murder cases increased following claims of “leniency”.  The decision could lead to Scotland’s most prolific killers being sentenced to literal life imprisonment with the possibility of dying in prison.  The Court of Criminal Appeals in Edinburgh also highlighted knife crime as a “scourge of the Scottish community” stating that minimum terms of 16 years imprisonment should be imposed.  (Scotsman page 1, Sun page 8, Telegraph page 9, Daily Mail page 5, Daily Record page 8, STV)

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Short term sentences:  The Scottish Government has introduced plans to ban short term prison sentences in Scotland as it passes the first stage of the Criminal Justice Bill.  Labour and the Conservatives have indicated that they will oppose any move to replace sentences of 6 months or less with “tougher community sentences”.  However both the Liberal Democrats and the Greens have indicated that they will back the proposal.  (Scotsman page 5, Herald page 5, STV) 

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Transport:

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M8:  A survey by Britannia Rescue has found that junctions leading to and from the M8 motorway in Glasgow have been described as the “scariest” in Scotland by drivers.  The Kingston Bridge which spans 10 lanes and includes motorway and local traffic has been cited as the most difficult to navigate.  Glasgow city’s general road systems are among the most difficult in the UK.   (Herald page 3, Press and Journal page 15)

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Local Government

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Catchment areas:  Glasgow City Council has intervened in a row involving East Renfrewshire Council’s St Ninian’s school catchment area.  East Renfrewshire has introduced plans to reduce the number of houses which qualify for its catchment area, however Glasgow City Council has cited the move as being legally questionable as well as showing a “lack of concern” for families due to the “unreasonable” timescale in which the plans would be implemented. (Herald page 11)

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Health

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Minimum pricing:  Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has accused Labour of “costing lives” by opposing the SNP’s plans to introduce minimum pricing of alcohol to tackle widespread alcohol related illness in Scotland.  Labour’s rejection of the proposal means that the SNP doesn’t have the necessary backing to allow legislation to be created.  Despite support from health professionals on the issue, Labour has questioned the legality of the proposal although it has set up a commission to investigate the issue further.  (Scotsman page 8, Herald page 1, Press and Journal page 9, Telegraph page 1, Times page 3, Courier page 4)

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Swine flu:  Scotland’s death toll from swine flu has risen to 46 as three more Scottish people have died from symptoms related to the virus.  One elderly person and two younger people with underlying health problems are the latest victims of the disease.  Additionally over 21,000 people had contracted the virus in Scotland in the last week.  (Scotsman page 7, Herald page 2, Press and Journal page 9)

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Hospital hygiene standards:  Poor hygiene at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary has led to Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon stating that those in charge would be dismissed as standards were not met. The evidence presented by the Healthcare Environment Inspectorate, followed a recent outbreak of Clostridium difficile (C-diff) which led to the death of 18 patients. (Press and Journal page 8)

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Education

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New schools:  The SNP has released plans to build 21 new primary schools across the country as part of a £1.25 billion programme.   Education secretary Fiona Hyslop has responded to Labour’s criticism concerning the poor condition of many of Scotland’s existing schools, by stating that the SNP has dramatically reduced the number of “poor and bad-condition school buildings” which were inherited from its predecessor.  (Scotsman page 16, Herald page 11, Press and Journal page 4)

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Teacher numbers: Fiona Hyslop has come under fire again over teacher numbers as a report showed a decrease in the number of teachers in Scotland.  In 2008, official figures showed a reduction of 1,000 teachers in Scotland since the SNP came to power in 2007 with a further reduction of over 1,300 in 2009.  Labour leader Iain Gray also attacked plans to persuade councils to replace 500 experienced teachers with graduates using £10 million of borrowed funds. (Scotsman page 16, Press and Journal page 15, STV, BBC, TESS) 

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Politics

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Flood laws:  The Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act has been passed to create a national response to flooding in Scotland following damage caused by recent severe weather.  The Act will ensure that the Scottish Government, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Scottish Water and local authorities coordinate responses to flooding, which will include natural methods of restoring flood plains and improving warning services, as well as creating flood protection schemes.  (Scotsman page 10, Herald page 6)

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COSLA:  Conflict over funding councils in Scotland is threatening the stability of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (CoSLA) as the Liberal Democrat – SNP run council in Aberdeen may pull out of the agreement.  CoSLA’s indication of social need means that some councils – Aberdeen included – receive approximately £800 funding less per person than others such as Glasgow.  Finance secretary John Swinney’s refusal to change the formula has led to councillors in Aberdeen threatening to pull out of the agreement following extensive cuts made in the last year and the failure of a £3million promised fund to be granted.  (Scotsman page 20, Press and Journal page 7, Times page 19)

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Census:  A new census to be introduced in Scotland in 2011 will request information on household salaries, health and national identity.  The information gathered will determine how money is spent on public services across the UK.  The census is being regarded as “intrusive”.  (Daily Mail page 1, Scotsman page 24)

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Anti-Glasgow row: The Scottish Government has again been accused of imposing cuts which would penalise the city’s economy as it has cut £100 million from the city’s building project budget for 2010.  (Herald page 1)

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Independence referendum:  A referendum on independence on the day of the next General Election has been suggested.  Lord Forsyth of Drumlean has stated that this would force Alex Salmond to divert his attention away from issues of separation and toward domestic issues of education and health.  Alex Salmond plans to publish his white paper on independence on St Andrew’s day.  (Telegraph page 11)