Daily Political Media Summary: 22 January 2010

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Media Summary: 22 January 2010

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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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Lloyds Job Cuts: Lloyds Banking Group has announced another 600 job cuts across the UK. This will include closing all 58 of its Black Horse centres – eight of which are in Scotland. (Scotsman, page 7)

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Public Borrowing: Public finances were further hit in December as public borrowing reached £15.7 billion. (Scotsman, page 7)

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Micro-Hydro Power: A Scottish Government report has found that there could be almost twice the untapped hydro-electric energy potential in Scotland than previously expected. It is now thought more than 7000 schemes across Scotland could provide 1.2 gigawatts of potential new hydro capacity (Scotsman page 10)

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Recession: Lord Mandelson declared yesterday that the UK recession is over.  David Cameron is expected to respond by saying that Britain is in a “social recession” that is even deeper than the economic one. (Herald page 6)

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Heating Assistance Inquiry: A Commons committee is launching an inquiry as to why more than 110,000 fuel-poor Scottish families were denied help with heating costs. The energy and climate change committee is asking why those in the Highlands and islands and other rural areas have been unable to sign up with mains gas suppliers. Some families which depend on expensive deliveries of natural gas have also been denied aid from suppliers and have been struggling to pay their bills. Lib Dem MP Danny Alexander said he plans to present evidence which shows that half of all households in rural communities in the Highlands are in fuel poverty. (Press and Journal page 9)

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Cold Weather Payments: Housing and Communities Minister Alex Neil has criticised the cold weather payment system for not taking wind chill into account. Under the current system, people entitled to the cash can claim £25 a week if temperatures drop below freezing, or is predicted to, for seven consecutive days between November 1 and March 31.  (Press and Journal page 9)

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VisitScotland: VisitScotland has been criticised for paying nearly £150,000 in bonuses to its senior management. (Herald page 11)

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SNP Budget: Bill Jamieson of the Scotsman  claims the “SNP budget paints a positive picture – but it is unfit for the harsh economic times we live in”.

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Crime

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Scottish Prisons: Scotland’s prison population is expected to rise by 18.5 per cent over the next decade. The Scottish Government says the trend is largely due to changes in the criminal justice system and an increase in the number of prisoners on short-term sentences. (STV)

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Court Changes: The Faculty of Advocates has warned that proposed changes to Scotland’s civil court system may not increase efficiency or lead to any significant public benefit despite their high cost. (Scotsman, page 24)

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Transport 

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‘Flying Scotsman’: The Flying Scotsman is to be revived as part of Government plans to reduce journey times between Edinburgh and London to less than four hours. The “express business service” is expected to run from autumn 2011. (Scotsman, 20, Herald page 9).

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Roadkill League: Statistics based on analysis of 1.3 million insurance claims since 2005 have revealed that animals present a greater risk to Scottish drivers than anywhere else in the UK. Drivers are 34 times more likely to hit an animal in the Inverness IV4 postcode area, whilst Perth, Dumfries, Orkney and Aberdeen also come high on the list for roadkill incidents in the study. (Scotsman, page 23)

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Health

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Patient Privacy: A nurse at Glasgow’s Southern General Hospital has been suspended after accusations that the person posted photos of patients on the social networking site Facebook. (Daily Record page 1, BBC)

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Heart Checks: The Braveheart scheme, which offers heart checks to the community in Lanarkshire, may end up being scrapped as NHS Lanarkshire faces £17 million in spending cuts. (Herald page 1)

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Ward Closures:  Outbreaks of a highly contagious winter vomiting bug have closed more than 50 hospital wards in Scotland (Scotsman, page 6, Herald page 3)

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Anti-Cocaine Campaign: The Scottish Government has launched an education campaign designed to inform young people about the dangers of using cocaine. The Know the Score initiative will see adverts, aimed at 16-22 year olds, running in cinemas and on the music-streaming website, spotify. (Scotsman page 25)

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Education

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School Fights:  The Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Union is writing to all of its 8,500 members across Scotland, recommending that they not intervene in any playground fights. The letter comes after Glasgow City Council rejected a teacher’s £2,500 compensation claim after the individual was hurt in an incident. (Herald page 1,  BBC)

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School Inspectors: Senior figures in Scottish education have suggested that the presence of school inspectors in the classroom is contributing to the decline in education standards across the country and have advised responsibility for monitoring teaching standards should be transferred to local authorities. (Scotsman, page 8)

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Rise in University Numbers: New statistics show the number of students going to university has increased by almost a quarter in Scotland over the past decade. (Scotsman, page 16)

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Politics

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Assisted Suicide: The Catholic Church has questioned the legality of a proposed law that could introduce suicide clinics in Scotland. The End of Life Assistance Bill was published in the Scottish Parliament yesterday, launched by independent Lothians MSP Margo Macdonald. (Scotsman, page 4 & comment 32, Herald Opinion page 16, Guardian page 3, Press and Journal page 9, Courier page 1, Daily Scottish Express page 4, Daily Scottish Mail page 6, Scottish Sun page 1, BBC)

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Balmoral Footpath Row: There have been calls for MSP Roseanna Cunningham to resign following revelations that she had threatened to ignore security information from the Home Office, which advised the Scottish Government that plans to promote two paths near the Queen’s retreat for tourism were a potential security risk. (Scotsman, page 17 & comment 32, Telegraph, page 5, Herald page 6, Press and Journal page 9)

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Alex Salmond: Opposition parties have called for clarification of comments made by Alex Salmond during First Minister’s Questions in which he accused the Nuffield Trust of “miscalculating” figures used in a report, released this week, on NHS services in Scotland. (Scotsman page 17, Alan Cochrane in Telegraph,)

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Iraq Inquiry: Gordon Brown will testify to the Chilcot Inquiry before the general election. (Herald page 2, BBC, STV)

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Afghanistan: The UK Government has announced that more than 1,000 Scottish troops are being sent to Afghanistan. Most of the forces will be deployed in April, and some will go out over the summer. Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth stressed that the budget for Afghanistan remains the MoD’s “overwhelming priority”. (Herald page 5)

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Blogging Row: Mark MacLachlan, former aide to Education Secretary Mike Russell, has been arrested and charged with an alleged breach of the peace. It is understood that Mr MacLachlan was arrested in connection with emails containing veiled threats that were sent to Mr Russell. (Herald page 6)