Daily Political Media Summary: 19 March 2010

Economy

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RBS Pension: A Senior Royal Bank of Scotland director, Gordon Pell, is to receive an annual pension of £580,000 when he retires next month – a sum much higher than that of former chief executive Fred Goodwin. As Deputy group chief executive, Mr Pell presided over the Bank’s collapse in 2008. (Scotsman page 1, Record page 2, Telegraph page 1, Mail page 4)   

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Tax Rises: Lord Mandelson has admitted that taxes may have to rise as early as next year if Labour wins the general election – he is the first senior minister to admit that “further” measures to raise taxes will need to be considered in 2011. (Herald page 6, Telegraph page 1, Mail page 2, FT page 1)

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Barclaycard Jobs Axed: Some 350 jobs are to be lost after Barclaycard confirmed the closure of a call centre in Glasgow. (Scotsman page 2, Telegraph page 8, Times page 15) 

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Rangers Take-Over: The proposed £33 million take-over of debt-ridden Rangers Football Club is in jeopardy after the bidder was told his plans for a major retail development on the site will not be possible due to lack of planning permission. (Herald page 1)

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Aggressive Bank Tactics: MSPs have claimed Scottish banks are still deploying the “aggressive” tactics that may have contributed to the financial collapse. (Times page 15) 

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Crime

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New York Punishment: The Scottish Conservative Justice spokesman, Bill Aitken, has proposed a community courts system for Scotland, inspired by New York’s community punishment scheme that has seen a 40% decline in Midtown, Manhattan. Under the model, offenders could be sent to work in the community within 24hrs of being arrested. Currently, just 60% of community punishment orders are completed in Scotland (Scotsman page 13 

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Identity Theft: Luxury flat conversions in a landmark Glasgow building are in one of the four worst locations outside London for cases of identity theft. Residents in the former Co-operative building in Morrison St, Tradestown, are three and a half times more likely to have personal documents stolen than in the rest of the UK. (Herald page 13)

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Transport 

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Eco-Friendly Transport: Scottish Transport experts are to produce a major study into potential consumer demand for electric vehicles in the UK ahead of the Japanese car manufacturer, Nissan’s, plans to launch an eco-friendly car in 2013. (Scotsman, page 10, Courier page 15) 

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The Scottish Government has been urged to opt for more eco-friendly cars in the place of environmentally damaging limousines. (Herald page 6)  

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Trams-on-wheels: Willie O’Rourke, Chair of Glasgow Clyde Regeneration Ltd – the company established to deliver a trams-on-wheels project to Glasgow – has said the £40 million transport link will receive Government funding and be operational by 2014 ahead of the Commonwealth Games. (Herald page 1)

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Education

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Scandinavian Lessons: The Scottish Government has encouraged local authorities to visit Scandinavia and Finland to learn from their approach to the delivery of lessons. The Education Secretary, Michael Russell, has noted the Swedish model of “free”, independent schools that run alongside state schools as a possible consideration for Scottish education and commended the strong public trust and high level of teacher training demonstrated in Finland. (Herald page 10, TESS page 1) 

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Local Authority

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Steven Purcell: The chief executive of Glasgow City Council has told council staff that improvements in the city over recent years were not solely the success of the former leader and said that reports of Mr Purcell’s alcohol and cocaine problems were discrediting the authority’s achievements since 2005. The SNP members of the council have urged the council to hold a meeting to discuss Mr Purcell’s controversial resignation. (Herald page 5, Scotsman page 15, Mail page 27)

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Pensioners’ Free Travel: Despite previous suggestions that the Edinburgh tram scheme would offer free travel to pensioners, council leaders have admitted that elderly people may have to pay to use the services. (Scotsman page 21) 

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Health

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NHS Waiting Times: New laws to improve patients’ rights have been criticised by doctors and nurses. Health professionals fear the Patient Rights Bill, which establishes a 12-week waiting time target for treatment, will encourage “confrontation and litigation” and increase bureaucracy. (Herald page 9, Scotsman page 11, Record page 2, Telegraph page 12, Mail page 24, Express page 2, Press & Journal page 9) 

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Rabies Warning: Scottish scientists have warned of the reintroduction of rabies to the UK should the European Commission introduce controversial plans to ease controls on pet passports and abandon controls for rabies, ticks and tapeworms. (Herald page 11, Express page 1) 

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Drug Ban: The mother of a Scots teenager, who died after consuming legal party drug mephedrone, has called for an immediate ban. The drug, commonly known as “moonshine” – a legally produced substitute for cocaine and ecstasy – is easily available because of a chemical composition that differs to existing drugs, enabling dealers to sell it legally, provided the substance is not advertised for human consumption. (Herald page 9)

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Politics

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Tax Arrears: Councils in Scotland would be forced to write off almost £1 billion of unpaid poll tax and council tax under an SNP MSP’s proposed Enforcement of Local Tax Arrears (Scotland) Bill. (Telegraph page 2) 

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CO2 Scheme Criticised:  The Scottish Government’s carbon capture plans have been threatened after research studying the technology’s potential found it was “not feasible at any cost”. MSPs have also voted in favour of an amendment opposing coal-fired power stations such as one proposed at Hunterston by Ayrshire Power. (Scotsman page 17, Press & Journal page 9)  

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SNP Malawi Aid: SNP ministers have doubled Scotland’s aid to developing nation, Malawi, now pledging £5 million annually, days after it was revealed that the Malawian President, Dr Bingu wa Mutharika, spent £9 million on a private presidential jet (Mail page 8, Courier page 6) 

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