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REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 22 JUNE 2010

Reform Scotland

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 22 June 2010

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.

In addition to the newspaper stories outlined below, further news coverage can be found online at BBC News Scotland, STV News and Sky News.

Economy

Budget: Chancellor George Osborne will give a £200 handout to some of Britain’s poorest families in a payoff to the Liberal Democrats for supporting the most severe Budget in living memory today. His first “emergency” package is widely expected to raise the £6,475 threshold for paying basic-rate income tax to £7,475, to take 880,000 people out of paying income tax altogether. However, increases in taxes are expected for those who earn over £60,000. Mr Osborne will be the first chancellor to publish a breakdown of the effects of the tax alterations, in an effort to see off critics, as some experts believe that the cuts will bring the UK back into recession and create an unfair society. (The Scotsman page 1, The Times page 1, The Daily Telegraph page 1, Press and Journal page 1, FT page 1, Guardian page 1, Daily Mail page 6)

VAT rise: The chancellor is expected to raise the rate of VAT to 20 per cent in the budget. This has been criticised by Fathom Consulting who argue that this could threaten the recovery of the country, creating a Japanese-style stagnation. (The Daily Telegraph page 81)

Transport 

Traffic accidents: The number of people killed on Scotland’s roads decreased by 20 per cent last year, falling to the lowest level since 1948. The figures also showed that the number of fatal accidents fell by almost 100 in the same period. Scotland’s transport minister, Stewart Stevenson, welcomed the drop, which is an area on which the Scottish Government has focused for the last 3 years. (The Scotsman page 15, Daily Express page 8)

Rail: The plans to build a 35-mile railway between Edinburgh and the Borders are still on track for completion by 2014. Despite delays in appointing a contractor, Transport Scotland, a government agency, say that work is to begin late next year. (The Herald page 6)

Local Government

Council Jobs: 700 council jobs are reportedly endangered due to reductions in public spending.  Renfrewshire is attempting to save £75 million by cutting 10 per cent of its non-teaching workforce within the next nine months. This figure could rise to £90 million by 2013. This cut brings the total of council jobs cut to 1000 after the 300 losses last year. (The Herald page 1)

Alcohol: The Glasgow Licensing Board have criticised the Scottish Government over the new legislation concerning alcohol. They announced they would be revisiting several of the cases in which 13 supermarkets were refused permission to expand their stores because the retailers could not prove their plans would promote public health, a clause of the recent legislation. The board said it was, “yet another major flaw in the new legislation”, and requested increased powers from the government. (The Herald page 4) 

Parking Ticket Losses: In the last four years, Glasgow City Council has lost £6.5 million on imposing parking tickets. This has resulted in a request for an increase in the maximum fine from the current £60 to £100 in an attempt to bring the cost of collecting the fines into line with the cost of the fines themselves. (The Herald page 7)

Health

Mortality decrease: The NHS has published data on the hospital standardised mortality rates (HSMRs), these indicate that there has been a decrease in the number of unexpected deaths of 6 per cent. However, there are differences in mortality rates between different hospitals, with hospitals in Kilmarnock, Paisley, Dumfries and Falkirk reported to have considerably higher patient death rates than other hospitals in Scotland. Doctor Charles Saunders argues that the increased mortality rates at some hospitals is due to the short statistical period, and that there is a long term trends towards decreased mortality rates. (The Scotsman page 2, The Herald page 11)

Education

Cuts: Union leaders protested against threatened education cuts.  The protest by the Educational Institute of Scotland was an attempt to gain signatures for a UK-wide petition against cuts prior to the emergency budget. (The Scotsman page 20, The Times page 21, The Herald page 6)

Closure of private school: A campaign against the closure of St Margaret’s, a private school in Edinburgh, is on the verge of collapse due to a lack of funds. It is now likely that the school will close on the 29 June. (The Scotsman page 24)

Politics

Defence: Defence Secretary Liam Fox has announced that there will be a review of the controversial Trident nuclear programme. He told MPs that this would be completed by the end of July and that the Conservatives were committed to maintaining an ongoing marine deterrent. (The Herald page 6)