REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 05 October 2010

Reform Scotland

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 5 October 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. 

Politics

Budget Cuts: Chancellor George Osborne has announced child benefit will be removed from families with high earners. The plans included the axing of child benefit for better-off parents, despite his earlier pledges that the payment would be preserved under a Conservative government. The move, reneging on a pledge made by Prime Minister David Cameron to protect the benefit, sparked huge anxiety at the party conference. (Scotsman page 4 & 5, Herald page 6, opinion page 13 & 14, Telegraph page 1, FT page 1, Guardian page 1, Press and Journal page 1, Daily Mail page 1, Daily Express page 1, Daily Mirror page 8) 

Conservative Conference: David Cameron has admitted that the Tories still face a “very big challenge” in Scotland yesterday, despite the party holding its first conference in power at Westminster for 14 years. He was “determined to bring about a full recovery” of the party in Scotland, he told a fringe event. His comments came after David Mundell, the party’s only Scottish MP and a Scotland Office minister, suggested that public sector cuts could further damage the party in Scotland, unless ministers clearly explained why they were necessary. He said that the party had to work hard to get its message across “otherwise the myths about the past will be replaced with the myths about the present”. PM Cameron praised him, saying: “As well as it being great to have a Conservative Prime Minister of Great Britain it is great to have a Conservative minister in the Scotland Office. (Herald page 6) 

Holyrood Coalition: David Cameron yesterday backed the Scottish Tories going into a coalition after Holyrood elections and called for cross-Border cooperation on spending cuts. The Prime Minister suggested his party should be flexible about the result if next May’s contest. Senior Scottish Tories revealed at the weekend that they were open to entering a coalition, although Labour and the SNP reacted with hostility towards the idea. (Telegraph page 1, Alan Cochrane page 7, Daily Mail page 2) 

Margaret Thatcher: Well-known businessman and Holyrood candidate Ivor Tiefenbrun said Scottish voters had "swallowed" the idea that former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was an "evil force". He claimed Baroness Thatcher had "saved our cities" in Scotland and had broken the "corrupt power" of the trade unions as well as "enabling people to buy their own homes" during her 11 years in power. Mr Tiefenbrun, who played a leading role in the anti-devolution Think Twice campaign, hopes to win election to the Scottish Parliament in the newly created Glasgow seat for Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn. (Scotsman page 1 & 2 analysis page 2, Herald page 6 

Tommy Sheridan: It has been alleged Tommy Sheridan had asked his colleagues to help cover up his visits to a swingers\’ club. At the outset of what is expected to be the longest-running perjury case in Scottish legal history, a court heard the former Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) leader had admitted visiting the sex club and told his political peers he had a "flaw" in his character. (Scotsman page 8, analysis page 8, Herald page 1 & 5, Telegraph page 6, Times page 3, Guardian page 3, Courier page 1, Press and Journal page 1, Daily Mail page 5, Daily Record page 6, Daily Express page 7, Sun page 1)  

Council tax: Aberdeen Council Tory group leader Alan Donnelly clashed last night with his own party’s Scottish leader Annabel Goldie over her call to continue the council tax freeze. Mr Donnelly attacked the SNP policy at a fringe meeting at the Conservatives\’ Birmingham conference, warning that Aberdeen is losing out badly under the current system for financing local authorities, and needs to be able to raise revenue to spend on the city\’s own priorities. Ms Goldie said politicians had to ensure a fair deal for the taxpayer, adding: “I think supporting the council tax freeze at this time is enlightened and sustainable.” (Press and Journal page 12)
Flood Prevention: A flood-forecasting service is to be launched by the Scottish Government in an attempt to protect lives and homes from water damage. The new service, which will be running by March next year, will link experts from the Met Office\’s operations centre in Aberdeen and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency\’s (Sepa) flood forecasting team in Perth. Daily statements will be produced for local authorities and emergency services, alerting experts to developing risks and creating an early warning system for people living in potential flood areas. (Scotsman page 12, Herald page 6)
 

Child Safe Networking: A Scottish entrepreneur is launching what he claims will be the first safe social networking site for children. The site, Dizeo, is aimed at children between the ages of eight and 13 and will be fully moderated with all postings checked before publication. The new site has cost £70,000 to set up and has nine members of staff, based in Paisley, who check all messages, images and video to the site before they are published. Its founder Christopher McCann admits the initial costs of paying staff from 8am to midnight to check activity is expensive. Users\’ parents will be asked to pay a small monthly fee to access the site, in return for assurance that their children will be safe online. He said he created the site after controversy in recent months over youngsters being targeted by sex offenders online through other social networking sites. (Scotsman page 22 

Economy

Poverty: A total of 13.1 per cent of Scotland\’s working-age population was "employment deprived" – a term covering those claiming jobseeker\’s allowance, incapacity or disability benefit in 2009. The deprivation rate compared to 11.6 per cent for 2008 according to a survey published by Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD). There was also an increase in the proportion of people who receive benefits related to income or tax credits. Anti-poverty groups called on the UK and Scottish governments to step-in to tackle deprivation rates north of the border. (Scotsman page 15 

The Hobbit: Scotland is bidding to be the setting for the long-awaited film version of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit, the producer has revealed. Following industrial problems with actors’ unions, Peter Jackson, the director of the film, has hinted the production may leave its original home of New Zealand. If the production comes to Scotland, it would represent a significant boost to the country’s movie industry. (Herald page 11) 

Struggling Pensioners: Thousands of pensioners living in private retirement developments are facing financial hardship due to managing agents. More than 200,000 older people across the country live in retirement developments, buying their properties under leasehold, figures published by Age UK. Growing numbers are facing financial problems and legal battles due to service charges and fees when they want to sell or rent out their property, according to the charity. (Scotsman page 13 

Illegal Fishing: Two skippers failed to declare fish worth £7.2 million when they lied about their catches on each of almost 100 landings at Scotland\’s largest processing company, a court heard yesterday. Hamish Slater, 51, and Victor Buschini, 50, part owners of the Fraserburgh-registered pelagic trawler, Enterprise, were involved in the biggest scam in the history of Scotland\’s fishing industry. Their appearance at the High Court in Edinburgh brings to eight the number of fishermen to admit roles in the "black fish" scandal, and to more than £22 million the value of mackerel and herring which was concealed from officials at the premises of Shetland Catch Ltd. (Scotsman page 6, analysis page 29, Herald page 8 

Dolphin Watching: The Moray Firth\’s world famous population of bottlenose dolphins are worth £4 million a year to Scotland\’s tourism economy, a new report has revealed. The firth is home to the world\’s most northerly dolphin population – an estimated 130 bottlenose dolphins known locally as "loupers" or "tumblers". A report, commissioned by the Moray Firth Partnership, has shown that their presence in the firth is worth at least £4m to the local economy and supports more than 200 jobs in the sector through the overnight trips undertaken by tourists to see the dolphins. (Scotsman page 16, Herald page 9) 

Local Government

Vulnerable Young: A pioneering initiative to transform the lives of some of the most vulnerable young pupils in Glasgow is to be protected from the impact of cuts. The leader of Glasgow City Council said the Nurture group scheme – which gives primary pupils with behavioural problems lessons in social skills – will not be scaled back. Glasgow has estimated that it will need to find savings of £115 million over the next two years. (Herald page 2) 

South Lanarkshire: South Lanarkshire Council, which over-estimated the scale of the cuts it faces by £40 million, is facing paralysis over the collapse of relationships at its highest level. The council issued a statement yesterday after a discussion in which members were presented with almost 290 proposals covering efficiencies, income generation, savings and job cuts totalling £118.1m. However, Labour, which rules in a coalition with the Tories and is the largest party in the council, boycotted the meeting and now wants the proposals scrapped. (Herald, page 4) 

Highland Council: Highland Council is spending almost £400,000 a month on agency workers, according to new figures.  The council is also imposing a recruitment freeze, but yesterday it emerged it spent almost £3million on agency staff in the last financial year, around £250,000 a month. In figures obtained by the council’s SNP group, it was also revealed that between April and August this year council officials shelled out £1,940,772 on agency staff – equivalent to £388,154 a month.  The statistics emerged as a report to the council’s resources committee recommends that, in all but exceptional circumstances, the use of these temporary workers should be terminated. (Press and Journal page 11) 

Health

H1N1 Flu Virus: Pregnant women are to be targeted in the annual flu vaccination programme for the first time ever amid fears they are at "greater risk" of a potentially deadly strain of the virus. Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon launched the annual campaign which is aimed at encouraging the elderly and other at-risk groups to get the jabs to protect themselves against the disease. The move was announced along with a warning that swine flu, otherwise known as H1N1, is expected to be the "main circulating virus" this winter. (Scotsman page 10, Herald page 11) 

Nobel Prize in medicine: Professor Robert Edwards, who has helped millions of infertile couples to have children by developing in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), yesterday won the 2010 Nobel Prize in medicine. The scientist has credited his early work at Edinburgh University in the 1950s as laying the groundwork for the breakthrough, which revolutionised fertility treatment. Prof Edwards, 85, devised IVF with Patrick Steptoe, who died in 1988. Their pioneering research at Cambridge University led to the birth of the first "test tube baby" – Louise Brown in 1978. Approximately four million individuals have been born thanks to IVF. (Scotsman page 17, Herald page 10) 

Online Health Concerns: Teenagers are developing symptoms of depression because they are spending so much time on the internet, Scottish doctors have revealed. Psychiatrists say they have also treated some boys who became “housebound” because they did not want to leave the computer. Social networking sites such as Facebook and Bebo, rather than gaming, are said to be causing problems. (Herald page 7, opinion page 14)