Reform Scotland News: 27 October 2010

Reform Scotland

\r\n

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 27 October 2010

\r\n

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.

\r\n

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

\r\n

Politics

\r\n

Energy Policy: Scotland’s renewable energy aspirations have been dealt a serious blow after the parent company of the country’s largest wind turbine manufacturer filed for insolvency. The Danish parent-company of the Skykon factory on the Mull of Kintyre has warned of its cash-strapped situation. (Scotsman page 9 & Daily Express page 11). The Herald points to the economic consequences of the company’s woes, suggesting more than 100 rural jobs are at risk as a result of the cash flow problems. (Herald page 6). Underlining the problems facing wind turbine manufacturers, Vestas, which is also Danish owned, also announced yesterday it was cutting 3,000 of its 24,000 jobs worldwide, citing cost pressures and a drop in demand. (Times page 3)

\r\n

Airbase: First Minister Alex Salmond has warned the UK Government that he will not let it “escape its responsibility” to Scottish communities facing the loss of RAF jobs. He further promised to write to Liam Fox, the Defence Secretary, urging that Moray keeps its one remaining RAF base. (Scotsman page 9 & Herald page 6 & Press and Journal page 8)

\r\n

Lockerbie Bomber: Campaigners yesterday handed a petition to MSPs demanding an independent inquiry into the conviction of Lockerbie bomber Mr Al-Megrahi. The 1,500 people who have signed the petition believe that Mr Al-Megrahi was the victim of a miscarriage of justice and is not guilty based on the evidence led by prosecutors. (Scotsman page 11). The Leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, has lent his support to the campaign. (Herald page 6)

\r\n

Holyrood Ballot Counting: The votes for next May’s Scottish Parliament elections will be counted by hand after than more than 140,000 ballot papers were spoiled in the 2007 election when electronic counting was used. The shake-up in election rules will also see a return to two separate ballot papers for regional list and constituency contests. (Scotsman page 10 & Herald page 6)

\r\n

Economy

\r\n

Overdraft Charges: RBS has announced an overhaul of its fees for unauthorised overdrafts. The group is replacing its range of charges for current account holders who go into the red with a £6.00 daily fee for people who exceed their agreed overdraft limit by £6.00, or become overdrawn without permission. It will no longer charge interest on unauthorised borrowing, but customers will be hit with the £6 fee for every item that cannot be paid, up to a maximum of £60 a month. Campaigners and politicians have rallied against the changes, claiming that raising overdraft charges in this way hits the poorest hardest. (Herald page 4)

\r\n

Tax Credit: Official figures show that changes to the child tax credit and working tax credit will leave nearly 400,000 households with £400 less to spend a year on average. (Daily Record page 5)

\r\n

Justice

\r\n

Supreme Court Appeals: Almost 3,500 convicted criminals plan to appeal their conviction after a Supreme Court judgement triggered changes to Scottish law. The emergency legislation will double the maximum time a suspect can be held without charge in response to the UK’s highest court ruling over the rights of suspects to legal representation. (Scotsman page 1 & Scottish Daily Mail). Meanwhile, Lord Carloway has been asked to carry out a broader review of Scots Law, covering areas such as the importance of corroboration in securing a conviction, which could lead to more legislation going through in 2011/12. (Scotsman page 4 & Herald page 5 & Daily Telegraph page 1 & Times page 13 & Press and Journal page 6)

\r\n

Transport 

\r\n

Rail fares hike: Rail commuters already facing increased annual fares from January 2012 are also expected to face a 5.8% rise in season ticket prices and 10% in other regulated fares in January 2011. (Scotsman page 17)

\r\n

Edinburgh Trams: Edinburgh City Council-owned tram developers Tie admitted yesterday that just 25% of the line construction is complete. Although one third of the off-street section between Edinburgh Airport and Haymarket is finished, just 10% of the rest of the route to Newhaven is ready. The dispute between Tie and the construction consortium, led by German firm Bilfinger Berger, centres on design changes and who pays for them, leaving substantial parts of the construction work deadlocked. (Scotsman page 18-19)

\r\n

Local Government

\r\n

Service Sharing: An overhaul of local government to bolster the west of Scotland against an unprecedented squeeze on the public purse has identified savings of up to £70 million over 5 years. The proposal would involve eight Scottish councils in the Clyde Valley operating services across borders. (Herald page 7)

\r\n

Health

\r\n

Swine Flu: The study commissioned by the UIK Government’s former chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson found that a fifth of children who died of Swine Flu last winter were previously healthy, and therefore suggested vaccinations for all children would be a wise step to avoid this repeating itself this coming winter. (Scotsman page 6 & Times page 15)

\r\n

Dentist Pay: Senior principal dentists in Scotland are earning an average of almost £119,000 a year excluding expenses, according to official figures taken from the NHS Information Centre. Associate dentists, working under principal dentists, earn an average £67,100 per year. These figures come just after figures released in The Scotsman suggested over 40 dentists earn more than £250,000 a year from the NHS alone, excluding expenses. (Scotsman page 11)

\r\n

Garioch Life Centre: Plans for a £11million health centre to replace a busy medical practice in Inverurie have been shelved by NHS Grampian. The centre was planned to incorporate an NHS dental unit and a range of services, including social work, educational psychologists and the voluntary sector, as well as retail units, a gymnasium, hydrotherapy pool and tennis courts. The reason given behind the cancellation was the infeasibility of the project given the current economic climate. (Scotsman page 12)

\r\n

Cancer Warning: Serious cancers involving those affecting the skin and liver are increasing in Scotland, particularly in women, official figures show. Although deaths from cancer are falling, official statistics show that the incidence of serious skin cancer has shot up by two thirds whilst liver cancer in men is up over 50%. Overall cancer rates in women are also increasing. (Scotsman page 14-15). The report suggests that the fall in death rates is largely due to better screening and care. (Daily Express page 6 & Daily Record page 2). The report also points to lifestyle choices, or so-called ladette behaviour, as driving up the risk of women developing the diseases, whilst rates for men are falling. (Herald page 1-2 & Daily Telegraph page 12).

\r\n

Education

\r\n

Glasgow – Ivy League: Glasgow University has forged a formal link with the Ivy League University of Columbia, the first of its kind in Scotland. As part of the agreement, Columbia will work with Glasgow initially on medical research projects, including cardiovascular disease and genetics, but it is hoped collaboration will expand to other areas. (Scotsman page 10)

\r\n

Education cuts: A primary school near Education Secretary Michael Russell’s home faces closure, 12 years after he fought to save it. Kilmodan Primary in Argyll and Bute is earmarked for the axe next summer in a council shake up of schools. The local authority claims the closure of 26 schools in the area will save £15million by 2014, and point to the very low numbers of pupils at the targeted schools. (Scotsman page 23). The closures would represent one third of the primary schools in the district. (Herald page 12)