0131 524 9500 | info@reformscotland.com

REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 9 NOVEMBER 2010

Reform Scotland

\r\n

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 9 November 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

George Galloway: George Galloway is set for a dramatic return to Scottish politics after he said it was "pretty certain" he would stand for election as a MSP at next year\’s Holyrood elections. Mr Galloway said he would run on a platform of "Galloway 4 Glasgow" and was likely to set up an office in the city in the New Year as well as having a home there in the run-up to next year\’s poll. Mr Galloway, who was a Glasgow MP from 1987-2005, said that his Holyrood campaign was his next "big project" and that it was his "return" to Scotland. (Scotsman page 17) 

\r\n

Scottish Water: The leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats demanded last night that ministers answer allegations that the centre-piece of Alex Salmond’s legislative programme has been found to be illegal. Tavish Scott called for the SNP administration to come clean over why Alex Ferguson, Holyrood’s presiding officer, has not approved the Scottish Water Bill, which proposes a massive expansion of the utility’s role. Senior sources confirmed that the legislation was submitted to parliament but was withdrawn before Mr Ferguson could grant it a certificate confirming it was within the parliament’s powers. (Telegraph page 1) 

\r\n

Economy

\r\n

Tourism: VisitScotland is to launch a drive to promote sustainable tourism in Scotland to cash in on the increased demand from holidaymakers for environmentally friendly tourism businesses and products. The organisation is drawing up a sustainability report which it will use to help independent Scottish business – as well as tying in to its own internal strategy. The document is likely to include targets to reduce Visit-Scotland\’s own energy consumption by at least 10 per cent. It will also host workshops around the country to promote cottage industries and traditional crafts and help enterprises to use their environmental credentials to boost business. (Scotsman page 24) 

\r\n

Housing benefits: Families in Scotland could lose up to £1600 a year in housing benefit because of changes ordered by the Tory-LibDem coalition, official figures show. The decision to introduce a cap on the allowance will affect tens of thousands of households across Scotland, with the biggest losses seen in East Lothian, followed by Edinburgh and Glasgow.  Housing charities warn the move could make it difficult for those on low incomes to continue living in many areas and lead to increased rates of homelessness. The list of those hardest hit would include pensioners, those with disabilities and carers, they warn. (Herald page 6) 

\r\n

Construction industry: The construction industry in the north and north-east was dealt a triple blow yesterday as one firm went into administration, another ceased trading and a third warned of redundancies. Up to 700 jobs could go at building services firm Rok after it called in administrators – leaving a huge question mark over 370 posts in the Highlands, 90 in Dundee and another 30 at Elgin. The news broke just hours after Scotia Homes – which has bases in Aberdeenshire and Angus – revealed plans to cut its workforce. (Press and Journal page 1) 

\r\n

Justice

\r\n

Sheridan trial: A prosecution witness against Tommy Sheridan has spent £200,000 he received from a Sunday newspaper, but denied his evidence had been bought. George McNeilage, 46, alleged he secretly filmed Sheridan discussing "the biggest mistake of my life", and rejected accusations by the former MSP that the tape was a fake. He conceded some footage had been deleted, but laughed off suggestions an actor had departed from the script or that co-conspirators had come into view. "Fantasy land, Tommy … the tape is bona fide and you know that," Mr McNeilage said. (Scotsman page 13, Herald page 6, Times page 20, Press and Journal page 11, Courier page 8, Daily Express page 11) 

\r\n

Transport

\r\n

Borders rail line: Fears were raised last night that the cost of one the biggest construction projects in Scotland could rise after an American rail company pulled out of the race for the contract. There is little prospect of a replacement being found, which would leave just two groups competing in the contest compared to five who lodged initial bids. Labour described the news as "doubly worrying" as it could push the price up and because only a few firms had sufficient expertise for such a unique rail project. The winner will have to build and maintain the 30-mile line between Edinburgh and Tweedbank, just south of Galashiels, separate from the rest of the British rail network. This means it would not benefit from the equipment and expertise of Network Rail, which runs the rest of the network. (Scotsman page 1) 

\r\n

Traffic wardens: Christmas shoppers in Glasgow could be confronted with gridlock in the run-up to the festive period as traffic wardens consider strike action in a row over pay deals. Scores of wardens, as well as municipal car park staff and those who remove obstructing vehicles, are discussing a wave of industrial action over the imposition of a pay award of 0.65%. The workers are employed by City Parking, an arms-length firm set up by the local authority in Glasgow three years ago. Both the city council and union leaders admit that any strike in the run-up to the festive period could create a nightmare for motorists, sparking a free-for-all and generating congestion as vehicles blocking streets and lane ways are not removed. (Herald page 7) 

\r\n

Health

\r\n

 C-diff: Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has welcomed a “dramatic” reduction in rates of a dangerous superbug in the north-east. NHS Grampian has been commended for almost cutting in half its number of Clostridium difficile cases in the wake of high-profile outbreaks last year. Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (ARI) and the city’s Woodend Hospital were said last year to be among the worst in Scotland at tackling the infections, while two people died in an outbreak at Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin. New figures reveal the number of cases of C.diff among over-65s in the north-east fell from 1.97 per 1,000 hospital beds in December 2008 to 0.99 per 1,000 in March this year. (Press and Journal page 12) 

\r\n

Education

\r\n

Education Conference: Scottish state schools should be removed from council control and funded directly by the Scottish Government, a leading educationalist will argue today. Keir Bloomer, an independent educational consultant, believes the current system, in which power lies with 32 local authorities, is outdated and does not allow individual schools to adapt to local needs. Mr Bloomer will also argue that schools should be given greater freedom from national state-funded educational bodies such as Learning and Teaching Scotland, which supplies curriculum materials, or the Scottish Qualifications Authority, which sets and marks exams. His comments, which will be explored at a major Edinburgh conference today on the running of schools, will reignite the debate over how Scottish state schools are run. (Herald page 1, Times page 11)