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REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 14 JANUARY 2011

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 14 January 2011

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All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions. Where there is a link to a newspaper’s website, the relevant page reference is highlighted and underlined.

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

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Politics

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Gail Sheridan: Gail Sheridan is to stand for election as an MSP when Scotland goes to the polls in May. The wife of Tommy Sheridan is planning to run as a candidate for Solidarity. A formal announcement of her place at the top of Solidarity’s Glasgow list is not planned until after her husband is sentenced later this month. Mrs Sheridan has agreed to put herself forward in the hope of rekindling the fortunes of the party, which broke away from the Scottish Socialists during the division over her husband’s private life. A friend of the couple said last night: “Gail has said she has been overwhelmed by the support she has received since the trial and the pressure on her to stand.” (Herald page 1) 

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Donation to Scottish Conservatives: Tom Coakley, a property and energy tycoon, has promised to donate £1 million to the Scottish Tories. Mr Coakley, a self-made millionaire, will donate the amount over the course of 10 years. His decision to hand over the sum was agreed earlier this week after a series of meetings with Scottish Party Chairman Andrew Fulton. The £1m, which is a personal donation, will be handed over in monthly instalments. (Herald page 6, Telegraph page 11, Times page 13, Daily Mail page 18, Daily Express page 2) 

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Iain Gray: Alan Cochrane comments in The Telegraph that Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray must pull out all the stops to convince the electorate that he is the man to oust the SNP from power. (Telegraph page 13, Daily Record page 6) 

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Economy

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Amazon: Amazon is to create almost 1,000 permanent jobs in Scotland dealing with online orders from across the globe in a highly ambitious investment package worth more than £60 million in Dunfermline.  A further 1,500 temporary jobs could also be created at the site during peak periods such as the run-up to Christmas, when the internet sales outfit is inundated with online orders for products. (Scotsman page 6, Herald page 4, Telegraph page 16, Guardian page 38, Press and Journal page 4, Courier page 1, Daily Record page 4, Daily Mail page 21, Daily Express page 6) 

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Green bank: The UK’s new Green Investment bank could be based in Edinburgh, Energy Secretary Chris Huhne has told MSPs. He said the city had a very special advantage because its financial institutions had a strong track record of lending to renewable energy companies. But Mr Huhne warned Holyrood’s Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee that Edinburgh faced stiff competition from other financial centres. The bank, announced by the UK Government last year, is being set up with £1 billion of public money to channel private sector funding, which it will raise in a similar way to regular banks, into low carbon businesses. (Herald page 6) 

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Transport

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ScotRail: Scotrail operator FirstGroup took a £7 million hit due to December’s weather, taking a chunk out of its unexpectedly strong growth. The Aberdeen-based transport company, which operates buses in cities including Glasgow and train routes such as the Great Western franchise to London, did not specify which areas of the business were worst affected. Despite the weather, FirstGroup produced rail passenger revenue growth of 5.2% during its third quarter from October 1 to December 31.This allowed it to maintain its profit expectations for the year. (Herald page 30)

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Justice

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Police numbers: Alex Salmond has pledged that police numbers will be maintained over the next four years, promising to keep the extra 1,000 police officers who have been recruited since 2007 over the next parliamentary term. The First Minister made the pledge after he was tackled on law and order by Annabel Goldie at First Minister\’s Questions yesterday. (Scotsman page 15, Eddie Barnes page 15, page 32, Herald page 7) 

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Local Government

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Inverclyde Council: A cull in teaching numbers could be accelerated, schools and libraries closed in the next financial year and domestic waste collections reduced to shore up budget shortfalls resulting from a failed savings scheme at Inverclyde Council. Following revelations four officials were suspended from Inverclyde Council after the fiasco of the £1.9 million savings plan, councillors have said that they expect cuts planned for down the line to be brought forward in the next financial year. These could also include axing community wardens and removing free swimming, with further job losses inevitable. Sources claim these will include more senior managers being made redundant. Meanwhile, more questions are being asked as to the role of Chief Executive John Mundell, who chaired the Future Operating Model (FOM) meetings and commissioned a progress report several months ago. (Herald page 10) 

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Health

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Flu: Seventeen people in Scotland have died from flu in the past week, the biggest weekly toll since reporting of deaths from the virus began. Fatalities from flu so far this winter now stand at 27, almost tripling in a week, with the vast majority linked to the swine flu strain that caused the 2009-10 pandemic. The Scottish Government yesterday said rates of illness and deaths caused by flu were "in line with what we would expect" and urged caution on comparisons with rates during the pandemic. (Scotsman page 8, Herald page 2, Telegraph page 2, Press and Journal page 1, Daily Record page 2, Daily Mail page 1, Daily Express page 1) 

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Education

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Scottish Teachers’ review: In a wide-ranging review, former Chief Inspector of Education Graham Donaldson revealed to parents for the first time that their children were being taught by people without a proper grasp of their subjects. He condemned a culture in schools that "undermines the need to have a sound understanding of what is being taught". He wrote: "There must remain real doubt about how far the current approach fully satisfies children\’s right to be taught by someone who is fully in command of their subject matter." Mr Donaldson also said a significant number of teachers were being trained for the profession, despite lacking the "fundamental attributes" needed to take charge of a classroom. (Scotsman page 1, page 4, analysis page 5, Herald page 10, Telegraph page 8, Times page 13, Press and Journal page 12, Courier page 7, Sun page 2, TESS page 1) 

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School closures: Education Secretary Michael Russell has come under renewed pressure to apologise for his involvement in a row over school closures, after the Scottish Government lost a vote in parliament on the issue. The South of Scotland MSP has accused political opponents of attempting to smear him and insisted he was right to meet parents and councillors in Argyll and Bute, where he is standing for election in May. The local council has shelved consultation on the possible closure of up to 25 primary schools in the area. Opposition MSPs yesterday passed a motion calling on him to apologise for his role in the row. (Scotsman page 5, Herald page 6, Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph page 14) 

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EU students: Education secretary Mike Russell has warned that Scottish universities could be seen as a "cheap option" for foreign students, after new figures revealed an increase in the numbers coming to study here at Scottish taxpayers’ expense. The number of European Union students in Scotland shot up by 17 per cent last year, taking the number of European students enjoying Scotland\’s system of free education to double what it was ten years ago. By contrast, the number of EU students studying in England rose last year by only 6 per cent. Mr Russell last night said the cost for the Scottish taxpayer was now "simply untenable", as he vowed to step up moves in Brussels to put the cost of studying back on to the EU students themselves. (Scotsman page 13, Herald page 4, Telegraph page 2, Press and Journal page 6, Daily Mail page 4, Daily Express page 10, Sun page 2)

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