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REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 11 February 2011

Reform Scotland

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 11 February 2011. 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.

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

Planning Power: Think-tank Reform Scotland has called for powers over planning and housing to be devolved to local communities. Reform Scotland said the planning system had failed to meet the needs and wishes of local people and had helped  to push up house prices. Reform Scotland argue that failings of the current over-centralised system were an important factor in the house price boom up to 2009, and decisions would be better made at the most local level, allowing community councils to take over. They said: “Combined with an appropriate system of finance, this would help to achieve the right balance between local economic development and the preservation of the local environment.” The report, Planning Power, said that under "the current system of financing local government, councils found they did not gain sufficient financial benefit from allowing new development to make it worth their while." (Scotsman page 14, Director Geoff Mawdsley writes in Scotsman page 32-33, Herald page 12) 

Jim Devine: The former Labour MP Jim Devine is facing up to seven years in jail after he was found guilty of fiddling his Westminster expenses to falsely claim more than £8,000. Mr Devine, 57, was convicted on the same day that fellow ex-Labour MP Eric Illsley was jailed for a year for a similar offence that involved dishonestly claiming thousands of pounds of taxpayers\\\\\\\’ money.  Mr Devine nodded as a jury at Southwark Crown Court found him guilty of two charges of false accounting that saw the politician concoct fake receipts to claim public money. The jury cleared him of a third charge. (Scotsman page 1, page 6-7, Leader comment page 30, Herald page 1, page 5, Telegraph page 6, Press and Journal page 1, Courier page 10, Daily Express page 6, Sun page 7, Daily Mail page 1, Daily Record page 2) 

National Gallery: After years of protests and arguments over the quality of his work, a self-portrait by Jack Vettriano will become the first work by the painter to go on show in the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh.  The Weight, showing the 59-year-old artist sitting sideways on a bed, deep in thought, is on loan for three years and will take a prominent place at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery when it reopens later this year. Mr Vettriano yesterday welcomed the announcement as a career benchmark, after years of feuding with the galleries over their refusal to include him in the national collection. (Scotsman page 3, Herald page 3, Telegraph page 3, Times page 20)

First Minister’s Questions: Alan Cochrane comments in the Telegraph about the debate between Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray and the First Minister yesterday. (Telegraph page 12) 

Economy

Games firm: Dundee’s computer games industry has been given a major boost after it was announced yesterday that a new company was creating 150 jobs in the city. Douglas and Richard Hare, who established Outplay Entertainment last year to create games for smart phones and social networks, said it made “sound business sense” to establish the firm’s headquarters in the city due to the wealth of talent in the area. The Edinburgh-based pair said part of the attraction was that Abertay University is “extremely pro-active and attuned” to the games industry. They have been given a £2.2million Scottish Enterprise grant to help them establish the business in a deal that First Minister Alex Salmond claimed “restores Scotland’s reputation as a competitive location for games firms”. (Press and Journal page 6) 

Justice

Single police force: Ministers believe a single police force for Scotland could save almost £200 million, despite the fact that police chiefs have criticised the figure. Chief Constable David Strang of Lothian and Borders Police has warned that the projected saving was "dangerous" and would cut police officers "by several thousand". But a new consultation on police forces insists the £197m-a-year saving is achievable, although it says a proportion "might be reinvested in front-line policing".The government document, A Consultation on the Future of Policing in Scotland offers consultees three options on policing: a single force, three or four regional forces or the status quo of eight with greater integration. (Scotsman page 15, Leader comment page 30, Press and Journal page 11) 

Local Government

Council cuts: Thousands of council jobs are to go across the country after local authorities agreed on severe budget cuts for the year ahead. The scale of the spending cuts met with protests in some areas as councillors met to finalise their plans. Compulsory redundancies are feared in many parts of the country, after 22 of Scotland\\\\\\\’s 32 councils signed off packages that will also lead to many services being hit.(Scotsman page 10, Herald page 6, Press and Journal page 8, Courier page 1)