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REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 14 February 2011

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 14 February 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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SNP donation: A major SNP donor has pledged £500,000 to the party\\\’s re-election campaign. Brian Souter said he will match each pound from small donations up to that figure by the end of March as part of an attempt to secure £1 million for the Holyrood election on 5 May. The SNP hopes that Stagecoach co- founder Mr Souter\\\’s money will help it break the million-pound target for a second time. (Herald page 6, Scotsman page 13, Scotsman on Sunday page 1, Daily Express page 10, Daily Telegraph page 11, Times page 3, Courier page 1, Press and Journal page 1) 

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Big Society: David Cameron was accused of "undermining" the work of Scottish charities after the Prime Minister mounted a defence of his government\\\’s flagship Big Society policy idea.  Amid claims that the idea was just "cover" for UK Government spending cuts, Mr Cameron claimed that the initiative to shrink the state and give a greater role to voluntary groups would make society "stronger" causing an angry reaction from the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO). (Scotsman page 10, Herald page 1, Daily Express page 2, Daily Mirror page 6, Daily Telegraph page 4, Times page 16).

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Coastguard: Holyrood is seeking views on whether HM Coastguard services should be devolved from Westminster to Holyrood. The move follows anger about plans to reduce the number of specialist centres from five to two, one of which would be part-time. The new plans would save £7.5 million a year and see up to 250 job losses nationwide by 2014. (Daily Express page 2, Courier page 1)

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Lockerbie: The debate continues between Scottish ministers and the former Labour Government over the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing yesterday amid accusations of “selective amnesia”. Labour ministers have claimed that prominent SNP politicians gave them assurances that Abdelbaset Al Megrahi could be released in return for concessions for Scotland.  These included gaining control over firearms legislation and reducing the bill that the Scottish Government would have to pay to prisoners who had been forced to “slop out” while in jail. (Herald page 6, Daily Express page 8) 

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Jim Devine: The former Livingston MP travelled at the taxpayers’ expense to watch Celtic matches by claiming he was on constituency business and even inventing funerals he had to attend, his former office manager Marion Kinley alleged yesterday. He faces up to seven years in jail when he is sentenced at Southwark Crown Court in London next month.  (Sunday Herald page 6-8) 

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Planning Power:  Brian Monteith comments in The Scotsman on Reform Scotland’s report ‘Planning Power’ and the need for fresh thinking on how we best govern each of our communities. (Brian Monteith writes for the Scotsman page 25) 

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Economy

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Private sector: The Scottish private sector economy returned to "modest growth" in January, a Bank of Scotland report has revealed. The bank\\\’s seasonally-adjusted index, which monitors activity across Scotland\\\’s manufacturing and service industries, showed growth in both areas and a rise in new orders following severe weather in December. (Scotsman page 33, Herald page 26)

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Housing: First-time buyers could benefit from a £16 million package of investment announced by the Scottish Government. The money, first unveiled as part of the budget last week, is aimed at helping people to buy property and to kick-start construction of new housing. (Scotsman page 2)

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Justice

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999 failure: Scotland’s two largest police forces have been ordered to explain and apologise after failing to respond to repeated 999 calls for help from two desperate families under siege. One family was trapped in their takeaway restaurant in Edinburgh for 90 minutes by an angry mob hurling racist abuse and armed with bottles, bats and bricks. MSPs last night expressed alarm at the police failures, with Conservative Justice Spokesman John Lamont saying this was "yet another example of the victims of crime not having their voices heard.” (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 9, Daily Express page 4, Times page 11)
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Closer vetting of potential police recruits is being demanded after it was revealed Scotland’s biggest force has sacked three officers and a civilian member of staff for sharing sensitive information with criminals. Strathclyde’s Deputy Chief Constable, Neil Richardson, has revealed 27 of the region’s 199 known criminal gangs have invested time and money trying to infiltrate the police force. (Herald page 1) 

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Single Police Force: John Grieve, Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team leader claims that lives will be lost on Scotland’s mountains under a single police force covering the whole country. He has raised his concerns following the launch of consultation on the future of Scotland’s police forces. (Herald page 11, Press and Journal page 7) 

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Transport

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Rail service:  Rail passengers will be able to travel from Edinburgh to London in four hours on a revived Flying Scotsman service from May, train operator East Coast has confirmed. The 5.40am express train is being introduced as part of the biggest timetable overhaul on the East Coast Main Line in 20 years and it is hoped it will lure business passengers travelling between the capitals for morning meetings away from air travel. (Herald page 5 

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BAA: The Scottish Government has been accused by opposition politicians of "colluding" with BAA over the introduction of the controversial £1 drop-off charge for motorists at Edinburgh Airport.  Ministers publicly distanced themselves from the "kiss and fly" charge when it was first announced, saying they did not support it and that it was a matter for airport owner BAA.  (Scotsman page 4)

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Local Government

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Recycling: One of Scotland’s largest local authorities has called on the Scottish Government to introduce on-the-stop fines of £60 to residents who do not recycle.  Highland Council wants households who throw out cardboard, newspapers, plastic bottles and glass, and those who contaminate recycling bins with food waste and other items to be fined. (Herald page 11, Press and Journal page 4)

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 Health

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Drinking: New figures show the number of young Scots reprimanded by police for drinking has reached a record high. One in 12 men aged under 21 – about 14,000 – received a fixed penalty or warning letter for antisocial offences linked to alcohol last year.  For women of the same age this figure was around 2,000. (Herald page 12)

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Malaria: Academics in Scotland may have solved the puzzle of why malaria is so deadly. A team of scientists at Edinburgh University found the disease is so dangerous because the parasites which carry it are competitive and battle each other for survival. The disease kills around a million people each year and accounts for one in five of all child mortalities in Africa. (Scotsman page 18, Herald page 9)

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GPs: Scottish health boards spent more than £2.5 million providing out-of-hours GP cover over the festive season, figures reveal. The costs, obtained through Freedom of Information requests, revealed that more than £1.2m was spent on out-of-hours GP provision over the four-day Christmas shutdown from 25-28 December. The following week\\\’s four-day New Year closure cost boards more than £1.3m. (Scotsman page 6)  

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