REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 18 February 2011

Reform Scotland

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 18 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

Wendy Alexander: Former Scottish Labour Party Leader and current Paisley MSP Wendy Alexander has revealed her intention to step down from politics. Her reasons include spending more time with her family and to pursue challenges outside politics. This decision has reportedly left Scottish Labour ‘reeling’ just weeks before the 5th May Holyrood elections. (Herald, page 1, Times, page 1, The Sun, page 10, Times, page 1, Telegraph, page 6, The Daily Express, page 2, Daily Record, page 2, Scotsman, page 1)

 Welfare Reform: Recent Tory welfare reforms designed to make those who work in the minimal wage bracket better off than those on benefits have caused concern for charities. Leaders of both Capability Scotland and Macmillan Cancer Support are worried that the plans will “push disabled people and those who care for them further into poverty.” Shelter Scotland is also worried that the plans will take away the housing security for those who do lose their jobs, essentially those most vulnerable in society. (Herald, page 10, Telegraph, page 1, The Daily Express, page 1)

 Volunteer Action: The young unemployed could be paid for voluntary services from a fund of up to £10 million. The Community Jobs Scotland scheme is to enable access to employment for 16-24 year olds and support their future efforts to find work. (The Telegraph, page 2)

 Economy

Housing Price Rise: Scottish house prices have risen by 4.7% compared to this month last year. This news comes following a period of decline in recent months. (Herald, page 15)

 Justice

Law Council Reform: A group of lawyers headed by former Glasgow Bar Association president John McGovern are planning to ‘end the grip that the Law Society Council has on the profession.’ The group of solicitors have been unhappy with the way that the council has been run for some time and would like to change the compulsory membership to the council for all Scottish lawyers. (Herald, page 1)

 Transport

Air Tax Rise: A rise in air tax means that the number of air routes connecting Scotland to the rest of the world will continue to decline during the next three years. A report conducted by BAA found that the tax rises mean around 1.2 million passengers will be lost costing Scotland up to £77 million in lost revenue by 2014. (Herald, page 14, Times, page 8, Telegraph, page 2, The Daily Express, page 10, Scotsman, page 2.)

 Health

Health Service Reform: Senior health service staff are calling for changes within hospital services. A report was sent to Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon requesting a review of the effort to cut waiting times and the axing of some departments and centralising of others, including head injury care and organ transplant. (Herald, page 1)

 Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for ME Sufferers: A new study, conducted at The University of Edinburgh, has revealed a way to help sufferers of Myalgic Encephalopathy (ME) and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), which affects around 250,000 people in the UK. The study found that the psychological methods of cognitive behavioural therapy and graded exercise contributed the most effective results. (Herald, page 9, Times, page 23, The Guardian, page 5, Times, page 17)

 Education

Glasgow University Cuts: The Astronomer Royal for Scotland has joined others in his attack on proposed cuts at Glasgow University. In an effort to save £20 million there have been proposed cuts in the departments of nursing, modern languages and social work. (Herald, page 13)

 Scotland ahead in Science and Maths: Scotland is ahead of Britain in the number of students taking science and maths subjects. 50% of the age group take Highers or Advanced Highers in science or maths, whereas in England only 28% take A-levels in the subjects.  (Times Educational Supplement, page 3)