Reform Scotland News: 25 February 2011

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 25 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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Public Spending: Labour leader Ed Miliband has voiced concerns that cuts to public spending will hit Scots the hardest if left unchecked. Mr Miliband voiced his concerns before a meeting with business leaders on a visit to Glasgow. Addressing the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government\\\’s spending plans, Mr Miliband said: “There is a growing consensus that the Tory cuts are too fast and too deep.” (The Scotsman page 4, The Herald page 7, The Courier page 6, Daily Record page 4) 

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Police Headquarters: Ministers have demanded that plans for a new headquarters be shelved. Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has written to the chairmen on Strathclyde Police asking that public money is not spent on major projects while debate over reducing the number of police forces is ongoing. (Herald page 6) 

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Legal aid: Scottish Labour last night signalled it would seek to vote down legal aid cuts that charities claim will leave psychiatric patients unrepresented at tribunals. Party justice spokesman Richard Baker said he believed planned savings were “seriously flawed” and would not be given a parliamentary rubber stamp. The Scottish Government is currently slashing the legal aid budget by more than 8% – or £13 million – in the next financial year.

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Measures include a proposal to halve travel expenses for solicitors attending civil court hearings, from £50 to £25 an hour.  This cut will have a minimal effect on most law firms, but solicitors who act for psychiatric patients appearing before mental health tribunals expect to be hit by the move. As few as 20 lawyers – most working for just three firms – do this work. Most are based in the central belt and regularly travel to tribunals across Scotland. (Herald page 7)

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Economy

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RBS Shares: The chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland welcomed an early return to operating profitability by the giant lender, which has already hit the £2.5 billion cost savings target set for this year. Stephen Hester said the recovery at RBS is running well ahead of schedule following a year in which it made good progress with efforts to boost returns from its core business and quit riskier areas. (The Scotsman page 4, Herald page 4, Daily Record page 2) 

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Mortgage lending: First time buyers are facing an unprecedented struggle to find mortgages as banks cut their lending in half for those stepping on to the housing ladder. The deposit now required is almost one-quarter of the property’s value compared with 10% required in 2003 and 2008. (Herald page 1) 

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Justice

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Knife crime: New statistics have revealed that murder numbers have increased by 60% from the 2009-2010 periods with 36 out of 55 of these involving knives, in the Strathclyde area.  Cheap alcohol and the rise of house parties are among the factors to be blamed. (Herald page 5) 

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Local Government

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Perth: Perth’s campaign for city status was debated yesterday in Holyrood with party leaders Alex Salmond, Iain Gray, Annabel Goldie and Tavish Scott signing a special charter to say that they were behind Perth’s bid to officially become a city again. (Scotsman page 6, The Courier page 1, Press and Journal page 1) 

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Health

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Nursing Jobs: Nearly 400 newly qualified nurses and midwifes in Scotland have been unable to find employment because health boards are cutting staff to save money. Graduate nurses have been told that under a new ‘internship scheme’ they will find employment but only part-time. (Herald page 12) 

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Mental Health: A report by The Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) has revealed that problems such as stress and depression are costing the Scottish economy more than £10 billion a year. This is largely by keeping the sufferers out of work, putting pressure on the NHS and using police and housing services. (Scotsman page 11) 

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Education

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School Inspections: The number of times that schools across Scotland are inspected is to be slashed from 440 to 290 under a reform up of the current scheme. Inspectors are now to prioritise seeing under-performing schools with a focus on being more constructive. (Herald page 10, Scotsman page 12)