0131 524 9500 | info@reformscotland.com

REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 03 March 2011

Reform Scotland

\r\n

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 3 March 2011

\r\n

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. 

\r\n

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

\r\n

Politics

\r\n

Fuel price rise: Holyrood yesterday called on Downing Street to abandon plans for a fuel duty hike which could see prices increase by 4p a litre. Conservative and Liberal Democrat MSPs supported a motion demanding that their own party colleagues in the coalition at Westminster shelve the proposals indefinitely. The motion also included a call for a regulator to be introduced by the UK Government which would ease the impact of future rises in remote rural areas. A petition of over 130,000 signatures opposing the increase from the Fair Fuel UK campaign has been handed to Downing Street. (Scotsman page 2, Herald page 10, Press and Journal page 7, Courier page 1, Times page 2) 

\r\n

In a related story, a new report has shown that volatility in the price of oil caused by the political upheaval in the Middle East is threatening to damage Scotland’s economic recovery. A report by the Fraser of Allander Institute claimed that high fuel costs combined with weak bank lending could seriously damage the Scottish economy. The report also states that if the upheavals were to spread to Saudi Arabia, the implications for the world economy would be “enormous”. Fuel prices hit a record high yesterday, with average petrol prices passing 130p-a litre for the first time. Rural areas have been particularly hard hit, with diesel at £1.63 on Colonsay. (Herald page 1, Times page 3) 

\r\n

Economy

\r\n

Economic outlook: Consumer spending in Scotland is likely to remain low this year, a leading economic think tank has warned. The report by the Fraser of Allander Institute shows that low consumer confidence, shaken by inflation, public sector cuts and the VAT rise, has led to Scots saving £2.3 billion more than they normally would have done. The report predicts a difficult year for the Scottish economy and suggests that GDP will remain lower in Scotland than in the rest of the UK, and that unemployment will rise. (Scotsman page 14) 

\r\n

Nuclear plant closure: A £2.2 million scheme has been launched to help the north of Scotland cope with the economic losses associated with the closure of the Dounreay nuclear plant. The programme will assist the 2,000 workers who will lose their jobs and support the local economy which has been sustained by the plant for more than 50 years. (Herald page 8) 

\r\n

Local Government

\r\n

Edinburgh trams project: Edinburgh council could be forced to pay back the £500million grant it was given to fund the trams project. MSPs were told yesterday by a senior Transport Scotland Executive that, under the terms of the grant, the Scottish Government could demand the return of the grant money if the scheme was not completed. Although £386 million has already been spent on the project, the funding to complete it has still not been secured. Edinburgh City Council will be responsible for any overspend on the £500 million budget. (Herald page 6, Press and Journal page 6) 

\r\n

Voluntary sector grants: Angus council is to provide £7,000 in grant money to be shared between eight voluntary groups, it was announced yesterday. The council has agreed to set aside £100,000 for the community grant fund in its 2011-12 budget. (Press and Journal page 3) 

\r\n

Health

\r\n

Prescription charges: MSPs yesterday voted in favour of a plan to remove the £3 prescription charge across Scotland. Although Tory MSP Mary Scanlon put forward a motion to keep the charges, Holyrood’s health committee came out in favour of the plan, which was a key SNP pledge in the 2007 election. The legislation is to come into force next month. (Scotsman page 13, Herald page 2, Press and Journal page 7)

\r\n

 GP reforms: GPs should be given more say in the care their patients receive, the British Medical Association Scotland conference will hear. Bridge of Don GP David Bell, who will be addressing the conference next week, will argue for a commissioning role for GPs, allowing them to shape the treatment that patients receive outside their practices. However, Dr Bell has said that he does not support proposals under consideration for England for GPs to be given control of budgets, arguing that such reforms could lead to a market –driven system with private companies cashing in on the NHS. (Scotsman page 13) 

\r\n

GP pay rise: North East GPs are campaigning for a 25% pay rise to bring their earnings in line with colleagues south of the border. The GPs are hoping to push up the average salary from £80,000 to £105,000, claiming that their jobs are becoming more complicated. The campaign is facing opposition from patients’ groups, who last night branded the move “obscene” after new figures revealed that wage increases in other sectors averaged only 2.8% in recent months. (Press and Journal page 1) 

\r\n

Education

\r\n

Children’s report: Scotland’s children need to be rescued from a “cycle of poor parenting”, a former minister has warned in a new report. In a study for the Scottish Government commissioned by Education Secretary Michael Russell, former Labour health minister Susan Deacon highlights a raft of social problems affecting Scottish children, and shows that many live in families in which “parenting practice has fundamentally broken down”. The report calls for the public, private and voluntary sectors to work together to create a new generation of children and family centres. (Scotsman page 1) 

\r\n

University cuts: Up to 50 jobs are under threat at Glasgow Caledonian University. The job losses are likely to include 13 redundancies at the Caledonian Environmental Centre, which specialises in recycling and sustainability and is facing a deficit of £106,000. The cuts emerged on the day that campus trade unions held a rally to highlight high salary levels among senior managers at the institution. (Herald page 7) 

\r\n

Arbroath primary school: Parents will be formally consulted about plans to build a new £8 million primary school in Arbroath at a public meeting next Tuesday. The school will be a 500-pupil facility, and the council hopes that it will begin to accept pupils in 2013. (Press and Journal page 3)