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Reform Scotland News: 23 June 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

Anti-sectarianism: Christian groups have called for anti-sectarianism laws to be held back amid fears that the bill is being “rushed” through the Scottish Parliament. The Christian Institute and CARE for Scotland have joined Celtic and Rangers to criticise the Offensive Behaviour Act, which would make singing sectarian songs and chants at football games a criminal offence. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 2, Times page 7, Courier page 6, Daily Telegraph page 6, Daily Express page 1, Daily Mail page 19, Sun page 2)

 

Public-sector pension reform: Finance Secretary John Swinney has condemned UK government plans to claw back a £9bn pension deficit by increasing the contributions made by public sector workers. He urged the Westminster government to reconsider its plans to make better-paid staff put an extra 32 per cent of their earning into their pension schemes. Mr Swinney has also urged trade unions not to take industrial action over the proposed pension reforms while talks are still taking place. (Scotsman page 2, Herald page 6, Courier page 12, Guardian page 1, Daily Mail page 2)

 

ScottishPower: ScottishPower is to be investigated by the energy watchdog over a “potentially misleading” offer made during its latest round of price increases. The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets said it was “very concerned” about the firms claims about how much consumers would save through a special offer made when it increased its charges earlier this month. (Scotsman page 7, Herald page 8, Daily Telegraph Business Supplement page 1, Daily Mail page 12)

 

Neo-fascist outburst: A Labour MP at the centre of a row after reportedly describing the SNP as “neo-fascist” has refused to apologise for his comments. Glasgow South West MP Ian Davidson said criticism of his language was “absurd” after First Minister Alex Salmond and the Labour Party itself called on him to say sorry for his remarks made in a House of Commons debate. (Scotsman page 10, Herald page 6, Courier page 6, Daily Telegraph page 1, Daily Express page 15, Daily Record page 2)

 

Coastguard: MPs have warned Scotland’s coastguards will be less able to deal with rescues unless the Government withdraws plans to leave the country with only one permanently manned station. The controversial proposals, which include plans to stop funding for emergency tugs in the Western Isles and Shetland, were also criticised in a report by the influential Commons Transport Committee as “inviting disaster”. (Herald page 3, Courier page 1)

 

Supreme Court Row: Alex Salmond’s expert group which is examining the role of the UK Supreme Court came under fire last night after MPs were told it does not have time to hear evidence from outside bodies. David Mundell, the Scotland Office Minister, branded the situation “incredible” and “very odd” and suggested that, as a consequence, it could not do a thorough job. (Herald page 6)

 

Crime Figures: Strathclyde Police will today present its governing body with its annual report and crime statistics for 2010/2011. The figures show that crime across the west of Scotland fell by 5 per cent last year, with the number of violent attacks down by almost double that. (Herald page 13)

 

Marine Resources: The Scottish Government has set out its case to end what it describes as the “anachronistic” way marine resources are managed. The SNP Government wants control of the Crown Estate, which manages the seabed, part of the foreshore and some land. Alex Salmond aims to divert funds from the estate to Edinburgh by persuading the UK Government to amend legislation on devolution. Across the UK, the commission’s holdings were worth about £183.5m in 2009-10. (Times page 6)

 

Economy

Oil: The annual Gers report- which set out the country’s balance sheet- has shown that Scotland has been heavily reliant on North Sea Oil in order to balance its books. North Sea Oil revenues halved in 2009-10 compared with the previous bumper year. The UK Government stated that the figures made a “compelling case for Scotland remaining in the United Kingdom” (Scotsman page 1, Times page 1, Courier page 3, Daily Record page 2

 

Local Government

Council merger: Iain Robertson, who recently stepped down as head of West Dunbartonshire Council has said that Scotland’s councils should merge in all but name to address the squeeze in public finances. He commented that there was pressing need for authorities to begin merging core frontline services like education with neighbours. (Herald page 4)

 

Transport

Trams: Edinburgh’s troubled tram project has been thrown into even more doubt after it emerged it will cost at least £700 million to get the scheme up and running- and up to £50m more to scrap it. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Daily Telegraph page 12, Daily Express page 6, Daily Record page 4, Daily Mail page 19)

 

Education

Student Protests: Angry protests broke out yesterday over plans to cut courses at two of Scotland’s largest universities. Demonstrations took place on the campuses of Glasgow and Strathclyde universities as the ruling bodies held meetings over proposed cuts. Glasgow aims to save up to £20m and Strathclyde up to £12m by cutting arts and social science degrees.(Scotsman page 21, Herald page 1, Times page 8)

 

Health

Hospitals: According to a new report, hospitals in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde are the worst maintained in the country. Among the problems identified were damaged floors, door frames, missing light covers, broken tiles and dirty vents. (Herald page 11)