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Reform Scotland News: 27 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-sectarian laws: The Scottish Government has revised its timetable for anti-sectarian legislation and now intends to pass a bill by the end of the year. As justification for this delay, the government cites a need for more time to consider the evidence and views on the proposals. Ministers had wanted the legislation passed in time for the coming football season but First Minister Alex Salmond put the passage of the bill on hold last week, claiming that it was being rushed through Parliament. (BBC News)

 

Sectarianism: Bishop Philip Tartaglia writes in the Sunday Herald that ‘blaming Catholic Schools for sectarianism is like blaming black people for racism’. (Sunday Herald, page 11)

 

Strikes: The UK Government is today to meet with trade union leaders in an effort to halt strike action in the autumn. Union officials expect Danny Alexander to adopt a conciliatory tone, following a recent speech which angered union leaders. The talks have come too late to prevent Thursday’s strike by 750,000 public sector workers over changes to pay and pensions. 30,000 Scottish civil servants are expected to participate in Thursday’s strike. (Scotsman, page 2)

 

Army training base: A plan to build a new army training facility in Scotland is being mooted by Defence chiefs. The project would involve the conversion of RAF Leuchars near St Andrews into a ‘super-barracks’ and the establishment of a new training base nearby. Existing training facilities in Scotland are thought to be either too small or too remote. If approved, the project could supply thousands of jobs in the construction of schools, roads and accommodation for soldiers and their families. (Herald, page 5)

 

Willie Rennie: In a reported split with Unionist colleagues who predict that voters will reject independence, Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie has said that this is a wrong assumption and that Alex Salmond may well win a referendum by taking people “over the edge” before they knew it. Mr Rennie said the independence debate must focus on the financial costs, not issues of process, such as the format of a referendum. (Sunday Herald page 2, Sunday Times, page 5)

 

Economy

Female directors: Figures show that there are only 29 female board directors at Scotland’s 30 largest listed companies, and that 10 of these companies have no female representation at all at board-level. These figures put Scotland below the UK average. (Herald, page 1)

 

Wind technology centre: Spanish wind turbine manufacturer, Gamesa, is to create an offshore wind technology centre at Strathclyde Business Park. The company plans to create up to 180 jobs at the centre over the next 3 years and has revealed ambitions to invest over 150 million euros in the UK by 2014. This potential investment programme includes the possibility of a logistics and manufacturing centre in Dundee, which could add up to 170 jobs. (BBC News)

 

Justice

Supreme Court judge: Lord Rodger of Earlsferry, a Scottish judge of the UK Supreme Court, has died, aged 66, following a short illness.  (BBC News)

 

Young offenders: More than half of all young offenders aged 16 and 17, including some sex offenders and violent criminals, will reportedly not be prosecuted under cost-cutting plans. Guidance issued by the SNP Government to prosecutors and police aims to reduce the number of young adults facing trial. Instead they will be diverted into community payback and support schemes. (Sunday Times page 1, Daily Express page 1)

 

Transport

M74: Transport experts have warned that the £692 million M74 extension in Glasgow may fail to solve the area’s congestion problems and may even generate more traffic as the economy recovers. The road is due to open at 7pm on Tuesday, following its official opening at noon. (Scotsman, page 1, Herald, page 6)

 

Edinburgh trams: The leader of Edinburgh council, Jenny Dawe, has been widely criticized for describing the rising cost of the Edinburgh tram project as ‘a small glitch’. The project originally budgeted for a £545 million line from Edinburgh airport to Newhaven, but figures reveal that it will now cost £750 million to cancel the project or £770 million to run the line from the airport to St Andrew Square. Labour MSP Sarah Boyack has said that the council leader’s comments are evidence of ‘appalling complacency. (Scotsman, page 1)

 

Health

Life-prolonging drugs: The chairman of BMA Scotland, Dr Brian Keighley, has questioned whether society can afford the cost of treatments designed to prolong the lives of terminally-ill patients for weeks or months, given the current pressure on health service budgets. Dr Keighley said in some cases tens of thousands of pounds were spent on drugs to extend cancer patients’ lives for relatively short periods He added that such treatments should be looked at ‘critically’ and that for life-prolonging treatments costing thousands of pounds, ‘useful’ longevity, should be the criterion for decision-making. (Scotland on Sunday)

 

Asthma care: The charity Asthma UK has accused some Scottish health boards of ‘shocking’ complacency in their care of young people with asthma. The charity’s remarks come in response to a survey by Healthcare Improvement Scotland which found  that some health boards had failed to record the number of children admitted to hospital with asthma symptoms and that some boards had no register of local young people with the condition. The research did however suggest an improvement in care over the past three years. (BBC News)