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.
By-election: Labour won the Inverclyde by-election last night with a majority of almost 6,000. However, the SNP put a serious dent in the previous majority of more than 14,000 in the Westminster seat. Victorious candidate Iain McKenzie said, “I think people have responded to Labour’s positive message.” (The Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 1, The Times page 5, Daily Mail page 8, Daily Express page 6, Daily Telegraph page 2)
Strikes: Thousands of public-sector workers across Scotland went on strike to demonstrate their opposition to the UK government’s plans for pension reforms. A spokeswoman for the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), the only body in Scotland to participate officially in the UK-wide action, claimed that 90% of its 30,000 Scottish members came out in support of the action. Doctors have also threatened to close their surgeries in a new wave of strikes after Scottish GPs voted to consider industrial action. (The Scotsman page 12&13, The Herald page 1, P&J page 1, Daily Record page 6)
Nuclear plant: Both reactors at a nuclear power station have been shut down after “high volumes” of jellyfish were found on seawater filter screens. The units at Torness power station near Dunbar in East Lothian remained closed last night after they were switched off on Tuesday. (The Scotsman page 18, The Times page 13, Daily Mail page 21, Daily Express page 12, Daily Telegraph page 9)
RAF bases: David Cameron has reportedly signalled that politics would play a key role in determining which of the two under-threat RAF bases in Scotland would be saved and which would be closed. In a letter to Fife MP Sir Menzies Campbell, the Prime Minister notes that Liam Fox is rightly focused on the defence aspects, and claims that he is impressed with the “remarkable” support that was given by the public. (The Herald page 6, P&J page 1, The Sun page 4)
HSBC: More banking jobs are under threat after HSBC announced a new round of redundancies. This comes after Lloyds Banking Group said on Wednesday it will lose 15,000 staff by 2014 as part of a strategic review, and yesterday HSBC said it will cut 700 roles. The news has left unions “flabbergasted” and has raised fears of further job losses. (The Scotsman page 6, The Herald page 1)
Housing market: Nationwide Building Society has claimed that a housing market recovery is highly unlikely this year, after revealing that Scottish prices have dropped 3.2% since last summer. (The Scotsman page 22)
Criminal lawyers: Almost 90% of criminal lawyers have refused to sign up to a Scottish Government scheme, which aims to provide solicitor cover in police stations, three days before it is due to begin. The Law Society of Scotland, the governing body for solicitors, claimed only 15% are due to take part in the initiative which is due to start on Monday, although the plans have been rejected by both the society and the Glasgow Bar Association. (The Herald page 2)
Trams: Edinburgh Councillors last night decided to carry on with Edinburgh’s troubled trams project despite a shortfall in funding of almost £300 million. A tram line from Edinburgh Airport to St Andrew Square will be pursued over the next few months after calls for a cheaper alternative which would have halted the tram at the Haymarket area were defeated. However, the fate of the project still hangs in the balance because of the Scottish Government’s refusal to grant any more funding to the scheme, which is expected to cost up to £773 million. The Liberal Democrats, the biggest party in the City Chambers, could not find another party to support its plans last night although none of the groups voted to scrap the scheme. Officials have been given two months to produce detailed funding options to get the scheme up and running. (The Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 1, The Times page 5, Daily Express page 6, Daily Record page 1)
Bill Jamieson in the Scotsman (page 5) provides analysis on the SNP victory over Edinburgh’s tram line project.
M74 extension: The Scotsman carried out a test run on whether the £692 million link which runs through the heart of Scotland’s biggest cities has had any impact on the nation’s most congested road. It was found that rush-hour journey times had fallen by more than a third. The findings have been welcomed by motoring organisations, while business leaders have said such a significant time saving shows that the M74 extension has proved value for money. (The Scotsman page 16&17)
University fees: Scottish universities could lose applicants from other parts of the UK if they do not quickly clarify the prices they will charge for non-Scots for courses, the leader of the union representing UK students has warned. NUS president-elect Liam Burns said uncertainty over fees, which may not be ratified until November, could mean students from England, Northern Ireland and Wales being put off coming to Scotland to study, and could means millions of pounds of revenue being lost. However, Universities of Scotland have claimed that the majority of Scottish Universities are unlikely to charge fees of £9,000 a year to students from the rest of the UK. (The Scotsman page 8, The Herald page 4)
Joyce McMillan in The Scotsman (page 29) provides comments that the Scottish Government must stand firm on free university education.
Scottish graduates: New figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency have revealed that more graduates from Scottish universities are likely to get jobs than from other universities in the rest of the UK and they are, on average, high earners. Overall 9% of graduates were assumed to be unemployed after graduating, but for Scottish students the unemployment rate fell to 7%. (The Scotsman page 9, The Herald page 4, P&J page 9)
Alcoholism: The next generation of NHS workers in Scotland are ill-equipped to deal with the country’s alcohol problems. Researchers at Queen Margaret University conducted a report which found that people who are studying to be doctors and nurses are clueless about what advice to give to drinkers. Experts say these findings are a blow to the Scottish Government’s efforts to tackle the country’s booze culture. (The Scotsman page 11)
Stroke patients: Access to clot-busting treatments to stroke patients must be increased across the NHS, doctors have said. Many patients would benefit from thrombolysis, which involves giving drugs shortly after a stroke to break down blood clots in the body. However, it has been found that this type of treatment in some areas is only available weekdays from 9am to 5pm. (The Scotsman page 18)