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Reform Scotland News: 6 July 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

Public Sector Pay: The gap between public sector and private sector wages across the UK has grown over the past three years.  Average hourly pay in the public sector was 7.8% higher than in the private sector last year for similar jobs according to the Office for National Statistics. (Telegraph page 1, Sun page 2, Guardian page 27, Express page 2, The Scottish Daily Mail page 2)

 

Hacking scandal: Further developments were recorded in reference to the News of the world phone hacking scandal, (Sun page 6, Times page 1, Guardian page 1, Simon Jenkins in the Guardian, Express page 4, P&J page 5, The Courier page 13, Scottish Daily Mail page 1&7, Herald page 1)

 

GM Crops: MEPs have supported a move which would allow Scotland to curb or ban the cultivation of genetically modified crop varieties in this country (P&J page 1&20)

 

Holyrood Spin Bill rises: Official figures show that SNP ministers now employ 11 special advisors at a cost of £822,000. That bill has risen £120,000 in 12 months. A Scottish Labour spokesman remarked that “the myth that Alex Salmond would cut the costs of central government has been blown to pieces by these figures” (P&J page 9, Herald page 6)

 

Scotland Bill: MSPs have called for input from civic Scotland and the business world regarding the bill on extended Holyrood powers currently passing through Westminster. The deadline for submissions is September 9th. (P&J page 9)

 

Holyrood Garden Party: The Queen yesterday attended the annual garden party in the grounds of Holyrood, attended by people from across Scotland. (Scotsman page 2, P&J page 9, the Courier page 6, Daily Mail page 23, Herald page 2)

 

Speaker of the House: Rob Wilson in the Telegraph comments on John Bercow, the Speaker in the House of Commons.

 

Economy

Tax Breaks for Oil and Gas: Following Chancellor George Osborne’s £10 billion tax grab in the budget, the Treasury has now granted £50 billion worth of concessions by expanding the Ring Fence Expenditure Supplement (RFES); designed to help producers in marginal fields; from 6% to 10% (Scotsman page 2, P&J Business page 16, Herald page 6)

 

Grangemouth oil leak: INEOS Manufacturing Scotland Ltd, the operator of the Grangemouth plant, was fined £100,000 after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety act following the failure of an oil pipeline on site. (Scotsman page 11, The Herald, P&J page 10, the Courier page 9)

 

Fuel price rises: A study by uSwitch.com revealed that 6.3 million households in the UK are now defined as in fuel poverty; meaning they spend 10% or more of their income on fuel bills; as a result of recent price hikes by operators. Single parents and pensioners were hardest hit. (Scotsman page 16, Daily Mail page 17)

Local Government

Forres residents win land battle: The Moray town of Forres has successfully blocked council plans to sell the ‘Common Good Land’, home to one of the Highland league’s oldest football teams, for a reported £25 million retail development (Scotsman page 14, P&J page 6)

 

Western Isles Council ‘fudging’ figures: Accusations have been launched relating to the practice of not counting redundancies made through internal department restructuring as compulsory severance. The council have responded that this is common practice. (P&J page 3)

 

Highland Council turns off streetlights: From mid July, Lochaber will be dimming or turning off every second street light in an attempt to cut costs. Areas affected include Strontian, Banavie, Kinlochleven and Fort William. Council Secretary Patricia Jordan commented that it was a reflection of what was going on in people’s homes across the country. (P&J page 4)

 

Transport

Edinburgh Trams: Councillor Gordon Mackenzie, who is responsible for transport on City of Edinburgh Council, has revealed that he is considering private money from foreign firms as a possible “funding avenue” to make up the £228 million shortfall in the funding for the project. The project which is already 200 million over budget and 3 years behind would then be rented back by the council. (Scotsman page 7)

 

Crumbling Infrastructure: According to Auditor General Robert Black the Scottish government faces a backlog of repair work totalling at least £4 billion to maintain basic projects including roads and schools, despite the budget doubling since devolution. (Scottish Daily Mail page 1)

 

Education

University fees: Universities Scotland has rejected claims that proposals to charge students from the rest of the UK up to £36,000 for a degree were anti-English.  Meanwhile, the student Association at St. Andrews has described the move to charge English students as ‘Regressive’. Professor Noreen Burrows, the Jean Monnet Professor of European Law at the University of Glasgow questioned the legality of charging English students up to £9,000 a year for tuition when it is free for Scottish students. (Telegraph page 6, Times page 6, the Courier page 3)