Reform Scotland News: 8 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.



News of the World: The News of the World will go to press for the last time this weekend after the Murdoch media empire announced last night that the tabloid was to close amid outrage over the phone-hacking scandal.  Rupert Murdoch’s son James said Britain’s biggest-selling newspaper would cease to exist after Sunday as News International attempted to head off the mounting fury caused by the unethical and illegal behaviour of some of its journalists.  The closure of the newspaper was met with shock by staff at the paper’s Scottish base, who branded the decision “despicable and deranged”.  A list of Scottish public figures whose phones were allegedly hacked by the News of the World has been handed to the police.  The dossier of high-profile Scots was given to Strathclyde police by the lawyer to Tommy Sheridan yesterday.  (The Scotsman page 1-9, The Guardian page 1-10, The Times page 1-10, Daily Mail 1&4-9, Daily Telegraph page 1-5, Sun page 1-5, The Herald page 1, P&J page 5, the Courier page 1, Daily Express page 1, Daily Record page 1, Daily Mirror page 1, FT page 1)


Roy Greenslade in the Guardian (page 1) comments on how the News of the World’s staff became the final victims in a catalogue of misdeeds that the bosses failed to tackle.


Alex Salmond: Today Alex Salmond will step up his efforts to lure disillusioned Liberal Democrats to join the SNP.  The First Minister is expected to claim that many Lib Dems in Scotland no longer recognise their party following its decisions to go into coalition with the Conservatives.  Meanwhile, SNP chiefs have called on Nationalist councillors to court their Lib Dem counterparts in the hope they can be persuaded to defect. (The Scotsman page 1)


The Crown Estate: Alex Salmond has called for the devolution of The Crown Estate in Scotland in the wake of news that profits on the estate were up 9.6% this financial year. Angus MacNeil MP commented that “transferring responsibility would allow Scotland to realise the full economic potential of the country’s foreshores and seabed”. The rise in profits was largely due to the sale of licences for offshore wind farms. (the Herald page 6, P&J page 9, The Scotsman page 16)


Green energy:  A new report has claimed that Scotland’s ambition to be powered entirely by renewable energy will cost billions of pounds.  First Minister Alex Salmond’s plan for wind and waves to provide 100% of the country’s electricity by 2020 has been based on the Pentland Firth, however a report from the Crown Estate who own the firth claim that converting its potential to power will cost £6 billion.  (Daily Mail page 13)


Foreign aid: A new survey by YouGov and the TaxPayers’ Alliance has found that four out of five Scots say Britain should stop giving aid money to wealthy developing nations such as China and India.  While three quarters of respondents think the government should not hand taxpayers’ cash to countries with links to terrorism or terrorists, such as Pakistan.  (Daily Mail page 19)


RAF Leuchars: An announcement on the future of RAF Leuchars has been delayed until Monday because the Commons is too consumed by the phone hacking scandal involving the News of the World. (the Courier page 1)



Scottish Retail Figures: The Scottish High Street has been hit harder than anywhere in the UK due to competition from online stores according to a survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers. The report revealed that seven business units have closed in Scotland every week since the start of the year, with restaurants and fashion stores particularly hard hit. (The Times page 18, Daily Mail page 24&25, Sun page 6, Herald page 5, Daily Express page 10)


Job Vacancies: The number of jobs advertised in Jobcentres in some areas of Scotland has fallen by as much as 30% in one year according to the Office for National Statistics. Dundee was the worst affected with a fall of 30% with Fife close behind at 24%. (The Courier page 11)


Local Government

Wasteful spending: Highland Council has been criticised for authorising £300,000 for the refurbishment of a public toilet in Ullapool. A local man commented, “the refurbishment was neither mandatory nor wholly necessary……..and utterly deplorable given the scarcity of public resources” (P&J page 4)


Dog penalties: Scottish councils are failing to fine dog owners who let their pets foul the street.  Officials who catch dog owners failing to clean up have the legal power to impose a fine of up to £500.  But some Scottish councils are averaging less than one fine a month according to official figures. (The Scotsman page 23, Daily Mail page 20)



Councillor caught in benefits fraud: Inverness Councillor John Holden has admitted to the city sheriff court that he knowingly misrepresented his financial assets and situation when he applied for income support in 2003. (P&J page 4)


Knife crime: Tough policies on tackling knife crime laid down in 2006 are still relevant today according to a new report.  The Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland (IPS) published a report examining how the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service implements the hard line policies introduced five years ago.  The report also highlighted good liaison work between fiscals and police in relation to gang problems in the Glasgow area. (The Scotsman page 24, Daily Mail page 18,Daily Express page 7)


Airport crackdown: Security staff have seized a host of deadly weapons from travellers during a crackdown on illegal goods at Scotland’s five major airports.  The UK Border Agency launched a summer crackdown to help keep banned weapons off the streets of Scotland a few weeks ago after a total of 7,042 offensive weapon crimes were reported in Scotland last year.  (The Scotsman page 11)



Glasgow Ring Road: Neil Greig, director of policy at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, has called for the creation of an ‘inner ring road’ around Glasgow to complement the new M74 extension and ease congestion in the City centre. (Herald page 4


Flying Scotsman: Work to restore the Flying Scotsman steam locomotive has been delayed after cracks were found in the chassis.  The locomotive which was built in 1923, was due to carry out steam tests and commissioning runs later this month before going on display at the National Railway Museum in York in August.  It is now expected to go on display later on this year. (The Scotsman page 23)



Abertay University: Another member of the governing body of Abertay University has stood down.  Bob Doak, a director at WL Gore, resigned from the university court yesterday morning.  The university has been in turmoil since the suspension of the principal Professor Bernard King earlier this year. (The Scotsman page 23)


Rural education: A Highland sheriff has been appointed to lead a review of education in rural areas.  David Sutherland from Tain will chair the group which was set up by the Scottish Government as part of a broad look at education and the application of the law on school closures. (The Scotsman page 15, The Times page 13)



Stem cells: Scientists have made a key breakthrough in their search for treatments of the future – the discovery of a stem cell capable of regenerating blood.  The researchers used a complex process of sorting and sifting millions of blood cells from umbilical cords before isolating a human blood stem cell in its purest form.  It is said the breakthrough had opened the door to harnessing the power of the stem cells –the building blocks of the body – to treat cancer and other debilitating diseases more effectively. (The Scotsman page 14)


Eye tests: Maintaining free eye tests and encouraging a move away from unhealthy lifestyles will help to avert a “sight loss time bomb”.  The Royal National Institute of Blind People gave warning that any withdrawal of universal free eye tests could lead to avoidable sight loss, which in turn would cost Scots millions of pounds in social and welfare costs. (The Scotsman page 21)


Epilepsy drug:  A potentially deadly epilepsy drug is being abused by young people looking for a ‘legal high’, Scottish researchers have revealed.  Phenazpam was developed in the 1970s to treat epilepsy, alcohol withdrawal, insomnia and anxiety, and many people have been buying it over the internet.  Researchers at the University of Dundee said the drug was being used as a substitute for other illegal substances and they have identified nine cases in the UK in which post-mortem blood samples contained traces of the drug.  Many experts fear that it could replace the controversial ‘legal high’ drug mephedrone which has been linked to dozens of deaths across the UK. (Daily Mail page 21)