Reform Scotland News: 26/01/12

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

Independence referendum: The Scottish government yesterday unveiled its proposals for a referendum on Scottish independence to be held in 2014.  The First Minister indicated that the question will state “Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?”   Alex Salmond also indicated his preference to allow 16 and 17 year olds to vote in the ballot and to allow the Electoral Commission to oversee the vote.  The Scottish government said that if the country voted ‘yes’ it envisaged that the elections in 2016 would be the first elections for an independent Scotland. A new poll conducted by the New Statesman and ICD revealed that support for and against independence is now virtually neck and neck. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations said that politicians should “step back” and the people should be given space to consider what they want for the country’s future. (Scotsman page 1, Tom Peterkin in the Scotsman, Matt Qvortup in the Scotsman, Bill Jamieson in the Scotsman, Allan Massie in the Scotsman, Martin Sime in the Scotsman, David Torrance in the Scotsman, Tavish Scott in the Scotsman, Tom Nairn in the Scotsman, Sun page 1, Alex Salmond in the Sun, Guardian page 1, Michael Kettle in the Guardian, The Herald page 1, John Curtice in the Herald, Brian Currie in the Herald, Iain Macwhirter in the Herald, The Times page 1, The Times page 12, The Daily Express page 1, Kerry Gill in the Daily Express, The Daily Mail page 1, The Courier page 1, The Courier page 9,The Press and Journal page 8, The Daily Record page 4, The Daily Telegraph page 1, The Financial Times page 2)

 

Economics

Economic figures: Figures published by the Office for National Statistics yesterday showed that the UK economy had shrunk by 0.2 per cent in the final quarter of 2011. In the wake of these figures Chancellor George Osborne has been urged by the opposition to rethink his austerity measures. (Scotsman page 1, Sun page 2, Guardian page 4, The Courier page 3, The Press and Journal page 12, The Daily Record page 2, The Financial Times page 3, The Daily Mirror page 3)

 

Family finances: Nick Clegg is expected to warn today that families’ finances have reached “boiling point” and will set out the Lib Dem’s demands for the budget, including a call for more to help the working poor. (Guardian page 1, The Daily Telegraph page 1)

 

Scottish budget: The Scottish government’s budget passed its first parliamentary stage yesterday despite opposition from the Greens, Lib Dems and Labour.  The plans include a new £15bn Forth Replacement Crossing, £840m for Glasgow’s Southern General Hospital and proposals to guarantee training or learning opportunities for every 16-19 year old.  However, opponents criticised the Bill for making Scotland less competitive than the rest of the UK due to the inclusion of a supermarket tax, and said that the measures did not do enough to boost job creation. An attack has also been launched by the opposition over the government’s plans to reduce funding for colleges. (Scotsman page 10, Sun page 2, The Times page 17, The Courier page 13, The Press and Journal page 24, The Herald page 4)

 

Insolvencies: The number of people registered as insolvent in Scotland rose by 2 per cent in the third quarter of 2011-12 compared to the same period in 2010-11.  There was also a 5 per cent increase in the number of bankruptcies in the same period. (Scotsman page 17, The Daily Express page 2)

 

Wind farms: Scottish wind farm operators reportedly received more than £14m in the past two years in return for switching off their turbines. This news comes at a time when the UK government has vowed to pursue further legal action in an attempt to cut the price it pays for green energy, hoping to reduce the price it pays for solar-generated power fed into the National Grid from 43p per KWh to 21p.  (Scotsman page 19, The Herald page 6, The Herald page 10, The Press and Journal page 24)

 

Tourism push: A plan to increase tourism in Edinburgh predicts the creation of 1,000 jobs a year by 2020. This forecast hopes to triple the number of hospitality industry jobs in the capital and aims to increase the number of visitors from 3.27 million to 4.39 million over the next eight years. Tourism chiefs also set out plans to tackle homelessness, begging and drunkenness on the streets. (The Herald page 11)

 

Education

Cost of raising a child: According to a study by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, Scottish parents face costs of about £220,000 to raise a child from birth to 2, a 3.3 per cent rise on last year.  The Scottish average figure is higher than that for either England or Wales. (Scotsman page 18)

Local Government

Expansion of A9: Plans for a £200 million dualling of the A9 between Luncarty and Dunkeld’s Jubilee Bridge will go on public display next week. Work is expected to begin in 2017 and has a forecast completion date of 2025. (The Courier page 11)

 

Transport

Coffee cups: A row has reportedly broken out after Scotrail reduced the size of its tea and coffee cups by one-third but only reduced the price by 10p. (Scotsman page 1)

 

Bus price increase: Scottish bus passengers face an increase in prices of 10% following Government funding cuts and rising fuel prices. The change in fares is predicted to result in a decrease in the number of passengers and more unprofitable routes being axed and services reduced. (The Herald page 7)

 

First East criticised: A formal warning by Scotland’s Traffic Commissioner has been issued to bus company First East. The company, which operates over 420 buses in the east of Scotland, has been criticised over mechanical failures which led to one bus catching fire, another losing a wheel and a the steering failing on a third. (The Herald page 10)

 

Criticism of “active” travel budget: Opposition politicians have attacked Financial Secretary John Swinney over his cuts to Scotland “active” transport in an open letter. Labour’s Claudia Beamish, Lib Dem Jim Hume and Green Patrick Harive have accused the government of failing to meet its 2011 manifesto promise to increase spending on low carbon and sustainable travel. (The Herald page 6 )

 

Justice

Alcohol Regulation: The chief constable of Strathclyde police has issued a call for more action to be taken to tackle pubs and clubs serving already drunk customers. His comments come after a woman suffered a serious head injury in a drunken accident. (The Herald page 9 )