Reform Scotland News: 22 February 2012


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. 



Michael Gove: Michael Gove, the UK government’s education secretary who was raised in Aberdeen, has urged Tories to stop complaining about Scotland warning that grudges over the West Lothian Question and funding were helping to promote separatism. (Scotsman page 1, Sun page 2, Record page 8, Herald page 8, Press and Journal page 15, Courier page 13, Daily Mail page 18)


SNP budget: Former adviser to the Scottish Parliament’s finance committee, Arthur Midwinter, has attacked the Scottish government’s budget report as “financial spin” and accused the SNP of using its majority to prevent proper scrutiny. (Scotsman page 6, Arthur Midwinter in the Scotsman)


Rupert Murdoch: News International boss Rupert Murdoch has hinted that he supports independence after tweeting “Let Scotland go and compete. Everyone would win” (Scotsman page 7, Brian Wilson in the Scotsman, Record page 8, Herald page 3, Times 16, Daily Telegraph page 6, Courier page 18)


Devo-max: Eddie Barnes in the Scotsman talks about devo-max.


Oil: Alex Neil in the Scotsman argues that rules from Westminster prevent the Scottish government setting up an oil fund.


Selling water: Alan Taylor in the Herald argues against selling water to our southern neighbours amidst warnings of droughts this summer during the Olympics.



Government surplus: According to official statistics the UK government took in more money than it spent last month, leaving it with the highest monthly surplus for four years.  The figures also indicated that the UK has borrowed £93.5bn so far this tax year, down from £109.14bn in 2010/11. (Scotsman page 10, Michael McCusker in the Scotsman, Sun page 2, Guardian page 23)


Rangers: Further coverage of the crisis at Rangers FC.  Chairman Craig Whyte has admitted that money from Ticketus, the company that paid for the rights to sell three years’ worth of season tickets, was used to “complete the takeover”. (Scotsman page 1, Sun page 1, Record page 1, Herald page 1, Times page 1, Daily Express page 9)


Energy prices: Energy company SSE has cut down its complex pricing range from 68 to four claiming it will help protect customers from numerous “bamboozling” consumer offers. (Scotsman page 15, Herald page 2, Press and Journal page 18)


Tax: David Laws in the Guardian argues in favour of speeding up plans to make the first £10,000 of each person’s income tax free.


Tesco U-turn: In an attempt to end controversy over their involvement in the DWP programme, Tesco has now offered to pay young people on the government work scheme and guarantee them a permanent job if completed satisfactorily. While on the four week Department for Work and Pensions programme, the young people now have the choice to claim benefits or be paid for by the same period by the company. This offer applies to young people on the programme in Scotland. (Herald page 2, FT page 4, Alice Thomson in the Times. Daily Telegraph page 1, Daily Express page 12, Daily Mail page 13)


Devro’s Sales Lift: The Scottish food manufacturer Devro reported resilient growth for 2011. Sales were up 6.6%, while pre-tax profit was up 15%. (Herald page 24)


Goodwin Spared: The Royal Society of Edinburgh decided not to expel Fred Goodwin, the ex-chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland, from its ranks. The RSE declined to comment on the decision. (Herald page 3)


North Sea Oil: Alex Salmond gave a keynote address at an oil and gas conference yesterday in Edinburgh, claiming that 24 billion barrels could still be taken from the North Sea with a potential wholesale value at £1 trillion. (Press and Journal page 11, Courier page 32)


Local Government

City Council to build homes: Glasgow City Council has teamed up with Glasgow Housing Association and others to build homes for rent across 90 council-owned sites in Glasgow. The council will rent the land to housing associations and private developers in the hope that this move will boost house building in the city. (Herald page 9)



Borders rail link: Industry experts have reportedly advised that the Borders Railway project is to be delayed by another year with one source commenting  that there was “not a hope in hell” that the line would be finished by 2014.  This is despite transport minister Keith Brown giving assurances that the project was on course. (Scotsman page 1)


Ryanair: Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has cut five summer routes and is threatening to halve the airline’s winter services from Edinburgh if its dispute with the airport operator, BAA, is not settled by October. However, both companies have said that they don’t intend to cut any jobs as a result of the announcement. (Scotsman page 16, Richard Havers in the Scotsman, Sun page 23, Record page 24, Herald page 6, Times 14, Daily Telegraph page 4, Press and Journal page 20, Courier page 34, Daily Express page 10, Daily Mail page 2)


Highland rail network: Scotland’s rail network north of Perth has been deemed “unfit for purpose.” The Scottish Chambers of Commerce is calling for faster links to the Highlands and North-East in order for passengers to arrive in Edinburgh or Glasgow in time for meetings. (Daily Mail page 17, Courier page 33)



Single police force: Jim Gallagher, the former head of the Scottish justice department, has warned that the plans for a single national police force in Scotland will hand ministers “much more control over policing”.  He calls for the new police authority to be made up of elected councillors rather than ministerial appointees. (Scotsman page 13, Jim Gallagher in the Scotsman)


Interim bases for police and fire services: In April of next year, Scotland’s new single police and fire services will begin with interim headquarters in Fife and Perth. The Police Service of Scotland will initially be based in Fife at the Scottish Police College, while the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service will temporarily be stationed at Perth Community Fire Station. (Herald page 11, Daily Telegraph page 4, Press and Journal page 12, Courier page 8, Daily Express page 4)



£89m university research centre: Glasgow City Council has approved Strathclyde University’s plan to build a £89 million research and technology centre. Set to open in 2014, the university hopes the centre will create jobs and attract investment. (Herald page 9)



Young Smokers: Around 160,000 children start smoking every year in the UK. In light of the new data, Cancer Research UK backs a move to plain packing for tobacco in the hope to reduce the appeal of smoking. (Herald page 10, Daily Mirror page 22)