Reform Scotland News: 5 April 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

 

Politics

UK Government Consultation: Michael Moore argued their was no support for an additional option on the referendum ballot paper following the UK government’s consultation, commenting that it is “really hard” to see where the argument for it originated. The UK government’s referendum consultation found that 75% of the 3,000 respondents were in favour of the single yes/no referendum structure, with only 12% desiring a third option. Additionally, 70% from the same poll felt the referendum should be held “sooner rather than later”. The Scottish government’s initiative to give 16 and 17 year-olds a vote in the Independence referendum also met with a mixed response. 44% were in favour of the change whilst a marginal majority of 47% were in opposition. The UK government also questioned the legality of changing age requirements for a single vote. The reaction of the Tunnock’s Managing Director, Boyd Tunnock. to the Government’s consultation was a plea to hold the referendum “as soon as possible”. Alan Trench also has a perspective piece in The Scotsman, looking at the prospects for some form of enhanced devolution. (Scotsman page 1, Telegraph page 1, Times page, Herald page 6, Mail page 4, Scotsman page 4).).

 

Lib Dem conference: The Liberal Democrats will hold their autumn party conference in Glasgow in 2013 it has been announced. Around 7,000 delegates will descend upon the city, raising an estimated £12m for the local economy. (Mail page 6).  

 

Austerity cuts: When changes to the tax and welfare system are implemented tomorrow, the average family will reportedly become £511 a year worse off. Despite the increase in personal allowances, many families will lose child tax credits. Those earning more than £26,000 will have the tax credits removed compared to the current figure of £40,000. Additionally pensioners will be on average £315 a year worse off. (Mail page 2, Sun page 6, Financial Times page 2, Telegraph page 10, Times page 1).

 

Economy

Shetland Wind Farm: Approval has been granted by Scottish Ministers for a £566m Wind Farm on the Shetland mainland. The project is anticipated to create 140 jobs for 5 years whilst it is under construction and 34 jobs thereafter. When complete, it will be the third largest Wind Farm in Scotland. The decision has been met with controversy on the Island due to the impact on scenery and speculation that the cost benefit analysis was not credible. (Herald page 9, Scotsman page 17, Journal page 1 and 3).

 

Elgin Oil Rig: Infrared images have revealed an explosive gas cloud over the area of the North Sea platform. The Rig had been leaking Methane since the 25th of March and was subsequently shut down. The Manager of the Elgin Oil Rig has spoken of his decision to turn the “black out key” and shut down the Rig permanently. He commented that it was the toughest decision in his 31 year career. All 239 workers were evacuated safely. Decisions now have to be made on how best to minimise environmental damage. (Scotsman page 7, Journal page 6, Record page 2, Courier page 11).

 

Rangers: Fans vowed to boycott any takeover firm which would liquidate the club. The football club has notes of interest to consider from USA, Singapore and Germany. Although Sale Sharks owner Brian Kennedy has stated that he will reignite interest if other takeover bids are threatening liquidation. (Record page 1).

 

Local Government

SNP councillors: The SNP will contest every ward in local elections next month in the hope of making gains after their Holyrood success. Perth and Kinross will host a record number of SNP candidates this year. Overall, the SNP are putting forward 50% more candidates than last year in local elections. But policies followed in Holyrood such as ceasing the Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) may put some possible gains in jeopardy. The move has put the cost of commercial vehicles travelling on ferries up, which has affected many businesses and consumers living on the Islands.  (Scotsman page 14, Courier page 4).

 

Justice

Network rail death: News that the £4m fine Network Rail has been ordered to pay will be publicly funded has been branded as “offensive” by Margaret Langley. Her mother, Margaret Masson, died when her train from Glasgow to London derailed. It also left 88 others injured. The Court found Network Rail in breach of safety regulations at the time of the incident. But the fact that the fine will be at least partially funded by taxes has angered many. (Herald page 5, Scotsman page 9, Press and Journal page 22, Times page 24).

 

Education

Three year degrees: Queen Margaret University has followed Dundee to become the second Scottish University to announce plans to offer a three year degree. Some University leaders have expressed concern that these may devalue the “gold standard” of Scottish education. (Scotsman page 9).

 

Health

Private hospitals: An investigation into the lack of competition in the private healthcare sector in some areas of Britain has been ordered. In Edinburgh there exists only one private hospital. The Office of Fair Trading pointed to such areas, claiming also that there are “significant barriers” to new entrants to the market, making the cost of acquiring private healthcare “unsustainable”. (Scotsman page 8). 

There will be no media summaries on the 6th April or 9th April due to public holidays. We wish everyone a Happy Easter.