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Reform Scotland News: 06 July 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

Biggest army reorganisation since Second World War: The government is working to reduce the army by 20,000 to 82,000, with Scottish battalions being threatened by a future reduction of up to 30%, despite plans to keep them at their current strength. Amongst others, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders are to be downgraded to company status, “reduced to appearing in castle snaps”. The SNP have commented on the unfair treatment of defence personnel in Scotland, and highlighted disproportionate cuts to Scottish Battalions in recent years. However, English and Welsh Tory MPs have heralded the re-jig a “grubby political fix”, declaring that by sparing Scots units, the UK government is treating them with unfair leniency in light of the looming independence referendum; as Scots battalions have some of the army’s worst recruitment records. (Scotsman page 6, The Herald page 2, The Times page 13, Daily Express page 7, Sun page 1, Daily Record page 4, Courier page 14, Daily Telegraph page 6)

“Neighbours” firm awarded contract for 2014 Games: The firm behind hit soap opera “Neighbours” is set to broadcast the forthcoming Glasgow Commonwealth Games.  Plans have also been revealed which detail the development of a new Commonwealth games legacy project, which according to city council head Archie Graham will make a “real difference to communities”. It is expected that the contract will create approximately 1,000 jobs for Scotland’s creative sector.  (The Herald page 9)

Constitutional expert appointed as adviser on independence referendum: Professor Stephen Tierney of the Edinburgh Centre for Constitutional law at Edinburgh University has become an adviser to Alex Salmond.  Mr Salmond’s political opponents commented on his decline of past offers to create of an expert panel advising on the referendum, with Scottish Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw asserting that Mr Salmond is “determined to do his own thing to suit his own narrow interests”. (The Herald page 6, P&J page 13, The Times page 5, Daily Express page 4, Courier page 16)

Lords reform block will damage Tories, says Clegg aide: Richard Reeves has declared a “rude awakening” for the Tories, should they fail to deliver a coalition government commitment on Lords reform.  (The Herald, page 6)

Possible extinction of Rangers, generating social unrest warnings: Scottish Football Association chief executive Stewart Regan said “without Rangers there is social unrest and a big problem for Scottish society”. However, history professor Tom Devine countered this claim and described Mr Regan’s suggestion as “inflammatory”. Mr Devine believes that Mr Regan is simply making the issue worse. (The Herald page 3)

MSP and domestic abuse charges: 70 year old MSP Bill Walker is facing up to 29 charges of assault which date from 1967 up until the late 1980s. He appeared at Dunfermline Sheriff Court where he was granted bail, but is due to appear again at a later date. He appealed his expulsion from the SNP in April following these allegations, but has agreed to put this on hold until the charges made against him have been concluded. (The Herald, page 3, The Times page 5, Daily Express page 5, Sun page 23, Daily Record page 19, Courier page 2)

 

Economy

Expected closure of Hall’s of Broxburn prompts emergency task force: The “catastrophic and devastating” possibility of closure for Scotland’s best-known meat factory, has led to Finance Secretary John Swinney ordering the setting up of a task force in an attempt to salvage 1,700 jobs. The plant is currently losing an “unsustainable” £79,000 per day; with the imminent closure threatening a “major blow” to Scotland’s farming industry. The news of potential job losses and likely closure of the plant has left workers shocked and Union leaders angry at the shock announcement. (Scotsman page 4, The Herald page 2, The Times page 11, Daily Record page 9)

Balls and Osborne in conflict over rejection of banking inquiry: George Osborne’s attack on Ed Balls’ involvement in the Barclays scandal, resulted in the latter demanding that the former withdraw the “false, personal accusations” made against him. This was aired in an “ill-tempered debate” in the Commons yesterday, with Mr Osborne holding firm and refusing to apologise. Mr Osborne said that Mr Balls and former prime minister Gordon Brown had “questions to answer” concerning Labour’s involvement in the banking scandal, accounting for apparent pressure put on the banking giant to post lower libor rates during the recession.  Mr Balls called Mr Osborne’s attack on him “cheap and partisan”. In a last minute decision, Labour said that it will take part in a parliamentary enquiry following talks last night. (Scotsman page 8, The Herald page 6, P&J page 11, The Times page 6, Sun page 2, Financial Times page 2, Courier page 23, Daily Telegraph page 10)

Ferry Strike warning in Orkney and Shetland: Serco, the company taking over NorthLink Ferries, won a £243 million six-year contract, and began its takeover yesterday. However, Union leaders have warned Serco that they could face conflict with staff over terms and conditions and potential job losses. (The Herald page 4, P&J page 27)

 

Health

Consultants criticise closure of children’s ward: A lack of communication between NHS Lothian and the doctors at St John’s Hospital in Livingston, resulted in the unnecessary shutting down of a children’s ward.  The action was labelled a “potentially unsafe closure” and a “damning indictment of NHS Lothian”, by campaigner Gordon Beurskens. (Herald page 8)