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Reform Scotland News: 16 August 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
‘Pussyfooting’ accusation:
Boris Johnson has reportedly called for the Prime Minister to stop “pussyfooting around” over key issues, such as expanding London’s airport capacity.  The Mayor of London has also apparently refused to rule out returning to Parliament when his second term ends in 2016. (Times page 1, Sun page 2, FT page 2, Telegraph page 1, Guardian page 4, Mail page 1, Daniel Johnson in the Mail)

Olympic parade: The Scottish government has announced that a parade will be held on 14 September in Glasgow to celebrate the success of Scotland’s Olympic and Paralympic athletes. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 6, Times page 15, Sun page 21, Express page 15, Record page 1, Telegraph page 4, Courier page 22)

SCVO: The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) has dismissed claims by Scottish Lib Dem Leader Willie Rennie that it is a front for the SNP.  Alison Elliot defended contact between the organisation and the Scottish government, commenting that they had been in contact with special advisers from all main Scottish political parties regarding the constitution in recent months. (Herald page 4, P&J page 18)

Devo max: Bill Jamieson in the Scotsman comments that the SNP can’t risk and all or nothing referendum and suggests the party wants a second question on Devo Max.

Post-Olympic gloom: Iain MacWhirter in the Herald comments on the post-Olympic gloom that has occurred with train fare increases, increasing inflation and decreasing high street sales.

Economy
Employment figures:
Official figures published yesterday have indicated that the number of part-time workers in Scotland increased by 13,000 to 684,000 over the year to March 2012.   The number of people saying they were working part-time due to a lack of an alternative rose from 110,000 to 117,000 over the same period.  The figures also indicated a fall in overall unemployment across both Scotland and the UK. (Scotsman page 1, Tom Miers in Scotsman, Herald page 1, Times page 14, Sun page 4, Angela Constance in the Sun, Express page 4, FT page 1, Telegraph page 2, Guardian page 27, Mail page 19, Courier page 16)

Short-term stimulus: The Lib Dems are reportedly putting pressure on George Osborne to borrow money to pay for infrastructure projects to act as a short-term stimulus to help end the recession. (FT page 2)

It is reported that almost half the economists who supported the Conservative party’s deficit-reduction proposals prior to the 2010 election have called for a rethink and urged the Treasury to take advantage of low borrowing costs to boost spending on infrastructure projects. (Guardian page 1, Mail page 6)

Procurement: The Scottish government is intending on changing procurement laws to make sure that they are “friendly to Scottish business” and are consulting on a bill to make it easier for small businesses to win government contracts. (FT page 2)

Transport
West coast main line:
FirstGroup has won the right to run trains on the West Coast main line for the next 13 years.  Virgin Trains had been running the service for the past 15 years but was out bid by FirstGroup who offered £5.5bn to run the franchise compared to the £4.8bn offered by Virgin.  However, some critics have suggested FirstGroup’s bid was too high and could lead to problems in the future. (Scotsman page 6, Iain Docherty in the Scotsman, Herald page 1, Chris Nash in the Herald, Times page 6, Andrew Clark in the Times, Sun page 17, Express page 7, Record page 12, FT page 1, Telegraph page 6, Guardian page 6, Mail page 8, Courier page 14, P&J page 24)

Justice
School vandalism:
According to figures released by the Scottish Tories, more than £2.3m was spent repairing damage to schools caused by vandals last year. (Scotsman page 6, Herald page 11, Sun page 2, Record page 23, Courier page 23, P&J page 11)

Education
Sex education:
Jo Zinger, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s senior health improvement officer, has commented that schools have not done enough to tackle teenage pregnancies.  The health board has started a campaign to encourage parents to talk to their children from a young age about puberty, relationships and sexual health. (Scotsman page 8)

University places: The Scottish Council of Independent Schools has urged Scottish Education Minister Michael Russell to loosen admission rules which allegedly discriminate against Scottish university students in favour of fee-paying students from outside the EU or from the rest of the UK.  Currently universities are threatened with fines if they recruit more of their quota of Scottish students.  (Telegraph page 1, Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph)