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Reform Scotland News: 22 February 2013

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

Horsemeat Scandal: Despite reassurances from the Scottish government last week, it has been confirmed that horsemeat has been found in Scottish school meals. North Lanarkshire Council discovered contaminated meat in a frozen burger product supplied to schools by the firm Brakes. The discovery has led to the withdrawal of similar products from 157 schools across Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire. (Herald page 1, Scotsman page 1, Express page 5, Sun page 2)

 International Support for Scotland: A Chinese newspaper has urged the Chinese government to support the campaign for Scottish Independence. The thought process behind this move is that Scottish independence would rock the UK government at Westminster at a time when the Chinese government are stepping up political pressure on the UK. At the same time, the US has declared that it would stay neutral on the issue. (Herald page 1, Sun page 4, P&J page 12)

 Student Poll on Independence: Students at Glasgow University held a mock independence referendum and returned a ‘No’ answer. However, only 2,589 students of an eligible 20,000 turned out for the vote. (Herald page 2, Scotsman page 1, Times page 4, P&J page 12, Mail page 8)

 Currency: The Green Party has expressed support for the idea of creating a new Scottish currency after independence. They suggest that keeping the pound would not allow for true independence. (Herald page 6)

UKIP: Alex Salmond thinks that views expressed by UKIP leader Nigel Farage, that the SNP’s referendum plans will be ‘dead in the water’, will only work to strengthen the Yes campaign. (Herald page 6)

Economy

Fishing: Leaders of Scotland’s fishing industry have asked for the TV programme Hugh’s Fish Fight to be axed. The TV chef has started a campaign for more responsible, sustainable fishing practices. However, it is claimed that alarmist warnings regarding fish stocks is damaging the Scottish fishing industry, a vital aspect of much of the coastal life in Scotland. (Herald page 8)

 Inflation: The Bank of England policy makers have declared they are content with inflation figures wandering from their target. The combination of increased inflation and the falling pound is good for investors and growth. However, the impacts of such changes on the person on the street are yet to be revealed, but opinions are negative. (FT page 3)

 Unemployment: Alex Salmond has announced support for Union opposition to proposed BBC job cuts. The National Union of Journalists staged a strike this week that saw several top line shows off air for the day. The strike was in response to the high level of compulsory redundancies at the BBC. Mr Salmond got involved after it was observed that nearly one third of these will be in Scotland. (Scotsman page 7)

 Wind Farms: Large landowners in Scotland look to earn over £1bn for renting out land to energy companies building wind farms. As Alex Salmond sets out his renewable energy plan, questions are asked as to the long term social implications of such large transfers of money from subsidised energy companies to wealthy landowners. (Telegraph page 1, P&J page 16, Mail page 18)

Local Government

Bedroom Tax: The umbrella body for Scottish local authorities, Cosla, has hit out at Government minister David Mundell regarding the bedroom tax. There are claims that he misrepresented the views of Cosla when addressing the House of Commons on the issue. Cosla has also attacked the weak assurances given that the bedroom tax will not force people into poverty or homelessness. (Herald page 6)

Early Years Care: Glasgow City Council have reached an agreement with people protesting against the closure of day care centres for children with learning difficulties. So far, four such facilities have been closed. Yet the council has promised to work closely with those affected by the closures to find care elsewhere. (Herald page 9)

Gaelic: Councillors in the Highlands have been told that they should try and learn Gaelic in order to help relations with the people they serve. (Scotsman, page 3)

Health

Waiting Times: Labour MSPs have called for Nicola Sturgeon to face questions in the Scottish Parliament over the issue of the manipulation of waiting time figures. Health Secretary Alex Neil has already been the centre of a Holyrood debate on the matter. (Herald page 6, Times page 7, Telegraph page 9, Alan Cochrane, Record page 2, Sun page 2, P&J page 15, Mail page 1, Courier page 19)

Police Doctors: Doctors who aid the police are reported to earn up to £200,000 on top of their salary for their services. Doctors are routinely brought in to examine victims of crime and those held in custody. This wage bill has cost Scottish police forces £13m with the largest bill going to Strathclyde police who have paid £10,227,229 on doctors over the last 3 years. (Herald page 5, Express page 9, Sun page 24)

Patient Satisfaction: Alison Rowat speculates about the nature and future of patient trust in the NHS.

Education

National Qualifications: Poll figures released today suggest that 55% of teachers do not have confidence in their school’s ability to successfully deliver the new exam system coming in to replace Standard Grade in September. The major concerns include an increased work load for teachers and insufficient official support materials. (Herald page 2, Scotsman page 4)

School Budgets: Around £37m is reportedly being cut from school budgets across Scotland with the majority of cuts being felt in the classroom. In some areas, the cuts have resulted in just 64p being spent on learning resources per pupil. (Record page 1)

Teacher Safety: The number of attacks on teachers by pupils in schools has risen in Scotland. In the Borders region the number of attacks was totalled at 244, an increase of 54 over the previous year. (Express page 25)