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Reform Scotland News: 8 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

Tax: Finance Secretary John Swinney has announced that there would be no personal or business tax rises in Scotland if Scotland becomes independent. This prompted many opposition members to question where money would come from to fund the SNP’s ambitious post-independence reforms. (Scotsman page 1, George Kerevan in The Scotsman, Express page 2, Sun page 2, Mail page 1)

Independence: The timescale of independence has been published this week and suggests that Scotland could be fully independent just 18 months after a yes vote. This comes with examples from other countries such as Jamaica who had a remarkably successful turnaround from referendum to independence. (Adam Tomkins in The Scotsman)

FMQs: At First Minister’s Question Time, Alex Salmond came under attack from opposition leaders for forgetting the needs of the Scottish people in his single minded focus on independence. The Labour leader, Johann Lamont, used the example of the NHS claiming that Mr Salmond uses it as a big political football but when real issues with it emerge he ignores them; pointing to a cancer patient who was recently denied access to live saving drugs. (Alan Cochrane in The Telegraph, Express page 5)

EU: Leader of the Better Together campaign in the referendum debate Alistair Darling has further warned about the fate of an independent Scotland in the EU. Mr Darling criticised the SNP assumption of a smooth transition to membership, saying that instead Scotland could face a wait of up to 9 years. (Telegraph page 1)

 New Lanark: Historic Scotland has been criticised for its response to the news that a quarry is to be built near Robert Owen’s model village of New Lanark; a site of great historical importance. It was assumed that Historic Scotland would launch a campaign to reject the proposals but instead released a statement claiming that the quarry would have ‘no significant impact’ on the site. (Times page 1)

 

Economy

RBS: Mark Carney, the future Governor of the Bank of England, has been highly critical of RBS and the revelations regarding its involvement with interest-rate rigging. Along with RBS, Mr Carney used his appearance before the Treasury Committee to comment on the suitability of established monetary instruments to tackle financial instability. (Herald, page 1, Scotsman page 8, FT page 1, FT page 3, Martin Wolf in the FT, Guardian page 2)

Clydesdale: The Australian parent company to Clydesdale Bank has reported that the bank is on track to recovery with all efforts being made to get the bank back in the black. (Scotsman page 38, P&J page 33)

 Post Offices: The Post Office is furthering its business plan of opening franchises within other stores. Some Post Office services have already been relocated to branches of WH Smith. Further plans have been outlined to relocate five flagship Post Offices including one in Stornoway which was named the best performing Post Office of 2012. (Herald page 9)

High Street Closures: HMV has announced it will close 11 of its shops in Scotland. This comes just weeks after it was revealed that the chain had gone into administration. The closures will mean the loss of 180 jobs. (Record page 2, P&J page 20, Courier page 13)

 

Justice

Identity Protection: The Scottish Government is developing a proposal to raise the age at which criminals can be identified. Under current laws, anybody aged 16 or over who commits a crime can be identified to the public. It is the Government’s intention to raise this to 18. The bid has come under criticism from some sectors such as newspaper editors. (Herald page 1)

Victim Fund: Proposals for the Victims and Witnesses Bill include plans to charge criminals, faced with a fine, a surcharge of at least £20. This money is then to be put into a victim compensation fund to help those who have suffered crime. However, questions have been asked about who will actually pay the most under the scheme with many thinking that motorists will carry most of the burden. (Herald page 2, Record page 2, Sun page 2)

Lockerbie: Libya has been ordered to handover Abdullah al-Senussi as part of the ongoing investigation into the Lockerbie bombing. The International Criminal Court issued the order to the new Libyan government who claim that they have the right to detain and try members of the former Gaddafi regime. It is thought that Libya paid $200m for the extradition of Senussi from Mauritania in contravention of the ICC’s orders. (Scotsman page 12)

Landlords: Landlord Mark Fortune has been banned from renting out properties in Edinburgh as it emerged that he used threatening behaviour towards tenants who questioned him on a repair bill. Mr Fortune was said to have threatened violence and shooting. The action throws light on the council’s responsibility to protect residents in the city from both rogue and absentee landlords. (Scotsman page 13)

 

Education

Gaelic: Glasgow is to see the opening of a bilingual Gaelic-English school. The facility is being built amidst growing demand to offer children the opportunity to learn in a bilingual environment. The Scottish Government is putting £800,000 in to support the scheme. (Herald page 4, Mail page 10)

Languages: The level of language teaching in Scotland is worsening according to the British Council. The number of language teaching assistants has dropped highlighting the ‘woeful’ state of Scottish language education. The report suggested that these failings will damage Scotland’s competitive edge within a European economy. (Herald page 5, Telegraph page 7)

Glasgow: UCU statistics released this week show Glasgow to have the lowest levels of formal education among adults in the UK. The statistics have been questioned by some who claim they are unrepresentative as many of those questioned went to school when there was no universal qualification provision. (Herald page 11)

 

Health

Smoking: A ban to stop the display of cigarettes and the use of cigarette vending machines is to come into effect on the 29th April. (Herald page 4)

Research: The University of Dundee has teamed up with bio-research companies to win a bid of £100m to research and develop new treatments for various illnesses. (Record page 2, Courier page 14)

 

Transport

Trams: Edinburgh City Council has agreed to extend the range of free travel passes so that it includes journeys on the 8 mile tram system. (Herald page 1, Scotsman page 9, Record page 2)

 

Local Government

Budgets: Several Scottish councils have announced budget plans that include cost-cutting measures. (Herald page 6)

Meadowbank: Edinburgh City Council have reportedly begun to press ahead with plans to demolish Meadowbank Stadium. The plans, agreed in 2006, detail wishes to replace the stadium with modern facilities at Sighthill. The stadium is a historic landmark having been used for two Commonwealth Games over 45 years. (Express page 2)