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Reform Scotland News: 10 January 2014

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

Civil servants: Alex Salmond has been questioned during First Minister’s Questions over civil servant redundancy packages worth £18million in the 2012/2013 financial year. The packages reportedly included a £290,000 exit package to former Historic Scotland chief executive Ruth Parsons. (Herald page 2, Sun page 2, Mail page 12, P&J page 14)

 

Super Puma crash: The accident inquiry into the Super Puma crash into the North Sea that killed 16 people has revealed an anomaly in technical logs over the maintenance of the helicopter. The inquiry was shown logs demonstrating checks carried out on the helicopter the day before the crash were completed in ten minutes. Mr Gilmour, former engineering director, told the inquiry he did not believe this was long enough for all the work needed to be carried out on the helicopter. (Herald page 4, Scotsman page 1, Record page 12, P&J page 1, Courier page 13)

 

Dog control: Calls have been made by MSPs for tighter controls on dogs with some calling for compulsory micro-chipping and the reintroduction of licensing restrictions on owners. First Minister Alex Salmond has launched a consultation and summit on responsible ownership. (Herald page 4, Scotsman page 8, Courier page 16)

 

Recession and independence: The Scottish Government has been accused of airbrushing the recession from its independence White Paper in an attempt to present a better economic case for leaving the UK. The White Paper compared Scotland to small European countries from 1977 to 2007, before the 2008 crash. (Herald page 6, Tom Gordon in the Herald, Scotsman page 11, Telegraph page 6, Times page 20, Express page 1, Record page 2, Sun page 2, P&J page 15, Courier page 16)

 

Independence debate: Alison Rowat writing in the Herald argues that David Cameron should agree to Alex Salmond’s requests for a televised debate.

 

Scotland’s debts: First Minister Alex Salmond has repeated his threat to default on Scotland’s debts if the UK bans an independent Scotland from sharing the pound. The response came after Scottish Financial Enterprise chief executive Owen Kelly said an independent Scotland’s currency could not be known until after a Yes vote and he could not rule out members moving south of the Border if this happened. (Telegraph page 6, Mail page 8)

 

Better Together campaign: Critics have said the Better Together campaign is lacking a leader who can match the charisma and popularity of Alex Salmond despite polls suggesting they continue to have a strong lead in the campaign. (FT page 3)

Former senior civil servant Professor Jim Gallagher has joined the Better Together campaign as an adviser on policy and strategy issues. (Record page 2, P&J page 14, Courier page 16)

 

New Lanark quarry: Campaigners fighting a quarry extension close to the New Lanark World Heritage site have criticised the compensation scheme negotiated with the multinational developer. The criticism has come after it emerged that the community will receive just £27,500 per year compared to schemes in other areas where collieries have agreed payments of 25p a tonne for the extraction of coal. (Times page 1)

 

Economy

RBS job cuts: Royal Bank of Scotland is reportedly preparing to reduce costs by an estimated £1billion. As more than half of the bank’s costs are made up by staff salaries, unions are expecting a new wave of job cuts, on top of the 40,000 already axed since 2008. (Herald page 1)

 

Whisky protection: Scotch whisky producers will be required to sign up to a new verification scheme if they want to sell their products within the European Union. The Spirit Drinks Verification Scheme, set up by the UK Government, will help consumers in the UK and abroad identify genuine UK-produced products. (Herald page 5, Telegraph page 6)

 

“Supermarket tax”: A £95million public health levy on big shops selling alcohol and tobacco will not be continued when it comes to an end next year, finance secretary John Swinney has confirmed. (Scotsman page 12, Telegraph page 6, Times page 4, FT page 3, Mail page 8)

 

Pensions: Scots retiring this year expect pensions worth almost £3,000 more than colleagues who retired in 2013, according to an annual survey by Prudential. (Express page 2)

 

Justice

Police cameras: Police Scotland are reportedly considering the use of body cameras for firearms officers to film incidents or people they meet and question. The news follows the Metropolitan Police announcement that their firearms officers will be wearing body cameras in the future. (Herald page 1)

 

Police funding: The Scottish Conservatives have warned that officer numbers could come under threat if organisations currently giving more than £9million to Police Scotland became unhappy and withdrew the money. Edinburgh City Council, which provides £2.7million, said they were considering withdrawing £500,000 as they no longer had influence over how officers were deployed. (Herald page 5, P&J page 5)

 

Education

Free school meals: It has emerged that the Scottish Government’s flagship policy of free school meals to primary school pupils will not extend to schools outside local authority control. This includes some special and fee-paying schools and has prompted critics to accuse the SNP of making judgments on which families deserve the benefit. (Times page 1)

Alan Cochrane writing in the Telegraph comments on Labour’s decision not to back the SNP motion aimed at bringing in free school meals.

 

Health

NHS Lothian: Alex Salmond has defended NHS Lothian after claims emerged that patients at the mother and baby unit at St John’s Hospital in Livingston were put at risk. The First Minister said an independent inquiry into care at the unit found no evidence to support allegations that the service was “dangerous, unsafe and dysfunctional.” (Herald page 6)

 

Local government

New school: Campaigners have warned that open spaces gifted to communities could be under threat after plans for a new secondary school in Edinburgh were backed by MSPs. The plans are for a new Portobello High School to be built on the common land of Portobello Park. (Herald page 1)