Scottish news bulletin: 19th January 2009

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All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions

Economy

Recession
Scotland will stay in recession for longer than the rest of the UK because of the size of its public sector, Alex Salmond’s council of economic advisors has warned. The prediction comes as a new report forecasts that this year the Scottish economy will shrink by 2.6%, with a loss of more than 60,000 jobs. (The Sunday Times page 1, Scotland on Sunday page 1, Bill Jamieson in Scotland on Sunday, Daily Mail page 2, Times page 11)

Public Spending
Jenny Hjul comments on Scotland’s inflated public spending budget and private consultant costs in the (Sunday Times page 20)

Banks
The threat of full-scale nationalisation is hanging over British banks unless they disclose all of their most corrosive investments and loans. This comes as part of the development of the government’s latest scheme to shore up the banking industry, which includes plans to underwrite £200 billion of toxic-assets. In addition the government is set to take a stake in Barclays and HSBC for the first time. (Sunday Herald page 11, Sunday Post page 2, Bill Jamieson in the Scotsman, Herald page 1, Torcuil Crichton in Herald page 7, Telegraph page 1, James Kirkup in the Telegraph, Daily Mail page 1, Peter Osborne in the Daily Mail, Daily Mirror page 6, Times page 1, Guardian page 1, page 5, FT page 1, Courier page 1, Daily Record page 1, Daily Express page 7)

HBOS
313 years of Scottish history has ended today, with Lloyds TSB officially completing its takeover of HBOS. (Times page 8)

Scottish Coal
The UK’s largest coal mining group is back in the black and announcing plans to reopen old sites and bring new sites into production to meet increased demand. (Scotsman page 27)

Crime

Right to trial by jury
Scotland’s senior police officers have told ministers that the automatic trial by jury for long and complex crimes should be dropped. (Sunday Herald page 1, Herald page 12)

Extreme images
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has revealed details of the new legislation cracking down on the possession of pornography that he states is physically abusive and degrading to women. Downloading images of rape and possessing other forms of extreme pornography will be punished by up to three years in prison. (Scotsman page 1)

Transport

Forth Road Bridge
CBI Scotland Director Iain McMillan has suggested that Scottish Water should be sold off to pay for the new Forth road bridge. Iain McMillan says the sale or mutualisation of Scottish Water would solve a funding headache for the Scottish Government by freeing up cash to help build the bridge using private finance. (Scotland on Sunday page 7, Sunday Herald page 6, Herald page 10, Daily Mail page 23, Courier page 1, Press and Journal page 1, Daily Express page 4)

Local Government

Council disagreements
Scottish Councils have been criticised for their inability to work together, after Inverclyde, West Dunbartonshire, and Perth and Kinross Council began disagreeing within weeks of an initial deal to buy a new payroll and human resources system. (Sunday Herald page 23)

Glasgow commercial centre
Glasgow city council is planning to bring into force a range of measures to protect the commercial property development sector. In this economic stimulus style package, the city plans to make available £3.7 million in stop gap funding. (Herald page 27)

Council tax
Council tax is set to rise by £50 for the average house in an attempt to plug the £2.5 billion black hole in local authority finances. (Telegraph page 2)

Council employees
Audit Scotland has revealed that public sector workers take more than twice as much time off sick as workers in the private sector, almost three weeks, with the majority of absences being caused by minor illnesses such as colds. (Daily Mail page 10, Press and Journal page 8)

Health

Blindness cure
A revolutionary treatment to cure blindness will be tested on patients in Scotland. The new stem-cell therapy treatment could potentially restore vision to patients with corneal blindness worldwide. (Scotsman page 10, Daily Express page 1)

Stroke treatment
Scotland is to become the centre for a pioneering effort to develop stem-cell treatment for stroke victims. Southern General Hospital in Glasgow will be the British base for the clinical investigation. (Herald page 1, Sun page 12)

NHS
NHS Scotland faces a bill of up to £360 million to fund equal pay claims. According to a report by Audit Scotland there are around 12,000 equal pay claims based on the gender pay gap, leaving government bodies such as the NHS facing huge bills to compensate underpaid women. (Sunday Post page 5)

Education

Drinking at school
There has been a rise in the number of students who were suspended for alcohol-related reasons. Figures suggest that almost certainly more than 300 were excluded for drinking or possessing alcohol at school. (Sunday Post page 1)

Politics

Scottish Enterprise
It is reported that Alex Salmond is facing another cronyism row after it has emerged that the favourite to head Scottish Enterprise is prominent SNP donor Crawford Beveridge. (The Sunday Times page 2, Scotland on Sunday page 2)

Holyrood redundancy
Claire Devon who recently proposed cutting one of the five directors posts in the Scottish Parliament, of which one was her own, has walked away with £270,000, having volunteered to be made redundant. (Sunday Herald page 7, Scotsman page 11)

Windfarm
Scottish Power has unveiled that Scotland’s biggest windfarm at Whitelee, already the largest in Europe, will be expanded to produce enough electricity to power every home in Glasgow. (Sunday Herald page 10)

Off-shore windfarm
The Kintyre Peninsula is at the centre of plans to create the world leader in off-shore wind turbine manufacturing through the expansion of the Cambeltown factory, creating hundreds more jobs. (Sunday Herald page 60)

Land sales
Tax payers are losing out on millions of pounds because public bodies are “irresponsibly” selling land as prices tumble. Councils and quangos are continuing to sell the land despite warnings from Finance secretary John Swinney, who added an extra £50 million to the NHS budget to avoid such action. (Sunday Herald page 18)

Royal Mail
Union leaders and MPs have reacted angrily after it emerged that the private equity group CVC is considering a bid for a minority stake in Royal Mail. (Guardian page 24)

Energy
Many households in Scotland are struggling to pay their energy bills, and are further concerned about the cost of fuel rising in the coming winter months. British consumers have suffered the largest increase of any European country according to the OECD. (Sunday Herald page 52)

Reform Scotland is an independent, non-party think tank that aims to set out a better way to deliver increased economic prosperity and more effective public services based on the traditional Scottish principles of limited government, diversity and personal responsibility.

www.reformscotland.com

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