Scottish news bulletin: 18th March 2009


All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions. Where there is a link to a newspaper’s website, the relevant page reference is blue and underlined.


Scotland’s future: Scotland’s economy continues to shrink and there will be further bleak news before the situation improves, according to two reports out today. Scottish firms are generally very pessimistic about the short term future and the Scottish economy is expected to contract by 3 percent this year. (Scotsman page 4)

IMF: Britain’s economy is set to keep shrinking well into next year, even after all or most of its leading competitors have begun to enjoy renewed growth, the International Monetary Fund will warn this week. (Times page 42, FT page 2, Telegraph page 1)

Unemployment: Experts are warning that unemployment will easily break the 3 million barrier this year, with many more people facing a grim 2009 that is likely to keep consumer spending and the whole economy depressed. (Guardian page 24, Telegraph page 8)

Spending Package: First Minister Alex Salmond last night stepped up the pressure on Westminster for a spending package to breathe new life into the economy. He compared the multi-billion pound stimulus package in the US state of Maryland, with the £500m of cuts being imposed by the UK Government on Scotland. (Press and Journal page 5, Scotsman page 5)


Overcrowding: Half of young offenders’ institutions have faced ‘chronic overcrowding’ over the past 14 months, the Scottish Liberal Democrats said yesterday. The party’s justice spokesman said the problem prevents the penal system tackling the causes of reoffending. (Scotsman page 11)


Forth Road Bridge: More than 60 construction firms yesterday expressed interest in building the new £2.3 billion Forth road bridge, project chiefs have said. An official invitation for bids will be issued in June, with a shortlist of firms being asked to submit tenders in November. (Scotsman page 7)

Local Government

Sick pay: Glasgow City Council’s executive committee will this week be asked to introduce policies which mean anyone who hits the trigger points for sick days will automatically have council sick pay removed except in exceptional cases. According to new figures, the city council 32,500 staff take an average of almost 13 days off sick each year. (Herald page 1)


Catchment Areas: The number of pupils who are admitted to schools outside their catchment area has fallen after Scottish councils clamped down on abuse of the system. Local authorities are taking a strict line with parents who use a temporary or even a relative’s address to qualify for the school of their choice. (Scotsman page 7)


Private Treatment: The number of NHS patients treated by the private sector has more than doubled in a decade, figures yesterday revealed. A record 4,409 patients were treated through independent or private sectors last year, compared with 1,700 in 1999. (Scotsman page 17, Herald page 11, Times page 5, Telegraph page 8, Press and Journal page 5)

Alcohol Culture: Young Scots are being recruited to serve on the first National Youth Commission on Alcohol and set up their own research project studying the country’s relationship with drink. (Herald page 7)


Trident: Prime Minister Gordon Brown was challenged last night to fulfil a pledge to reduce Britain’s nuclear weapons arsenal by removing Trident from Scotland. He came under pressure from the SNP after using a major speech to promise that Britain would be at the ‘forefront’ of an international campaign to prevent nuclear proliferation. (Scotsman page 8, Guardian page 8, P&J page 8)

Child poverty: A cross-border row has erupted after Scotland’s deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon accused Westminster of threatening to fuel child poverty through proposed reforms of housing benefit. (Herald page 6)


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