Scottish news bulletin 6th April 2009

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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.

Economy

Economic Downturn: The Chancellor, Alastair Darling, is expected to use his April 22 Budget to admit that the recession is much worse than he forecast, predicting the economy will shrink by at least 3 per cent in 2009. It is also believed that this month’s budget will indicate the need for taxes to rise in order to fill the multi-billion pound gap in Britain’s public finances. (Herald page 6, FT page 2, Daily Telegraph page 1, page 2, Courier page 14, Daily Mail page 12, Press and Journal page 5)

Dunfermline Building Society: DBS executives face the prospect of being summoned to Westminster to explain their part in the collapse of the Scottish Mutual. (Scotsman page 27)

Beanscene: The businesswoman who saved struggling coffee bar chain ‘Beanscene’ has reportedly asked agents to find 10 additional sites, which would see the number of cafes in Scotland almost double, from 12 to 22. (Herald page 1, page 26)

G20 Summit: Iain Macwhirter reflects in the Sunday Herald on the ‘actual’ achievements of last week’s London G20 Summit. (Sunday Herald page 7)

Crime

Scottish Prisons: The Sunday Herald comments on a recent report by the Prisons Commission describing the Scottish system as ‘dangerously overcrowded’ and failing to ‘rehabilitate serious offenders’ due to low risk and remand prisoners using up ‘staff, time and resources’. (Sunday Herald page 10, page 11)

Drug Advisory Body: Scotland’s community safety minister, Fergus Ewing, has come under fire for failing to meet with his own team of advisers since launching the SNP’s flagship anti-drug strategy almost a year ago. (Scotsman page 14)

Transport

High Speed Rail Link: Plans have shown that a high-speed rail link could cut journey times from London to Scotland by almost half. Rail minister Lord Adonis believes that reports, drawn up for the Department of Transport in 2007, show ‘that a high-speed line is a perfectly viable and realistic option’. (Scotsman page 6)

Car Safety: New cars may be fitted with fluorescent seat belts in an effort to cut the number of deaths on Scotland’s roads. Ministers believe the high proportion of fatal crashes in which victims were not wearing seat belts could be tackled by using bright colours to make their use easier to enforce. (Scotsman page 3)

Local Government

Edinburgh World Heritage Trust: It has been reported that Edinburgh World Heritage Trust faces a ban from commenting on developments in the capital. Consultants brought in by Edinburgh City Council and Historic Scotland, to review the performance of the trust, concluded that the group had been too ‘adversarial’ and was responsible for ‘considerable tension’ with the council and Historic Scotland. (Scotsman page 7)

Council Rethink: Following the recent restructuring of England’s 44 district and county councils into just 9 local authority areas, the Herald renews calls for a debate on the future of local government in Scotland. (Herald page 4)

Health

CBI Scotland: Business leaders have attacked the SNP Government for refusing to allow a greater use of the private sector in providing primary healthcare in Scotland. In a submission to Holyrood’s health committees, CBI Scotland dismisses what it says is the SNP administration’s belief that ‘using the private sector would put profits before patients’. (Scotsman page 26, Press and Journal page 6)

Education

Course Cuts: Scottish education secretary Fiona Hyslop has faced calls, by the Scottish Conservatives, for action after it emerged that nearly a quarter of Scotland’s secondary schools have been forced to drop Higher and Advanced Higher courses amid claims of budget cuts and teacher shortages. (Scotsman page 16, Times page 3, Courier page 10)

Politics

Forth Bridge: Scottish ministers have rejected treasury proposals to pay for the new Forth Bridge. John Swinney, Scottish finance secretary, has told the UK Government that plans to release £1billion for the replacement crossing would not free up any new money. (Scotsman page 11, Herald page 6, Times page 13, Daily Telegraph page 12, Courier page 3, Press and Journal page 3, Daily Record page 23, Daily Express page 10)

First Minister’s China Visit: Alex Salmond arrived in China yesterday, reportedly convinced that his visit would ‘open doors’ and give Scotland a clear advantage in beating the recession. The First Minister is due to meet with Hong Kong’s political leader, chief executive Donald Tsang, before addressing the Scottish Business group in the former UK colony later today. (Scotsman page 8, Herald page 6, Courier page 8, Press and Journal page 7, Daily Record page 2, Daily Express page 12)

Calman Commission: Following months of wrangling over devolution between the Scottish Government and the Calman Commission, constitution minister Mike Russell has agreed to an official meeting. (Herald page 6)

North Korea: The United Nations Security Council was meeting in emergency session last night after North Korea's decision to fire a long-range rocket provoked international outrage. Iain Macwhirter comments in The Herald that Gordon Brown could lead the way in negotiations by putting Britain’s Trident system beyond use in a bid to have countries such as Iran, Syria and North Korea halt their nuclear programmes. (Scotsman page 1, page 4, page 5, Herald page 1, Herald page 15, Times page 1, FT page 1, Daily Telegraph page 1, Guardian page 1, Daily Mail page 8, Daily Express page 9)

North Sea Disaster: The body of the last victim of the North Sea helicopter crash, which killed all 16 passengers and crew on board, was recovered last night. As the inquiry continues into the cause of the accident, the recovery of the black box data recorder has marked a significant breakthrough for investigators. (Scotsman page 1, page 9, Herald page 1, page 2, Times page 11, Courier page 1, page 10, Daily Mail page 8, Press and Journal page 1, Daily Record page 1, page 9, Daily Express page 7, Sun page 1, page 4, page 5)

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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