News in Scotland - Wednesday

SNP Energy Minister, Fergus Ewing, (above) campaigned to have
the Green Energy Bank located in Edinburgh IMAGE: Laura Latre

Scottish news: News in Scotland - Wednesday


Scottish Police: new single force branded a ‘shambles’
The two most powerful figures of Scotland’s new single police force have admitted confusion still exists over who should control which parts of the new national service. Chief constable of the new Police Service of Scotland, Steve House, has warned of a “gobsmacking major problem” with the legislation setting up the force. Mr House is also in the midst of a dispute with Vic Emery, the chairman of the overseeing Scottish Police Authority (SPA), who wants the SPA to be clearly responsible for civilian staff and force finances. Both men appeared together at Holyrood’s justice committee yesterday and have taken independent legal advice in an attempt to clarify their new responsibilities.

MSPs claim almost £13mn in expenses for the year
Allowances of 48 MSPs who either stepped down or lost their seats last year has caused Holyrood expense claims to rise. MSPs claimed more than £12.8mn in expenses, up 8.2 percent on the previous year due to winding-up expenses being claimed. Excluding these costs, the total expenses paid out to MSPs was just over £11.3mn, which represents a decrease of more than £500,000 on the previous year. Winding-up expenses include staff salary costs, staff redundancy and office and accommodation costs.

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Cable to launch UK's 'Green Bank'
The UK’s first Green Investment Bank is to be launched in Edinburgh. The bank will have £3bn of UK government money to invest in areas such as renewable energy, carbon capture and storage and energy efficiency measures. It will have its headquarters in Edinburgh, but will maintain a major presence in London. The Scottish government has lobbied hard to ensure Edinburgh was chosen as the location for the bank's headquarters. Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing said the opening of the bank presented "huge opportunities" for Scottish green energy projects, bringing jobs and investment.

Leveson Inquiry: Salmond welcomes press reform
Alex Salmond has confirmed he will follow any recommendations made by Lord Leveson resulting in reformed scrutiny of the press in Scotland. Lord Leveson’s inquiry into media ethics is due to be released tomorrow. Scotland’s first minister would like to see an enhanced press council regulator, based on the system currently in place in Ireland. Westminster currently controls broadcasting in Scotland, with the Scottish parliament only exerting powers over print media. The Scottish cabinet are set to debate the finding of the Leveson Inquiry in the Scottish parliament next week.

Scottish independence: Czech expert warns single UK currency will not work following independence
The man responsible for dismantling the fiscal union between the Czech Republic and Slovakia has advised Scotland not to keep British Sterling if independence is gained in 2014. Former President of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Klaus, has advised Scotland follow his lead in adopting a “velvet divorce” approach – rather than live together in an unfriendly way. Mr Klaus added: “No-one believes me in Europe but to separate the two currencies was a simple administrative thing to do.” The friendly advice for an independent Scotland has been seized upon by anti-independence parties, with a treasury spokesperson commenting: “The UK is already one of the most successful monetary and political unions in the world and Scotland is better off as part of that.”

2,000 fewer nurses since SNP came to power as fears raised for strain on frontline staff
Statistics released yesterday show the numbers of nurses and midwifery posts in Scotland has fallen by 45 in the past three months; a drop of 2,000 in three years. The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) revealed that there are currently 1,390 nurse and midwife vacancies in Scotland; 400 more than in June. This cut in healthcare staff was condemned by patient groups, trade unions and opposition parties, who warned of a ‘significant strain’ being put on staff to deliver acceptable standards of care. Health secretary Alex Neil said: “We know more people are being treated in the community and hospital stays are shorter than ever, so the shape of the NHS workforce is changing, but I 
am very clear our hospitals must have the levels of staffing and skills to continue to deliver the very best-quality care. The official figures showed a slight increase, 0.1 percent, in the total number of staff employed by the NHS. It stood at 162,234 in September, 883 more than the time last year.

Scottish Health: decision made on doctors’ strike action
Hospital doctors in Scotland are expected to announce the results of a ballot for strike action later today. The ballot follows previous industrial action in June protesting against changes to doctors’ pension arrangements. Reforms included doctors working longer and contributing up to 14.5 percent of their pay towards their pension. Scottish Health Secretary Alex Neil previously said there was no justification for industrial action and called on unions “to find a way forward on pension issues.” Deputy chair of the BMA’s Scottish consultants’ committee, Dr Nikki Thompson, has accused the Scottish government of “talking up” its opposition to UK pension changes, but failing to deliver on its words.

Engineers work to fix leak as supply to 3,500 homes cut
Approximately 3,500 homes in Clackmannanshire have been without gas overnight after a mains pipe was accidentally severed. The damage was thought to have been a result of a farmer doing drainage work near Fishcross. Elderly and vulnerable residents have been given temporary heaters and cooking equipment by Scotland Gas Networks (SGN), whose engineers have made a permanent repair to the pipe. Anne Neilson from SGN told BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland programme the firm had not been given notification that the farmer intended to do any work in the area, so had been unable to advise him of the pipe’s exact location. Ms Neilson said: “Obviously it is quite difficult to say, but we would hope that we may be in a position by the end of today to start turning on some customers – but if not, certainly tomorrow.”


Welsh Floods: hundreds evacuate homes as river banks burst
Hundreds of people have been advised to leave their homes in North Wales after a river swelled over flood defences. The Environment Agency warned residents of five-hundred homes in St Asaph to evacuate after the River Elwy reached a record high on Tuesday. The Environment Agency expects the rain to ease off in the two days. The Association of British Insurers have warned that hundreds of thousands of homes may be left without flood cover due to disagreements with ministers over how future flooding costs will be paid.

Barclays Libor submissions diverge from competitors
UK banking giant Barclays - which has been at the centre of the Libor (London Interbank Offered Rate) corruption and other financial scandals - has experienced a rise in short-term funding costs, hugely outstripping competitors in recent days. Barclays’s submission to the half-year U.S. dollar Libor rate, an interest-rate benchmark fixed daily from rates contributed by a panel of banks, increased by 0.05 percent between 14 and 21 Nov, Reuters has reported. Other bank entries were largely unchanged or at most 0.01 percent higher.

Global economy 'set for sharp downturn'
Global growth is set for a sharp downturn next year, with the Eurozone debt crisis "remaining the greatest threat to the world economy at present," the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has warned. In its latest Economic Outlook, the OECD cautioned that "the risk of a new major contraction cannot be ruled out" after a global slump in 2009. The OECD also downgraded its growth estimates for this year and next for the US and Japan, with its data showing that the Eurozone recession could be deeper than last forecast in May. The SNP has called on UK chancellor George Osborne to ditch his austerity agenda after the report has shown that UK unemployment is expected to rise from an average of 8 percent this year to 8.3 percent in 2013.

Outrage after BBC executives’ ‘dreadful, insulting’ snub to MSPs over broadcaster’s job cuts
Stewart Maxwell MSP yesterday stated that he was prevented from requesting that senior BBC representatives give evidence to an inquiry into broadcasting. Mr Maxwell said the refusal showed “outrageous” disrespect to MSPs and that the corporation did not treat the Scottish parliament as seriously as Westminster. Former Radio Scotland producer Peter Murray branded the BBC “irrespons­ible” over cutbacks in Scotland and said they had led to a fall in the “breadth and depth” of its programmes. He also warned it could take its toll on the coverage of the 2014 vote.

Leveson Inquiry: MPs warn against press regulation law
More than 80 MPs and peers have lobbied the man carrying out an inquiry into UK media standards not to recommend implementing a law which would regulate the press. The cross-party group, which includes eight former cabinet ministers and London Olympics chairman Lord Coe, says any such move would damage press freedom. Lord Justice Leveson is due to publish his report on Thursday. The group, which has written to the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph, wants instead a stronger ‘self-regulatory’ system.

European farmers spray EU parliament with milk
Hundreds of dairy farmers have sprayed thousands of litres of fresh milk at the EU parliament in Brussels. The move is in protest at what they say are excessive milk quotas and prices below the cost of production. After spraying the milk from tractors, the farmers set alight barrels of hay and a pile of tyres. EU farmers have held similar protests in the past, including one in 2009 which led to a small increase in wholesale prices.

UN: France to back Palestinian member application
France has confirmed it will vote in favour of Palestine’s “non-member status” application at the United Nations. Portugal and Spain are also supporting plans for the Palestinians to get non-member status The Palestinians say the move from an observer to a non-member observer “state” is an important step toward a two-state solution with Israel.

Egypt: Morsi protests continue in Cairo
Over 200,000 protesters have continued to rally in Tahrir Square against President Mohamed Morsi’s decision to grant himself sweeping powers. The protests have left one person killed and hundreds injured. In Alexandria, protesters attacked the local office of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement. The Muslim Brotherhood postponed a rally scheduled for Tuesday, saying it wanted to “avoid public tensions”. The demonstrations across the country come only one day after President Morsi met with the country’s senior judges in a bid to defuse the crisis sparked by his decree.

US court orders tobacco firms to admit lying
A US judge has ordered tobacco firms to pay for a public campaign laying out their ‘past deception’ over the extreme health risks of smoking. The ruling sets out the wording of a series of ‘corrective statements’ that the companies are being told to make over a period of up to two years. Details of which media will carry the statements and how much they will cost are yet to be determined. Tobacco companies can still appeal against the decision however, with several saying they were still studying the ruling.



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published this page in News 2012-11-28 12:35:56 +0000