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Scottish shoppers to pay 5p for carrier bags

From October next year shoppers in Scotland will have to pay 5p for carrier bags, Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead has announced.

The charge will be applied to all forms of carrier bags- not just plastic ones.

Mr Lochhead said that Scots use around 750 million bags every year and says the new scheme will show that the Scottish Government is taking "decision action" to cut down on the amount of bags being thrown out.

The proceeds from the bag charges will go to charity, with good causes expected to receive up to £5 million as a result of the scheme.

"Discarded carrier bags highlight our throwaway society. We use more carrier bags per head in Scotland than any other part of the UK and this is unsustainable.

"Carrier bags are a highly visible aspect of litter and we are taking decisive action to decrease their number. By reducing the amount being carelessly discarded we can cut litter and its impact on our environment and economy.

"A small charge should also encourage us all to stop and think about what we discard and what can be re-used.

"We have seen elsewhere that carrier bag charging has been effective in encouraging people to reuse bags.

"This charge is not a tax but will see retailers donating the proceeds to charity - this could be up to £5 million per year after retailers have covered their costs.

"Thousands of Scottish people already use bags for life and some retailers already charge. It is now time, however, for a national effort."

– Richard Lochhead, Rural Affairs Secretary


South West Scotland to get new hospital

The Scottish Government have approved a business plan for a £200 million hospital to be built near to the A75 in Dumfries.

It will provide 350 beds and is due be completed in five years.

The Scottish health secretary, Alex Neil, said it would provide high quality health care services for the people of Dumfries and Galloway.

Full report: Independence campaign receives £1.7m donation

The campaign aimed at getting Scots to say yes to independence has revealed it has received over £1.7 million in donations.

£1,000,000 came from a couple who won the lottery.

The news comes on the same day a House of Lords committee criticised politicians on both sides of the debate, for failing to spell out the full consequences of the vote, whatever the outcome.

Kathryn Samson has this report:

"Scotland is financially stronger than UK" says Swinney

The Cabinet Secretary for Finance, John Swinney, has been commenting on the latest report from Westminster on Scottish Independence:

"It will be no surprise to people across Scotland that out of touch unelected Lords think Scotland is too small and too poor.

“All the evidence, including in this report, shows Scotland is in a far stronger financial position than the UK as a whole.

"What the Lords fail to mention is that a No vote would see Scots, within the UK, responsible for over two trillion pounds of debt and liabilities worth 145% of GDP, significantly more than an independent Scotland would face under any calculation."

– John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Finance

Lords criticises UK and Scottish Governments

The Lords Economic Affairs Committee has criticised the UK and Scottish Governments for failing to be open with Scottish voters about the economic impact of a ‘Yes’ vote to Scottish independence in the 2014 referendum.

“We took evidence from both Governments, other key politicians, a wide range of businessmen, and business organisations, academics and other economic experts. Our Report is based on their evidence.

"Nearly all of them shared our concerns."

"We hope that our report provides a road map for all the key issues – single market, division of assets and liabilities, North Sea oil, currency, taxation and debt, international issues including membership of the EU and defence."

– Lord MacGregor, Chairman, House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee


Sentence to be passed on Scottish Courts

Firm proposals on the future of Sheriff Courts in Peebles, Duns and Kirkcudbright will be revealed today.

The Scottish Courts Service says it needs to reduce the number of court buildings to save money after a twenty per cent reduction in its budget.

The Justice of the Peace Court in Annan is also under threat of closure.

Opponents argue that visible access to local justice will be compromised.

There are also concerns that many people living in rural areas will struggle with transport costs.

A final decision on court closures will be taken by the Scottish Government.

Civils servants strike ahead of budget

Public and Commercial Services Union strikers at Scottish Government Headquarters Credit: ITV News Border

Civil servants are striking outside of the Scottish Government headquarters ahead of the budget.

It is thought that up to 250,000 Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) members could walk out today in protest over pensions, pay and working conditions.

Lib Dems call for Single Police Force to 'Get back on Track'

The Scottish Government is being urged to get the single police force 'back on track' before it launches next month.

The Liberal Democrats say a power struggle between the Chief Constable and the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) over who will control staff in the new service has not been resolved.

Scotland's eight police forces will merge into one on April 1st.

Speaking ahead of a Holyrood Debate on this afternoon, Liberal Democrat Justice Spokeswoman Alison McInnes said:

"The power struggle with the SPA has been allowed to drag on for months with staff none the wiser over who will ultimately have responsibility for human resources or finances.

"I'm concerned that the ongoing battle of wills is going to hinder the new police force in carrying out its duties.

"Scottish Liberal Democrats are asking the Scottish Government to review whether the legislation could be amended now to ensure success for the new single force."

– Alison McInnes, Liberal Democrat Justice Spokeswoman

Safety concerns for A68

John Lamont, MSP, is calling on the Scottish Government to make the A68 safer.

Statistics revealed there have been nearly 500 accidents on the road in the past 10 years between the Scottish border and Edinburgh.

Mr Lamont is now calling on the Scottish Government to make the road safer after 15 people died on the stretch.

"The A68 is used by Borders residents thousands of times a year, as it is one of the key routes for getting between the Borders and Edinburgh to the north and Newcastle to the south.

"It is therefore important that it is made as safe as possible for motorists to use, but these statistics show that there are too many accidents happening on it.

"Many people will be shocked that nearly 500 accidents have occurred on it in the last ten years, with 100 of them being serious and 15 fatal."

– John Lamont, MSP

He added:

"It is a clear indication that more needs to be done to improve safety on the road, and the onus is on the Scottish Government to take action to cut down the number of collisions."

– John Lamont, MSP
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