Page last updated at 17:11 GMT, Wednesday, 14 May 2008 18:11 UK

Salmond in sports university vow

Alex Salmond
Alex Salmond celebrated the SNP's first year in office

A new centre for sporting excellence is to be set up at Stirling University, the first minister has announced.

It will act as the focal point in a network of universities and colleges training Scotland's best athletes.

Alex Salmond's announcement came after the controversial decision to merge the Scottish Institute of Sport - in Stirling - with agency sportscotland.

The new centre will receive 600,000 from the Scottish Funding Council, the Scottish Parliament was told.

Mr Salmond said it would be an initiative to raise the potential of Scotland's best athletes and "enhance our culture of sporting success".

Labour accused the SNP of stealing the idea from them.

This government's ambition for Scotland is well known
Alex Salmond
First minister of Scotland

The sports announcement came as Mr Salmond outlined the achievements of his administration over the past year, including abolishing the student graduate endowment and cutting prescription charges.

He also outlined plans for an annual 2m Saltire Innovation fund and a project to increase public access to information - and re-affirmed the government's commitment to press ahead with an independence referendum in 2010.

Mr Salmond told MSPs: "This government's ambition for Scotland is well known; for this country to take on full responsibility for our destiny, allowing our people, our economy, our society to flourish."

Scottish Labour leader Wendy Alexander branded the first minister's statement "self-congratulatory", adding: "This isn't just lightweight, it's positively fly-weight from this government."

The Lib Dems' Nicol Stephen said the thing people remembered most about the first year of the SNP in power was broken promises.

He told MSPs: "Students, housing, class sizes, school buildings. The list goes on."

Scottish Tory leader Annabel Goldie pressed Mr Salmond to publish Scotland's draft national drug strategy by the end of May, and expressed disappointment that the government had not performed a series of "positive U-turns", including ending "hostility" to the private sector in delivering public services and the refusal to mutualise Scottish Water.


SEE ALSO
SNP 'repaying the people's trust'
02 May 08 |  Scotland

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