Claire Welcomes Malawi to the Scottish Parliament

Recently I was delighted to welcome representatives from Malawi and give them a tour of the Scottish Parliament.

The group were visiting Scotland as guests of Dalgety Bay Parish Church who have a working partnership with Engcongolweni’s Church of Central Africa Presbyterian.

It was really good to meet members of both churches and hear about their relationship which has brought many positive benefits to communities in rural northern Malawi. This includes a project that provides clean water supply to the area, reaching over 7,500 people.

I was pleased to play my part in continuing efforts to strengthen the strong relationship Fife has established with this community in Malawi and I very much hope that they enjoyed their visit to Scotland.

Police Scotland Morale

Following last week’s Courier exclusive, I raised the issue of Police morale during Justice Questions in Parliament.

According to a Fife whistleblower morale amongst the force is “dreadful” and the number of officers able to respond to concerns had been “decimated”.

Police Scotland have admitted that their budget is “challenging”. This follows a summer of concerning newspaper stories regarding the impact the budget is having on resources and local policing

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Puffin Champion

Today the Species Champions initiative is relaunched in the Scottish Parliament. The initiative, run by Scottish Environment LINK, asks MSPs to become champions for wildlife in Scotland.

I am delighted to been one of the first champions announced on its launch date as I continue to champion the puffin, an iconic bird that can be found off the coast of Fife.

In the last parliament I tabled many questions and motions on puffins and the risks that they face and I look forward to working with RSPB Scotland once again in this parliament.

So far 48 MSPs have signed up to champion a specific Scottish species, which means over 80 MSPs have still to take part.

To find out who has already signed up and who you need to politely ‘badger’ to take part, you can check out the species champions webpage here: http://www.scotlink.org/work-areas/species-champions/

Police Scotland concerns in Fife

Today in an exclusive from the Courier the impact on Police Scotland’s “challenging” budget has been laid bare.

According to a whistleblower from Fife, moral amongst local officers is “dreadful” and the number of staff “decimated”.

Concerns have also been raised that the force came close to not being able to pay wages on time. This has been denied by the Scottish Police Authority, the Scottish Government and Police Scotland, although the latter did admit that managing their budgets was “challenging”. Continue reading

Programme for Government Speech

Yesterday I spoke during the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government debate.

I raised concerns around local policing and Police Scotland’s budget, the use of tasers within British Transport Police and the Scottish Government’s planes to merge BTP with Police Scotland.

I also raised the plans for a domestic abuse bill and the need for such legislation following the publication of statistics around Clare’s Law. Continue reading

Cleft Lip and Palate Campaign

Today I met with campaigners, including from Fife, who are opposing plans to centralise cleft lip and palate surgery to a single site in Scotland.

As a result, those within Fife would have to travel to Glasgow to receive such surgery. Previously the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh also offered cleft lip and palate surgery.

Campaigners today were handing over a petition with over 6,000 signatures and I hope that NHS Scotland and the Scottish Government listen to their concerns.

You can find out more and sign the petition here

Coalfields Home Internationals

I was delighted to attend the recent Coalfields Home Internationals at Forthbank Stadium to watch teams from Benarty and Alloa battle it out with teams from Derby, Hartlepool, Blaenau Gwent and Merthyr Tydfil.

Coalfield Regeneration Trust do a great job in supporting and empowering coalfield communities across the country and this football tournament was the culmination of a nationwide competition that pitted teams of 14 to 16 year olds against each other.

I was delighted that my region was hosting the final and that two local teams had made it through the Scottish section. I was also pleased to see Kelty & Blairadam Pipe Band providing the entertainment throughout the day.

Congratulations to the team from Hartlepool who were the overall winners.

Clare’s Law

Today it has been revealed that almost a 1,000 Scots have applied to find out if their partner has an abusive past.

Clare’s Law saw 926 applications under the Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse. 391 of these resulted in the applicant receiving information about a potentially dangerous partner.

Whilst these figures show the success of Clare’s Law they also show the scale of the problem.

That almost a thousand women felt the need to check their partner’s history – and 42% received information about a potentially dangerous partner – indicates that much more has to be done to tackle domestic abuse in Scotland.

That is why Scottish Labour is calling for the introduction of domestic abuse courts within Scotland’s courts to ensure these serious crimes are dealt with as a priority.

You can read more on Heart Scotland’s Website.

Newburgh Train Station

Recently I visited Newburgh in the north of my region where I met with locals who are campaigning for a re-opening of the local train station.

Like another such projects that I support, including Levenmouth Rail Campaign, the area in and around Newburgh would benefit greatly from its reintroduction.

The Newburgh Train Station Campaign is a campaign which deserves greater support and I was delighted to sign up to it. I have also written to the Minister for Transport and the Islands, Humza Yousaf MSP, to call for action.

If you want to join me in supporting this campaign you can visit their website here: http://newburghtrainstation.org.uk/

Claire calls for better ScotRail services during Edinburgh Festival

I have called for better services during the Edinburgh Festival season following a weekend of complaints regarding ScotRail services from Fife to Edinburgh.

Over the weekend many commuters were left stranded in Edinburgh as they were turned away from trains that had reached full capacity.

Saturday saw the worst of the complaints as commuters were returning from Hibernian v Dunfermline at Easter Road and the Edinburgh festivals but many Fife services only ran with two carriages.

Whilst I appreciate that it can be difficult to gauge the number of commuters during any one weekend it is inevitable that during the Edinburgh festivals the number of passengers using Sctorail to go to and from the capital will rise.

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