Claire calls for Justice Centre for Kirkcaldy

I can reveal that the number of jury trials in Kirkcaldy have almost doubled in the past 5 years and that is why I have reiterated my calls for a new, state of the art, Justice Centre in the town.

Statistics released to me have revealed the strain been felt by the current court. In the past 5 years, the total number of trails called has increased from 1,196 to 2,060, amongst those the number of jury trails called have increased by almost 100%.

At the same time, there has been a 55% increase in the number of trails adjourned, a quarter of which were adjourned due to a lack of court time in the past year. This is despite an increase in the number of days the court has sat.

In 2012 a consultation document from the Scottish Court Services that led to the closure of local courts across Scotland highlighted the need for change in Kirkcaldy. Continue reading

Claire calls for Charity event to mark bridge opening

With the Queensferry Crossing opening this year I have called for a charity event to celebrate the new bridge and raise vital funds for local and national charities.

The event would follow the success of the ‘M74 bike and hike’ which took place before the opening of the M74 extension in Glasgow in 2011. This event saw around 20,000 participants take part in 2 separate courses; a short 4km route or the longer 14km round trip.

Participants could raise money for the charity of their choice but the event officially recognised 8 main organisations, including SAMH, Macmillan Cancer Support and the British Heart Foundation.

This was a great way to open the M74 extension and simultaneously raise awareness and money for charity and it would be fantastic if such an event could be arranged for the opening of the Queensferry Crossing.

I have no doubt that Fifers would love the opportunity to be amongst the first to cross the bridge and take part in what could be a full day of fun stretching from one side of the Forth to the other.

With great views of the rail and road bridge along with the coast of Fife, the opportunity for people to cross the bridge before it is open to cars should be fully considered. This would be a great initiative to raise money for local charities such as MND Scotland but also for the many local charities across Mid Scotland and Fife that do great work day in day out.

I hope that people across the region can get behind an event to mark the opening of the crossing event and that the Scottish Government will make such an event a reality.

Support for Levenmouth Rail Link

Recently I met with the Transport Minister and Transport Scotland where I once again called for the re-introduction of Levenmouth Rail Link.

I’ve been campaigning for its re-introduction since I was first elected in 2007 and was pleased that my lobbying resulted in it being included in Scottish Labour’s manifesto ahead of last year’s election.

However there is still much work to be done and recently I also took part in a local conference with Levenmouth Rail Campaign, Fife Council and opposition politicians, which you can read about on Fife Today.

I look forward to working together as we continue to campaign for its re-introduction.

Claire welcomes UCG ban

After first raising concerns over Underground Coal Gasification in 2013, I’m delighted that today it was announced UCG has no place in Scotland.

It was clear from the outset that this was an unnecessary and environmentally damaging process that had no place in the region.

I was pleased when my successful call to have UCG include in a moratorium was accepted last year and that research has now left the Scottish Government with no option but to rule UCG out.

Whilst Fife will no longer be a guinea-pig for UCG, this can only be the first step. The Scottish Government must now come out and ban fracking so once and for all we can have a Frack Free Fife.

You can read more here.

 

Claire calls for Levenmouth Rail meeting

Following the appointment of Humza Yousaf MSP as the Scottish Government’s new Transport Minister I have written requesting a meeting to discuss the reintroduction of the Levenmouth rail link.

In my letter I highlighted that Levenmouth is the largest conurbation in Scotland that is not currently serviced by a rail link and outlined the benefits it would bring to commuters and employers such Diageo and Fife Energy Park.

During the recent Scottish Parliament election, I stood on a pledge of the re-introduction of the rail link and successfully lobbied to have it included in my party’s manifesto.

Despite the election result I am still committed to pushing for its reintroduction due to the clear benefits it would bring to the area. Continue reading

Claire backs National Guarantee for care workers

I’m calling for a national guarantee for care workers in Mid Scotland and Fife that will see all workers paid the living wage and an end to exploitative zero hour contracts.

With an aging population and patients suffering from complex and multiple conditions, social care will be one of the biggest challenges facing the health service in the years ahead.

The easiest thing to do would be to continue a sticker plaster approach to health and social care in Scotland but we must meet this challenge head on.

As a result of the Chancellors spending review carried out last month, the Scottish Parliament will receive health consequentials of around £400 million.

I joined colleagues in the Scottish Parliament in putting forward proposals for using the majority of extra revenue to invest in social care.

We need to ensure that we have a health service that is fit for the future and meets the health needs of Scots in the years ahead.  Continue reading

Housing & Social Care

During Portfolio Questions in the Scottish Parliament I raised the issue of housing and its impact on the successful delivery of integrated health and social care in Fife.  

Fife Council has invested significantly in affordable housing and this is to be welcomed. It is also important that if we are to ensure that a joined-up social care agenda is to work that we need suitable retirement housing for those that may require a care package.

For this to be achieved local governments throughout Scotland will need support from the Scottish Government to deliver integrated social care and healthcare. It is important that the Scottish Government are working across portfolio briefs to ensure this can be delivered.

You can watch the question on the video below.

Claire backs ‘Make Renting Right’

Last week I backed a new campaign for a fairer deal for Scotland’s private renters. Shelter Scotland’s “Make Renting Right” campaign has called to reform the sector to make it work for both the people who live in rented housing, and landlords who let out their properties.

The campaign has 5 key aims, calling for a private rented sector that has; stability, flexibility, a modern tenancy, a fair system and predictability.

The campaign follows warnings from Professor David Bell of the University of Stirling that young people faced a choice between living in “increasingly expensive private rented accommodation, which limits their ability to save, or to remain living with parents.” Continue reading

Care home inspections vital for good service

Recently I met with the Care Inspectorate in the Scottish Parliament to discuss care issues across the Kingdom. The Inspectorate is the official body responsible for inspecting standards of care in Scotland.

Over 14,000 care services are registered with the Care Inspectorate, including care homes, childminders, day care centres and support services which includes care at home. The inspection regime looks at quality of care and support, staffing and management and leadership.

Recent figures from the Inspectorate have found that across Scotland the number of care homes with unsatisfactory or weak grades has increased. However, services in Fife have improved, with now over 95% achieving grades of adequate or better.

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Action needed to help Kingdom’s renters

Ahead of the Housing (Scotland) Bill Stage 3 debate next week I have called for action to reform the rental market in Scotland. Amongst proposals brought forward by Scottish Labour are plans to limit rent increases to once a year along with capping those increases. We have also, through my colleague James Kelly MSP, called for an increase in the level of tenancy from 6 months to 3 years.

These proposals come on the back of recent figures that highlights that over a fifth of those receiving benefits in Fife find themselves within the private rented sector. The moves that we have brought forward are essential to tackle the housing crisis faced by many across Scotland.

With many households facing ever increasing bills we must do all that we can to relieve the pressures families are continuing to face. Affordable rents are one way to achieve this and that is why I support Labour’s proposals for a capping rent increases in the private sector and limiting them to only once a year.

Continue reading