On December the 6th I joined colleagues in attending the Day of Action Against Blacklisting lobby outside the Scottish Parliament. The day was part of a long running campaign from Unite the Union into blacklisting within the construction industry.
Cases of blacklisting within construction companies is unacceptable. These workers give their time and skill to their employers and should be rewarded for their duty, not punished.
As part of the campaign, Unite is calling for a full public enquiry into blacklisting, for the process to be considered a criminal offence, and for companies found blacklisting to be barred from bidding for public sector contracts.
I am disappointed at the lack of clarity on the Scottish Government’s stance on this issue, with the reluctance to launch an inquiry into blacklisting. Our workers deserve full justice and to have their voices heard. Continue reading
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
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.
I’ve called for the Scottish Government to stop ignoring Fife commuters after they have launched a consultation on a Rail Infrastructure Strategy.
The Government are holding workshops across the country but despite the strong case and campaign for Levenmouth rail link, the calls for a train stations at Newburgh, and complaints regarding overcrowding, unfair prices and lack of carriages, one will not take place in Fife.
The Government release states that these workshops will “reflect all distinct routes and markets that Scotland’s railways serve…and understand the needs and priorities of rail customers in those areas.” Fife’s voice must be heard.
Fife has been short changed for far too long and can no longer be ignored by the Government and ScotRail. The irony that locals will have to get a train to go to a workshop will not be lost on commuters.
That is why I have written to the Transport Minister calling for a workshop in Fife. Commuters and campaigners deserve to have their say on the future of rail in Scotland.
Today Scottish Labour announced a plan to freeze Scotrail prices.
Passengers across Mid Scotland and Fife are fed up with overpriced, overcrowded and unreliable trains.
Despite this, fares are due to rise in January. That is why Scottish Labour is calling for a fares freeze. After weeks of misery, people across the region deserve a better deal.
If you agree with us and back our plan then you can sign Scottish Labour’s petition below:
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.
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.
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/
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.
I am delighted to have secured a victory in my campaign for better rail services in Fife after ScotRail have confirmed to me that they were planning to increase the number of coaches during peak time services.
Train services, or rather lack of train services, is one of the biggest issues to fill my inbox as an MSP. From the Levenmouth Rail Link to peak time services on the Fife Circle it is clear that the Kingdom often gets short changed.
That is why I am pleased to see that ScotRail is committed to increasing the number of coaches available for their peak time service to 5, when electric trains are introduced to the Edinburgh and Glasgow route. However, it is worth remembering that this service was originally scheduled to run with 6 coaches so there is still room for improvement.