Claire calls for ScotRail to be stripped of its franchise agreement

Tomorrow I will use a speech in the Scottish Parliament to call for ScotRail to be stripped of its franchise agreement at the earliest opportunity and for it to be taken back into public ownership.

The poor performance of ScotRail in Fife is one of the biggest complaints that I hear about in my role as an MSP.

My inbox is regularly full of emails from frustrated commuters who are often faced with delays or cancellations to their trains.

As a regular user of the service to get to Parliament during the week, I know only too well the misery faced by commuters every day. Action needs to be taken.

Instead, we have the SNP Government doing a secret backroom deal with ScotRail that allows them to continually deliver late running services and not face any consequences. Giving ScotRail a licence to fail is not the answer. With ScotRail persistently to breach their contract, we must not be content to continually let them off the hook.

Over a hundred peak time Fife Circle services heading to Edinburgh in the morning, and coming from Edinburgh in the evening, were cancelled between April and September this year. Services that were not cancelled often fell below ScotRail’s punctuality target which is when a train arrives within 5 minutes of its schedule time.

This is not good enough. Fife deserves better and I will be putting your concerns directly to the Government tomorrow.

Claire launches culpable homicide consultation

On average, 17 people in Scotland die each year as result of an ‘industrial incident’. It is simply unacceptable to have workers dying because of negligence or recklessness by their employers.

Far too many people in Scotland still do not return home to loved ones after going to work – this must change. That is why I have today lodged my proposal for a member’s bill on Culpable Homicide.

I would like to thank Scottish Hazards for their support and allowing me to launch my consultation at their conference in Glasgow this morning. I want to thank Thompsons Solicitors and Unite the Union for their continued support as well.

I especially want to thank Louise Taggart, whose brother Michael was killed at work in 2005 for joining me and telling her heart-breaking story.

Louise’s story shows the real human cost behind our failure to take the action needed. That is why I hope all political parties in the Scottish Parliament will join with myself and Louise to end the scandal of death and injury at work.

You can view my draft proposal and consultation on the Scottish Parliament website: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusin…/…/110169.aspx Continue reading

News Transport Secretary must meet over Levenmouth Rail

Last week I asked the new Transport Secretary to meet with myself and local MSPs to make the united case for the re-introduction of the Levenmouth Rail Project.

There is a clear cross-party consensus in Fife that the Levenmouth rail project should go ahead, and I hope that there is a similar consensus that it should be one of the Government’s next big infrastructure projects.

The Government reshuffle before summer has seen the transport portfolio promoted from a Junior Minister position to one that is now in the Cabinet. It has also combined transport with infrastructure and we need to use this opportunity to make our case to the new Cabinet Secretary.

With every passing year, the argument for the reintroduction of the Levenmouth rail link grows stronger. I hope my question is the beginning of a fruitful relationship with the new Cabinet Secretary.

If we can convince him of the clear benefits of the rail link then we will be one step closer to its introduction. Goodwill will only get us so far, it is time that we see concrete action by the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland.

Miners’ strike call for evidence

Yesterday, the independent review into police conduct during the 1984/85 miners’ strike issued a call for evidence.

The long-awaited review will look into the protests against closure of pits across the UK by the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her Government. During that time 500 Scottish miners were arrested – this was 30% of arrests from the year-long strike despite the country only having 10% of the UK’s mining workforce.

We need to ensure that we achieve the justice that miners and Scottish mining communities deserve. We need answers to the tactics used by police during that time, including as to why the proportion of arrests where 3 times higher than the proportion of workforce.

The call for evidence is open until the 30th of November and views can be submitted online at the link below.

We deserve to know the truth about what happened in Scotland during that period. I’d therefore urge anyone involved in the strikes to make themselves known to the review and submit their evidence.

You can do so here.

Growth Commission Topical Question

Yesterday in Parliament I quizzed the Cabinet Secretary for Finance on the SNP’s latest plans for an independent Scotland.

With plans to get Scotland’s deficit below 3% from the current 8.3% it is clear that under the SNP an independent Scotland would face at least a decade of austerity max. This is not a Growth Commission but rather a Cuts Commission.

Scotland cannot afford another decade of austerity. With over a quarter of a million children living in poverty and pensioner poverty having increase by 33% since 2010 we need action now.

That is why a Labour Government would invest to grow our economy, including £70 billion in Scotland over the next decade.

Only Labour is proposing the real and radical change that Scotland needs.

Claire backs MS Awareness Week

I was happy this week to show my support for MS Society Scotland’s Awareness week which runs between 23-29 April to raise awareness of the important role research plays in the lives of people affected by MS.

I know that research into improving treatments for MS sufferers is vital for improving daily life for those living with the illness.

MS Society Scotland’s ‘Kiss Goodbye to MS’ campaign encourages people to give up their guilty pleasure this May to raise money for research and you can get involved by visiting their website.

Claire Hosts Climate Change Event with Faith Leaders

Last week I was pleased to host a Faith Leaders and Climate Change event at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh, with SCIAF, Christian Aid, Tearfund Scotland and Islamic Relief.

The event launched a strong statement from Faith Leaders from across Scotland who have joined forces to urge the Scottish Parliament to strengthen its Climate Change Act.

The statement calls for Parliament to pass a “strong and ambitious Climate Change Act; one which reflects Scotland’s fair share of global efforts and one which puts Scotland firmly on the path towards an inclusive, low-carbon future in which we can all flourish.”

Continue reading

Claire calls for urgent meeting on out-of-hours closures

Following the news that Fife Health and Social Care Partnership have closed three out-of-hours services in the Kingdom, I have written to both Michael Kellet, the Director of the Partnership, and Shona Robison, the Health Secretary, to call for immediate support to reopen the services and for action to address the GP and staffing shortages in Fife. 

It was announced earlier this month that Glenrothes Community Hospital, Queen Margaret Community Hospital in Dunfermline and St Andrews Community Hospital will be closed for three months between midnight and 8am.

This decision is causing great concern with patients worried about how they will travel to the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy when they need to see a doctor, concerned about the cost of taxis and the distance to travel and what this suspension really means for the future of the services.

This situation is particularly worrying for frail or vulnerable people in our communities, and they do not feel reassured by the contingency plan.

That is why I am requesting an urgent meeting with Michael Kellet of the Health and Social Care Partnership.  Continue reading

Claire backs Asbestos Action Tayside

I am backing Asbestos Actions’ calls to improve care for asbestos sufferers across the country. That is why I joined the group at Holyrood to launch their new support booklet for those affected by the conditions.

Asbestos related conditions claim around 3,000 lives in the UK every year. To put that in context, that is more than are killed on the roads throughout the country.

Asbestos-related diseases occur when people breathe in asbestos fibre which can lead to benign conditions like pleural plaques where the lining of the lungs or ribcage calcify or terminal cancers like mesothelioma which can prove fatal just weeks after diagnosis. Continue reading

Cross party meeting to secure BiFab’s future

Yesterday in Parliament I held a cross party meeting at the Scottish Parliament to discuss the future of Burntisland Fabrications (BiFab). The meeting saw trade union representatives and workers from the yard lobby and answer questions with a number of MSPs from Scottish Labour, the SNP, Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and the Green Party.

With the company coming to the end of its Beatrice Contract there are concerns that a gap in the order book could see reductions to full time staff with the possibility of two of the three yards having to close their gates.

I am pleased that workers had the opportunity to lobby MSPs directly just as they successfully did in 2015. I’d also like to thank all the MSPs that turned up to listen to their concerns, the turnout shows that BiFab workers have the clear support of the Scottish Parliament.

We must use that political will to try and secure the long term future of the yard. We must now put pressure on the UK Government and engage with the consortiums tendering their contracts for the year ahead. Continue reading