Fife must be ‘Clued Up’ on legal highs

Yesterday I was pleased to be able to highlight the good work undertaken by Clued Up, a Kirkcaldy based charity, during a Government debate in the Scottish Parliament on the issue of New Psychoactive Substances, also known as ‘legal highs’.

‘Legal Highs’ are synthetic drugs that can be legally purchased from head shops in the high street or online. Continue reading

Claire calls for action to tackle the need for food banks

Yesterday in Parliament I raised the challenges facing food banks across the Kingdom during a Member’s debate. Having attended the launch of the food bank in Kirkcaldy I have seen first hand the demand for these services and the vital role they play in helping those that need it most. 

Recent reports that the food bank in Glenrothes is running low on food as it struggles to keep up with demand highlights how important these services are for the Kingdom. Those that have taken the time to help, from volunteering in the banks or donating food whilst they do their weekly shop, deserve our thanks. Without them the situation throughout Fife would be a lot worse.

My full speech can be found on the Scottish Government website.

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Common Agricultural Policy – Parliamentary Debate

This week I opened for Scottish Labour on the Government debate on the Common Agricultural Policy. Farming plays an important role in Scotland’s economy, society, and well-being.  Our agricultural sector not only produces food for our country and beyond, but also contributes to the vitality of our rural communities.  CAP reform is the opportunity to make sure the support, which is public money, is directed to areas where it delivers the widest public benefit.

When we consider some of the current payments – subsidy being given to land which is not actively being used, highly profitable businesses receiving significant sums of public money, while other areas receive no or little support but, it can be argued provide greater community and social benefit – this is an opportunity to deliver a fairer system that is clear about what it values.  Continue reading

The Food Train arrives in the Parliament

Recently I spoke during my colleague Elaine Murray’s member’s debate on the food train initiative and highlighted the positive example and work of the food train in Stirling within my region.

I previously met with staff and volunteers during an event in Parliament, along with those that benefit from their hard work. It was clear then that it was a valued programme and everyone spoke positively about their experience, which is why I was delighted to speak during the debate and congratulate staff and volunteers from across the country on the work they do. Continue reading

National Parks: Unfinished Business

Yesterday in Parliament I held a debate on National Parks in Scotland following a joint report by the Scottish Campaign for National Parks and the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland. The report, titled Unfinished Business: a National Parks Strategy for Scotland, rightly highlights that our landscapes in Scotland rank among the best in the world and that there should be a national strategy and a Scotland-wide debate on the way forward for national parks.

The establishment of national parks in Scotland was one of the early achievements of the Scottish Parliament and the Labour led Government with the legislation being steered through by my colleague Sarah Boyack. Our experience of existing national parks shows that they can bring a wide range of environmental, social and economic benefits. Continue reading

Claire hosts Microchipping debate

The other week in Parliament I held a debate in the Scottish Parliament on the issue of compulsory microchipping for dogs after a recent poll from YouGov and Dogs trust found that 82% of Scottish adults agree with it’s introduction.

Whilst the vast majority of dog owners are responsible in their duties, we all see the effects of irresponsible dog ownership within our community, from dog fouling, strays or noise pollution. It is important that we instill a responsible approach to ownership to help address these issues. Continue reading

Wemyss Caves future raised in Parliament

Last week in Parliament I raised the future of Wemyss Caves during a debate on Scotland’s Historic Environment. During my speech I highlighted the challenges facing the caves, including coastal erosion, whilst praising the work of the Save Wemyss Caves Society. 

These caves should be recognised as being of national importance. The story that they tell enriches the history of Fife’s coast and the communities that settled and traded there. These carvings can also connect modern generations to history in a way that textbooks can’t and for that reason it is important that they aren’t lost to the local area. Continue reading

Hydro-power in Scotland

Yesterday in Parliament I took part in the Scottish Government debate on Hydropower. Hydro not only provides electricity and jobs to many rural places across Scotland but can also play a fairly significant part in helping us meet our future climate change targets.

The debate focused on the 70th anniversary of hydro-power in Scotland and I was recently at a dinner during Scottish Renewables hydro conference to mark the occasion. The night and conference was a great opportunity Continue reading

Freshwater Pearl Mussel

Yesterday in Parliament I spoke during Mary Scanlon’s member’s debate on the Freshwater Pearl Mussel after earlier attending an information session in the Parliament hosted by Scottish Environment Link. During the event Dr Peter Cosgrove from Aberdeen University informed us of the work he does with estates and land managers to raise awareness.

The debate was another example of the success of Scottish Environment Link’s Species Champions initiative.  As the champion of two species – the Puffin and Lesser Butterfly Orchid – I understand that just putting your name to a threatened species is not enough and we must be active in offering our political support in protecting them.

Flood Insurance Problems

Yesterday in Parliament I opened the Flood Insurance Problems debate in the Scottish Parliament for the Scottish Labour Party. The debate was a committee debate after Professor David Crichton submitted a petition to the Public Petitions Committee calling for the Scottish Government to ensure Scotland’s interests are represented in on-going negotiations over home insurance for flooding.

The region of Mid Scotland and Fife is one such area that has been particularly affected by flooding recently. Last year a home in Dura Den was severely damaged and up to 30 families had to be evacuated from their homes when the River Eden burst its banks.  In December the Eden also burst its banks between Ladybank and Kettle causing severe flooding for some homeowners. Continue reading