Claire meets politicians and business leaders over Brexit

Since becoming Deputy Convener of the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations committee I have already held a number of meetings on Brexit.

Brexit is the biggest political issue in British politics and it will continue to dominate the political discourse in the years ahead. As we move towards trying to achieve a deal it is vital that we listen to as many people as possible and ensure that Scotland’s voice is being heard in the debate.

That is why I was pleased to be able to go to London, Belfast and Dublin last month to ensure that the views and voices of the Scottish Parliament and my constituents were heard. We need to work hard to ensure that any deal does not hurt our economy, workers and jobs.

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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

Claire raises BiFab’s future at FMQs

Recently I met with BiFab workers and trade union representatives at their yard in Methil to discuss their future and concerns as we near the end of their current Beatrice contract.

I also raised the issue directly with the First Minister during FMQs where I called for continued Government support to ensure we can protect jobs and the company can survive any gap in their order book.

That is why I am hosting a meeting in the Scottish Parliament tomorrow to allow trade union members to meet and lobby MSPs from all parties as we work to secure the future of the yards.

I previously held a similar lobby in 2015, which led to cross party pressure on the UK Government ahead of the awarding of the current Beatrice contract. Continue reading

Ravenscraig Probus Club visit Parliament

Last week I was delighted to welcome members of Ravenscraig Probus Club to the Scottish Parliament, where I gave them a tour of the building before they were able to watch First Minister’s Questions from the public gallery.

Following the opening of the Scottish Parliament, there was a conscious effort to ensure that Holyrood was open to voters and constituents. It is right that schools, clubs and the general public are able to see the workings of their Parliament and meet and question their representatives.

Ravenscraig Probus Club were able to do that and get a front row seat to what turned out to be a lively First Minister’s Questions. I was pleased to answer all their questions and hope they had as good a time visiting Holyrood as I had showing them around.

Claire speaks out against bank closures

Over the course of last year, it was announced that Mid Scotland and Fife would lose 26 local bank branches.

The Royal Bank of Scotland announced the closure of 14 branches over the course of 2 rounds of closures. Bank of Scotland, Clydesdale Bank and the TSB also announced the closures of 4 branches each.

Amongst the areas hit in the region are Alloa, Dunblane, Perth, Cowdenbeath, Kirkcaldy, Leven, Cupar, Bridge of Allan, and Lochgelly.

I spoke out against these closures during a debate in the Scottish Parliament. We will now see a whole host of towns and villages without high street banks.

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Claire calls for Government action on quad bikes

Following a Christmas period where quad bikes will have been bought and sold as presents I have once again called for the Scottish Government to step up its attempts to tackle anti-social behaviour on them.

Whilst I am sure most owners will want to use their vehicles safely and within the full confines of the law, many that will have bought or received such vehicles will have no idea that their use could be a criminal offence.

That is why the Scottish Government must start taking action in promoting responsible ownership and selling of quad bikes and similar vehicles. I first asked them if they would take action in promoting the registration and selling of quad bikes in Scotland in 2015 but two years later and we are still waiting for them to take action.

Meanwhile the problem of anti-social behaviour continues to blight communities across Mid Scotland and Fife. This is a real issue for many across the region. Whilst it might not be amongst the top priorities for the Scottish Government it is an issue that regularly fills my inbox.

Locals are concerned for their safety. These vehicles are used in local parks and public pathways, they are a danger to children out playing, dog walkers and their dogs and residents as they come and go. Local communities want to see as much effort as possible from everyone in tackling this nuisance.

You can read more about my calls on Fife Today’s website by clicking here.

Claire raises ‘unacceptable’ SPA accounts

Last week the Auditor General released a report into the accounts of the Scottish Police Authority, the watchdog for Police Scotland. She identified a “number of instances of poor governance and poor use of public money” which she deemed “unacceptable.”

This included a payoff of £56,666 for the former chief executive who presided over the SPA as it lurched from crisis to crisis – we should not be using public funds to reward failure.

Three temporary appointments to the SPA and Police Scotland were also calculated to have costs an extra £344,819. This included an interim chief financial officer which whose appointment was “inconsistent with procurement procedures.”

During topical questions I quizzed the Cabinet Secretary on who agreed to these payments and, with the case of the former Chief Executive’s lucrative pay-out, if that payment can be challenged.
 

Claire joins Day of Action Against Blacklisting

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

Urgent Question – Fire Cuts

Today I asked an urgent question in the Scottish Parliament following reports from the BBC that the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service plans to close fire stations and reduce firefighter numbers.

These reports are concerning; it is vital that any ‘transformation’ of our emergency services is carried out in response to evaluating risk. However, reports point to these changes being made as the result of a squeeze on resources.

Audit Scotland have previously warned of a £43 million budget gap, the leaked report claims that our fire service is facing “the greatest financial challenge seen in decades” and the Chief Fire Officer has admitted that the current model is “unsustainable” and could not last beyond the current financial year. Continue reading

Claire welcomes fracking ban

Today I questioned the Energy Minister as he announced that the current moratorium on fracking will be extended indefinitely.

As a long time campaigner against fracking in my region welcome this move, however it still stops short of an outright ban. I’ve been campaigning against fracking and UCG locally since 2012 and I will continue to support any efforts to introduce a full legislative ban.

I do not believe that the potential risks to public health and the environment have been addressed and I believe that the exploitation of another fossil fuel will hamper our climate change priorities. Continue reading