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.

20th Anniversary of Ecology Centre celebrated in Parliament

Earlier this month I was delighted to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Kinghorn Loch Ecology Centre at Kinghorn Loch by holding a debate in the Scottish Parliament.

I was also pleased to meet with staff and volunteers prior to the debate, giving them a tour of Parliament and hosting them afterwards for a small reception.

The Ecology Centre is a great example of an inclusive, community-led charity that aims to inspire positive change through connecting people and the environment.

Over the years the site has developed and is now an impressive facility with many different projects engaging with local people of all ages, involving them in making positive change in their community.

Claire grills STV Chief Exec on job losses

In light of STV’s announcement that they are closing STV2, reducing their news provision and axing 57 jobs, the station’s Chief Executive was hauled in front of the Culture Committee yesterday to be grilled by MSPs.

There I asked – in light of £18m in profits and his own salary and remuneration package in excess of £1.2m – why they are putting shareholders before staff and viewers.

Mr Pitts’ also refused to rule out compulsory redundancies, which is deeply concerning for all involved at the station. There are real fears within the sector and from myself that job losses and the reduction in news programming will damage the company’s ability to properly serve all of Scotland’s communities.

These cuts are being carried out by a chief executive who is paid a gold-plated salary package equivalent to UK national broadcast bosses whilst at the same time he is turning STV from a national news broadcaster into little more than a regional outfit.

Scotland needs a vibrant and strong independent broadcaster to hold governments at Westminster and Holyrood to account. STV’s ability to carry out that role is being put at serious risk with these cuts.

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.

Nominate your Young Scot today

Outside the Scottish Parliament I recently joined previous nominees and winners of the Young Scot Awards and youth ambassadors who are celebrating the Year of Young People 2018 on the Young Scot Awards Citylink bus.

The bus will tour around Scotland with an aim to encourage others to make a nomination for an inspirational young person for this year’s awards.

Through my role as an MSP, I hear about so many inspirational young people who make a positive impact as individuals, work hard in school, and in our local communities.

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Claire quizzes Goverment on out-of-hours closures

Last week I raised the closure of the out of hours centres in Dunfermline, St Andrews and Glenrothes with the Health Secretary.

Tonight there will be a public meeting in St Andrews with another scheduled to take place in Dunfermline.

I have been warning the Scottish Government of a GP crisis for some time. If there are well known difficulties with practices struggling to recruit GPs for during the day, it is unsurprising that finding cover at night is even harder.

In response to my question the Scottish Government admitted that there were “significant issues” in Fife. Continue reading

Claire calls for support to save BiFab jobs

This week I questioned the Scottish Government on the shock announcement of redundancies at BiFab.

I have worked closely with workers at the yards in the recent fights for their future and will continue to do so during these troubled times.

With the Scottish Government knowing about these job losses two days before workers, there are serious questions to be asked about worker and trade union engagement.

I also asked the Scottish Government – who has a stake in the yards – what they will do to bridge the gap while the company bids for new long term contracts. Continue reading

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.”

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BiFab buyout welcomed

Great news for workers at BiFab today as it has been announced that Canadian company DF Barnes has secured the future of the yards in Methil, Burntisland and Arnish.

This is testimony to the commitment, attitude and effort of the workforce and trade unions which has been nothing short of exemplary in a time of great uncertainty for the company.

As the full details of the deal emerge we need to ensure that as much of the existing workforce as possible are able to remain in their roles, whilst growing the company to ensure those that lost their jobs are offered opportunities to return.

This must be the next step in cementing the long term future of BiFab and the yards. We now have the opportunity to put BiFab at the heart of Scotland’s renewable sector whilst competing in a worldwide market. This will hopefully secure much needed jobs for the local economy.

Throughout my time as a local MSP I have been fully supportive of the yards and the workers. I hope to meet with representatives from DF Barnes at the earliest opportunity, hear about their plans for the future and offer any support I can in securing new contracts.