Fife commuters cannot be ignored

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.

https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/local/fife/319343/msp-demands-a-fife-platform-for-rail-consultation/

Claire backs ScotRail price freeze plan

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:

http://www.scottishlabour.org.uk/page/s/labour-backs-a-2017-fare-freeze

Claire backs Freedom From Fear Campaign

With over 300 shopworkers assaulted every day I am pleased to support Usdaw’s campaign to call for an end to abuse in the workplace.

As part of the Freedom From Fear Campaign, which seeks to prevent violence, threats and abuse directed at retail staff, Usdaw members came to Parliament to highlight the problems faced by staff during Respect for Shopworkers Week.

Too often retail employees are confronted with violence, threats and abuse whilst serving the public. It is really important we stand together and ask people to keep their cool and respect shopworkers, especially as we approach the busy Christmas shopping period.

No one should have to go to work expecting abuse.

I will continue to campaign with Usdaw to provide shopworkers the support they need and deserve. We must give a clear message that abusing or assaulting workers who are serving the public is totally unacceptable.

http://www.fifetoday.co.uk/news/political-backing-for-campaign-to-protect-shop-workers-1-4294356

Claire raises domestic abuse during FMQs

Last week during First Minister’s Questions, I asked Nicola Sturgeon a question on domestic abuse.

Statistics show that the number of people convicted for a crime with a domestic abuse aggravator is upwards of 80% and in the last 5 years the number of people convicted has increased.

I support the work of Police Scotland and the Procurator Fiscal Service in tackling this crime . People must have confidence in coming forward and reporting domestic abuse and they must feel they have the full support of the authorities in Scotland.

Domestic Abuse is a violent and psychological crime that can devastate lives. We should be doing all that we can to tackle this abuse in Scotland.

Funding cut to tackle childhood obesity

New figures have revealed that we are seeing year on year decreases in Scottish Government funding for the NHS to tackle childhood obesity. Meanwhile figures show that too many children are going to school at risk of becoming obese or overweight.

Over the past three years, funding for the NHS to tackle childhood obesity has been cut by over £100,000 despite reports that Scotland is still struggling with a childhood obesity problem.

Recent figures show that in 2015, 15% of children aged between 2 and 15 were at risk of suffering from obesity, with a further 13% at risk of being classified as overweight.

ISD Scotland have reported that the number of children in Primary 1 at risk of obesity and overweight in Fife and Tayside exceeds the national average.

Despite this, NHS Fife and NHS Tayside have both seen a cut of almost 7% between 2012 and 2016, whilst NHS Forth Valley has seen a cut of 5.5% over the same period.

Continue reading

Answers needed over police closure threat

Today I have called for answers from the Scottish Government over the threat of local police station closures. This follows news that Police Scotland are reviewing the future of 58 local stations, including a number of stations in their East division which covers my region of Mid Scotland and Fife. 

Under the SNP, Police Scotland faces a £27 million revenue budget overspend. The overspend is forcing Police Scotland’s hand and the potential closure of local stations is just the next step for a force desperately trying to make ends meet.

SNP ministers can no longer bury their head in the sand and claim that this will not have an impact on local policing. Amongst the stations reported to be under-threat are Anstruther, Bannockburn, Bridge of Allan and Tullibody.

The details where revealed following a freedom of information request after it was announced that Police Scotland intend to reduce ‘floor space’ by up to 25% through an estate strategy review. Continue reading

Time for a frack free Fife

Following the successful campaign to have underground coal gasification banned in Fife and across Scotland I have today called for the Scottish Government to back plans to ban fracking in Scotland and ensure a “frack free Fife”.

The banning of UCG was only the first step. Now the Scottish Government must work with Scottish Labour in banning fracking. Anything less is unacceptable.

All evidence points to the fact that fracking, yet another fossil fuel, will have a negative impact on our environment. It is an unnecessary and environmentally damaging process that has no place in Fife.

This is about the air we breathe, that water we drink and the communities we live in. That is why Labour will change the law and ban fracking in Scotland, just as we promised in our election manifesto.

My colleague Claudia Beamish MSP, has launched a consultation to ban the continuous process in Scotland and I would encourage everyone to put forward a submission to the consultation and unite behind calls for a frack free Fife.

Earlier this year the Scottish Parliament passed a motion calling for such a ban. The motion was passed due to Labour votes as a result of the SNP abstaining. The Scottish Government must listen to locals and community groups, the very people that will be impacted by the potential of drilling under their homes.

It is time for a frack free Fife.

Claudia Beamish’s consultation paper can be found at https://frackingbanbill.com/

The public can respond to the consultation here: http://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/Fracking/

Funding success for Kingdom Off Road Motorcycling Club

Congratulations to Kingdom Off Road Motorcycling Club, who have been awarded £50,000 from the Big Lottery Fund.

The grant will deliver 12 week programmes of riding training, maintenance training and workshops that will cover anti-social behaviour, victim’s perspective and safety.

This can hopefully help to tackle the anti-social behaviour on quad bikes that we are seeing in communities across Fife.

Throughout my campaign against anti-social and reckless behaviour on quad bikes I’ve been clear that one solution is responsible ownership and education.

The riding of such vehicles in appropriate and safe areas can be enjoyable and Kingdom Off Road Motorcycling Club plays an important part in achieving this.

However this can only be part of the solution and we still need action from the Government to ensure the police have the resources and powers available to tackle anti-social behaviour and keep our communities safe.

https://www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/global-content/press-releases/scotland/251016_sco_youngstart


Support for Levenmouth Rail Link

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.

Claire welcomes UCG ban

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.