Raptor deaths

Following the shocking and unacceptable deaths of the raptors in Ross-shire I have written to the Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse. The raptor deaths are the latest in a long line of attacks on our iconic wildlife.

The Scottish Government are consulting on greater powers for SSPCA officers which Scottish Labour support however we believe the Government should be going further. I am calling on the Scottish Government to review wildlife crime legislation in Scotland and vicarious liability.

A copy of my letter to the Minister can be found below.

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Dear Paul,

Raptor deaths 

I am sure we are both appalled by the recent deaths of the raptors in Ross-shire and the number of our iconic birds that are killed every year in Scotland. The number of donations given to the RSPB as a reward for finding the culprit(s) of this latest heinous attack shows the strength of feeling amongst the general public against wildlife crime.

I have raised the issue of wildlife crime and legislation in Parliament before and whilst I appreciate that this is a difficult area to tackle it is also an area where I believe more can be done.

Whilst the number of deaths fluctuates yearly it is clear that there is a consistent trend of iconic birds being killed in Scotland. When the Scottish Government passed the Wildlife and Natural Environment Act 2011, it introduced vicarious liability and the Minister at the time, Roseanna Cunningham MSP, indicated that she would look at other options if this was not successful. Despite this there has been a distinct lack of convictions as a result of vicarious liability and it is becoming increasingly clear that the WANE act is not working as a deterrent to such wildlife crime.

In a reply to a letter from Douglas McAdam, Chief Executive of Scottish Land and Estates, you wrote that “In the absence of any other credible explanation, I can only conclude that, despite all our efforts, there remains an element of sporting managers and owners who continue to flout the law and defy public opinion for their own selfish ends with little regards to wildlife or the reputation of their law abiding compatriots.”

With the number of deaths of the raptors in Ross-shire now increased to 19 and in light of your comments to Mr McAdam, will you now consider, alongside your plans for greater powers for SSPCA officers, to review vicarious liability and review wildlife crime legislation in Scotland?

Yours sincerely

Claire Baker MSP
Mid Scotland and Fife
Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment

Fife flying into playoffs

Today in Parliament I celebrated Fife Flyers success in securing a playoff spot in the Elite Ice Hockey League, following their dramatic double header victories over rivals the Braehead Clan.

I am delighted that two fantastic results at the weekend have secured the Flyers place in the playoffs and I hope they can now go on and beat Dundee and win a playoff weekend spot in Nottingham.

I congratulated the team by lodging a motion, which can be found below, in the Scottish Parliament following Flyers 5-4 shootout victory in Braehead on Saturday and 4-1 win on Sunday at the Fife Ice Arena. Continue reading

New food body can’t be a smokescreen for further cuts

Last year’s horsemeat scandal highlighted the SNP’s cuts to the very services that would ensure high food standards. The number of food safety samples taken dropped from over 16,000 in 2008-09 to 10,236 in 2011-12, Unison found that the number of meat inspectors has dropped by over 50%, from 170 in 2003 to 75 in 2013. There has also been in Scotland an 11% fall in the number of environmental health officers and a 21% drop in the number of specialist food safety officers.

It is therefore vital that the launch of a new food body, included in the Scottish Government’s Food (Scotland) Bill does not just consolidate existing groups or be a smokescreen for further cuts. Continue reading

Claire and Greener Kirkcaldy Shine on Fife for Earth Hour

On Thursday I held my members debate on local organisation Greener Kirkcaldy, following the debate we both teamed up to lend our support to WWF’s Earth Hour which takes place on Saturday 29 March.

The members’ debate followed my motion submitted following Greener Kirkcaldy’s annual gathering. The community based charity helps locals take action to ensure environmental issues are being tackled both at home and in the wider community.

It was great to get the opportunity to support and debate the hard work of Greener Kirkcaldy in the Scottish Parliament and promote their work to other MSPs and the Scottish Government. Continue reading

Claire raises mackerel certification concerns

Yesterday in Parliament I quizzed the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment during Topical Questions on mackerel certifications.

The topical question was raised by Conservative MSP for the Highlands and Islands Jamie McGrigor following the breakdown of negotiations on the mackerel dispute with Iceland and the Faroe Islands.

The breakdown was extremely disappointing for both Scottish fishermen and the communities that rely on the industry. The dispute has been ongoing for far too long and all attempts at talks have failed to provide an adequate solution. Continue reading

Claire to debate Greener Kirkcaldy in Parliament

Local organisation Greener Kirkcaldy will this week be debated in the Scottish Parliament as Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Claire Baker secured an opportunity to discuss the Fife based charity.

The charity helps locals take action to ensure environmental issues are being tackled both at home and in the wider community.

The organisation has ran initiatives such as Shine on Fife and Cosy Kirkcaldy with a consultation on plans for a community food hub currently running. Continue reading

Claire in Living Wage Call

Recently I joined with party colleagues in calling for the Scottish Government to use their spending power to deliver the living wage for workers in Fife and across Scotland.

The call followed a debate in the Scottish Parliament which will change the way public contracts are handed out to private companies; covering goods and services from the provision of stationary to the delivery of major capital projects, such as the Queensferry Crossing.

Public sector procurement is worth at least £9 billion a year in Scotland and the Scottish Labour Party has called for those employed in these contracts to be paid the living wage, set at £7.45 an hour. Continue reading

Kinship care postcode lottery continues

The postcode lottery of financial support for kinship carers has remained in place in Scotland after the Scottish Government failed to support Labour’s amendments during the Children and Young People bill that has passed in Parliament last week.

Kinship care, where a member of the child’s extended family looks after the child as the parent cannot, can vary wildly in both eligibility and support depending on where in Scotland you live. Continue reading

A92 Concerns raised in Parliament

Last week in Parliamentraised concerns over the safety of the A92 with the Transport Minister during General Questions. This followed the recent tragic fatalities that have occurred on the road.

One serious incident on the road is one too many and our thoughts go out to the families of the tragic fatalities that have occurred over the past few months. Since 2007 the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland have spent over £2 billion maintaining and improving Scotland’s trunk roads. Yet despite rising number of fatalities in the A92, the road has only seen under 1% of that spending. Continue reading

School Visits

Recently I was able to visit three schools within Fife to answer pupil’s questions on being a MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife.

I visited Kirkcaldy West and Falkland Primary schools both of which were doing projects on the Scottish Parliament before visiting Glenwood High School in Glenrothes to speak to 4th year pupils ahead of sitting their National 4 exams. Continue reading