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.


Claire raises rise in sexual crimes

Following the release of recorded crime statistics this week I asked a question during First Minister’s Questions on the worrying increase in sexual crimes.

According to the statistics, sexual crime has seen a year on year increase since 2008 and there are concerns that we are seeing more sexual crimes involving young people.

That is why I asked the First Minister if she will back Rape Crisis Scotland’s call for support for their prevention approach in schools.

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Claire Welcomes Malawi to the Scottish Parliament

Recently I was delighted to welcome representatives from Malawi and give them a tour of the Scottish Parliament.

The group were visiting Scotland as guests of Dalgety Bay Parish Church who have a working partnership with Engcongolweni’s Church of Central Africa Presbyterian.

It was really good to meet members of both churches and hear about their relationship which has brought many positive benefits to communities in rural northern Malawi. This includes a project that provides clean water supply to the area, reaching over 7,500 people.

I was pleased to play my part in continuing efforts to strengthen the strong relationship Fife has established with this community in Malawi and I very much hope that they enjoyed their visit to Scotland.

Police Scotland Morale

Following last week’s Courier exclusive, I raised the issue of Police morale during Justice Questions in Parliament.

According to a Fife whistleblower morale amongst the force is “dreadful” and the number of officers able to respond to concerns had been “decimated”.

Police Scotland have admitted that their budget is “challenging”. This follows a summer of concerning newspaper stories regarding the impact the budget is having on resources and local policing

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Puffin Champion

Today the Species Champions initiative is relaunched in the Scottish Parliament. The initiative, run by Scottish Environment LINK, asks MSPs to become champions for wildlife in Scotland.

I am delighted to been one of the first champions announced on its launch date as I continue to champion the puffin, an iconic bird that can be found off the coast of Fife.

In the last parliament I tabled many questions and motions on puffins and the risks that they face and I look forward to working with RSPB Scotland once again in this parliament.

So far 48 MSPs have signed up to champion a specific Scottish species, which means over 80 MSPs have still to take part.

To find out who has already signed up and who you need to politely ‘badger’ to take part, you can check out the species champions webpage here:

Police Scotland concerns in Fife

Today in an exclusive from the Courier the impact on Police Scotland’s “challenging” budget has been laid bare.

According to a whistleblower from Fife, moral amongst local officers is “dreadful” and the number of staff “decimated”.

Concerns have also been raised that the force came close to not being able to pay wages on time. This has been denied by the Scottish Police Authority, the Scottish Government and Police Scotland, although the latter did admit that managing their budgets was “challenging”. Continue reading

Programme for Government Speech

Yesterday I spoke during the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government debate.

I raised concerns around local policing and Police Scotland’s budget, the use of tasers within British Transport Police and the Scottish Government’s planes to merge BTP with Police Scotland.

I also raised the plans for a domestic abuse bill and the need for such legislation following the publication of statistics around Clare’s Law. Continue reading

Cleft Lip and Palate Campaign

Today I met with campaigners, including from Fife, who are opposing plans to centralise cleft lip and palate surgery to a single site in Scotland.

As a result, those within Fife would have to travel to Glasgow to receive such surgery. Previously the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh also offered cleft lip and palate surgery.

Campaigners today were handing over a petition with over 6,000 signatures and I hope that NHS Scotland and the Scottish Government listen to their concerns.

You can find out more and sign the petition here

Coalfields Home Internationals

I was delighted to attend the recent Coalfields Home Internationals at Forthbank Stadium to watch teams from Benarty and Alloa battle it out with teams from Derby, Hartlepool, Blaenau Gwent and Merthyr Tydfil.

Coalfield Regeneration Trust do a great job in supporting and empowering coalfield communities across the country and this football tournament was the culmination of a nationwide competition that pitted teams of 14 to 16 year olds against each other.

I was delighted that my region was hosting the final and that two local teams had made it through the Scottish section. I was also pleased to see Kelty & Blairadam Pipe Band providing the entertainment throughout the day.

Congratulations to the team from Hartlepool who were the overall winners.