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.
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.
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.
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 →
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 →
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.
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 →
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 →
I will be raising the GP crisis in Fife with the Health Secretary as I ask what support the Scottish Government is offering to struggling practices in the Kingdom.
The question follows a series of stories regarding the crisis facing GPs and patients in the region. This included the closure of a practice at Kirkcaldy Medical Centre despite NHS Fife trying to run the service with locum GPs.
Following numerous failed attempts to hire a replacement full time GP, Fife Health and Social Care took the decision to close the practice. As a result over 1,600 patients were dispersed to new practices.
Nationally over 52 practices have been transferred to local health services. As a result more than 160,000 patients are now served by an NHS run practice. According to the Royal College General Practitioners there is estimated to be a shortfall of 856 GPs by 2021.
Fife has been facing a growing GP crisis for some time and as RCGP highlighted it is expected to get worse not better in the years ahead. Patients deserve to been seen quick, by their regular GP and without being ferried from practice to practice. Continue reading →