This week I was delighted to attend celebrations in Kirkcaldy to mark 25 years of Fife Community Interpretation Services. It’s a fantastic organisation providing a vital service which supports equality and inclusivity in Fife.
Fife Community Interpretation Services has around 60 interpreters on its register and has helped people communicate with health and welfare services, around legal matters and when dealing with other local services. They also provide translation services for official documents, letters, reports and media.
For 25 years they have provided interpretation services across Fife in a large number of different languages and I extend my very best wishes for continued success in the future.
As part of Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight it was a pleasure to visit Novelli’s ice cream parlour in Burntisland to celebrate their fantastic ice cream, which is made in the parlour, and recognise its contribution to the vibrancy of the local High Street.
It’s great to see an innovative business providing a quality Scottish product and I enjoyed hearing about how Novelli’s, as a fairly new business, has flourished as well as its future plans.
This year Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight (31 August to 15 September) is celebrating 10 years of showcasing our counbtry’s food and drink sector. It’s an opportunity to highlight the success of businesses like Novelli’s which invest in quality produce and their contribution to our economy and communities.
This week I visited the 201 Telephone Box Gallery in Strathkinness as part of the nationwide Art in Action campaign led by Scottish Contemporary Art Network (SCAN).
The Gallery is located in a disused telephone box which was adopted by Strathkinness Community Trust and converted into a contemporary art gallery in a project led by local artist and curator Lada Wilson.
The Art in Action campaign is promoting the valuable role visual art plays within communities across Scotland – and calling for stronger recognition of this value when it comes to decision-making.
The gallery provides a fantastic opportunity for the community to connect with visual art and has generated a lot of local discussion. I hope that through the Art in Action campaign, the role of art and artists in communities can be better understood so we can work to ensure better recognition of its value in decision-making at all levels.
The gallery itself demonstrates how the smallest of spaces can be used innovatively to explore ideas and bring visual arts into communities so it can be enjoyed and engaged with on people’s doorstep.
The decision to take forward the reopening of the Levenmouth rail link is very positive news. The reintroduction of a rail service will bring huge economic, educational, social and cultural opportunities to Levenmouth.
The announcement is testament to the determination and commitment of the Levenmouth Rail Campaign group. I have supported their campaign since I was elected in 2007 and am proud that Labour gave a commitment to reopening the line in our 2016 manifesto.
We recognised the strong case for the economic and social benefits it will bring to Levenmouth, and I am delighted that the Scottish Government is now convinced of the argument.
The confirmation that DF Barnes is to reopen the BiFab yard at Methil, creating 40 new jobs, is welcome news and provides a much-needed boost for the local industry in the short-term. However, work must continue to secure the long-term future of BiFab and for its skilled and committed workforce.
The new jobs are being created in Fife as part of BiFab’s contract for pin piles for the Moray East Offshore Windfarm, and are expected to be in place by 4th August.
We await news on the awarding of contracts for EDF Renewables’ Neart Na Gaoithe wind farm and I continue to urge EDF to award work to the Fife yards.
Following the decision not to retain Out of Hours services in Glenrothes, I have called on NHS Fife to ensure all residents continue to be supported in accessing available services in the region. It is extremely disappointing that Glenrothes will not have an Out of Hours service within the town and I understand people’s anger at this decision. Assurances must be provided to Glenrothes residents on the provision of free taxis as soon as possible to ensure those without transport can access services elsewhere in Fife.
I do welcome the news that overnight services will be provided in Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy, and that new arrangements will be in place in St Andrews. Fife residents have undergone months of uncertainty and it has taken far too long to reach this decision. The NHS board must act quickly to put the new arrangements in place and raise awareness of the changes. What we cannot see is any further delay or confusion.
At the core of these changes is a shortage of GPs and the knock-on effects are being felt across NHS services. Urgent action needs to be taken by the Scottish Government to increase GP numbers so services across Fife and Scotland can improve.
This week marks British Lung Foundation’s #LoveYourLungs Week, with the focus on encouraging people to take an online breath test as part of looking after their lung health.
While feeling short of breath from time to time is healthy and normal, sometimes it can be a sign of something more serious. Taking the online breath test can help you find out if you should get it checked out.
Visit breathtest.blf.org.uk to take the 5 minute test.
This week Scottish Labour led a debate in Parliament on the BiFab construction yards. Ahead of the debate I met with representatives of Fife – Ready for Renewal and gave my support to their campaign, which calls for work to be delivered to the yards in Methil and Burntisland.
The debate highlighted the location of EDF’s planned Neart Na Gaoithe (NnG) Offshore Wind Farm off the Fife coast, calling for related contracts for turbine jackets to be awarded to BiFab rather than to overseas firms.
The idea that EDF will award the contracts for wind-turbine jackets for the NnG Offshore Wind Farm, sitting off the coast of Fife, to Indonesia to then be shipped over seven thousand miles to Scotland is just not acceptable.
I am urging EDF to do the right thing, to honour commitments they have given to local investment, to support the Scottish industry. In return they will receive a highly skilled, committed workforce.
Ahead of the introduction of new timetables in parts of the rail network, including on the Fife-Edinburgh line, ScotRail is promoting upcoming increases in available seats for passengers through its introduction of more high-speed trains and class 385 electric trains.
However there are no planned improvements for passengers travelling on the Fife circle, where commuters continue to experience delays, overcrowding and cancellations. ScotRail is failing to address the frustrations of Fife passengers and continues to deliver a sub-standard service.
While increases in available seats might be good news for other passengers, I am really disappointed that there is no good news for Fife commuters. Fife is again forgotten about while passengers continue to travel on overcrowded trains and have to put up with cancellations. Fifers spend a significant portion of their income on rail transport and this service continues to be not good enough.
We need to see improvement on the Fife circle sooner rather than later and I will continue to push for the Fife service to either be brought up to standard or for travellers to have a fare cut in compensation for the ongoing poor service.