Thursday 12 January 2017
Firstly I would like wish you all a guid new year and I hope that you had time to relax and enjoy the festive season with family and friends.
Protecting Scotland’s Place in Europe
The first debate of the new parliamentary term focused on the importance of membership of the EU and protecting human rights and I took the opportunity to contribute to the debate.
The UK government of today appears intent not only on removing us from ECHR but on scrapping the Human Rights Act too. Human rights have been successfully deployed time and time again by ordinary people in challenging the vested interests of public authorities and the state.
The Human Rights Act has been used by disabled people to challenge the UK government’s welfare changes and cuts, including highlighting the inequity of the Bedroom Tax and the abolition of the Independent Living Fund (reinstated by the Scottish Government). Victims of crime have held the police to account for failing to investigate alleged crimes properly. Rape survivors have ensured they can participate in proceedings relating to the release of their medical records. And families of military personnel killed in action have taken on the MOD for supplying out of date equipment. These are but a few of the countless examples where people at the most vulnerable or painful times in their lives have exercised their rights and secured justice.
You can access my full contribution at: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=10722&i=98397
In light of the Brexit vote one of many areas of concern has been funding opportunities afforded with membership. Creative Europe has provided substantial support to the creative industries across Scotland but this stream of funding could be withdrawn.
Many local organisations such as YDance, the Royal Conservatoire and the National Youth Orchestras of Scotland have all benefitted from support so I took the opportunity to raise this issue in Parliament during Portfolio Question time.
You can read the exchange here:
Alcohol Focus Scotland
Alcohol Focus Scotland had a stand in the Scottish Parliament this week highlighting information on what further measures should be put in
place by the Scottish Government.
Statistics for Glasgow do not make good reading. 6,614 alcohol related hospital stays which is significantly worse than the national average and there is an £364.8m annual cost for health, social care, crime and productive capacity that equates to £615 per person across the city.
The Scottish Government have taken steps to tackle the harm caused by alcohol with levels of consumption and harm declining since the strategy was put in place in 2009.
However more remains to be done and we need to have a long hard look at the financial and social costs to our city.
Plans for major changes to the Scottish planning system have been published this week. The Scottish Government has set out 20 proposals for revamping the system, which will support economic growth, delivery of houses and increase community involvement in planning decisions. They form a consultation which will pave the way for a planning bill to be brought forward this year.
The proposals build on recommendations of an independent review carried out by a panel of experts last year. Key changes include zoning more land for housing, promoting self-build and removing the need to apply for planning permission for more types of development. The consultation also seeks views on new rights for communities to produce their own plans for their local area.
I would encourage anyone with an interest in the planning system to make their views known and submit to the consultation here: https://consult.scotland.gov.uk/planning-architecture/a-consultation-on-the-future-of-planning/
Malawi and Glasgow
Good news this week as the Scottish Government announced its support for clinical research into inflammatory and cardiac diseases in Malawi and Glasgow communities.
International Development Minister Alasdair Allan confirmed the government will contribute £1 million over five years, which will be match funded, to help set up three new laboratories at the College of Medicine in Blantyre, Malawi.
The £2 million project delivered by the University of Glasgow and College of Medicine, follows an increase in the number of Malawians with non-communicable diseases such as cardiac disease, hypertension and arthritis. As a joint funded venture, the project has also secured £500,000 from the World Bank and will benefit from Malawi Liverpool Wellcome Centre’s continuing link with the College of Medicine.
The results of the research conducted will be used to improve healthcare in Malawi, and will inform research into the unexplained causes of poor health and low life expectancy in Glasgow – known as the ‘Glasgow Effect’. The University of Glasgow is considered a centre of excellence in the study of this clinical challenge amongst the local population, and offered to share this expertise with Malawi’s only public medical school in establishing research projects in this field.
A powerful film showing how professionals such as GPs, dentists, hairdressers and emergency workers, can help to spot the signs of domestic abuse has been unveiled.
Routine or private appointments – like a haircut, dental check-up or a home safety visit – can often provide an opportunity for domestic abuse victims to be given advice on how to get help.
The Ask, Support and Care (ASC) programme, set up under the pioneering Medics Against Violence project and the Violence Reduction Unit, has so far trained more than 2,300 professionals.
The new film – entitled ‘Harder’ – shows how the signs of domestic abuse can sometimes be visible, though not necessarily in bruises or injury, and includes advice about how to broach this sensitive subject with someone who may be the victim of abuse.
As well as being used in training sessions, the video is being made publicly available to further raise awareness of how many more people can spot the signs of domestic abuse.
You can watch the short version of the Harder video by going to: https://vimeo.com/197415152