Thursday 21 June 2018


I pay tribute to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service who showed bravery and professionalism in bringing the fire under control and ensuring the safety of the public. The Mack as it is affectionately known is an iconic institution loved by many both here in Glasgow and across the globe. Many are mourning the devastation this fire has brought.

I took the opportunity to question the Cabinet Secretary for Culture on what support will be offered and when we can expect some answers on how this fire ensued. You can read the exchange here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=11610&i=105214

Glasgow City Council have offered support to residents and you can get support by calling North West team on 0141 276 6168 during office hours and 0800 838 502 out-of-hours and for Businesses within the safety cordon should contact Business Glasgow at businesssupport@glasgow.gov.uk or 0141 276 5333.


06.18 VisitorsIt’s always great to welcome constituents to the Parliament and this week was no exception. On Wednesday some members of my own family and their friends popped into the Parliament for a tour. As you can see they were delighted to be here so much so that they stayed to watch and listen to the debate on the music industry in Glasgow of which I was contributing.


International Women in Engineering Day is marked on 23 June this year with the theme of Raising the Bar. It is an international awareness campaign to raise the profile of women in engineering and focuses attention on the amazing career opportunities available to girls in this exciting industry. It celebrates the outstanding achievements of women engineers throughout the world.

My colleague Gillian Martin MSP led a members debate in the Parliament on this subject and I took the opportunity to contribute highlighting a hugely successful and positive project FemEng and FemEng Rwanda.

You can read my full speech here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=11610&i=105233

Mental Health

06.18 Royal Mail Mental HealthRoyal Mail and their charity partner’s Action for Children, Scottish Association for Mental Health and the Prince’s Trust were in the Parliament this week highlighting their work on improving mental wellbeing both in young people and throughout the Royal Mail’s workforce.

In May 2017, Royal Mail announced a new charity partnership with Action for Children, to focus on addressing mental health issues in young people. They raised more than £2 million for Action for Children to employ specialist youth workers to deliver face-to-face support sessions for 8,000 young people aged 15–18, to help prevent them from developing depression and other mental health problems.

Music Venues

One of the members debates this week focused on the music industry across Glasgow and in particular a recent report Growing the Value for Music Tourism in Glasgow from Scottish Enterprise in partnership with Glasgow Life.

Representing the city centre with a high concentration of popular music venues I took the time to contribute to the debate.

We are extremely lucky to have such a fantastic, thriving live music scene across the city and in order to have this we need the venues that have been catalysts for the success of so many young aspiring musicians over decades.

They are both cultural landmarks and tourist attractions as well as being the home of fantastic live music and it goes without saying with the best audiences in the world but some of them are under threat from developers in their pursuit of providing high end accommodation in the city centre. Developers don’t want to pay for soundproofing of their buildings and would instead have the venues – already established and many over decades – foot the cost.

I support the introduction of the Agent of Change whereby developers and those either building or buying property adjacent to a music venue are liable for any costs of soundproofing.

You can read the full debate here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=11613&i=105267

Epilepsy Connections

06.18 Epilepsy Connections.MOVWhat a pleasure to have more guests from Epilepsy Connections visit the Parliament this week.

They had the full works with a tour of the parliamentary complex, followed by a trip to the public gallery to watch First Ministers Question Time.

I managed to catch up with them in between their full itinerary for a quick chat and this lovely photograph.


In marking World Refugee Week I spoke in the Scottish Government’s debate on Thursday. I am proud of the approach of the Scottish Government – humane, empathising, supportive and welcoming. The second New Scots Strategy builds on the work gone before with a foundation of dignity and respect at its heart.

You can read the full debate here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/ReportSelectPage.aspx?type=plenary&year=2018&page=0&meeting=-1


06.18 MNDMy colleague Christina McKelvie MSP led a parliamentary debate on MND this week where she outlined how the Scottish Government is working to ensure that people living with MND have access to the best possible care, support and research.   The SNP in government has invested £2.5 million in a Specialist Nursing and Care Fund each year since 2015, more than doubling the number of MND specialist nurses across the country.   The Scottish Government is also developing Scotland’s first National Action Plan on Neurological Conditions, investing in research capacity and bringing major MND studies to Scotland. Since 2015, the government has committed more than £750,000 has been committed in Scotland to research into MND and is funding two new recipients of the Gordon Aikman Scholarship again this year.

06.18 Charities Aid FoundationCharities Aid Foundation were exhibiting in Parliament and I took the opportunity to stop by and chat to their representatives about their work.

We spoke of charitable trends across Scotland and how these compare against the UK as a whole. Now in its second year, Charities Aid Foundation’s report Scotland Giving offers the first opportunity to draw comparisons and changes over time.

Over 100 charities also attended the event in Parliament along with MSPs who had the opportunity to hear first-hand about the climate in which Scotland’s charities are operating.

CAF’s report is now in its second year and is the only major study of its kind. It found that Scotland accounts for 11.8% of all UK charitable donations, despite representing 8.4% of the UK’s population.  The report also found that the most popular causes supported by those in Scotland were children and young people, with 28% of those surveyed saying they had donated to this cause. This was followed by medical research (27%) and animal welfare (25%).


Thursday 14 June 2018

Responsible Parking

06.18 Transport Bill Buchanan Street Bus Station LaunchOn Monday the Minister for Transport Humza Yousaf MSP launched the new Transport Bill at Buchanan Street Bus Station.

I was delighted to attend and hear the Minister outline the measures within the new proposed legislation and in particular an issue I have been campaigning on for many years responsible parking!

The Bill will introduce a national ban on pavement and double parking to make it easier for local authorities to ensure our pavements and roads safer and more accessible to all.

Key provisions include:

Providing local authorities with powers to enforce the national ban

The ability for local authorities to promote exemptions from the national ban, but they will be required to meet strict criteria

The Bill provides exceptions to certain vehicles if they are involved in emergencies or delivering goods

Detailed standards and guidance will be produced for local authorities to deliver a consistent approach in how they enforce the new parking restrictions

Providing local authorities with powers to share services with other councils to enforce the new restrictions

Requiring local authorities to keep accounts in relation to the money they receive from the enforcement of the new restrictions

You can access the details of the Bill here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/Bills/108683.aspx

Child Bereavement

06.18 Childhood Bereavement UK.docxThis week in Parliament I sponsored an exhibition of information from The Scotland Development Project of Child Bereavement UK.

The Project work’s in partnership with local education, health and social care services, bereavement services and other voluntary organisations within each locality, and has set up advisory groups / networks in each area, with representation from all agencies. Their aim is to ensure coordination of support and to develop clear pathways for children and families.

They offer bereavement awareness training for individuals and organisations, seminars for the children’s workforce as well as information on publications and resources to support families and schools.

They have also been involved in supporting the development of a new West of Scotland Guideline for Neonatal Death and End of Life Care. You can find out more about the new guideline and the project at https://childbereavementuk.org/about-us/scotland-development-project/

Student Support

Over £21 million is to be invested in improving the financial support available to students at university and college.

As part of a package of measures, the bursary for care-experienced students in further and higher education will be increased this year to £8,100, bringing the support available in line with the Scottish living wage at a cost of around £5.5 million

£16 million will be invested next year in increasing college bursaries and university grants for students from the lowest income families and expand access to them, and the repayment threshold for student loans will be raised to £25,000 from April 2021, and this year the maximum repayment period for student loans will be lowered from 35 to 30 years.

Elder Abuse 

06.18 Elder Abuse Awareness DayWith Elder Abuse World Awareness Day on Friday 15 June this year and as Convener of the CPG on Older People, Age and Ageing in the Scottish Parliament I was more than happy to host an event with Action on Elder Abuse in Parliament this week to raise awareness.

On 15th June each year people come together to send out a clear message – that the abuse of older people will not be tolerated. We want an end to the assault, neglect, abuse and intimidation of our older generation.

The message resonates right around the world and does make a difference! Please sign the pledge at https://www.elderabuse.org.uk/forms/i-pledge

Organ Donation

Scotland will move to a soft opt out system for organ and tissue donation, under legislation introduced to the Scottish Parliament.

The Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Scotland) Bill will change organ and tissue donation from the current ‘opt in’ system to an ‘opt out’ system. Under the proposed system, if someone has not stated a decision about donation, they may be deemed as having authorised it.

The Bill contains safeguards to ensure people’s wishes regarding donation are followed and that families will be asked about their loved one’s views to ensure donations don’t occur where the person would not have wished it.

The move to an opt out system received 82% support from respondents in a public consultation in 2017. It will add to measures that have contributed towards improvements in organ donation over the last decade in Scotland, which has seen   an 89% increase in the number of deceased organ donors and a 78% increase in organ transplants.


Great news this week with Glasgow City Council announcing mandatory CPR lessons for all secondary pupils across the city. You can view the motion I lodged in Parliament this week highlighting the decision and seeking support for other local authorities to follow suit here : http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/28877.aspx?SearchType=Advance&ReferenceNumbers=S5M-12733&ResultsPerPage=10


06.18 Mackintosh Willow Tearooms 2It was a pleasure to attend the re-opening of the Mackintosh Willow Tea Rooms on Sauchiehall Street on this the 150th anniversary year celebrating Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s birthday.

Now that the renovations are almost complete the interiors are absolutely stunning showcasing the wonderful designs and distinct style of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

As you can see from the photograph attention to detail has certainly not been overlooked with this Mackintosh design inspired chair complimenting the rest of the interiors.

As well as beautiful surroundings the Tea Room also offers an array of food and drinks. We were treated to a delicious afternoon tea of sandwiches, cakes and scones with optional glass of fizz!

I would have no hesitation in recommending a trip to these beautiful tearooms which pays homage to one of Scotland’s most famous designers and hopefully there will soon be the addition of an interactive visitor/exhibition centre, education and learning suite.



Thursday 7 June 2018

Health Committee

06.18 Clyde College Health Comm Outreach VisitThe Health Committee were in Glasgow on Monday as part of our Outreach work visiting both Sunnyside Primary School and Clyde College.

The purpose of these informal sessions is to bring together young people and seek their views on health and sport policy as well as finding out about young people’s priorities in health and sport.

Some of the areas we covered included health inequality, eating disorders, sexual health advice and information in schools, self-harming, mental health and physical activity.

Both sessions were very informative and the information gained from these sessions will be fed back into the formal Health Committee work programme.


The Scottish Parliament passed the Historical Sexual Offences (Pardons and Disregards) (Scotland) Bill this week. The Scottish Government wanted to address the injustice that people experienced simply because of their sexual orientation and this Bill will help ensure we address this historic wrong.

The aim of this Bill is to provide a form of redress against the discriminatory effect of convicting men for same-sex sexual offences in the past, for activity that is now legal. While Scotland is a different place than it was 30 and 40 years ago in terms of the attitudes held by much of the population towards same-sex sexual activity, the discriminatory effect of these laws lingers on.

However, this legislation marks an important milestone in Scotland’s progress towards LGBTI equality – but there is still more to do.


More homeowners will be able to carry out energy efficiency work and improvements on their properties as a pilot scheme expands.

The HEEPS (Home Energy Efficiency Programme Scotland) scheme lets homeowners on low incomes borrow up to £40,000 for energy efficiency improvements and essential repairs, including the installation of a new boiler, double glazing or repairs to reduce heat loss – which will be repaid when they sell their home or transfer ownership.

The scheme was launched in January 2017 in three local authority areas (Glasgow City, Argyll and Bute, and Perth and Kinross) and has now been extended to include Inverclyde, Renfrewshire, Stirling, Dundee and the Western Isles until March 2019.

Cycling Initiative

06.18 Cycling Without Age 1Cycling Without Age were in the Parliament this week and I was delighted to catch up with their representatives having hosted them at the Cross Party Group on Older People, Age and Ageing last year.

Cycling Without Age was actually started in Copenhagen by Ole Kassow in 2012. Ole wanted to help the elderly get back on their bicycles, but he had to find a solution to their limited mobility. The answer was a trishaw and he started offering free bike rides to the local nursing home residents.

Cycling Without Age is a transformational project which brings the elderly population closer to the outdoor environment through the power of Cycling. The principles behind the initiative are to combat loneliness and isolation and begin when a volunteer (pilot) takes one or two older or less able people out on a trishaw bicycle. Experience of doing this has shown that the slowness of the bike ride enables the participants to absorb the environment, exchange stories, build relationships and enjoy a sense of fun and with ‘wind in the hair’.

06.18 Cycling Without Age 2There are 450 chapters around the world offering Cycling Without Age from over 1,500 trishaws. Many of the older people are from nursing or care establishments who have had the chance to get out of doors and explore the world around them.

Cycling without Age have been overwhelmed with the response to this initiative and they have recently been awarded Scottish Government funding to expand the service into other communities. I signed their pledge to assist them in expanding this initiative even further across Scotland and I am hopeful that we will soon be seeing these trishaws across Glasgow Kelvin.

To find out more about the project and how you can get involved go to:



06.18 British Psychological SocietyRepresentatives from the British Psychological Society Scotland were exhibiting in the Scottish Parliament last week and I took the opportunity to chat with them about their work.

They were promoting a number of their key policy themes, including:

children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing

psychologically healthy workplaces

suicide prevention

behaviour change interventions on energy conservation, smoking cession, physical activity, school attendance and screen use.

We are also promoting the Society position on public health issues such as obesity and healthy weight and our expertise on adults without capacity and on traumatic brain injury.

Community Fund

Communities will be able to decide how best they can tackle poverty and inequalities in their own area backed by a £20 million fund.

Since 2015 the Empowering Communities Fund (ECF) has supported hundreds of projects, giving communities more control over planning and decisions that affect them locally as well as driving forward regeneration and making changes through training, employment, arts and volunteering opportunities.

You can find out more here https://beta.gov.scot/policies/community-empowerment/empowering-communities-fund/


06.18 Good Spirits Gin CoMy colleague Christina McKelvie MSP hosted the event ‘An Evening of Scottish Gin and Spirits’ reception in the Parliament this week.

It was good to meet up with local Glasgow based retailer The Good Spirits Co pictured with some of their gin stock.

Founded in 2011 by three drinks enthusiasts – Shane Goodbody, Matthew McFadyen, and Mark Connelly their business has grown with three outlets across the city offering a wide variety of spirits.

The event provided MSPs the opportunity to meet producers and retailers, of gin and other spirits, from across Scotland.

There was of course the opportunity to sample produce, and hear from SMEs and multinationals.




Tackling anti-social behaviour in Kelvingrove Park

Sandra White MSP shocked at drink fuelled crime

Residents of Glasgow Kelvin were today appalled to learn of a violent attack that took place in one of Glasgow’s most loved public parks.

With the recent warm weather many have taken the opportunity to enjoy the sunshine outdoors. While the majority of Glaswegians have been able to do so in peace and quiet, the residents surrounding Kelvingrove Park have had to bear witness to an “unprecedented” spell of public disorder and violence.

In response the local MSP, Sandra White, has sought to tackle this anti-social behaviour head on and was today liaising with senior Police Officers for the West of Glasgow.

Commenting, Sandra White, MSP for Glasgow Kelvin, said:
“The safety of constituents is always a primary concern for elected members. To therefore learn of the recent binge drinking and subsequent violent attacks in Kelvingrove Park has left me shocked.

“The extreme nature of the violence reported, and in conjunction with the fact that public drinking is an offence in the first place, led me this morning to liaise with the local Chief Inspector. CI Lister has assured me in the strongest possible terms that Police Scotland are taking the disorder of the recent days extremely seriously. 

“Police Scotland have been monitoring the situation in the park for some time and have deployed greater resources this year than ever before to try and tackle the unprecedented level of anti-social behaviour reported. In response to the completely unacceptable levels of violence and public drinking, CI Lister has informed me that today yet further resources have been  authorised from her superiors to ensure public order is maintained. This will see mobile CCTV units, the mounted division, dog unit, and a greater number of patrols on the ground in order to prevent and dissuade illegal behaviour, as well as take action should any offence occur.

“The vast majority of the reports are resultant of public drinking, the associated behaviour this leads to, and also the fact that many individuals presenting as drunk and disorderly would appear to be under legal drinking age. As such Police Scotland will be continuing to work with GCC to ensure licensed premises only sell alcohol to those of age & the officers on patrol will not hesitate in taking appropriate action should they witness any public drinking in Kelvingrove Park.

“When we are lucky enough to have some good weather it is right that people should be free to enjoy our public parks – but only if they are willing to act in a respectful & law abiding fashion. I look forward to the rest of the summer and after speaking with Police Scotland I am reassured that Kelvingrove Park will be the friendly and welcoming place once more that I have always known it to be.”



Thursday 31 May 2018

Freedom to Run

05.18 Freedom to RunI was delighted to host the participants from Freedom to Run and Palestine based Right to Movement in the Scottish Parliament this week.

They are a collaboration of Scottish and Palestinian runners brought together to film a documentary highlighting the barriers Palestinians face on a daily basis even doing something as simple as attempting to run a marathon.

Both groups participated in the Palestine Marathon in March of this year and the Palestinian runners joined the Scottish runners at the weekend to participate in the Edinburgh Marathon.

In order to complete the documentary Freedom to Run have set up a crowdfunder here https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/freedom-to-run-sports#/ if you would like to find out more about the partnership and their journey please visit the site and if you can please make a donation.


Stage 1 of the Planning Bill was debated in the Parliament this week and I took the opportunity to participate highlighting the issue of developers and the huge rise in the number of student accommodation developments across the constituency.

As many of you will know this is an issue which I have been campaigning on for quite some time. I understand we have a huge student population across the constituency and there is a need for suitable accommodation. However, we also have a need for good quality affordable housing and with limited supplies of available land the current situation is making this impossible to realise.

You can read my full contribution here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=11566&i=104862

Play Scotland

05.18 Play 1I was delighted to meet up with representatives from Play Scotland when they made their annual journey to the Scottish Parliament this week.

I was a little disappointed that they hadn’t brought along their trampoline which I tried out last year however I did have a go at hopscotch!

Play Scotland works to deliver and promote Article 31 in Scotland which states “Every child has the right to relax, play and take part in a wide range of cultural and artistic activities”.

Play Scotland works to promote the importance of play for all children and young people, and campaigns to create increased play opportunities in the community.

From promoting play for families, learning through play, play for health and encouraging children to get out into their local communities and play.

They have a huge amount of creative play ideas on their website and you can check them out at http://www.playscotland.org/


Great news this week with Glasgow’s bid to home Channel 4’s National Headquarters in Scotland and a Creative Hub reaching the shortlist. To mark this success, I lodged the following motion in the Scottish Parliament:


G4C4 Bid That the Parliament welcomes the news that Glasgow has made the shortlist for the location for establishing a national headquarters for Channel 4, as well as a creative hub to be established in 2019; understands that this will be home to 300 Channel 4 jobs, including key creative decision makers, with the intention to grow over time; commends the board, which includes Glasgow City Council with support from the Scottish Government, as well as high-level representation from the city’s creative industries, and encourages everyone to sign up and back the bid at http://www.g4c4.tv

This would be an incredible achievement for the city with an estimated 300 jobs coming to Glasgow if the bid is successful.

The board led by Glasgow City Council with support from the Scottish Government and many other high profile representatives from the creative industries are to be commended on making it to the shortlist and I will certainly be giving my full backing to the bid.

You can find out more and give your support here www.g4c4.tv

Drugs Forum

05.18 SDFI was delighted to attend the Scottish Drugs Forum Addiction Worker Training Project Completion Ceremony in the Scottish Parliament this week.

This was a fantastic event celebrating the achievements of the trainees and the success of the project with contributions from Scottish Drugs Forum CEO David Liddell (pictured).

The project which started in 2004 is a unique initiative which supports, trains, and prepares individuals with a history of problematic drug and alcohol use to work in Social Care.

Scottish Drugs Forum works in partnership with accredited learning providers and alongside drug and alcohol services throughout Glasgow to provide the training for the students, who include people who were formerly homeless and ex-offenders who have previously experienced multiple barriers to employment.

I was privileged to be part of the awards ceremony and commend the determination and commitment shown by the trainees. I wish them all the very best of luck. 


A new way of monitoring and recording bullying in Scottish schools will be introduced this autumn.

The standardised approach will make it easier for teachers to identify trends and address the problem.

Updated guidance will be issued to schools and local authorities setting out how to consistently record information about the type and prevalence of bullying, to help them further support pupils.

To support the roll out of this guidance, the Scottish Government funded anti-bullying service ‘respectme’ will continue its work with local authorities and other organisations working with children and young people to build confidence and capacity to address bullying effectively.

Discover EU

Great news for young people living in the EU with the DiscoverEU initiative, which will provide young people from across the EU with an opportunity for a funded travel experience to explore Europe.

The scheme will enable free rail travel in up to four countries between 9 July and 30 September 2018. The applications are open for people from all 28 EU member states who are aged 18 on 1 June 2018 and they have from 2 to 26 June to apply.

You can find out more here: http://www.youdiscover.eu/faq