Ebrief

Thursday 30 November

St Andrews Day

11.17 SaltireHappy St Andrews Day to you all! This is a great day to reflect on our patron saint and his philosophy – share what you have with those less fortunate and be kind to each other.

I also wanted to remind you all about the West End Festival 11.17 West End Festival ParadeTorchlight Parade taking place tonight at 6.30pm. The procession will form up at the football pitches at the top of Queen Margaret Drive at the junction with Maryhill Road setting off down Queen Margaret Drive, down Byres Rd, Church Street and finishes at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

Whatever and however you decide to celebrate enjoy!

Policing Scotland

The Cabinet Secretary for Justice Michael Matheson made a statement to Parliament on Tuesday regarding the current situation with Police Scotland.

As many of you will already know several officers have been suspended and are now under investigation. The Deputy Chief Constable Designate Iain Livingstone acted quickly to review his command structure. As a result, two officers will be promoted to temporary Assistant Chief Constable with immediate effect.

You can read the full text of his speech here https://news.gov.scot/speeches-and-briefings/parliamentary-statement-on-policing

Volunteer Glasgow

11.17 Volunteer GlasgowWhat a great visit I had to Volunteer Glasgow meeting up with Chief Executive Bernadette Monaghan and the staff to hear more about the range of services they deliver from staff, volunteers and service users.

Volunteering can be life changing for people and communities, including the power of befriending and mentoring support to help young people achieve better outcomes and reach their potential.

If you would like more information on how to get involved go to: http://www.volunteerglasgow.org/

Rates Relief

Leisure and cultural venues currently run by council arm’s-length bodies will continue to benefit from charity relief from non-domestic rates.

Following lengthy consultation with stakeholders, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay today confirmed that the Scottish Government will not be accepting the recommendation of the Barclay Review to end this benefit.

It means that local authority arm’s-length external organisations (ALEOs) currently providing important leisure and cultural facilities will continue to benefit from reduced rates to support their activities.

Mr Mackay also announced he will take steps to offset the charity relief benefit to councils from any new ALEO expansion in future.

World AIDS Day

11.17 World AIDS DayThe Parliament was host to a debate and reception this week to mark World AIDS Day on 1 December.

HIV Scotland, Waverley Care, Positive Help, Hwupenyu Health & Wellbeing Project, National AIDS Trust, Terrence Higgins Trust Scotland and Pasante were all represented at the reception.

Chatting with those representatives I had the opportunity to hear about the impact stigma has on the lives and wellbeing of people living with HIV in Scotland, and the HIV Anti-Stigma Strategy which is a leading contribution to ongoing work both nationally and globally towards challenging HIV-related stigma.

11.17 Pasante World AIDS DayThere’s a lot we can all do to prevent new cases of HIV (the virus that can cause AIDS), to challenge the stigma and prejudice that people living with HIV face, and to remember those who’ve died from AIDS-related illnesses since the 1980s.

I was particularly pleased to see representatives from Pasante who do some incredible work in partnership with the Terence Higgins Trust offering free condoms and sexual health testing at the clinic on Sauchiehall Street.

I would encourage you all to lend your support in tackling the stigma by wearing a red ribbon and sharing your photos, posts or videos of what you’re doing to mark World AIDS Day using #WhatWillYouDO

NHS Staff Support

NHS Scotland staff who are not satisfied with internal investigations will soon be able to enlist the help of an Independent National Whistleblowing Officer (INWO) – a UK first.

Legislation will be introduced to Parliament next year to bring the INWO role under the auspices of the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman. This would provide statutory powers to help whistleblowers.

Theatre Nemo

11.17 Theatre NemoA huge thank you to Isobel McCue and the staff, volunteers and participants at Theatre Nemo for a very warm reception and an extremely creative afternoon!

Theatre Nemo supports people in recovery from poor mental health. They provide creative workshops that have a focus on mental wellbeing, teaching people coping strategies and developing a greater understanding of their own mental health, where to get support and how to support others.

To find out about upcoming projects or to get involved with Theatre Nemo please contact Hugh McCue CEO, Hugh@theatrenemo.org, 0141 559 4941

Apple Day and Belhaven Nursery

11.17 Belhaven NurseryPupils and staff from Belhaven Nursery were guests of the Parliament this week as part of the Holyrood Apple Day event. Holyrood Apple Day has become an annual celebration which has coincided with St Andrews Day. It is a great opportunity for schools, community groups, and businesses interested in creating a fruitful Scotland to meet MSPs as well as a chance to show off the collection of apples, juices and cider made with apples from across Scotland. 11.17 Holyrood Apple Day

For over 10 years more than 25,000 fruit trees, in over 500 schools, with community gardens and allotments, gardens, parks and streets across Scotland have been planted.

All of the children seemed to be having a great time and I was very impressed with their impeccable behaviour. They were fantastic ambassadors for the nursery!

Historical Sexual Offences

Holyrood’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee is looking to hear views from the general public as the Historical Sexual Offences (Pardons and Disregards) Bill starts its journey through the Scottish Parliament.

Before the Bill can become a law, it will undergo thorough scrutiny by Members on the Committee. The Bill proposes granting a pardon to all men convicted of consensual same-sex activity under old discriminatory laws and, if applied for, a legal disregard. A disregard would mean that their criminal record would not be considered if a background check were carried out.

The closing date for making a submission in Friday 19 January 2018. You can make a submission by email to equalities.humanrights@parliament.scot or you can also write to:

Clerk to the Equalities and Human Rights Committee, Room T2.60, Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, EH99 1SP

Caring Christmas Tree

11.17 Caring Christmas TreesIt was good to meet up with representatives from Bethany Christian Trust this week in Parliament.

They were in promoting their Caring Christmas Trees project. All trees sold by them will see the proceeds go to helping the homeless.

Buying a Caring Christmas Tree is simple but has a huge impact. Every Caring Christmas Tree funds vital work to transform lives across Scotland. Thanks to your purchase, we are able to support 7,000 people with homelessness and housing, addictions and basic furniture. We also work with children and families and help people gain the confidence and skills to find work and contribute to the life of their local community.

You can find out more at https://www.caringchristmastrees.com/#simple3

 

Record Number of Scots at Uni

The latest UCAS figures reveal that a record number of Scots were accepted to UK universities in 2017 and Scottish universities opened their doors to record numbers of new students.

While all other UK countries saw a decrease in the number of their residents accepted to university, Scotland bucks the trend with increasing numbers of Scots accepted to universities here.

Meanwhile, after years of positive growth, UCAS has cited Brexit as a possible cause for the 4.4% decline in EU applicants choosing to come and study in the UK.

The damage that this Brexit-fuelled reduction in EU students will do to both our economy and the world of academia is highlighted by the Universities UK research which found that EU students generated £414.1m for the Scottish economy in 2011-12, and in doing so created 3,743 jobs.

 Commenting, Glasgow Kelvin SNP MSP Sandra White said:

 “It is fantastic that Scotland’s education system has supported 36,500 people to secure a place at university this year – that’s a 2.4% increase on last year.

“We are also bucking the trend with increasing numbers of Scots accepted to universities here, while all other UK nations have experienced a decline in local applications to university.

“And while it’s great that Scottish universities opened their doors to record numbers in 2017, it is concerning that the UK has become an increasingly less popular destination for EU students since the Brexit vote last year. This is bad news for our universities and for the wider Scottish economy, which is boosted by hundreds of millions of pounds generated by EU students each year.

 “The Tories’ increasingly insular approach to the world and the endless uncertainty they have created for EU citizens living here in Glasgow is damaging the UK’s reputation, our economy and future prosperity, and the SNP will do all in its power to protect EU citizens in Glasgow and continue making Scotland an attractive place to work and study.” 

Ebrief

Thursday 23 November 2017

Budget

The UK Chancellor laid bare his budget this week which has been met with sharp criticism.

Scotland’s resource block grant for day to day spending will fall by over £200m in real terms next year and while money for the NHS in England should see a proportionate share come to Scotland, cuts in other UK departments mean that instead of receiving over £30m this year the Scottish Government will receive only £8m – a fraction of that spending.

The reality is that over £1.1bn of the money being promised to Scotland over the next four years are loans that the Scottish Government cannot spend directly on frontline public services and that have to be paid back to the Treasury.

This budget has failed to lift the public sector pay cap. The Scottish Government believes all public sector workers deserve a pay rise and we will deliver one.

On business rates and stamp duty the UK Government are following the Scottish Government’s lead. And ending the VAT obligation on police and fire services and supporting the oil and gas industry is welcome, but in both cases these moves are well overdue, and the UK Government must now pay back the £140m of VAT they have already taken.

The reality of this budget is that Scotland continues to be hit by UK austerity and the decision to leave the EU. Compared with the £1bn awarded to the DUP, the funding settlement for Scotland unveiled is disappointing.

Children’s Day

11.17 BarnardosUnited Nations Universal Children’s Day was established in 1954 and is celebrated on November 20th each year to promote international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improving children’s welfare.

November 20th is an important date as it is the date in 1959 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. It is also the date in 1989 when the UN General assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Since 1990, Universal Children’s Day also marks the anniversary of the date that the UN General Assembly adopted both the declaration and the convention on children’s rights.

In recognition and marking Universal Children’s Day I took the opportunity to visit our local Barnardos shop on Dumbarton Road. I had a great meeting with the shop manager and the volunteer staff who offer their time to help an extremely worthy cause.

Building Regulations

The Local Government Committee report Building Regulations and Fire Safety findings were debated in Parliament this week and I took the opportunity to contribute raising constituency concerns particularly with regards to regulations, developers and fire safety measures.

The Committee’s initial work into, and interest in, the issue of building regulations and the verification process was focused on complaints from a number of individuals relating to private house builders. However, during the course of their inquiry, their work was catalysed as a result of two events. Firstly, the publication of the Report on the Independent Inquiry into the Construction of Edinburgh Schools by Professor John Cole CBE and secondly the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in London which led to the Committee agreeing in June 2017 to widen its ongoing scrutiny of building regulations in Scotland to include the fire safety aspects of these regulations.

You can read my full contribution here http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/ormain.aspx

Money Advice Service

11.17 Money Advice ScotlandMoney Advice Scotland (MAS) were exhibiting in the Parliament this week highlighting their newly launched e-learning module on financial capability.

I took time to stop and have a chat with them about their work and to find out what the module would offer people.

It is designed to help you improve your money management and budgeting skills covering eight different topics around personal finance.

It will help create a personal household budget with hints and tips on saving money.

You don’t need to go online to seek support from MAS you can also use their Freephone no 0800 731 4722 or if you would like to have a look at their e learning modules or find out more about their work go to www.moneyadvicescotland.org.uk

Imprisoned Writers

My colleague Ivan McKee MSP led a members debate this week on the Day of the Imprisoned Writer which is marked on 15 November. It commemorates writers around the world who have been imprisoned, threatened or attacked for exercising their right to freedom of expression.

I highlighted the arbitrary detention of blogger Raif Badawi, currently serving a 10-year sentence in Saudi Arabia. I fully support PEN International’s call for Badawi’s conviction to be overturned and for him to be released immediately and unconditionally. You can read the full debate here: www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/ormain.aspx

Bike for Good

11.17 Bike for GoodAs an ardent supporter of Bike for Good I was more than happy to go along to their family fun day at their Haugh Road base at the weekend to see their host of cycle themed family friendly activities.

Bike for Good are Scotland’s largest bike recycling charity which takes any and all unwanted bikes, no matter their age or condition.

Every bike they get helps support their work promoting cycling, providing training and offering volunteering and other opportunities.

By selling secondhand bikes it also helps individuals who may not have otherwise afforded a bike the opportunity to get cycling.

Now 7 years old having grown from a small stall on the Barras they now have two branches across the city as well as a team of 50 + individuals, with their work changing thousands of lives for the better.

Fairer Scotland

Public sector bodies now have a duty to consider what more they can do to reduce poverty and inequality when making key decisions.

The Fairer Scotland Duty, the first action in the Fairer Scotland Action Plan and the first of its kind in the UK, comes into force in April 2018.  Public sector bodies including the Scottish Government, NHS and local authorities, will all have a duty to tackle social and economic disadvantage in local areas.

Actions that have been completed include:

The ambitious Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill unanimously passed by Parliament

Establishing a National Poverty and Inequality Commission

Establishing a £29 million fund dedicated to tackling poverty

Delivering the first baby boxes of basic essentials

Funding two new organisations in Dundee and North Ayrshire to help people with direct experience of poverty speak out to improve public services

Year of Young People Survey

People are most likely to hold positive views of young people as trustworthy and helpful to others, new research from the Scottish Government shows.

The survey, published during the launch week of Year of Young People 2018 examined the attitudes and perceptions of more than 1,000 adults towards 13-19 year olds.

It found that those who said they personally knew a young person were much more likely to be positive in their views of young people in general.

But a quarter viewed young people as lazy, more than a third saw them as irresponsible and almost four in ten thought they were lacking in communication skills.

Read the Scottish Government report Public attitudes to young people in Scotland and click here Year of Young People 2018 to find out more.

 

Grill Guru

11.17 Grill GuruLast Friday I had the pleasure of cutting the ribbon to officially open Grill Guru on Oswald Street.

Shrinivash Kumar and his staff welcomed invited guests to the celebrations and to mark the grand opening Grill Guru teamed up with Cancer Research with all proceeds from sales going to the charity.

Bowel Screening

Thousands more people across Scotland will benefit from the roll-out of a new and easier screening test to detect symptoms of bowel cancer.

The Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) requires participants to collect one bowel motion sample, rather than the current test which requires samples over three days.

Research suggests FIT’s ease of use will encourage more people to take part in the programme. The test is being offered to all men and women in Scotland aged 50 to 74, every two years.

Detailed information about the Scottish Bowel Screening Programme can be found on the bowel screening pages on the NHS Inform website.

“UK budget falls short for Scotland” – Sandra White MSP

Glasgow Kelvin SNP Sandra White says UK Government financial plans are a bad deal for Scotland.

The Chancellor’s Statement reports increased funding for Scotland amid a consequential real terms cut to Scotland’s revenue block grant of over £200m next year, whilst Scotland’s share of increases in NHS funding are a fraction due to UK cuts elsewhere.

£1.1bn, half of additional funding announced for Scotland, are financial transactions which the Scottish Government cannot spend on frontline public services, and which have to be repaid to the Treasury.

 

Sandra White MSP for Glasgow Kelvin said:

“This budget once again shows that the Tories cannot be trusted to act for Scotland’s interest.

“Whilst they are claiming a funding boost for Scotland, the reality is that a majority of it takes the form of restrictive loans which cannot be spent on public services facing UK cuts.

“I am pleased that the Scottish Government will press ahead with lifting the public sector pay cap despite the UK’s budget failing to do so.

“This was a spin budget today from a Chancellor only able to deliver the axe to Scotland because of his dodgy £1bn DUP bribe holding him in power; we will continue to fight and deliver for Scotland’s interest.”

Ebrief

Thursday 16 November 2017

Cladding

The Cabinet Secretary for Communities Angela Constance gave a statement to Parliament this week and I took the opportunity to put forward a question which I have attached below

Sandra White (Glasgow Kelvin) (SNP): The two buildings in Glasgow that have been mentioned are on the Glasgow harbour site in my constituency. Indeed, evidence received from constituents states that completion certificates were received after May 2005. What evidence has the working group received from Glasgow City Council that it is doing everything in its power to ensure that residents are kept informed of everything that is going on, including the on-going work, and that they are told where they can access further advice?

Angela Constance: The issue around completion certificates is one of the many issues that the review panel on building standards compliance and enforcement will look at in further detail. Glasgow City Council has been keeping the ministerial working group updated regularly on the work that is going on at a local level and it remains proactive in addressing the situation of the two towers that Ms White has referred to. The council has written to property owners, detailing the actions that it has taken to date, including interim measures to improve the fire safety of the buildings that will allow residents to continue to live at home, and the work that will need to be done to remove and replace the cladding. If that does not capture everything that the constituency member requires, we will endeavour to write to her in the fullest detail.

You can read the full text of the statement here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=11193&i=102025

St Andrews Day

11.17 SaltireThe public are being asked to do a good deed on St Andrew’s Day to celebrate Scotland’s history, culture and the nation’s shared values.

The #BeLikeStAndrew campaign marks the start of Scotland’s Winter Festivals – which opens with St Andrew’s Day, followed by Hogmanay, and then Burns Night.

Charity partners Princes Trust Scotland, Chest, Heart & Stroke Scotland, Crisis Scotland, have joined the Scottish Rugby Union and Stoats to back the campaign.

Scotland’s Winter Festivals will see dozens of events and activities taking place across the country highlighting the best of music, arts and entertainment.

Get more information on the campaign here: http://www.scotland.org/events/st-andrews-day/be-like-st-andrew

New Role

I was delighted to be nominated and elected to serve on the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB) this week.

Many of you will not be familiar with the work of the SPCB but it’s main role is to make sure that the Scottish Parliament can operate effectively and that MSPs are able to carry out their duties.

The Corporate Body considers and makes decisions on a wide range of issues to do with the running of the Parliament including the financing of the Parliament and allocation of the budget, the staffing of the Parliament, accommodation and the use and security of Parliamentary facilities at Holyrood.

I am looking forward to my new role and the responsibility which comes with it.

ESB

11.17 ESBI attended the launch of ESB’s new office in George Street this week along with the Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy Paul Wheelhouse.

ESB is Ireland’s foremost energy company with a 90 year track record. They have earmarked 800MW of clean electricity generation in Scotland. They will be working in partnership with windfarm developers including Coriolis and REG Holdings.

They are committed to growing a low carbon and renewable generation as part of the transition to a low carbon economy , powered by clean electricity.

Digital Classrooms                              

11.17 Digital Classrooms EquatorI was delighted to host Equator and their presentation to MSPs and invited guests on their work with children in refugee camps across Europe.

Their idea was created because of their commitment to education and innovation so unlike the majority of us they shelved their plans for sending a Christmas card in 2016 and instead set themselves the challenge of coming up with something that would make a real difference to people’s lives.

From those first steps they resolved that they would aim to transform the prospects of every one of the 150 refugee children in ‘La Linière’ camp on the outskirts of Dunkirk.

The result was a fully wireless digital classroom in an easily transportable container that would create the opportunity to learn languages and skills.

They visited the camp to deliver the package and saw first-hand the huge impact it would have on the lives of the children there and they are now developing the concept to make it available for displaced communities worldwide.

I think most of you will agree with me that this is an incredible idea that has immense possibilities and I hope that Equator will continue to develop this concept.

Minimum Pricing

The UK Supreme Court has this week ruled that minimum unit pricing for alcohol, which was passed overwhelmingly by the Scottish Parliament in 2012, can now proceed.

Following the unequivocal backing of the highest court in Scotland – and a referral to the European Court of Justice – the UK Supreme Court has now dismissed an appeal by the Scotch Whisky Association and others, ruling that the proposed minimum unit pricing policy is appropriately targeted, lawful and proportionate.

Prior to implementing the policy, Ministers will now conduct a consultation on the proposed 50 pence per unit price and refresh the Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment (BRIA) that is required by Parliament.  The Scottish Government anticipates setting the minimum unit price at 50 pence per unit, subject to the outcome of the consultation and the refreshed BRIA.

Landscape Institute

11.17 Lanscape for ScotlandThe Landscape Institute is the professional body and regulator for landscape architecture and they were exhibiting in the Scottish Parliament this week.

Under its Royal Charter the Landscape Institute is charged with protecting, conserving and enhancing the natural and built environment for the benefit of the public by the planning, design and management of outdoor space.

Glasgow city centre has benefitted from the expertise of landscape architects just take a look at the ‘style mile’ a great walkable space created through visionary design.

For more information on the Landscape Institute go to http://scotland.landscapeinstitute.org/

GP Contracts

Plans for investment and reform to give GPs more time with patients most in need of their skills have been published.

A new GP contract, jointly designed and agreed with the British Medical Association, will be the biggest reform of GPs services in over a decade

The proposals will ensure that all patients get the support they need from an extended community healthcare team – led by GPs and including nurses, physiotherapists, community mental health workers, paramedics, and pharmacists – to ensure more patients get the best and most appropriate care. This means GPs are able to best use their skills as expert medical generalists to spend more time with the people who need them most.

Alongside this, the Scottish Government is also announcing an additional £30 million over three years to help reduce the risks to GPs of leasing or owning premises and improve practice sustainability.

The move is part of an overall transformation in community health services which will see an additional £500 million invested every year by 2021, £250 million of which will be invested in direct support of general practice.

Year of Young People

11.17 Year of Young People 2018A major programme of events and activities to celebrate Scotland’s young people will take place in 2018.

A global first, the Year of Young People 2018 will provide a platform to showcase the personalities, talents and achievements of Scotland’s young people.

It will give young people, aged 8 to 26, new opportunities to influence decision making on issues affecting their lives and be involved in cultural and sporting opportunities across the country.

Young people have been involved in designing the programme, with more than 500 signed up to volunteer as Year of Young People 2018 Ambassadors.

EventScotland will deliver a programme of events for all ages, and Young Scot, Children in Scotland, the Scottish Youth Parliament and YouthLink Scotland will lead youth participation and involvement in the Year.

Find out more here: http://yoyp2018.scot/