SNP MSP Rona Mackay has branded the Tory government a “lame duck” following an empty Queen’s Speech.
The Queen delivered the Tory government’s policy programme for the next two years this morning in Westminster Palace.
Ms Mackay, MSP for Strathkelvin and Bearsden, said: “What is clear from the Queen’s Speech is Theresa May is leading a lame duck government. She may well be in office but she is not in power.
“The programme of government outlined by the Queen has nothing in it to address the economy and support austerity-hit public services.
“The Tories have ditched all of their flagship policies because they are too weak to push anything through – this is an embarrassing moment for them.
“How on earth can we expect these people to lead Brexit negotiations if they cannot even deliver a programme of government?
“The Tories have dragged Scotland and the rest of the UK through the mud thanks to their party infighting over the last few years. I wish them luck for the Brexit negotiation – they’ll need it — and echo calls for Scotland to have her seat at the table.”
Mums in Strathkelvin and Bearsden on low incomes can expect increased financial help from the SNP Government.
MSP Rona Mackay has welcomed in the use of new Maternity and Early Years Allowances powers to create a new grant starting in 2019.
The Best Start Grant will provide financial assistance to new low income mums, including: £600 for their first child, £300 for second and subsequent children, £250 when child starts nursery and £250 when child starts school.
The policy announcement coincides with the registration of the baby box opening for mums-to-be expecting on or after August 15. Mums-to-be can order via their next midwife appointment.
Ms Mackay said:
“Many children are born into circumstances entirely beyond their control, and this can have a severe impact on their life chances. It is a huge problem, and where past governments have failed, the SNP is determined to seriously combat the issue.
“The Baby Box and Best Start Grant are two measures designed to give every child in Scotland a healthy start to life. They are emblematic of the approach the SNP is taking to tackle child poverty and deprivation across Scotland.”
Press release from Rona Mackay MSP by Alan Ferguson (07342 06722)
EAST Dunbartonshire is a step closer to being fully hooked up to super-fast broadband following the latest roll-outs, MSP Rona Mackay has welcomed.
Hundreds more properties in Kirkintilloch and Bishopbriggs now have access to super-fast broadband, if they wish to upgrade.
The SNP government has spread super-fast broadband to more than 90 per cent of Scotland and plans to have the whole country hooked up by 2021.
Ms Mackay said: “It is excellent news for householders and businesses in Strathkelvin and Bearsden, that super-fast broadband has been expanded to more communities.
“I have made a point of raising the worries of constituents in Woodilee Village in the Scottish Parliament recently — they have faced delay after delay on their roll-out of super-fast broadband.
“The goals of the Scottish Government are clear and achievable, and I look forward to the whole of Scotland having access to the fastest internet around.”
Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity, Fergus Ewing MSP, told how over the summer months the programme will continue to roll-out super-fast broadband to Scotland.
He said: “The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme is progressing further and we are reaching some very small and more remote communities, as well as extending coverage for places like Kirkintilloch.”
NOTES TO REPORTER
From Rona Mackay MSP by Alan Ferguson (07342 email@example.com)
MSP Rona Mackay has expressed her deepest condolences to the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire in London on behalf of the people of Strathkelvin and Bearsden.
It comes alongside an announcement from the Scottish Government that, as a safety precaution, a review of high rise fire safety in Scotland will be undertaken.
Rona Mackay said: “On behalf of Strathkelvin and Bearsden, I would like to express my deepest sympathies with all of those who have been affected by the terrible fire at Grenfell Tower in London. I think the event will have struck a chord with everyone who seen the dreadful scenes on the news. What some of the victims had to go through is unimaginable.”
EQUALITY marchers in Belfast have been praised by MSP Rona Mackay in a motion to the Scottish Parliament.
The Strathkelvin and Bearsden MSP has welcomed the demonstration scheduled for July 1 by the Love Equality Coalition.
Scotland has been recognised as the second most progressive country in Europe on LGBT rights, she said, and welcomed people from Northern Ireland to come to Scotland for same sex marriage.
Ms Mackay said: “Many people have been shocked at the dated views of the Democratic Unionist Party when it comes to social policy like equal marriage and abortion.
“Many people have not even realised that in Northern Ireland, LGBT people do not enjoy the same rights as they do in Scotland and the resto f the UK.
“So I have lodged this motion to commend the work of the Love Equality Coalition in fighting for equal rights for everyone, no matter their sexuality.
“I repeat what I said in the motion, that Scotland is open to the people of Northern Ireland who would like marry whoever they choose. Scotland is an inclusive and welcoming nation for all.”
Notes to reporter
Motion Number: S5M-06116
Lodged By: Rona Mackay
Date Lodged: 15/06/2017
Title: Support Marriage Equality in Northern Ireland
That the Parliament welcomes the march for equality in Northern Ireland that is being organised by the Love Equality Coalition and is scheduled to be held in Belfast on 1 July 2017; recognises what it sees as the importance of such marches, particularly in light of the negotiations between the Conservative Party and the Democratic Unionist Party; understands that the rights group ILGA-Europe has ranked Scotland as the continent’s second most progressive country on LGBT rights; considers Scotland’s equal marriage law to be important; acknowledges the importance of achieving similar legislation in Northern Ireland, and agrees that people from Northern Ireland will always be made welcome to marry in Scotland, regardless of the legislation in their country.
The announcement that more than £20 million is set to be put into new affordable housing in East Dunbartonshire has been applauded by MSP Rona Mackay.
East Dunbartonshire Council and house builders now have the opportunity to plan ahead with grant subsidies guaranteed, for the first time, for the next three years until 2021.
East Dunbartonshire is getting £6.5 million in 2017/18, £7.36 million in 2019/20 and £7.8 million in 2020/21, an investment of more than £21 million from the SNP government.
It is part of a £1.75 billion SNP government investment in affordable housing across Scotland.
Ms Mackay said: “East Dunbartonshire is in real need of new affordable housing developments, so this is excellent news from the Scottish Government.
“Property is very expensive in parts of the local authority area so this will help balance out that area for those people, especially younger couples, looking to buy or rent in their community.
“Increasing the supply of affordable homes is a key SNP commitment and plays a vital role in giving people a better standard of living and helps to build our economy — nationwide around 14,000 jobs will be created with this investment.”
MSP Rona Mackay has commented on the election result in East Dunbartonshire.
She said: “East Dunbartonshire has lost a hard-working, excellent MP and I am extremely disappointed at the result. However, this is the democratic process and I respect the outcome.
“John Nicolson made his mark in East Dunbartonshire and was a strong voice nationally. He was a great ambassador for our Party and for Scotland and I am sure he will continue to contribute to our democracy.
“The new MP for East Dunbartonshire has big shoes to fill and I will do my utmost to ensure she performs to the standard the public expects.
“While there are disappointing losses across the country, the SNP has won this election in Scotland. It is our second biggest win at a General Election and I would like to congratulate all of our re-elected MPs.”
MSP Rona Mackay has spoken out in the Scottish Parliament about the lack of superfast broadband in Woodilee Village near Lenzie.
The Strathkelvin and Bearsden MSP asked for reassurance from Fergus Ewing MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity on May 31.
At a portfolio questions session, Mr Ewing responded informing Ms Mackay that there are plans in place for Woodilee and by 2021, 100 per cent of Scotland would have access to superfast broadband.
He said: “The digital Scotland superfast broadband programme has further fibre broadband deployment plans for Woodilee Village in Lenzie. Any premises that are not connected through the digital Scotland superfast broadband programme will be captured through our commitment to delivering 100 per cent superfast broadband access by 2021.”
The Scottish Government has invested £400 million to hook Scots up to superfast broadband by 2021 and 95 per cent will be up and running by the end of the year, Mr Ewing said.
He added that in Strathkelvin and Bearsden last year, despite being rolled out commercially, the cabinet secretary told how 7,450 premises had been provided access to fibre optic broadband, 94 per cent of which were capable of running at a superfast speed.
Ms Mackay said: “Constituents have made it clear to me in Woodilee Village that they are very unhappy at the lack of access to high speed broadband.
“I agree with their concerns, and to try and find some clarity on this I have brought it to the highest ranked politician in Scotland involved with connecting the country up to superfast broadband.
“I have received reassurance from the cabinet secretary that by 2021, 100 per cent of Scotland will be hooked up and that there are already plans afoot for fibre optic broadband connections in Woodilee. While this is four years away, I am hoping it will happen sooner rather than later.
“The work the Scottish Government has been doing to connect up Scotland to superfast broadband is remarkable. In Strathkelvin and Bearsden we do have excellent coverage, but now is just about ensuring everyone has access as quickly as possible.”
The £400 million investment that the Scottish Government and our partners are making through the digital Scotland superfast broadband programme will extend fibre broadband access to at least 95 per cent of premises by the end of this year. Without that investment, only two thirds of premises—66 per cent—would have been reached. Although most of the superfast broadband roll-out in the Strathkelvin and Bearsden constituency is being delivered commercially, the programme had, by the end of last year, provided fibre broadband access to 7,450 premises in the area, 94 per cent of which were capable of accessing superfast speeds.
At my surgeries, many constituents who live in Woodilee Village in Lenzie and constituents from other rural areas have expressed concern about the roll-out of superfast broadband. Will the cabinet secretary reassure my constituents that they will have access to superfast broadband within the timeframe that the Scottish Government has set out?
The digital Scotland superfast broadband programme has further fibre broadband deployment plans for Woodilee Village in Lenzie. Any premises that are not connected through the digital Scotland superfast broadband programme will be captured through our commitment to delivering 100 per cent superfast broadband access by 2021.
MSP Rona Mackay and others have thanked the Scottish Government for considering an independent report into development plans for Tower Farm in Torrance.
Plans were put forward for 140 new homes in Torrance by Hallam Land Management in June 2015 but were rejected by the council in December that year.
Developers then appealed and in October 2016 their concerns were heard and site visits were carried out then and in January 2017. In March 2017, the independent reporter finished his report deciding the development should not go ahead and ministers approved of the verdict and announced on June 1.
The Scottish Government stated in the rejection letter:
4. Ministers have carefully considered the evidence presented at the hearing and the reporter’s report. They accept the reporter’s overall conclusions and recommendations and adopt them for the purpose of their own decision.
5. Accordingly, Ministers hereby dismiss the appeal and refuse planning permission in principle for the proposed residential development with associated infrastructure at Tower Farm, Back O’Hill Road, Torrance, East Dunbartonshire.
The reporter gave several reasons for the rejection in the Overall conclusions section:
4.85 Subject to my conclusions on effective housing land supply in Chapter 7 of this report, I conclude that the proposed development is contrary to LDP Policy 3, as the site lies within the green belt, and the proposal does not fall within any of the exemptions envisaged in the policy.
4.86 I also conclude that the proposal does not relate well to the following green belt objectives, in particular, which are set out in the development plan: supporting regeneration; protecting the natural roles of the environment; protecting and enhancing the character, landscape setting and identity of settlements; and the defensibility of the green belt.
4.87 The green belt boundary, which includes Tower Farm, was the outcome of a wide-ranging assessment as part of the preparation of the new Local Development Plan. The boundary at this point was confirmed by the Reporters who examined the Proposed LDP. I agree with their conclusion in relation to Tower Farm.
MSP Rona Mackay said: “I am very glad ministers of the Scottish Government have put the nail in the coffin of this proposed development of Tower Farm.
“Given most of the land around the village has been bought up by developers, the approval of this application would have set a precedent for others eyeing up this beautiful greenbelt.
“Well done to Keep Torrance a Village, who fought tooth and nail to preserve the identity of their village.”
Council leader Gordan Low said: “The Tower Farm proposals was a massive development that would have reshaped Torrance as we know it forever.
“It was not only incompatible with the council’s local development plan but following consultation it was clear the residents in Torrance did not want it.
“I thank the Scottish Government ministers for following the objective recommendations from the planning reporter and rejecting the appeal.”
John Nicolson, SNP candidate for re-election, said: “I’m glad that this issue is finally resolved. Torrance residents should be congratulated for the tenacious manner in which they fought their case.
“They were dedicated, motivated and well-informed. They had right on their side and I am pleased that the Scottish Ministers acted on the independent reporter’s recommendation in coming to a decision.”