Success in boosting access to superfast broadband praised by MSP

Success in boosting access to superfast broadband praised by MSP

HOUSEHOLDERS in East Dunbartonshire are benefiting from the Scottish Government’s facilitation of high speed broadband thanks to the SNP government, MSP Rona Mackay has said.

More than 93 per cent of all premises across the local authority area are capable of accessing superfast internet due to the improved digital infrastructure.

In 2012, prior to the SNP Scottish Government taking over expanding superfast broadband capabilities in Scotland from the UK Government, just 76 per cent of properties in East Dunbartonshire had access.

Following the SNP’s intervention through the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme, East Dunbartonshire and the whole of Scotland is course to meeting the 100 per cent coverage target by 2021.

Ms Mackay said: “Without this Scottish Government investment, East Dunbartonshire would still be lagging behind when it comes to superfast broadband.

“The stats speak for themselves. It is the SNP Scottish Government that has led the way in securing superfast broadband for more people and businesses across my constituency.

“Before the Scottish Government stepped in to fix the UK government’s mess, only 76 per cent of premises had access to superfast broadband – that figure is now at 93 per cent after the SNP took action.

“This is giving more people access to the superfast broadband they need, and allowing local businesses to flourish thanks to better connectivity.

“There is of course more to be done, and this is why the Scottish Government has such ambitious targets in place to continue this rapid improvement.

“And with the 100 per cent superfast broadband coverage target on course to be met by 2021, it is clear that only one party is taking the action needed to boost connectivity in Strathkelvin and Bearsden and across Scotland.”

ENDS

View the data: https://news.gov.scot/resources/broadband-la

More: https://www.scotlandsuperfast.com

SHARED SPACE LATEST: Kirkintilloch Herald publishes MSP letter

SHARED SPACE LATEST: Kirkintilloch Herald publishes MSP letter

MSP Rona Mackay’s letter about the dangerous shared space scheme has appeared in the Kirkintilloch Herald on November 28 2017.

I read with wry cynicism your article entitled “TWO years and £650k to return lights says report” (Kirkintilloch Herald 8 November).

Everybody is aware of the huge public opposition to the “shared space” project at the Catherine Street junction in Kirkintilloch with SNP councillors in the last council opposing the whole project at all stages of its development.

The Labour/Tory administration of the time finally conceded that provisions be incorporated into the design which would facilitate easy, quick and economic reinstatement of the lights should that be considered necessary once the new junction was operational.

Essentially these infrastructure additions were built-in trunking to accommodate wiring for the reinstated lights.

We now have a report on reinstatement from Sweco which suggests it is likely to cost somewhere between £417,000 and £647,000 and will take 2 years to carry out the work.

This report obviously does not square with infrastructure works necessary to easily, quickly and economically reinstate the lights incorporated in the original design.

One of two things appear to have happened.

Either, the infrastructure works included in the original scheme were insufficient to reinstate the lights as agreed unanimously by Council.

Or, Sweco’s proposals are much more elaborate than is necessary to reinstate the lights as previously envisaged.

I would be interested to know which of these scenarios is the case, as would many of my constituents.

Rona Mackay MSP

Strathkelvin & Bearsden Constituency

Rona Mackay questions Cabinet Secretary on imprisoned Scot Jagtar Sing Johal

Rona Mackay questions Cabinet Secretary on imprisoned Scot Jagtar Sing Johal

MSP Rona Mackay has asked the Scottish Government what support it is providing to the family of imprisoned Scot Sing Johal.

Mr Johal is understood to have faced torture while being held in a prison in Punjab.

The Dumbarton man and his current state was the subject of a General Question at Holyrood by Ms Mackay on November 23.

Ms Mackay questioned: “To ask the Scottish Government what support it can provide to the family of Jagtar Singh Johal from Dumbarton, in light of reports that he is being held in prison in Punjab without charge and has faced torture.”

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, answered Ms Mackay, saying the SG is “deeply concerned” and in contact with the UK foreign office on the matter.

He said: “We are deeply concerned to learn about the detention of Jagtar Singh Johal. Scottish Government officials have contacted the Foreign and Commonwealth Office about the case and the Foreign Office has assured us that it is aware of the situation and has had access to Mr Johal.

“Consular assistance is a matter for the United Kingdom Government and the Scottish Government would usually refer individuals to the FCO’s consular affairs department, which works with foreign Governments and authorities in such circumstances. Consular officials continue to provide assistance to Mr Johal and are engaging with his family.”

Ms Mackay then asked: “Will the cabinet secretary commit to engaging with the UK Government to ensure that everything possible is being done to secure Jagtar Singh Johal’s wellbeing and release?”

Ms Hyslop answered: “Scottish Government officials are in regular contact with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and I will continue to liaise with them about this very serious case.”

ENDS

See more: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=11216&i=102200

 

Rona Mackay formally supports EU anti-nuclear weapons treaty

Rona Mackay formally supports EU anti-nuclear weapons treaty

MSP Rona Mackay has formally supported the EU Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

On Thursday November 23, the Strathkelvin and Bearsden MSP signed the ICAN Parliamentary Pledge.

The pledge commits parliamentarians to help ratify the EU treaty in their respective nations.

ICAN, an international civil society group against nuclear weapons, has instigated the pledge signing for parliamentarians from across the world.

Ms Mackay said: “I was honoured to sign this important pledge of support for the Ban Treaty.

“This change in International Law will usher in a necessary shift in bringing human rights to the forefront of the nuclear disarmament debate.

“Nuclear weapons not only kill hundreds of thousands of civilians but are also lived-through. They have lasting detrimental effects on families and communities of survivors (Hibakusha), many of whom saw the devastation first hand.

“I urge the UK Government to sign the UN Ban Treaty so they can stand with the majority of states in the world who have already taken this step.”

ENDS

Police and fire VAT charge drop a victory for the SNP

Police and fire VAT charge drop a victory for the SNP

PRESSURE from the SNP has caused the UK Government to drop the VAT charge on police, MSP Rona Mackay has said.

In the budget today, Chancellor Phillip Hammond announced the charge would be dropped for Police Scotland and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Centre.

Previously, they had been the only two forces in the United Kingdom to be charged VAT — an anomaly caused by the creation of two national forces.

Ms Mackay said:

“The dropping of the VAT charge for Scotland’s police and fire services is a victory for all those in the SNP who have been relentlessly campaigning against it in Holyrood, Westminster and in the media.

“Just last month I spoke in the Scottish Parliament on the need to scrap these totally unfair charges.

“It shows what a well-organised SNP opposition in Westminster is able to achieve, in holding the UK Government to account, with the wider party behind it in Scotland.

“Sadly, this move falls short of refunding all the VAT our police and fire services have paid so far, around £140 million – this must be returned to bolster these forces as a matter of urgency.

“It is unbelievable for Scottish Tory MPs to try and claim credit – what argument did they give to the chancellor that the SNP had not already said in the more than 139 instances the SNP has formally called on it to be ended in debates, speeches, motions and more?”

ENDS

NOTES

 

Calls to Scrap Police and Fire Service VAT from SNP Representatives: 139

Party Press Releases: 19

MSPs

Calls in Debates and Questions: 16
Calls in Motions: 2

MPs

Calls in Debates/Questions in the Chamber: 35
Calls in Written Questions: 3
EDMs: 1
Votes in House: 3

Scottish Government

Calls in Press Releases: 2
Calls in Debates, Statements, Replies to MSPs: 34
Calls in letters to UK Government counterparts: 13
Calls in Meetings with UK Gov counterparts: 5*
SNP Representatives Calls at Conference: 3
SNP Calls in Manifestos:  3

*these are meetings which were a direct result of Scottish Government letters on the subject

Rona Mackay questions cabinet secretary on lottery funding crisis

Rona Mackay questions cabinet secretary on lottery funding crisis

MSP Rona Mackay has received confirmation the Scottish Government is in contact with the UK Treasury over a crisis facing lottery funding.

National Lottery funding to good causes is falling year-on-year, with a 14 per cent decrease in 2015/16 and a further four per cent in the first half of 2017/16.

Ms Mackay questioned Cabinet Secretary Fiona Hyslop on the matter at Portfolio Questions in the Scottish Parliament on November 15.

She asked: “The cabinet secretary will be aware of the significant impact that a reduction in the national lottery income of good causes will have on organisations that rely on it, including Creative Scotland. What representations is the cabinet secretary making to the UK Government to ensure that the impact of that reduction will be mitigated?”

The Cabinet Secretary responded: “It will be of concern to all members to realise that the national lottery income for good causes reduced by 14 per cent between 2015-16 and 2016-17, and by a further 4 per cent in the first half of 2017-18.

“Aileen Campbell, the Minister for Public Health and Sport, and I have written to our counterparts in the UK Government to urge them to take cognisance of that reduction in the forthcoming budget, because some of the reduction in that income is a result of decisions that were made by the United Kingdom Government about the lottery.

“I have also written to Karen Bradley MP, and Derek Mackay has written to the UK Treasury, to relay our concerns about a number of issues, including the reduction in lottery funding for culture and sport.”

Rona Mackay praises Scotland as ‘guiding light’ in confronting alcohol abuse

Rona Mackay praises Scotland as ‘guiding light’ in confronting alcohol abuse

 

SCOTLAND is a world leader in the war against damaging booze culture, Strathkelvin and Bearsden’s MSP has said.

It follows the announcement that the UK Supreme Court ruling minimum unit pricing for alcohol.

In 2012, the Scottish Parliament overwhelmingly passed the Bill, so now the government can proceed enacting it.

The ruling makes Scotland the first country in the world to introduce minimum pricing per unit of alcohol.

The law is aimed at tackling the purchasing of low priced high-strength beverages fuelling alcohol abuse, not at deterring the responsible drinkers of Scotland.

Rona Mackay, MSP for Strathkelvin and Bearsden, said:

“Scotland has a rich heritage of producing fine alcohol and exporting it around the world but the dark side of this legacy is heavy alcohol abuse.

“Alcohol abuse causes untold misery to families across Scotland, who have lost parents and children to the devastating effects of addiction and easy access to high strength low priced booze.

“Minimum pricing strategy is one part of a bigger movement in Scotland to curb the levels of alcohol people are consuming by making the prices less desirable. It is targeted at cheap, low quality booze with high levels of alcohol in it, and will not impact on your moderate or many Whisky drinkers in Scotland.

“I am glad legal challenges to minimum pricing for alcohol are finally over and the will of the Scottish Parliament on this policy is finally respected.

“Given that it is a world-first, it shows Scotland up again – not for the first time in our history – to be a guiding light progressive thought and actions.”

Background (from the Scottish Government)

In Scotland:

  • Annual alcohol deaths statistics published in August show there were 1,265 alcohol-related deaths in 2016. This is up from 1,150 in 2015, an increase of 10%.
  • On average, alcohol misuse causes about 670 hospital admissions and 24 deaths a week – death rates are almost 1.5 times higher than in the early 1980s.
  • Alcohol misuse costs Scotland £3.6 billion each year – £900 for every adult.
  • Scotland’s problem is significantly worse than the rest of the UK. In 2016, 17% more alcohol was sold per adult in Scotland than in England & Wales.

Price

  • Affordability drives increased consumption – alcohol is now 60 per cent more affordable in the UK than it was in 1980
  • Weekly lower-risk drinking guidelines of 14 units can be bought for £2.52 – 18 pence a unit.
  • 51% of alcohol sold in off-trade is less than 50 pence per unit.

Modelling from Sheffield University shows a minimum unit price of 50 pence is estimated to result in:

  • 121 fewer deaths per annum by year 20 of the policy; and
  • A fall in hospital admissions of just over 2,000 per annum by year 20 of the policy

A preferred 50 pence per unit would mean:

  • A three litre bottle of strong cider at 7.5% ABV strength would cost £11.25.
  • Four 440ml cans of five per cent strength lager would cost at least £4.40.
  • A bottle of wine of 12% alcohol strength would cost at least £4.50.
  • A 70cl bottle of whisky could not be sold for less than £14.

The Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Act 2012

 

Rona Mackay hosts verbatim play on ‘toxic masculinity’

Rona Mackay hosts verbatim play on ‘toxic masculinity’

MSP Rona Mackay has hosted the travelling verbatim play ‘Locker Room Chat’ in the Scottish Parliament.

The play depicts men talking about misogyny, gender, feminism and about their relationships with women.

Speaking often in a sexually aggressive manner, it aims to open “difficult conversations” about the way men speak about women.

The producers of the show link the manner of speaking to domestic abuse, sexual assault, sexual harassment and even murder.

Despite the serious topic, the show by Traverse Theatre was designed to be both funny and provocative.

It featured four actresses repeating recordings of men speaking about women, recorded in interviews with the play’s researchers.

After the performance, a Q&A was held with psychologist Dr Nina Burrows and creator Gary McNair.

Ms Mackay said:

“The timing of this play is actually very fitting, given how allegations of sexual harassment and assault have dominated the media lately.

“The play was both humorous and provocative, with the audience laughing and gasping at some of the dialogue they heard.

“Sexually aggressive language has a clear link to domestic abuse, rape and even murder, as we heard in the verbatim play.

“It is my hope that opening the conversation about aggressive language, sexual harassment and assault that can lead to change.

“Artistic performances like Locker Room Talk open up a safe space for those difficult conversations to speak truth to power.”

ENDS

For more information about the play visit https://www.traverse.co.uk/whats-on/event-detail/1106/locker-room-talk.aspx

Rona Mackay to host film to mark Adoption Week

Rona Mackay to host film to mark Adoption Week

MSP Rona Mackay is marking Adoption Week by a special screening of award-winning film ‘And Violet’.

On November 23, the Strathkelvin and Bearsden MSP will host a screening in Campsie Memorial Hall from 7.30pm to 10pm.

The film is described as a “coming of age drama” about the lives of a teenage daughter and her adoptive mother.

‘And Violet’ is a double winner at Arizona International Film Festival 2017, winning Best Dramatic Feature as well as a Special Jury Award for Best Performance from Hana MacKenzie.

Adoption Week Scotland will be held from November 20 to 25 with assistance from Adoption and Fostering Alliance Scotland.

Ms Mackay said: “It is fitting to mark Adoption Week Scotland, as it lays bare the issues and struggles surrounding adoption and why it is so important in Scotland.

“Scotland aims to be one of the best places in the whole world for children grow up, and adoption is one way a child can thrive in the family environment.

“I have two friends who are going through the adoption process, who are providing a permanent home and loving family to a child who cannot be brought up by their birth family, so I know how important the issue is with this unique insight.

“Adoption transforms lives of some of the most vulnerable children in Scotland, so I could not be happier to mark Adoption Week with this special screening on November 23.”

ENDS

Register for the event at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/scottish-adoption-week-screening-of-and-violet-tickets-39722729754

 

 

MSP backs pardon for same-sex criminal charges

MSP backs pardon for same-sex criminal charges

HISTORIC wounds have been “healed over” by pardoning and apologising to all of those convicted under anti-gay laws in Scotland, MSP Rona Mackay has said.

First minister Nicola Surgeon’s apology coincided with new legislation that will automatically pardon gay and bisexual men convicted under historical laws.

The Historical Sexual Offences (Pardons and Disregards) Bill will also allow the removal of the convictions from criminal records.

Consensual homosexual acts between men older than 21-years old in Scotland were only decriminalised in 1981. It was not until 20 years later that the age of consent for gay men was lowered to 16.

Ms Mackay said: “By apologising, Nicola Sturgeon has healed over the historical scars Scotland has with treatment of gay and bisexual men.

“Not long ago, in most people’s lifetime, Scotland had laws against consensual same-sex acts which people were convicted of.

“These now abolished laws still affect people living in Scotland today, and can be obstacles in their lives. For example, finding work.

“This has been an issue close to the SNP’s heart, we have seen tremendous work from our elected representatives. This includes former MP for East Dunbartonshire, John Nicolson, who put the Turing Bill to the House of Commons, which would have wiped clean the criminal records of thousands of gay men convicted for same-sex offences. Sadly, the Bill was talked out by the Tories, so failed.

“I could not be happier that we are finally pardoning and apologising to all of those affected and the wider LGBT community in Scotland.”

ENDS

From Rona Mackay MSP by Alan Ferguson 07342 061722