This afternoon I pledged my support for the British Heart Foundation (BHF) Scotland’s campaign, Ramp up the Red, to help fight heart disease.
Coronary heart disease is Scotland’s single biggest killer and it kills more than 7,500 people each year. There are currently around 235,000 people in Scotland living with coronary heart disease.
On Friday 7 February, BHF Scotland is asking people across the nation to Ramp up the Red and raise funds to continue the fight for every heartbeat.
For more information about Ramp up the Red, to sign up or to donate, visit bhf.org.uk/red or call 0800 0316 316.
While yesterday’s by-election was brought about under sad circumstances, following the tragic and premature death of Helen Eadie MSP, I was heartened to see Scottish Labour’s candidate, Alex Rowley elected by the people of Cowdenbeath with an increased majority of 5,488.
Following his victory Alex said:
“It’s about full employment for every young person to get the opportunities that they deserve from their lifetime.
“It’s about elderly people living in Fife with dignity, and making sure when they need services those services are available.
“We can give people jobs, we can give people opportunities, we can do that with a strong, devolved Scottish Parliament working within the UK.”
I am sure that Alex will be an excellent representative for the people of Cowdenbeath in the same manner than Helen was for so many years.
I hope everyone enjoyed a peaceful festive period and you are feeling refreshed and ready for the year ahead.
While I managed to take some time to relax over the holidays, I was also busy dealing with several constituency issues, particularly the flooding that took place on New Year’s Day. Dealing with a flood in your property is never a pleasant experience, but it is particularly distressing issue to have to deal with on the first day of a New Year. I am continuing to offer my support to those constituents affected and hope that the damage to their homes will be quickly and successfully remedied.
2014 will be a huge year for Scottish sport; while our national football team unfortunately failed to make the World Cup Finals in Brazil, we will be more than adequately represented at next month’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. As well as this, two of the world’s premier sporting competitions will be taking place at home in 2014; golf’s Ryder Cup and the Commonwealth Games. Hopefully these events will provide a boost to tourism and local economies in Scotland, as well as offering some sporting cheer!
Finally, in September Scotland will vote in the historic independence referendum. This will be the most important vote any of us will cast in our lifetimes and I hope that you will join me in voting to remain part of a strong and secure United Kingdom, rather than breaking up the most successful political and economic union in the world.
Whichever way you are planning to vote, I wish you a happy and prosperous 2014 and hope that it will be a successful year for all of Scotland and the UK.
Next week I will be holding my last surgeries of 2013 in Ayr, Prestwick, Troon and Kilmarnock.
My Regional Development Officer, John McKenzie will be at the following locations on Tuesday 17 December:
- 10.00am Ayr Town Hall, New Bridge Street, Ayr, KA7 1JX
- 11.30am Prestwick Community Centre, Caerlaverock Road, Prestwick, Ayrshire, KA9 1HR
- 13.00am Morrisons Car Park, Troon, 10 Dukes Road. Troon, KA10 6QR
- 14.30am Asda Car Park, Kilmarnock, 10 Queens Drive, Kilmarnock, KA1 3XB
If you or your family require my assistance or support in any way then please feel free to attend one of the above surgeries, or you can contact me at my office either by telephone (0131 348 6887) or email (Graeme.Pearson.MSP@Scottish.Parliament.UK)
On Tuesday (26 November) the Scottish Government launched their White Paper on the independence referendum which outlined their plans for an independent Scotland.
Having read through most of the 670 page document now, and analysed in detail the chapters on justice and security, it is clear that there are very few substantive answers to the many questions that the people of Scotland have regarding the SNP’s vision of an independent Scotland.
The lack of clarity, particularly surround the issues of justice and defence, is concerning and I will be seeking further information from the Scottish Government.
On more local matters I am currently assisting a number of constituents on a range of matters and my Regional Development Officer, John McKenzie, continues to undertake surgeries and visits throughout the South Scotland region.
As always, if there is anything that I can assist you with then please don’t hesitate to contact me either by telephone (0131 348 6887), email (Graeme.Pearson.MSP@Scottish.Parliament.UK) or by letter (Graeme Pearson MSP, The Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, EH99 1SP).
Last night I attended the Beating Bowel Cancer reception in the Scottish Parliament and pledged my support for people battling with the disease.
At the reception I heard from both bowel cancel patients and the charity Beating Bowel Cancer about the importance of positive experiences for all patients.
Over the past year I have assisted several constituents who are currently fighting bowel cancer and I know how devastating the disease can be for both patients and their families.
That’s why I was happy to sign the pledge and support the principles of Beating Bowel Cancer’s campaign. I shall be working with the local NHS boards in South Scotland to ensure they are providing the ‘gold standard’ when it comes to treating bowel cancer patients.
To find out more about bowel cancer and to read the full Service Pledge, please visit the charity’s website: www.beatingbowelcancer.org.
This afternoon I attended the Remembrance Sunday service at Cumnock church hall to pay my respects to all those who have died in the line of duty.
As always it was a very moving and respectful event, with the two-minute silence perfectly observed by all in attendance.
It was heartening to see the breadth of ages of those in attendance, from the very young to the more mature among us. We were also graced by beautiful sunshine throughout the ceremony which warmed the cold autumnal morning and provided a very poignant atmosphere.
The recent figures published within the Scottish Policing Performance Framework Annual Report for 2012-13 show welcome progress, but there are significant challenges remaining for Police Scotland, particularly around the confidence people have in the police to prevent crime and to catch those responsible.
While youth crime and anti-social behaviour have both fallen, it would be wrong to let complacency creep in.
SNP cuts mean that our thin blue line is getting thinner. Police stations are closing to the public, police officers are being taken off our street to cover back office cuts and more cuts are in the pipeline.
With budget cuts of almost £140 million over the next two years, how Police Scotland remains local, responsive, accessible and flexible will be the biggest challenge. It’s important that the SNP Government start answering for the impact that their budget cuts will have on Police Scotland. It is simply unacceptable for the SNP to dismiss all the difficult decisions facing the police as ‘operational matters’ whilst wishing to simultaneously claim credit when the statistics are moving in the right direction.
I was delighted to hear that following pressure from myself and other Scottish Labour politicians Chief Constable Stephen House has agreed to extend the public consultation on public counter closures by 30 days.
The more that people hear about the closure of police station counters, the more concerned they are. But this consultation has been a muddle from the start. It hasn’t been clear whether it was a public consultation, or an internal police consultation. Now we have won more time, I urge the public to make their feelings known about these planned closures.
We need to be clear. These closures are only being considered because Police Scotland has axed hundreds of staff posts. With almost £140 million being cut from the police budget over the next two years by the SNP, counter closures will be only the beginning.
The public need to make their voices heard. Communities which value their police stations being open to them and where they can show that counters are well used, need to campaign to save them.
We now need clarity from Police Scotland: how will they properly engage communities to ensure that people are aware of the proposals and hear their views? What has happened to date simply isn’t acceptable.