This past week parties across the Chamber united to defeat the SNP. Alongside my Liberal Democrat colleagues I supported Labour’s motion which urged the government to call in proposals to close or downgrade NHS services. I used my speech to pay tribute to the work of campaigners and to call on the Health Secretary to enlist us as champions for the redesign of services. You can watch my speech in full here. Amongst all the excitement it's important to remember that had we not won Edinburgh Western, the SNP would now have a majority and what happened - put simply - would not have been possible.
Muirhouse Motorcycle crime
In recent weeks, the numbers of young adults racing stolen motorbikes in Muirhouse and Silverknowes has escalated dramatically. Local residents have been assaulted and pets targeted. This cannot be allowed to continue and I have convened a summit of local elected members, community activists and the police to meet at Drylaw police station in the coming days. Lives have already been lost in recent months and I'm determined to stand with residents to bring an end to this terrible situation.
Earlier this month I asked the Cabinet Secretary for the Environment what the government is doing to protect greenbelt land from developers. Unsurprisingly the answer was less than inspiring – you can watch our exchange here. I also made the case in the Evening News for building communities, not just houses, and the importance of intelligent house building - with the infrastructure and facilities to match. To help address this, I've written to the Scottish Government to ask whether they would consider changing planning legislation to compel developers to build GP surgeries when their projects are of a certain size. I believe It’s only by taking these radical steps that we can take the pressure off our GPs and local services.
Fairer Fares Campaign and Stagecoach Timetable Update
Almond Council candidate Kevin Lang and I launched our Fairer Fares campaign, calling on Lothian Buses to start a new direct service to Edinburgh City Centre. Despite the growing number of residents in Queensferry, Dalmeny and Kirkliston, there is still no direct bus service to the centre of Edinburgh from the council owned bus company, Lothian Buses. Our petition has reached over 1000 signatures but we need to re-double our efforts and get the council owned bus company to listen to local people. You can sign and share the petition here:http://www.alexcolehamilton.org.uk/fairerfares. If you would like a paper copy please contact the office and we can arrange to get some to you.
Kevin and I also met with the Managing Director of Stagecoach East Scotland to discuss the campaign as well as the impact of the timetable changes for those in South Queensferry. I’ve also asked for a meeting with the Transport Secretary to talk about bus priority lanes on trunk roads as a way of reducing journey times and the number of cars on the roads. I’ll keep everyone updated as this progresses.
The GP crisis continues across the country. In recent weeks I have questioned the First Minister in the Chamber over failings in GP recruitment which you can see here, as well as highlighting the problem in a debate on the staffing crisis in the NHS which you can watch here. This is an issue about which there is no room for complacency, and I will put pressure on the Government to do something about it at every opportunity.
Airport Consultation Flight Path
I’ve had lots of conversations with people over the summer about the airport consultation and how the unexpected change in flight paths is already affecting them. The consultation is now closed, but I want to thank everyone for sharing their experiences and signing the petition. If you would like to read my response you can do so on my website.
As the Lib Dem Health spokesman I’m privileged to meet with all sorts of organisations doing great work in their field. Over the past few weeks I've met with Alcohol Focus Scotland; Support in Mind Scotland and Alzheimer Scotland, to name but a few. I was delighted to chair a meeting of HIV Scotland in recent weeks, and I also had the most inspiring meeting with the Chief Executive and Medical Director of CHAS (Children’s Hospice Association Scotland). They do such wonderful work for children with life limiting conditions and their families, and later this month I’m visiting Rachel House, Scotland’s first children’s hospice, to find out more about the incredible work they do.
As ever, I’m available to help with any problems you may have. Call 0131 334 1814 or pop into the office to make an appointment.