I write this with a sense of elation following the massive turn around for my party in the Richmond Park by-election, in which we made a positive case against a hard, blank cheque Brexit and our continuing membership of the European single market. It’s been an incredibly busy few weeks:
At the end of November the SNP/Labour administration of the city council approved the new Local Development Plan which will see thousands upon thousands of new homes built in our constituency putting unacceptable pressure on health services and roads around South Queensferry, Kirkliston and Corstorphine, whilst seeing much loved green belt at Cammo lost. To a volley of jeers from the SNP I challenged the First Minister directly about this in Parliament, you can see our exchange here. The BBC and other media outlets covered the story here. I’m meeting the housing Minister next week to raise these issues directly.
Council Tax changes:
Despite winning two elections on commitments to scrap the council tax, the SNP have decided to keep it. What’s more, they plan to force Edinburgh to increase the local council tax so that the Scottish Government can de-fund our city and invest in other areas. I challenged the Government on this in Parliament last week - SNP MSPs tried to intervene on me 7 times during my speech, you can watch it here.
The loss of vital bus services to communities is a key fixture in my post bag. I’m working with operators, currently considering a new Airlink along the A90 to include the route of the old 64 service to the Gyle. I’m also working with bus companies to introduce new services to South Queensferry. The main barrier to such a service is the lack of bus priority measures on the A90. I’m meeting with Transport Secretary Humza Yousaf to explore such measures in the coming weeks.
Delayed hospital discharge:
In November a constituent contacted me about her Father who’d been in Liberton Hospital for 150 days after he had been declared fit to go home. I raised this directly with the First Minister in Parliament, and he is now home, but it shouldn’t take a Parliamentary intervention to secure the care necessary to allow our elderly residents to go home. You can watch our exchange here.
I recently convened a summit of other elected officials, the police, community groups and local charities to address the issue which has resulted in several assaults and one death in recent months. The meeting at Drylaw police station started work towards a place based solution involving youth work organisations, the police and local churches in an attempt to intervene early and offer young people a greater range of opportunities and diversionary activities. I will keep residents updated as this progresses.
Like many people I was stunned and dismayed at the result of the US presidential election and was proud to stand alongside MSPs from all parties in a debate about the need to fight prejudice and intolerance both at home and overseas, you can watch that speech here.
Scottish Politician of the Year Award:
I was astonished, but honoured to have been awarded one to watch/best newcomer award at this year’s Scottish Politician of the Year Awards. Like every one of the nearly 60 talented newcomer MSPs who joined the parliament in May, I find it an absolute privilege to serve my constituency and I love my job.
Please get in touch with my office if you think I can help. You can reach us on 0131 334 1814 or [email protected]