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Keep up to date with the latest news and stories from across Dumfries & Galloway.

 

MSP Slams Lack of South Roads Investment

Dumfriesshire MSP Oliver Mundell says the SNP continue to see trunk roads in the south-west as an ‘after thought’ after Transport Secretary Michael Matheson failed to commit to upgrading the A75 and A77.

 

A75 near Dfs

The Scottish Conservative and Unionist MSP challenged the Transport Secretary at the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee, highlighting that it had been almost 1500 days since Deputy First Minister John Swinney led a much heralded transport summit in Dumfries, promising to look at the issues in the area.

However, very little progress has been made on delivering the required improvements to the vital trunk routes, prompting Mr Mundell to demand a commitment to dual the A75 and upgrade the A77 and saying it has been an unlucky 13 years for people in the region under SNP rule.

Instead, the SNP Transport Secretary yet again hid behind ongoing appraisals into transport options in the south-west and would only assure Mr Mundell that the routes are of importance.

He even found time to make reference to Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross’ plans to add a third lane to the M8, which he claimed would leave less money for south-west roads.

The constituency MSP stated that showed the SNP were obsessed with the central belt and had a complete lack of ambition to transform Scotland’s infrastructure.

Mr Mundell said: “We constantly get warm words, repeated promises and reviews from the SNP and successive Transport Secretaries when it comes to upgrading the roads in the south-west.

“The reality under the unlucky 13 years of SNP rule is a severe lack of investment and a complete lack of urgency when it comes to upgrading the A75 and A77.

“People living locally are sick and tired of hearing that reviews are taking place and promises that action will take place.

“They simply will not believe the words from the SNP Transport Secretary until they actually see shovels on the ground.

“For the SNP Transport Secretary to take more time to have a dig at the plans laid out by Douglas Ross to add a third lane to the M8 simply shows his party’s obsession with the Central Belt and lack of ambition when it comes to upgrading our road infrastructure.

“The A75 and A77 have been completely left behind under 13 years of SNP rule and it is our local economy which suffers.

“Almost 1500 days have passed since a much heralded transport summit was held in Dumfries; the time for platitudes has long since passed.”

LOCAL MSP URGES CONSTITUENTS TO APPLY FOR NEW COVID-19 EVENTS INDUSTRY SUPPORT FUND

A new fund designed to support the events industry in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic has gone live, and South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth is urging those working in the sector to apply.

 

ColinSmythMSP

The Events Industry Support Fund provides financial help for businesses in the events industry who have been ineligible for the various funding packages announced by the Scottish Government following the outbreak of coronavirus.

The £6 million fund will be administered via VisitScotland and has been developed in consultation with the Event Industry Advisory Group (EIAG), it opened for applications on Monday and is live until 14 September.

Successful applicants will be eligible to receive a one-off grant of £10,000.

However, the funding will be allocated on a first come first served basis, which Colin Smyth believes could cause serious problems for those trying to apply for the fund in the south of Scotland.

The local MSP said: “The Events Industry Support Fund opened for applications on Monday and will be live until 14 September. I would urge anyone in the south of Scotland to consider applying. It is especially important for these businesses as the fund is designed for those who have not been eligible for any other scheme during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“However, I am very concerned it is being administered on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. Thousands of people across the country will be eligible and it’s very likely the fund will quickly become over-subscribed, which could mean many lose out on the chance of cash which could make a huge difference to their lives.

“I have spoken to a number of people who are extremely worried about whether this scheme will be able to deliver for the events industry and I will continue to monitor the situation closely.

“The arts and entertainment sector are facing a triple whammy of a lack of support, being behind other sectors when it comes to easing from lockdown and tougher social distancing than pubs and restaurants. While this new fund is welcome, unless the UK and Scottish Governments work fast we will inevitably see more job losses.”

Dumfriesshire MSP comments on SNP Programme for Government

Commenting on the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's statement at Holyrood on the SNP Programme for Government, Dumfriesshire constituency MSP Oliver Mundell said:

 

"I was hugely disappointed to hear the First Minister use her statement as another opportunity to bang the drum for independence at this time of huge uncertainty.

 

"This was a real opportunity to unite the country, to focus on jobs and to work together with opposition parties.

 

"Once again the First Minister wanted to drag us back to the same old divisions of the past. It is not good enough.  

 

"You cannot go on television every day and say we want to put politics to one side and then use a big occasion like this to get back on to familiar political territory. It's not good enough and is out of step with how the people of our region feel.

 

"There were some important aspects in the statement that should be welcomed like increased spending on infrastructure -- something the Scottish Conservatives had called for -- but no specific mention of the crucial A75 which is so important for our region."

PROGRAMME FOR GOVERNMENT, A MISSED OPPORTUNITY TO FOCUS ON SOUTH SCOTLAND, SAYS LOCAL MSP

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has described the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government outlined in the Scottish Parliament today (Tuesday 1 September) as a missed opportunity.

 

ColinSmythMSP

The local MSP welcomed the First Minister’s commitment to take “the first step on the road to a National Care Service” but believes the commitment to focus on publishing another independence referendum bill is the wrong priority for the Government.   

Scottish Labour has campaigned for a National Care Service since 2010, with the Covid-19 pandemic making the need for one clearer than ever.  

Colin Smyth said, “COVID19 has hit every part of our society hard, no more so than our care homes who have been the epicentre of the pandemic. The Scottish Government’s announcement of a review into social care is welcome but we don't have a timescale which is disappointing. I hope it leads to the setting up of a National Care Service, which Labour have campaigned for over the past decade. We need to tackle the scandal of care staff being paid so poorly and remove the profit motive from the care of our oldest and most vulnerable citizens”.

“However, the announcement that yet another independence referendum bill will be published in the next few months shows this Government are ultimately obsessed by one thing alone. This is a missed opportunity to focus on the immediate priorities of improving our health service, tackling the huge attainment gap in our schools and creating jobs to minimise the economic downturn hitting our area, instead of having yet another divisive referendum”

SCC Response To Programme For Government

Responding to the publication of the Scottish Government’s 2020-2021 Programme for Government, Dr Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce said:

 

Liz-Cameron-OBE-SSC-320x214

 

“The onus is on all of us to build back and the sooner we start the better. The Scottish Government’s Programme for Government has some ambitious aims that we welcome. Now we need to see how these proposals will be implemented and when.

 

“There is no doubt in anyone’s minds how important it is to keep the spread of the virus at bay but of equal importance is ensuring the sustainability of our livelihoods and the strength of our jobs market.

 

"We need to ensure equal amounts of energy and investment are focused on the survival of our businesses now as well as into the future.”

 

On green jobs and skills:

 

“A joined-up approach from private and public sector is absolutely essential to tackle the global challenge of climate change and the skills needed to deliver net zero ambitions.

 

"The Green Jobs fund - alongside support for decarbonising domestic and industrial heating - is a welcome statement of intent.

 

“We look forward to seeing the detail of how businesses of all sizes will be able to access support to upskill their employees through the extended Flexible Workforce Development Fund.”

 

On investment in tech and infrastructure:

 

“The rapid adoption of Mark Logan’s proposals to develop a world-class ecosystem for technology start-ups and growth businesses is bold albeit uncosted as yet.

 

"However, this along with support to close the digital exclusion gap that has become so apparent in Scotland during the course of this pandemic will set a course towards the necessary and hopefully rapid adoption of digital technologies.”

 

On commitment to introducing Air Departure Tax (ADT):

 

“This has been talked about for years and still no solution to this quandary. If we are to boost inward investment not to mention a tourism industry devastated by the pandemic, now would be the time to act on this.”

 

On plans for a draft bill proposing terms and timing of a second referendum on Scottish independence:

 

“Businesses are in desperate need of certainty and stability, two things which are sorely lacking in the current economic and political environment. 

 

"When appropriate, we will initiate engagement with our members across the country to understand how the prospect of another referendum on Scotland’s constitutional future could potentially affect their ability to grow, create new jobs and invest.”

Responding to the publication of the Scottish Government’s 2020-2021 Programme for Government, Dr Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce said:

 

“The onus is on all of us to build back and the sooner we start the better. The Scottish Government’s Programme for Government has some ambitious aims that we welcome. Now we need to see how these proposals will be implemented and when.

 

“There is no doubt in anyone’s minds how important it is to keep the spread of the virus at bay but of equal importance is ensuring the sustainability of our livelihoods and the strength of our jobs market.

 

"We need to ensure equal amounts of energy and investment are focused on the survival of our businesses now as well as into the future.”

 

On green jobs and skills:

 

“A joined-up approach from private and public sector is absolutely essential to tackle the global challenge of climate change and the skills needed to deliver net zero ambitions.

 

"The Green Jobs fund - alongside support for decarbonising domestic and industrial heating - is a welcome statement of intent.

 

“We look forward to seeing the detail of how businesses of all sizes will be able to access support to upskill their employees through the extended Flexible Workforce Development Fund.”

 

On investment in tech and infrastructure:

 

“The rapid adoption of Mark Logan’s proposals to develop a world-class ecosystem for technology start-ups and growth businesses is bold albeit uncosted as yet.

 

"However, this along with support to close the digital exclusion gap that has become so apparent in Scotland during the course of this pandemic will set a course towards the necessary and hopefully rapid adoption of digital technologies.”

 

On commitment to introducing Air Departure Tax (ADT):

 

“This has been talked about for years and still no solution to this quandary. If we are to boost inward investment not to mention a tourism industry devastated by the pandemic, now would be the time to act on this.”

 

On plans for a draft bill proposing terms and timing of a second referendum on Scottish independence:

 

“Businesses are in desperate need of certainty and stability, two things which are sorely lacking in the current economic and political environment. 

 

"When appropriate, we will initiate engagement with our members across the country to understand how the prospect of another referendum on Scotland’s constitutional future could potentially affect their ability to grow, create new jobs and invest.”

 

Scottish Chambers of Commerce has prepared a PDF summary of the announcements made today which can be viewed below.