MSP, Colin Beattie, has expressed his shock and anger at Midlothian Council withdrawing many children’s access to free school buses where the distance to be travelled is less than three miles.
“These changes are ill thought out and badly communicated to parents and children” he stated.
“This is a reckless decision made by the Labour/Tory Administration which will impact on children’s health and wellbeing”.
In their wisdom the council decided that the new schools would not have lockers for children’s personal effects. The result is that, like the child with me in the photograph, young people have to physically carry all their needs for the day on their backs. Typically on a full day there could be a musical instrument, gym kit, books and jotters for each class attended, probably lunch and spare clothing. I tried picking up the load that this 11 year old had hefted back from school. It was as much as any fully grown fit adult could be expected to carry. To expect our children to do so for anything close to six miles a day is morally offensive. Young people’s bodies are still developing throughout their teens. Forcing them to carry such unwieldy loads is potentially detrimental to their healthy development. They need exercise – not forced labour!
Tired and exhausted children will find it difficult to learn. Attainment, which has been improving in Midlothian, will suffer.
Some of the routes suggested by the council are secluded and poorly lit and particularly during dark winter months I would not wish a child of mine to walk alone.
The alternative is that parents somehow re-arrange their work schedules and drive their children to the school creating pollution and traffic jams. This would raise the risk level for those children walking to school due to heavier traffic levels and vehicles manoeuvring.
All this to save £ 47,000 per year! What price children’s safety and protecting their health? This is a cut which will impact most on the lives of families with low incomes. Does Labour remember anything of the principles of Keir Hardie?
There has been no consultation with parents. This is an undemocratic diktat.
I call on this administration to think again and to show that they value our young people more than a few pounds savings.
SNP MSP Colin Beattie has warned that farmers and food producers in Midlothian North and Musselburgh could be hit by a post-Brexit trade deal with Donald Trump – after the US ambassador reiterated demands for major concessions from the UK.
The Trump administration want the UK to accept lower food safety standards than exist within the European Union, allowing US products such as chlorinated chicken and hormone-fed beef to be sold in the UK – undercutting our own food producers.
The US ambassador this week confirmed that a future trade deal would require access to “the entire economy”, potentially impacting other sectors such as the NHS.
There are also concerns that Scottish products, such as Scotch Whisky, could lose their protected status after Brexit – allowing cheap-knock offs to be sold.
Commenting, Colin Beattie MSP said:
“Scotland has top-quality food safety standards, in line with the rest of the EU, protecting consumers and our world-renowned Scottish produce.
“But that’s now under threat, with the Tories planning to sell out Scottish food producers as part of a damaging back-room trade deal with Donald Trump.
“As a member of the EU, local products have been protected from cheap market knock offs - we can’t allow the Tories to take a take a wrecking ball to our booming food and drink sector here in Midlothian.
“The UK government’s shambolic approach to Brexit leaves them in an exceptionally weak bargaining position – with Tory leadership contenders competing to be the most reckless with our economic future.
“There’s a real danger that, if Brexit happens, the next Prime Minister will be absolutely desperate to sign whatever damaging trade-deal Trump demands.
“Scotland voted overwhelmingly against Brexit – and the threat of selling out Midlothian’s food producers shows exactly why we need to stop it.”
SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT PAYS OUT £554,000 TO CARERS IN MIDLOTHIAN AND £504,000 TO CARERS IN EAST LOTHIAN
1,365 CARERS BENEFIT FROM DEVOLVED WELFARE POWERS IN MIDLOTHIAN AND 1,230 CARERS BENEFIT FROM DEVOLVED WELFARE POWERS
Thousands of carers in Midlothian and East Lothian have benefitted from new Carer’s Allowance Supplement (CAS) payments of up to £442 introduced by the Scottish Government.
New figures show that 1,365 payments have been to carers in Midlothian, totalling £554,000 and 2,280 payments have been to carers in East Lothian, totalling £504,000
The Carer’s Allowance Supplement is an extra payment made to carers in Scotland twice a year, in recognition of the important contribution they make.
Carers will now get two supplementary payments totalling £442 per year, equivalent to an extra £8.50 per week, which is a 13% increase on the Carer’s Allowance from the UK Government.
SNP MSP Colin Beattie said:
“Last year, the Carer’s Allowance Supplement helped 83,000 carers across Scotland, including 1,365 in Midlothian and 1,230 in East Lothian.
“Carers in Midlothian and East Lothian make an absolutely vital contribution to our society, and it’s only appropriate that they’re duly valued and properly supported.
“The SNP is determined to use the powers available to the Scottish Government to improve the lives of people across Scotland.
“This supplementary payment allows the Scottish Government to get more money into the pockets of carers, as quickly as possible.
“I am delighted that carers in Midlothian and East Lothian are being recognised for the important contribution carers make, and the hard work they do in what can often be difficult circumstances.”
RESULT IS BIGGEST EUROPEAN ELECTION VICTORY EVER SEEN IN SCOTLAND
The SNP has won the European election in Midlothian and East Lothian as Scotland voted emphatically to reject Brexit.
The SNP received 37.1% share of the vote in Midlothian, 32.6% share of the vote in East Lothian and 38% nationally.
The SNP won in every part of mainland Scotland, with the party making history by achieving the country’s biggest ever margin of victory at a European election and securing 3 MEPs.
The emphatic win means the SNP is on course to send Alyn Smith, Christian Allard and Aileen McLeod to the European Parliament.
Commenting, returning SNP MSP Colin Beattie said:
“People in Midlothian, and across the country, have sent a strong message that Scotland does not want Brexit.
“This is the biggest European election win for any party ever seen in Scotland. Winning 3 of 6 available seats in Scotland is simply phenomenal.
“Throughout this campaign the SNP has offered a message of hope and ambition. Scotland wants to be part of an EU that allows us to travel, work and live freely across Europe.
“Scotland deserves better than a Westminster system that isn’t working – it’s no wonder more and more people believe Scotland’s future should be as independent country within the EU.”
Last week Colin Beattie, MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, raised the importance of International Museums Day within our Local and National Museums in a Members Debate at the Scottish Parliament.
During the debate, Mr Beattie raised awareness of how museums promote cultural exchange, development of mutual understanding and how museums are fundamental to preserving our culture and history.
Commenting after the debate, Colin Beattie MSP said:
“I was delighted to have been able to sponsor a Reception and hold a Members Debate for International Museums Day.
“Saturday 18 may 2019 marked the 42nd international museums day, and annual event coordinated by the International Council of Museums (ICOM). ICOM chooses a different theme for the event every year, always an issue of importance to the international museum community. This year’s theme was museums as cultural hubs: the future of tradition.
“In my constituency, I am lucky to have two museums that help promote and cultivate local culture. The Musselburgh Museum, located on the High Street, established nearly a decade ago, and its own recent exhibitions have included the history of Musselburgh athletic football club and Musselburgh as the ‘cradle of golf’ in Scotland. Also, in Dalkeith, located in the town’s historic Corn Exchange Building, has recently held its own exhibitions on the effects of world war one Dalkeith and China Souvenir Ornaments stamped with the Dalkeith crest.
“I urge everyone to make a visit to your local museum and show your own appreciation for local and national history! These museums and the history behind them help shape who we are today and the big plus side to visiting a local or national museum is the majority of them are free admission.”
The Link to the Members Debate is available here:
VOTE SNP ON THURSDAY TO STOP BREXIT
SNP MSP Colin Beattie has called on voters in East Lothian and Midlothian to back the SNP to stop Brexit and save Scotland’s place in Europe, ahead of the EU elections on Thursday.
With under 48 hours until the polls open, the SNP has stepped up its campaign to keep Scotland in Europe, saying only a vote for the SNP will send the message that Scotland says No to Brexit.
A new poll found that the momentum is firmly with the SNP ahead of Thursday’s vote – with the party 22 points ahead of joint-second Labour, and the Tories trailing well behind in fourth place.
SNP MSP Colin Beattie said:
“The Tories and Labour have consistently ignored the wishes of Scotland – they are both committed to delivering Brexit, no matter the cost.
“There is no doubt that Brexit will be bad for Scotland - with fewer jobs, fewer opportunities and households left worse off.
“64.6% of people in East Lothian and 62.1% of people in Midlothian voted to remain in the EU – just as an overwhelming majority did across Scotland. These elections are a chance to send the strongest possible message that Scotland will not be ignored.
“A vote for the SNP is a vote to make clear that Scotland says No to Brexit.”
‘*An inspiring vision of the power of green spaces and community*’, commented Colin Beattie MSP this week as he joined staff and volunteers at the Cyrenians Midlothian Community Gardens.
The East-of-Scotland based homelessness charity has been supporting people and communities for over 50 years, developing sustainable solutions to the causes and consequences of homelessness.
Poor mental health can make it harder to cope with housing problems, while being homeless or having problems in your home can make your mental health worse. To tackle this issue, the Midlothian Community Gardens provide a therapeutic greenspace for volunteers, patients from the hospital, and the wider public.
One of many such community garden projects across Scotland, Cyrenians works in partnership with NHS Lothian, for whom green spaces play a vital role in improving national health and wellbeing. Overwhelming evidence suggests they not only aid recovery, decreasing time spent in hospital, but also engender good physical and mental health, before problems can occur.
Colin Beattie comment: “It was fantastic visiting the Midlothian Community Gardens. It’s brilliant to see green areas benefitting not just the environment, but also people’s mental and physical health. Very much highlighting the importance of installing green spaces.”
Cyrenians’ Lucy Holroyd, NHS Community Gardens Manager, said, “We were delighted that our local MSP could meet with staff and volunteers to show his support and see the benefit this space provides. Offering a space to learn, socialise, and grow and eat local food, our community gardens are welcoming and inclusive spaces where strong communities and connections can be fostered – communities to best serve those at risk, or with prior experience, of homelessness”.
To find out more about the Cyrenians Community Gardens, please visit: https://cyrenians.scot/community-and-food/community-gardens/
TRUMP TRADE DEAL AND HIT TO STAFF AND MEDICINES MUST BE AVERTED
The European election is a chance to stop Brexit and protect our NHS, SNP MSP Colin Beattie has said – as the party steps up campaigning on the final days ahead of the European election.
Donald Trump has outlined his demand that a post-Brexit trade deal sees “full market access” for US health products, allowing American drug firms to hike up prices for medicines.
The potential hit to NHS budgets adds to existing concerns that Brexit will have a harmful impact on healthcare.
A BBC investigation found that NHS Lothian were concerned about attracting and retaining key and specialist staff.
Ending freedom of movement could limit Scotland’s ability to fund the NHS – with Holyrood’s cross-party Finance committee last year warning there was a strong demographic risk to the size of the Scottish budget.
The BMA’s European election manifesto this week said that “Brexit will be damaging for the medical profession, both in the UK and across Europe.”
Commenting, SNP MSP Colin Beattie said:
“Thursday’s vote is a chance to stop Brexit in its tracks – and to protect the NHS in Midlothian and East Lothian.
“Brexit poses a major risk to medicine supplies and is already making it harder to attract vital medical staff to Midlothian and East Lothian.
“And we already know that Donald Trump wants to use a post-Brexit trade deal to rip up the rulebook and open our NHS to American drug firms.
“That would mean higher prices for medicine and a worse deal for patients.
“The Scottish Government is working as hard as possible to mitigate the impact of Brexit on Midlothian’s and East Lothian's health service – but any Brexit will have consequences for our NHS.
“We need to send the strongest possible message that we will not stand for this. A vote for the SNP on Thursday will make clear that Scotland will not stand for Brexit.”
Scotland must avoid being forced into a “bargain basement” trade deal with Trump by stopping Brexit, SNP MSP Colin Beattie has said.
The Tories have made the ability to strike independent trade deals a red line in Brexit negotiations – despite the EU having a proven record of securing advantageous trade deals on the UK’s behalf.
But a chilling 18 page list of US government negotiating priorities published earlier this year outline the potential cost of a trade deal with Trump.
The US priorities include weakening food standards in the UK, opening up our domestic market to genetically modified crops, chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-injected beef.
Studies have indicated significantly higher rates of salmonella in the US than in the UK, contributing to fears over the safety of reducing food standards.
Commenting, Colin Beattie said:
“Midlothian and East Lothian voted to Remain in the EU – yet we face being dragged out against our will.
“Brexiteers promised that leaving the EU would lead to free trade deals across the globe.
“The reality is that the UK alone will be in a much weaker negotiating position than the EU as a whole – and Donald Trump will try to use that weakness to lower standards and open up our market to second class produce.
“That’s bad news for consumers forced to compete with a flood of cheap, low quality imports.
“Scotland can’t be forced to accept a bargain basement trade deal with Trump.
“We need to stop Brexit – a vote for the SNP in the European election will make clear we will not stand for this.”
MSP COLIN BEATTIE WELCOMES CASHBACK FOR COMMUNITIES FUNDING
Today, Midlothian North and Musselburgh MSP Colin Beattie welcomed the news that the CashBack for Communities programme invested over £100,000 in local projects in East Lothian and Midlothian last year.
The Cashback for Communities scheme reinvests criminal assets into community projects which support young people into positive destinations, diverting some away from potentially criminal or anti-social behaviour. Projects that have benefited include Celtic FC Foundation, the National Autistic Society and Impact Arts, which all provide opportunities to raise the attainment, ambition and aspirations of young people from areas of deprivation.
Figures released today show that East Lothian benefited from £136,513 and Midlothian benefited from £119,405 of funding in 2017-18. Since the launch of the scheme in 2008, projects in East Lothian have received a total of £1,245,092 and in Midlothian have received a total of £969,590.
Mr Beattie commented:
‘This is a tremendous initiative that ensures criminals do not benefit from the proceeds of their crimes.
‘Every young person in this country should have an equal chance to make the most of their lives regardless of background. Promoting projects that will give our young people new skills, while displaying that crime does not pay, allows for positive life choices to be accentuated.
‘I would encourage any local group who thinks they can benefit from Cashback for Communities funding to apply as soon as possible.’
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