Colin Beattie MSP has congratulated Shona Black from Musselburgh on winning Health Walk Volunteer of the Year Award.
Shona received the reward alongside her guide dog Matt at the Paths for All Volunteer Awards held in the Scottish Parliament on 28 September 2022.
Shona leads the RNIB East Lothian Health Walk at Musselburgh Harbour fortnightly on a Thursday morning to help build confidence and bring together the blind and partially-sighted community in East Lothian. Shona is partially-sighted herself and is accompanied on the walks by her guide dog Matt.
Colin Beattie MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh commented:
“It was a pleasure attending the ceremony in the Scottish Parliament and see Shona win the Health Walk Volunteer of the Year Award.
“The work that Shona does is hugely important for the blind and partially-sighted community in my constituency and I am pleased her hard work has been recognised.
“I would personally like to thank Shona for her work and I look forward to joining her and the walking group for stroll along the promenade soon.”
Award winner Shona commented:
“I am delighted to have won this award. The real reason for starting the walking group was to help build confidence and combat isolation in the blind and partially-sighted community after the Covid-19 pandemic.
“At first these walks were a way of getting back into the community after periods of lockdown but have now continued with 10 core participants.
“Not only does the walking group help the mental and physical health of members but also provides the opportunity for them to socialise together.
“Going forward, I hope to expand the group and start another walking group in Haddington to cover more of East Lothian.”
Photo L-R: Colin Beattie MSP, Shona Black and Guide Dog Matt.
If you would like more information, contact Shona Black at firstname.lastname@example.org
SNP MSP Colin Beattie, welcomed the news that 19,733 children and young people in Midlothian and East Lothian are benefiting from free bus travel since the introduction of the SNP Government's scheme for under 22's.
In figures released yesterday, the Scottish Government revealed that - as of 12 September 2022 - a total of 483,931 children and young people across Scotland are cardholders under the Young Persons’ Free Bus Travel Scheme and that a total of 21,723,100 journeys made under the Young Persons’ (Under 22s) Free Bus Travel Scheme since its introduction.
Commenting SNP MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Colin Beattie said:
"It is brilliant that so many children and young people in Midlothian and East Lothian are already benefiting from the SNP Scottish Government's free bus travel and I want to make sure that even more young people take advantage of this.
"This initiative is not only about helping our young people get about more often and more easily - whether that be local journeys or journeys right across Scotland - but it is also about embedding more sustainable travel behaviour from a young age which will support all of our efforts to tackle the climate emergency.
"It also is a key way of maintaining vital services in many areas, especially rural or outlying ones, and can provide help to people struggling with the cost of living crisis right now - by making travel affordable."
COLIN BEATTIE MSP CALLS ON RIVERSIDE MEDICAL PRACTICE TO ACCEPT RECOMMENDATIONS IN EXTERNAL REVIEW REPORT
Colin Beattie MSP has called on Riverside Medical Practice to accept and action the 17 recommendations set out in the External Review ‘Access and Capacity of Riverside Medical Practice LLP & Associated Services – September 2022’ Report.
The report was commissioned in April this year to assess patient concerns regarding access to care provided by Riverside Medical Practice and associated services in Musselburgh including the East Lothian Health and Social Care Partnership.
Recommendations set out in the report include urgently reviewing the telephony system, introducing an on-line appointment system for routine appointments, and reviewing their complaint handling process by adopting the NHS Model Complaints Handling Procedure.
An independent Review Team, led by Dr Dorothy Armstrong, spent 5 months researching, engaging, and analysing feedback from patients and other community stakeholders with the final report published on Friday 23 September 2022.
MSP for Musselburgh, Colin Beattie commented:
“My constituents have long awaited the outcome of this report after years of complaints regarding issues accessing healthcare at Riverside Medical Practice.
“I would urge Riverside, the East Lothian Health and Social Care Partnership and NHS Lothian to take on board all 17 recommendations set out in the report and collaboratively action them as quickly and efficiently as possible.
“The issues regarding access to healthcare at Riverside have gone on for too long and it would now be unfair to delay any improvements the patients have long-awaited for.
“I will continue to support my constituents and ensure improvements are made at the Practice. I have subsequently set up a meeting with the Review Team and will meet again with the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care, Humza Yousaf to ensure these recommendations are carried out in a timely manner.”
The full report can be found here: www.eastlothian.gov.uk/elhscp
66 schools in Midlothian and East Lothian are rated as either in good or satisfactory condition.
A record number of schools across Scotland are in good condition. In Midlothian there are 26 primary schools in either good or satisfactory condition and 5 secondary schools with the same rating.
In East Lothian there are 29 primary schools in either good or satisfactory condition and 6 secondary schools with the same rating.
The SNP Scottish Government has a long-term commitment to investing in school infrastructure, with the £2billion Learning Estate Investment Programme.
Under the SNP, the number of schools across Scotland rated as good or satisfactory has increased by nearly a third from 61.1% in 2007 to 90.4% in 2022.
Commenting, SNP MSP Colin Beattie said:
“It is very encouraging to see that children of all ages Midlothian and East Lothian are able to learn in schools that are in either good or satisfactory condition.
“This is evidence of the commitment the SNP Scottish Government to ensure that our children are taught in the best environment possible, and the best facilities.
“It is also encouraging to see that the number of school children receiving free school meals increased to 215,053 across Scotland, key support for families during this Tory cost of living crisis.
“These latest figures show that it is only the SNP that can be trusted with protecting our young people’s education.”
5,020 CHILDREN IN MIDLOTHIAN AND EAST LOTHIAN HAVE BENEFITTED FROM SCOTTISH CHILD PAYMENT
2,585 children in Midlothian and 2,435 children in East Lothian have been supported by the Scottish Child Payment since its introduction, according to figures released by the Scottish Government. This amounts to £1,607,650 having been paid to families in Midlothian and £1,442,350 paid to families in East Lothian.
The Scottish Child Payment of £20 per week per eligible child under 6 has been hailed 'an absolute game changer in the fight to end child poverty' by anti-poverty charities and described as a “lifesaver" by parents.
The payment, unique to Scotland and in place since February 2021, provides regular financial support to parents and carers to help with the costs of caring for a child and latest research has also found that the payment is contributing to reducing child poverty in Scotland.
The Scottish Child Payment is set to increase to £25 per week and be rolled out to all children up to 16 years old by the end of the year.
Commenting SNP MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Colin Beattie said:
"During a Tory-made cost of living crisis, it is great to see the progress being made with the SNP's Scottish Child Payment - especially knowing the huge difference it has made to 5,020 children in Midlothian and East Lothian since its introduction.
"I know the severe pressures facing household across Midlothian and East Lothian just now and that families are struggling to get by. The Scottish Child Payment is providing over £3 million in support for low income households in Midlothian and East Lothian which is lifesaving.
"Sadly, we know that the cost of living is only set to increase so I am glad that families will benefit even further from this payment increasing to £25 per week and being extended to under 16 year olds by the end of the year.
"During these difficult times, the SNP Scottish Government is taking the bold action it can to support families with the powers at its disposal but sadly it is battling against a cruel Tory Westminster government refusing to take any meaningful action to help people.
"This level of negligence by Westminster is inexcusable and down right cruel. It illustrates exactly why we need to have the full welfare and tax powers of an independent country so we can build a fairer country."
Local MSP Colin Beattie and Councillor Stuart McKenzie have expressed their concerns at the frequent sewage incidents at Newbattle Abbey Crescent and urgently called for a long-term solution to eliminate incidents like this in the future.
Mr Beattie and Cllr McKenzie visited Newbattle Abbey Crescent where there have been several reports of manholes overflowing with sewage after recent heavy rain fall.
The area has been subject to similar incident previously, with the one occurring just last month in July 2022.
Commenting Colin Beattie MSP said:
“This isn’t the first incident of the kind to occur at Newbattle Abbey Crescent and isn’t pleasant for the residents to experience.
“It is important that long-term plans are explored to eliminate future sewage incidents, not only at Newbattle Abbey Crescent but across Scotland.
“I recognise that this will require huge investment and will not be resolved overnight. The process of finding a solution will be lengthy and require great expertise.
“I will, however, pursue the issue as chair of the Esk River Improvement Group with Scottish Water at the next meeting.”
Councillor Stuart McKenzie commented:
“I recognise that Scottish Water and their contractors have been reacting to the issues of drainage at Newbattle Abbey Crescent and have been regularly attending to complete clean-up operations, which we thank them for.
“However, it is simply unacceptable that homes, public spaces as well as local wild-life areas are regularly contaminated.
“We have to realise that the climate is changing and our older systems need addressing in good time. It is time for Scottish Water to come together with community groups and focus on what long term measures are required.
“Colin and I will continue to press Scottish Water to ensure that the existing drainage is well maintained and working as it should whilst campaigning to ensure that climate change combatting measures are looked at in haste.”
A Scottish Water spokesperson said:
“Scottish Water and network operator Veolia, responded to an overflow from the sewer network at Newbattle Crescent on Monday 15th August.
Our teams attended site and found that the significant rainfall following a long period of dry weather, caused a large mass of wet wipes and sanitary products to be flushed through the system quickly.
This mass blocked the sewer and led to an overflow from several manholes in Newbattle Crescent.
The area was cleaned quickly after the incident and the sewer has been inspected to ensure no further work needs to be done.”
CRIME DROPPED ACROSS SCOTLAND BY 43% UNDER SNP
Colin Beattie has welcomed the release of the latest crime statistics which show Scotland’s recorded crime levels are at their lowest since 1974.
Figures show for the year ending June 2022, recorded crime fell by 5% compared to the same period last year and has fallen by 43% since 2006-07, when the SNP took office.
The findings are also reflected in the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey published earlier this year which showed 1 in 8 adults were the victim of a crime in 2019/20, significantly less than the 1 in 5 recorded in 2008/09. It also showed that people in Scotland were less likely to be a victim of crime than in England and Wales.
Commenting, Colin Beattie said:
“Midlothian and East Lothian continue to be a safe place to live, just like the rest of Scotland with thousands of fewer victims of crime than when the SNP took office, with a 43% reduction since 2006/07.
“The Scottish Government’s commitment to keeping our streets safe is backed up by increasing the policing budget by £40.5m for 2022-23, bringing the total budget to almost £1.4bn.
“Under the SNP the number of police has also increased by 3.5% compared to when we took office. There are also more police officers per head in Scotland than the rest of the UK with 32 officers per 10,000 population in Scotland compared to around 23 in England and Wales.
“There is of course always work to be done to ensure our streets are even safer and that is why the SNP Scottish Government has made £48 million available to organisations that support victims over the next three years, putting victims at the very heart of our justice system.
“Recorded crime across Scotland continues to fall and it demonstrates why it is only the SNP that can be trusted to keep Scotland safe.”
Colin Beattie has welcomed the introduction of the SNP Scottish Government’s newest social security benefit, the Adult Disability Payment (ADP).
The payment will be rolled out nationwide after a successful pilot in 13 local authorities across Scotland. New applications for the benefit are open.
ADP will replace the UK government’s Personal Independence Payments (PIP). People in Midlothian and East Lothian receiving PIP do not need to re-apply and will be automatically transferred from the DWP to Social Security Scotland, with the process expected to be completed by 2025.
Commenting, Colin Beattie said:
“I am delighted to see the Adult Disability Payment being rolled out in Midlothian, East Lothian and across Scotland. This is the 12th and most complex benefit to be introduced by the SNP Scottish Government, building a system of fairness, dignity and respect.
“No longer will those with disabilities need to be subjected to the intrusive and degrading assessments or health examinations as was previous under the DWP system.
“This one of a raft of other social security payments that have been introduced in Scotland, including the ‘game-changing’ Scottish Child Payment, and demonstrates how we are building a system in Scotland that is built for the people that need it.
“Those who are already receiving PIP or DLA do not need to make a new application do be moved on to the Adult Disability Payment and I would encourage anyone who is eligible to apply for this new disability benefit.”
LABOUR STANDING SIDE-BY-SIDE WITH TORIES TO DENY INCREASE
Colin Beattie has slammed Anas Sarwar’s shameful hypocrisy after Labour stood in the way of Midlothian and East Lothian’s council workers receiving a 5% pay rise.
During a COSLA meeting on Friday, SNP councillors proposed a 5% pay offer for employees, which was backed by Scottish Government funding of £140m per year. However, Labour sided with the Tories to try and block the move and delay a pay offer even further.
This follows previous moves by Labour to back Tory proposals for a 3.5% pay offer, despite the SNP offer of 5% being on the table.
Commenting, SNP MSP Colin Beattie said:
“It is utterly shameful that Labour once again sided with the Tories and failed to back proposals to offer council workers in Midlothian, East Lothian and across Scotland the fair pay deal they deserve.
“Anas Sarwar was just this week urging the Scottish Government to act on its ‘moral duty’ on the cost of living crisis. Sarwar has completely failed in his own moral duty to ensure that hard-working employees are offered a fair pay rise during this Tory made cost of living crisis.
“Not only did Labour reject the proposals for a 5% increase, but they stood side-by-side with the architects of the cost of living crisis, the Tories, to try and deny workers that rise. Labour were given two opportunities to back SNP proposals for a 5% rise, but twice decided to vote against it and stand side-by-side with the Tories instead.
“It is a welcome breakthrough that the 5% offer will now be offered to council workers thanks to the work of SNP councillors to get the proposals approved.
“This is part of a pattern we have seen since the local elections. Before them Anas Sarwar was saying no deals and asking voters not to reward the ‘toxic, out of touch, corrupt and disgusting’ Tories. When all the votes were counted his party has bent over backwards to do deals with the Tories and now joins them in trying to undercut council staff pay.
“Labour are continuing their shift to the right and as they do, they slip further into irrelevance and have nothing positive to offer the people of Scotland. The only way to build a fairer, more equal country is by becoming independent.”
Colin Beattie MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh visited the Turing Trust in Loanhead to hear more about the work they are undertaking to help empower disadvantaged communities through technology.
Founded by Alan Turing’s family in 2009, his family seek to continue his legacy through the Turing Trust by refurbishing IT equipment, installing a range of educational software and providing it to students across Africa to enable IT-supported learning.
So far, the Turing Trust has installed over 12,000 computers in African classrooms, supported more than 116,000 students and offset 3,500 tonnes of carbon emission. The Turing Trust also accept donation of old computers and laptops from individuals and businesses giving the devices a new lease of life instead of going into landfill.
Commenting on his visit, Local MSP Colin Beattie said:
“I am hugely impressed with the work the staff and volunteers at the Turing Trust are undertaking in my constituency to help classrooms in Africa access these much needed resources in this new digital world.
“Now more than ever we are relying on technology to keep us connected and the Turing Trust is playing its part to ensure that classrooms across Africa can have the same opportunities to learn.
“As well as empowering disadvantaged communities through technology, the Turing Trust keeps its impact on the environment low with its zero-landfill policy.
“I would encourage anyone who would like to support the Turing Trust’s excellent work to donate any old computers or laptops information on how to do so can be found on their website.”
Founder of the Turing Trust, James Turing, commented:
“Over the last 12 months we have seen our team achieve some incredible results thanks to the vital support of myriad donors and volunteers. Together they have helped us with over 7,400 hours of hard work, ranging from packing containers on shipping days to the all-important refurbishment of computers.”
“From the goals set in 2020, in spite of continuing challenges with the pandemic, we have made considerable progress on many of these. This year we were able to install more computer labs than any year before, installing a total of 70 new computer labs in Malawi in 2021. Many plans for teacher training had to be modified, yet we nonetheless ensured that 198 teachers received training.
“Beyond these social impacts our IT reuse programme has generated significant environmental benefits throughout the year too. In 2021 we diverted 46 tonnes of PCs that would otherwise go to waste and provided equivalent carbon savings of 966 tonnes.
“I would like to pass on my immense thanks to all of our staff and volunteers who have gone above and beyond this year in their efforts to help others. I am immensely looking forward to the year to come and seeing what more we can do building a world with technology-enabled education for all.”
Photo L-R: Neil Gilchrist, Audrey Johnston, Colin Beattie MSP and Founder James Turing