SNP MSP Colin Beattie has urged constituents in Midlothian and East Lothian to 'stay local' when exercising and walking dogs and avoid any unnecessary travel that could help spread coronavirus.
Official advice from the Scottish and UK governments warns that people in Midlothian and East Lothian should not be driving somewhere with the intent of doing exercise or walking their dog – with new powers granted to police to enforce these regulations.
To protect yourself and others from illness and save lives, people should also avoid driving to beauty spots.
SNP MSP Colin Beattie said:
"Of course, exercise is extremely important for people’s physical and mental wellbeing, so it's important to note that people in Midlothian and East Lothian can leave their homes for exercise once a day, with members of their own household.
"However, you should only be outside for a reasonable purpose – buying food or essential household or medical supplies; travelling to or carrying out essential work; exercising once a day; or providing care or assistance to others.
"People in Midlothian and East Lothian should make use of gardens - if they can - and stay local when exercising or walking dogs, to ensure that we stop the spread of coronavirus.
"This is about saving lives and protecting our NHS. We all recognise how unusual these regulations are, and the Scottish Government will act to remove these restrictions as soon as it is safe to do so."
MSP CALLS ON MIDLOTHIAN AND EAST LOTHIAN RESIDENTS TO VOLUNTEER DURING PANDEMIC
SNP MSP Colin Beattie has called on residents to volunteer in their communities during the coronavirus pandemic.
A new ‘Scotland Cares’ campaign has been launched to encourage people to volunteer.
While the most important ask for the public remains to stay at home and follow the essential public health guidance, people who are healthy and not at risk can volunteer to provide practical or emotional help to those most in need.
Those wanting to volunteer to support their communities have three options which are signposted from the Ready Scotland website:
• returning NHS workers will be directed to existing voluntary arrangements in NHS Scotland
• people wishing to offer their support to our public services, including the NHS and local authorities, will be directed to a site co-ordinated by the British Red Cross
• those looking for opportunities with other charities or community groups in their area will be directed to Volunteer Scotland for information
Commenting, SNP MSP Colin Beattie said:
“In these difficult times, people across Midlothian and East Lothian want to make a difference in their community.
“While not everyone will be able to volunteer, this new Scottish Government campaign will help people to make a real difference.
“The Scottish Government is working closely with local government and a range of partners to co-ordinate the volunteering effort across Scotland.
“Through the readyscotland.org website, we can connect people to where their contribution is most needed in their local community.
“For some, that may involve roles responding to specific needs in health and social care. For others, it may be that we draw on their skills, enthusiasm and energy in the weeks and months to come.
“It is important to remember that the most helpful thing many of us can continue to do to help the NHS is to stay at home and follow all COVID-19 guidance.”
SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES SIX-MONTH BAN ON EVICTIONS
SNP MSP Colin Beattie has welcomed the Scottish Government announcement that private and social tenants in Midlothian and East Lothian are to be given increased protection from eviction during the coronavirus pandemic.
Emergency legislation will increase the minimum notice period for private and social tenants to up to six months depending on the grounds used, helping to protect them from eviction.
The Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill, which contains substantial further powers and measures to ensure essential public services can continue throughout the coronavirus outbreak, will be introduced in the Scottish Parliament tomorrow (Tuesday).
SNP MSP Colin Beattie said:
“We must all work together to meet this challenge, which is why measures to prevent evictions and relieve some of the financial pressure people in Midlothian and East Lothian may be facing due to the coronavirus crisis are welcome.
“The Scottish Government has also encouraged all landlords to be as flexible as possible during this unprecedented time, and I would urge them to also seek assistance if necessary by speaking to their lenders about mortgage breaks.
“No-one should face losing their home as a result of this coronavirus pandemic. The move to ban evictions during this crisis will bring security to people's lives when they need it most.”
After a lengthy discussion with NHS 24 and a visit to the Midlothian Community Hospital local MSP Colin Beattie together with his wife Lisa have self isolated following her diagnosis of Covid 19.
Commenting Colin said “I have now experienced this virus and the NHS response personally and the virus is indeed a potentially dangerous one. On the other hand the NHS were first class and professional. I can’t praise the staff enough and I am reminded of our gratitude to all in the emergency services and doctors surgeries who are at the highest risk of contracting the virus but who are still working to keep us safe and well.
This is not to mention all those who are the rarely mentioned who are carrying out essential cleaning, do the laundry, provide meals and other services which we often take for granted but are vital to the needs of us all. Special thanks must go to all those who are continuing to deliver all our needs – the posties, van drivers, and so many others.
For many people, especially those living alone in isolation, this situation may bring anxiety and even depression. Please help them to cope with this added burden by contacting your local community help group, many of which have sprung up in response to the needs of their communities. If you know anyone like this personally then a phone call or even a text can mean a lot and may make a huge difference.
I know that for many people, and businesses, they may be feeling a real anxiety about the financial future. Many supports are being put in place to help by the government. Please look at FindBusinessSupport.gov.scot or call 0300 303 0660 to see what assistance might be available.
The need for us to take this virus very seriously is indeed clear. This is not necessarily just for ourselves, but for the vulnerable in our community who are at considerable risk if we do not properly practice social distancing and self isolation. It is inconvenient and it is boring to be trying to run a business or a job from home. It is no fun at all. I am on day 6 of isolation at time of writing this with another 8 days to go. I spend my day on the phone to constituents and work partners and it is frustrating and inefficient. It’s no substitute for meeting face to face. However, it would be much worse if my doing so resulted in the illness, or worse, for a vulnerable person. In the course of my work I meet so many who are in the vulnerable groups, and it is them we need to be considerate of in this time.
We all need to be sensible and do the right thing. That way we will get through this crisis with a lot less pain. Kindness and consideration will get us through.”
To keep up to date with the recent developments in the Covid-19 outbreak you can visit gov.scot/coronavirus and for health advice you can visit nhsinform.scot/coronavirus
SNP MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Colin Beattie, has written to local business owners to outline Scottish Government support worth £2.2 billion.
On Wednesday SNP Economy Secretary, Fiona Hyslop, announced a package of support in face of the current ‘economic emergency’, including:
• a full year’s 100% non-domestic rates relief for retail, hospitality and tourism
• £10,000 grants for small businesses in receipt of the Small Business Bonus Scheme or Rural Relief
• £25,000 grants for hospitality, leisure and retail properties with a rateable value between £18,000 and £51,000
• 1.6% relief for all properties, effectively freezing the poundage rate next year
A business helpline has also been launched to offer advice to those with concerns about the impact of COVID-19.
Earlier this week, the Scottish Government also announced that schools will be closed from the start of next week – while urging people to work from home where possible and minimise social contact.
Commenting, Colin Beattie said:
“Local businesses and industries here in Midlothian and East Lothian are concerned about the impact that coronavirus will have on the local economy.
“This pandemic will disrupt lives like never before and cause financial hardship for people across Scotland. But be assured that the Scottish and UK Governments are working tirelessly to protect and support people this difficult time.
“This package of reliefs and grants will help support local businesses that are struggling to get by.
“The current advice is clear – work at home where you can, avoid using public transport and minimise your social contact.
“If anyone in your household shows any symptoms you must stay at home for 14 days. Those over 70 and with underlying health conditions should stay at home regardless and avoid social contact as much as possible.
“In times of crisis that we have a responsibility to step up and look out for one another – I know that’s exactly what the people of Midlothian and East Lothian will do.”
52.8% OF PRIMARY KIDS IN MIDLOTHIAN RECEIVING FREE SCHOOL MEALS AND 49% IN EAST LOTHIAN
COLIN BEATTIE: “LOCAL WORKING FAMILIES SAVING £450 PER CHILD THANKS TO SNP FLAGSHIP POLICY”
The number of primary aged pupils receiving free schools meals in Midlothian has risen from 15.7% to 52.8% and in East Lothian from 11.3% to 49% in the last decade saving working families hundreds of pounds a year, according to new analysis.
The latest figures, released by the Scottish Parliament’s Information Centre (SPICe), show that nationally just over 53% of primary pupils were registered for free school meals in 2019 – a substantial jump from 2009 when just 16.7% of kids were registered.
The SPICe analysis has also estimated that local families are saving £450 a year for each child, thanks to the SNP’s commitment to extend free school meals for more pupils across Scotland.
In 2015, the SNP Government introduced free school meals for all pupils in primary 1 to 3 – with evidence showing initiatives like this can help close the education attainment gap while improving the performance of children from low income backgrounds.
The number of secondary pupils registered for free schools in Midlothian has also steadily increased in the last decade – rising from 11.6% in 2009 to 13% in 2019 and in East Lothian from 7.9% to 8.3%.
Welcoming the news, SNP MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Colin Beattie said:
“Free school meals are an important part of ensuring that every child gets the best start in life but it’s also a huge financial help to working families.
“This policy has been a huge relief for many families across Midlothian and East Lothian at a time where household budgets are tight – saving parents over £450 a year for each child.
“While the SNP’s commitment to double the provision of free childcare for all three and four year olds is also saving young families around £4,500 a year.
“There’s still a lot to do in reducing poverty and inequality in Scotland – but progressive policies like this are keeping more cash in the pockets of hard working families here in Midlothian and East Lothian.”
SNP MSP Colin Beattie has welcomed new figures that show 822 of new build homes were completed in East Lothian and 467 in Midlothian last year.
The latest statistics from the Scottish Government show that over 9,300 affordable homes were delivered in 2019 across the country, an increase of more than 25% since 2016
Meanwhile, the number of homes for social rent in East Lothian and Midlothian hit 159 and 75 last year.
Welcoming the news, SNP MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh Colin Beattie said:
“Having a home to call your own really matters – that’s why the SNP Government has made the delivery of thousands of new affordable homes a priority.
“Just last year alone, we’ve seen 822 new homes completed in East Lothian and 467 in Midlothian, 159 and 75 of which are for social rent.
“On top of our commitment to deliver 50,000 affordable homes, we’re helping first-time buyers here in Midlothian and East Lothian get on the property ladder by lending them a chunk of their deposit.
“I’m proud that this SNP Government is getting on with the day-job, and is quite literally, building for the future of Scotland.”
COLIN BEATTIE MSP DISAPPOINTED IN THE GREEN PARTY DELAYS TO SHERIFFHALL UPGRADES
Colin Beattie, MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, has expressed his disappointment in the potential delays to the upgrades of the Sheriffhall. The delays are as a result of the Green Party negotiating for a review of the Sheriffhall upgrade, in exchange for their support of the Scottish Budget. Mr Beattie has spoken up against the delays in the Scottish Parliament during the Scottish Budget debate, and whilst he voiced his support for the budget and the protection of services across Scotland, he took the time in his speech to raise his concerns about the delays to the upgrade in his constituency.
Colin Beattie MSP commented in his speech to parliament:
‘Before I continue on the Scottish budget proposals, I make a small plea for my constituency. As part of the arrangement with the Green Party, there is a proposal to review the current initiative for Sheriffhall roundabout. The Edinburgh and south-east Scotland city deal means that plans are in place to upgrade the roundabout in order to help businesses and residents cope with the volumes of traffic. The Green Party has asked for a review of the upgrades, which would delay the process. A review is not in the interests of my constituents, and the considerable reaction from them to the Greens’ proposal has been overwhelmingly negative.
The benefits of putting in place a solution to that long-standing choke point on the Edinburgh city bypass are multiple. I will list one or two of them. First, safe cycling and pedestrian routes will be put in place for the first time. That is an excellent first step in making the route greener and more sustainable. Many of my constituents have been waiting for those routes, so that they have alternative ways of travelling safely. Delaying the upgrades would prevent access to a green means of travel.
Secondly, instead of there being a significant traffic build-up at the Sheriffhall roundabout, traffic will be distributed to a variety of points, which will produce marginal traffic build-ups, as opposed to the significant traffic jams that currently happen. That will minimise idling traffic and longer car journeys as a result of delays.
The traffic jams resulting from the inadequate traffic-flow system mean that vehicles are often idling and producing high emissions and pollution. That is to the detriment of the surrounding villages and my constituents. The emissions could be lowered through better traffic flow, and the upgrades would enable that.
It makes every economic sense to have an efficient transport system in order to encourage businesses to move to or remain in the area. Efficient transport links reduce pollution and sustain jobs. Public transport and cyclists alike depend on them. I ask the Scottish Government and the Green Party to reconsider that potentially damaging and deeply unpopular review.’
BUDGET SECURES FUNDING BOOST FOR MIDLOTHIAN NORTH AND MUSSELBURGH IN FACE OF WESTMINSTER CHAOS
SNP MSP Colin Beattie has voted to pass the Scottish Government’s budget for 2020/21– securing a cash boost for NHS Lothian, investment in vital public services in Midlothian and East Lothian, and a more progressive tax system.
The amended budget delivers on key issues raised by all parties in the parliament – and will see the SNP Government take the radical step of introducing free bus travel for those aged 18 and under, benefitting an estimated 13624 young people in Midlothian North and Musselburgh.
The agreement builds on key Scottish Government commitments to invest £15bn in health and care services – with NHS Lothian benefitting from a cash boost of £98.6 million, an increase of 6.8% since 2019/20.
Commenting, SNP MSP Colin Beattie said:
“In the face of massive Westminster cuts - the SNP has always taken a different, fairer approach to give people living in Scotland the best deal in the UK.
“I’m proud to have voted for a progressive budget which protects our cherished health service, supports our schools and allows us to play our part in tackling the climate emergency.
“Despite being set a backdrop of heightened uncertainty and risk, created by the UK government’s decision to delay their own budget – the SNP government’s budget delivers certainty and stability for our economy, industry and businesses in Midlothian and East Lothian.
“These figures speak for themselves. This budget is a good deal for Midlothian and East Lothian, and a good deal for Scotland – and I’m delighted it has now received the support of the support of the Scottish Parliament.”
MSPs have shown their support for a campaign to ensure that Scotland’s new social security does not fail people living with disabilities across the country.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) Society Scotland visited Holyrood last week [25-27 February] to urge the Scottish Government to scrap the nonsensical and unfair ‘20-metre rule’.
The Personal Independence Payment (PIP) UK-wide system which people living in Scotland currently apply for is set to be devolved next year for new applicants.
The Scottish Government has pledged to end to PIP when powers are transferred to Holyrood but is yet to confirm whether the nonsensical arbitrary 20-metre rule, which states that anyone who can walk this short distance is not entitled to the higher rate of mobility assistance, will remain a part of the devolved system.
This widely unpopular rule can severely hit people’s independence and is a particularly poor fit for conditions like MS where people’s symptoms fluctuate.
Colin Beattie, MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, pledged his support for a new system that offers the right level of support to ensure that people can remain as independent as possible.
Colin Beattie said: “The PIP system is unfair to many and needs to be changed. The UK Government needs to transfer this power to Scotland so that we can enact a fairer system that works for those who need it most. I support and appreciate the work of MS Society Scotland to create a fair system.”
More than 15,000 people live with MS in Scotland and nearly one in six will lose out on Personal Independence Payment (PIP) support because of the 20-metre rule. As a result of this rule, thousands with MS have been stripped of their Motability cars and left trapped in their homes and unable to work, seen their health deteriorate, and been forced to face stressful and lengthy appeals to get their benefits reinstated.
Morna Simpkins, director of MS Society Scotland, said: “We’ve long known about the enormous harm caused when PIP takes vital support away from people with MS. Not only does the process lack respect for people and their lives but arbitrary and nonsensical conditions like the 20-metre rule can deprive people of vital support.
“We urge the Scottish Government to reform the assessment system – including the nonsensical and arbitrary 20-metre rule.
“We have heard pledges that under devolution the system will treat people with respect and dignity and what we have heard from our community is that for that to happen then, simply put, this rule must be scrapped.
“MS can be painful and exhausting, it shouldn’t be made harder by a welfare system that doesn’t make sense.”