SNP MSP Colin Beattie has criticised the UK Government for failing the people of Midlothian following this year’s Budget announcement.
After promising to end austerity, the UK Government’s budget has in fact failed Scottish people, with Scotland’s resource block grant almost £2 billion lower in real terms next year than it was less than a decade ago.
The Budget does not deliver on the promises of a rise in public spending – Scotland’s NHS has been short-changed, the disastrous roll-out of Universal Credit has not been halted, and the richest 10% of the UK population will be the ones who benefit most from Tory tax cuts.
Colin Beattie said:
“This Tory Budget falls a long way short of delivering for the people of Scotland.
“Working people will be £1,600 worse off thanks to their mishandling of Brexit, and the changes in this year’s Budget do nothing to alleviate the untold damage this will do.
“The reality of this Budget is that the Tories have dug themselves a deeper hole, with no clue how to get out of it. People in Midlothian, and across Scotland, are getting a bad deal with the Tories.
“The SNP will not support Tory tax cuts for the richest at the expense of the poor.
“Instead of ploughing on with more harmful austerity, the UK Government should commit to a realistic plan for investment in public services, to grow the economy and to boost jobs, incomes and living standards.
“This budget has exposed in stark terms the democratic deficit of the UK, and why we need full powers over Scotland’s finances to grow our economy and build a fairer country.”
With winter closing in, local MSP Colin Beattie is urging residents to make sure their homes are ready for anything the weather might bring.
Last winter, more than 154,000 homes across Scotland experienced a boiler breakdown, leaving residents unable to heat their homes. During the Beast from the East, temperatures of below -10°C and wind speeds of over 60mph led to the busiest week on record for Scottish Gas, with 104 calls for assistance coming in every second – thirteen times usual call volumes. Engineers across Scotland cancelled their holidays and stayed at home so they could be there for their customers.
Colin Beattie MSP said: “It’s really important to keep a step ahead of winter. I want everyone in East Lothian to understand what help is available to them, and for their family and friends. Being energy efficient and keeping bills under control is also really important, so I’d encourage people to seek advice from their energy supplier and take practical steps to stay smart with their energy use this winter.”
Scottish Gas Service and Repair Engineer, Julie Dickson, said: “There are some really simple steps you can take to help prepare your house for winter and keep everything running like clockwork, but if something does go wrong, we’re always on standby to come to the rescue.”
“Here are some tips I’ve been sharing with my customers to help them keep a step ahead this winter.”
1. Be energy smart: It’s inevitable that our energy use will increase when the heating’s on over winter, but there is a simple way to keep track of how much you’re using – and spending. With smart meters, you’ll be able to see how much energy you’re using in pounds and pence, helping you to identify where you can make savings during peak energy season. To find out more about smart meters just visit: www.scottishgas.co.uk/smart.
2. Bleed your radiators: This may seem obvious, but you wouldn’t believe how many people forget. If you haven’t used the heating for a while, air can enter the system and form bubbles at the top of your radiators, which stops them from working efficiently.
3. Block the breeze: Your windows and doors should seal properly but for those that don’t, there are lots of options to help keep cold air out and warm air in. Fitting draught excluders – available from most DIY stores – is a quick, easy and affordable way to cut down on your energy bills and draught-proof your home. Letterbox brushes, chimney balloons and even keyhole coverings can also make a real difference.
4. Maximise the heat: There’s nothing better than settling down in front of your favourite box set as a family, but before you get too comfortable, think about where your heat sources are. Putting your sofa in front of a radiator may keep the best spot in the house extra toasty, but it will absorb heat that could be warming the rest of the room.
5. Look after your boiler: Stay ahead of the weather and make sure your boiler’s working properly by giving it a workout before the cold weather kicks in. You should also get a Gas Safe engineer to service your boiler annually.
6. Insulate your hot water system: Stopping heat from escaping doesn’t just save you money. When temperatures drop below zero, it’s important to make sure that the water inside your pipes doesn’t freeze and cause them to burst. Lagging materials are available from most DIY stores – an easy, cost-effective solution for protecting your water tank and pipes.
7. Install a carbon monoxide detector: You can’t hear it, see it, taste it or smell it, and it kills around 30 people a year. Fortunately, carbon monoxide poisoning is preventable. Faulty central heating systems are one of the most common sources of carbon monoxide in the home – as well getting your boiler checked once a year, it’s essential to have a carbon monoxide alarm fitted. Available through Scottish Gas or from your local DIY store, the detectors last between five and seven years, so check yours is in date and test it to be certain it’s working.
8. Make the most of soft furnishings: Hanging curtains and placing rugs on hard floors are some of the simplest and most effective ways to keep your home warm this winter. Thick material (the thicker the better) prevents heat from being lost through windows and doors – just don’t forget to open your curtains during the day so that the sun can do some of the work!
9. Use tech to control your heating remotely: Ever thought about controlling your heating and hot water remotely from your smartphone? With Hive Active Heating, you can turn the heating on when you’re coming home from work, so the house warms up in time for your arrival – equally, if you’re running late for any reason, having the flexibility to control your heating on the go means you’ll never waste money on energy you’re not using. To find out more, visit: www.scottishgas.co.uk/hive.
10. Get the help you’re entitled to: It’s worth finding out if you’re eligible for extra assistance with your energy bills, especially at this time of year. £140 winter rebates are available through the Warm Home Discount scheme, and face-to-face advice, financial support and grants are available from the British Gas Energy Trust (even if you’re not a Scottish Gas customer). Customers who need an extra hand with the practical side of things can sign up to be on the Priority Services Register, for additional services such as different bill formats and advanced warnings if their energy supply is facing disruption.
Today, Colin raised the issue of pollution in the Mary Burn at the Scottish Parliament's 'General Questions' Parliamentary business. The question and response are below:
1. Colin Beattie (Midlothian North and Musselburgh) (SNP):
To ask the Scottish Government what support it provides to local communities where nearby rivers have been polluted by waste overflows from detritus flushed down toilets. (S5O-02449)
The Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform (Roseanna Cunningham):
Scottish Water carries out regular proactive inspections in areas that have had previous pollution incidents. Whenever pollution is found, clean-ups take place. Further to that, Scottish Water will be working closely with communities to help educate customers about what should and should not be flushed down the toilet.
The cabinet secretary may be aware that the issue has occurred recently at the Mary Burn in my constituency. Can she outline what support the Scottish Government will provide to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Scottish Water and my constituents to ensure that the issue will not reoccur?
I am indeed aware of the situation with the Mary Burn. Scottish Water has attended to clean up the immediate debris on a number of occasions. There is also a commitment to spend a prolonged period doing a much wider clean-up where there has been a more significant impact, and that work is nearing completion.
In addition to undertaking cleaning, Scottish Water has completed some adjustments to the network, including constructing a higher weir plate at the storm screen to prevent the overflow from triggering when it should not. The Scottish Government will provide £210 million to support Scottish Water’s £3.6 billion capital investment programme in 2018-19. We ensure that SEPA is adequately funded to perform its regulatory role to protect our environment.
Officials stand ready to provide any additional support that may be required. However, I need to reiterate that people need to stop putting the wrong things down the toilet in the first place.
On Friday 12th October, Midlothian's MSPs Colin Beattie and Christine Grahame visited the Randori Judo Club at the Wellbeing Lab in Dalkeith Country Park.
The Club provides judo instruction for all ages and at a range of locations across Midlothian, including Gorebridge, Newtongrange, and North Middleton. Free taster sessions are available for those who want to know more about the sport without committing to a longer membership.
On Friday, Mr Beattie and Ms Grahame met with head coach Mark Taylor and a class of 4-13 year-old students. Mr Beattie commented:
“Knowing little as I do about judo, It was fascinating to see the class in action. The students were clearly keeping fit and athletic!
“I understand from Mark Taylor that the Club has plans to expand further across Midlothian.
“I look forward to hearing more about this and doing what I can to support this highly worthwhile endeavour.”
Ms Grahame remarked:
“Mark is wonderful with the children who were having a great time and burning off lots of energy.
“They were also being taught Japanese as they responded to the judo commands and learning how to help each other.
“All in all an excellent experience for the children and I wish Mark who is such an enthusiast and rightly so for the benefits of judo, every success”
Colin Beattie MSP has joined together with British Heart Foundation (BHF) Scotland in calling for Midlothian and East Lothian Councils to deliver CPR training to all secondary pupils. It comes as BHF Scotland suggests that as many as three times as many lives could be saved from cardiac arrests if all school pupils are given the skills and confidence to step in when a cardiac arrest occurs.
BHF Scotland have pledged to provide every eligible Local Authority school in Scotland with a free Call Push Rescue CPR training kit, which allows a class of pupils to receive training in this life saving skill. The kits are led by an instructional DVD which allows training to be completed in as little as 30 minutes, and because of the instructional and learning-centred nature of the kits, no prior training is required for teaching staff.
Colin Beattie MSP said:
'Heart attacks can happen at any time, in any place, and to anyone. That is why I give my strongest support to this campaign.
'The more young people are aware of what do when a cardiac arrest occurs outside of hospital, the more lives can be saved. Every pupil who receives CPR training will keep this with them for the rest of their lives.
'I endorse the BHF Scotland campaign and I hope the Council will take this forward as a matter of urgency.'
Daniel Jones, Policy and Public Affairs Officer, BHF Scotland said:
“Scotland sadly lags behind the rest of the UK when it comes to our survival rate from Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrests (OHCAs), with only one person statistically surviving for every twelve who have an OHCA. That’s a lot of lives being lost to OHCAs, and BHF Scotland knows that our survival rate in Scotland can and should be better.
Places such as Denmark, Norway and Seattle in the United States all teach their secondary school pupils CPR on a compulsory basis, and after introducing this training for pupils, Denmark saw its survival rate triple – now, 1 in 4 people can expect to survive an OHCA there. Thanks to their programmes of CPR education for pupils, 1 in 4 people also survive in Norway, and Seattle’s survival rate stands at 1 in 5.
Teaching all school pupils CPR in Scotland is therefore the best way of giving everyone the greatest chance of surviving an OHCA, and we are delighted that Colin Beattie MSP has joined our call for Midlothian and East Lothian Councils to deliver this training to pupils”
The BHF’s Call Push Rescue CPR training kit is free for eligible secondary schools across the UK. To find out more about CPR, or how to apply for a kit, visit: bhf.org.uk/cpr
Did you know that over half of all fires in Scottish homes are caused by cooking appliances? Or that electrical fires have a bigger impact in Scotland compared to the rest of the UK? To find out more, Colin Beattie, MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, made sure to visit Electrical Safety First’s stand at the recent SNP conference in Glasgow.
“Research by Electrical Safety First shows that many people are making easily avoidable mistakes when cooking – mistakes which could cause significant damage or injury”, explains Mr Beattie. “I discovered that around a third of Scots admit to leaving a hob or oven on after use, with a third also admitting to being distracted while cooking. And one in five confessed to having cooked while drunk. We tend to regard the kitchen as the heart of a home but with more than half of all fires starting there, it can also be the most risky room in the house – if you don’t ‘watch what you heat’.”
It’s a view echoed by Wayne Mackay, Electrical Safety First’s Public Affairs Manager for Scotland. “Electricity is so essential to modern life that we often forget its inherent risk and don’t treat it with the respect it deserves”, adds Wayne. “So we work closely with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to raise awareness of electrical safety - and engage with government to make sure everyone is electrically safe in their home.”
The Charity is calling on the Scottish Government to make a commitment to reduce the number of domestic electrical fires by at least 10% over the next five years. It also wants to see a government-backed awareness campaign to highlight the risks and steps people can take to avoid an electrical fire in their home, as well as improved reporting of domestic electrical fires. In the meantime, Electrical Safety First has come up with a list of top tips for keeping safe in the kitchen.
Top tips for Kitchen Safety
· If you have a cooking fire, close the door, leave the room and call 999. Never use water on any electrical fire and never throw water on hot oil, as it can create a fireball.
· Stay alert and don’t get distracted when you cook – and always switch ovens or hobs off when you have finished using them.
· Ensure cooking appliances are clean, with oven mitts or flammable materials kept away from the hob.
· Never leave a hob completely unattended. If you have to nip out of the kitchen when cooking, be aware of timing and stay nearby. ‘Absence’ is a major cause of cooking fires in Scotland.
· Don’t store things on top of a microwave, where the vents are. The vents prevent overheating but if blocked, dirty or dusty, a fire is much more likely to escape and spread.
· Avoid cooking if you are tired, or have been drinking or taking medication that might make you drowsy – it increases the risk of leaving ovens and hobs unattended, which can lead to fires, burns and other accidents.
For more advice on kitchen safety visit: https://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/guides-and-advice/around-the-home/kitchen-safety/
Join the conversation on Twitter #WatchWhatYouHeat
For general information on electrical safety, visit: electricalsafetyfirsty.org.uk
 Data derived from Scottish Fire and Rescue Services 2016
 Countrywide survey for Electrical Safety First August 2016
Today Midlothian North MSP Colin Beattie has praised Scottish Water for its quick action to clean up the sewage that has polluted the Mary Burn and River Esk.
The debris that had made its way to the burn include predominantly consists of wet wipes and sanitary items. These items have polluted and affected wildlife as well as risked the public health of both people and animals.
After writing to Scottish Water and meeting with representatives from the utility at the Mary Burn recently we asked Scottish Water to take immediate measures to remove the pollution, protect local residents and wildlife from the effects of it. Mr Beattie was pleased to see action has finally been taken to fix the problems coming from the sewer and into the River Esk and Mary Burn.
Mr. Beattie will continue to monitor the clean-up process to ensure a clean environment for local residents and wildlife.
Colin Beattie MSP said:
“I am delighted that Scottish Water has begun the process of cleaning up the Mary Burn and River Esk.”
“Ensuring that the area is clean and unpolluted is a top priority for me and I have been in regular contact with Scottish Water to make sure that action was taken quickly which it has been.”
“I am in discussion at the moment also with SEPA and Midlothian Council about any further precautions if they will be required. I will also continue to liaise with Scottish Water.
“I also urge all of my constituents to follow the ongoing advice given from Scottish Water – to only flush the 3 P’s down the toilet pee, poo and toilet paper. Make sure that all other personal items go into the bin. Also never pour oil, milk, soup or sauces down the drain as they clog up the drainage pipes also.”