Colin Beattie, MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, today submitted a motion to the Scottish Parliament congratulating Midlothian Association of Play on its recent award of £110,432 from the Big Lottery Fund.
Based at Woodburn Road in Dalkeith, Midlothian Association of Play provides a range of activities to improve and increase children’s opportunity to play, based on how important play is for their health, wellbeing and development. Their projects include:
Mr Beattie today wrote to Susan McIntyre, MAP’s Development Manager, congratulating the team on this funding.
Midlothian MSPs Colin Beattie and Christine Grahame have backed calls from a national debt advice charity for the Financial Conduct Authority to look at tightening the regulations around the payday loan market.
The call made today after a report published by StepChange Debt Charity, the UK’s largest debt advice charity, found that regulations had “not fixed” the payday lending market, with some payday loan providers still not engaging in best practise.
Last year, 9.5% of those who contacted StepChange Debt Charity from Midlothian had a payday loan debt, with their average payday debt balance at £1,136. Although the charity has reported less and less people seeking help with payday debt, those who are turning to payday do not always get a fair deal.
Colin Beattie, MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, commented:
“These statistics are a clear indication that regulations must be improved. While I’m pleased to hear that fewer people have been seeking help with their payday debt, we should ensure that those who use payday loans are treated fairly.
“Falling into short-term debt can happen to anyone at any time. In these times it’s very difficult to predict what might happen to impact on our finances in the near future.
“I call on the Westminster Government to look again at regulation of payday lenders and ensure that best practice is adhered to.”
Christine Grahame, MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, stated:
“With the UK Government’s callous cap on benefits which it is projected will affect some 55,000 households in Scotland, many of them in Midlothian, who may lose up to £115 per week in income.
“This can only drive desperate people into the arms of payday lenders so at the very least, tight regulation must be introduced without delay so that the poverty inflicted by these cuts is not compounded by borrowing at extortionate rates.”
Stepchange Debt Charity Scotland’s Public Affairs Officer James Stewart said:
“Regulation can make a significant difference to broken markets and FCA action over the last few years has gone some way to fixing the worst excesses of payday lending, but there is clearly still work to be done.
“Poor lending practices and the poor treatment of people in financial difficulty have serious consequences. They trap people in a cycle of repeated borrowing and as their balances continue to mount, so does the stress and anxiety that comes with severe problem debt.
“It is essential that the FCA review of the payday lending cap is broad enough to fix areas of consumer detriment and poor lending practices. There is also a clear and immediate need for the Government to examine more affordable forms of borrowing for financially vulnerable people, who are often left with nowhere else to turn in their hour of need.
“Debt really can happen to anyone, so that’s why it’s important for the public to know that there are free debt advice organisations out there like StepChange Debt Charity who can help.
“If you are borrowing to cover your household bills, or stuck in a cycle of minimum payments, the time to act is now.”
Colin Beattie MSP encourages local groups in Midlothian to apply to the Centenary Memorials Restoration Fund (CMRF) to renovate their local war memorials.
CMRF is a £1 million fund, launched by former First Minister Alex Salmond in 2013, to help communities across Scotland undertake necessary repair and conservation work on local war memorials. The fund forms a central part of the Scottish Government’s commemorations of the centenary of the First World War.
Funding was announced this week ahead of Remembrance Sunday for a number of memorials across Scotland - in Fife, Perthshire, the Western Isles, East Lothian and the Highlands - bringing the total number of beneficiaries to 95. Many more projects are set to benefit from the fund between now and March 2018.
Mr Beattie, MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, said:
“Our local war memorials are a mark of history and a tribute to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
“While so many communities take great care of local memorials, upkeep can be expensive – and it is a real shame when these memorials are visibly in need of repair. It would be great if as many repair projects as possible could be completed in time for the centenary of Armistice Day in 2018. I would encourage everyone in Midlothian to visit their local war memorial this Remembrance Day and get in touch with the War Memorials Trust if they have a project that could benefit from this fund.
“We owe it to our servicemen to preserve the monuments that honour and remember the fallen.”
SNP MSP Colin Beattie has challenged his opposition counterparts to explain why they have voted in favour of repealing an anti-sectarian law which is supported by the vast majority of people across Scotland.
Opposition MSPs voted for a Tory motion calling on the Scottish Government to repeal the Act, which has been important in tackling sectarianism, prejudice and discrimination. SNP MSP Mr Beattie has questioned why the opposition parties view this issue as a priority over education, health, jobs, the economy and protecting Scotland’s interests in Europe.
Commenting after the vote, Mr Beattie said:
“This vote shows that the priorities of Holyrood’s opposition parties are staggeringly skewed, with opposition MSPs across Midlothian and East Lothian believing scrapping hate crime legislation is the top issue facing the country.
“The legislation is backed by 80% of the population, and it is extraordinary for opposition MSPs in my constituency to be rallying behind the Tories in their efforts to repeal an anti-sectarian law.
“People across the country will now be asking – rightly – what on Earth the opposition are playing at. At a time when the SNP Government is focused on education, health, jobs, the economy and protecting Scotland’s place in Europe, other parties would rather see us remove legislation that tackles sectarianism, prejudice and discrimination, whilst offering no alternative in its place.
“It is time the opposition parties got their priorities in order, backed efforts to tackle sectarianism and other hate crimes, and focused on the other issues that really matter to people across the constituency.”