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Scottish Budget Passed
On Thursday 21st February the Scottish Parliament voted to approve the 2019/20 budget put forward by the Scottish Government. This Scottish Budget provides £42.5 billion of investment to Scotland’s public services and economy.
Westminster has delivered cuts to Scotland of almost £2 billion over the last decade but in spite of this the SNP has committed £729 million extra for health and care services, which includes a £430 million increase for NHS boards.
This comes with an £8 billion investment in Scotland’s education system, including £120 million delivered directly to head teachers – helping schools address the poverty related attainment gap. Scotland’s colleges will benefit from a £606 million investment over 2019-20, while universities will receive more than £1 billion.
As part of the Scottish Government’s plan to almost double the paid-for provision of childcare to 1,140 hours from August 2020 for all 3 and 4 year olds and eligible 2 year olds, the budget also commits £500 million to support the expansion of early learning services and facilities across Scotland.
Not only that, the budget also ensures that council tax increases will be kept below the 5% cap in England and ensures that 55% of income taxpayers will pay less in Scotland than they would in the rest of the UK.
No Deal Brexit Danger Looms
Westminster is failing Scotland. We are being dragged to the brink of Brexit disaster while Labour and the Tories are in meltdown.
With a week of resignations re-igniting fights within both parties at a time of crisis. They are guilt of gross negligence and Scotland is looking on in horror. Their childish game playing is putting the livelihoods of real people at risk.
Only this week CBI Scotland and the Scottish Government released figures which highlight the damage a no deal Brexit would do to Scotland. The report published by the Scottish Governments top economic adviser warned that a no deal Brexit could result in a recession even worse than the one suffered in 2008, with a fall in our GDP of up to 7% and a rise in unemployment of around 100,000.
The games being played by the Tories and Labour are simply unacceptable when we are only weeks away from crashing out of the EU. Westminster will not be forgiven for the way it has handled our futures in this moment of national crisis and if they have any sense they will get behind the SNP calls to extend article 50 and to hold a second referendum to stay in the EU.
Meeting with Larkhall Town Plan
On Monday 4th February I met with some of the Larkhall Town Plan members in the Lighthouse and invited along the CEO of Scotland’s Town Partnership, Phil Prentice, to discuss ongoing plans to build on the regeneration of the area.
We discussed a wide range of success local projects and developments, including the Larkhall Growers.
The Larkhall Town Plan agreed that the best way forward was to carry out a survey to find out what local residents want to see. I am really excited to see what comes out of the survey and look forward to helping however I can!
South Lanarkshire Council’s Executive Committee unanimously approved the sale of the former Baird’s site to Wetherspoons for £750,000 to be used as a brand-new pub on the corner of Quarry Street and Duke Street.
This was one of the major concerns addressed in the report carried out by Angela Crawley MP and myself into condition of Hamilton Town Centre and as such I am delighted to see the vacant lot being brought back into use.
The Wetherspoons is projected to increase the number of visitors to Hamilton and thus benefit many of the surrounding businesses in the High Street.
The Council have worked hard to organise this deal and should be commended for seeing it through. Bringing the site back into use shows that Hamilton Town Centre is once again open for business.
Hamilton Town Centre Project Leads the Way
I visited Glasgow University with Angela Crawley MP to speak to give a presentation about the work being carried out as part of the regeneration of Hamilton Town Centre through “A Strategy for Hamilton Town Centre”.
The plan was announced by the Council on March last year and passed by committee in November 2018. This followed on from a consultation carried out by myself and Angela in 2016 which received more than 1800 responses from residents and business owners in Hamilton and found a real desire for regenerating Hamilton’s historic town centre.
Speaking at the presentation Christina said: “At a time when High Streets everywhere are struggling to deal with the challenges presented by changing patterns of shoppers, who are increasingly ordering online, we need to do all we can to make it easier for people to get in to our high streets. The work of the partners shows that there are options available to achieve this.”
Christina also welcomed the £50 million Town Centre Fund made available for towns like Hamilton as part of the Scottish Government budget and hoped that South Lanarkshire Council would make an application for a share of the funding.
Newfield Primary School Win Gold Award
I had a great visit to the fantastic Newfield Primary School who have been awarded the Sports Scotland Gold Award for the second time!
There were fabulous displays of talent in karate, basketball, football, gymnastics and dancing! I was very impressed with the work of everyone including the pupil committee, teachers, staff and all the students!