Monthly Archives: July 2008

We need to care for carers

Falkirk East MSP Cathy Peattie has welcomed the judgment of the European Court of Justice on the Coleman case, which yesterday ruled that the laws which protect disabled people against discrimination apply not only to the person themselves, but also to their unpaid carer.

Cathy is the Convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Cross Party Group on Carers.

“This is a landmark case, which should give carers more flexibility and support in their employment to enable them to work and fulfil their role as an unpaid carer.

“I am keen to see such improvements applied to all carers. While legislative change to back this may be a Westminster issue, there is much that the Scottish Government could do to ensure these rights are applied to their own employees, and promoted as a progressive step by all Scottish employers. I have tabled a written question asking what the Scottish Executive will do to address this.”

“I have also tabled another question following the Scottish Government press statement on additional respite weeks for carers. I’m pleased that there is a stated commitment to an extra 2,000 weeks this year, growing to 10,000 in two years time. However, given the Council tax freeze and the cuts that some Councils are being forced to make in services, it is not clear where these extra weeks will be provided and how they will be paid for. I’d like to know what commitments have been made by individual councils, and if they are deliverable, whether respite care improvements will be across the board or a postcode lottery.”


More info on Coleman case   |   Respite Weeks

U turn on buses

Falkirk East MSP Cathy Peattie has welcomed the news that Scotland’s pensioners will continue to enjoy free bus travel.

SNP Ministers confirmed last month they were cutting the budget in real terms for concessionary fares by £10 million over the next three years in answer to a Parliamentary Question.

Cathy spoke on the issue in parliament, calling for the scheme to be protected and extended.

“This is an important victory for the campaign to stop Alex Salmond shoving our grannies off the bus,” she said.

“Alex Salmond had refused to guarantee that charges would not be introduced, or that the scheme would remain free at all times, and throughout Scotland. The SNP has been under pressure to come clean on their review of concessionary travel. After weeks of dodging the issue the Scottish Government has finally caved in.

“They are however still slashing £10 million from the budget in real terms, and we will be scrutinising the review for other hidden cuts.”

Labour Spokesperson Des McNulty said: “Alex Salmond has done more twists and turns on this issue than a bendy bus. But if this is his final u-turn then it is the first victory of Labour’s by-election campaign in Glasgow East.”

Antonine Wall – World Heritage Site

Falkirk East MSP Cathy Peattie, whose constituency includes the easternmost section of the Antonine Wall, at Kinneil in Bo’ness, has welcomed the announcement that the Wall has been given World Heritage Site status.

“This has been a long campaign, launched over five years ago,” Cathy said.

“A concerted effort by all concerned has seen us through the various stages, and I hope that we can now build on the newly confirmed World Heritage Site status, to increase international awareness and appreciation of our Scottish heritage.

“One end of the wall and some of the best preserved remains are in my constituency, so I’m naturally very pleased by the announcement, and keen to see the cooperation that has brought this success continued with further study and preservation of the wall and the development of local educational and tourist resources.”

motion: Antonine Wall – A World Heritage Site

That the parliament welcomes the confirmation of the Antonine Wall’s status as a World Heritage Site; congratulates all those who have contributed to this achievement, including Historic Scotland, campaigners from Bo’ness to Old Kilpatrick, Falkirk Council and other local authorities, the Scottish Executive past and present, and the UK government; notes that this will focus international attention on the area, helping to promote tourism and increase awareness of Scotland’s roman heritage; and looks forward to a continuing partnership approach to ensure the preservation, study, and development of educational and tourist resources highlighting the global importance of Scotland’s heritage.

Rosyth Ferry

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Cathy Peattie began by declaring her constituency interest.

“Forth Ports is based in Grangemouth, and many hauliers who use the Rosyth ferry are based in Falkirk East. They carry paper, forest products, seafood, electronics, whisky and other spirits, and many other manufactured goods. Rosyth is easily accessible and, contrary to what some have claimed, the Rosyth to Zeebrugge service has been a success for passengers and freight traffic. It is popular with hauliers in my constituency, and I have heard many good reports about it from passengers.

“The service is an attractive alternative to air travel—the growth in passenger numbers shows that—and we need such services if we are to meet our climate change targets.

“In many ways, the freight operation is important to, and dovetails neatly with, freight movements through the port of Grangemouth. Together, both operations are essential to the health and growth of the Scottish economy. They handle a huge proportion of Scotland’s exports; indeed, I have been told that a tenth of Scotland’s gross domestic product moves through Grangemouth.

“With appropriate development, the Rosyth market could be significantly expanded. Many lorries and car transporters still travel hundreds of miles from ports further south, but they could come direct to Scotland from the continent, and vice versa. As fuel costs rise, the competitive advantage of using Rosyth will increase. Moreover, extending sea transport services and reducing road miles results in environmental benefits.

“What goes through Rosyth could treble if we get things right. The market is there for the taking. I was in Rosyth last week and was impressed by the capacity and facilities there. It has a skilled and trained workforce.

“The ferry service should represent an attractive opportunity for any new operator. Things may take time, but I call on the Scottish Government to ensure that doors are not closed before solutions can be found. I am sure that back benchers will want to do whatever they can. In that context, I suggest that we set up a cross-party working group to consider what we can do to move things forward.

“I look forward to a successful Rosyth ferry service in the future.”

Other contributions to the debate can be found here

The Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change committee, of which Cathy is Deputy Convener, has published its report on Scottish Ferries.

News release on the publication of the reportReport on Ferry Services in Scotland (HTML version) | PDF version of the report – 2.14MB | Further Information on the Inquiry into Ferry Services in Scotland