Monthly Archives: December 2008

Keep Your Cool at Christmas

Cathy with USDAW shop workers

Cathy with USDAW shop workers

It’s not just ‘hoodies’ who abuse shopworkers …

Falkirk East MSP Cathy Peattie is supporting Usdaw’s campaign of Freedom From Fear for shopworkers.

At the Scottish launch in the Scottish Parliament, Cathy joined others in talking with Usdaw members who have suffered violence, abuse and threats at the hands of customers who, on appearance, may look quite respectable. The MSPs were also shown five life-size caricatures of shop customers and trying to guess which ones were guilty of which offences.

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ScotRail Franchise extension process condemned

Falkirk East MSP Cathy Peattie has again condemned the lack of consultation and information regarding ScotRail Franchise extension. Having previously tabled a member’s motion on the issue, she has now raised her concerns in a debate in the Scottish Parliament.

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Call for national action on Grangemouth transport

Falkirk East MSP Cathy Peattie called for urgent action on the transport infrastructure of Grangemouth and the surrounding area, including the Avon Gorge.

Speaking in parliament debate on the Strategic Transport Projects Review, published as the debate began she outlined the case for improved road and rail links to Grangemouth as a national priority. The Review was followed on Friday by the publication of the National Planning Framework 2, the draft of which had recognised the important role of Grangemouth as an intermodal freight hub.

The review (see http://www.transportscotland.gov.uk/projects/strategic-transport-projects-review) identifies 29 projects across Scotland, which will now be prioritised for expenditure from 2012 onwards.

PROJECT 20 is “Grangemouth Road and Rail Access Upgrades” with the stated aim “To improve rail access to Grangemouth port and the freight hub and road access to and from the motorway network. On the roads, the Grangemouth project will involve an upgrade to Junction 6 on the M9 and the A801 between Grangemouth and the M8. On the rail, it would see electrification of the railway between Coatbridge and Grangemouth, track modifications to improve access from the west and east and an increased loading gauge to allow larger containers to be carried by train. This project will help serve existing and developing industrial and distribution facilities along the M8.” The cost estimate is £100 million – £250 million.

Cathy said “The Grangemouth Transport has been campaigning to get this project onto the agenda, and now we will be campaigning to ensure it is high on the agenda. Grangemouth is crucial to the Scottish economy and the Scottish environment, but will not fulfil its potential unless these improvements are prioritised. We also want to ensure that this is done to the benefit of local people, including reducing the impact of freight traffic on residential areas and improving public transport and routes for cyclists and pedestrians.

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Who has the biggest carbon footprint of all?

Cathy Peattie and Oxfam Scotland show who is taking the ‘walk of shame’

Cathy Peattie and Oxfam Scotland show who is taking the ‘walk of shame’

Falkirk East MSP Cathy Peattie joined Oxfam Scotland campaigners at the Scottish Parliament to expose differences in the carbon footprints of different countries. Campaigners are demanding a fair global climate deal to ensure serious carbon emitting nations stop harming and start helping developing countries by taking responsibility for their carbon pollution. Governments have just met in Poznan, Poland to negotiate the start of a treaty.

Scottish artist Lucy Turner drew to scale the carbon footprints of: the US, Russia, Australia, Scotland, Bangladesh, Uganda and Mali. The drawings stress the difference between country polluters and non-polluters.

Cathy, who is Deputy Convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change committee, said that “with representatives of many nations meeting in Poland to discuss a global climate deal, we need to remind ourselves which countries are contributing most heavily to climate change. Countries like the US, Australia, Russia and Scotland all have huge carbon footprints while the poorest countries, such as Uganda, Bangladesh and Mali have tiny emissions. Yet it is the poor countries who are suffering most. We need a global deal that is fair to the poorest countries.

“As we look at the forthcoming Climate Change legislation, it is clear that emissions reductions need to happen here in Scotland and they need to happen now – and we can’t expect the most vulnerable countries in the world to meet our responsibilities for us.”

Oxfam Scotland’s Policy Officer, Michael Marra said: “These footprints represent a ‘walk of shame’ showing the huge differences in the carbon emissions between the world’s richest and poorest countries. We have largely welcomed the Scottish Climate Change Bill but it is vital that the Scottish Government does not ask developing countries to bear the burden of our responsibilities. As countries from all over the world negotiate on a global climate deal in Poland, Oxfam is urging that the Climate Bill that we put in place in Scotland will let us take the first urgent steps to a low carbon future for the country. In doing so we will be sending a clear message that Scotland wants to create a world where we care about how climate is impacting not only at home but also on the world’s poorest people.”

Photograph attached shows Cathy Peattie with footprints of US, Australia, Russia and Scotland. The other countries are not visible in the photo, but were tiny by comparison – about the size of small coins.

Call for more Epilepsy nurses

Falkirk East MSP Cathy Peattie has called on the Scottish Government to increase the number of specialist epilepsy nurses employed in the national health service.

“Scotland needs more specialist epilepsy nurses,” said Cathy.

“The Joint Epilepsy Council has recommended one nurse per 100,000 of the population. Yet as the Minister acknowledged when I raised the issue in parliament, there are only 24 epilepsy specialist nurses in Scotland – 11 for adults, seven for children and six for people with learning disabilities.

Specialist nurses are senior nurses who provide a wide range of services. Epilepsy Scotland, which campaigns for the 40,000 people affected by the condition, has highlighted that at the moment no health boards were meeting recommended targets for specialist nurses, and some patients had to travel to another health board to access the service.

Cathy said that “managing epilepsy can be difficult and epilepsy nurses provide excellent support. The Minister is pinning her hopes on new draft clinical standards on epilepsy. While these highlight the important role that epilepsy specialist nurses play in the provision of services, they recommend a managed clinical network approach. That’s fine so far as it goes, but is not a substitute for having adequate numbers of specialist nurses. We need two or three times as many as we have now.”

Cathy Peattie MSP delivers Christmas encouragement

Cathy Peattie MSP visited Royal Mail’s Grangemouth and Bo’ness Delivery Offices to pass on best Christmas wishes and encouragement to the postmen and women at their busiest time of year.

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Taken for a ride by ScotRail …

The Deputy Convener of the Scottish Parliament Transport Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee, Cathy Peattie, has tabled a motion in the parliament calling for a halt to the ScotRail franchise extension, a Scottish Parliament inquiry, and for the Minister for Transport, Stewart Stevenson, to make a statement to MSPs. She is also planning to raise the issue at the TICC committee.

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Figures show NHS budget squeeze

“This year’s initial allocation to Forth Valley NHS is the poorest since 97/98 – the last budget set by the Tories,” says Falkirk East MSP Cathy Peattie

“Forth Valley’s allocation in 1997 was £135 million – only 2.2% up on the previous year. Since then the increases have averaged over 10%, have been as high as 43.1%, and for budgets decided by the Scottish Parliament, never less than 6.9%, with the initial allocation growing to nearly £363 million last year.

This year, however, the increase is only 3.5%.

The Scottish government makes the excuse that there has been a tight financial settlement from the UK Treasury. While the increase was not as big as some years, the Scottish Budget still rose by 1.8% in real terms, and despite this, the SNP’s allocation to health boards rose by only 0.5% in real terms. In other words, they have chosen to spend less on our local NHS.

Two weeks ago Cathy revealed that she was “extremely concerned” about funding for Forth Valley NHS, following the release of papers as a result of a Freedom of Information request.

“The Scottish Government is now looking for record efficiency savings to offset additional costs that are not covered by central funding.

“Governments have always looked for some improvements in how things are run that will release funding for other purposes – typically this has been 1%. Now suddenly this will more than double over the next three years. It is estimated that NHS Forth Valley is seeking £9m savings this year, rising over three years to more than £30m, equivalent to about 8% of the current budget.

“It is very difficult to see how this level of savings can be achieved without a direct impact on patient services and staffing levels. After years of achieving savings at around 1% – a lower but still very significant and more importantly a manageable level – how can there be so much slack in the system?

“Forth Valley NHS will of course be reluctant to admit the extent of the problem or to criticise the Scottish Government, but if they really believe that they can suddenly double the rate of efficiency savings, not just for one year, but year on year for three years, then they must explain why haven’t they achieved such savings in the past. Is it because higher savings could only have come from cuts in staff and provision?

” As a percentage of total costs, the NHS does not have a big administrative budget. It is very labour intensive, needs to address problems such as superbugs, and new technology and new treatments are increasingly expensive. The NHS needs increases that are well above inflation just to keep pace with new developments in medicine.

“Look at the figures. Over the last ten years, the allocations have increased by an average of over 10% – well beyond inflation. This year the increase is just 3.5%. So where are the savings going to come from?”

Forth Valley InitialAllocation (£000’s) increase
1995-96 127,845
1996-97 131,941 3.2%
1997-98 134,885 2.2%
1998-99 142,053 5.3%
1999-00 148,293 4.4%
2000-01 159,373 7.5%
2001-02 227,993 43.1%
2002-03 244,055 7.0%
2003-04 264,446 8.4%
2004-05 282,820 6.9%
2005-06 314,943 11.4%
2006-07 338,619 7.5%
2007-08 362,815 7.1%
2008-09 375,507 3.5%