Scams Awareness Month in Mid-Scotland and Fife

Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP, Murdo Fraser, has called on constituents to get involved in Scams Awareness Month lasting all of July which is a joint initiative led by Citizens Advice Scotland aimed at ensuring people know how best to protect themselves against fraud.

Across Scotland Citizens Advice Bureaux will be holding events and distributing awareness material to local people, and the bureau in Perth and Alloa and Trading Standards in Fife will be participating in this.

Scams Awareness Month will tackle a different age group each week and how fraudsters target them. Earlier this month the consumer champion Which? released statistics showing that computer-fixing scams had increased by 91% in Scotland over the past two years.

Commenting Murdo Fraser MSP said:

“More and more people across Perth and Kinross, Fife, Stirling and Clackmannanshire are falling victims to scams and it’s important to raise awareness of how to can protect yourself. Scams Awareness Month will do exactly that and Citizens Advice Bureaux across the region will be distributing helpful material to constituents.

“Criminals are becoming more and more sophisticated and it is important that residents across Mid-Scotland and Fife are able to spot things like bogus callers or a phishing email straight away.

“These criminals don’t just target the elderly and vulnerable with younger generations, who spend more time online, becoming a popular and lucrative target for scammers. It’s important that everyone is aware of the risks online and how best to insulate yourself from threats and I look forward to learning more about this during Scams Awareness Month.”

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Broadband divide laid bare as speeds in Stirling are 11th slowest in UK

Broadband speeds in Stirling are the 11th worst in the UK with Perth and Kinross not faring much better with a ranking of 46.

Rural areas of Scotland feature at the bottom of the UK list with the three slowest speeds all found north of the border.

Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP, Murdo Fraser, is calling for this latest league-table of failure to act as a wake-up call to the Scottish Government whose approach so far in connecting hard-to-reach communities has fallen way below what should be expected.

The full table of Scottish broadband speeds are included at the foot of this release.

Commenting Murdo Fraser MSP said:

“There are 387 areas included in this report and unfortunately many Scottish local authorities find themselves at the bottom with Stirling ranked as the 11th worst in the country for broadband speed.

“The new Stirling city deal has just been signed and a key part of this are plans for a digital district to foster economic growth. Ensuring rural and urban Stirlingshire residents have access to fast internet connections will be central to future economic success and it is about time the area had better infrastructure.

“In Perth and Kinross itself there is a similar divide between the services people receive in urban and rural areas. Broadband performance in Perth and Kinross is better than Stirling but is still some way below what we should expect in the 21st century with the area ranking in the bottom half of Scottish Local Authorities.

“It’s time that people across Mid-Scotland and Fife had faster and more reliable internet connections and I would hope that these results help shape the Scottish Government’s next stage Reaching 100% programme.”

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Murdo urges Mid-Scotland and Fife residents to take control of their gas and electricity, and get a smart meter

Murdo urges Mid-Scotland and Fife residents to take control of their gas and electricity, and get a smart meter

Murdo Fraser MSP has urged residents in Perth and Kinross, Fife, Stirling and Clackmannanshire to contact their energy supplier and ask for a smart meter, following an event in the Scottish Parliament, hosted by Smart Energy GB.

Smart meters, which help consumers to measure exactly how much energy they’re using in pounds and pence, are being rolled out by energy suppliers across Great Britain. Almost seven million meters have now been installed, and eight in ten people with a smart meter would recommend one.

Key benefits of smart meters include:

  • The ability to see exactly how much gas and electricity you are using, as you use it, in pounds and pence
  • Accurate bills – no more estimates
  • Smart meters are easy to use with all the information you need available on a simple in-home display screen

With recent research (February 2017 Smart energy outlook) showing that 87 per cent of people with smart meters have a better idea of their energy costs  Murdo is urging his constituents to contact their energy supplier to arrange for their upgrade.

Murdo Fraser MSP said:

“Smart meters are a great opportunity to take control of your gas and electricity consumption and eight out of ten people who have one would recommend it.

“By being able to see how much energy you use, when you use it, you can make the right choices for your household. Smart meters also bring an end at last to the dreaded estimated bill.

“In Perth and Kinross, Fife, Stirling and Clackmannanshire there are thousands of people who could benefit from a smart meter and I would call on them to contact their energy supplier with a view to getting one installed.”

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Murdo lays into FOI record at NHS Tayside

Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP, Murdo Fraser, has criticised the level of transparency at NHS Tayside following information uncovered by the Scottish Conservatives detailing their poor record in responding to FOI requests .

These figures come amid growing pressure on the Scottish Government over its record in replying to FOI requests. Earlier this month journalists wrote an open letter raising fears about the FOI performance of the Scottish Government.

NHS Tayside was late in responding to 22% of FOI requests and only offered a full response in 45% of cases. This compares unfavourably to NHS Fife who offered full disclosure in 73% of cases and NHS Forth Valley who responded late to only 12% of requests.

Murdo has called on NHS Tayside to work harder to produce information that applicants ask for in the interest of improving transparency.

Commenting Murdo Fraser MSP said:

“These are disappointing figures which show that NHS Tayside must improve its record in responding promptly and fully to FOI requests.

“In Mid-Scotland and Fife, Tayside is clearly performing below the levels achieved in both Fife and Forth Valley and this must be addressed.

“Freedom of Information requests are vital as they allow important information to be prised from public bodies and failure to respond fully can hamper the transparency of public bodies like NHS Tayside.

“I appreciate that health boards and local authorities are dealing with more requests than ever, but it is important that these are dealt with promptly and where more staff are needed this should be done.”

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More bad news for Perth and Kinross Farmers following Audit Scotland Report

An Audit Scotland report has claimed that the Scottish Government’s disastrous farm payments fiasco won’t be sorted until 2018 “at the earliest.”

Many farmers in Perth and Kinross are still waiting for support payments dating back to 2015 and auditors have warned that “it is likely that the rural payments system will not be functioning as anticipated until 2018 at the earliest.”

The Scottish Government could be in line for EU fines totalling more than £60 million for their handling of the crisis in addition to extra spending to improve and stabilise the system.

From start to finish the Government’s handling of the IT project has been calamitous and Liz Smith has called for Ministers to do more to ensure Perth and Kinross farmers don’t miss out on vital support.

Yesterday new statistics showed that farmers borrowed £32 million more in 2016 to make up for falling income and delayed CAP support.

Commenting Liz Smith MSP said:

“Back in April I highlighted that 60 farmers in Perth and Kinross were still due LFASS CAP payments from 2015 and today’s findings from Audit Scotland highlight how bad things really are.

“Scottish farmers have been shouldering the burden of this Government’s incompetence for far too long and improvements must be made quickly.

“The lack of a disaster recovery solution is alarming. This could be catastrophic if the system was hacked and this was highlighted as a risk a year ago.

“It’s evidence that the SNP simply doesn’t care about rural areas in Perth and Kinross, Fife, Stirling and Clackmannanshire.

“When it should have been sorting this mess out, it was instead obsessing about independence, and rural communities have paid the price.

“It’s time for Ministers to come up with fresh solutions to help farmers across Mid-Scotland and Fife.”

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Murdo calls for public to get involved in Perth City Hall consultation

Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP Murdo Fraser has called for the people of Perth to have their voices heard on the five-new designs set to transform Perth City Hall.

After 12 years of lying vacant, the debate over the future of Perth City Hall is over and it will be transformed into a new cultural hub. However, a new debate over what this should look like is just beginning.

Architects have submitted initial design concepts which will be available to view online and will also be on display at Council HQ at 2 High Street.

The public will have four methods to comment on the design concepts by either filling in an online survey, emailing Perth2021, writing to the City Hall Exhibition or submitting a comment form at 2 High Street.

Public comments may influence the final design and a summary of findings will be included in a report to the Council. The future of Perth City Hall has crystallised opinions in the Fair City and Murdo believes that this consultation gives residents a final chance to have their say.

Commenting Murdo Fraser MSP said;

“The future of Perth city hall has divided people from across the city and now with a definitive plan in place for its future, residents will have a final chance to have their say. 

“The design concepts for the new cultural hub combine old and new and there is a real divergence in the artists interpretation of what it could look like.

“Public opinion on the future design will be considered before a final decision is made and I would encourage people to contribute their opinions.

“As Perth bids for the UK City of Culture 2021 title, the transformation of City Hall could be the centrepiece that wins it for the Fair City. Therefore, it is vital that we select a design that properly represents everything that is great about the city and the public must get involved in this.”

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Questions over delayed roads linking new Forth Bridge

Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP Murdo Fraser has called on the Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Keith Brown, to clarify an answer he gave suggesting roads linking the new Queensferry crossing were not complete in time for its intended opening in December.

The Scottish Conservative MSP asked Keith Brown whether the road surfaces adjoining the new bridge, both north and south, were ready in time for the planned opening in December. The Cabinet Secretary refused to answer directly simply stating that;

The adjoining road surfaces connecting the Queensferry Crossing both south and north of the bridge will be completed in time for the Queensferry Crossing’s original contractual completion date of June 2017 and well ahead of the estimated opening to traffic of mid-July – end of August 2017.”

Anyone travelling over the Forth Road Bridge in recent weeks and months could see that the adjoining road surfaces were clearly not ready for traffic in December.

Commenting Murdo Fraser MSP said:

“Bad weather has been blamed for delays in opening the Queensferry Crossing, but anyone travelling over the current bridge could see that road surfaces connecting the new bridge were not complete in time for December.

“Failure to lay tarmac on time surely cannot be blamed on the bad weather bogeyman.

“Something else must be at play and the Scottish Government’s evasive answer clearly suggests that road surfaces were not ready for the new bridge’s aborted opening date at the turn of the year.

“The Scottish Government must come clean and tell the public exactly what has gone on regarding construction delays on the new bridge.”

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Murdo welcomes dig for King James the first in Parliamentary motion

Published historian and Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP, Murdo Fraser, has welcomed a new online and social media presence promoting Perth’s Charterhouse Project which aims to find the remains of lost Scottish King, James the First.

A new website and social media offering has recently been launched, kingjames1ofscotland.co.uk, which recounts the story of his life and the current Charterhouse Project which aims to uncover his final resting place.

Murdo Fraser, a man no stranger to Scotland’s bloody history following the recent publication of his take on the Scottish Civil War of 1644-45 believes that the project could give Perth a global profile in the same fashion as the hunt for Richard the third in Leicester.

Commenting Murdo Fraser said;

“As a student of Scottish history and a representative for the area I can think of no better advert for Perth’s history and culture than the Charterhouse Project, especially as the Fair City bids for the UK City of Culture title.

“Although often forgotten Perth was one of Scotland’s first capital cities and was an important political and economic centre during the early middle ages. It is important that we are able to capitalise on this history and use it to our advantage when bidding for the culture title, and this project seeks to do exactly that.

“In bringing the Charterhouse Project online there is now an up-to-date interactive website that not only tells the story of James the First’s life and death but also of the project to discover his final resting place. In lodging my motion in parliament hopefully I can highlight this new resource to more people across the country who are looking to learn more about Perth’s place in Scotland’s history.”

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Concerning number of Perthshire farmers still waiting on 2015 LFASS Cap payments

Figures revealed by the Scottish Government have shown that 89 farmers in Mid-Scotland and Fife are still awaiting LFASS CAP payments from 2015, with 60 located in Perth and Kinross.

In a letter to the Public Audit and Post-legislative scrutiny committee in early April the Scottish Government confirmed that there were 1700 farmers still awaiting CAP payments from 2015.

A Scottish Government local breakdown of these figures revealed that 60 payments were outstanding in Perth and Kinross, 17 in Stirling, 5 in Clackmannanshire and 7 in Fife.

Last week it was also revealed that farm income had halved in the preceding 12 months.

Commenting Liz Smith MSP said:

“The fact that there are 89 outstanding LFASS CAP payments in Mid-Scotland and Fife from 2015 is a real concern. These payments are to ensure farmers working less productive land are given vital support to continue producing.

“Without LFASS support many farms would struggle to remain profitable and it is unfortunate that so many are still waiting on payments from two years ago.

“The Scottish Government’s handling of CAP payments has been a disaster from start to finish and it is high time there was real positive action to help Scotland’s struggling producers.

“A couple of weeks back we learned that farm income had halved in recent years and these detailed statistics underline the difficult circumstances farmers in parts of Perth and Kinross, Fife, Stirling and Clackmannanshire are working under.”

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Murdo welcomes Perthshire Festival of the Arts in Parliament

Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP, Murdo Fraser, has welcomed the 45th edition of the Perthshire Festival of the Arts in parliament and believes the event could be key to the Fair City’s hopes of securing the UK 2021 City of Culture title.

The Scottish Conservative MSP called on fellow parliamentarians to support the event which will welcome stellar acts including Nicola Benedetti and the English Touring Opera this year.

As Perth bids to be named UK City of Culture 2021 Murdo believes events like this will be crucial in winning over judges as to the Fair City’s merit as a heritage and culture hotspot.

Commenting Murdo Fraser MSP said;

“Perth is among the bookies favourites to be named UK City of Culture 2021 and events like the Perthshire Festival of the Arts highlight not only the current cultural offering in the city but also the potential of what can be achieved in the future.

“This year the festival boasts a stellar line-up including Nicola Benedetti, Marcus Brigstocke and the English National Touring Opera. The Perthshire Festival of the Arts continues to go from to strength to strength each year and the organisers have done a fantastic job in securing such a strong line-up.

“Perth is definitely the place when it comes to culture and the arts and I hope that judges keep this in mind when it comes to awarding the 2021 title.”

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