Murdo seeks assurances on Queensferry Crossing opening date following latest delay

The Scottish Government Economy Minister, Keith Brown, has today confirmed that the new Forth Road Bridge will not open in May following a question asked by Murdo Fraser MSP.

In the past two weeks there had been speculation that bad weather would result in the Bridge opening being delayed again.

Construction bosses had originally planned to open the new crossing in December before inclement conditions impacted plans. The contractual deadline of May has now been missed which leaves the government red-faced following their insistence that it would open on time.

Commenting Murdo Fraser MSP said:

“Travellers expecting the bridge to open in May will be sorely disappointed by today’s announcement.

“When the December opening date was put back to May, inclement weather was blamed, now we have the same excuse being rolled out for a second time.

“This latest delay surely calls into question the Government’s handling of the project and why the public weren’t told sooner considering speculation over a delayed opening has been rife for weeks.

“With reports suggesting it could be September before the bridge opens the Scottish Government must come clean and let the public now when it realistically predicts the bridge will open.”

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Concerns raised as Co-Op announce closure of sole Post Office in Blairgowrie

Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP Murdo Fraser and local councillor, Caroline Shiers, have both raised concerns following the potential closure of the Post Office in Blairgowrie.

The current post office is located within the Co-Op in the  Wellmeadow, but the Co-Op have notified Post Office officials of their intention to wind-up and close this service.

In response the Post Office have said that they will shortly advertise for a business to run counter services within a retail outlet. Post Office officials have also indicated that they do not anticipate a break in service, as the notice period gives sufficient time to find a new operator, which will be subject to a six week public consultation.

Commenting Murdo Fraser MSP said:

“The confirmation that the Co-Op is set to wind up its Post Office service in Blairgowrie is very concerning. Up until now I had been under the impression that this was a convenient and well-used service. What is not in doubt is that a post office service must be kept in the town.

“I would encourage would-be operators to make themselves known to the Post Office as it is vital that an alternate provider is found quickly.”

Commenting Blairgowrie and Glens Councillor, Caroline Shiers said:

“News of the Co-Op’s decision to close its Post Office service is disappointing and local residents are rightly worried about who will provide counter services in the future.

“The Wellmeadow was generally thought to be a good location for the Post Office and any future service must be accessible for residents in the town. Whilst it is good to note that the Post Office do not anticipate there to be a lapse in service I would call on them to work quickly to find a suitable replacement. Furthermore, this is also an opportunity for a local business to offer post office services and I would encourage businesses in the area to get in touch to make their case.”

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Murdo pays visit to Perth and Kinross Council Modern Apprentices

As part of Modern Apprenticeship week 2017, Murdo Fraser MSP, has met with young apprentices at Perth and Kinross Council to learn more about their training with the local authority.

The visit was arranged in collaboration with Skills Development Scotland who are running Modern Apprenticeship Week 2017, which is aimed at celebrating the benefits apprentices bring to business and the economy.

Over the course of the week Skills Development Scotland are running hundreds of different events across Scotland.

Commenting Murdo Fraser MSP said:

“It was great to meet both the modern apprentices and their trainers this week in order to learn more about what is being done to support the next generation of talent in local government.

“Perth and Kinross Council deliver a wide variety of services to local residents and ensuring that the right skills are in place to deliver this is incredibly important and hiring modern apprentices is a key part of this.

“Organisations across Scotland are telling us that they want to hire more people – but they are also warning that they can’t find people with the skills required. Modern apprenticeships are a proven way of investing in Scotland’s workforce and I am pleased to see Perth and Kinross Council strongly support this.”

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Local Politicians call for engagement over Scone North as consultation nears end

Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP, Murdo Fraser, has been joined by local Councillor Dennis Melloy and Conservative Strathmore Council Candidate Colin Stewart to highlight the coming deadline for representations on a planning application for housing expansion in Scone.

The Scone North development proposes 700 new homes for the village with the proposed Cross Tay Link Road designed to help ease congestion and traffic flow.

A recent survey found that an overwhelming majority of Scone residents oppose the plan, which concerns surrounding traffic congestion, access to services and air pollution.

972 public representations have been made to the neighbourhood consultation so far with residents having until the 10th of March to make their views, both for and against, heard.

Commenting Murdo Fraser MSP said:

“Scone residents have just over a week to make their views known, for or against, on the plan for 700 new homes and I would urge them to participate in this consultation.

“So far local residents have been vocal in raising concerns over these plans and this could be their last chance to make their feelings known.”

Cllr Dennis Melloy said:

“The Scone North proposal represents a huge development and one that will have significant implications for the existing residents in the village. It is therefore very important that their views are heard and I am calling on those who have not already done so to submit their comments to the consultation which will close in just over a week. Don’t be left out and complain later, let your voice be heard now!!”

Strathmore Council Candidate Colin Stewart said:

“All of the feedback I have received from Scone residents has been in opposition to this development.

“There are real and legitimate concerns over pollution, congestion and access to services and these questions have thus far gone unanswered. The views of existing residents must be listened to and I am calling on them to stand up and make sure their voice is heard.”

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Not “Berry” Good as Perth and Kinross schools spend £250 on Serbian Raspberries

Data uncovered via freedom of information request has shown that schools in Perth and Kinross spent £250 on Serbian raspberries last year, despite Perth and Kinross being home to Scotland’s soft fruit industry.

Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP, Murdo Fraser, has criticised the council’s spending on foreign fruit believing that food miles for raspberries is unnecessary considering the strength of the berry industry in Perth and Kinross.

Figures also showed that Fife schools spent £128 on raspberries from Serbia in 2015/16.

Commenting Murdo Fraser MSP said:

“It seems incredible that schools in Perth and Kinross are willing to ship raspberries nearly 2,000 miles from Serbia rather than buying those that are grown a couple of miles down the road.

“Perth and Kinross is the heartbeat of Scotland’s soft fruit industry. The mix of good quality well-draining soil combined with a moderate climate results in the area producing some of the best raspberries in the world.

“The fact that school kids are tucking into Serbian berries rather than those produced on our doorstep gives out the completely wrong message on food miles and our carbon footprint.

“Whilst it is understandable that berries are sometimes sourced from elsewhere when they are out of season in Scotland, I would hope that Perth and Kinross procurement policy supports the local economy.”

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SNP ‘persuaded’ to U turn!

After Wednesday’s budget in Perth and Kinross Council, where the SNP refused to match the Scottish Conservatives £600,000 fund for businesses who will still suffer massive increases under the SNP rates revaluation, it now appears that the SNP administration have u-turned and will be providing such a fund.

Pressure was put on Derek McKay yesterday in Holyrood by MSP’s asking why Perth and Kinross SNP administration had not provided such a fund. The Finance Minister after some deliberation, advised the chamber, that PKC would indeed match the Scottish Conservative proposal.

One wonders who was on the phone to Ian Miller yesterday morning ‘advising’ him to match the Scottish Conservatives. Could it have been Mr Swinney?

The Scottish conservative leader on Perth & Kinross council, Councillor Ian Campbell said:

“I am delighted we have once again shaken the SNP awake and shown them how a real administration would deal with the problems that arise and need to be deal with, swiftly and sensibly. This administration is tired and prone to mistakes as we saw at yesterday’s budget meeting. It’s time for change.”

Murdo Fraser MSP said:

“This latest U-turn from the SNP is highly embarrassing. I can only imagine the panicked look on the Finance Minister’s face when he realised that the SNP in Perth and Kinross had opposed our local rates relief scheme on Wednesday.

“It is time for proper leadership in Perth and Kinross, not an administration that doesn’t know whether to stick or twist unless party bosses in Edinburgh tell them so.”

 

 

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Over 6,000 Mid-Scotland and Fife Businesses left out of Rates relief

Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP, Murdo Fraser, has criticised the Scottish Government’s latest attempt to solve the emerging business rates revaluation crisis in Scotland.

The Finance Secretary, Derek MacKay has bowed to pressure from the Scottish Conservatives and businesses across Scotland and introduced a cap of 12.5% for businesses in the hospitality sector and office businesses in the North East.

A breakdown of figures shows that in Perth and Kinross, Stirling, Fife and Clackmannanshire only 1134 out of the 7359 businesses facing rates increase will benefit from this scheme.

Murdo Fraser MSP said:

“The Finance Secretary has been dragged kicking and screaming to the Scottish Parliament, but his announcement of rates relief will only help 1 in 6 businesses in Mid-Scotland and Fife who are facing rates hikes.

“The SNP have been warned about this crisis for over a month but repeatedly passed the buck and insisted they couldn’t do anything to help.

“Some businesses will face increases of thousands of pounds and whilst those in the hospitality industry will welcome the 12.5% cap the reality is that other sectors will continue to struggle.”

 

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Raiders of the lost “tomb”: Murdo welcomes plan to dig up King James I in Perth

Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP and published historian, Murdo Fraser, has welcomed new plans to locate the tomb of King James I of Scotland in Perth, four years after he proposed the idea.

Back in February 2013 on the back of the “King in the car park dig” to find Richard III, Murdo called for a similar project to find King James I who is said to be buried under the cobbles of Atholl Street in Perth.

Murdo believes that the search for the lost grave could put Perth on the archaeological map and has welcomed plans to locate his tomb and create a new heritage attraction celebrating the Fair City’s connection with the Stewart monarchs.

Murdo has lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament welcoming the proposals and hopes that parliamentary pressure can see both projects become reality.

Commenting Murdo Fraser MSP said:

“Today’s announcement is fantastic news and with the right financial support and public backing it could become a great draw for Perth.

“We know that James I is buried in Perth, in the grounds of the Carthusian monastery, but not precisely where. The logistics of any disinterment would be considerable, but definitely worth pursuing. Historians and archaeologists have supported previous calls for a dig and any excavation would no-doubt reveal further clues to Perth’s bloody and fascinating past.

“The dig to find Richard III in Leicester captured the public’s imagination and the attention of the world’s media, this could also be the case in Perth and any dig would further strengthen Perth’s bid to become UK City of Culture 2021.”

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Finance Secretary refuses to rule out frontline cuts at NHS Tayside

The Scottish Government Finance Minister, Derek Mackay, has refused to rule out cuts to frontline services at NHS Tayside following questioning from Murdo Fraser in the Scottish Parliament.

Today’s questioning comes as officials at the embattled health board have stated that savings of £214 million will have to be made over the coming five years in order to break even.

Thus far savings have been made thanks to a reduction in agency nursing costs although a spokesperson for NHS Tayside has warned that cuts to prescriptions, procurement and property will be required in order to meet their financial obligations.

Commenting Murdo Fraser MSP said:

“The Finance Minister had ample opportunity to rule out the possibility of frontline cuts to NHS Tayside today but has refused to do so.

“This will be hugely disappointing and concerning to the staff and patients at NHS Tayside who are working under increasing strain.

“Ensuring that our health service is adequately funded is incredibly important but it would appear as though the Scottish Government have washed their hands with Tayside and are pressing them to make huge savings which could affect patient care.”

 

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Murdo Supports British Heart Foundation in Scottish Parliament

Across Perth and Kinross, Fife, Stirling and Clackmannanshire there are nearly 85,000 people living with heart and circulatory disease.

Last week Murdo Fraser MSP showed his support for these people at the British Heart Foundation (BHF) Scotland parliamentary exhibition.

This exhibition was an opportunity to learn more about the number of local people affected by heart disease in Mid-Scotland and Fife and to find out how BHF Scotland is helping to save and improve the lives of people affected by heart and circulatory disease.

Murdo Fraser MSP said: “Across Perth and Kinross, Fife, Stirling and Clackmannanshire nearly 85,000 people are affected by heart and circulatory disease.

“There are nearly 16,000 stroke survivors and almost 6,000 people have suffered a heart failure across Mid-Scotland and Fife. These problems are exacerbated by unhealthy lifestyle and diet choices, with 146,000 people now classed as obese and a further 101,000 with high blood pressure. It’s time for us all to take a serious look at our own health and what we can do to best prevent heart disease in the future.

“However, it’s vital that research is conducted into preventing, diagnosing and treating heart disease. It is here where we need to support the British Heart Foundation who are funding vital research and providing important support for those suffering and affected by heart and circulatory disease issues.”

James Cant, Director of BHF Scotland, said: “Coronary heart disease is still our single biggest killer, and these figures show that there is no part of the country that is untouched by heart and circulatory disease. That’s why we’re currently investing £63 million in research in Scotland.  Since 1961 we’ve helped halve the number of Scots dying from heart and circulatory disease. Now, we’re hoping to break new ground, create new treatments and discover new cures. One day, we’ll beat heart disease for good.

“We were delighted to meet Murdo at the Scottish Parliament, and share this important information about the risk factors in Mid-Scotland and Fife and the numbers of people affected by these devastating conditions that can strike unexpectedly, tearing families apart without warning. Thanks to BHF research, we can offer them hope for the future.”

 

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