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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Murdo raises prospect of Black Watch returning home to Leuchars in meeting with Sir Michael Fallon

Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP, Murdo Fraser, has met with the Defence Minister Sir Michael Fallon today and put forth the case for returning the Black Watch to Leuchars in Fife.

Leuchars is set to see its presence expand over the next couple of years, becoming the army’s main base in Scotland, as the MoD looks to consolidate its bases onto fewer sites.

The former RAF base in North East Fife is already home to the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and looks set to include units from Forthshire Stirling and DSG Stirling in the next 15 years.

During the 45-minute discussion Murdo called on the Defence Minister to rehouse the Black Watch in Leuchars which would result in basing them closer to their historic recruiting ground.

Commenting Murdo Fraser MSP said:

“It was good to meet with the Defence Minister today and learn more about the MoD’s future plans in Scotland and also to put forth the case for having the Black Watch return to its historic recruiting ground.

“Leuchars is a fantastic site that has additional space that could house the Black Watch and making this happen could be good news for the local economy. 

“Discussions today were extremely productive and he assured me that the MoD was seriously considering this proposal with a view to making a decision on the Black Watch in the next couple of months.”

 

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Murdo criticises budget in Scottish Parliament

Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP and Shadow Finance Minister, Murdo Fraser, has slammed the Scottish Government’s draft budget today labelling it one that prohibits growth and chokes off investment.

Attached below are excerpts from Murdo’s speech:

…The Finance Secretary had a choice going in to today’s debate. He could come with us, drop his plans to make Scotland the highest taxed part of the United Kingdom, and

work together to deliver an ambitious Budget focussed on growing the economy.  Or he could turn sharp Left, and embrace the anti-growth, anti-business agenda of the

Greens.  What a pity, what a tragedy for Scotland, that he chose to throw in his lot with the lentil-munching, sandal-wearing watermelons on that side of the Chamber.

…Mr MacKay was well warned by the business community as to the consequences of going further on tax than he originally intended. Yesterday the Scottish Chambers of

Commerce described such a move as ‘highly dangerous’. Today, he and his Government have shown contempt for the views of Scottish business, and have

demonstrated that they have zero interest in trying to help grow our underperforming economy.  They might as well put up a sign at the Border: ‘Scotland closed for business’.

…Derek MacKay has so many advantages with this Budget. He is a lucky man, firstly, because he has more money to play with than ever before. By his own admission, his budget for the coming year is up, in real terms, by some £501 million. That’s half a billion pounds he has to spend in the coming year more than he had in this one.

…We hear a lot in these budget debates from the SNP benches about Tory cuts, and Westminster austerity. But we now know that the reality is somewhat different. The Scottish Government’s own documentation tells us that, both in cash terms and real terms, the total Scottish government budget for the coming year is up on the previous high point of 2010-11. When it comes to total managed expenditure, there is not a cut to be seen.

…But it is not just because he has money at his disposal which his predecessors could only dream of that Derek Mackay is a lucky man. He is lucky because he has a greater range of powers over taxation than any Finance Minister before, a great opportunity to use these to build an ambitious budget, a budget for growth, a budget that will expand the tax base, a budget worthy of the extensive fiscal powers put at his disposal.

…Sadly, in place of that ambition we have a weak, hesitant, dismal set of measures, together mounting to a budget which tells us nothing about the type of Scotland we want to see, a budget which will see local services slashed while Council Taxes are being hiked, a budget which cuts funding to the Enterprise Networks and reinforces reductions in college places when we should be doing the opposite, and a budget that will make Scotland the highest taxed part of the United Kingdom, scaring away investment, and sending out a message that the risk-taker, the wealth creator, the entrepreneur, and the successful are not welcome here.

… this should have been a budget to grow the economy. Our growth rates today are one third of the UK average. Our unemployment rates are higher, our employment rates are lower, and our business confidence is well below the UK as a whole. These are the key issues that this budget should be addressing, and instead it will simply make matters worse.

…As the economy grows so tax revenues will grow with it. Our own research has shown that if Scottish growth had matched UK average figures since 2007, our Gross Domestic Product would have been £3.1 billion higher over the last ten years, that equates to nearly £1300 for every Scottish household.

…If we simply raised the proportion of higher and additional rate tax payers to the UK average then the Scottish finances would stand to benefit by more than £600 million a year in extra revenue, and what a difference that would make to the Finance Secretary’s spending power.

…So this budget today is a huge missed opportunity. It fails to address the problem of our underperforming economy. It cuts support to local government, which will mean that services are being reduced at a time when the council Tax is soaring. And it sends out a message that Scotland is the highest taxed part of the United Kingdom.

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Murdo calls for speedy resolution to gas shut-off in Scone

Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP, Murdo Fraser, has called on Scottish Gas Networks to work speedily to reconnect the 1,300 properties in Scone who have been left without gas following a fault in the network.

On Tuesday evening gas supplies to properties in Scone were lost as a result of water entering the network and SGN engineers are currently working to establish the source of the leak.

SGN have contacted all customers and have provided a makeshift customer service site in the park of the Old Parish Church and a welfare centre at the Wheel Inn. Hotplates and heaters have been made available as well as additional support for elderly or vulnerable residents.

Unfortunately, SGN have given no indication of when gas supplies will return to normal.

Commenting Murdo Fraser MSP said:

“This is a serious incident and my thoughts go out to all those who are affected. Being without gas during the winter is particularly tough and I hope that elderly and vulnerable residents are able to get the support they need to ensure they are kept warm and have enough food.

“I would encourage anyone requiring assistance to contact SGN via their customer service number or access the customer service centre at the Old Parish Church or the Wheel Inn where heaters and hotplates have been made available.

“It is important that SGN engineers work quickly to identify the fault and get homes reconnected to their gas supplies as soon as possible. However, it is concerning that there is no timescale for reconnection and I would urge SGN to communicate clearly with affected residents. This is clearly a complex incident and I would call on SGN to ensure that this fault isn’t replicated here or elsewhere in the network.”

 

 

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Murdo meets with Transport Minister to discuss Private Parking Cowboys

Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP Murdo Fraser, has met with the Transport Minister, Humza Yousaf, to discuss the future of private parking legislation in Scotland.

The Scottish Conservative MSP has spent the last two years fighting on behalf of constituents who have been wrongly fined for parking violations whilst using Smart Parking’s Kinnoull Street location in Perth.

During the meeting, Murdo discussed the possibility of regulation to cap fines, introduce an independent appeals service, a single binding code of conduct and standardised signage.

The Scottish Government is working with partners to introduce a single code of conduct that applies to parking companies who are members of both the BPA and IPC.

Commenting Murdo Fraser MSP said:

“Private Parking companies have gotten away with it for far too long, it’s time to bring in clearer and tighter regulations that ensure that parking is fair and transparent.

“The Scottish Government have been helpful and it was good to meet with Humza to get an idea of their perspective and to know that regulation via legislation is not off the table. I also welcome their work towards creating a binding single code of conduct in Scotland.

“I am seriously considering a Member’s Bill in the Scottish Parliament aimed at curbing current industry practices which are not in the interest of motorists, and I will look to gather evidence on this over the coming months.”

 

 

 

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Murdo calls on local charities to apply for Post Code Lottery Cash

The People’s Postcode Lottery are making £6 million of funding available to good causes and Murdo Fraser wants charities across Mid-Scotland and Fife to secure their fair share.

 Funding will be allocated through three trusts which are designed to support different projects, with a maximum award of £20,000 available. In 2017 charities will have two opportunities to apply for funding with tranches of £3million being released in January and August.

 People’s Postcode Trust seeks applications for projects that focus on the prevention of poverty, promotion of human rights, equal rights and conflict resolution for some of society’s most vulnerable groups. In addition to this the charity also supports wildlife, grass-roots sports, arts, recreation and healthy living programmes.

The first round of applications opens from the 23rd of January and runs until the 10th of February.

Commenting Murdo Fraser MSP said: 


“There are a huge number of social enterprises and other charities operating throughout Perth and Kinross, Fife, Stirling and Clackmannanshire all of which could benefit from funding like this. 


“With the window for applications only open until the 10th of February it’s important that charities don’t think too long before submitting an application.

“Funding from the National Lottery and the People’s Postcode Lottery can make a huge difference to communities and I want people in Perth and Kinross, Fife, Stirling and Clackmannanshire to grab their fair share.”


 

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Gleneagles Hotel Youth employment award celebrated in Parliament

Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP Murdo Fraser has called on fellow MSPs to congratulate the staff and management at Gleneagles Hotel for winning the Skills Development Scotland Youth Employer of the Month award.

Gleneagles employs 34 apprentices working jobs in hospitality, management, cookery, horticulture, and hairdressing. In addition to the current 34 apprentices, Gleneagles is looking to hire 16 more apprentices to help fill other roles including green keeping.  

The Gleneagles resort hosted the European victory over the U.S. in the 2014 Ryder Cup as well as the 2005 G8 summit and several other international conferences.

Murdo’s motion has received cross-party parliamentary backing so far.

Commenting Murdo Fraser said:

“As one of Scotland’s biggest names in hospitality it is great to see the Gleneagles Hotel offer these opportunities for modern apprentices.


“Increasing the number of modern apprentices is crucial if we are to create jobs for young people whilst also closing the skills gap. Winning this award is a huge achievement for the staff and management at Gleneagles and further underlines their importance to the local economy.

“The tourism industry in Scotland brings in over £8 billion annually, hotels such Gleneagles are a reminder of why Perth and Kinross remains a premier destination for visitors.”  


 

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