Murdo calls on local businesses to fill Post Office gap in Dunkeld

Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP, Murdo Fraser, is calling for local businesses interested in running Post Office services in Dunkeld to make themselves known following the recent shock closure of the current Post Office.

Following the resignation of the Postmaster residents in Dunkeld are left with the option of travelling to nearby Birnam or Murthly to access Post Office services.

The Post Office have a commitment to maintain the current branch network and have no plans to reduce its size unless replacements cannot be found.

Officials from the Post Office have begun the process of writing to local business to notify them of the vacancy and have also advertised the vacancy on their “run a post office” website.

Commenting Murdo Fraser MSP said:

“It is hugely important that high street services like Post Offices and banks are kept open, particularly in rural villages, and I hope a replacement Postmaster can be found in Dunkeld.

“I would encourage local businesses to get in touch with the Post Office if they are interested in running the service in Dunkeld.

“Obviously there will be a gap in Post Office provision in Dunkeld and it is important that this is not used as an excuse to remove services permanently.”

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RBS refuse pleas to keep Dalgety Bay and Cowdenbeath branches open but offer up alternative banking solutions

RBS have refused calls from Murdo Fraser MSP to consider reversing their decision to close branches in Dalgety Bay and Cowdenbeath but have offered up comprehensive alternatives for existing customers.

Personal and Business Banking CEO, Les Matheson, has written to Murdo explaining their decision and what customers in the area can expect over the next couple of months.

RBS confirm, in this letter, that a reduction in those using branches at Dalgety Bay and Cowdenbeath has resulted in their closure. However, contingency measures will include the provision of RBS TechXperts in-branch to help customers access digital services. RBS have also stated that customers will be able to complete simple transactions at the Post Office whilst there are also plans to offer a mobile banking branch in both Dalgety Bay and Cowdenbeath.

Murdo Fraser is urging customers in both locations to get in touch with RBS to learn more about how they can bank alternatively, be it over the phone or online.

Commenting Murdo Fraser MSP said:

“Whilst it is still hugely disappointing that RBS will not consider reversing their decision to close the Dalgety Bay and Cowdenbeath branches it is encouraging to learn more about their plans to lessen the impact to customers in the area.

“I would encourage RBS customers to speak to in-branch advisors about online banking, phone banking, the new services offered at the Post Office and the likely timescale and schedule for using mobile banking services. It’s important that customers are not left in the dark when the doors finally close in Dalgety Bay and Cowdenbeath.

“Ultimately nothing can replace the convenience of having a physical presence on the high street and I would hope that the latest raft of bank branch closures are the last.”

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Fraser wants action to help those with debt problems

Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP Murdo Fraser has called on the Scottish Government to ensure that Scotland continues to lead the way in fair debt legislation.

His comments came after a report by StepChange Debt Charity which showed that record numbers of Scottish clients had contacted charity for help with debts in 2016.

Clients contacting StepChange from Mid-Scotland and Fife had a slightly higher debt of £12,847 compared with the national average of £12,677. Murdo has backed calls to expand the reach of the existing Debt Arrangement Scheme in Scotland to further assist households that have fallen into financial difficulty.

Commenting Murdo said;

“More and more people are finding themselves trapped in financial hardship and as a result are contacting StepChange for debt advice.

“StepChange are doing fantastic work in providing a crutch for people to lean on in Mid-Scotland and Fife but it is concerning to learn that those who have contacted them have racked up nearly £13,000 in debt.

“Some people in the Mid Scotland and Fife Region and Scotland already have access to the best protections in the UK, thanks to the Debt Arrangement Scheme – but we can and should go further to help more.

“Expanding the Debt Arrangement Scheme would give people time to get back on their feet without the worry of their debts spiralling out of control. It would give people the best chance of getting themselves back into a position where they can start making payments on their debts.”

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Perth SNP politicians keep digging

Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP, Murdo Fraser, has offered some friendly advice to local SNP politicians Dave Doogan and Pete Wishart following their botched attempts to justify their recent offensive outbursts.

Serial twitter offender Wishart claimed that the people of Perth were more offended that his tweet was “misrepresented” rather than the actual content of it. In recent years, Wishart has used twitter to insult the elderly, and also took time to get into a twitter war of words with local school pupils. Even senior SNP sources have admitted that they wish they could confiscate his phone.

Meanwhile, just as Wishart was penning his latest column, his SNP colleague Cllr Dave Doogan was busy making a mess of his attempt to apologise for his ‘Quisling’ rant comments 9 weeks earlier.

Commenting Murdo Fraser MSP said:

“When in trouble stop digging, that’s my simple advice to Pete Wishart and fellow offender of the public Dave Doogan.

“If Pete Wishart believes people are annoyed when he is called out over his highly offensive tweeting, it shows he really does spend too much time online and not enough in the communities of Perth and North Perthshire. Poor old Pete is in cyber-cuckoo land.

“And if Dave Doogan believes yesterday’s sorry excuse for an apology will hold up on the doorsteps of Perth and Kinross than he really does need a reality check.

“People in Perth want local politicians who understand their issues, not ones who cannot even muster a proper apology after offending so many of their constituents.”

Councillor Ian Campbell, Conservative group leader on Perth & Kinross Council, added:

“Cllr Doogan insulted many people in Perthshire but it sadly highlights the views of some SNP members. I am sure that most residents of Perthshire take a far more considered and generous view of our fellow countrymen.”

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Scottish Government must take responsibility for Farm Income Crisis

Hard pressed Mid-Scotland and Fife Farmers saw their income drop last year as incomes across the country fell by 48% according to statistics from the Scottish Government. These shocking stats show that since a peak in 2010/11 farm income has decreased by 75% in Scotland.

The failure to pay CAP payments on time from the Scottish Government has led to significant problems in the industry and Perthshire politicians Murdo Fraser and Liz Smith believe that big steps are required to drive up income and entice new entrants to the industry.

Agriculture plays a big part in the local economy of Perth and Kinross, Fife, Stirling and Clackmannanshire and news of this reduction will come as a hammer blow to farmers.

A more equitable share of the profits with a greater proportion of revenue making it back to the producers pocket is now a clear priority for the industry.

Commenting Murdo Fraser MSP said:

“These statistics make for shocking reading and confirm what I have heard from several farmers in the area and that is it simply doesn’t pay to be in the industry anymore.

“Consumers are demanding low prices and retailers are too quick to pass this burden onto farmers at market.

“However, the Scottish Government has played a leading role in this downturn in revenue. Their botched farm payments system drove several farmers to the edge of existence and caused huge cash-flow problems across Mid-Scotland and Fife.  It is time for a government that properly understands the needs of rural Scotland, and that is simply not the SNP.”

Commenting Liz Smith MSP said:

“The failure to pay farmers CAP funds on time has undoubtedly caused cash-flow issues in the sector and it is incumbent on the SNP to reverse their failing record on Scotland’s farms.

“Such a sharp drop in income from one year to another makes simple things like workforce and resource planning extremely difficult. The fact that many of Scotland’s farmers are being paid less than the agricultural workers minimum wage is scandalous.

“Brexit creates an opportunity to forge a new subsidy regime that is nuanced and flexible and able to target hard-working farmers in need of support. I’m sure that farmers in Perth and Kinross would much prefer the SNP to focus on this rather than carping on about a second independence referendum.”

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Parking Code of Conduct “Not fit for Purpose”

Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP, Murdo Fraser, has hit out at the current private parking code of conduct following alleged footage showing a leading operator talk about the need to ramp up revenue from fines.

It had previously been assumed that private parking firms were installing difficult to understand machines as a way of ramping up profit, but this investigation would appear to confirm these accusations.

Murdo Fraser is currently drafting a consultation for a Members Bill in the Scottish Parliament aimed at curbing the practices of rogue private parking firms through binding regulations and legislation.

The Scottish Government has been working with two parking trade bodies to draw up a unified code of conduct but progress on that appears to be slow-moving.

Commenting Murdo Fraser MSP said:

“The information uncovered by this investigation has laid bare the tactics of the car parking bullies to their fullest extent. Ramping up revenue through fines is clearly the priority of Smart Parking rather than providing reliable and convenient parking service.

“The current code of conduct is clearly not fit for purpose, or up to scratch, and it is high time that something more stringent is put in place.

“The Government has been working alongside the industry for a while and nothing concrete has emerged. It is high time that we had legislation to curb the practices of these cowboys and I look forward to progressing my members bill in parliament aimed at greater regulation.”

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St Andrews University scoops the plaudits after being named third best in UK

Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP and Shadow Education Minister, Liz Smith, has lodged a motion calling for parliament to congratulate St. Andrews University on being named the third best university in the UK by the 2018 Complete University Guide.

The new ranking leaves St Andrews just behind Cambridge and Oxford as the UK’s top destination for students. The rankings take account a number of different factors including quality of research, prospects for graduates and student infrastructure.

Recent rankings have also shown that St. Andrews ranks in the top 10 for 23 of the 25 subjects it teaches.

Commenting Liz said;

“To be named as the third best university in the UK and the number one university in Scotland is a top honour.

“The staff and faculty should be proud of their achievements and the standards they have set to receive this ranking.

“Scotland has a strong and diverse university sector and it is great to also see four other Scottish universities appear in the top 50.

“University life is central to the local economy in North East Fife and with this ranking St Andrews will continue to be a draw for students from across the UK and the world.

“Hopefully, those at St Andrews can build on this success and aim to split up the top two duopoly of Cambridge and Oxford next year.”

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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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