McAlpine promotes baby box to parents group

Joansling.jpgSouth Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine this week met with the Dumfries and Galloway group Bump Baby and Beyond to promote the advantages of the baby box as it emerged that ten thousand parents across Scotland have already registered to receive one.

The MSP took was a sample of the type of things that are provided in the baby box.

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:

“The parents of the sling library were all very positive about the box and its contents.

“The Baby Boxes are full of useful items and send a message that every child matters.

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Kelloholm Primary and Sanquhar Academy get Attainment Funding Boost

Kelloholm Primary and Sanquhar Academy will receive £139,493.54 in 2017/18 to help close the poverty-related attainment gap, the Scottish Government announced this week.

More than £45 million of dedicated funding will be provided to primary and secondary schools across Scotland in 2017/18 to help pupils from low-income backgrounds succeed at school.

The Scottish Attainment Challenge is providing £750 million during the course of this Parliament to tackle the poverty related attainment gap. It prioritises improvements in literacy, numeracy, health and wellbeing of children adversely affected by poverty in Scotland’s Primary and Secondary schools. This funding takes the Challenge Authorities and Schools Programme into its third successive year.

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McAlpine hails economic progress as Scottish growth outstrips UK

South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed new GDP figures which show that Scotland’s economy has grown 0.8% in the first quarter of 2017 - four times the UK growth rate for the same quarter.

Production grew by 3.1%, accounting for most of the growth in Scotland, and the services industry grew by 0.3%.

Since 2007, productivity in Scotland – the key driver of economic performance - has grown by more than 7%. In the UK as a whole productivity growth has been close to zero (0.4%).

Commenting on the figures, Ms McAlpine said:

“We are seeing an improving picture across Scotland – the economy is growing, the number of people in employment is rising and unemployment is at historic lows.

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SNP scraps cap for nurses and teachers in Dumfries and Galloway


SNP MSPs Joan McAlpine and Emma Harper are calling on the UK Government to stop flip-flopping on public sector pay and endorse the SNP’s policy to end the pay cap.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay told the Scottish Parliament last week that the “time was up” for the annual 1% limit on public sector pay.

The SNP Scottish Government is now engaging with trade unions ahead of the next Scottish budget to discuss a future public sector pay policy that recognises both rising living costs and the need for sustainable public finances in order to ensure fairer pay for nurses, teachers and all public sector workers in Dumfries and Galloway.

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David Mundell MP challenged over “grubby” DUP deal

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has challenged Scottish Secretary David Mundell MP to explain whether he asked the UK government to provide additional funding to Scotland as part of the supply-and-confidence deal with the DUP – or whether he simply rubberstamped a grubby deal to keep Theresa May in power.
After losing her majority, Theresa May has agreed a deal with the DUP that will see an extra £1bn spending in Northern Ireland.
This deal has been attacked by both the Scottish and Welsh governments for failing to see extra spending for other devolved governments.
Speaking before the deal was signed, David Mundell said that he was “not going to agree to anything that could be construed as back door funding to Northern Ireland.”
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McAlpine welcomes passage of childhood abuse bill for survivors seeking justice

South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed the passage of the Limitation Childhood Abuse Scotland Bill in the Scottish Parliament.

The Bill, which will have retrospective effect, removes the three year time limit in which victims of childhood abuse can bring a civil action against their abuser – meaning that survivors can pursue justice later in life.
Commenting, SNP MSP Joan McAlpine said:
“This Bill is a big step forward in ensuring that survivors of childhood abuse are able to access justice later in life.
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McAlpine welcomes launch of new South of Scotland Enterprise and Skills Agency

Joan McAlpine MSP has welcomed the Scottish Government’s launch of a new South of Scotland Enterprise and Skills Agency to boost growth in our region.

The Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Keith Brown MSP announced the launch during a site visit with Kite Power Systems.

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:

“I am absolutely delighted to welcome the launch of a regional enterprise and skills agency for the South of Scotland.

“I’m particularly pleased that this agency will be modelled on Highlands and Islands Enterprise – whose own success has turned around the economic fortunes of communities in the highlands and islands.

“This is a model I’ve pushing for over a number of years, both when I was a member of the Economy Energy and Tourism Committee during the last parliament and in my own submission to the Scottish Government’s review on enterprise and skills agencies.

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McAlpine urges expectant mothers in Dumfries and Galloway to sign up for baby box


SNP MSP Joan McAlpine is encouraging all expectant mothers in Dumfries and Galloway, whose babies are due on or after 15 August 2017, to register for a baby box at their next midwife appointment.

These boxes, containing various essential items for a child’s first weeks and months, signal the SNP Government’s commitment to ensuring that every child in Scotland, regardless of their circumstances, should get the best start in life.

This comes on top of the SNP Government using new powers to create new Maternity and Early Years’ Allowances, the Best Start Grant, which provides expectant mothers on low incomes with £600 for their first child, £300 for second and subsequent children and a further £250 grant when their child starts nursery, and £250 again when they start school.

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Transport minister updates McAlpine on A75 review

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed a fresh government commitment to consider further upgrades to the A75 as part of a national transport plans.

In a letter to the MSP this week, Scotland’s Transport Minister Humza Yousaf said the road would be included in the Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR) which priorities capital investment projects across the country.

Ms McAlpine contacted the minister after Upgrade the A75 campaigners Danny Pool and Adam Little asked her to pass him accident figures from the road that they had obtained.

In his letter to the MSP, Mrs Yousaf acknowledges: “The important role that the A75 plays in supporting the economy of Scotland.”

He continues: “Both the National Transport Strategy (NTS) and the STPR will be updated in this parliament to make sure that they remain “fit for purpose”.”

Mr Yousaf also provided official statistics which show that the accident rate on the A75 is generally lower than for routes of an equivalent type elsewhere in Scotland. 

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McAlpine praises Dumfries and Galloway NHS staff as region outperforms on waiting times

Joan McAlpine MSP has praised hard-working NHS staff after hospitals in Dumfries and Galloway outperformed the 4-hour A&E waiting time target.

More than 95% of patients across Scotland’s core accident and emergency departments were seen, admitted or discharged within four hours, according to most recent figures.

Hospitals in Dumfries and Galloway performed above the national figure, with 96.2% of patients being seen within the 4 hour target.

The figures mean that Scottish hospitals have been the best performing emergency departments in the UK for more than two years.

Figures for the week ending 11 June show 95.3% of patients were seen within the four hour target – an increase from 94.2% the previous week and 94.7% at the same time last year.

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Dumfries and Galloway receives major Scottish Government investment in Affordable Housing

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed the announcement that Dumfries and Galloway will receive more than £60 million from the Scottish Government for affordable housing, as part of a £1.75 billion investment across the country.

For the first time, the grant subsidies are guaranteed for the next three years – giving councils and house-builders the opportunity to plan ahead.

In 2018-19, £532 million will be shared amongst local authorities – rising to £591 million in 2019-20 and £630 million in 2020-21.

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Fracking should “have no place in Scotland’s energy mix” says McAlpine


South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has said fracking must be “unequivocally rejected” in her response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on unconventional oil and gas development.

In her submission the MSP said “the safety of the technology is at best unproven and potentially very dangerous to public health”.

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:

“I have been contacted by many of my constituents who are greatly concerned about fracking.

“As I said in my submission, I do not believe any potential short term economic benefits would outweigh the serious social, community, environmental and health impacts of fracking in Scotland.

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McAlpine expresses Viking Hoard concern after clashing with museums director

South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has voiced her concern over the future of the Galloway Viking Hoard after grilling National Museums Scotland director Dr Gordon Rintoul in last week’s culture committee.

Ms McAlpine, who convenes the Scottish Parliament’s Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations Committee, took the opportunity to press Dr Rintoul on the future of the hoard during Thursday’s evidence session on Scottish collections.

The MSP, who has called for local campaigners to be included in talks on the future of the hoard, asked the museums director why the collection cannot be permanently displayed in Dumfries and Galloway.

Dr Rintoul responded that the material is of international importance and “will require considerable expertise and resources to conserve it”. He added that “Our plan is not to acquire it and keep it all in Edinburgh; that is not the case.” He suggested that only once NMS have possession of the hoard can they undertake an assessment of “what can be displayed where, when and for how long”.

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McAlpine praises “vital family support services” provided by Relationships Scotland Dumfries & Galloway


South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has praised the family support and advice services provided by Relationships Scotland following a visit to their child contact centre in Dumfries.

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:

“It was great to catch up with the team at Relationships Scotland and I’m very grateful to John and Duncan for taking the time to update me on their work.

“Relationships Scotland provide a vital service for my constituents - helping families resolve differences, keeping parents and children in contact and counselling carers and the bereaved.

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Talks on Galloway Viking Hoard's future should include local campaigners say SNP politicians

Joan McAlpine MSP, parliamentary candidate Richard Arkless and councillor Dougie Campbell have intervened in the controversy around the location of the Galloway Viking Hoard Treasure.

Their move comes as the Scottish Government offered to host talks on the future location of the collection, after the independent Queens and Lord Treasurer Remembrancer made National Museums Scotland its custodian.

The SNP politicians have called on Save the Galloway Hoard campaigners to be included in these talks on the collection's future and urged both the council and the national museum to respond positively to the minister's offer of talks.

Ms McAlpine spoke ​yesterday​ (Tuesday) to Fiona Hyslop MSP via telephone and proposed that the meeting should include campaigners who wish to save the Hoard for Galloway. The minister responded positively to this request.

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McAlpine highlights Scottish Government’s £30 million spend to mitigate UK welfare cuts in Dumfries and Galloway

South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has used parliament to highlight more than £30 million spent by the SNP Scottish Government to mitigate the effect of the Tory UK Government’s welfare cuts across Dumfries and Galloway.

The MSP asked the Scottish Government what it is doing to mitigate the cumulative effect of the Tories’ welfare cuts in the region during Thursday’s general questions. She also raised the issue of the UK Government cuts to mobility cars and the particular hardship caused to disabled people in rural areas when they lose their vehicle.

In her response the SNP Minister for Social Security in Scotland Jeane Freeman MSP said that Dumfries and Galloway has received over £30.5 million on this mitigation funding.

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McAlpine calls on Dumfries and Galloway residents to help shape Scotland’s social security system

South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has called on local people to sign up and help shape Scotland’s new social security system before the close of a Scottish Government campaign to learn from the experiences of those currently using the service.

At least 2,000 people with experience of the current social security system are being recruited to help shape Scotland’s new system.  The panels will work with the expert advisory group on disability and carers’ benefits.

Ms McAlpine has said that it marks an important step on the Scottish Government’s plans to build a social security system based on dignity and respect.

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McAlpine condemns “shameful” Tory “rape clause” backers

South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has condemned the local Tory politicians who backed the “rape clause” during a Scottish Parliament debate on the controversial UK Government policy.

Ms McAlpine was commenting after the “rape clause” was backed by ALL of the Tory party’s politicians, including their representatives in south Scotland - Oliver Mundell, Finlay Carson, Rachael Hamilton and Brian Whittle.

The majority of Scotland’s MSPs, however, supported an SNP motion condemning the policy.  The SNP motion, with amendments from Labour and the Greens, was passed 91-31.

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:

“Even by the Tories’ low standards, the rape clause is a totally disgusting, dehumanising policy.

“Tory leader Ruth Davidson told the Scottish Parliament that forcing survivors of sexual violence to relive their assaults was worth it if it helped reduce the UK deficit. 

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McAlpine backs cabinet secretary’s challenge to UK Government over rural banking closures

South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has backed the Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity, Fergus Ewing MSP, as he encouraged members to pressure the UK Government to do more to halt rural bank closures.

Ms McAlpine’s comments followed Wednesday’s session of portfolio questions where MSPs discussed the impact of banking closures on the rural economy.

Ms McAlpine said:

“Our region will be affected with local branches of Royal Bank of Scotland, Bank of Scotland, Clydesdale and Lloyds Bank all announcing closures.

“The UK Government regulate the banking sector and must do more to halt these rural branch closures.

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McAlpine responds to Theresa May’s General Election “U-turn”

South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has responded to Theresa May’s “astonishing U-turn” as the Prime Minister called for a Westminster snap election on 8th June.

Ms McAlpine said the announcement was “further evidence of a self-interested Tory party seeking to shore up its own power and to hell with the consequences”.

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:

“Just like her reckless Brexit gamble, Theresa May is again acting in the interests of her own Tory party against the wishes of voters of the UK.  She wants an election to consolidate her party’s position in England, exploit the dire state of the Labour Party and impose perpetual Tory rule on Scotland.

“A Tory future will push the UK even further to the right with Ms May’s pursuit of hard Brexit and the imposition of deeper cuts. New figures released by the World Economic Forum show Brexit will cost Britain £140 billion (7.5% of GDP) or the equivalent of £300 million a week over eight years. It means higher prices in the shops and fewer opportunities for the young as we are dragged out of the single market.

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Transport Summit MSP calls for significant investment in road and rail links to Central Belt

The MSP behind the local Transport Summit has made the case for significant investment to develop faster road and rail links to the central belt.

The calls come as part of Joan McAlpine’s submission to the National Transport Strategy – which will ultimately dictate transport priorities across the whole of Scotland.

Ms McAlpine – whose election campaign led to the summit – says that significant investment in the A75, A701 and A709, as well as electrification of the Nith Valley line, will help encourage more people to visit, live and work in the region.

The SNP MSP is also calling for the re-opening of rural stations.

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Transport Minister’s A75 commitment welcomed by McAlpine

Joan McAlpine MSP has welcomed a commitment from the Scottish Government that further A75 upgrades will be given consideration as part of a major transport review.

The MSP was commenting following today’s (Thursday) parliamentary questions when Transport Minister Humza Yousaf MSP agreed with Ms McAlpine that local authorities should feed into the Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR) to identify Scotland’s transport infrastructure priorities.  The politicians also agreed on the economic importance of the A75 between Dumfries and Gretna in particular.

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McAlpine says Tories must respect Holyrood’s decision

South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has said that the will of Scotland’s parliament must be respected by the UK government. 

Ms McAlpine’s comments came after MSPs backed the Scottish Government’s plans to hold a referendum on independence once the terms of Brexit have become clear, but before it is too late for Scotland to choose a different future.

Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU last June, with 53.1% of voters in Dumfries and Galloway voting to Remain - higher than the UK Leave vote.  Yesterday, the Scottish Parliament pledged its support to giving the people of Scotland the right to choose between either a damaging Tory hard Brexit or Scottish independence.

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Minister impressed by Dormont Estate


Local Government Minister Kevin Stewart took a trip to rural Dumfriesshire on Friday to visit the PassivHaus development at Dormont Estate.

The Minister, who was invited by local MSP Joan McAlpine, was impressed by the energy efficient and cost effective housing project, which is the lowest energy multi-unit housing development in Scotland.

Ms McAlpine is a strong supporter of the development and believes that it points to a future where fuel poverty can be eradicated.

Commenting, she said:

“Estate owner Jamie Carruthers has done a fantastic job at Dormont, and I’m glad the Minister could visit to see for himself.

“The development has been built to pioneering PassivHaus standards, and their levels of energy efficiency save the tenants hundreds of pounds each year on their fuel bills.

“Dormont will play a big role in reducing fuel poverty, as well as the negative impacts of climate change – it is fantastic to see a new affordable housing development delivered by a private sector landlord.”

Local Government Minister says Dumfries can be ‘template’ for Scotland


Scotland’s Minister for Local Government and Housing Kevin Stewart was in Dumfries on Friday to hear about the Stove Network’s ambitious community led plans to reinvigorate the town centre – and launch a national competition for designers to develop the new architectural vision.

Mr Stewart, who was invited to the town by MSP Joan McAlpine, also paid a visit to the Usual Place Café for a quick bite of lunch.

The Stove’s Midsteeple Quarter is an exciting plan to reinvigorate the town centre by repopulating a section of the High Street following a community buy-out of empty shops.

Mr Stewart said ideas such as these could be extended across Scotland.

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McAlpine highlights regional transport priorities to minister following A75 campaign update


South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has written to the Scottish Government’s transport minister, Humza Yousaf MSP, following her latest meeting with the local transport activists behind the campaign to Dual the A75.

The MSP sent the letter to share her constituents’ transport priorities ahead of updates to important policy.

Ms McAlpine commented:

“I wrote to the transport minister because I wanted to highlight local ambitions for the A75 in the current context of the Regional Transport Strategy update by SWestrans, the National Transport Strategy, and Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR).

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New home for Queen Street planters


A new home has been found for the Queen Street planters, following the intervention of MSP Joan McAlpine.

Lack of community engagement over the placing of the planters prompted a backlash from Queen Street residents last month and the MSP successfully lobbied the Council for their removal.

Hearing of the row, Ivor Gott from Sandside Community Garden project contacted the MSP to offer their garden as a suitable home for the planters.

After a few phone-calls between the MSP’s office, the Council and Sustrans it was agreed and the planters have been delivered and taken pride of place in the garden.

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McAlpine highlights detrimental effect of UK Government VAT on town centre as Scottish minister confirms Dumfries visit

South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine took to the parliamentary chamber last week to ask the Scottish Government about the impact of UK Government VAT on town centre regeneration.

Ms McAlpine was highlighting the issue ahead of next week’s visit to Dumfries by the Minister for Local Government and Housing Kevin Stewart MSP.

In her question, Ms McAlpine asked “Does the government agree with me that the UK Government’s insistence on charging full VAT for the restoration of buildings while new builds are zero-rates is having a detrimental impact on efforts to regenerate town centres?”

Responding, Mr Stewart agreed it was “a logical conclusion” that the regeneration of older properties, such as those which dominate in Dumfries town centre, would benefit from zero VAT.

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McAlpine commends rail campaign to Get Langholm Back on Track


South Scotland SNP MSP Ms McAlpine has praised the Muckle Toon’s rail campaign following Monday’s meeting in Langholm.

Ms McAlpine attended the meeting alongside Sylvia Moffat, the SNP’s candidate for Annandale East and Eskdale in May’s local council elections.

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:

“There was a great turnout for the meeting. 

“Langholm folk have achieved a great deal for the community in recent years, but they aren’t for resting on their laurels. 

“Everyone at the meeting was really enthusiastic about the potential of a rail connection.  From the start the campaigners have worked really professionally and positively to progress their vision for Getting Langholm Back on Track.”

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Joan McAlpine MSP says Scotland must have democratic choice over future

Theresa May is undemocratic in forcing a hard Brexit on Scotland and denying its people a choice on their future MSP Joan McAlpine has said.

The MSP was commenting as the Tory Prime Minister rejected calls for a second independence referendum prior to Britain’s exit from the EU.

Earlier in the week Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed she would seek parliamentary approval to begin discussions with the UK government on an independence vote.

The First Minister said that the Westminster government has been guilty of “sheer intransigence” in the face of Scottish Government attempts to find a compromise that recognised Scotland’s 62% vote to remain in the EU

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Communities would benefit from re-opening station says McAlpine


MSP Joan McAlpine met with campaigners pushing to re-open Thornhill station.

The station closed in 1965, and the Thornhill Station Action Group think re-opening it boost local employment prospects, stop the ‘brain-drain’ from the town and have a positive impact on the environment.

At the meeting, Ms McAlpine advised the group to put a submission in to the Scottish Government’s consultation on refreshing the National Transport Strategy.

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McAlpine meets with Next executives


South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine today (Wednesday) met with senior managers from retailer Next in the Scottish Parliament to discuss their plans for Dumfries.

The meeting was arranged by Ms McAlpine after she wrote to Next to raise concerns around their proposed relocation from the Loreburne Centre to an out of town retail park.

Commenting following the meeting, Ms McAlpine said:

“I made the case for staying in the town centre and explained the exciting local plans to encourage more people to live and work in Dumfries town centre through community-led housing projects.

“I asked Next if they would reconsider their decision to relocate if there was more flexibility in their lease.  As things stand, Next need to make a lease decision for the next ten years - and due to the sales decline they’re experiencing they say simply cannot do that.”

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Joan McAlpine MSP calls on constituents to take up benefits

South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has called on constituents across Dumfries and Galloway to claim the benefits that they are entitled to, following the launch of a Scottish Government awareness campaign.

Throughout Scotland, it was estimated that there were over 500,000 cases of individuals or families not claiming the tax credits and other main income-related benefits they were entitled to in 2014-15 – and the campaign seeks to correct this by raising awareness through a week of radio and press adverts.

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:

“It is vitally important that families and individuals get the support that they are entitled to and the support that they need – and I encourage everyone across Dumfries and Galloway to check what support that can receive through the social security system.

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McAlpine welcomes increase in positive destinations for local school leavers

South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed the latest figures from the Scottish Government showing an increase in the number of Dumfries and Galloway school leavers going on to “positive destinations”.

In 2015-16, 94.6% of Dumfries and Galloway’s school leavers went on to “positive destinations” such as education or employment – an increase of 1.5% in the past year, and up 6.7% since 2011-12.

Commenting, Joan McAlpine said:

“The SNP Government has made education its number one priority in this parliament and is committed to improving education standards in our schools and giving our young people the best opportunities in life.

“Schools across Dumfries and Galloway are benefitting from this commitment and are making excellent progress in helping our young people have the best chances in life.  Additional spending in the budget and the funding to close the attainment gap will go further still to helping more young people from Dumfries and Galloway find positive destinations after leaving school.

“I’m delighted to see 94.6% of school leavers in Dumfries and Galloway now going to positive destinations such as employment, training, university or college after leaving school. This shows the continued progress the SNP Scottish Government is making to give young people across Dumfries and Galloway the best start in life.”

Modern Apprenticeships increase under SNP welcomed by McAlpine

South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed new figures which show the SNP has supported 7000 Modern Apprenticeships in Dumfries and Galloway in ten years of Government.

Commenting ahead of this year’s Scottish Apprenticeship Week, the MSP highlighted a 58.4% increase in Modern Apprenticeships in Dumfries and Galloway compared to 2007. 

Ms McAlpine also welcomed an announcement by the First Minister that businesses in Dumfries and Galloway who want to take on an apprentice will be eligible to apply for a Rural Supplement.

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McAlpine secures Next meeting

MSP Joan McAlpine has secured a meeting with Next bosses.

The SNP MSP wrote to the retailer last month after rumours arose that a move to an out of town unit was being considered.

Ms McAlpine will meet with the Regional and Area Managers this Wednesday (8th March) in Holyrood.

Next is responsible for much of the footfall in the town centre and Ms McAlpine hopes that a recent rates revaluation, which has slashed the store’s business rates, will encourage them to commit to the town centre. 

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McAlpine calls on locals to help shape new Social Security System

Joan McAlpine is calling on people across the region to sign up and help shape Scotland’s new social security system – with the Scottish Government seeking to learn from the experiences of those currently using the service

At least 2,000 people with experience of the current social security system are being recruited to help shape Scotland’s new system – allowing the Scottish Government to learn from mistakes made in the past. The panels will work with the expert advisory group on disability and carers’ benefits.

The SNP MSP said it marks an important step on the Scottish Government’s plans to build a social security system based on dignity and respect.

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McAlpine hits back at Oliver Mundell’s “shameless posturing” on budget

South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has hit back over Oliver Mundell’s “shameless posturing” following his speech on the Scottish budget.

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:

“Oliver Mundell wants to tax less and spend more – and the sums simply don’t add up.

“And while the Tories are demanding income tax cuts for the wealthiest, if they were in power they would impose stealth taxes such as prescription charges and forcing students to pay fees and of course the bedroom tax. The Tories have also raised VAT.  Is this helping “the most vulnerable in our society”?”

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McAlpine slams Labour’s Council Tax hypocrisy

MSP Joan McAlpine has hit out at the Labour administration’s ‘rank hypocrisy’ by criticising Council Tax rises after campaigning for years against the SNP's freeze.

The charge comes on the back of a press release where Leader Ronnie Nicholson says rate rises in higher band properties are ‘not their doing’ and they are only following Scottish Government orders.

Labour nationally wanted larger increases in Council Tax than the SNP and even argued for a domestic property revaluation along the lines of the one currently affecting business rates. This was rejected by the SNP.

Labour’s Council Tax plans would have seen a rise across the board – and was firmly rejected by voters last May.

The SNP government changes mean rates paid by those in Bands E, F, G and H will be adjusted, raising an extra £100 million. This will stay with the Councils where it is raised.

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McAlpine encourages responses to Common Good Consultation

MSP Joan McAlpine is encouraging constituents to voice their opinions about the current common good set up.

Last week, the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government Committee launched a call for written evidence as part of its scrutiny of common good property and funds in Scotland.

Ms McAlpine wants people across the region to let them know their views on whether common good property and funds are managed well and in the interests of local people.

Commenting, the SNP MSP said:

“Common good lands and funds are an important part of the community in many places across the region.

“But there has been poor management and record keeping by Councils over the years, and an outdated legal framework has not helped.

“The Scottish Government have made progress over the past few years to try and modernise the framework and get the system back up to scratch and working for the benefit of locals.

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McAlpine fields questions from curious primary pupils


Joan McAlpine visited Applegarth Primary last Friday to speak about her role as an MSP.

The pupils from Applegarth and Hutton Primary Schools have been learning about democracy, the Scottish Parliament and how it affects their lives.

The MSP explained the different aspects of her job in Parliament and in the constituency and enjoyed answering a range of questions from the children - from her favourite food, to the best part of her job.

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McAlpine calls on opposition to support positive investment in Dumfries and Galloway

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has challenged local Labour and Tory politicians to back the SNP Scottish Government’s support for jobs, wages and public services in Dumfries and Galloway, in Stage 3 of the budget debate this week.

Even under extreme budgetary pressure from Westminster – the Scottish Government’s budget will benefit Dumfries and Galloway with £5.1 million in funding for local services.

Joan McAlpine MSP has condemned Labour and the Tories for choosing to oppose investment in communities throughout Dumfries and Galloway.

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McAlpine urges Next to reconsider out of town move

MSP Joan McAlpine has written to Next urging them to reconsider a move to an out of town retail park.

The SNP MSP has also asked for a meeting with bosses.

Ms McAlpine hopes that a recent rates revaluation, which has slashed the store’s business rates, will encourage the store to commit to the town centre.

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:

“The store is so important to Dumfries town centre and the council's planning policy is supposed to promote the town centre first.

“I am asking for a meeting with Next to urge them to reconsider. The substantial reduction in business rates due to the revaluation should encourage them to reconsider such a move. But I also want to see what else they require in order to stay.

"There has been a lot of buzz about regenerating the town centre in recent years, with organisations such as the Stove putting forward bold plans for housing, recent rebranding of the Loreburne Centre and measures in place from the Scottish Government to encourage investment.

“There has been such hard work going into regenerating the town centre in recent years, and this would be a huge blow.

“I hope that we can find a way forward.”

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McAlpine calls on council to bid for £11m energy efficiency funding

South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine is calling on Dumfries and Galloway Council to apply for a share of the Scottish Government’s £11m fund to deliver energy efficiency improvements to homes, businesses and public buildings and community projects.

The second wave of Scotland’s Energy Efficiency Programme (SEEP) pilot fund will help local authorities test new and innovative energy-saving approaches which can then be taken forward when SEEP is rolled out fully in 2018, once the Scotland Bill brings further devolution of energy efficiency powers.

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McAlpine requests removal of Queen Street planters


An MSP has written to the Council and Sustrans to request the removal of planters which recently appeared on Queen Street.

Joan McAlpine also raised concerns about the lack of community engagement on the issue.

The MSP was approached by constituents who are very unhappy with the large planters that have been installed.

The SNP member has been very supportive of the efforts to improve the amenity of the area, however, expressed concern that the community had not been consulted in this instance.

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Scottish Government Jobs Summit hopes for Langholm


MSP Joan McAlpine joined local stakeholders as the SNP Scottish Government hosted a jobs summit in Langholm on Friday.

The summit was called after Ms McAlpine contacted Ministers about the recent spate of job losses in the town.

Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse stressed the need for economic development agencies to be clearer about what help was available for small businesses - and that the new South of Scotland Enterprise Agency will play a vital role in helping Langholm going forward.

The Minister called on local stakeholders to outline what help they felt the town needed and said solutions must be community led with local businesses playing their part.

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MSP receives 'prickly' welcome during Wildlife Hospital visit


MSP Joan McAlpine received a ‘prickly’ welcome during a visit to the South of Scotland Wildlife Hospital last week.

But the MSP was not phased - as the offender was little Harvey the hedgehog. Harvey is just one of many hedgehogs who need a little extra help from the staff at the animal hospital over the winter months.

The MSP was there to find out about the great work that the staff do for all the animals that come through their doors.

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McAlpine votes for landmark Scottish budget as opposition parties score “own goal”

South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has said communities across Dumfries and Galloway are set to benefit from an additional £5.114 million in funding for local services as a result of the Scottish Government’s budget passing Stage 1 this evening (Thursday).

Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems meanwhile failed to support the additional investment – including local Labour councillor and MSP Colin Smyth who voted against the budget, even though it will result in extra funding for his own council.

Ms McAlpine has condemned the approach taken by the three parties, providing opposition for opposition’s sake rather than supporting investment in Dumfries and Galloway.

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McAlpine invites constituent views on Local Development Plan


South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine is asking constituents to let her know their views on Dumfries and Galloway Council’s second Local Development Plan (LDP2).

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:

“I am asking my constituents to share their views on the council’s new Local Development Plan. The plan is important because it sets out how and where land and property will be used in Dumfries and Galloway over the next twenty years, namely where development should and should not take place. In practical terms, the plan takes in everything from strategic decisions about access to public transport, the location of wind farms, expansion of retail parks, development of housing in Dumfries town centre or attracting business to the former Chapelcross site.

“The council has produced a Main Issues Report (MIR) focussing on key changes since the last plan and highlighting ideas for future development. This report is going out to consultation - meaning everyone has an opportunity to tell the council how they want our communities to grow and develop in future.

“I intend to make my a submission to the consultation - but I want to hear my constituents’ views first. Your feedback will help inform my response and ensure it accurately reflects the aspirations of my constituents.”

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McAlpine welcomes huge £2.9 million boost for Dumfries and Galloway schools

South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed news that schools in Dumfries and Galloway will benefit from a funding boost of £2,881,200 as part of the Scottish Government’s drive to improve standards in schools.

The share each school is due to receive from the Scottish Government’s new £120 million Pupil Equity Fund has been revealed by Deputy First Minister John Swinney.

Ninety-two primaries and sixteen secondaries across Dumfries and Galloway are set to receive additional support worth thousands of pounds. It will be up to teachers and school leaders to decide the best way of using the funding to close the poverty related attainment gap in their schools.

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BPI praise McAlpine as intervention secures jobs in region


An MSP has been praised by local plastics recycling firm BPI after her intervention forced a re-think on environmental policy - securing jobs in the region against competition from Ireland.

The SNP’s Joan McAlpine was approached for help by Mike Baxter, Director of External Affairs at BPI Dumfries, who was pressing SEPA to strengthen the enforcement of regulations banning farmers from burning plastics.

Mike said: “I have been trying since 2012 to persuade SEPA to ensure Scottish farmers ‘do the right thing’ and recycle their waste. It is only since Joan’s intervention last year that we are at last making progress.”

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Tory Trident cover-up sets dangerous precedent says McAlpine

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has condemned the UK Government for withholding details of a serious malfunction in a Trident test launch last June – just weeks before the vote to renew Trident to the tune of £205bn.

It has been widely reported that during a test launch, an unarmed Trident missile had fired in the wrong direction towards the US coastline.

The major failure was not shared publicly ahead of the vote on Trident renewal.

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:

“It is deeply worrying that just weeks before the House of Commons voted to renew Trident, the UK government chose to withhold vital information about a serious Trident missile malfunction that raises doubts about the safety of the technology.

“It’s worth pointing out that Dumfries and Galloway would be inside the “kill zone” if there was an accident involving Trident at Faslane or Coulport.

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Labour’s learning support crisis under spotlight as Cabinet Secretary restates council responsibilities

Dumfries and Galloway Labour Council must meet its responsibilities to additional classroom support for children who need it, Scotland’s education boss has told parliament.

John Swinney, the Cabinet Secretary for Education, was commenting on the decision of the Labour council to further reduce the number of classroom assistants in the region’s schools despite a reported 60% increase in children who need additional support.

He was responding to a question from South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine who has expressed her deep concern at the crisis of additional support across the region.

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McAlpine welcomes Scottish Government early years investment in Dumfries and Galloway

South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed an announcement by the Scottish Government announcement that Dumfries and Galloway is set to receive ten additional teachers or graduates as part of an additional £1.5 million investment for more nursery teachers and graduates.

The new staff in Dumfries and Galloway, part of 435 nationwide, is part of the wider strategy of tackling the attainment gap and giving every child an equal start in life. The provision of these high qualified childcare professionals will ensure that the region’s children benefit from the highest quality care and early years education.

The Scottish Government is taking decisive action to improve early years learning and childcare, including expanding guaranteed free provision to 1140 hours by 2020 – which will have a positive impact for families across Dumfries and Galloway.

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McAlpine says Scotland must choose its own future as compromises rejected

South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has said the Prime Minister’s speech made it clear the UK is heading for an economically disastrous hard Brexit.

Ms McAlpine pointed out that nearly seven months since the referendum the Scottish Government is still the only administration to publish a detailed plan on how to deal with the economic and social risks associated with Brexit.

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:

“Scotland voted overwhelming to remain in the EU and the Scottish Government is doing all it can to make sure the Tories cannot ignore and act against Scotland’s interests.

“Theresa May yesterday confirmed that she plans to take the UK towards an economically dangerous hard Brexit. The Prime Minister has chosen to pander to the obsessions of the hard-right of her Tory party, rather than act in the best interests of the country.

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McAlpine supports Gracefield in arts survey


MSP Joan McAlpine has re-affirmed her support for Gracefield Arts Centre in a survey aimed at determining future arts provision in Dumfries.

The SNP member completed the survey after a guided tour of the facility last week.

In the survey the MSP said she would particularly like to see better promotion of the facility, classes and exhibitions, more emphasis on Gracefield as a tourist offering and better display of the permanent collection of Scottish Art.

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MSP calls for honesty in local government after Labour's ‘gross exaggeration’ of Dumfries and Galloway job losses

Joan McAlpine MSP has called for honesty in local government after a freedom of information (FOI) request showed that Labour's claims of job losses in the Council were grossly exaggerated. 

SNP member Ms McAlpine submitted the FOIs in response to claims made by Council Leader Ronnie Nicholson that more than 400 jobs were at risk after last year’s local government budget was agreed. 

The figures obtained show that between January and November 2016 the Council actually increased its staff by 472. 

The MSP said the figures – which showed 189 workers had taken voluntary redundancy, but 661 workers had been recruited – ‘fly in the face’ of claims by the Council leader that budget cuts would result in significant job losses.

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McAlpine welcomes jobs boost for Dumfries and Galloway as Scottish tourism booms

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed news that the number of people working in tourism in Dumfries and Galloway increased by 16% in one year – with Scotland as a whole seeing an increase of 11 per cent.

The new statistics produced by Visit Scotland show that tourism supports 6,500 jobs in Dumfries and Galloway, 11% of total jobs in the area.

Between 2014 and 2015, the number of people employed in the sector across Scotland grew to 217,000 – with the 11 per cent increase in Scotland above the 4 per cent rise in Great Britain as a whole.

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McAlpine to meet Economy Secretary over new South Scotland skills body

MSP Joan McAlpine is to meet the Economy Secretary to discuss plans for a new skills body for the South of Scotland.

Earlier this year Ms McAlpine welcomed the Scottish Government’s announcement it would launch and economic and skills vehicle for the South of Scotland - something the MSP has been calling for over a number of years.

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McAlpine backs plan to keep Scotland in the single market

South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has backed the Scottish Government’s proposals to keep Scotland in the European Single Market and stop the “national disaster” of a hard Brexit.

The paper – “Scotland’s Place in Europe” – was published on Tuesday and outlined the SNP’s determination for Scotland to remain in the European single market.

The paper also outlined substantial new powers that should be devolved to the Scottish Parliament as a result of Brexit.

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McAlpine “delighted” to sign town centre pledge as minister confirms Dumfries visit


South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine said she was “delighted” to sign up to the “Dumfries Pledge” at The Stove last week. Ms McAlpine has been a long-term supporter of The Stove’s vision for engaging the local community and sung their praises in a letter to the housing minister which has resulted in him planning a visit to Dumfries.

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:

“I was delighted to sign up to The Stove’s “Dumfries Pledge” to bring social and economic activity back to the town centre by developing what is being called the “Midsteeple Quarter”. The project is at an early stage, but The Stove has already begun consulting with the public. If the project attracts the necessary support and investment, the vision arising from this stage of engagement will be piloted in an initial overhaul of The Bakers Oven building which the community is looking to acquire via asset transfer.”

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McAlpine urges local people to maintain “head start” on transport review with new survey

South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has urged local people to “keep up the momentum” by responding to a survey on Scotland’s National Transport Strategy announced by minister Humza Yousaf in Dumfries earlier this year.

The early engagement survey will gather the views of individuals, organisations and communities to shape the key policy themes for Scotland’s future transport links.

Ms McAlpine said the Dumfries and Galloway Transport Summit and follow up this year meant the region already had a “head start” and it was important to maintain this lead.

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McAlpine demands answers on Labour council’s failure to consult on care charging

South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has called on the local Labour administration to explain their failure to consult local people with disabilities on drastic increases to care charges.

Ms McAlpine’s comments came in support of a letter sent to the social work department by Alistair Livingston, whose disabled son Callum’s contribution to care costs will rise by over 500% per week.

Alistair Livingston points out in his letter that there is a 2015 Impact Assessment to the Social Work Services Committee which states ‘This policy was developed through consultation between relevant council departments and services.’  There is, however, no mention of  consultation with “service users” i.e people with disabilities.  The report later notes ‘Action is required to promote service user understanding of the policy and its wider impact and by consulting with those who may be impacted upon in this way,’ with a timescale of March/April 2015.

Ms McAlpine said:

“I fully back my constituents’ calls for answers on the failure by the council to consult on these drastic increases to care charging.

“What we don’t know is whether any people with disabilities were ever consulted.  Certainly none of my constituents have participated in any consultation – the increase to their charges has come completely out of the blue.”

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SNP MSPs become ‘dementia friends’


SNP MSPs Joan McAlpine and Emma harper have become ‘dementia friends’ after training from retired nurse Gladys Haining.

Gladys is a part time worker for Dumfries and Galloway Dementia Friendly Community Project. She delivers training aimed at making work places ‘Dementia Friendly.”

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MSPs push for region’s share of affordable homes funding

SNP MSPs are pushing to ensure Dumfries and Galloway gets its share of £3 billion pledged by the Scottish Government for affordable homes.

Following the announcement that the region would receive £6.8 million, Joan McAlpine MSP and Emma Harper MSP last week met with the Housing Minister to discuss future delivery.

Providing good quality affordable homes is a key priority of the Scottish Government, which has committed to deliver 50,000 affordable homes over the next five years.

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McAlpine applauded as she slams council care charges

A local MSP drew cheers from the public gallery of the Scottish Parliament when she spoke out against care charge increases for disabled people in Dumfries and Galloway.

Disabled groups and carers from across Scotland broke with convention and applauded Joan McAlpine when she pointed out that Dumfries and Galloway were raising charges for disabled people while at the same time wasting money on a raft of new bureaucrat posts. Presiding Officer Linda Fabiani intervened and told the public that is was against the rules for them to clap – but they were permitted do so at the end of the debate.

Ms McAlpine told other MSPs that disabled people in Dumfries and Galloway faced massive care charge rises after the council reduced the threshold at which the start paying charges from £177 a week to £132.

She said constituents faced real hardship, and described the plight of local man Alistair Livingston, who has a son with profound physical and learning disabilities whose payments have risen from zero two years ago to £31.30 a week.

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Cabinet Secretary “disappointed” by Dumfries and Galloway Council as McAlpine gets answers on care charging

Scotland’s Health Secretary has told parliament she was disappointed with Dumfries and Galloway Council’s decision to hike up care charges for disabled people.

Speaking in response to concerns raised in parliament by SNP MSP Joan McAlpine, Shona Robison also confirmed that Dumfries and Galloway, like other councils, had received Scottish Government money to reduce charges on disabled people.

She also demolished Dumfries and Galloway Labour’s defence that they were following guidance from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities pointing out that the COSLA figures were not binding and only intended as a minimum.

Responding to Ms McAlpine, Ms Robison told Parliament:

“I am disappointed that Dumfries and Galloway has chosen to reduce the threshold for social care charges. The COSLA charging guidance gives the threshold as a minimum, not a maximum, and other local authorities have higher thresholds.

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McAlpine urges council to act on “looming jobs crisis” in Langholm

South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has written to the leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council urging him to act over the looming jobs crisis in Langholm. The MSP was responding to reports that Edinburgh Woollen Mill is planning to relocate its headquarters from Langholm to Carlisle.

Ms McAlpine, who praised the resilience of the Langholm community in her letter to Ronnie Nicholson, commented:

“The Muckle Toon is home to a very active community and has historically hosted many thriving industries. Of course the profile of local employment will change over the years, but what we’re now seeing happening in Langholm is being blamed by local people on council neglect.

“Dumfries and Galloway Council is responsible for local economic development, so the council must do more to save jobs in Langholm.

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McAlpine backs disability alliance call to reduce stigma and discrimination

Joan_McAlpine_MSP_DAS_reception_23_Nov_16.jpgSouth Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine is backing Disability Agenda Scotland’s (DAS) call to raise awareness about the positive contributions of disabled people and help to end the stigma and discrimination which they still experience.

Ms McAlpine, who is deputy convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Cross Party Group (CPG) on Learning Disability, met with representatives from DAS during an event in the Scottish Parliament.

DAS is an alliance of Scotland’s six major disability charities Action on Hearing Loss Scotland, Capability Scotland, ENABLE Scotland, RNIB Scotland, SAMH and Sense Scotland.

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Chancellor’s autumn statement condemned by McAlpine as Brexit set to “hit poorest hardest”

South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has condemned the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement – which drove home the fact that Brexit and continuing austerity will hit Dumfriesshire’s poorest families hardest.

Philip Hammond revealed the staggering level of borrowing needed to fill the Brexit blackhole in government finances and failed to halt the Tories’ austerity onslaught – policies that have proven so damaging to families and communities throughout the South of Scotland.

The Chancellor announced a rise in insurance premiums which will mean rising costs for hard pressed families. The Autumn Statement came alongside forecasts predicting consumers will be squeezed by the rising cost of exports due to a weak pound caused by Brexit – which will hit family budgets in supermarkets and shops across Dumfriesshire.

The retailer, Mothercare, and former Sainsbury’s boss Justin King have both warned this week of expected price rises of around 5% in children’s clothes and groceries due to Brexit.

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McAlpine slams potential Edinburgh Woollen Mill move

MSP Joan McAlpine has said moving the Edinburgh Woollen Mill headquarters to Carlisle would be the ‘ultimate betrayal’ of the people of Langholm.

The firm - whose chief executive Philip Day is a Tory donor – was founded in Langholm in 1946 and its headquarters has been based there ever since.

But this week it emerged that EWM is poised to make Carlisle its headquarters - and the fate of Langholm is unclear.

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McAlpine blasts Labour as it emerges Dumfries and Galloway care charges “worst in Scotland”

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has blasted the local Labour council after it emerged that Dumfries and Galloway was the worst area in Scotland for sharp rises in charges for disabled people.

The MSP has written to the council leader Ronnie Nicholson asking him what happened to the £182,000 the Scottish Government gave Dumfries and Galloway to help reduce care charges in the region.

She has also pleaded with him to revise the policy which has resulted in deep distress to vulnerable constituents facing additional charges of up to £35 a week for services.

Ms McAlpine said:

“The Scottish Government gave Dumfries and Galloway Council around £182,000 this year to ease the burden of charges on disabled people. Yet the council has not used this money for that purpose. Instead they’ve decided to charge disabled people even more for their care by cutting the level at which they begin charging to the minimum recommended by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, as well as increasing the rate of charges. This means vulnerable people are hit with new or increased bills.

“The Labour-run council claim they were previously over generous in their treatment of disabled people and have now equalised their treatment with other parts of Scotland. But they were under no obligation to do that – particularly when they were given additional money to REDUCE the charges. Have they simply pocketed this extra cash?

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McAlpine welcomes ‘change of direction’ on Barony future


MSP Joan McAlpine visited the Barony campus last week (Friday) to seek assurances over the future of the site from the new principal.

Professor Wayne Powell - who was appointed Chief Executive and Principal of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) earlier this year – assured the MSP that his priority is to provide certainty and that he views the campus as an opportunity rather than a problem.

Ms McAlpine has been campaigning to keep the Barony open since concerns over potential closure were raised with her last year by students and staff at the campus.

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McAlpine encourages local groups to apply to War Memorial Fund

MSP Joan McAlpine is encouraging local groups across the region to apply to the Centenary Memorials Restoration Fund to renovate their local war memorials.

The Fund, launched by Former First Minister Alex Salmond in 2013, has already given grants to fund the restoration of memorials in Moffat and Dunscore.

The £1 million fund aims to help communities repair and restore local war memorials to their former glory and forms a central part of the Scottish Government’s commemorations of the centenary of the First World War.

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MSPs welcome progress on CAP loan payments

SNP MSP’s Joan McAlpine and Emma Harper have welcomed an announcement that farmers have received £246 million from the CAP loan scheme.

Ms McAlpine used Parliamentary questions to ask the Scottish Government what progress was being made on the implementation of the scheme.

The Scottish Government established the scheme to tide over those farmers yet to receive Common Agricultural Policy subsidies because of IT issues caused by moves to a new system. Most farmers received the majority of their entitlement by April, but earlier this year Mr Ewing apologised for the delays farmers faced and assured members that the Scottish Government was doing everything in its power to sort it.

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McAlpine seeks assurances at Whitesands Project demo


MSP Joan McAlpine last weekend visited the Whitesands Project demonstration to seek assurances from the consultants over concerns raised by local people.

The SNP member has been listening to worried constituents since the project was given the go ahead by the Council last December.

In particular Ms McAlpine raised concerns about the heritage of the ancient Devorgilla Bridge and sought reassurances that the impact of the project would be assessed in advance of further rounds of public consultation.

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MSPs welcome funding boost for fuel poor in region

Local MSPs Emma Harper and Joan McAlpine have welcomed the news that families across Dumfries and Galloway are set to benefit from £237,500 of additional Scottish Government funding to keep their homes warm this winter.

Housing associations and the local Council in the region will be given their share of a £9 million national fund to help improve the housing of those most in need, and help to ensure that social housing meets energy efficiency standards – making it easier for tenants to heat their homes.

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McAlpine slams Tory ‘Victorian’ benefit system failing vulnerable in Dumfries and Galloway


MSP Joan McAlpine used a speech in Holyrood yesterday (Wednesday) to slam the ‘Victorian values’ at the heart of the Tory benefit system.

The SNP MSP was speaking during a debate focussed on the findings of the recent ‘welfare conditionality’ study, which found universally-negative experiences of the Tory sanction regime that was introduced in 2012.  The study said the system caused “widespread anxiety and feelings of disempowerment” with some describing the system as “intimidating and dehumanising.”

Ms McAlpine has expressed concern over the effect the system has had on vulnerable constituents across the region, many of whom have approached her for help.

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McAlpine welcomes certainty for region’s EU farming, fishing and structural funds

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed the Scottish Government’s announcement that EU structural funds, fisheries and farming projects agreed before the UK proposes to leave the EU will be paid in full.

Dumfries and Galloway has benefited from millions of EU regional development funding for everything from infrastructure to college courses, with one in in three farmers depending on EU support.

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Scottish Parliament’s commitment to accessibility praised by McAlpine


South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has praised the Scottish Parliament for its commitment to accessibility following a successful work placement by Annan school student Lewis Shaw, who is registered blind.

Lewis spent time with Joan’s constituency staff in Dumfries and later travelled to Edinburgh for a day in the parliament.

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:

“It was a pleasure to host Lewis in my offices in Dumfries and Edinburgh. The Scottish Parliament has always impressed on accessibility, but we were delighted to receive an up-to-date Braille resources for Lewis to read during his placement.

“During his visit to the parliament, Lewis met the Minister for Childcare and Early Years Mark McDonald MSP.

“Mark was impressed by Lewis’ ideas – Lewis is clearly a politician in the making!”

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McAlpine becomes Living Wage Champion


MSP Joan McAlpine is celebrating Living Wage Week – by becoming a ‘Living Wage MSP.’

The South Scotland MSP recently became an accredited Living Wage employer, and hopes that by setting an example, those organisations across Dumfries and Galloway who can afford to pay the Living Wage will be encouraged to do so.

The SNP member also welcomed the announcement today by the First Minister that the Living Wage will increase by 20p, to £8.45 an hour.

The rise of 20 pence will benefit thousands of employees at Living Wage-accredited organisations in Scotland.

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McAlpine prioritises ‘better links to central belt’ in region’s Transport Summit consultation

Local MSP Joan McAlpine is calling for significant investment to develop faster road and rail links to the central belt, as well as improvements to the A75.

The call comes as part of her submission to the Dumfries and Galloway Transport Summit consultation, launched on the back of the regional summit in August.

The SNP MSP, whose election campaign led to the summit, said that linking Dumfries better to the central belt, by both road and rail, would have ‘the most significant economic benefit to the whole region.’

This consultation will help inform the Scottish Government’s refreshed National Transport Strategy – a document that will dictate transport priorities across the country.

Ms McAlpine said: “Dumfries and Galloway needs better transport links to boost economic activity and enhance the quality of life for people who live here. In particular it needs faster, safer, connections with Scotland's central belt.

“Sadly the region has been let down by successive Westminster governments back when money for capital investments was plentiful - leading to decades of underinvestment in the region’s infrastructure. Fixing this will not be done overnight.

“Nevertheless, I am calling for investment in three major areas in the long term - connecting Dumfries with faster rail links to Glasgow and Edinburgh - connecting Dumfries with faster road links to the motorway and further improvements to the A75 with a view to dualling where viable.”

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McAlpine “honoured” to welcome Dumfriesshire landmine charity to parliament


South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine this week hosted a parliamentary reception for the locally-based charity The Halo Trust.

The Halo Trust, whose global headquarters are in Thornhill, is one of the world’s largest landmine clearance organisations.

Ms McAlpine opened the event before key note speeches from chief executive of The Halo Trust James Cowan and Stan Brown, a Director in the US Department of State, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs. The Scottish military historian Professor Sir Hew Strachan then opened up the event to a question and answer session.

Ms McAlpine said she was “honoured” to host the event in the Scottish Parliament.

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McAlpine welcomes new South Scotland enterprise body

South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed the Scottish Government’s announcement that it will establish a South of Scotland enterprise and skills body.

Ms McAlpine has repeatedly highlighted the need for such a regional body during her time in parliament. Today’s announcement forms part of the Scottish Government’s Enterprise & Skills Review. In her submission to the consultation Ms McAlpine argued for a different focus for the south of Scotland.

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said: “I welcome this news as it’s something I’ve been calling for over a number of years - both when I was a member of the Economy Energy and Tourism Committee during the last parliament and in my own submission to the Scottish Governments’ review on enterprise and skills agencies.

“During the last parliament I campaigned for the South of Scotland to receive more focus from Scottish Enterprise, and spoke directly to ministers and executives of Scottish Enterprise. While many enterprise functions have been devolved to local councils by the SNP government, I still believe that the enterprise agency in the South of Scotland should be more focussed on supporting smaller companies, and helping to achieve community development as well as growth. I’m delighted that the SNP Scottish Government has taken these points on board.

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Special EU Deal Must be Matched for Dumfries and Galloway

SNP MSPs have called on the UK Government to match any attempts to keep the City of London in the European single market with a deal for workers and businesses in Dumfries and Galloway. Joan McAlpine and Emma Harper have written to Scottish Secretary, and MP for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale, David Mundell to demand he put pressure on Westminster colleagues.

The UK Government is reportedly seeking a deal to keep access to the single market for London’s financial institutions – which could mean a post-Brexit Britain paying billions towards the EU’s budget.

The First Minister has confirmed that the Scottish Government will bring forward specific demands to protect Scotland’s relationship with Europe, which will include proposals to keep Scotland in the single market.

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McAlpine welcomes Employability Minister to Dumfries


SNP MSP Joan McAlpine joined Employability and Training Minister Jamie Hepburn on a visit to Dumfries and Galloway College today (Monday).

The Minister was visiting the region to learn more about training provision in rural areas.

Mr Hepburn spoke with learners on the Wind Turbine Technician course, as well as meeting with the Brian Richardson, Chair of the local Chamber, which is leading on the 'Developing the Young Workforce’ programme.

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Local MSP demands Tories support Solway gas blast ban

MSP Joan McAlpine today (Thursday) asked local Tories to support the SNP’s move to outlaw a controversial gas blast technique which had threatened communities and the environment on the Solway.

The SNP questioned the energy minister Paul Wheelhouse in parliament after he announced that the SNP government would use its planning powers to oppose the controversial Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) method.

Ms McAlpine, who campaigned against the proposed UCG extraction near Gretna, welcomed the Scottish Government’s announcement but expressed concern that licences for the Solway are controlled by the Conservative UK government.

Mr Wheelhouse revealed that the Solway licences were due to expire this year – but he had written to UK Tory ministers asking for reassurances that these would not be renewed. The company which planned to drill under the firth, Five Quarter, is now defunct and has abandoned its plans. Its major shareholders included Buccleuch Estates.

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Region’s meat producers face Brexit threat says MSP

Leaving the EU’s Single Market could have a significant effect on Dumfries and Galloway’s meat producers, the Scottish Government warned today.

Joan McAlpine MSP used Parliamentary questions to raise concerns over the effect losing access to the EU Single Market could have on Scotland’s red meat exports.

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McAlpine slams Labour’s budget cut plans

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has slammed the Labour administration’s budget cut plans saying that they need to get their ‘house in order’ before they cut local services.

She said: “Instead of asking members of the public what services the Council can stop providing, they should be getting their house in order and asking themselves the more important question of how to reduce waste and get on top of their budget.”

Over the past few years Dumfries and Galloway Council has been the subject of numerous spending controversies, including DG One, the roll-out of kerbside recycling and inordinate consultancy fees.

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Council must set out Dumfries and Galloway transport priorities says McAlpine

MSP Joan McAlpine is urging the Council and transport body SWestrans to ensure fully costed plans are ready to be submitted to the Scottish Government’s refreshed National Transport Strategy (NTS).

Ms McAlpine said she was disappointed that she had so far not received a response to her letter back in August urging the Chief Executive to take advantage of the ‘head-start’ from the region’s Transport Summit.

She said: “The Council and SWestrans really must show leadership and ensure that they set out their priorities for transport across the region, with fully costed plans to improve rail and road infrastructure.

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Guest blog post by work experience school student Erin Mwembo: My Time in Parliament

Guest blog post by work experience student Erin Mwembo: My Time in Parliament


I knew work experience was going to be exciting once I had confirmed my place with Joan McAlpine. My interest in politics and keen work ethic were driving factors of my placement choice, and I am really glad I choose Joan and her office to shadow.

My first day was a flurry of nervousness and enthusiasm. It was odd seeing all of the MSPs going about their business and chatting in the canteen. It was like a directioner meeting Harry styles or a Swifty meeting Taylor herself (Yet I was meeting Gail Ross, Fiona Hyslop and Bill Kidd) MSP bingo was a fun sort of thing, whispering the MSPs name in elation and trying to remain composed while I walked past them.

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McAlpine joins WASPI women at rally


South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine today joined campaigners from Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) at a rally outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. 

The rally received cross-party support – apart from the Tories who were the only party not to attend.

Ms McAlpine has been a constant supporter of WASPI in their campaign against the “pension injustice” created by the Westminster Government’s change to the pension age for women born in the 1950s.

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:

“It was a pleasure to join the WASPI ladies at their rally today. 

“They are right to be angry.  The Westminster Government hiked up their retirement age with very little warning.

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McAlpine selected as Learning Disability Parliamentary Group Deputy Convener

South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has been selected as the deputy convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Cross Party Group (CPG) on Learning Disability.

Ms McAlpine was nominated to the post because of her experience of the subject.

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:

“I was delighted to be chosen for this role.

“Improving opportunities for people with learning disabilities is vital - which is why I support organisations like The Usual Place who do great work with young people in Dumfriesshire.

“I very much look forward to working with my colleagues across the CPG.”

McAlpine promotes Age Scotland “Let’s get moving” campaign


South of Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine yesterday met with representatives from Age Scotland to support their campaign "Let's get moving".

Age Scotland is working to raise awareness about the important of physical exercise. The campaign focuses on the health benefits which include preventing health problems such as type2 diabetes and heart disease, as well as the mental health benefits such as improving your confidence and overall quality of life.

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McAlpine in renewed call on Labour administration to abandon school music fees

South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has renewed her call on Labour councillors to abandon their policy of charging school pupils for music tuition – after the Scottish Government confirmed such tuition should be free.

Responding to a question from an MSP earlier this month, the Education Secretary John Swinney confirmed that “music tuition in schools that takes place during the course of the school day… should be provided free of charge”.

But Ms McAlpine has been contacted by constituents angry that schools in Dumfries and Galloway are still charging pupils £200 if they want to study music at school.

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Campaign against harmful dog training devices highlighted by McAlpine


South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine yesterday met with staff from the Dogs Trust to discuss their campaign against “aversive training devices”.

The Dogs Trust are calling for a full ban on the sale of electronic training devices which use pain or fear to train a dog.  These devices include electric shock collars which are worn around a dog’s neck and deliver electric shocks to “correct” undesirable behaviour. 

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McAlpine encourages Transport Summit feedback

South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine is encouraging her constituents to respond to a new Scottish Government report on transport in the region.

The draft report is based on the proceedings of last month’s Dumfries and Galloway Transport Summit, which Joan McAlpine MSP secured for the region.

The summit, held by the Transport Minister Humza Yousaf and Deputy First Minister John Swinney, put the transport priorities of Dumfries and Galloway centre stage.

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:

“I am delighted to see the publication of this report in line with the Transport Minister’s invitation to the public to comment on transport issues in Dumfries and Galloway.

“During the summit, improvements to the A75 and better links between Dumfries and the M74 were identified as priorities.  Mr Yousaf told us that the Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR), which identifies priorities up until 2032, was being refreshed and the summit offered an opportunity for the region to have more influence.

“It is vital that we now build on this initial report with further contributions from the local community.

“The Scottish Government is listening - I would strongly encourage my constituents to make their voices heard.”

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McAlpine praises work of Solway Recycling


South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has praised local business Solway Recycling Ltd. after a visit to their premises near Shawhead.

Ms McAlpine said:

“I was delighted to have the opportunity to visit Solway Recycling and see first-hand how they turn waste farm plastics into useful farm and garden products.

“I was particularly impressed by the customised picnic benches and smart hen houses – perfect for anyone seeking “the good life”!”

Solway Recycling was established in 1992 and is one of the longest established waste farm plastic recyclers in the world.

Many of the products manufactured by Solway Recycling end up back on the same farms from which waste products have been collected, creating what the company describe as an ecological “closed loop”.

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Joan wears it pink for breast cancer research


South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine is urging people across the region to join her and ‘wear it pink’ on the 21st of October to support women affected by breast cancer.

The SNP member joined fellow parliamentarians in Holyrood to encourage people across Scotland to get involved in Breast Cancer Now’s efforts to ensure that, by 2050, everyone who develops breast cancer lives.

This ambition is shared by the Scottish Government and all party leaders in Scotland.

The ‘Wear it Pink’ campaign is back for its 15th year – raising close to £2 million each year for world-class research into breast cancer. 

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