Joan McAlpine MSP has urged the Managing Director of Santander’s North division to keep open its branch in Lockerbie. In a frank exchange with Richard Owen Ms McAlpine questioned the figures being used to justify closure.
She also challenged Santander to be more transparent in sharing information about the number of people using the branch.
She pointed out that she had already been fighting RBS branch closures, and the loss of two branches.
Ms McAlpine urged customers to complain officially in order to let bank bosses know the strength of feeling in Annandale.Read more
Joan McAlpine MSP has welcomed the £2.85 million proposal to re-route the A76 because of a land slip at Enterkinfoot after handing a petition by local people to the Transport Minister.
The plan was unveiled by Transport Scotland last night at a public event in Thornhill. The one-kilometre road realignment will solve the problem of temporary traffic lights which has frustrated motorists since 2014.
Ms McAlpine has campaigned for the road to be upgraded, writing to both Transport Scotland and the Transport Minister.Read more
MSP Joan McAlpine and SNP activists led a day of action today (Monday) to continue the campaign to save the 101/102 bus service from Dumfries to Edinburgh.
The SNP MSP joined local activists in Moffat to speak to residents who will be impacted if the route is scrapped.
The service faces the axe in August due to Tory run Scottish Borders Council’s plans to cut its contribution towards the annual running costs.Read more
The South Scotland member wrote to the Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) asking her to investigate events behind Young’s closure threat.
She asked Christine Tacon to investigate workers’ concerns that a “mutually convenient deal” was reached between Young’s and Marks and Spencer’s - which resulted in Pinneys being earmarked for closure.
And she raised concerns about arrangements where factories have only one customer – making workers and communities very vulnerable.
The MSP urged Ms Tacon to “Stand up for Pinneys” in the same way as the adjudicator previously defended dairy farmers being squeezed by the supermarkets.
The Groceries Code Adjudicator is an independent regulator set up by the UK Government tasked with ensuring that the 10 big UK supermarkets “Treat their direct suppliers lawfully and fairly”.Read more
South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine this week hosted leading folk musicians Catriona Mckay and Christ Stout in Parliament for a debut performance of their song ‘believe in me’ – composed in collaboration with a group of two - three year old children from Drumchapel in Glasgow.
The duo performed the musical dedication to Scotland’s children, alongside their young co-writers at a reception sponsored by the MSP as part of Early Years Scotland’s 50th Anniversary celebrations.
The musical project began back in March as part of Early Years Scotland ‘2 Stay Play and Learn’ scheme – an alternative approach to nursery provision aimed at encouraging parents and carers to stay at nursery and learn with their children.
MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed the Scottish Parliament's rejection of Westminster’s EU Withdrawal Bill.
Holyrood voted this afternoon not to consent to the Bill - which has been described as an attempt to strip the Scottish Parliament of powers after Brexit - with Scottish Labour, Greens, and Lib Dems all voting with the SNP.Read more
MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s visit to Dumfries this Wednesday (16th) to discuss the creation of the new south Scotland Enterprise Agency.
Ms Sturgeon will give the key note address at the National Economic Forum meeting this Wednesday at Easterbrook Hall where attendees will debate ways to maximise growth and resilience across the Rural EconomyRead more
Pictured: Aileen Campbell, Joan McAlpine & Christine Grahame
Three south Scotland MSPs have united to campaign for a lifeline bus service.
Joan McAlpine, Aileen Campbell and Christine Grahame said that the 101/102 bus service from Dumfries to Edinburgh is a vital link connecting local rural communities across the region - with young people and the elderly particularly affected.
The service has come under threat after the decision was taken by Tory led Scottish Borders Council to withdraw funding.Read more
MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed news that The University of Glasgow will carry out an extensive assessment of the economic value of Robert Burns to Scotland.
The announcement came after the south Scotland MSP led a parliamentary debate in January calling on the Scottish Government to fund the research.
Professor Murray Pittock of the Centre for Robert Burns Studies at the University will lead the study – which will assess how much Scotland’s national bard is supporting Scottish business and jobs.
The work will also look at the potential for Burns to further support regional inclusive growth – from hotels and restaurants to food, drink and memorabilia.Read more
MSP Joan McAlpine has said that politicians from across party divides should mark Europe Day by refocussing efforts on securing the future of Scotland’s relationship with the EU.
Europe Day – which falls on May 9th – is the ‘National Day’ of the EU, and will be marked this year with a celebration in George Square in Glasgow.Read more
MSP Joan McAlpine is leading calls for a new agency to be set up to boost film and TV production in Scotland.
The MSP – who convenes the Scottish Parliament’s committee on Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations – has approved a cross party report from the committee recommending the creation of an independent Scottish screen agency.
The committee took the unprecedented decision to publish an interim report ahead of schedule after coming to the conclusion that the new screen unit- which is already under development – needs to be a stand alone agency to reach its full potential.
The report – ‘The Bigger Picture: A screen agency for Scotland’ – was published on Saturday.Read more
SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has said that RBS ‘failed to answer‘ many questions as three senior executives appeared before the Scottish Affairs Committee (SAC) at Westminster this morning.
Ms McAlpine – who has campaigned against RBS branch closures in the south of Scotland -said it was ‘disappointing‘ that RBS had also failed to listen to the anger and frustration voiced by so many of the customers and businesses hit by their branch closure plans.
MSP Joan McAlpine today attacked banks for closing cash machines in the south of Scotland during a debate in the Scottish Parliament.
The MSP spoke up after a threat to cash lines was posed in Annan and Lockerbie.
Ms McAlpine made the comments as MSPs debated plans from LINK - the UK’s biggest provider of free to use cash machines – to reduce their interchange fee for card providers, a move which will reduce the financial viability of free to use ATMs, and result in more ATM closures and disproportionately impact rural areas.Read more
MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed news that Minister for Business Paul Wheelhouse will convene an action meeting in Annan tomorrow (Wednesday) evening to discuss the proposed closure of the Pinney’s of Scotland site.Read more
MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed over half a million pounds of extra funding for Dumfries and Galloway Council to cover the cost of roads maintenance following the extended wintry weather.
Scottish Government Finance Secretary Derek Mackay took the decision to allocate an additional £10 million for all 32 councils with the details of the distribution to be agreed with COSLA.Read more
MSP Joan McAlpine is to highlight the importance of retaining local ATM machines throughout Dumfries and Galloway in a parliamentary debate.
The MSP – who has campaigned against the closure of local branches and cash machines - will speak in a debate on the subject this Wednesday.Read more
SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has warned that the Tory Government’s assault on devolution poses a significant threat to Dumfries and Galloway’s food sector.
The amendments published last week to Westminster’s EU Withdrawal Bill could prevent the Scottish Parliament from legislating to protect farming, food standards, plant health and the environment for up to seven years, fundamentally undermining the devolution settlement.
This follows a statement from the president of America's National Farmers’ Union last week supporting the view that chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-injected beef should be part of a UK/US free trade deal.Read more
MSP Joan McAlpine is to highlight the importance of retaining local ATM machines throughout Dumfries and Galloway in a parliamentary debate.
The MSP – who has campaigned against the closure of local branches and cash machines - will speak in a debate on the subject this Wednesday.Read more
In a major milestone for devolution, the Scottish Parliament has backed the establishment of a Scottish Social Security System with dignity and respect at its heart.
Holyrood has today passed the Social Security (Scotland) Bill at Stage 3, giving the Scottish Government the powers to deliver eleven benefits devolved as part of the Scotland Act 2016.
The design of the Scottish Social Security System was informed by widespread public consultation with those with direct experience of the benefits system.
Joan McAlpine made the comments after questioning Scotland’s Brexit Minister, Mike Russell, about the status of Brexit talks with Westminster.
The UK Government want to retain control over all powers currently administered at EU level - but the Scottish Government say that laws relating to devolved policy areas should be repatriated to the Scottish Parliament.
MSP Joan McAlpine has highlighted the cultural importance of Galloway Gaelic in a parliamentary debate.
On Tuesday, MSPs discussed Scotland’s national plan for Gaelic – aimed at securing a future for the language.
Encouraging constituents and colleagues to uncover Galloway’s rich Gaelic heritage – the SNP MSP spoke about a day long conference taking place at the Catstrand this September – and highlighted the language as an opportunity for cultural tourism.Read more
MSP Joan McAlpine has praised Dumfries and Galloway College after a visit to their breakfast club.
Vice Principal Andrew Glen decided to establish the club – which is the first of its kind in Scotland - when he noticed that some students reporting to the college’s sick bay feeling light headed and nauseous, hadn’t eaten breakfast.Read more
MSP Joan McAlpine has demanded that Santander reconsider plans to close its local branch in Lockerbie.
The SNP MSP – who is campaigning against similar closures planned by RBS – received news today that the major bank has also taken the decision to close its Lockerbie branch.Read more
MSP Joan McAlpine has congratulated campaigners in Maybole on saving a vital cash point scheduled for removal by RBS.
The south Scotland MSP has now written to banking bosses calling on them to back down on similar plans to shut the ATM in Annan.
The SNP MSP – who has been a vocal opponent of the planned closures of several branches throughout the region – said RBS’s plans amounted to “community vandalism”, but that recent U-turns on some branch closures show that applying pressure works.Read more
MSP Joan McAlpine was joined by the Scottish Government’s Minister for Employability and Training, Jamie Hepburn, at an event to encourage school leavers into STEM related jobs on Friday (April 20th).
The fair highlighted the many employment opportunities in the region for young people to work in science, technology, engineering, and maths related careers – and introduced them to local employers.
The networking event – held at Easterbrook hall - was part of the work being undertaken across Scotland under Developing the Young Workforce - a Scottish Government Initiative to reduce youth unemployment.Read more
MSP Joan McAlpine has called on Young’s to halt the closure of Pinneys, as plans to sell the plant before the end of the consultation on the closure have come to light.
Young’s admitted to the plans after a source told the industry website Undercurrent News that the sales process is to begin in the next few weeks.
Ms McAlpine says the closure must be put on hold to allow for the action group to speak to the new owners.
The MSP said Young’s statement on the plan is damning and suggests that it makes a mockery of the consultation process, as well as promises from bosses to be transparent.
MSP Joan McAlpine today welcomed the First Minister’s commitment to look at how the success of Scots athletes at the Commonwealth Games could help inspire a new way to fund the most artistically talented young people as well.
The MSP, who convenes the Scottish Parliament’s Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations Committee, was questioning the First Minister in a session with committee chairs yesterday at the Scottish Parliament.
Using the example of the Scottish Youth Theatre, which was funded by the Scottish Government after it threatened to close when Creative Scotland rejected its grant application, Ms McAlpine suggested national youth performing companies could be treated in the same way as Scottish Opera and Scottish Ballet, which are directly funded by government.
Ms McAlpine pointed out there was a consensus that all children and young people can benefit from participation in both culture and sport. However the two were treated quite differently when it came to nurturing the most talented. There was agreement that the athletes with potential needed specialised coaching – which paid off with Commonwealth medals – but we treat the arts quite differently.
In her answer, the First Minister said she was sympathetic to the idea:Read more
Joan McAlpine MSP has spoken to the chief executive of Young’s Seafood and pressed on him the importance of retaining jobs in Annan.
The South Scotland MSP spoke to the company boss by phone while he visited Annan for talks politicians and workers’ representatives.
During the 40 minute conversation, Ms McAlpine told Mr Showalter, who previously ran the giant Findus Company, that workers at Annan had contributed to the company’s profits for many years and that Young’s should co-operate with the action group set up by the Scottish Government and Dumfries and Galloway Council to save jobs.
She conveyed concerns expressed by the workers that the plant was secretly targeted for closure last year by the Grimsby based company, who went ahead despite Pinneys improving its performance markedly and receiving a “silver” grading from independent auditors.
Ms McAlpine asked Mr Showalter not to asset strip the plant and pointed out that many consumers could shun Scottish salmon processed in Grimsby in favour of products reared, processed and packaged north of the border.Read more
Joan McAlpine has welcomed news that Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse will meet Marks and Spencer bosses to discuss the threatened closure of Pinneys in Annan.
Mr Wheelhouse revealed details of the meeting in response to a question in parliament from Joan McAlpine, who says Marks and Spencer are obligated to the workforce in Annan, as they have been Pinney's only customer for several years.
Questioning the Minister in Parliament today, Ms McAlpine said:
“The Minister will be aware that Pinneys sole customer under Young's was Marks and Spencer, and had been for several years.
“I appreciate that the groceries regulation is a reserved matter and that exclusivity of supply is not prohibited in the grocer's code of conduct.
“But does the minister agree with me that while such an arrangement may seem beneficial when demand is high, it can have very negative effects when there are challenges?"Read more
Standing room only for Pinneys meet as locals and politicians say they won’t give up without a fight
Cllr Elaine Murray, Andy MacFarlane Unite, Joan McAlpine MSP, Oliver Mundell MSP & Catrina Baxter
It was standing room only in the Market Hall in Annan tonight as workers and locals queued out the door to have their say on the proposed closure of Pinneys.
The strength of feeling was palpable as the campaign to save more than 577 seafood factory jobs in the town was ramped up at a mass meeting supported by politicians from all parties.
The meeting was jointly hosted by the ‘Save Pinneys of Annan’ campaign group and SNP MSP Joan McAlpine MSP.
Council leader Elaine Murray and Dumfriesshire MSP Oliver Mundell attended and spoke along with Ms McAlpine, Catrina Baxter of the Save Pinneys campaign and union reps.
As well as hundreds of attendees, the meeting was streamed live to thousands more.
Ms McAlpine says she was pleased with the cross-party determination to keep the plant open.
The meeting focussed on ways to showcase the very skilled and determined workforce to new buyers for the site.
MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse’s letter to Young’s about the proposed closure of the Pinneys plant.
Mr Wheelhouse has written to the Chief Executive of Young’s Seafood Ltd to express concern over the potential implications of the proposal, and to put in writing the Scottish Government’s commitment to work with Young’s in exploring any viable options to protect employment in Annan.
The Scottish Government has committed to working with the company through the statutory consultation process on its proposals to explore alternative approaches.Read more
The campaign to save more than 577 seafood factory jobs in the town of Annan will step up on Wednesday with a mass meeting supported by politicians from all parties.
The ‘Save Pinneys of Annan’ campaign group and Joan McAlpine MSP will jointly host the meeting in the Market Hall in Annan.
Workers, many of whom have been employed at the Pinneys factory for decades, will lead the meeting and outline the devastating consequences of Young's pulling out of the town and relocating key contracts to Grimsby.
Council Leader Elaine Murray will update the meeting on the work of the action group, formed by the council and the Scottish Government last week.
Constituency MSP Oliver Mundell and Unite union's Andy MacFarlane will also speak. Sandy Rogerson, co-convener of Dumfries & Galloway Greens will be in attendance along with local councillors.
The campaign group, formed by Catrina Baxter whose family work at the factory, is urging as many people as possible to attend to send a loud statement to Young’s, and to sole Pinneys’ customer Marks and Spencer, that they have a moral obligation to the town after many years of loyal service.
MSP Joan McAlpine is pressing decision makers over parents’ claims there is a freeze on referrals to Acorn House.
The MSP is concerned that a moratorium would mean reviewers get an inaccurate picture of how well used the facility is.
The NHS’ Chief Operating Officer has said that families are choosing not to use the service - but parents refute this and have told the MSP that their needs are not being met as there is a referral moratorium in place.
Ms McAlpine is pressing for answers from the NHS.
Ms McAlpine has previously highlighted to the health board and the council that Acorn House is essential for families across the region.Read more
An MSP has questioned whether Marks & Spencer's business practices contributed to the crisis at Pinneys seafood processor at Annan where 577 people are set to lose their jobs.
Joan McAlpine MSP says Marks and Spencer insisted the Annan factory produce food exclusively for them, leaving it especially vulnerable when production costs rose.
Insiders have told Ms McAlpine that M&S expected Pinneys operator Young's Seafood to absorb too much of the 25% increase in the cost of salmon, which has risen sharply because of a global shortage.
The MSP was told that Youngs tried to negotiate new production methods with Marks - for example saving on waste by throwing away less salmon deemed to have tiny cosmetic flaws.
However the retailer allegedly refused to compromise and refused to pass any more cost on to shoppers.
Young's announced last week it had abandoned its M&S contracts for deli and prepared meals, produced at Pinneys, stating these were no longer financially viable. This was despite a £600,000 investment in the plant by Young's to meet Marks and Spencer requirements.
Ms McAlpine says the threat to jobs makes a mockery of Marks and Spencer's well publicised charter of social responsibility - known as "Plan A" - which it says it puts people and communities first.Read more
MSP Joan McAlpine is encouraging people in Dumfries and Galloway to respond to the consultation on the new South Scotland Enterprise agency.
The consultation – which opened today – is seeking views on how the agency should take forward its role of transforming the economy of the region.
The Scottish Government hopes to hear from businesses, communities and individuals about what it important to them.Read more
MSP Joan McAlpine used a speech in parliament today to highlight the Lockerbie Academy Scotland Malawi Partnership.
Since 2009, Lockerbie Academy has developed a partnership with Thawale Primary School in Malawi, spearheaded by English teacher Helen Wright.
Speaking during a debate on Commonwealth Day 2018, Ms McAlpine said the partnership is a great example of the bonds that exist between Commonwealth nations.Read more
Joan with Cllr McLelland, activists and members of the public in Annan.
MSP Joan McAlpine has said the strength of feeling against bank closures in the region was clear, after a day of action with activists in Langholm, Annan and Lockerbie.
The MSP joined up with local SNP members to collect hundreds of signatures across all three towns, calling for a halt to the closures.
The MSP was also angry to learn Westsound News had discovered RBS plans to take away its cash machines from Annan and Langholm– despite citing the ability to access cash machines as one of the reasons behind closures.Read more
MSP Joan McAlpine is celebrating National Apprenticeship Week with young people at Kellwood Engineering in Dumfries.
Ms McAlpine praised Kellwood Engineering for their commitment to young people in the area.
The company, which was founded in 1985, has ‘people matter’ as one of its core values and aim to invest in people as much as they do in capital.
The SNP government is committed to increasing the numbers of modern apprenticeships across the country.
Over 10 years in government the SNP has supported 7000 Modern Apprenticeships in Dumfries and Galloway – an increase of almost 60% since 2007.Read more
MSP Joan McAlpine will join local SNP campaigners as they step up the fight against RBS closures in Lockerbie, Annan, Langholm and Gretna with a day of action on Saturday.
And the MSP is urging anyone who feels strongly about the closures to come and sign the petition to put a stop to them.
Ms McAlpine has been a vocal opponent of the closures – raising the issue in parliament and putting pressure on RBS bosses.
Sustained pressure from SNP MPs and MSPs led to RBS offering a reprieve to the closure threatened Gretna branch, and 9 more across the country - promising to keep them open until at least the end of the year.
But Ms McAlpine said that all branches across the region should be kept open – and not just granted a temporary reprieve.
The MSP hopes that by collecting signatures from towns in the region with threatened closures for a petition urging RBS bosses to abandon their plans that RBS will recognise the strength of feeling on the issue.Read more
MSP Joan McAlpine has told decision makers that Acorn House is essential for families across Dumfries and Galloway.
In a letter to the chief executives of the health board and the council - as well as members of the Integrated Joint Board - the MSP also urged for any independent review to involve parents.
And she echoed parents’ call for the board to ensure Acorn House is fully operational when it is assessed by the reviewer – as the recent uncertainty has mean it was not running to full capacity.
The SNP MSP says it is unacceptable that if Acorn House were to close, the only residential services available for families would be outwith the region.
She agreed with parents that the proposal to use Self Directed Support to provide community respite, sometimes at home, was also unsuitable for many families who use Acorn House.Read more
A funding boost delivered by the Scottish Government for Dumfries and Galloway will support frontline health care and help meet new demands across the region, Joan McAlpine has said.
NHS Dumfries and Galloway is set to receive an extra £7.8 million compared to last year – taking the total investment from the SNP Scottish Government for the year ahead to £289 million.
The commitment is part of a funding increase of over £400 million across Scotland – and NHS staff are also set to benefit from the ending of the public sector pay cap, boosting wages for hard working nurses, doctors, cleaners and clerical staff throughout the NHS.
The budget also sees over £1.8 million going direct to schools across the region to tackle the attainment gap, and £10 million for the creation of a new enterprise agency for the South of Scotland to drive inclusive growth. The budget also commits to undertake a review of transport in the region.Read more
MSP Joan McAlpine has hit-out at Dumfries and Galloway MP Alister Jack after he signed a leaked letter to the Prime Minister demanding the hardest of Brexits.
Jack was among 62 hard tight Tory back benchers who wrote to Mrs May pushing for ‘full regulatory autonomy’ with any implementation period based on World Trade Organisation principles – meaning EU-UK barriers would go up.
The letter was signed by three Scottish Tory MPs - Alister Jack MP, Colin Clark MP and Stephen Kerr MP – and publicly backed by Ross Thomson MP.
Ms McAlpine said Mr Jack was brazenly putting farmers in the region at huge risk.Read more
Joan McAlpine has said that the community in Langholm has been misled around the flooding problems holding up development of the care village.
At a public meeting this week it emerged that it was the Council’s flood management team who had zoned a large part of Langholm as at risk – but they had previously blamed SEPA.
Locals attending the packed meeting on Monday were shocked to hear SEPA say that they had not in fact been involved in the process to date.
Ms McAlpine said she was particularly angry because the flood risk study conducted by the Council had not used the local knowledge of Langholm residents.Read more
MSP Joan McAlpine praised the new Dumfries hospital as Health Secretary Shona Robison had a tour of the facility yesterday.
The £274 million facility is one of the most technologically advanced in the UK.
Each of the 344 single rooms has its own computer point, allowing staff to update patient records on the spot.
The construction of the hospital – funded by the SNP government - was completed on budget and on time last year.Read more
South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine used a speech in Parliament to call for Suffragettes who were imprisoned for campaigning for votes for women to be pardoned.
The call came during a debate celebrating the centenary of the Representation of the People Act 1918 – which granted some women over 30 the right to vote.
Ms McAlpine said it was time for us to live up to the Suffragette motto ‘deeds, not words’ and to pardon the campaigners who risked everything so that women can take part in the democratic process.Read more
MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed the decision by RBS to keep its Gretna branch open until at least the end of 2018 – followed by an independent review.
Ms McAlpine has been lobbying RBS bosses to reverse closures in the region.
She says the decision to close the branches is a betrayal to loyal customers and communities.
RBS bosses had previously said that they would not reconsider the decision – but lobbying from the SNP’s Westminster Leader Ian Blackford has softened their position.Read more
Transport Minister meets with BSAG and Moffat Academy pupils
MSP Joan McAlpine today hosted a meeting between the Transport Minister, Moffat Academy pupils and Beattock Station Action Group in the Scottish Parliament.
The Minister praised the pupils – who gave a presentation on the benefits of reopening the station – as well as the efforts of the group.
Ms McAlpine – who is backing the group’s campaign to re-open the station at Beattock – welcomed the constructive meeting.
She has supported the Beattock Station Action Group since 2012, having put their case forward to SWestrans, the Transport Minister and Abellio as well as including Beattock in her consultation response for the refreshed National Transport Strategy.
The MSP has also brought the campaign to the attention of Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson.
Transport Minister Mr Yousaf commended the group for their efforts and engagement with the local school, employers and the wider community.Read more
Joan Signs the Stove's 'Dumfries Pledge'
MSP Joan McAlpine has told the Creative Scotland boss that the south of Scotland has been treated unfairly in its latest funding announcement.
The SNP MSP spoke with Creative Scotland Chief Executive Janet Archer after it became clear that less than 1% of the total regularly funded organisations budget was coming south of the central belt.
Creative Scotland is an agency independent of government – its decisions over regularly funded organisations have caused controversy recently – with a backlash over cuts to disability and children’s arts organisations in the central belt.
Ms McAlpine says that the issue of how Creative Scotland spends money across the country also needs addressed.
Only three organisations in the south of Scotland were granted regular funding – currently very few southern Scottish arts organisations are able to meet the criteria required for this – a situation Ms McAlpine argues, can only change with increased development support.
While the Stove received a 100% uplift in its funding, this was from a base of being the lowest funded organisation in Scotland and the award represents only around 55% of the level applied for.Read more
MSP Joan McAlpine has raised questions over Buccleuch Estates ending tenancies on their land in Eskdale with the intention to plant trees instead.
Ms McAlpine wrote to ministers after she was approached by tenants facing eviction at the hands of Scotland’s biggest private landowner.
The SNP MSP has asked Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing what can be done to ensure that landowners like Buccleuch are not incentivised to plant forestry at the expense of tenant farmers.
She has also questioned whether Buccleuch’s actions go against the spirit of the Land Reform Act – and has written to Land Reform Secretary Roseanna Cunningham for advice.
SNP MSP Joan McAlpine today (Wednesday) led a debate in the Scottish Parliament celebrating the economic impact of Rabbie Burns’ legacy for Scotland.
Ms McAlpine suggested it was time to update a 2003 study by World Bank economists that calculated the Bard boosted the economy by £157m per year.
The study was based on Burns related tourism and merchandising, as well as the bonanza of the supper season, with spending on everything from hospitality, whisky and haggis sales, kilt hire and even paying the piper.
The research was done before the watershed Homecoming Year of 2009, Burns 250th anniversary, which reached out to Scotland’s diaspora as never before, as well as the opening of Burns’ Birthplace museum and the launch of the Winter Festival Programme.Read more
MSP Joan McAlpine yesterday spoke at length with RBS bosses, after demanding a meeting to discuss alternatives to local closures.
Ms McAlpine told bosses she was deeply concerned with the extent of closures across the region, including branches in Annan, Lockerbie, Langholm and Gretna.
RBS made clear that the decision to close branches would not be reversed – a decision that Ms McAlpine said was deeply disappointing, and a betrayal to loyal customers and communities.
The MSP also pointed to the fact that RBS has been bailed out by the taxpayer – but has closed about 1,500 branches across the UK in just the last three yearsRead more
“I wish you all a peaceful and happy festive season – as always I’d like to thank our emergency services, NHS staff and others, who sacrifice time with their families to look after the rest of us during Christmas and New Year.
"New Year is a time to ring out the old things about the year behind us and to make good in the year ahead.Read more
South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed assurances from Justice Secretary Michael Matheson that there are no plans to close HMP Dumfries.
The MSP wrote to Mr Matheson following an approach from the prison’s branch secretary, amidst concerns that it did not feature in the Scottish Prison Service’s infrastructure investment plan.
The omission had left staff worried about the long term future of the prison.
However, in a letter Mr Matheson gave reassurances that HMP Dumfries has a secure future.Read more
SNP MSP Joan McAlpine is encouraging all parents and guardians of 2-5 year olds in Dumfries and Galloway to take advantage of the free flu vaccine before Christmas.
In a bid to keep children virus-free this winter, GP practices across Scotland are providing the nasal flu vaccine free of charge.Read more
Julia Barton, Alistair McKie of Dunbar Harbour Trust and Joan McAlpine MSP.
Some of the 10 billion tonnes of plastic dumped in our oceans will wash up in the Scottish Parliament this week - showcased as art.
MSPs will see at first hand the beach litter in their own constituencies in the awareness raising exercise, which is sponsored by Joan McAlpine, MSP for South Scotland and convener of the Parliament’s Culture Committee.
Artist Julia Barton’s ‘Littoral Art’ Project exhibition uses detritus collected from 120 Scottish beaches, including fishing twine and nets, cotton buds, micro-beads and packaging which takes hundreds of years to break down and is already present in marine organisms.
Julia and her colleague Sita Goudie from the Shetland Amenity Trust’s ‘Dunna Chuck Bruck’ campaign will be sharing their knowledge of what works at a community level, and asking MSPs to pledge action and support to reduce, recover and recycle waste within our economy rather than allow it to leach into the marine environment.
This includes East Lothian where fishermen, the harbour masters, surfers and the wider community work together to keep the coast clean.
In partnership with the Marine Conservation Society, the event will give MSPs the chance to learn about successful ways of tackling marine litter in Scotland.Read more
MSP Joan McAlpine was delighted to host Sanquhar knitters in the Scottish Parliament this week.
The SNP MSP invited Elma Clark and Kate Sloan from the ‘Sanquhar Pattern Designs’ project to speak to the Cross Party Group on Culture, which she convenes.
Elma and Kate – who have been involved in the project since it was launched by A’ the Airts in 2014 – talked about the importance of the pattern to the heritage of Upper Nithsdale.Read more
MSP Joan McAlpine has asked questions in Parliament about RBS plans to close branches in Lockerbie, Annan Langholm and Gretna as part of its plan to cull a third of its operations across Scotland.
In an exchange with Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse, the South Scotland MSP suggested that RBS was in breach of advertising standards when it rebranded itself ‘the Royal Bank for Scotland’ last year, in an attempt to improve its battered image.
Ms McAlpine said it was a deep betrayal of loyal customers, staff and communities, who had stuck by RBS through thick and thin.Read more
SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has demanded that the Royal Bank of Scotland reconsiders plans to close four branches across the region, after a shock announcement that the bank plans a series of closures across the country.
Following the announcement that RBS plans to close Annan, Langholm, Gretna and Lockerbie branches, Ms McAlpine has written to RBS asking for an urgent meeting on the future of the local service.
The Scottish Government has said they will continue to engage closely with banks and with senior representatives from all major companies in the financial services industry.Read more
“It was clear that the Council was going to back down some time ago, but this decision finally draws a line under the threat of closure.
“I know from visiting pupils, parents and teachers at the Kirkbean open day last week, that they needed this final decision in order to move forward.
“Rural schools are absolutely vital for the sustainability of communities across Dumfries and Galloway, a point that I made in my submission to the consultation – but as the Council officers themselves now admit, that consultation did not give due weight to the impact on communities.
“I look forward to the Council working with villages like Kirkbean, Ae and Garlieston in future to ensure that our vibrant local schools are supported to prosper.”
South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed today’s announcement that the Chancellor will allow Police Scotland and Scottish Fire and Rescue to reclaim VAT – after years of intense SNP pressure.
Scotland’s emergency services had been the only territorial forces in the UK unable to reclaim VAT – which costs the forces £35 million annually.
While the move is welcome, the Chancellor stopped short of refunding the £140 million which has already been paid by Police Scotland and Scottish Fire and Rescue.Read more
MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed the launch of an initiative aimed at boosting exports from the region.
The Scottish Government and Chambers of Commerce are launching a joint initiative to help businesses in Dumfries and Galloway increase their exports, supported by Scottish Government investment.
The Local Export Partnerships (LEPs) will be launched in five pilot areas: the Cairngorms; Inverness/Highlands and Islands; Dumfries and Galloway/Scottish Borders; Edinburgh/Lothian and Glasgow/Lanarkshire.Read more
MSP Joan McAlpine today raised the region’s roads in Parliament in an exchange with the Transport Minister.
The South Scotland MSP asked Humza Yousaf when he will know which road improvements are to be included in the Strategic Transport Projects review (STPR) – a document that will outline the government’s transport priorities over the next 20 years.
Ms McAlpine has called for it to include improvements to the A75, A76 and better links between Dumfries and the M74.
Mr Yousaf outlined that the review is progressing on schedule, and that the government has been looking closely at the A75 and the A77 in the region. The Minister also said he would be keen to meet with Ms McAlpine in order to hear her views.Read more
MSP Joan McAlpine used a speech in parliament to highlight the risk Brexit poses to Camphill communities – including award winning local creamery Loch Arthur.
Today, young Europeans make up 68 per cent of Camphill’s volunteers – many of whom stay in Camphill and raise families there long after their placements are finished.
Ms McAlpine warned that this is under threat after Brexit. If EU citizens who arrive in future are treated as third-country nationals, voluntary placements will mean they do not meet residency criteria.
She underlined the need for a bespoke immigration system in Scotland – one which is compassionate and responsive to Scotland’s needs.Read more
MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed the decision to include Dumfries on northbound signage on the M74.
The SNP MSP met with Transport Scotland bosses last month – where plans to update motorway signs to include Dumfries, Ecclefechan and other towns in the region before the end of the financial year were unveiled.
But Ms McAlpine wrote to Transport Scotland following the meeting to ask that Dumfries be included on the northbound signs – which was not part of the original plan.
The transport body agreed, and Ms McAlpine has said she is delighted that the ‘Queen of the South’ will now be on the map.Read more
MSP Joan McAlpine has said she is ‘delighted’ that the Council has back-tracked over plans to close Ae, Kirkbean and Garlieston primary schools.
Joan – who worked with parents to oppose the plans - said the five year moratorium for rural schools will bring relief to parents who have fought so hard to keep their schools open.Read more
SNP MSP Joan McAlpine this week presented Transport Minister Humza Yousaf with a petition calling for the removal of traffic lights on the A76.
The petition – organised by community councillor John Holroyd – calls for action to repair a landslip at Enterkinfoot, which has resulted in temporary traffic lights in place for three years.
Running for just over a month, the petition has gathered more than 800 signatures.Read more
MSP Joan McAlpine welcomed Transport Minister Humza Yousaf’s constructive meeting at the Scottish Parliament with Thornhill station campaigners.
The SNP MSP attended a cross-party meeting with the Thornhill Station Action Group and Mr Yousaf at the Scottish Parliament earlier today.
Mr Yousaf commended the group for engaging with MSPs from different parties, as well as the local school, employers and the wider community.
Speaking after the meeting, Ms McAlpine said:Read more
Joan McAlpine MSP has appealed to the Home Secretary to protect the award winning local creamery Loch Arthur from the effects of leaving the European Union.
Ms McAlpine wrote to Amber Rudd after a visit to Loch Arthur in Beeswing, which is run by the Camphill Scotland charity.
Loch Arthur is home to learning disabled adults who live and work beside volunteers from across Europe, many of whom are also long term residents. Often the volunteers are skilled occupational therapists and teachers.
Camphill Scotland fear immigration rules after Brexit could stop future volunteers coming to Scotland and will hurt hundreds of disabled people who rely on their support.
The community, which has a farm shop and cafe as well as a bakery and creamery, was recognised as the best “Hidden Gem” at last week’s Scotsman Food and Drink Awards.
Speaking during a visit to Loch Arthur on Friday, the MSP said she was concerned to hear about the impact post-Brexit rules will have on these volunteers who do not meet the current income criteria for UK residency because they do not draw a salary.
South Scotland MSP and Living Wage Champion Joan McAlpine has welcomed the new Living Wage rate and is urging more employers in the region to become accredited.
The Living Wage increased by 30 pence per hour to £8.75, with the uplift expecting to see many local people benefiting from higher wages to help meet the increasing cost of living.
Ms McAlpine – who became living wage accredited last year - was speaking at the start of this year’s Living Wage Week, running from the 5th to the 10th of November.Read more
The Scottish Government’s Small Business Bonus scheme has helped to support 5122 businesses in Dumfries and Galloway this year.
SNP MSPs Joan McAlpine and Emma Harper said the new figures proving once again the SNP Scottish Government’s commitment to local jobs and communities.
Across Scotland, the Small Business Bonus Scheme, brought about by the SNP Government in 2008/09, paid out over £226 million in 2017-18, supporting over 103,000 local firms by reducing their rates liability and taking some firms out of business rates altogether.
And across Dumfries and Galloway the number of firms benefitting from this flagship Scottish Government policy has risen from 3224 in 2008 to 5122 in 2017/18, with £8.1 million being spent in the region to support local businesses this year.Read more
MSPs Emma Harper and Joan McAlpine say plans to include towns in the region on motorway signage could increase visitor numbers.
Plans to update motorway signs on the M74 to include Dumfries, Ecclefechan and other towns in the region were unveiled by Transport Scotland during a meeting with the MSPs yesterday.
Signage directing people to the region is currently absent from motorway signs in both directions – references to ‘the South’ and ‘the North’ between Glasgow and Carlisle leave Dumfries and Galloway completely off the map.
But the Transport body plans to rectify this when the signs are replaced by the end of the financial year.Read more
MSP Joan McAlpine expressed concern after a report showed the region suffering a £25m cut in income by 2020/21 as a result of Tory welfare cuts.
The Scottish Government’s Annual Report on the impacts of the UK Welfare Reform Act 2012, shows that benefit freezes, cuts to work related benefits, tax credits and the bedroom tax means the loss of an equivalent of £282 per person in the region.
The SNP MSP said that these figures shows just how important the Scottish Government’s mitigation measures are – with over £30 million spent in Dumfries and Galloway so far.Read more
MSP Joan McAlpine expressed dismay that some shops in the region charge three times as much as others for the same basket of items.
These findings, unearthed in the ‘Cost of Living’ report by Dumfries and Galloway Citizens Advice Service show that the cost of a basket of essential items ranged from £8.79 to £24.70.
The report highlights the existence of a ‘poverty premium’ - where people in poorer areas pay more for their shopping in then those in less disadvantaged areas.
This is most prevalent in Upper Nithsdale where the average basket price was £18.88 - more than a fifth higher than the average across the rest of the region, and 115% higher than the cheapest basket.Read more
MSP Joan McAlpine today welcomed the Council’s decision to ‘pause’ the consultation process over closing Ae, Kirkbean and Garlieston schools.
The MSP – who has backed parents in their fight to keep these rural schools open – says she is confident the ‘pause’ will turn into a ‘full-stop,’ as the Council’s case for closure has been picked apart.
She said the decision vindicated all the hard work put in by parents and the communities who came together to fight these proposals.Read more
Joan McAlpine MSP today welcomed the announcement by the Scottish Government that fracking – and other forms of unconventional oil and gas extraction - will be banned in Scotland.
The MSP said the ban was good news for South West Scotland where communities she has supported, such as Canonbie, have previously been threatened with the controversial technology.
Ms McAlpine condemned the Scottish Conservative Party who backed fracking and spoke against the SNP ban in parliament.Read more
MSP Joan McAlpine says the closure of Ae and Kirkbean schools will have a ‘devastating impact on the community.’
The SNP MSP - who lodged her submissions against the proposed closures today - also said that the Council was not taking into account the educational benefits of smaller class sizes.
Ms McAlpine has been supporting communities battling to save their schools from closure since she was first contacted by parents.Read more
MSP Joan McAlpine raised the issue of the proposed closures of Ae, Kirkbean and Garlieston Primary schools in the Scottish Parliament today.
The MSP, who is supporting parents battling to save Ae and Kirkbean Primary Schools, asked for the support of Education Secretary John Swinney in their fight to stop the closure.
The Scottish Government has “a presumption against the closure of rural schools” and has passed laws in 2010 and 2014 to make it more difficult for councils to do so.
During an exchange in Parliament this morning, the SNP MSP asked the Cabinet Secretary whether he agreed the Council must listen to local communities and take into account the devastation that would be felt in these villages if the schools were to close.
MSP Joan McAlpine has responded to a national call to support local produce by placing a weekly order with Dalbeattie butcher Scott Carson
Food and Drink Fortnight organisers asked politicians and the public to think about how they buy food and to "change one thing in their daily life to support local producers". They are then requested to tweet their plans using #onethingfortnight by Scotland Food and Drink.Read more
Joan McAlpine MSP met with parents battling to save Ae Primary School and pledged her support to the campaign.
The SNP MSP attended a packed meeting of parents at the school this week, to hear their fears about the future of their community and their children’s education, should a proposal by Dumfries and Galloway Council to close the school be successful.
Ms McAlpine told the parents that the Scottish Government had “a presumption against the closure of rural schools” and had passed laws in 2010 and 2014 to make it more difficult for councils to do so.
The Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010 and the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 both presume against the closure of rural schools.
She provided the parents with copies of the government guidelines showing how they can use the legislation to make their case during the consultation period and appeal to Scottish Government Ministers should the council push ahead with the proposed closure.Read more
MSP Joan McAlpine last night hailed the SNP’s programme for government, as the First Minister unveiled her blueprint for the coming parliamentary term.
Speaking in Parliament, the South Scotland MSP said that Dumfries and Galloway would benefit from the creation of a National Investment Bank to complement the new South of Scotland Enterprise Agency, which will be up and running by 2020.Read more
The future of Dumfries town centre was top of the agenda at a meeting between MSPs and the managers of the Loreburne shopping centre on Dumfries High Street.
SNP MSPs Joan McAlpine and Emma Harper met with Ross Campbell, Senior Asset Manager from Edinburgh House, owners of the Loreburne Centre and Jim Ireland, centre manager.
The shopping centre bosses told the MSPs of their fears for the town centre if Next retail got council planning permission to develop a new unit at Cuckoo Bridge retail park.
Next want the council to drop its prohibition on non-bulky goods retail at Cuckoo Bridge which was put in place to protect the high street.Read more
South 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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed the passage of the Limitation Childhood Abuse Scotland Bill in the Scottish Parliament.
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.
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.
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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”.Read more