McAlpine encourages locals to respond to South of Scotland Enterprise consultation

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.

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Lockerbie Academy Malawi Partnership highlighted in Parliament

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.

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RBS petition shows strength of feeling in Langholm, Annan and Lockerbie says McAlpine

Joan_with_activists_and_member_of_the_public_in_Annan.jpgJoan 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.

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McAlpine visits Kellwood Engineering to celebrate Apprenticeship Week


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.

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McAlpine joins local SNP campaigners for day of action against RBS closures

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.

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Acorn House ‘essential’ says McAlpine

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.

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SNP Budget give NHS Dumfries and Galloway £7.8 million funding boost

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.

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Jack puts farming at risk with Brexit demands

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.

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Langholm community ‘misled’ over flooding problems

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.

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McAlpine praises hospital during Health Secretary visit

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.

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MSP calls for pardons for Suffragettes to celebrate centenary of votes for women


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.

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McAlpine welcomes reprieve for RBS Gretna branch

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.

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Transport Minister praises Moffat Academy pupils on Beattock Station presentation

Joan_and_Humza_with_BSAG_and_Moffat_Academy.jpgTransport 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.

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McAlpine throws weight behind Stove’s call for fair funding

Joan_McAlpine_signing_The_Stove's_'Dumfries_Pledge'_2.jpgJoan 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.

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McAlpine raises questions over Buccleuch Estates restructuring

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.

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McAlpine celebrates economic potential of Rabbie Burns’ legacy

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.

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McAlpine ‘deeply disappointed’ RBS won’t reverse decision on local closures

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 years

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New Year Message from Joan McAlpine MSP

“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.

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McAlpine welcomes assurances from Justice Secretary over HMP Dumfries

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.

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McAlpine encourages parents across Dumfries and Galloway to make use of free flu vaccine

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.

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McAlpine to host #CleanBeachesScotland event in Parliament


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.

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Sanquhar knitting comes to Parliament


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.

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McAlpine raises local branch closures in Parliament

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.

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McAlpine calls for RBS to think again on local closures

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.

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Joan McAlpine MSP comment on Council decision to drop proposals to close rural schools

“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.”

McAlpine welcomes win for region as Chancellor bows to SNP pressure on Police and Fire VAT

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.

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McAlpine welcomes new initiative to increase exports from Dumfries and Galloway

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.

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McAlpine raises region’s roads in Parliament

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.

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McAlpine highlights Brexit risk to Camphill communities


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.

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MSP ‘delighted’ Dumfries to be signposted from northbound M74

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.

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McAlpine ‘delighted’ with victory for schools campaign

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.

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McAlpine presents A76 petition to Minister


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.

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McAlpine welcomes Minister’s meeting with Thornhill Station Action Group


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:

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Award Winning Creamery at risk from Brexit says McAlpine


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.

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Living Wage Champion McAlpine welcomes increase in rate for Living Wage Week



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.

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SNP MSPs say Small Business Bonus benefits local companies

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.

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New signage will boost region’s tourism say MSPs


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.

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Dumfries and Galloway loses £25M from Tory benefit cuts

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.

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McAlpine expresses dismay at price disparity for groceries across region

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.

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McAlpine welcomes victory for schools campaign

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.

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Canonbie protected as Scotland bans fracking

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.

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Campaign against school closures steps up a gear

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.

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McAlpine takes school closure cases to Parliament

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.

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MSP beefs up "buy local" campaign with Dalbeattie Butcher


 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.

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McAlpine supports Ae parents against school closure

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.

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Dumfries and Galloway to benefit from National Investment Bank

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.

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MSPs and Loreburne centre management discuss future of Dumfries town centre

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.

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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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