McAlpine Appeals to Duke Over Tenant Row

McAlpine Appeals to Duke Over Tenant Farmer Row

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has made a direct appeal to the Duke of Buccleuch to show compassion towards the Telfers - a tenant farming couple facing removal from their farm.

Ms McAlpine’s letter to the wealthy aristocrat comes on the day factors from Buccleuch Estates are to value David and Alison Telfer’s sheep before their imminent sale. 

The Estate wishes to move the hefted sheep off Cleuchfoot Farm’s high ground to secure lucrative planting grants for commercial forestry.

The rest of the farm is being sold next year, as part of the Evertown Portfolio, when David and Alison will be forced out of their home of 20 years.

An online petition, started by political activist organisation 38 degrees, in support of the couple has gained more than 18,000 signatures.

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McAlpine Brokers Crichton Breakthrough

A mothballed fibre broadband network could soon go live in Dumfries after the intervention of SNP MSP Joan McAlpine.

 The state-of-the-art system would turn The Crichton Estate into a “gigabit campus” and attract more jobs and investment to the area.

Ms McAlpine called a meeting at the Scottish Parliament between Kate Forbes MSP, Minister for the Digital Economy, The Crichton Trust and Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE).  SSE own the lease over the faster fibre network which was installed in 2005 but never lit up.

Ms McAlpine said she was very positive about the progress made at the meeting which she arranged after an approach from Gwilym Gibbons, the new CEO of the Crichton Trust – the charitable organisation which runs the 85-acre, business, leisure and academic campus in Dumfries. 

Ms Forbes told the meeting that switching on the system would be an exciting development for the whole of Scotland as well as Dumfries and Galloway.

Mr Gibbons explained that every building at Crichton was connected to the fibre network and he outlined his belief the Trust taking control over the network would help attract new business tenants who preferred to pay for broadband as part of a single package with their utility bills. 

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McAlpine Wants World Class Scottish Screen Sector

Scotland could be a world leader in film and TV production MSP Joan McAlpine told parliament this week.

However, we need more studio space to capitalise on the opportunities offered by Netflix, Amazon and other streaming services, she told Holyrood.

Ms McAlpine, who is Convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee’s (CTEEA), was leading a debate on the Committee’s report:  Making Scotland a Screen Leader.

 It was the culmination of a six-month enquiry which heard from over 50 industry stakeholders. 

As well as demanding the delivery of a studio, the report, which was published in June, recommended a standalone screen agency for Scotland and said that the BBC and other public service broadcasters should commission more productions from Scottish companies.

Ms McAlpine told MSPs of her optimism for the future of the industry and pointed to Outlaw King, the £85m movie about Robert the Bruce, backed by Creative Scotland, as an example of what can be achieved.  She welcomed the extra Scottish Government funding for film production which has seen investment grow by 200% over a decade.

But she pointed out that film production spend had grown around the world and witnesses to the Committee believed that Scotland was not doing as well as it could.

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McAlpine Welcomes Support For Threatened Farmers

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed the news that an online petition in support of Alison and David Telfer, a farming couple threatened with removal by the Duke of Buccleuch, has received over 8,000 signatures.

Ms McAlpine has campaigned on behalf of the Telfers who face removal from their Cleuchfoot farm near Langholm by Buccleuch Estates.  Buccleuch, the landowners, stand to benefit from lucrative forestry grants either directly or via an inflated price for the land, which has been put up for sale.

This pursuit of profit comes at the expense of the Telfers, who have lived and worked at Cleuchfoot for 20 years.  The couple understood that they could farm the land until they retired in a few years time but the early sale of the holding will leave them homeless.

The sale of Cleucfoot is part of the larger disposal of the so-called Evertown Portfolio – a 9,000 acre rural estate being marketed by Savills for the Duke of Buccleuch.

The online petition, addressed to the Duke, entitled ‘Let the Telfers keep their home and business’ has received 8,645 signatures at the time of writing.  It has been posted on the website of political activist organisation 38 Degrees.

Last month, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, in response to a question from Ms McAlpine, outlined her concern over the case.  Ms Sturgeon pointed out that the Telfer’s human rights had to be considered.  Andrew Thin, chairman of the Scottish Land Commission, has also appealed to the Duke to let the couple stay till they retire.

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Dumfries and Galloway to Lose Millions in EU Funding

A new online database had laid the bare the cost to Dumfries and Galloway of the UK’s exit from the European Union.

The online tool shows that the EU has invested upwards of £90 million in the area across a wide range of sectors including education, research, employment and young people.

Perhaps the most damning statistic is that the region is set to miss out on heavy EU investment in agriculture.  In 2017, the bloc spent £82,480,719 to support 2,006 farmers around Dumfries and Galloway.

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McAlpine Lauds Support For New Enterprise Agency

McAlpine Lauds Support for New Enterprise Agency

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has hailed the positive responses received to a Scottish Government consultation on the new enterprise agency for the South of Scotland.

The consultation was launched in March this year.  Its purpose was to garner views on the establishment of a new South of Scotland Enterprise agency (SOSE) – a public organisation with the aim of stimulating economic growth and increasing the prosperity of the region. 

Ms. McAlpine pointed to the funding already made available for projects in her area by the South of Scotland Enterprise Partnership (SOSEP) – an interim agency put in place whilst legislation for SOSE is pending.  Funding was secured for investment in Dumfries and Galloway College and financial support for Annan to mitigate the impact of the Pinneys factory closure.  The support for Pinneys from SOSEP was in addition to support received by Scottish Enterprise.

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McAlpine Bemoans Tory Immigration Plans

McAlpine Bemoans Tory Immigration Plans

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has warned of the impact that Brexit could have on charities like Loch Arthur Camphill Community – which rely upon EU migrant volunteers.

Volunteers at Loch Arthur have spoken of their fear for the future as the UK Government’s immigration proposals, post-Brexit, threaten to bring an effective end to Tier 3, or so-called unskilled labour, visas.

Loch Artur is a social enterprise, near Dumfries, which provides an inclusive living and working environment for men and women with learning difficulties. 

Most of the volunteers at Loch Arthur are EU citizens that help the residents, through supported tenancies, to run a farm, shop, café, workshop and creamery.

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McAlpine Welcomes Fund For Rural Road Improvements

McAlpine Welcomes Fund For Rural Road Improvements

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed the news that roads in Dumfries and Galloway are set to benefit, to the tune of £455,000, from a new Scottish Government fund. This money will be used for improvements to the B796 into Gatehouse, the A75 into Stranraer, the A709 to Lockerbie and the U300a at Laverhay. 

The 2018 Strategic Timber Transport Fund (STTF), managed by Forestry Commission Scotland, is to improve Scotland’s rural road networks and minimise the impact of timber lorries.

Over £7 million has already been awarded to projects which will improve a number of largely minor rural roads throughout Scotland or take lorries off the road with the timber being transported to market by sea.

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McAlpine Supports Gretna Charity Football Festival

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has thrown her support behind the Walking Football Festival – a charity fundraiser held by Gretna FC 2008.

Ms. McAlpine donated special football, signed by members of the Gretna FC team from the club’s final 2007/08 season.  The ball will be auctioned with proceeds being donated to Prostate Cancer UK through the festival.

Gretna 2008 is a fans initiative football club set up in 2008 after the sad dissolution of Gretna FC. 

In 2013, Gretna 2008 was a founding member of the Scottish Football Lowland League and it is there that the team plies its trade. 

Gretna 2008 whilst not a direct continuation of Gretna FC, trading under a different company, maintains strong links with the former club.

Gretna FC was a football club founded in 1946, before enjoying a meteoric rise in the 2000s and achieving promotion to the Scottish Premier League in 2007, as well as making a Scottish Cup Final appearance in 2006. 

The football festival is in aid of Prostate Cancer UK’s first Walking Football Month.

The Anvils, as Gretna are known, joined more than 45 other walking football clubs across the UK in hosting similar events this September:  all in a bid to raise funds to help tackle prostate cancer; the most common form of cancer amongst men. 

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McAlpine Raises Questions in Parliament On Pet Passports

Joan McAlpine MSP has spoken out in parliament for pet owners faced with separation from their beloved dog or cat because of Brexit.

The SNP MSP was reacting to an admission from the UK government that a hard Brexit would end the EU Pet Travel Scheme, which allows owners to travel easily with their pets across Europe.

Ms. McAlpine told the Scottish Parliament that a no deal Brexit could mean pet owners had to see a vet by this November for travel in Europe after next March. 

She described the move as “callous and disruptive” and said it ought to have been avoided.

Under the EU Pet Travel Scheme, now under threat from Brexit, owners of dogs, cats and ferrets can travel with their animals to and from EU countries - provided they hold a valid EU pet passport.

Ms McAlpine said; “The uncertainty created by the UK Government’s irresponsible approach to negotiations thus far has allowed matters like this to fall by the wayside.  Now, people will be made to pay simply for owning pets.  That cannot stand.”     

Ms. McAlpine raised her concerns in a question session with Mike Russell, Cabinet Secretary for Government, Business and Constitutional Relations in the Scottish Government.

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McAlpine Welcomes Campus Investment

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed news of a £35 million investment in the Scottish Rural College’s (SRUC) Barony Campus, near Dumfries. 

The investment is part of plans to create a Scottish rural university by 2022.   

In 2016, the Barony campus was facing closure after its merger with the SRUC.  Plans were in place to move the campus to Crichton.  Ms. McAlpine was one of the leaders of a campaign to save Barony campus from the move. 

The MSP worked with Denise Carrick, who started an online petition “Save the Barony”, and Brian McMorran, former Engineering Programme Leader at SRUC Barony Campus. Ms McAlpine chaired their “Save the Barony Campus” public meeting in Locharbriggs, which drew widespread support in 2016. 

Ms. McAlpine also spoke out in parliament against the SRUC management at the time. She won the support of ministers who called the college bosses in for a meeting.     

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McAlpine Welcomes Scotland’s Economic Growth

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has praised new figures showing that Scotland’s economy has outperformed the rest of the UK in the second quarter of this year.

According to official figures, announced by Scotland’s Chief Statistician, the economy in Scotland grew by 0.5% in the second quarter of 2018 while growth in the UK was at 0.4%.

In the first half of this year, Scottish GDP grew by 0.8% - ahead of the UK at 0.6% over the same period, and already higher than the 0.7% growth forecast by the Scottish Fiscal Committee for 2018 as a whole.

The last year has seen the Scottish economy grow by a total of 1.7%, whilst the UK’s growth stands at 1.3%.

However, this growth in Scotland comes in tandem with a growth in disquiet over the handling of Brexit negotiations.  Leaving the EU is set to cost the Scottish economy up to £12.7 billion a year - the equivalent of £2,300 for every person in the country.

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McAlpine Welcomes South West Transport Survey Launch


SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed the launch of an online survey by Transport Scotland to garner views on transport investment in south west Scotland.


Transport Scotland want to hear the opinions of people living or working in the south west of Scotland on the problems and opportunities for the transport network in region.


The survey is part of the work going on to produce a South West Scotland Transport Study which is considering possible improvements to road, rail, public transport and active travel on key strategic corridors in the region

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McAlpine Blasts RBS For Bank Closures

Branch Losses Will Hit Elderly Hardest

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has launched a broadside at the Royal Bank of Scotland for the loss of banking services across Dumfries and Galloway.

Giving a speech to Parliament, during a debate highlighting the negative impact of branch losses, Ms. McAlpine warned that planned closures would have a devastating impact on the largely rural communities throughout the region.

Earlier this year, RBS – a bank 62% owned by the UK government – announced that it planned to close 16 branches across South Scotland. This came on top of extensive closures previously announced by RBS and Bank of Scotland.

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McAlpine raises questions in Parliament over North West Community Campus

MSP Joan McAlpine today asked questions in parliament over the North West Community Campus – following the injury of a second child at the school last week.

Education Secretary John Swinney told her processes in place to ensure effective scrutiny of building projects in Dumfries and Galloway are ‘not as effective as they could be’ and said council officers should pay close attention to the recommendations made by the expert who reported on the fiasco of DGOne.


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Don’t desecrate world heritage site for ‘a few shovels of gravel’ says MSP

MSP Joan McAlpine has expressed anger over plans by aggregates giant Cemex to extend a quarry into a famous world heritage site at New Lanark.

The plans to extend a quarry into the Falls of the Clyde buffer zone were thrown out by the Scottish government in 2016, but the company applied for a judicial review and won a renewed planning hearing.

The MSP - who is backing the campaign group Save Our Landscapes to oppose the plans – accused the company of a lack of integrity.

The MSP this morning took delivery of thousands of postcards from locals and visitors who are opposed to the plans, and will deliver them to the First Minister.

Ms McAlpine is urging the Scottish ministers – who have called in the decision once again – to reject the proposals.

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McAlpine welcomes South of Scotland Enterprise Agency Bill

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine today welcomed the First Minister’s announcement that the South of Scotland Enterprise Agency Bill will be brought forward this parliamentary term.

The announcement was made as the First Minister delivered her Programme for Government – which outlines the government’s priorities for the coming year - during a speech to the Scottish Parliament today.

Ms McAlpine – who campaigned for the dedicated enterprise agency for the south of Scotland - said the body will act as a champion for region and deliver support to businesses of all sizes.

The Bill, along with other measures announced today, such as the development of a Rural Economy Action Plan, and improvements to the promotion of Scotland’s Food and Drink industry, will act as a driver to boost the economy in Dumfries and Galloway.

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McAlpine to chair culture and wellbeing session of culture summit

South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine will this week chair a discussion at the Edinburgh International Culture Summit - exploring the important role culture plays in health and wellbeing.

The  SNP MSP – who convenes the Scottish Parliament’s culture committee – will highlight examples of artists working in health settings in Dumfries and Galloway.

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McAlpine condemns high sanctions rate under ‘flawed’ universal credit

MSP Joan McAlpine has backed calls demanding clarity over the “worryingly” high sanctions rate against Universal Credit claimants.

Statistics on benefit sanctions released this week revealed that the proportion of claimants sanctioned under Universal Credit (2.8%) is nearly ten times higher than under Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) (0.3%), and nearly 30 times higher than Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) (0.1%).

It also revealed that the average Universal Credit sanction lasts for longer than JSA and ESA sanctions.

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Community Empowerment Secretary visits Midsteeple town centre regeneration project

Scotland's new minister for community empowerment joined Dumfries' "Doon Toon Army" this week when she visited the Midsteeple town centre regeneration project.

Ms Campbell visited the project’s head-quarters at The Stove at the invitation of the community benefit society’s board and south Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine. The Project’s founders led a walking tour of the town centre buildings they hope to purchase, and presented their plans to the Cabinet Secretary and Alasdair McKinlay – the leader of the Scottish Government’s Community Planning and Empowerment Unit.

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McAlpine welcomes support for Scotch Lamb

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed £200,000 of new funding from the Scottish Government for Quality Meat Scotland’s Scotch Lamb promotional campaign.

The First Minister confirmed the funding as she attended a farm show last week.

The sheep sector plays a significant part in Scotland’s red meat industry, which is worth £892 million to Scotland.

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MSP celebrates region’s agricultural sector at Dumfries Show

South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine celebrated the success of Dumfries and Galloway’s agricultural sector as she attended the annual Dumfries Show last Saturday (August 3rd).

The SNP MSP met with representatives from Scotland’s Rural College, NFU Scotland, and Dumfries and Galloway Dairy Women’s Network.

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Summer Surgery Tour 2018

Joan will be holding a number of parliamentary and doorstep surgeries from the 30th of July to the 1st of August. Drop in if you have a query, or get in touch if you'd rather make an appointment. See details below.



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McAlpine raises unreliability of commuter services with rail operators

MSP Joan McAlpine has branded the unreliability of rail services for those commuting from Dumfries and Galloway ‘unacceptable’.

The SNP MSP spoke up on behalf of commuters after constituents approached her telling of how they are being forced to leave the region because daily delays and cancellations to rail services make it impossible to get to work on time.

In a letter to the heads of Network rail and Abellio – who operate the TransPennine and Scotrail services respectively - Ms McAlpine wrote:

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McAlpine welcomes £250,000 support for Pinneys’ workforce

MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed £250,000 of Scottish Government money to support Pinneys employees following Young’s decision to close the site in Annan.

The money will come from the Scottish Government’s South of Scotland Economic Partnership – the agency being established to boost the region’s economy – and is part of a wider £7.6 million investment in south Scotland by the partnership.

The Annan funding will help to mitigate the impact of job losses by supporting a team to drive forward the Annan Action Plan – which includes supporting workers with business advice and investing in capital projects.

The SNP MSP welcomed the announcement from Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing during his visit to Annan today (Thursday).

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MSP blasts Stagecoach over cuts to bus service

MSP Joan McAlpine has written to Stagecoach boss Martin Griffiths blasting the company’s decision to remove its evening service between Dumfries and Thornhill.

The timetable for the 246 service was amended without warning on July 8th – leaving customers wishing to travel after 8pm stranded.

The SNP MSP says that the company’s decision to amend the route without consultation was an ‘appalling’ way to treat its customers – and highlighted that constituents had discovered cuts to a number of other services across the region.

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McAlpine welcomes commencement of £1.5 million summer investment in A76

MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed the commencement of resurfacing work on the A76.

The work - which is part of Transport Scotland’s £1.5 million summer investment into resurfacing the A76 – will commence on July 14th with the resurfacing of 1.3 km of trunk road near Barburgh Mill Quarry, south of Thornhill.

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McAlpine welcomes continued focus on supporting Pinneys workforce into employment

MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed continued support from the Scottish Government for the Pinneys’ workforce-  after Rural Secretary Fergus Ewing announced that he will personally take forward the Scottish Government response to the closure of the factory following the recent Government reshuffle.

 Mr Ewing confirmed that the PACE team established by Paul Wheelhouse, would continue its focus on supporting workers into alternative employment - and that he will travel to Annan on July 19th to launch a jobs fair as part of ongoing efforts.

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Dodgy Donations flood into Tory party in Dumfries and Galloway

Joan McAlpine MSP has backed calls for an investigation into the source of mysterious cash donations to the local Conservative Party.

It was revealed this week by Investigative Journalism platform ‘The Ferret’ that Conservative Party branches in Dumfries and Galloway have been the biggest beneficiaries of large donations from a mystery trust. 

Sixteen donations from the Scottish Unionist Association Trust (SUAT) – a secret organisation without a fixed address or known current trustees - totalling £56,100 went to party branches in Dumfries and Galloway.

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Home Office urged to end aspiring midwife’s lengthy wait for visa

Senior SNP MSPs have urged the Home Office to end an aspiring mid wife’s lengthy wait for a visa so that she can take up a place at University.

Twenty Year old Dami Samuel who has lived in Dumfries with her family for two years and has had her right to study revoked by the Home Office - met with Scottish Health Secretary Shona Robison today (Thursday).

Ms Samuel visited the Scottish Parliament with south Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine where the pair met with the Health Secretary this afternoon.

It was a busy week for the aspiring midwife - who arrived at Holyrood after picking up an award at the Scottish Refugee Media Awards in Glasgow for the documentary ‘Breadline Kids’ which she appeared in alongside her family.

Dami - who has lived in the UK all her adult life and was born in Nigeria - secured a place to study midwifery two years ago before the Home Office refused her family’s visa application.

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Residents urged to make opposition to bank closures felt

MSP Joan McAlpine has urged Gretna and Melrose residents to make their opposition to the closure of the towns RBS branches known - as the independent reviewer who will decide their fate was revealed.

Johnston Carmichael accountants have been appointed by RBS to carry out an independent review into ten branches earmarked for closure.

The bank has committed to implementing Johnston Carmichael’s recommendations in full.


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MSP demands answers on ‘shambolic’ Universal Credit roll out

A south Scotland MSP has said the UK Government must respond to damning criticisms in a report that exposed the “shambolic” roll out of Universal Credit. 

The report – published on Friday by the National Audit office – confirms that the roll out has been too slow, does not deliver value for money and causes hardship.

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McAlpine gets assurances on landslip road

Transport Scotland have written to MSP Joan McAlpine with assurances on the safety and stability on the A76

The SNP MSP wrote to Roy Brannen – Transport Scotland’s Chief Executive – last month to raise concerns around safety issues about the stretch of road affected by landslip at Enterkinfoot between Thornhill and Sanquhar.

The MSP was responding to concerns voiced at a meeting of Sanquhar community council. 

Transport Scotland revealed details of a permanent repair to the damaged section of the road at a public exhibition in Thornhill last month.  The repairs involve a major realignment of the road which is likely to go ahead next year.

In his reply to Ms McAlpine, Mr Brannen confirmed that engineers are continuously monitoring the safety of the road, and are confident there will be no further movement before the road realignment commences next year.

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MSP calls on agency to drive ‘sea change’ in region’s economic performance

MSP Joan McAlpine has said south Scotland’s new enterprise agency should help drive a ‘sea change’ in Dumfries and Galloway’s economic performance.

The SNP MSP – who campaigned for the dedicated enterprise agency for the south of Scotland  - said the body should act as a champion for region and deliver support to businesses of all sizes.

She said access to finance for SMEs ( Small and Medium Sized Enterprises) was one of the most pressing issues facing the region which she hoped the new agency would addess. 

Ms McAlpine also called for dedicated hubs in both Dumfries town centre and Galloway to ensure that the agency serves the whole of south Scotland.

The MSP made the comments in her response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the new agency – which called for views on how the new body can best help the south of Scotland.

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McAlpine welcomes ‘strong’ Scottish Government action on Pinneys

Scottish Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse today demanded that Young’s suspend the transfer of jobs to Grimsby from Annan - after a serious buyer for the Pinneys site came forward.

South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine – who has campaigned against the closure of Pinneys - welcomed the Minister’s actions, commenting:

“The Business Minister has sent a strong message to Young’s today - you have a moral obligation to the community here in Annan and you will not be allowed to simply walk away from this responsibility.

Mr Wheelhouse told Young’s Chief Executive Bill Showalter the company had a ‘moral obligation’ to do right by the people of Annan in the aftermath of its decision to close the site, causing over 450 job losses.

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MSP secures Minister’s commitment to food and drink workshop in Dumfries and Galloway

Joan McAlpine today (Thursday) secured Rural Secretary Fergus Ewing’s commitment to a food and drink workshop in the region.

The MSP questioned Mr Ewing in Parliament this afternoon, after local businesses expressed concern that Connect Local -  Scotland’s local food and drink marketing advisory service – had not held any workshops in Dumfries and Galloway.

Connect Local receives £3m of funding from the Scottish Government to advise food and drink businesses across Scotland on a range of issues.

Mr Ewing agreed to write to Ms McAlpine with details of the workshop.

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MSP calls for premises to emulate award winning charity

MSP Joan McAlpine has called for more premises in  Dumfries and Galloway to learn from a Dumfries charity's award winning approach to accessibility.

She was speaking as The Usual Place community cafe collected a national award for its changing places toilet - the only facility of its kind in the region until the DGRI Hospital opened last year. 

The Dumfries community café – which provides employment and training opportunities for young people with additional support needs - was nominated for a Sudocrem award after customers praised the accessibility of its facilities.

Ms McAlpine attended the awards ceremony today (Monday) where local athlete Shelby Watson presented the café with the award.

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MSPs debate importance of housing provision for people with learning disabilities

MSP Joan McAlpine this week led a debate highlighting the importance of housing provision for people with learning disabilities.

The South Scotland MSP called for a national conversation on how to provide better housing after a report cited UK Government cuts and disparity of service at local authority level as contributing factors in people’s inability to access suitable housing.

Scotland’s Housing Minister told councils they must plan to meet the needs of people with a learning disability, and pledged to strengthen links between the housing sector and organisations representing people with learning disabilities.

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McAlpine ‘disappointed’ by Young’s decision to close Pinneys

MSP Joan McAlpine has expressed her deep disappointment at the decision by Young’s to close its Pinneys site.

The MSP was informed of the decision via email this afternoon.

The announcement comes after Young’s decided to consult on the closure back in April.

The Scottish Government has confirmed that it remains committed to securing the best outcome for the site, and is in discussions to find a new buyer

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McAlpine urges Santander boss to keep Lockerbie branch open

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.

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McAlpine welcomes plans to realign A76

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.

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Campaign to save lifeline bus service steps up a gear

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.

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McAlpine urges UK supermarket watchdog to “stand up for Pinneys”.

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”.

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Leading musicians showcase song for Scotland’s children

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.


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McAlpine welcomes cross party rejection of Westminster Brexit Bill

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.

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McAlpine welcomes First Minister to Dumfries for National Economic Forum address

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 Economy

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MSPs campaign to save lifeline bus service

                  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.

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McAlpine welcomes research on economic Impact of Burns

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.

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McAlpine calls for assurances over Scotland’s future relationship with EU on ‘Europe Day’

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.

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Local MSP leads calls for Scottish Screen Agency

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.

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MSP Slams RBS as execs fail to answer questions over branch closures

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. 

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McAlpine attacks banks over cash machine closures

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.

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MSP raises A76 safety concerns

MSP Joan McAlpine has written to Transport Scotland raising concerns about the safety and stability of the A76.

The SNP MSP was made aware of safety issues at a meeting of Sanquhar Community Council.

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McAlpine welcomes Minister’s Pinneys Action Meeting

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.

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McAlpine welcomes extra funding for roads maintenance following extreme weather

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.  

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McAlpine to raise future of Dumfries and Galloway ATMs in Parliament

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.

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Tory assault on devolution threatens Dumfries and Galloway’s Food Industry

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.

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McAlpine to raise future of Dumfries and Galloway ATMs in Parliament

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.

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MSP Welcomes Holyrood backing for Scottish Social Security system built on dignity and respect

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.

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Post-Brexit Westminster power grab bad for region, says MSP

Giving Westminster control over devolved policy areas after Brexit will be harmful to the economy of Dumfries and Galloway, a south Scotland MSP has said.

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.


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Uncovering Galloway's rich Gaelic heritage Important, says MSP

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.

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McAlpine visits Scotland’s first college breakfast club

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.

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McAlpine: ‘Santander branch closure plans add insult to injury’

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.

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McAlpine congratulates local campaigners on RBS ATM victory


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.

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MSP and Employment Minister ‘Blown Away’ by Big Bang event success

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.

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McAlpine calls for halt of Pinneys closure as plans to sell plant before summer are leaked

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.

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McAlpine welcomes First Minister’s comments on youth arts

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:

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McAlpine presses importance of retaining jobs in Annan to Young’s Chief Executive

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.

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Business Minister to discuss Pinneys case with Marks and Spencer bosses

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?"

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Standing room only for Pinneys meet as locals and politicians say they won’t give up without a fight

Meet.jpgCllr 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.


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McAlpine welcomes Business Minister’s letter to Young’s over future of Annan 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.

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Politicians and campaign group urge ‘ don’t let Young’s and M&S close our town down’!

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.


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McAlpine presses for answers on Acorn House

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.

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Marks and Spencer should take responsibility for seafood job losses says MSP

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.

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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.”