MSPs welcome progress on CAP loan payments

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

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

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

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McAlpine seeks assurances at Whitesands Project demo

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

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

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

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MSPs welcome funding boost for fuel poor in region

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Scottish Parliament’s commitment to accessibility praised by McAlpine

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

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

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:

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

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

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

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McAlpine becomes Living Wage Champion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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McAlpine “honoured” to welcome Dumfriesshire landmine charity to parliament

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

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

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

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

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McAlpine welcomes new South Scotland enterprise body

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

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

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

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

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Special EU Deal Must be Matched for Dumfries and Galloway

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

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

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

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McAlpine welcomes Employability Minister to Dumfries

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

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

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

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Local MSP demands Tories support Solway gas blast ban

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

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

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

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

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Region’s meat producers face Brexit threat says MSP

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

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

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McAlpine slams Labour’s budget cut plans

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

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

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

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Council must set out Dumfries and Galloway transport priorities says McAlpine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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McAlpine joins WASPI women at rally

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

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

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

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:

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

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

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McAlpine selected as Learning Disability Parliamentary Group Deputy Convener

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

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

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:

“I was delighted to be chosen for this role.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Campaign against harmful dog training devices highlighted by McAlpine

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

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

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McAlpine encourages Transport Summit feedback

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

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

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

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:

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

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

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

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

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McAlpine praises work of Solway Recycling

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

Ms McAlpine said:

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

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

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

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

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Joan wears it pink for breast cancer research

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

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

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

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

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UK Goverment must match EU 5G commitment says McAlpine

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has called on the UK government to match the EU’s commitment to rolling out 5G by 2025 and free public wifi by 2020.

Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, made the commitment to “fully deploy” 5G across the EU by 2025 and to equip every European village and city with free wireless internet around the main centres of public life by 2020.

Ms McAlpine has written to Matt Hancock, the Minister of State for Digital and Culture, to ask whether the UK government will be able to match the commitment outside of the EU.

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McAlpine praises Lochduhar Care Home staff

MSP Joan McAlpine was impressed by the staff at Lochduhar Care Home where she opened their summer fête at the weekend.

The South Scotland SNP member was invited to open the fête by Care Home activities coordinator Maggie.

The MSP helped out on the stalls and was lucky enough to go home with a jar of sweeties from the raffle.

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McAlpine praises local housing organisation in parliamentary debate

South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has praised the work of the Dumfries and Galloway Small Communities Housing Trust during a housing debate in the Scottish Parliament.

Ms McAlpine highlighted the trust’s role in delivering the Scottish Government’s Rural Housing Fund across the region.  The government launched the £25 million fund in April this year to increase the supply of affordable housing of all tenures in rural Scotland. Funding is available to provide capital support for new housing and refurbishment projects as well as a smaller contribution towards feasibility studies where relevant.  Community-led projects are among those eligible to apply.

In her speech, Ms McAlpine commented:

“Clearly community-led development has its own challenges but thanks to the engagement efforts of the Dumfries and Galloway Small Communities Housing Trust, housing projects are beginning to emerge which have the potential to both increase the capacity of local development trusts and secure the longer-term sustainability of small communities. ”

The MSP has previously visited the trust at their headquarters in Thornhill and receives regular updates on their work across the region.

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McAlpine comments on Penman redundancies

South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has expressed “deep disappointment” over the redundancies of thirty four workers at Penman Engineering.

Today’s announcement of staff lay-offs at the firm’s Heathall site follows recent news that administrators had been called in.

The firm, which specialises in the construction of armoured vehicles, has been in operation since 1859. 

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:

“Obviously my thoughts are first and foremost with the affected workers.  I have remained in contact with the trade unions throughout this process and was deeply disappointed at today’s news.

“I would urge the administrators to do everything they possibly can to find a buyer for the company and safeguard the remaining ninety five jobs.”


MSP supports Clark's Little Ark

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An MSP is pressing Scottish Power to help get electricity to a local animal sanctuary's premises.

Joan McAlpine pledged her long term support to Clark’s Little Ark after a visit to the sanctuary last year.

Ms McAlpine hosted the site visit with Scottish Power to discuss options to create a new and affordable connection for the sanctuary.

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McAlpine welcomes £500m business fund

A local MSP has welcomed a £500m business fund unveiled by Nicola Sturgeon in this week’s Programme for Government.

Joan McAlpine, who convenes the Scottish Parliament’s Europe Committee said that a renewed focus on bolstering the economy was needed to combat the uncertainty caused by Brexit.

The fund will offer individual investment guarantees, and some loans, of up to £5m to small and medium sized firms who would otherwise be unable to grow because of a lack of investment finance

The First Minister announced a raft of other measures to bolster the economy - including a £100m capital stimulus programme.

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Business Minister ‘taking close interest’ in Penman’s says MSP

Dumfries based MSP Joan McAlpine has written to the Scottish Government expressing concern at the news that Penman Engineering has gone into administration.

The South Scotland member also spoke at length to Unite Union officials about the Heathhall based firm and hopes to speak with the administrators later this afternoon.

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Let’s take advantage of ‘head-start’ says MSP

A local MSP has written to the head of the Council urging him to take advantage of the ‘head-start’ from the region’s Transport Summit last week.

Joan McAlpine - whose election campaign led to the Summit – said the Council as the lead partner in the Regional Transport Partnership (SWestrans) needs to ensure it has shovel ready projects fit for inclusion in the Scottish Government’s refreshed National Transport Strategy.

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Transport Summit puts region’s priorities centre stage says MSP

More projects in Dumfries and Galloway will be included in the Scottish Government’s long term transport objectives as a result of the Transport Summit held today (Monday) in Dumfries.

Joan McAlpine MSP said the summit held by the Transport Minister Humza Yousaf and Deputy First Minister John Swinney in the Easterbrook Hall put the transport priorities of Dumfries and Galloway centre stage, with improvements to the A75 and better links between Dumfries and the M74 a priority identified. Mr Yousaf told the summit the Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR), which identifies priorities up until 2032, was being refreshed and the summit offered an opportunity for the region to have more influence.

During the meeting, hosted by John Swinney, Ms McAlpine pointed out that the A75 improvements included in the STPR should be more ambitious.

However, one of the reasons for this is that the local priorities identified in the A75 route action plan have now all been delivered – the majority by the SNP Government since 2007, including the Dunragit Bypass and the Hardgrove to Kinmount upgrade. The Regional Transport Strategy – which was supposed to be reviewed and updated every four years, has not been refreshed since 2008 when it was first drafted.

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Transport Summit – Joan McAlpine MSP briefing

Ahead of this afternoon's Transport Summit for Dumfries and Galloway I wanted to share a briefing note I have prepared for attendees, which includes views expressed by constituents and community groups.

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SNP MSPs praise local response to prejudiced preacher

Local SNP MSPs Joan McAlpine and Emma Harper have praised equality campaigners for organising a peaceful protest against a prejudiced preacher due to appear at a local church on Monday night.

Ms McAlpine has also written to the Lighthouse Church in Dumfries to ask them to reconsider their invitation.

The politicians were commenting after it emerged the church is set to host notorious preacher Angus Buchan following the cancellation of a scheduled appearance in the Borders due to local outcry.

Buchan was prevented from preaching in Galashiels due to the controversial views he espouses on LGBT people, women and children. He has reportedly suggested that homosexuality can be “cured” by prayer. He also claims that women should subject themselves to their husbands and support corporal punishment of their children.

Responding to the scheduled appearance, equality activists in Dumfries have organised a peaceful protest.

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MSP says Brexit funding pledge ‘falls short’

A local MSP has said the Treasury's pledge to replace EU funding does not go far enough to end uncertainty after the Brexit vote.

South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine, who also convenes the Europe Committee, said the "limited" funding was hundreds of millions of pounds short of what Scotland would receive as an EU member.

She also said that we need to know what is happening after 2020.

Under current arrangements, Scotland and Dumfries and Galloway get more than their population share of funding – particularly through the Rural Development Fund.

She said:

“It’s all very well for UK ministers to say we can deliver these programmes better, but we can’t deliver them better if the funds are slashed.

“UK ministers have failed to guarantee the same level of funds.”

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MSP behind Transport Summit says ‘don’t make it a political football’

The MSP whose campaign secured the Transport Summit for Dumfries and Galloway has called on all parties to work together to determine priorities for the region.

Joan McAlpine, who made the Transport Summit a key pledge in her “Dumfriesshire Manifesto” for the Scottish Parliament election, said there was a danger of the Summit being used as a political football.

Under the SNP Government more money has been invested in road upgrades in the south west than under the previous Labour administration, despite the fact that Scotland’s capital budget has been slashed by the Tories by 25%.

During the election, Ms McAlpine pointed out the regional transport strategy was out of date and that clear and ambitious new priorities needed to be set.

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McAlpine encourages local people to respond to Brexit enquiry

The impact on Scotland withdrawing from the EU is to be investigated by MSPs on the European and External Relations Committee.

The Committee is asking academics, organisations, individuals and businesses to give their views on the impact of the referendum result. They are also looking for what alternatives to EU membership may exist in order to explore all the possible options on the table.

MSPs also want to probe the impact of Scotland leaving the EU on devolution.

South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine, who also convenes the European and External Relations Committee said she is keen that local people’s voices are heard.

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SNP MSPs call for clarity over UK government plans on the future of vital subsidy payments after Brexit

SNP MSPs for the South of Scotland Emma Harper & Joan McAlpine have urged the UK Government to provide clarity over the future payment of farm subsidies following the Brexit vote in June. The call comes after latest figures showed a further £10.3 million in Common Agricultural Policy funding was paid out in Scotland in July.

The CAP payments make up a major part of farmer’s incomes – with this fact demonstrating how important it is for the UK Government to provide clarity to farmers across Dumfries & Galloway on the future of these subsidies. The latest figures showed funding paid out in July, which included £4.3 million under the sheep support scheme; £3.9 million BPS Greening and Young Farmer payments; and £2.1 million from the Rural Priorities Scheme.

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Scottish dairy farmers remain resilient in difficult financial times

Local SNP MSPs Joan McAlpine and Emma Harper have been heartened by new figures that have shown the resilience of the Scottish dairy farming industry in the face of challenging conditions for the sector.

The latest six-monthly figures to July 1st, published by the Scottish Dairy Cattle Association (SDCA), have shown the number of herds remaining at 974, despite a moderate decrease in cow numbers. The figures have been welcomed by the SDCA, who had expected both herd and cow numbers to fall.

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MSP criticises Tory and Labour’s rail engagement failure

Dumfriesshire’s Tory MP David Mundell and the region's former Labour MSP failed to contribute to a major consultation on the future of rail routes in Scotland.

The failure to contribute to the Future Routes Study showed Tories and Labour were "all talk and no trousers" when it came to demanding more investment in the region's infrastructure, according to the SNP MSP Joan McAlpine.

Ms McAlpine's own submission to the consultation highlighted the campaigns to link Dumfries by rail to Lockerbie, to electrify and improve the Dumfries-Glasgow service and re-open stations such as Beattock.

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McAlpine congratulates campaigners as Beattock Station re-opening moves closer

Local SNP member Joan McAlpine has congratulated Beattock Station campaigners as their fight to re-open the station moves one step closer.

Beattock Station will move forward along with Thornhill and Eastriggs to the next stage of the process following approval from regional transport body SWESTrans on Friday.

Ms McAlpine has supported the Beattock Station Action Group since 2012, having put their case forward to SWESTrans, as well as the Transport Minister and Abellio.

The MSP also brought the campaign to the attention of Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson.

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Locals turn out in Dumfries to protest trident renewal

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Many people gathered in Dumfries on Saturday to demonstrate against the renewal of Britain’s nuclear weapons programme.

Protesters were joined by local MSPs Emma Harper and Joan McAlpine, and councillor Andy Ferguson.

MPs at Westminster are due to vote today (Monday) on whether to give the go-ahead to the manufacture of the UK’s next generation of nuclear submarines.

It is expected that approximately 98 per cent of Scotland’s MPs will vote against renewal.

The SNP - which will oppose Trident renewal - had called for the vote to be delayed to allow "proper scrutiny".

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Dreich Weather fails to dampen ‘Castle Capers’ to celebrate King Robert’s birthday

SNP Dumfries East, Lochar & District, and West Dumfries Branch hosted a Family Fun event to mark the birthday of one of Scotland’s greatest historical figures on Sunday.

Local members hosted an afternoon of activities in the scenic location of Castledykes Park to celebrate the birthday of King Robert the Bruce – who was born on the 11th of July 1274.

Children and adults alike were invited to join the festivities by taking part in a treasure hunt, designing their own coat of arms, face painting, participating in games and wearing costumes. There was also a raffle and BBQ.

Revelers who braved the dreich weather were joined by local MSPs Joan McAlpine and Emma Harper.

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MSP welcomes nuclear waste reprieve for Dumfriesshire

South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed news that Chapelcross near Annan is no longer under threat of being turned into a nuclear waste storage site.  Ms McAlpine had opposed the plans after Chapelcross appeared on a Ministry of Defence (MoD) shortlist for nuclear dumping.  The MSP responded to last year’s public consultation by outlining her concerns that a nuclear dump would pose a serious threat to sustainable jobs and community safety in Dumfriesshire.

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:

"I’m very pleased that Chapelcross has been ruled out for nuclear waste storage.  

"In my response to the consultation I argued that the UK Government’s plans to dump waste at Chapelcross would jeopardise existing plans for a more positive sustainable future to be built on the former nuclear site. 

"I also pointed out that transporting radioactive material is one of the nuclear industry’s riskiest activities.  Given the number of minor roads leading to the site, the potential risks to community safety would have been very serious. 

"And it was obvious from my discussions with constituents in Dumfriesshire that Chapelcross was not an acceptable option. 

"That’s why I’m pleased the local community engaged so effectively with the public consultation.  The decision really demonstrates the strength of local opinion - I’m delighted my constituents’ voices have been heard."

The Chapelcross site hosted Scotland’s first commercial nuclear station but ceased generation in 2004.


MSP endorses health and social care manifesto

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South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine joined a leading health and social care organisation at the Scottish Parliament last week to pledge support to the two million people in Scotland living with a long term condition, equivalent to 4 in 10 of the population.

Ms McAlpine met staff from the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE), a network organisation for national and local charities as well as people living with long term conditions, disabled people and unpaid carers.

The MSP spoke to members of ALLIANCE team about their ‘2 Million Expert Voices’ manifesto, which calls for the views and experiences of people accessing support and services to be heard effectively and used to learn and lead change in health and social care in Scotland.

Ms McAlpine also learned more about the ALLIANCE’s activities to support new models of care, including ALISS – A Local Information System for Scotland, which aims to make information about health and wellbeing resources within local communities easier to find.

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MSP blasts Council over learning support ‘omnishambles’

Joan McAlpine has blasted the Labour administration’s approach to the region’s learning support as an ‘omnishambles.’

Many parents are facing a summer of uncertainty after being told hours of learning support will be cut in schools across the region.

To add insult to injury the Council has created more managerial posts to deal with assisted learning support while at the same time cutting the hours of hands-on staff who help children in the classroom.

In spite of creating these new officer posts, there has been a complete failure to communicate to parents what the provision will be for next term when many children are potentially put at risk by cuts – which include cuts to playground supervision.

The South Scotland SNP MSP has been approached by a number of parents distraught about the implications of the cuts for their children’s education.

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MSP secures Transport Minister meeting for A75 campaigners

Scotland’s Transport Minister will meet students campaigning for the A75 upgrade – thanks to the intervention of MSP Joan McAlpine.

Ms McAlpine has been supporting Danny Pool, Lewis Irving and Adam Little since the launched their campaign on Facebook earlier this year.

She wrote to Transport Minister Humza Yousaf asking if he would meet the Annan boys and this week he agreed – writing to Ms McAlpine asking for suggested dates.

The meeting is in addition to the Transport Summit the South Scotland MSP has secured from government in order to set priorities for Dumfries and Galloway.

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McAlpine demands answers from Oliver Mundell over EU vote

Joan McAlpine has launched a scathing attack on Dumfriesshire MSP Oliver Mundell for voting to leave the EU.

Mr Mundell campaigned for a leave vote against the wishes of a majority of his constituents.

Ms McAlpine said he “owes answers” to his constituents as the consequences of Brexit for the region come to light.

The SNP MSP said:

“Mr Mundell’s decision to vote for Brexit was entirely ill considered.

“He owes answers to his constituents and gave none today in the Scottish Parliament – like Boris Johnson and the rest of the Leave campaign he quite disgracefully had no blueprint to offer.”

Ms McAlpine was commenting following a debate in the Scottish Parliament on the implications of the European referendum result.

The SNP MSP, who has recently taken up the Convenership of the Europe and External Affairs Committee in the Scottish Parliament, led the back bench speeches in her capacity as a representative for South Scotland.

She was speaking as the Council outlined the local projects threatened by Brexit including as Broadband roll out, which is underpinned by European grants.

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MSP votes to back Scotland’s place in Europe

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has joined with colleagues from across the Scottish Parliament in uniting behind the First Minister’s efforts to keep Scotland in the European Union – voting to give the Scottish Government a mandate to commence discussions with EU institutions and members states.

At Decision Time on Tuesday, MSPs voted overwhelmingly by 92 votes to 0 in favour of a Scottish Government motion in favour of exploring options to protect Scotland’s EU membership – with only the Scottish Tories withholding support.

Commenting, Joan McAlpine said:

“Last week, the people of Dumfries and Galloway made their voice heard – and I was proud to join MSPs across the parties to cast my vote in the Scottish Parliament to make clear that their decision should be respected.

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Pulling Scotland out of Europe against our will “an affront to democracy” says MSP

Commenting on the result of the UK’s EU Referendum, SNP MSP Joan McAlpine said:

"Scotland voted strongly to remain part of the European Union and we now risk being pulled out against our will. That is an affront to democracy.

“It is particularly insulting to those who voted No in the independence referendum because they were told that was the only way to guarantee Scotland remained in the EU, and our people retained European Citizenship.

“I am proud of the way Scotland voted yesterday. We rejected the fearful, narrow nationalism that characterised the leave campaign. The SNP by contrast represents an outward looking, self-determination movement which is internationalist.”

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MSP urges local groups to apply for new community funding

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has urged community groups in Dumfriesshire to apply for a new £2 million fund to help local communities have a greater say in decision-making.

The Scottish Government’s Community Choices Fund will allow community groups such as community councils and other constituted organisations to hold meetings with councils to decide how money is spent in their area. These are known as “participatory budgeting” events.

Participatory budgeting is recognised internationally as a way for local people to have a direct say in how, and where, public funds can be used to address local needs.

The Community Choices Fund is the latest step in the Scottish Government’s roll-out of participatory budgeting across Scotland.

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McAlpine nominates wheelchair champ Shelby as ‘Local Hero’

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Joan McAlpine has nominated local wheelchair champion Shelby Watson as her Local Hero.

Last month, all 129 MSPs were invited to nominate a constituent who makes a positive difference to the lives of others – often with little recognition - as their Local Hero.

Joan chose Shelby as she has long stood out as an ‘exceptional young woman’ who has overcome considerable challenges to set an example to others.

On Saturday 2 July, all Local Heroes will come to Holyrood as part of the Scottish Parliament’s Opening Ceremony events to mark the start of a new parliamentary session.

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South Scotland MSPs enjoy Guid Nychburris

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SNP MSPs Emma Harper and Joan McAlpine attended the Guid Nychburris celebrations together on Saturday, 18th June 2016.

The MSPs joined the crowds in Dumfries High Street to watch the crowning of the Queen of the South and also visited the Norwegian market, organised by the Stove to celebrate our links with Norway. 

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McAlpine backs MND Scotland’s fight to Cure MND

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In advance of Global MND Awareness Day on 21st June Joan McAlpine is asking her constituents to support MND Scotland’s cutting edge research.

Motor Neurone Disease (MND) is a rapidly progressing terminal neurological condition which affects the signals from your brain reaching muscles, causing muscle weakness and wasting. It can affect the ability to eat, sleep, walk, talk and breathe unaided. Average life expectancy from diagnosis is just 14 months and it is not yet known what causes it. There is no effective treatment or cure.

Funding MND research is a key priority for MND Scotland and during Awareness Week they will be highlighting what could be achieved with more funding.

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McAlpine puts Barony back on the agenda

MSP Joan McAlpine put the Barony College firmly back on the agenda during Parliamentary questions today.

Ms McAlpine asked the new Higher Education Minister Shirley-Anne Somerville if the government will help ensure land based education in the region is not compromised by decisions made by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC).

The Minister praised Ms McAlpine’s efforts on behalf of staff and students at the Barony and said she would be happy to discuss the issue along with SRUC representatives.

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MSP welcomes SNP government commitment to improving mobile connectivity

An MSP has said she is ‘delighted’ that the Scottish government will work to increase and improve mobile coverage in rural Scotland – in spite of it being reserved to Westminster.

South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine – a seasoned campaigner for better connectivity in the region - has welcomed these commitments.

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MSP praises LGBT solidarity after homophobic Orlando attack

South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has praised expressions of solidarity from Scotland and Dumfries following Sunday’s homophobic attack in Orlando.

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:

"The loss of life in Orlando is appalling, as it was in Paris and all the other hateful terrorist atrocities. Orlando is different in that it deliberately targeted gay people - it was a homophobic attack. Our response therefore should be to root out homophobia in our own communities, because as long as it exists, none of us can honestly say it could not happen here.

"That is why I praise the response of Scotland and Dumfries with vigils and other expressions of solidarity . The Scottish Government flew the rainbow flag at half mast as a mark of respect and Dumfries did the same after an appeal from Richard Arkless MP.

"With other MSPs I will observe a minute's silence in the Scottish Parliament today. These demonstrations are important but we should remember to put their sentiment into practice by condemning anti LGBT language and behaviour wherever we encounter it."


Council boss under fire for music tuition hypocrisy

A Labour council boss who said that music tuition helps develop children’s IQ is now cutting instrument lessons for local children, Joan McAlpine MSP has revealed.

Ms McAlpine hit out after Dumfries and Galloway Council slapped £200 charges on children wishing to learn a musical instrument and said some teachers may not be replaced.

The South of Scotland MSP pointed out that the Labour convener of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Education Committee Jeff Leaver had previously taken credit for the success of instrumental tuition in the region.  The comments have since been deleted from the council website.

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Local MSP set to become convener of powerful Holyrood committee

South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has been nominated as convener of the Europe, External Relations, Culture and Tourism Committee which will meet this Thursday.

The committee is expected to have a high profile role in examining the implications for Scotland of Brexit, or indeed a narrow vote to remain in the EU. It is also expected to take a close interest in the new BBC charter as well as the running of Visit Scotland and Creative Scotland.

Ms McAlpine said:

“I’m absolutely delighted to be nominated for this role. Much of the business of the Scottish Parliament is conducted through its committees, including scrutiny of the budget and all legislation.

“It’s a very exciting time to be appointed to the parliament’s Europe committee. And from a constituency point of view, the culture and tourism remit is very important to the south of Scotland.

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MSP welcomes positive results of cancer care survey

South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed news that the vast majority of cancer patients positively rate the care they receive.

Ms McAlpine was responding to the results of the first ever Scottish Cancer Patient Experience Survey. The results were released today by the Scottish Government and Macmillan Cancer Support.

In Dumfries and Galloway, 95% of the 75 patients who provided feedback rated their experience as positive - comparing favourably with a national figure of 94%.

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MSP joins Leonard Cheshire for Volunteer Awards

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Joan McAlpine joined volunteers service users and staff to celebrate Leonard Cheshire Disability’s Volunteer Awards on Saturday.

The South Scotland MSP presented the awards in recognition of five volunteers who assist service users in supported living services in the region.

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MSP slams “totally unsatisfactory” Post Office flood delays

South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has described as “totally unsatisfactory” the Post Office’s handling of flood damage at a branch in Dumfries.

The Whitesands Post Office in Dumfries was closed for several weeks after flood damage this winter.

The MSP wrote to Post Office executives seeking answers about the extended closure after she was contacted by concerned constituents.

In an official response to Ms McAlpine, the Post Office admitted “there were delays in re-fitting the branch to go live”. They acknowledged that they had considered providing a temporary service but decided against this due to the associated “lead in time”.

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McAlpine welcomes new Cabinet Secretary’s focus on CAP payments

Joan McAlpine has welcomed the new Rural Affairs Secretary’s pledge that CAP payments will be his “first and foremost priority.”

Speaking in Parliament yesterday Mr Ewing apologised for the delays farmers have faced and assured members that the Scottish Government was doing everything in its power to sort it.

Most farmers received the majority of their entitlement by April this year.

Mr Ewing said:

“On behalf of the Scottish Government, I address three simple words to all farmers and crofters who have suffered as a result: we are sorry. Let me follow that up with four further words: we are fixing it."

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Brexit threatens funding opportunity for Dumfries and Galloway says McAlpine

A unique opportunity to obtain more funding for Dumfries and Galloway is under threat from Brexit Joan McAlpine MSP has warned.

Ms McAlpine said the surprise decision of new Tory member for Dumfriesshire to back the out campaign could damage years of work aimed at ensuring the region was eligible more EU funding.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Ms McAlpine explained that a new statistical designation of South Scotland, approved by the Sottish Government could help extract lucrative structural funds to help small business, digital connectivity and provide training opportunities - but only if we remain in Europe.

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MSP welcomes Swinney’s commitment to Transport Summit

Scotland’s Deputy First Minister John Swinney told Parliament that he still intends to chair a Transport Summit for Dumfries and Galloway.

Responding to South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine’s push for more infrastructure investment in the region in her speech yesterday, Mr Swinney said he would make good on his promise to chair a summit, in spite of his move to the education brief.

And he joked that he would be keeping the ne Transport Minister, Humza Yousaf in check.

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Tory MSP must make clear position on ‘heartless’ sanctions

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has today written to Oliver Mundell MSP calling on him to clarify if he is within the mainstream of Scottish politics and to join cross-party condemnation of the ‘heartless’ DWP policy.

This comes as newly elected Tory MSP Brian Whittle admitted that he did not support his own party’s policy on the issue – saying that the system of benefits sanctions “needs to be overhauled”.

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MSP uses first speech to push for investment in Dumfries and Galloway

MSP Joan McAlpine used her first speech of the new Parliament to push the case for more investment in the region.

The South Scotland MSP welcomed the Government’s £20 billion infrastructure investment plans, and said she looks forward to welcoming the new Transport Minister to Dumfries to chair a summit identifying priorities for road and rail for the area.

Better connecting Dumfries and Galloway to the rest of Scotland played a key role in Ms McAlpine’s recent election campaign, and she has vowed to make this a top priority. SNP ministers also made a number of commitments to the south including fresh action on tourism and upgrades to the A75 and looking at better ways to connect Dumfries to M74.

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MSPs encourage Dumfries and Galloway residents to apply to Flood Appeal

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SNP MSPs are encouraging those across the region affected by flooding to apply to the Flood Appeal before Friday’s deadline.

Joan McAlpine and Emma Harper helped clear up after the floods and are keen people across the region don’t miss out.

Households or community groups wishing to apply to Foundation Scotland’s Appeal must do so before 4.00pm on Friday 27th May.

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McAlpine will carry on City Campaign

Joan McAlpine has vowed to carry on her campaign for City Status for Dumfries and more ambition for the region after raising the SNP vote in Dumfriesshire from 8384 in 2011 to 12,306 last week. She came a close second to the Conservatives who beat the Labour incumbent of 17 years Elaine Murray.

Ms McAlpine, who will continue to serve as a Scottish Parliament regional member, raised the SNP vote share by 7.7%, the highest in the South of Scotland region and much higher than the party's national rise of 1.2%.

Ms McAlpine has now written to the new MSP for Dumfriesshire Oliver Mundell after he said in his victory speech that he hoped to work with her on some of the ideas she raised to boost jobs and investment in the region in the course of the campaign.

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Haaf netting in Annan to be made a Historic Fishery

Haaf netting on the Annan is to be made a Historic Fishery the First Minister announced last night in a visit to the town.

Nicola Sturgeon revealed she had included the pledge in the SNP's election manifesto as a result of campaigning by Joan McAlpine MSP

The First Minister was speaking at a packed public meeting in The Victoria Halls Annan to support Ms McAlpine's campaign to win Dumfriesshire for the SNP on 5 May Scottish Parliament election.

Annan's special place on page 26 of the manifesto was revealed in response to a plea by George Willacy OBE, a retired haaf netter.

The pledge says:

"We will designate the haaf net fishing on the River Annan as a historic fishery."

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Dumfries and Galloway WASPI Supporters to hold open meeting

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Joan McAlpine has welcomed the formation of a Dumfries and Galloway group campaigning against the way state pension changes affect women born in the 1950s. The group will hold their first open meeting for all women affected by the changes on Tuesday 19th April.

Dumfries and Galloway WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) Supporters was formed after local women met Ms McAlpine, SNP candidate for Dumfriesshire in the Scottish Parliament Election and Mhairi Black, the UK's youngest MP who has lead campaigning on the issue.

However the WASPI group is not party political.

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Manifesto for Dumfriesshire Launched

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Joan McAlpine, the SNP candidate for Dumfriesshire, launched her Manifesto for Dumfriesshire this morning, promising to ‘put Dumfriesshire centre stage’ and unveiling a mix of ambitious pledges designed to improve the ambition, competitiveness, connectivity and quality of life in the region. 

Among Ms McAlpine’s promises to Dumfriesshire are:

  • Champion City status for Dumfries to unlock a City Region Deal for Dumfriesshire, similar to the £315 million deal recently secured by Inverness and the Highlands.
  • Hold a Transport Summit to identify transport priorities and to raise ambitions about what can be achieved.
  • Campaign at a UK level for massively improved mobile internet coverage across Dumfriesshire to support our region’s businesses, in particular tourism businesses, and supporting the SNP’s pledge for 100% superfast broadband coverage for all premises.
  • A mix of education pledges, including supporting the continuation of the Barony College and campaigning for flexibility in the pledged increased childcare to better suit the needs of rural working lives.
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Deputy First Minister tours DS Smith

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Deputy First Minister John Swinney toured Lockerbie packaging company DS Smith last week and praised the company's focus on innovation and workforce development.

Mr Swinney, who is also Finance and Economy Secretary, was invited to visit the plant by the SNP Candidate for Dumfriesshire, Joan McAlpine.

Ms McAlpine has toured the Lockerbie facility as an MSP and was impressed with new general manager Andrew Pearson's commitment to community engagement as well as the sophistication of the design and manufacturing on site.

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​Mhairi Black inspires voters of all ages

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The UK’s youngest MP visited Dumfries on Tuesday to encourage voters of all ages to use their vote and engage in the democratic process. Mhairi Black MP was greeted with a warm reception as she met with various groups during her afternoon in Dumfries.

Ms Black met with members of Doonhamers Amateur Boxing Club including inspirational coach Anne Armstrong and Dennis Broadhurst, Scottish Elite 2 Times Welterweight Champion. She then attended a lunch with service users of Soul Soup, a confidential counselling service for young people seeking help and support with their emotional wellbeing.

Ms Black and Dumfriesshire candidate for the SNP Joan McAlpine took part in a lively Q&A event at Oasis Youth Centre before meeting SNP supporters in Dumfries Town Centre, and they finished with a packed meeting at The Stove of WASPI women affected by the state pension age transition (Women Against State Pension Inequality).

The Westminster MP was invited to visit Dumfries by Joan McAlpine to encourage local young people to make their voice heard through the ballot box.

Ms McAlpine said:

“Mhairi is genuinely inspirational and she spoke with conviction to local groups about the issues affecting their lives. This is a really important election because this is the first time young people have had a choice in the government that’s going to decide their future, that’s why it’s so important for them to register to vote.”

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Joan McAlpine cleans up in Canonbie

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Joan McAlpine joined villagers in Canonbie for a mass clean on Sunday.

The former MSP and Scottish National Party Candidate in the Scottish Parliament election gathered two large bin bags full of rubbish from hedgerows and verges of the old A7 road into the village.

Ms McAlpine praised the Canonbie and District Residents Association for the clean - up initiative which was backed by the Scottish Government Keep Scotland Beautiful agency who supplied hi-vis vests.

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MP supports city status bid

Richard Arkless has backed Joan McAlpine’s calls for Dumfries to apply for city status at the earliest possible opportunity.
 
The MP’s comments came after a £315 million city region deal was announced for Inverness and the surrounding area with projects designed to boost the economy, improve road infrastructure, improve digital connectivity and encourage young people to stay in the area.
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Pylon stakeholder forum suspension “latest death knell” for project

The former South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has said the suspension of a key stakeholder forum appears to be the “latest death knell” for the strategic reinforcement project proposals from Scottish Power Energy Networks.

Ms McAlpine, who lobbied for community representation on the stakeholder liaison group, was this week informed by government officials that the forum will not hold any further meetings while the project review by SPEN is under way.

An official from the Scottish Government told Ms McAlpine:

“SPEN are currently completing a full review of their proposals. Once that review is complete it is the Scottish Government’s intention to consider the outcome and review options for progressing both the Statutory Stakeholder Liaison Group and proposed community liaison forum in light of the findings of the review.

“We do not anticipate any other meetings of the Statutory Stakeholder Liaison Group whilst the review is under way.”

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McAlpine contacts Buckingham Palace and Downing Street over Dumfries City Status

Joan McAlpine has contacted Buckingham Palace and Downing Street in her campaign to move Dumfries towards city status

The former MSP has asked Her Majesty the Queen's Private Secretary when the next opportunity to bid for city status is likely to happen.

City status is a gift of the monarch in consultation with her ministers, which is the reason why Ms McAlpine also wrote to Prime Minister David Cameron shortly before the dissolution of The Scottish Parliament.

Ms McAlpine explained: "The Diamond Jubilee in 2012 was the last time a city was created and before that it was the millennium. So we need to know the next likely opportunity so that we can all work together to prepare a Dumfriesshire bid.

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MSP praises the ‘inspirational people’ of Dumfriesshire as Parliament dissolves

Joan McAlpine has marked the dissolution of the Scottish Parliament before the Holyrood elections by praising the often unseen work carried out by community groups, volunteers, businesses and individuals across Dumfriesshire that makes our region a better place.

Ms McAlpine said the privilege of serving as an MSP in the Scottish Parliament gives politicians an insight into the challenges and hardships faced by many people, as well as an unique overview of the talent, potential and hard work being done to address these challenges.

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Pylon plan ‘uneconomical’ says National Grid

Joan McAlpine MSP has welcomed the news that the controversial pylon proposal across Dumfries and Galloway has been judged uneconomic by National Grid.

The announcement yesterday was made just two weeks after the UK Energy regulator Ofgem met Ms McAlpine and local campaigners and explained that they had asked National Grid to evaluate the proposal.

National Grid yesterday concluded: "The Dumfries and Galloway reinforcement option (Auchencrosh to Harker) was not taken to the next stage of evaluation as other reinforcement options were found to be more economic in reducing constraints ...".

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MSP takes up pay fight for Chapelcross workers

Joan McAlpine MSP has taken up the case of local Chapelcross workers whose severance payments could be cut as a result of the recently passed UK Enterprise Bill.

The Bill has moved Magnox back into the public sector – but it also caps the exit payment of public sector workers.

And while it was supposed to affect “fat cats” only – the trade unions say that middle ranking and even some lower paid workers could be hit – particularly if pensions are taken into account in calculating an pay offs.

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MSP Presents Award to Dumfriesshire Nursery

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Joan McAlpine MSP was delighted to present local nursery Sparklers, with an award for achieving the Investors in Young People Standard. The award is determined following a meeting with young people employed at the nursery and a report from the nursery themselves.

Ms McAlpine handed over the award in Sparklers’ Gretna premises. She said:

“Sparklers should be commended for their award and their investment in training of young people. They are a great example of what working together in the community can achieve. Using local training group Minerva, they provide their staff with ongoing further development opportunities funded by the Scottish Government.”

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MSP meets with Scottish Funding Council over Barony closure concerns

South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine joined Barony College campaigners in the Scottish Parliament with senior executives from the Scottish Funding Council (SFC).

Ms McAlpine called the meeting in response to community, student and staff concerns about the future of the Barony Campus following the merger with SRUC.

The SFC make decisions about the funding of colleges and universities and would need to approve and fund any proposed move to The Crichton. They revealed at the meeting that no business case had yet been made for such a move and that they had no capital currently to back one. They also said a strict evaluation would need to happen first with employers in agriculture and forestry consulted.

Outcome Agreement Manager, Aileen Ross and Martin Kirkwood, Assistant Director of Capital and Climate Change group agreed to meet with Ms McAlpine to hear her concerns and those of former Barony lecturer, Brian McMorran, who is spokesman for the campaign. A representative of the forest industries, Confor’s National Manager, Jamie Farquhar also attended and said the learning experience at the Barony could not be duplicated on an urban site.

 

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MSP encourages local groups to apply for new funding

Joan McAlpine is encouraging local groups across Dumfriesshire to apply for funding through the CashBack for Communities programme following a £17m funding boost for the scheme announced by the Scottish Government last week.

CashBack for Communities is a Scottish Government programme which takes funds recovered from the proceeds of crime and invests them into free activities and programmes for young people across Scotland.

Since 2008/09 CashBack has committed over £75 million to projects and organisations who work with young people, delivering more than 1.8 million activities and opportunities throughout the country. In Dumfriesshire the programme has supported a number of youth development, sporting and creative projects that have benefitted young people across the region.

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Joan McAlpine supports call to improve cancer diagnostics

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Joan McAlpine is backing an appeal to help save the lives of more people with cancer across Scotland. The MSP has lent her support to Cancer Research UK’s ‘Scotland vs Cancer’ campaign by attending a special reception at the Scottish Parliament.

The campaign asks politicians to support a call to ensure cancer patients have quick access to vital cancer tests. It is important that cancers are diagnosed earlier in Scotland - the earlier a person’s cancer is diagnosed, the better chance they have of successful treatment.

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McAlpine welcomes broadband pledge from First Minister

Joan McAlpine MSP has welcomed the commitment by Nicola Sturgeon to ensure every single premises in Scotland has broadband by the end of the next parliament.

Ms McAlpine said it was welcome news for those parts of Dumfriesshire which were particularly hard to reach. The First Minister made the announcement in her speech to the SNP party conference on Saturday.

Broadband, like all telecommunications matters, is an responsibility reserved to the UK Government. However the Scottish Government has had to step in where Westminster has failed to deliver.

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MSP welcomes Food Train funding boost

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Joan McAlpine MSP has welcomed the announcement of Scottish Government funding for an older adults’ support project which started in Dumfries. 


Ms McAlpine was speaking following her visit on Friday with the Scottish Government’s Minister for Sport, Health Improvement and Mental Health, Jamie Hepburn to the Food Train in Dumfries.

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MSP welcomes Scottish Government support for Usual Place

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An intervention by Joan McAlpine MSP has resulted in a life-changing grant to train young people in Dumfries and Galloway.

The MSP stepped in when the Usual Place community cafe were looking for funds from the Scottish Government’s “The Keys to Life” programme aimed at helping people with learning disabilities.

Officials visited the Social Enterprise to see its work for themselves and were so impressed they awarded a grant to train young people in retail skills.

The Minister for Sport, Health Improvement and Mental Health Jamie Hepburn came to the Dumfries project last week to announce the funding and meet volunteers and trainees.

The Usual Place already trained young people in skills around catering. The community enterprise opened its doors last year after transforming the old Dumfries High School dining room into a fully accessible café and meeting space.

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McAlpine Praises Dumfries and Galloway Epilepsy service as “blueprint for the rest of Scotland”

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Joan McAlpine MSP has praised a unique epilepsy service which has helped 1,200 in Dumfries and Galloway get help from a specialist nurse near their home.

The SNP MSP attended a showcase of the service in the Scottish Parliament where the D & G project was praised by Scottish Health Minister Jamie Hepburn and Epilepsy Scotland Chief Executive Lesslie Young.

The unique three year collaboration with the NHS, Epilepsy Scotland and pharmaceutical companies UCB Pharma and GSK means epilepsy patients benefit from Epilepsy Specialist Nurses, better equipped GPs, as well as practice and learning disability nurses who have received epilepsy training and materials.

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SNP MSPs call for urgent rethink of public transport cuts

South of Scotland MSPs Aileen McLeod and Joan McAlpine have today (Thursday) called for an urgent rethink of proposed cuts to public transport provision for the region, which would see bus services after 6pm and all buses on Sundays scrapped. Regional Transport Partnership Swestrans will make the decision at its meeting in Gatehouse of Fleet tomorrow.

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McAlpine welcomes reprieve for ancient Solway fishing tradition

Joan McAlpine MSP has hailed as a great victory news that Annan’s haaf netters will be allowed to fish in the Solway despite new wild salmon conservation rules which will come into effect next month.

Following lobbying from Ms McAlpine, who put down a parliamentary motion to save the haaf netters, Richard Lochhead, the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, said that the unique cultural heritage of the haaf netters would be recognised.

He revealed that officials would work with the haaf netters on a scientific project which would allow them to take some salmon, while helping to count the number of fish and improve authorities’ understanding of conservation issues.

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MSP seeks fresh assurances on Solway coal fires threat

Joan McAlpine MSP has welcomed the news that a controversial underground coal gasification (UCG) proposal is unlikely to go ahead in the Solway. The Buccleuch-backed company Five Quarter, which was behind the proposals, has gone out of business.

Ms McAlpine has, however, said she is concerned to hear that liquidators could sell on the licences, which are NOT devolved – they are issued by the UK Coal Authority.

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MSP accuses Tories of hypocrisy on CAP support

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine accused the Tories of hypocrisy on farm support – after they failed to explain how they would guarantee support for farmers if the UK votes to leave the EU.

The Conservative Farming Minister, George Eustice, has announced that he will vote for the UK to leave the EU – effectively campaigning for an end to all EU support for Scotland’s farmers and rural communities.

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MSP celebrates apprenticeship week with Minerva People

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Local MSP Joan McAlpine last week joined modern apprentices and employers at Minerva People to celebrate the sixth annual Modern Apprenticeship week.

Under the SNP Government the number of people undertaking Modern Apprenticeships (MAs) across Scotland has increased by 59.7% since 2007-08, with 25,000 places being offered annually.

In 2006-07, there were 415 MA starts in Dumfries and Galloway – this had increased to 707 by 2013/14.

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MSP welcomes rural home funding boost

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SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed a new £25 million fund from the Scottish Government to build affordable homes in rural areas including Dumfriesshire.

The MSP said the Scottish Government’s Rural Housing Fund, which will increase supply of long term affordable housing in rural areas over the next three years, will “boost house building and regeneration” in the region.

Thornhill based Dumfries and Galloway Small Communities housing Trust was already working with the Scottish government to deliver housing locally.

The fund will assist both the building of new homes and refurbishment of existing buildings, contributing to the Scottish Government’s commitment to build 50,000 new homes across Scotland over the next five years, backed by £3bn.

And 70% of these will be for rent within the social housing sector.

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Education in the region to benefit from Council Tax reform says MSP

A radical reform of local government funding will boost education spending in Dumfries and Galloway, Joan McAlpine MSP has said.

South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed the Scottish Government’s plans for ambitious Council Tax reform – which will see those in the highest bands pay more, and the money raised invested in education in Dumfries & Galloway.

The planned reforms include additional support for those on low incomes including pensioners – with low income families across all bands seeing an extension of the Council Tax reduction scheme saving the average family £173 per year.

Dumfries and Galloway will also get the chance to keep a chunk of the income tax raised in the region. The SNP, if elected in May, will consult on assigning a portion of the income tax raised – making councils more accountable to local people.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that rates paid by those in Bands E, F, G and H will be adjusted, raising an extra £100 million to be invested in education.

The proposal to devolve a portion of income tax will reduce local authorities’ reliance on funding from central government. It is estimated that when the planned changes take effect, 75 per cent of local government funding will be locally grounded.

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MSP expresses concerns over proposed Gracefield move

South of Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has expressed concerns about the plans by Dumfries and Galloway Council to close Gracefield Arts Centre in Dumfries and relocate its functions to Council buildings in Buccleuch Street.  

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