On Monday I was at The Usual Place as the 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. I think it is important that other public facilities across the region consider whether they can emulate this wonderful initiative to promote equality across the whole region - if a small charity like The Usual Place can do this, then so can larger organisations.
On Tuesday I was delighted to meet representatives from Cycling Without Age Scotland SCIO who were in Parliament this week encouraging MSPs to help support the extension of the programme in their own constituencies. Cycling Without Age organisers were given Scottish Government funding to bring together and train volunteers to 'pilot' trishaws in a bid to help older people get out and about in the fresh air. They are always looking for people who want to pilot as well as organisations such as care homes. If anyone is interested in becoming involved, please contact Christine Bell on firstname.lastname@example.org
In a landmark vote on Wednesday The Scottish Parliament unanimously passed a law giving automatic pardons to gay men convicted under discriminatory historical legislation. The last anti-gay references remained on the criminal statute book in Scotland until late 2013, and Police Scotland have identified up to 1,261 offences recorded against 994 people which fall within the scope of the Bill, so this is a very significant piece of legislation and I was proud to vote for it today.
On Thursday the Culture and Tourism committee which I convene took evidence from STV bosses on the job losses at STV2. STV CEO Simon Pitt’s claim that it is possible to produce higher quality news coverage despite making journalists redundant is of concern to the committee. He said he would consider sharing the report used to justify the changes, and I look forward to reading it. Mr Pitts’ ambition to generate more content in Scotland is welcome, but it remains unclear how this will be done, or how it will be funded. The committee will continue to monitor the changes taking place at STV, and will take further evidence soon.
I was pleased to welcome strong action from Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse on the Pinneys closure. On Thursday Mr Wheelhouse wrote to Young's Chief Exec asking that all redundancies and the transfer of jobs from Pinneys to Grimsby are halted immediately as a serious buyer for the site has come forward. I will continue to speak with the Minister and follow developments very closely. The focus now, as ever, is securing suitable continued employment for the Pinneys workforce.
Today SNP Conference unanimously passed my emergency resolution condemning the devastating impact of the closure of Pinneys, and recognising the absolutely vital work of the Pinneys Action Group, which continues to work to save the livelihoods of more than 450 workers. I hope this sends out a strong message of support and solidarity to workers, their families and the community of Annan.