Ramblers Scotland – celebrating recreational walking

I recently attended a reception in the parliament to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003. I was joined with representatives from Ramblers Scotland. Ramblers is an organisation which protect the places for people to walk in Scotland and also promote the health and social benefits of walking such as countryside, recreation and outdoors.

I have supported Richard Lochhead’s motion which notes the importance that Scotland’s framework of access plays to make sure all of Scotland can enjoy the health and social benefits of keeping active.

Walking can boost health –  but an independent survey by Ramblers Scotland showed poorly maintained paths are one of the biggest barriers to getting out there. This is reflected on the National Performance Framework as peoples use of Scotland’s outdoors has increased by 13% over the past 6 years . I hope within 2018 we will see this increase even further and we can help more people #GetOutThere.

 Motion Number: S5M-09781
Lodged By: Richard Lochhead
Date Lodged: 08/01/2018

Title: 15th Anniversary of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act

Motion Text:

That the Parliament notes that 23 January 2018 marks the 15th anniversary of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003; congratulates outdoor organisations, land managers, volunteers and public bodies for collaboratively delivering Scotland’s world-class access rights and supporting a range of outdoor recreation opportunities; acknowledges the Scottish Government-led report, Get Scotland Walking: A National Walking Strategy for Scotland, which shows a 13% increase in recreational walking over a six-year period; understands that VisitScotland estimates that the annual economic impact of walking tourism is £1.26 billion; recognises the critical role that Scotland’s framework of access rights and responsibilities plays in supporting everyone in Scotland to enjoy the health and social benefits of being active in Scotland’s natural environment; commends all involved in what it considers this success, and aspires to see even more people getting the most from Scotland’s wonderful landscapes.


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Be flood prepared

There has been a tremendous amount of snow over the last few days which could lead to flooding in vulnerable areas.  In the event of flooding it is important that people make their health and safety a priority and act quickly.  The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) have a Floodline that can assist on 0345 988 1188 with updates on http://www.floodlinescotland.org.uk/  Or in an emergency call 999.

If travelling in the next few days also check the risk of flooding at www.trafficscotland.org or for public transport https://www.travelinescotland.com/

The Association of British Insurers has released a guide on how to deal with your insurance company and how to protect your property from future flooding.  Information on this can be found https://www.abi.org.uk/search/?q=flooding+protection

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Labour MSP David Stewart Proposes Making Sprinklers Mandatory

My Labour colleague David Stewart MSP is proposing to bring forward legislation to make the installation of sprinklers mandatory in all new-build social housing.

Prior to the Grenfell disaster, fire injuries and deaths in Scotland have been significantly higher than the rest of the country. In 2015-16, there were 5,673 dwelling fires in Scotland, 46 per cent higher per million inhabitants than in England and Wales.

Fires are also more prevalent in areas of socio-economic deprivation. The 2009 Scotland Together Report into Scottish fire deaths and injuries found that 31 per cent of all accidental dwelling fires occurred in the 15 per cent of most deprived areas of Scotland.
David’s proposal will begin a consultation period running until 16th April this year, and will also seek views on what action can be taken to retrofit sprinkler systems into existing high-rise social housing stock.

 Labour MSP David Stewart said:

“House fires are more prevalent in areas of socio-economic deprivation. This simple change in law is a practical step that will save lives. The scandal of Grenfell last summer was that protection was not available to those who were most in need. My consultation opens tomorrow for 12 weeks and I would encourage as many members of the public and organisations as possible to respond”

For those who would like to respond more information can be found on the Parliament website, including the consultation survey: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/Bills/107479.aspx

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Tourist Information Centres

Following the closure of a number of Tourist Information Centres, Lanark most recently, I raised concerns in the Scottish Parliament last week about how tourists will access information.

In an earlier letter to me, Visit Scotland confirmed that due to a fall in the use of iCentres, their future strategy would be to promote greater digital access and develop their Visitor Information Partner programme.  This programme will rely on accommodation providers and popular attractions to supply face-to-face information to tourists.  In the South of Scotland more than 300 businesses have signed up to the partnership including New Lanark, Glentress Forest and Cream o ’Galloway.

It makes perfect sense that tourist information can be accessed at South Scotland’s best attractions, and it is understandable the move to promote digital access, but I questioned how tourism will move forward if people cannot access their apps or websites.

With poor broadband and mobile provision in many areas across South Scotland, I am concerned tourists will be left frustrated.  Reliance on this strategy depends on good broadband availability.  The Cabinet Secretary for Culture reassured the Parliament that Visit Scotland and the roll out programme is joined up but with targets still to be met that remains to be seen.

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Home Energy Scotland Lanark Event

Are you interested in reducing your energy bills, making your home warmer and cheaper to heat? Home Energy Scotland is hosting this free event to bring together home energy and industry specialists to help you looking at ways to do this.

You may live in a new, older or period property, or indeed in an area that is off gas. You may also be interested in switching to renewables technologies as part of efforts to make your home warmer and more energy efficient.

When: Thursday, 1 February 6.00pm – 8.00pm

Where: Lanark Memorial Hall, 13 St Leonard Street, Lanark ML11 7AB


Info and book at https://warmlanark.eventbrite.com


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15 years of community ownership – The Land Reform Act 2003

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the passing of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003. Passed by the joint Labour and Liberal Democrat administration, this Act was a major step in redressing the balance of land ownership in Scotland – although there is still further work to be done.

More than half of Scotland is owned by fewer than 500 people – and this pattern of land ownership is very unfair. Scottish land should be for the many, and not just the few.

While progress must be made, the 2003 Act was very positive for community ownership. There are now 560,000 acres of land owned by communities. On this anniversary year, I encourage interested communities both urban and rural to start the process, and empower themselves for the future.

Motion Number: S5M-09855
Lodged By: Claudia Beamish
Date Lodged: 11/01/2018

Title: The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003

Motion Text:

That the Parliament notes the 15th anniversary of the passing of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003; recognises the achievement of the Labour and Liberal Democrat administration in passing the Act and welcomes the 560,000 acres now in community ownership; encourages more communities to own both rural and urban land, and considers that there is further work needed to advance the principle of land ownership for the many and not just the few, as land ownership patterns in Scotland still see very few owning the vast majority of the land.


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Maggie’s Cancer Support Care

If someone you know or care about is diagnosed with cancer, Maggie’s can help you. Maggie’s Centres are  on hospital grounds, a warm, welcoming place where you can meet and talk to people who are going through the same things as you. At the centre you can also find support groups specific to your needs and get advice and information from their professional staff.

Their cancer support includes:

  • Cancer and treatment information
  • Cancer specific support groups
  • Help with understanding and claiming benefits
  • Support for family and friends
  • Bereavement support
  • Relaxation and stress management

Maggie’s can help you make positive changes to your lifestyle. Their psychological and emotional support has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression. All of their support is free so you don’t need to pay or book an appointment.

To find out more about Maggie’s, please visit their website.

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Planned Road Closure

On both 30th and 31st January 2018 between hours of 2000-0600 there will be a full closure of the A7 between Langholm and Hawick. Amey are planning to carry out carriageway resurfacing works on the A7 Trunk Road South of Mosspaul and outside ‘The Wrae’ (approx. 2 miles north of Langholm). Whilst these works are ongoing, High Friction Surface will also be laid at Skippers Bridge Langholm, to replenish any skid resistance properties on both approaches.  

In order to undertake the works safely, a full closure of the A7 will be required. A signed diversion will be in place. Local access will be maintained at all times. Local public transport will be allowed through the closure.

If you have any queries relating this matter, please contact the Amey Control Room on 0800 0420188.

Road closure and diversion route

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Money Advice Scotland

Money Advice Scotland has launched a new Helpline offering access to free, impartial money advice services across Scotland. Members of the public can call the helpline between 9am and 6pm, Monday to Friday on 0800 731 4722.

I would encourage anyone who has worries about money, debt or is facing financial difficulties, to get in touch with the team at Money Advice Scotland.

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Erasmus+ Funding

Erasmus+ is a European funding programme for education, training, youth and sport. It enables people to study, work, volunteer, teach and train in other countries.

Erasmus+ funds all sorts of educational activities in different settings, including in schools, youth exchanges, cultural projects, volunteering, vocational training and studying at university abroad.

Over the past 30 years, 600,000 people from the UK have taken part in Erasmus+. Between 2014 and 2020, Erasmus+ will have been worth £793 million to the UK.

With the UK leaving the European Union, the membership of Erasmus+ is in jeopardy. That is why I was pleased to sign a petition to ask the UK Government to commit to maintain participation in the Erasmus+ programme after Brexit.

Many of my constituents in South Scotland have benefited so much from this funding and it would be a shame to see it go. You can also get involved by signing the petition and find more information about Erasmus+ by clicking  here.

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