Praise it like you should – D&G Quality Food & Drink Sector

South Scotland MSP, Joan McAlpine, has praised Dumfries & Galloway’s high quality food and drink sector following a tour of some of region’s top growers, producers and retailers.

 
The SNP MSP had been visiting the businesses as part of Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight, an annual celebration of Scotland’s produce and those who grow, make, cook and sell it. She was impressed with the range, quality and choice of what’s available.
 
Commenting, Ms McAlpine says,
 
“I’ve had such an enjoyable time visiting businesses around the region and meeting some of the people involved in growing, manufacturing and selling our world-class local produce, not to mention sampling some of what’s on offer! 
 
 “I learned a lot about local beers and spirits at TB Watson, and stocked up on local Sulwath Beer. TB Watson are one of Dumfries’ oldest businesses, having been operating in the town one way or another for 110 years.

“I then bought a high quality barbecue pack at the award winning JB Houston craft butchers in Dumfries, established in 1950 and now in its third generation.  
 
“I also visited Barony Country Foods, who specialise in smoked fish, game and other specialised products – including the honey and cheese I purchased. I was delighted to learn that two years after their move to Lochmaben, Barony are employing more staff thanks to acquiring a new mail order brand.
 
“it was a joy to stock up on groceries from the huge range of local produce on sale at The Dumfries Larder and at Broomhouses store in Lockerbie. Family members who visited me that weekend were most impressed!
 
“A highlight of the fortnight was a visit to the newly refurbished Globe Inn in Dumfries. This historical pub, famously frequented by our national Bard, Rabbie Burns, has undergone major renovations and now boasts a restaurant specialising in high quality local produce, including Galloway beef. New owners, Prof David Thomson and Teresa Church have done a fantastic job with the re-development. It was a privilege to sample their delicious menu.
 
“Food and drink production is such an important part of our region’s economy, supporting small businesses, employment and tourism. Almost half of Scotland’s dairy production is carried out in Dumfries & Galloway and we boast world-class restaurants, ice cream manufacturers, breweries, smokehouses, fisheries, farmer’s markets and chocolatiers, so I’m keen to do what I can to support them.”
 
Now in its tenth year, the Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight runs until the 15th September. It is co-ordinated by Scotland Food & Drink and supported by the Scottish Government and industry partners. 

Images of Joan McAlpine MSP at TB Watson, The Dumfries Larder, JB Houston, and Barony Country Foods
 
More information on Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight is available from Visit Scotland;   https://www.visitscotland.com/blog/food-drink/food-and-drink-fortnight/
 







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SIX YEARS FOR SICK UK GOVERNMENT TO GIVE EU CASH TO SCOTTISH FARMERS.

South Scotland MSP, Joan McAlpine has condemned the UK government for taking six years to hand over EU cash earmarked for Scottish Farmers. She welcomed the Conservatives finally releasing the £160m but said it came too late. 

 

The payment, known as a convergence uplift, had been awarded to Scottish farmers by the European Union in 2013 but DEFRA had failed to pass on. Instead they distributed the bulk of it to farmers in England and Wales. The cash was supposed to bring Scottish hill farmers on a par with farms across the EU.  

 

Ms McAlpine also disputed  claims by the Conservatives that the payments are ‘extra cash’ or that the announcement was as a result of a campaign by Scottish Tory MPs.

 

Commenting Ms McAlpine says,

 

“The UK Government spin on this is mendacious. The truth is they stole cash that was supposed to go to Scottish hill farmers and they’re only handing it over now as a bribe to voters because they know a general election is approaching.

 

“This money was awarded by the European Union in 2013 and was aimed at addressing the low payments received by Scottish farmers under the Common Agricultural Policy. But the UK Government failed to pass it on.

 

“Since 2013, The National Farmers Union in Scotland and the Scottish Government have repeatedly asked for and been promised, by successive DEFRA Ministers, a review into the spending decision. Yet just last year Michael Gove claimed the money was already spent and called the SNP ‘grievance-mongering separatists’ for raising the issue in Parliament.

 

“So although farmers in Scotland will welcome this cash boost, they won’t be fooled by Tory attempts to claim credit for passing it on. They’ll see through it as the pre-election stunt that it is.”

 

Links to further information on the convergence uplift:

 

https://www.ruralpayments.org/publicsite/futures/news-events/scottish-farmers-owed-millions-in-convergence-payments-/

 

https://www.nfus.org.uk/news/news/bew-review-must-deliver-for-scotland-on-convergence

 

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Programme for Government

SNP SET OUT PLANS TO TACKLE CLIMATE CHANGE AND BUILD FAIRER COUNTRY


STARK CONTRAST WITH WESTMINSTER SHUTDOWN

 

South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed the SNP’s ambitious new plans to tackle climate change and build a fairer country, outlined today in this year’s Programme for Government.

 

Setting out her plans for the year ahead, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon set out how the Scottish Government would tackle the climate crisis with a range of new measures including £500 million of investment in public transport.

The Scottish Government will put in place a ‘Green New Deal’, harnessing the power of the Scottish National Investment Bank to attract £3 billion of investment into green projects.

It was also confirmed that the Scottish Child Payment, a brand new benefit to tackle child poverty, will be launched earlier than previously announced – with the first payments made by Christmas 2020.

Other commitments include:

 

  • Decarbonising Scotland’s railways by 2035, and making the Highlands and Islands the world’s first net zero aviation region by 2040
  • Developing regulations so that new homes from 2024 must use renewable or low carbon heat
  • Providing an additional £20 million of funding to help tackle the drugs emergency
  • Putting in place a Women’s Health Plan to tackle women’s heath inequalities

 

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine said:

“The SNP has achieved a huge amount in government – in just the last year we’ve increased NHS funding, increased teacher numbers and pay and delivered brand new benefits through our Scottish Social Security Agency.

“Our plan for the year ahead is an ambitious set of proposals to tackle climate change and build a fairer country.

“Even in the midst of Westminster chaos and instability, the Scottish Government is determined to get on with improving lives in [AREA] and across Scotland.

“But it cannot be stressed enough – while we are doing everything we can to move Scotland forward, the threat to our economy and our society posed by Boris Johnson’s plan for a No Deal Brexit remains.”

 

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Give a day to Policing

Joan McAlpine MSP has praised the work of community Police Officers in Dumfries town centre after she spent a day on patrol with officers as part of the National Police Chief’s Council’s ‘Give a day to policing’ scheme.
 
On Tuesday 20th August Joan McAlpine MSP joined community police officers on patrol on Dumfries High St., learning about some of the key issues which affect life and business in the town centre and getting a first-hand look at how community policing is working to make Dumfries a safer place. 
 
The day was also an opportunity to learn more about the Police Scotland Youth Volunteer Scheme, an exciting project for young people aged between 13-18 to volunteer under the lead of a Police Constable to learn more about how policing in Scotland works, and to contribute positively to the community. 
 
Speaking about the event, Joan McAlpine MSP said:
 
“I was delighted to join community Police Officers Alistair and Scott on patrol in Dumfries High St. It’s fantastic to see that community policing is alive and well in Dumfries and Galloway, and I’m so pleased that these wonderful officers work so hard to keep our streets safe. 
 
“I understand that shoplifting is still a key issue affecting local retailers, but I’m encouraged to hear that thanks to good CCTV coverage in the town, shoplifters tend to be caught quickly. I am also pleased to hear that alcohol related crimes have dropped because of the Scottish Government’s minimum unit pricing on alcohol.
 
“It was also great to learn more about the Police Scotland Youth Volunteers project. I’m pleased to see local youngsters taking an interest in learning about how policing in Scotland works, and I want to wish all these wonderful young people all the best for their upcoming passing out ceremony at Dumfries and Galloway College.”
 






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UK GOVERNMENT WARNED AGAINST “CALLOUS” THREAT TO PENSIONS IN DUMFRIES AND GALLOWAY

REPORT FINDS ELDERLY IN UK SUFFER THE WORST POVERTY RATE IN WESTERN EUROPE

SNP MSP, Joan McAlpine, has warned the Tory government against increasing the state pension age, which would have dire and disproportionate consequences in Dumfries and Galloway and across Scotland.

The Tories’ threat comes following a report published by the Centre for Social Justice – chaired by close Boris Johnson ally, Iain Duncan Smith – which concludes that the state pension age should rise to 75 over the next 16 years.

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has said that any further increases in the state pension age could have a hugely disproportionate impact on Scotland due to its unique demographic needs.

The MSP also called on the UK government to heed warnings raised in a new report that found the proportion of elderly people living in severe poverty in the UK is five times what it was in 1986 – the largest increase among western European countries.

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine said:

“The Tory’s government’s approach to the UK’s elderly population and state pension policy has been cruel and callous.

 

“From the burning injustices facing the WASPI women who have been denied the right to their state pension, to the stripping away of free TV licences for the over 75s, this government’s attitude towards its older people is shameful.

 

“Instead of taking on board policies written up by one of the architects of Tory austerity, the new Prime Minister must take action to address the dire levels of pensioner poverty in the UK.

 

“The Tory government must take a step back and tackle these injustices – rather than ramping up the threats.”

 

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“GAME CHANGER” ANTI-POVERTY PAYMENT TO BENEFIT 13,400 CHILDREN

An estimated 13,400 children in 7,600 families across Dumfries and Galloway are expected to benefit from the Scottish Government’s ground breaking anti-poverty payment, it has been revealed.
 
The Scottish Child Payment will be worth £10 per child for low-income families by the end of 2022, with introduction for under-6s starting by early 2021.
 
The brand new benefit was described as a “game changer” and a “lifeline” by anti-poverty campaigners and is central to the SNP’s ambitions to tackle child poverty.
The Scottish Government this week published estimates, based on the number of Tax Credit recipients prior to the rollout of Universal Credit Full Service, showing how many children and families are expected to benefit in each local authority.
 
Commenting, SNP MSP Joan McAlpine said:
 
“The Scottish Child Payment is an ambitious and ground breaking new benefit that will directly tackle child poverty.
 
“When fully rolled out, the Scottish Child Payment will benefit over a third of all children – giving families £10 per week for every eligible child under 16 years old.
 
“Tory cuts are driving too many families into poverty – but the SNP are determined to use every power at our disposal to help families make ends meet.”


John Dickie, Director of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland: “This new payment is an absolute game changer in the fight to end child poverty. £10 a week for each child will make a real difference to families struggling to put food on the table, heat their homes and pay for the ordinary school trips, sport and other activities that are fundamental to a decent childhood.  Today’s announcement is a landmark recognition of the role the Scottish social security system can play in ending child poverty. It’s now vital that the UK government follows suit and starts to use its powers in an equally positive way and scraps the universal credit two child limit and the UK benefit freeze, so that government at every level works together to protect children from poverty.”

Peter Kelly, Director of the Poverty Alliance: “Amid a rising tide of poverty, the new Scottish Child Payment will act as a lifeline for families struggling to stay afloat. An additional £10 per week will help unlock tens of thousands of children from poverty and underlines the important role that Scottish social security powers have to address poverty. The early introduction of the new payment in 2020/21 for families with children under six is particularly welcome, and shows what can be done when there is political will to address poverty.”
 
The qualifying benefits for the Scottish Child Payment include Universal Credit and all the legacy benefits it is replacing, as well as Pension Credit. Universal Credit is in the process of being rolled out and current caseloads across local authorities are not representative of the long-term steady state. We also have limited information on the number of children in families on Universal Credit.

Given these limitations, we have estimated the above figures by applying proportions from HMRC data on the number of children and families receiving Tax Credits in each local authority prior to the rollout of Universal Credit Full Service. To avoid double counting and because most families with children in receipt of legacy benefits receive tax credits we have not factored in other legacy benefits.

The above caveats mean that the figures should be treated with caution and could overestimate or underestimate the numbers eligible in individual local authorities. We will continue to refine our analysis of the Scottish Child Payment as we develop the policy.

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5,275 D&G HOUSEHOLDS HELPED IN TIME OF CRISIS

The Scottish Welfare Fund made 5,275 payments to people in Dumfries and Galloway in the last financial year, new figures show.

 
A total of 1,150 Community Care Grants and 4,125 Crisis Grants were awarded in Dumfries and Galloway over the year.
 
The money helped people with essentials such as food, heating costs and household items.          
 
The SNP introduced the Scottish Welfare Fund in 2013. The Fund is part of a £125 million annual package to mitigate the impact of UK government austerity.
 
Since its launch in April 2013, the Fund has paid out more than £200 million to support over 336,000 households across Scotland, with a third of recipients being families with children.
 
SNP MSP Joan McAlpine said:
 
“The Scottish Welfare Fund is a vital lifeline for many people facing poverty or personal crisis.
 
“The fact that so many households in Dumfries and Galloway are in need of emergency financial help is appalling, and a sad indictment of the UK Government’s record on austerity and welfare changes.
 
“The SNP would prefer these resources were invested directly to tackle poverty rather than protecting people from Tory austerity. 
 
“Indeed, the UN Special Rapporteur on Poverty described it as outrageous that the Scottish Government had to divert funds to protect people from Westminster’s mess.
 
“The SNP will continue to do everything in our power to tackle poverty and support low income families. It’s time for the Tories to end their austerity agenda and stop forcing Dumfries and Galloway families into poverty.”
 
ENDS                                                              
 
Notes:
 
The Crisis Grant aims to help people in financial emergency, such as those struggling on low incomes or benefits                                                                                                                                                                                                                          
 
Community Care Grant aims to, among other things, help people set up home or help families facing exceptional pressures                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
In the UN Special Rapporteur on Poverty, Professor Philip Alston praised Scotland’s “ambitious” schemes for addressing poverty, including the Fairer Scotland Action Plan and the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan. He noted Scotland’s “promising social security system, guided by the principles of dignity and social security as a human right, and co-designed with claimants on the basis of evidence”
 
The Scottish Government’s response to the Special Rapporteur’s report shows UK Government welfare cuts have increased the risk of deprivation for low-income families across Scotland
 


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Scottish Government Help for Border Cars Workers

Joan McAlpine, SNP MSP for South Scotland has spoken of her regret at the closure of Border Cars after 35 former employees attended a Scottish Government led event in Dumfries to offer help.

 

The support event, which was organised by the Scottish Government’s initiative for responding to redundancy situations, Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE), took place in Dumfries on Wednesday 17th July at the Best Western Station Hotel on Lovers Walk.

 

People who are facing redundancy in the wake of the company going into administration were able to hear about the help and support which is available to them through PACE and other sources. Similar events have since been held in Stranraer and Ayr.

 

Those who attended the event in Dumfries were a mixture of people including some whose contracts had already been terminated, some people who were still working for the company, and others who had handed in their notices having secured alternative employment.

 

Skills Development Scotland (SDS) leads on the delivery of PACE support in conjunction with a number of key partners including the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

 

Speaking about the closure and the support available to those affected, Joan McAlpine MSP said:

 

“The closure of Border Cars is very regrettable indeed and is a blow to several communities.

 

“My sympathies are with the workers who are affected by redundancy or job insecurity, and their families.

 

“I was pleased, however, to see the government respond so promptly with these PACE events, which are designed to support workers move forward.  I would encourage anyone who is facing difficulty or insecurity as a result of this closure to get in touch with Skills Development Scotland on 0800 917 8000 or by popping into their office on the High St. in Dumfries.”

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Plans for a Langholm Eco-Tourism Development

SNP MSP for South Scotland Joan McAlpine took to the hills last week to see first-hand how eco-tourism could make a success of the proposed community buy out of Langholm Moor. The MSP’s visit came as Buccleuch estates announced they would put all 25,000 acres of the Langholm moor up for sale, but would allow the community time to explore how they could best make a bid using Scottish Government right-to-buy legislation.

 
Ms. McAlpine discussed the plans with project leaders at ‘The Langholm Initiative’ and was shown round the moor by the  ‘Wild Eskdale Project’, who use the money generated by eco tours for education projects. The MSP said many people would be unaware of the rich wildlife on the moor, which is the best place in the UK to see displays of black grouse and also hen harriers.  Kevin Cumming of Wild Eskdale, accompanied by Margaret Pool from the Langholm Initiative, explained how the moor, which has been declared uneconomic for grouse shooting, could generate income through conservation and measures such as a visitors’ centre, walking trails, and education courses – all of which could generate tourist income and jobs for Langholm itself.
 
Speaking about the project, Joan McAlpine MSP said: 
 
“Langholm has had considerable challenges in recent years, most recently with the move of EWM to Carlisle. However it is a town with enormous potential for tourism and the proposed buyout could help deliver those benefits.  Langholm Moor is also very significant in the Common Riding and so it seems appropriate that it should be owned by the people of the town – in fact many locals tell me it is their birth right already.
 
“The Scottish Land Fund was established to help communities make the best of land through ownership and has been given millions more recently by the current Scottish Government to help more communities. It  and has been mainly used by communities in the Highlands – although local successes include Lochmaben Castle Loch and the land around the lighthouse on the Mull of Galloway. The 25,000 acre sale of Langholm Moor would, should it go ahead, be by far the biggest sale to a community in South Scotland. But we must remember that the Government has provided the Land Fund with additional money for exactly this purpose.  
 
“The very special environment of Langholm Moor could also help obtain donations from environmental charities, and of course if more visitors are encouraged to come, they will spend money in Langholm, supporting local businesses. I spent a great day with Wild Eskdale learning about the spectacular biodiversity on the moor, seeing everything from slow worms to marsh orchids. It is a hidden gem and the buyout offers a chance to make more of it for everyone’s benefit. It’s good that there is cross party and wide community support and the important thing is that everyone keeps talking to agree the strongest possible bid.
 
In a recent exercise to gather community support, the Langholm Initiative group achieved over 800 signatures to an open letter expressing their plans, already surpassing the necessary ten percent requirement for Scottish Land Fund applications.
 
Kevin Cumming, Project Leader at Wild Eskdale said:
 
“The Langholm Initiative and in particular the Wild Eskdale project were delighted to host Joan McAlpine MSP. It was a great chance to share and discuss our various projects. We are very thankful to Joan for her ongoing support regarding the potential community buy out at Langholm Moor. The potential for nature based tourism in Langholm and the surrounding area is great and being able to demonstrate this in person was a wonderful opportunity.”
 
“I first met Joan at a parliamentary event earlier this year. We had discussed the possibility of a visit to have a closer look at our Wild Eskdale project and we are thrilled that she has made the effort to visit.”
 






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McALPINE HAILS NHS DENTAL FIGURES

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has hailed the latest NHS figures that show NHS dentist registrations have rocketed under the SNP – with 130% more adults registered in Dumfries and Galloway since 2007 meaning almost 87% are now registered compared to just 38% under the previous Labour/Lib Dem administration. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                     
The number of children in Dumfries and Galloway registered with an NHS dentist has also risen dramatically with 92% now registered – a 48% rise since 2007.  
 
Previous Labour and Lib Dem administrations at Holyrood oversaw a decline of 6% in adults registered with a dentist in the region – while the figure for children stood at just 62%.
 
Across the whole of Scotland there are now 107% more adults and 43% more children registered with an NHS dentist than before the SNP came into power.  
 
Commenting, South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine said:
 
“This SNP Scottish Government has taken huge strides in improving the oral health of people in Dumfries and Galloway and across Scotland.
 
“Since the SNP came to power, efforts to increase the number of people receiving regular dental check-ups is paying off, with the number of adults registered more than doubling across Scotland.
 
“Here in Dumfries and Galloway, we’ve seen 130% more adults and 48% more children registered with an NHS dentist since 2007.
 
“Of course there’s always room for improvement, and I hope to see more people in our region ensuring they are able to access a local NHS dentist.”
 
 

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