McAlpine campaigns for specialist kids nurse for Dumfries & Galloway

South Scotland MSP, Joan McAlpine has secured a commitment from the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, Jeane Freeman, that she’ll personally look into why Dumfries and Galloway Health Board is the only one in Scotland without a specialist nurse for children with epilepsy. 

 

The SNP MSP secured the commitment during Portfolio Questions at the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday. Ms Freeman agreed that it’s an important specialist role and promised to assist the health board with any barriers that might be preventing them from fulfilling it.  “I would share Ms McAlpine’s concern that Dumfries and Galloway appears to be an outlier in what is a pretty important area,” said Ms Freeman who pledged, “I will personally look at why Dumfries and Galloway’s board has taken the view that it has.”

 

Epilepsy Scotland estimates that there are between 150-250 children with epilepsy living in Dumfries and Galloway, yet it’s the only health board area in Scotland without a dedicated paediatric epilepsy nurse.

 

Commenting, Ms McAlpine says, 

 

“I’m delighted with the reply from Jeane Freeman to my question on the lack of a specialist paediatric epilepsy nurse in Dumfries & Galloway. She shares the concern of myself and Epilepsy Scotland and will ask the local health board why they’re the only one in Scotland not offering this service.

 

“Specialist nurses for kids with epilepsy are doing a great job across Scotland and the Royal College of Nursing recommend all children with the condition are seen by one between reviews. I spoke to a mum the other day who said a specialist nurse would make a huge difference to her daughter, who can have life threatening seizures lasting 80 minutes.

 

Ironically smaller population health board areas such as neighbouring Scottish Borders, with similar rural geography, have clinical nurse specialists so it makes no sense for Dumfries and Galloway children to miss out. This is a local decision and I am glad the Health Secretary plans to look into it.”

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McAlpine Condemns UK Government on handling of Brexit

South Scotland SNP MSP, Joan McAlpine has condemned the UK Government’s handling of Brexit after a British Army Veteran from Closeburn contacted her to express his fear that his German-born wife of 51 years might be refused permission to remain in the UK.

 

David Bee, 75, served in the army for 34 years before returning to UK in 1994 with his wife, Renate, 76, and their children. He now fears that he might lose her if she isn’t able to obtain the necessary permission to stay.

 

“We’ve both served this country for many years,” says Mr Bee, “Renate worked in the army too, she was working in the NAAFI when I met her. She’s also made a massive contribution by volunteering for Meals on Wheels over the years. She even earned their Long Service Medal for the contribution she made. Now we find ourselves uncertain if she can even stay here permanently.”

 

Mrs Bee shares his fears; “I want to visit my sister in Germany who is very ill,” she says, “But I’m too afraid to go in case they don’t let me return. We tried to apply to the leave to remain scheme through the Home Office, but we didn’t have enough computer experience to know what we were supposed to do. It’s very complicated if you don’t have the know-how.”

 

Ms McAlpine has experienced a significant increase in the number of EU constituents contacting her with concerns about their right to remain in the UK and wants to reassure them that she’ll do everything she can to help them with any worries they might have.

 

Commenting Ms McAlpine says,

 

“I want to make clear that EU citizens will always remain welcome in South Scotland and I will continue to do all I can to provide support to those affected.  The way the UK Government has handled the Settled Status process for EU citizens has been a complete shambles, leading to unnecessary stress and anxiety for those applying.

 

“First, they tried to charge people who have built their lives in Scotland and contribute to our economy and communities for the right to remain here.

 

“Then they tried to build in loopholes that would mean non-working residents, like pensioners, students and stay-home-parents like Mrs Bee wouldn’t qualify because they’d unwittingly been in breach of EU treaties by not having private health insurance. Thankfully it looks likely that a legal challenge by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants has pressurised the government into dropping this.

 

“Now they’ve introduced a trial period for Settled Status applications that’s only available to applicants with an Android phone. This is causing confusion and worry for EU citizens who, unless they have the right technology, will have to wait until the UK has left the EU on the 30th March before they can even apply. This means residents like Mrs Bee will have to wait for months before they know for sure if they’ll be allowed to stay.

 

“I have written to all EU citizens living in the Dumfriesshire constituency to let them know that the Scottish Government has funded an advice service to be run by Citizens Advice Scotland. It will go live in late March when the UK Government say the Settled Status Scheme will be open for applications. However, I have also given my support to a parliamentary motion lodged by my colleague, Annabelle Ewing MSP, which calls for the UK government to scrap the Settled Status Scheme completely.”

 

Image attached – Joan McAlpine MSP pictured with David and Renate Bee from Closeburn

 

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McAlpine welcomes news that Falls of Clyde is safe from quarry

South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine, welcomed news that an international quarry company has lost its latest bid to devastate the landscape around the Falls of Clyde at New Lanark.

The SNP MSP has long campaigned to stop Mexican multinational ‘Cemex’ to extending the boundaries of Hyndford quarry into the buffer zone of the New Lanark World Heritage Zone.

She recently delivered thousands of postcards to the Scottish Parliament on behalf of the campaign Save Our Landscapes, protesting against the plan.  Her opposition dates back to 2013, when she tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament to stop the proposed extension close to the UNESCO designated site.  Since then she has written letters of protest and spoken out against the plans in the media.

Although the application was previously thrown out by the Scottish Government, the company applied for a judicial review and won a renewed planning hearing. 

This week Scottish ministers once again rejected the application by Cemex for an extension into the buffer zone, agreeing instead to allow a western extension, which does not infringe on the boundaries of the UNESCO designated heritage area.

Speaking about her support for this decision Ms. McAlpine said:

“The Falls of Clyde Area is absolutely integral to the New Lanark World Heritage Site.  The land around the Falls is a unique 18th century “designed landscape” which attracted visitors from all over the world. It is this special place, which fell into the buffer zone, which was under threat. It’s always difficult when you are up against a big multinational with deep pockets, so I am delighted that once again the Scottish Government has found in favour of the environment, our heritage and the community.”

Professor Mark Stephens, chair of Save Our Landscapes and who convened the group opposed to the quarry (which included the New Lanark Trust, RB Lanark Community Council and ICOMOS UK) thanked the MSP for her help.

“I would like to express particular thanks to John Campbell QC who represented the objectors at the two public hearings and to Joan McAlpine MSP who supported our campaign from start to finish,” he said.

“This is an emphatic decision which should finally kill off this opportunistic application. Ministers highlighted the damage to cultural and natural assets, in particular irrevocable damage to the Falls of Clyde Designed Landscape.

“I am delighted at the decision, and am pleased that Ministers acknowledged the strength of public opinion. 

“More than 30,000 representations have been made in opposition to the quarry, including  letters, a petition and postcards. In contrast there were just 8 representations made in its favour.”

Objection letters were received from residents in every constituency represented in the Scottish Parliament and 35 countries from around the world.

“We trust that Cemex will have the good grace to accept the decision this time, and not inflict further uncertainty, upset and cost on the community and the thousands of visitors who supported our campaign.”

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Moniaive gets windfall from Scottish Land Fund

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has congratulated the Moniaive Initiative for its success in receiving a share of a Scottish Government fund to support community ownership.

 
The Initiative has been awarded £56,691 in the latest round of Scottish Land Fund awards, with £700k supporting communities to buy land and buildings.
 
A commercial unit on Moniaive High Street will be purchased and converted into a charity shop, information point, office space and multi-purpose accommodation for a variety of local clubs and organisations.
 
The Scottish Land Fund, funded by the Scottish Government, provides grants of up to £1 million as well as practical support to encourage community ownership.
 
Ms McAlpine has submitted a motion to the Scottish Parliament congratulating Moniaive.
 
Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:
 
“I am delighted that Moniaive has been successful in their application, with the whole community now set to benefit from this investment.  It comes shortly after the land fund offer to the Midsteeple Quarter community project to transform Dumfries High Street.  A few years ago the people of Lochmaben used money from the Scottish Land Fund to buy Castle Loch and the benefits have been extraordinary.
 
“Community ownership can transform the prospects of a local area, giving people a real stake in their future.  Land ownership in Scotland is more concentrated in a few private hands than anywhere else in Europe.  The Land Fund initiative by our government seeks to make that fairer by helping transfer land and property back into the hands of the people who live and work on it.
 
“I hope the success of Moniaive Initiative will encourage others in the South of Scotland to consider how community ownership could benefit them.”
 
The Scottish Land Fund supports rural and urban communities to become more resilient and sustainable through the ownership and management of land and land assets.  Funded by the Scottish Government and delivered in partnership by The National Lottery Community Fund and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, it offers grants of up to £1 million to help communities take ownership of the land and buildings that matter to them, as well as practical support to develop their aspirations into viable projects.

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South Scotland MSP, Joan McAlpine signs up to Sugar Free February

South Scotland MSP, Joan McAlpine has marked this year’s World Cancer Day by signing up to Cancer Research’s Sugar Free February fundraising campaign, a nation-wide initiative aimed at raising funds while also raising awareness of the dangers of excessive sugar consumption.

Joan, a self confessed “chocoholic” is keen to use the month to improve her own health and contribute to research that will help beat cancer, she also sees it as an opportunity to talk about something close to her own heart; cancer in older people.

“My dad, Jim, died of cancer in 2015,” explains Joan. “He was a very fit, active and healthy man who never sat down. He was also a carer, he contributed to his community, his church, and like many older people he spent his retirement making a difference to his family and the people around him.

“I know we were lucky to have him so long but cancer in older people can be devastating. It’s not always true that cancer progresses more slowly, and it certainly was not true in my dad’s case as he was dead within a few weeks of diagnosis and I’m afraid he suffered greatly.”

The number of people over 75 diagnosed with cancer is set to rise by 80% within the next 20 years and it’s often diagnosed later leading to poorer outcomes. Despite the prevalence of cancer in the elderly, treatment studies rarely include people older than 70, leaving doctors without clear guidance on what works best for such patients.

“As our population ages this is no longer acceptable,” says the SNP MSP. “Older people live worthwhile lives, they are often the lynchpins of their community, as volunteers and family carers for example.

“So we really should be investing in research that improves outcomes for this age group, which Cancer Research UK are doing. I am also pleased that McMillan have been doing a lot of work in this area, lead by specialists in geriatric oncology.

“My fundraising page has raised £180 so far in pounds sterling,” continues Joan. ”If I can convert that to pounds in weight lost I’ll be very happy. But most importantly if it can help fund studies that improve treatment and care of all people with cancer, I’ll be even happier.”

If you’d like to contribute to Joan’s campaign you can visit her fundraising page at fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/page/joan-takes-on-sugar-free-february-5

Link to Cancer Research Sugar Free February campaign – www.cancerresearchuk.org/get-involved/find-an-event/sugar-free-february

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SNP SUPPORT INCREASE IN INVESTMENT IN DUMFRIES & GALLOWAY is

Joan McAlpine MSP has welcomed an extra £10m for the NHS in Dumfries and Galloway, as part of the Scottish Government’s budget passed at Holyrood this week.

 

She condemned the Labour and Conservative parties for voting against the budget, which finances the recruitment of more GPs, extends mental health care for young people and introduces free personal care for chronically sick and disabled people under 65, including those with dementia.

 

The SNP budget, supported by the Green Party, also continues the massive expansion of early years and childcare with a £500m investment plus £180m to improve attainment in schools.

 

It is being delivered despite a massive £2 billion reduction in Scotland’s resource grant from Westminster since 2010.

 

Ms McAlpine said: “This budget offers stability when all we see is chaos at Westminster. People voted to prioritise the NHS and that’s exactly what we have done.

 

She continued: “Under the deal reached, Dumfries and Galloway Council will receive an additional £9.6 million in spending power compared to last year’s budget, as part of a total overall settlement of £11.1bn for local government.”

“This is a fair tax budget – unlike the proposals from the Tories who wanted to hand wealthy people, including MSPs, a £500m tax cut. As an MSP I am happy to pay a bit more to fund public services. Only the top 1% of earners in Scotland will pay more tax. This budget means that 55% of income taxpayers will pay less than those in the rest of the UK.

“By voting against this budget the Tories, Labour and the Liberal Democrats voted against increased for health including another 800 GPs. They voted against personal care for the elderly and increases in benefits such as Carers Allowance. They should be ashamed. “

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MCALPINE CONDEMNS PLANNING COMMITTEE VOTE

South Scotland SNP MSP, Joan McAlpine has written to Scottish Conservative Spokesperson for Mental Health, Public Health and Equalities, Annie Wells MSP, to ask that she remind Conservative party colleagues in Dumfries and Galloway Council of their obligation to support equal opportunities for disabled children.

 

Ms McAlpine made the intervention following reports that the four Conservative Party councillors had voted against awarding planning permission for the Catherine Street Inclusive Play Park and Community Garden development in Dumfries last week.

 

The councillors in question, David James, Ian Carruthers, Doug Fairbairn and Ian Blake, had been taking part in a meeting of the council’s planning committee on the 17th January when they voted to reject the application. 

 

Commenting Ms McAlpine says,

 

“The organisation behind Catherine Street Inclusive Play Park is a voluntary group made up of parents of disabled children, working with local families to create opportunities for all children, regardless of ability, to enjoy play. This is something that Dumfries & Galloway council support, having already allocated half a million pounds in funding to promote inclusive play across the region.

 

“It beggars belief that these four tory councillors voted to deprive disabled kids of this amazing opportunity to take part in play activities alongside their friends and siblings instead of having to watch from the side-lines. Fortunately, a greater number of councillors saw the value of the proposal so the planning permission was granted and the project will now proceed.

 

“As Spokesperson for Mental Health, Public Health and Equalities, I know that providing disabled children with equal access to play will be something Annie Wells takes very seriously. I hope, therefore, that she’ll condemn the actions of her colleagues and remind them of that they should be supporting equal play opportunities for disabled children.”

 

 

Attached

Minutes of planning committee meeting on 17th January 2019

 

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McAlpine : Mundell can’t be trusted on Brexit

South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has hit out at David Mundell’s most recent position on Brexit after he voted to seek changes to Theresa May’s Withdrawal Bill despite claiming two weeks ago that the deal could not be altered.

The controversial vote took place on Tuesday night. The MP for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale was one of 317 MPs who voted in favour of the Prime Minister’s plan to re-write the EU withdrawal agreement to replace the Irish backstop with alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border.

Commenting, Ms McAlpine says:

“Two weeks ago David Mundell told us he was backing Mrs May’s ill-fated withdrawal agreement because it was the only deal on the table. He claimed it was final and no changes could be made. He stated live on national television, ‘It can’t and won’t be changed.’

“Now he’s voted in favour of a deal that would make the changes he previously told us were impossible.  So he either failed to tell the truth two weeks ago or he’s now voting for a deal that he knows cannot be delivered.

“The EU27 have made it clear they have no intention of abandoning the Irish backstop and I know from regular visits to Brussels that they mean what they say. This vote simply kicks the can down the road and makes the calamity of a no deal Brexit more likely. It is deeply irresponsible.

“David Mundell is claiming that Tuesday’s vote sends a strong message to the EU. The only message he’s sending is that he and his Tory party can’t be trusted on anything.”

Annandale North SNP Councillor, Stephen Thompson remarked:

“It’s hard to make any sense of the MP’s position measured against any principles other than the most cynical. It certainly doesn’t in any meaningful sense represent any of the Remain voting areas that make up his constituency.”

“It’s very clear that whether it’s the UK Conservatives leading by poor example at Westminster, or UK Labour doing whatever it is that they do, we in Scotland remain under-served as part of this union and we are left increasingly to mitigate against a series of bad decisions and situations not of our choosing.”

“After hearing from Council Officers and Police Scotland about the level of preparation they are planning for because of Brexit it does nothing to inspire any confidence in those UK politicians who are negotiating in our name.”

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SOUTH SCOTLAND MSP JOAN McALPINE MARKS HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DAY

South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has marked Holocaust Memorial Day by attending a talk by 86 year old Holocaust survivor, Janine Webber, hosted by the Scottish Parliament.

 
Commenting Ms McAlpine said,
 
“It was such a privilege to listen to Janine Webber as she spoke in Parliament this week. The horrors that she, and millions of others, endured during the war are unimaginable and you could hear a pin drop as the audience listened to her incredibly moving story.”
 
The SNP MSP was speaking as she signed a Holocaust Memorial Day Book of Commitment in the Scottish Parliament.
 
“No words of mine can express the enormity of the systematic killing of 6 million other Jewish people, so instead I paraphrase the words of a survivor, the Nobel Prizewinner Elie Wiesel who swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings were enduring suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Holocaust Memorial Day reminds us of this, to be indifferent to suffering means we take the side of evil.”
 
Janine, a Polish Jew, endured unimaginable horrors during the Second World War, including the murder of her grandmother, father and brother by the Nazis and the death of her mother from Typhus. From the ages of seven to twelve she survived by living in holes in the ground or under stables and relying on the kindness of strangers.
 
By the time the war ended, 91% of Poland’s three million Jews had died. Janine was one of only 9% who survived. She moved to France as a teenager and then England where she has lived ever since.
 
Mrs Webber now spends her time working with the Holocaust Educational Trust, talking in schools about her experiences because she believes it’s vital that the world never forgets what happened.
 
The Holocaust Educational Trust’s mission is to educate every person from every background in the UK about the Holocaust and its contemporary relevance.  https://www.het.org.uk/
 
Attached: image of Joan McAlpine MSP signing the Holocaust Memorial Day Book of Commitment at the Scottish Parliament
 





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SNP MSP WELCOMES FUNDING TO TACKLE ATTAINMENT GAP IN DUMFRIES & GALLOWAY

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has challenged her political opponents across Dumfries & Galloway to back the Scottish Government’s plans to invest over £8 billion in Scotland’s education system.

 

Announcing his draft budget proposals in the Scottish Parliament last month, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay MSP outlined plans to commit £180 million for raising attainment in schools, including £120 delivered directly to head teachers – helping schools address the poverty related attainment gap and helping children overcome barriers.

 

This funding is to be spent at the discretion of headteachers, enabling them to secure the additional staffing or resources they need to support pupils affected by poverty and boost attainment levels.

 

MSPs will vote on the Finance Secretary’s draft budget proposals next month.

 

Commenting, South Scotland MSP, Joan McAlpine said:

 

“The SNP recognise that every child, regardless of their background, should have the same opportunities and chances to succeed.

 

“With education the Scottish Government’s number one priority, this £180 million investment, including £120 million direct to headteachers, will help close the attainment gap here in Dumfries & Galloway and ensure no child is left behind.

 

“I hope local politicians from all parties will get behind the Finance Secretary’s plans and secure this substantial investment for schools throughout the region.”

Attached :

Statement on Education from Scottish Government

Education graphic pdf

 

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