Jobs boost at Pinneys site is great news for the region, says Joan McAlpine MSP

South Scotland MSP, Joan McAlpine has welcomed news that 120 jobs will be created at the former Pinney’s factory in Annan after the Scottish Government found a buyer for the site.

 

The purchase, by food processing company, Atlantis-Pak, is being made possible thanks to a £1.7 million investment from the Scottish Government.  The company plans to create an initial 120 food processing posts but has indicated there is potential for more.

  

Commenting, Ms McAlpine says,

 

“I’m absolutely delighted by today’s announcement, it’s a fantastic boost for the people of Annan who were left reeling last year when Youngs closed their Pinneys factory. There was hardly a family in the town that wasn’t affected by the loss and I was as dismayed as they were when it emerged that Youngs would be creating hundreds of new jobs just weeks later at their factory in Grimsby.

 

“The news is especially welcome as the region experienced a spate of job losses last year on top of the Pinneys closure. This included Edinburgh Woollen Mill, who moved its head office and 190 jobs from Langholm to Carlisle, and Arla, who transferred 14 cheese packaging jobs from its factory in Lockerbie to Oswestry in Shropshire. 

 

“Today’s announcement is another great example of the Scottish Government supporting jobs and delivering for the people of Dumfries and Galloway. The investment follows news of a dedicated new enterprise agency for the region, a major new tourism campaign, #seesouthscotland and a pledge of £85 million towards the Borderlands project.  Meanwhile the UK Government and David Mundell are spending their time trying to deliver a disasterous brexit deal that will only harm the economy of the region.

 

The company will benefit from £1.7 million of Regional Selective Assistance funding, provided by Scottish Enterprise to create or protect jobs in Scotland

 

Regional Selective Assistance (RSA) grants

What you need to know and how to apply for an RSA grant from Scottish Enterprise. RSA grants help fund investmen…

  

Atlantis-Pak specialise in adding value to seafood and poultry products, primarily focused on coatings and breadcrumbs, particularly panko breadcrumbs. They have supply contracts across Europe and the UK, with their largest contracts being with Brakes (food service business) where they supply over 50 product lines into the UK, and are a large supplier of fillet-of-fish products to McDonald’s across Eastern Europe. 

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McAlpine appeals to council to create fund from Crown Estate Profits

South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has appealed to Dumfries and Galloway Council to use profits from Crown Estate coastal assets to create a local fund for the region. The Crown Estate assets are set to be devolved to the local authority and a fund could support communities around the Dumfries and Galloway coast.

 

The SNP was speaking during a visit to Nith Inshore Rescue, a volunteer-run lifeboat service that operates out of Glencaple. The independent charity provides front line search-and-rescue services covering upper north-east Solway, inland rivers and lochs. The unpaid crew are on call 24 hours a day.

 

Volunteers say they need over £30,000 a year to keep the vital service running and Ms McAlpine believes profits from local Crown Estate assets should be made available to help them.

 

The SNP MSP has written to the Chief Executive of Dumfries and Galloway Council to ask what their plans are for managing the assets and allocation of profits.

 

Commenting, Ms McAlpine says,

 

“Nith Inshore Rescue, along with the other independent lifeboats along the Solway, provide a vital service to fishermen and tourists, not to mention the dozens of flood victims that they’ve helped along our waterways over the years. We’re so fortunate in the region to have such dedicated teams of volunteers, out in all weathers, risking their lives in hazardous conditions to search for people in danger. I can’t think of a better destination for the funding.”

 

“With management of Crown Estate assets and related income set to be devolved from the Scottish Government to local authorities, I’m appealing to Dumfries and Galloway Council to set aside the cash and put it towards groups that benefit our coastal communities.

 

“When the Scottish Government proposed devolving the Crown Estate from Westminster control, opposition parties wanted the coastal assets devolved even further, down to local authority level. It’s now up to councils to prove that they’re on the side of local coastal communities by using the Crown Estate proceeds to support them.”

 

Attached, image of Joan McAlpine MSP with Robbie Cowan (1,2,3) and with Robbie Cowan & Gwilym Gibbons (4) of Nith Inshore Rescue team

 

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McAlpine praises rise in staff numbers for NHS Dumfries & Galloway

SNP MSP for South Scotland Joan McAlpine has praised hard working staff at NHS Dumfries and Galloway after the latest statistics showed increased staffing levels across Scotland – helping give patients the best possible care.

 

The region is benefitting from an increase in the numbers of staff working for NHS Dumfries and Galloway – part of a Scotland-wide increase that has seen the NHS workforce reach record levels in 2018.

 

NHS Dumfries and Galloway had its full-time equivalent staff levels increase from 3537 t3670 – a rise of 3.8%.

 

Thanks to the SNP’s 2019/20 budget, NHS Dumfries and Galloway is set to receive an extra £10m in spending power – a 3.5% increase on last year’s spending.  

 

Commenting, SNP MSP for South Scotland Joan McAlpine says:

 

“Staff are the lifeblood of our NHS here in Dumfries and Galloway  and it is welcome news there are record numbers working in our hospitals and surgeries across Scotland.

 

“NHS Dumfries and Galloway will now benefit from having even more dedicated and highly skilled staff in our hospitals and surgeries – ensuring people in our region receive the world-class care that they have come to expect from our NHS.

 

“Of course we understand there are particular challenges in all rural areas recruiting some specialisms, and the board is working hard on recruitment. However these figures show real progress is being made.

 

“As a cherished public service the SNP will continue to ensure our health service is properly funded and fit for the future.”

https://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Workforce/Publications/index.asp#2363

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MCALPINE SPEAKS UP FOR GOVERNMENT INITIATIVES AHEAD OF INTERNATIONAL WOMENS DAY

MSP Joan McAlpine has spoken in favour of Scottish Government initiatives which improve the lives of women ahead of a debate for International Women’s day on Friday.

 
The SNP MSP used the opportunity to highlight how the Scottish Government is leading the way by promoting initiatives and providing funding which helps women participate in education, the workforce and sporting events. Ms McAlpine was speaking ahead of the debate, entitled “Balance for Better,” which will take place in the Scottish Parliament.
 
Commenting Ms McAlpine says,
 
“The recent Scottish Government budget announced plans to almost double the paid-for provision of childcare to 1,140 hours from August 2020 for all 3 and 4 year olds and eligible 2 year olds, as well as committing £500 million to support the expansion of early learning services and facilities across Scotland. This funding will enable thousands of women return to work after having kids as well as moving from part time to full time work.
 
“Carers, who are primarily women, will also see an increase in the Carer’s Allowance Supplement to £552. This is an extra payment for people in Scotland and is over and above the grants that are available to carers in the rest of the UK.
 
“In terms of education, the Scottish Government has launched a programme aimed at encouraging more girls to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects. This initiative is set to be rolled out in early learning centres and schools across Scotland and it’s hoped the initiative will encourage more girls to pursue careers in this area. 
 
“Women and girls will also benefit from an additional £300,000 worth of funding from Scottish Government for projects that encourage them to participate in sport. There are still barriers that prevent women and girls from participating in Sport and this funding will help address that.
 
“There is still much to be done to challenge inequality both in society and the workplace. However, the Scottish Government initiatives have been making a difference to how girls consider their learning and career pathways and additional funding will enable more women to enter or remain in the workforce.”
 
International Women’s Day takes place worldwide on March 8 every year. It is a focal point in the movement for women’s rights. It was adopted in 1975 by the United Nations.
 



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MCALPINE CALLS ON PM TO RULE OUT NO DEAL AND COMMIT TO SECOND EU REFERENDUM

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has joined with colleagues from across the party divide to oppose Theresa May’s proposed Brexit deal and call for the threat of No-Deal to be taken off the table.

 
Speaking in the chamber during a Scottish Government debate on EU withdrawal negotiations, MSPs from the SNP, Scottish Labour, Green Party and the Liberal Democrats highlighted the growing support across Scotland for an extension to the Article 50 process to avoid a No-Deal scenario on 29th March. 
 
In a historic move, politicians at the Welsh Assembly joined forces with Holyrood to debate the same motion simultaneously. Scottish Brexit Secretary Mike Russell said the unprecedented event sent a “strong message to the UK government that it must stop pursing such a disastrous course of action”.
 
Political commentators have suggested there is currently no prospect of the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal being passed by MPs at Westminster at the second attempt scheduled for 12thMarch – just 17 days before the UK is set to crash out of the EU. 
 
Research has shown that Theresa May’s proposed Brexit deal would lead to a 6% fall in GDP by 2031, costing each person in Scotland £1,600.
 
Speaking in the debate, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
 
“No-Deal should be definitively ruled out – and today, from Edinburgh and Cardiff, we demand that it is.
 
“The deal on the table guarantees more years of uncertainty during which Scotland’s interests will be at the mercy of a vicious, and seemingly never-ending, Tory civil war – one where the extreme Brexiteers are currently in the ascendancy.
 
“The preferable alternative option, in my view, is now a second EU referendum. After all, nobody voting to leave the EU knew precisely what they were voting for – the leave campaign was deliberately vague, some may say deceitful, about the form Brexit would take.”
 
Last month, a report from the Chief Economic Advisor to Scotland warned that a No-Deal Brexit would expose up to 24% of Dumfries and Galloway’s workforce to economic shock and possible job losses.
 
Speaking in the chamber, SNP MSP Joan McAlpine said: 
 
“We are hurtling towards the precipice of having no deal, which only last week the UK Government said would inflict greater damage on both Scotland and Wales than it would on the UK as a whole.
 
“The Prime Minister says all that can be avoided by backing her deal but her deal fails to guarantee key human rights, environmental rights and employment rights. Of course, it also ignores the devolution settlement and rides roughshod over the powers of the Scottish parliament which rejected the draft deal in early December last year.
 
“The EU will not agree to an extension to Article 50 if it becomes what is being called a rolling cliff edge, which would allow Mrs May more procrastination time without delivering any material change and more time to blackmail us with no deal threats. That is why there has to be a second referendum. That is why we need to put the brakes on Brexit.”



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Parties come together for Europe In Crichton Talk

The SNP’s Joan McAlpine will join forces with a former Labour MP to speak up for Europe at an event in the Crichton this Saturday.

 
She will tell her audience “it’s not too late to pull the brakes on Brexit”
 
The South Scotland MSP is convenor of the Scottish Parliament’s Europe Committee and will speak alongside Mark Lazarowicz, an advocate and the former MP for Edinburgh North. She will highlight concerns about the impact of Brexit on Dumfries and Galloway, in particular the damage to agriculture, education and the rights of EU residents across the region.
 
The event has been organised by a group called the European Movement in Scotland (EMiS) which has been set up to make a positive case for remaining in the EU. The organisation hopes that the meeting will result in the establishment of a group for Dumfries and Galloway which can be a focus for campaigning against Brexit across the region.
 
Other speakers include Lawrence Bristow-Smith, a resident of Kirkcudbright and former diplomat with particular responsibilities for trade and the economy, and Dave Merritt, a therapist and trainer.
 
Commenting, Ms McAlpine says,
 
“We are almost up to the wire on Brexit and Mrs May is no closer to getting her damaging deal through the House of Commons. Even if by some miracle she does get it passed, we will have years more uncertainty as her red lines pull us out of the single market and customs union. It’s not too late to pull the brakes!
 
“I’m particularly concerned about the threat to funding for education as it could mean young people across our region missing out on valuable opportunities at school, college and university. I’m worried about the future of the ERASMUS+ programme which enables young people to travel overseas to study and funds language learning in several local schools.  Spain has already said that it will no longer fund ERASMUS+ programmes in the UK after Brexit and it looks likely that other countries are set to follow.
 
“Anyone who is concerned about the impacts that Brexit might have on our economy or our communities should come along to this meeting to find out more or join the discussion to share your views.”
 
The cross party event comes in the same week that Ms McAlpine met a close ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel for talks on Brexit.  David McAllister, MEP,  whose father was Scottish, is vice president of the European People’s Party, the Christian Democrat grouping within the European Parliament.  Mr McAllister was meeting politicians in the Scottish Parliament after delivering a lecture in Edinburgh.
 
Ms McAlpine said; “Mr McAllister regards Brexit as a tragedy, but he said there was no way the EU would consider opening up the Withdrawal Agreement. The EU  might, however agree  to delay Article 50. That is what Mrs May should do, unless of course she rescinds it completely.”
 
The event takes place in Easterbrook Hall on Saturday the 2nd of March from 11am to 1pm.  Tickets are free but you can register your place on the Eventbrite website.

Image of Joan McAlpine MSP  with David McAllister attached.
 
Link to Eventbrite ticket website:
 
Link to the European Movement in Scotland (EMiS) website:
 





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Firms in Dumfries and Galloway benefit from £8.6m in business rates support

The Scottish Government’s Small Business Bonus Scheme provided £8.6m of support for businesses across Dumfries and Galloway in 2017/18 – a 25.2% rise on the previous year. This was well above the average of £7.5m across Scotland’s 32 local authority areas.

 
The Small Business Bonus Scheme, delivered by the SNP since 2008/09, supports local firms by reducing their rates liability or taking firms out of business rates altogether.
 
With businesses across Scotland receiving a total support relief of £241m last year, SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has said the Scottish Government’s commitment to local jobs and communities across Dumfries and Galloway is clear.
 
Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:
 
“This is a great example of Dumfries and Galloway getting an above average boost from a Scottish Government policy.  We have many more small businesses in this region than in the big cities and so more of them get help from the SNP’s small business bonus. 
 
“Businesses in Dumfries and Galloway have benefitted from a massive £8.6m in rates support, providing stability for local jobs and communities and giving firms that valuable headroom to grow and thrive.
 
“While Labour and the Tories have no credible plans between them, the SNP is getting on with the job – creating a better business environment in Dumfries and Galloway and helping to boost employment.”
  
 

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McAlpine backs Downing Street whistle blower’s Brexit warning

A Downing Street whistle blower who made global headlines during the Falklands War comes to Dumfries this week to warn of threats Brexit poses to the Scottish Parliament. 

 

Joan McAlpine MSP has backed the respected former UK Civil Servant Professor Clive Ponting, who will speak at a public meeting in the town this Friday.

 

Professor Ponting claims that the Civil Contingencies Act of 2004 could be used to effectively to stop or even reverse devolution. He says these emergency powers are very worrying as they give Westminster the right to abolish any legislation, including the Devolution Act.

 

Professor Ponting became famous in the 1980s when he hugely embarrassed Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher during the Falklands Islands Conflict. He leaked government papers to an MP that proved the Argentine ship, General Belgrano, was heading away from the Falklands War task force when it was torpedoed and sunk by the submarine HMS Conqueror with the loss of 323 lives. The UK government had always stated that the Belgrano was threatening the Task Force when it was targeted.  The Professor was put on trial for breaking the Official Secrets Act and was famously acquitted. He now lives in the Borders.

 

The professor has extensive knowledge of the inner workings of government so as well as explaining the threats from the emergency powers, he will be speaking about his views on the functions, machinations and intrigue of the UK Civil Service.

 

Commenting, Ms McAlpine says,

 

“The emergency powers that that UK Government ministers have given themselves are unprecedented. If you look at the Civil Contingencies Act, it allows the Government to amend or in effect abolish any piece of legislation except the Human Rights Act. If Brexit becomes a disaster, especially in a no deal scenario, Westminster could declare a State of Emergency and suspend the activities of the Scottish Parliament altogether.

 

“The Westminster Government have already voted to grab EU powers from the Scottish Parliament so there’s no reason to think they wouldn’t go further if it served their own interests. Even if they thought it politically damaging to abolish the Parliament entirely, they could do things in such a way that most of its powers disappeared.”

 

Professor Ponting’s talk will take place on Friday the 1st of March at 7pm at the Aberdour Hotel in Dumfries. Seats can be reserved in advance through EventBrite or just turn up on the night. Entry is by a minimum donation of £3.

 

Link for tickets:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/d/united-kingdom–dumfries-and-galloway/clive-ponting/

 

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McAlpine expresses sadness at last ever EU presidency event

South Scotland MSP, Joan McAlpine, has expressed her sadness after sponsoring what could be the last ever reception for the Presidency of the European Council to take place in the Scottish Parliament.

 

Ms McAlpine,  who is the Convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee, was speaking at the reception hosted by the His Excellency, Dan Mihalache, Ambassador of Romania which currently holds the presidency of the EU Council on Wednesday.

 

The Parliament has hosted these receptions every six months as the presidency rotates between countries of the EU. They will no longer take place once the UK leaves the EU at the end of March when the European office in Edinburgh closes its doors.

 

Commenting, Ms McAlpine says,

 

“It was with a lump in my throat that I spoke at what will probably be the last ever reception of the Presidency of the European Council and it was with regret that I noted that Romania’s presidency of the Council will oversee the Article 50 deadline.

 

“I understand that the European Commission office in Edinburgh will close next month, which will not only be a tremendous loss for Scotland, but also something which will have a significant impact on individual staff who have made Scotland their home. I would like to offer them my sincere thanks and best wishes.

 

“This should not mark and end to Scotland’s engagement with the European Union – I was reassured to hear the Scottish Government’s Minister for Europe, Ben McPherson, give that reassurance at the reception.”

 

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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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