Highlands and Islands MSP Emma Roddick has voiced support for further measures to combat speeding drivers on the North Coast 500.
“Speeding drivers are a huge concern for residents of the towns and villages the NC500 passes through. The route is often narrow with many twists and turns, and it’s very easy for an accident to occur if cars are travelling at speed.
“Local residents have lost their pets to speeding vehicles and have had near-misses with drivers travelling above the speed limit.
“The NC500 is not fit for purpose, and the overwhelming concerns from residents along the route demonstrates this.
“I fully support the efforts of local communities in seeking tighter controls on speeding on the NC500 and I will work towards helping them achieve this.”
Roddick has voiced concerns in the past over the lack of infrastructure and controls to support increasing visitor numbers.
Highlands and Islands MSP Emma Roddick has today asked the Scottish Government to consider revisiting existing restrictions on the role of Community First Responders in assisting the Scottish Ambulance Service.
Roddick urged the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care to explore further ways in which Community First Responders can aid Scottish Ambulance Service crews in a time of coronavirus pandemic-induced delays.
In her question, Roddick noted that many First Responders in her region are baffled at the fact that the army is being called in to assist the SAS before themselves, despite many of them being blue-light trained from their day jobs.
Commenting on the subject later on, Roddick said:
“At present, Community First Responders are not allowed to access blue light training and are not trained to drive ambulances, changes that many Community First Responders believe may be crucial to saving lives.
“My office has received many representations from First Responders that are at a loss as to why we are calling in external agencies and the Ministry of Defence when the service has a pool of around 1,500 volunteers ready and willing to take a more active role in supporting our ambulance service. As one of them has told me – ‘every avenue should be explored to save people’s lives.’”
Highlands and Islands MSP Emma Roddick spoke in Parliament yesterday in support of the Scottish Government’s commitment to preventing homelessness.
“I am heartened by the Scottish Government’s commitment to preventing homelessness. Homelessness shouldn’t simply be a fact of life in twenty-first century Scotland.
“Homelessness is a symptom of many things and is inextricably linked with poverty. I don’t think people realise how often poverty is predetermined.
“Nobody blames a child for living in a poor household, but, when that child grows up, folk start to blame the person who didn’t get the same educational opportunities as them, doesn’t have savings, and couldn’t afford to learn to drive, for the situation they inherited.
“The measures detailed in the Programme for Government were developed with input from those with lived experience of homelessness and, according to Crisis, hold the potential to make Scotland a ‘world-leader in homelessness prevention’.
“It is clear to me that this Programme for Government has made preventing homelessness a priority and I look forward to scrutinising its detailed proposals as a member of the Social Justice and Social Security Committee.”
The islands’ SNP MSP, Emma Roddick, has raised concerns over the impact of proposed cuts to Universal Credit, claiming that it could undermine the Scottish Government’s planned increase to the Scottish Child Payment, a benefit aimed at reducing the number of children living in poverty by giving extra cash each week to families who rely on UC.
Roddick queried witnesses at today’s meeting of the Social Justice and Social Security Committee on a number of issues, including whether they were concerned that a doubling of the Scottish Child Payment at the same time the £20 Universal Credit uplift is removed would lessen its effectiveness.
“The Scottish Child Payment exists to help close a gap which has been made wider and wider by over a decade’s worth of Tory governments down south. The doubling of it will be key to tackling child poverty, however, I am worried that cuts to Universal Credit, which all SCP claimants depend on, will lessen its effect.
“Modelling has shown that a £10-a-week increase to the SCP would reduce child poverty, but if the UK Government insists on slashing household income by £20, we may lose that vital relief.
“We all need to work together to tackle child poverty, and I am glad to see that £28,500 was paid directly to families with young children in Shetland this summer as part of the bridging payment prior to full rollout of the benefit.
“It is outrageous that cuts down south could threaten the help of even more children and I, alongside fellow committee members, urge the UK Government to reconsider making a cut which would plunge an estimate half-a-million people into poverty.”
MSP for the Highlands and Islands Emma Roddick has slammed the Scottish Conservatives for what she described as their “hypocritical” stance on social security.
During her speech, in which she discussed her own experience of homelessness and welcomed the Scottish Government’s proposed prevention measures, a Conservative member intervened to ask why the Scottish Government was taking so long to take over the limited social security powers recently devolved.
“It is a real shame that my colleagues on the Tory benches have no sense of irony, hypocrisy or shame when they criticise the Scottish Government for being ‘too slow’ implementing benefits like the Scottish Child Payment – which only exist to mitigate the harm caused by a UK social security system which started out inadequate and then suffered years of cuts.
“It’s a real shame that so much of government budgets in this country are spent trying to stop UK austerity hitting our worst-off the hardest, and it’s a real shame the Scottish Government is having to wait another few years before every power is devolved for decisions to be made for this country in this country.
“The Tories’ amendment today laments the fact that the Scottish Government is not taking full control over devolved benefits until 2025. Now, I agree with that – it is disappointing that it took so long to devolve these powers and that it is taking a couple extra years – pandemic years – to bring in social security properly, something their party down south hasn’t managed in over a decade of power.”
Following the debate, she added:
“The Tories are the party responsible for the decision to remove the £20 uplift to Universal Credit, plunging an estimated half-a-million people into poverty. I will not be taking any lessons from them on how best to help those their government has already failed.”
Highlands and Islands MSP Emma Roddick today raised in parliament the issue of Scottish prisoners being held on remand without a verdict. Roddick was pleased with the Scottish Government’s response and commitment to reform.
Speaking on the issue, Roddick said:
“I am glad to see that the Scottish Government are taking steps to reduce the number of prisoners held on remand in Scotland.
“People held on remand have not yet been convicted, and their imprisonment is disruptive to their and their families’ lives.
“I hope that the consultation provides constructive routes forward for the Scottish Government and that the proposed services to support reintegration to society on release from remand bring positive changes for those affected.”
Highlands and Islands MSP Emma Roddick has asked the Scottish Government how much investment Scottish ferry services have seen since 2007, and how additional funds will be allocated to the region. Speaking in Parliament, Roddick asked the Transport Minister, Graeme Dey, for figures amid concerns that ferry services do not provide sufficient capacity for passengers.
Dey responded that £2.2bn has been invested in ferry services in the past 14 years, and an additional £580m is being invested going forward.
Speaking following the session, Roddick said:
“I am pleased to see that further investment is planned for our ferry services. It is clear to me, from personal experience and the concerns of my constituents, that current passenger capacity is not enough.
“We must ensure that we have suitable infrastructure in place, both for our island residents and visitors alike. It is vital that we make our island communities a priority in order to boost quality of life and tackle depopulation.”
Emma Roddick, MSP for the Highlands and Islands, has reached out to Professor Todd Walker, head of the University of the Highlands and Islands, regarding his comments on removing so-called “vanity courses” from the curriculum.
Speaking about the move, Roddick said:
“While it is important to focus on education with a view to employment, the sole purpose of a university is not to support the economy. Removing access to courses will drive people, knowledge and creativity out of the region, exacerbating depopulation in the Highlands and Islands.
“Courses in every subject teach students valuable life skills and should not be axed because they don’t have a determined career path.
“I have reached out to Professor Walker for clarification as to what courses are considered ‘vanity courses’, and to express my concerns surrounding this move.
“I strongly believe that everyone should have equal access to education regardless of where in Scotland they live; it’s not fair to take these opportunities away from local people.”
Highlands and Islands MSP Emma Roddick has asked First Minister Nicola Sturgeon for assurances regarding job losses at HIAL owned airports if their proposals to centralise air traffic control go ahead at today’s First Minister’s Questions.
“I am concerned by HIAL’s plans. By their own estimates, the project will see the loss of 48 highly skilled jobs in rural areas.
“This move will have a significant impact on Shetland, forcing people to move away from the islands in search of employment, and taking their families with them. We already have a depopulation problem – we need to be creating new job opportunities, not removing them.
“I have met with HIAL regarding the plans previously, and I have joined fellow MSPs in writing to the First Minister.
“I urge HIAL to reconsider their position. I agree that our airports need to be modernised, but that should not be at the expense of the people who work in them.”
The project is in the late planning stages and will see air traffic controllers at HIAL’s island airports replaced with a remote tower outwith the islands.