MSP delighted at 31,083 young people benefiting from bus scheme

Emma standing on Alness High Street



Emma Roddick MSP has welcomed the news that 31,083 children and young people in across the Highlands and Islands are benefiting from free bus travel since the introduction of the SNP Government’s scheme for under 22’s.

In figures released this week (20th September 2022), the Scottish Government revealed that – as of 12 September 2022 – a total of 483,931 children and young people across Scotland are cardholders under the Young Persons’ Free Bus Travel Scheme and that a total of 21,723,100 journeys made under the Young Persons’ (Under 22s) Free Bus Travel Scheme since its introduction.

Commenting Roddick said:

“It is brilliant that so many children and young people across the Highlands are already benefiting from the SNP Scottish Government’s free bus travel and I want to make sure that even more young people take advantage of this.

“This initiative is not only about helping our young people get about more often and more easily – whether that be local journeys or journeys right across Scotland – but it is also about embedding more sustainable travel behaviour from a young age which will support all of our efforts to tackle the climate emergency.

“It also is a key way of maintaining vital services in many areas, especially rural or outlying ones, and can provide help to people struggling with the cost of living crisis right now – by making travel affordable.”

ENDS

NOTES

Table (below) shows the number of cardholders under the Young Persons’ Free Bus Travel Scheme

Local AuthorityCardholders
Argyll & Bute            5,589
Highland         13,341
Moray         6,996
Orkney Islands            1,288
Shetland Islands            2,487
Eilean Siar 1,382
Highlands & Islands Total 31,083

Highlands & Islands MSP pushes for increase in payments to Ukranian hosts

Emma speaking in parliament wearing a short sleeved, navy, floral dress.
Emma speaking in Parliament

Emma Roddick MSP for the Highlands & Islands has suggested that hosts taking part in the Homes for Ukraine scheme have their monthly payments increased as a result of the cost-of-living crisis and soaring energy bills. 

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Roddick raised the suggestion with Neil Gray MSP, Minister with Special Responsibility for Ukrainian Refugees, who voiced his support for the opinion of Richard Harrington, former UK Government Minister for Refugees, that the new UK Chancellor reflects on an increase in payments. 

Commenting, Roddick said:

“When the Homes for Ukraine scheme first opened, thousands of Scots, including many in the Highlands & Islands, came forward to become hosts to those in need. It is, therefore, really important that those who opened their homes to refugees from Ukraine are suitably supported through the cost-of-living crisis so that they are able to continue providing a suitable and comfortable environment for their guests.

“I am glad to hear that the Scottish Government supports the increase of monthly payments to those involved in the scheme and I hope that this is an action the UK Government seriously and thoughtfully considers.” 

Emma Roddick MSP amongst the first signatories of new Scottish LGBTI+ inclusion initiative

Emma Roddick, MSP for the Highlands and Islands has become one of the first signatories of the Scottish LGBTI+ Rainbow Mark. The initiative, developed by Equality Network in consultation with Highland Pride and four other Scottish LGBTI+ organisations, promotes and supports inclusive social spaces across Scotland. 

By encouraging the display of the Rainbow Mark as a symbol in social places such as cafes, restaurants, gyms, and libraries, the initiative aims to increase positive LGBTI+ visibility, reduce isolation and minority stress for members of the LGBTI+ community, and generally create more welcoming spaces in Scotland. 

Commenting on becoming a Rainbow Mark signatory, Roddick said:

“I am delighted to be amongst the first signatories of the Rainbow Mark and to now have my very own mark up in my office. As a member of the LGBTI+ community myself, it is fantastic to see this initiative come to life and bring inclusive individuals, organisations, businesses, and public services together. 

“The Rainbow Mark is something that I would have valued so much as a youngster, so it is encouraging to see steps being taken to ensure that the road is becoming easier for the next generation. 

“I am particularly pleased that Highland Pride were one of the consultation groups in developing the Rainbow Mark. It really is amazing to see LGBTI+ individuals across the Highlands able to have their say on how we, as a country in Scotland, can strive to be more inclusive.”

Highlands & Islands MSP highlights contrast between UK and Scottish Government approaches to cost-of-living crisis

Emma speaking in Parliament in the Programme for Government (Cost of Living). She is wearing a short sleeved, navy floral dress.
Emma speaking in Parliament in the Programme for Government (Cost of Living)

SNP MSP for the Highlands & Islands Emma Roddick has spoken out in the Scottish Parliament on the differences in the approach being shown by the UK and Scottish Governments in tackling the cost-of-living crisis. 

Speaking in a debate on the issue, Roddick contrasted the Scottish Government’s raising of the Scottish Child Payment and delivery of twelve new benefits through Social Security Scotland against the UK Government’s apparent prioritisation of economic growth and tax cuts for the highest earners “over making sure that people in the UK do not have to face the heart-breaking choice of heating or eating.” 

Roddick made clear that whilst the Scottish Government was acting by freezing rent and rail fares, increasing the provision of free school meals and widening the Warmer Homes Fuel Poverty Programme, it was vital that the UK Government greatly increased its own levels of support to households. 

Commenting, Roddick said:

“The difference of approach between the UK and Scottish Governments is now so stark that I struggle to see how anyone can deny it. One government does what it can to support people through a cost-of-living crisis, whilst the other strives above all else to make itself and its donors richer.  One government attempts to use its limited resources to lift children out of poverty, whilst the other contemptuously insists that it won’t refer to ‘handouts’ – as if handing food to a hungry bairn is a bad thing.

“The Scottish Government has used the restricted devolved powers it has to bring forward a number of vital initiatives which will provide crucial support to households during this increasingly difficult time. However, the simple fact is that the powers to act on the necessary scale are widely reserved to the Westminster Parliament. 

“The UK and Scottish Governments have a fundamental and ideological difference about the type of society we should be. Scots want to live in a country which is compassionate, fair and outward-looking. How many election losses will it take for the Tories to realise that their insular conservative politics are simply not winning the hearts and minds of people in Scotland and that we are hungry for the choice of something better?”

Emma Roddick applauds South Ronaldsay in the Scottish Parliament

Emma speaking in Parliament in the Programme for Government (Cost of Living)

Orkney’s SNP MSP, Emma Roddick, has celebrated the actions of South Ronaldsay and Burray Church in providing a warm space for locals ahead of what could be a very difficult winter for many, with fuel prices expected to continue to rise over the coming months.

While acknowledging that “this shouldn’t be necessary”, the MSP pointed to the community as an example of the type of caring society Orkney and Scotland want to be.

She said:

“I was heartened to see the quick, decisive action taken by communities in Orkney to support people to stay warm and keep in touch with neighbours over the next few months.

“The winter looks bleak for so many across the Highlands and Islands, and the biggest levers of power which can change this – energy policy, social security, borrowing powers – lie with Westminster, who show no signs of acting to help.  While it can’t vary energy policy, the Scottish Government has made the positive choice to support people and put money straight into the hands of those who need it most through this week’s Programme for Government, which increases the Scottish Child Payment, freezes rent, and introduces a new Winter Heating Payment.

“There is a fundamental disagreement between the UK Government and Scottish Government about what sort of society we want to be.  One that looks after each other, or one that protects the wealthiest in society and engages in a race to the bottom on employment, housing, and even human rights for the rest of us.  

“The actions of the community in South Ronaldsay, while they shouldn’t be necessary, show that people here in Orkney want to live in a society where people look out for each other.”

MSP marks Victorian Market opening in Scottish Parliament

SNP MSP Emma Roddick has marked the reopening of the Victorian Market Hall, due on the 14th of September, in the Scottish Parliament, with a motion noting the award-winning status of already-announced tenants Bad Girl Bakery and the Malt Room.

She said:

“The refurbishment has been a long time coming, and so much has happened since the City Committee agreed the final plans.  We’ve been through a pandemic, many businesses in the city are struggling, and folk are readjusting to being out and about again.

“The hall offers a renewed hope for food and drink vendors in the city centre, and it’s been great to hear that such well-thought-of businesses have already secured a spot in the new hall.  I am very much looking forward to visiting soon and trying out the Malt Room and Bad Girl Bakery’s new ventures.”

Notes-

Text of Motion: That the Parliament notes the reopening of the Victorian Market Hall in Inverness on 14 September 2022, following a £1.6 million refurbishment led by the Highland Council with investment from the Inverness Common Good Fund; understands that the hall was closed for twenty months with an aim to modernise the building and increase footfall; further understands that the historic hall will now be able to facilitate food and drinks vendors in the space moving forwards and that it has already secured award-winning tenants Bad Girl Bakery and the Malt Room; congratulates all involved in the project for reaching the stage of being able to reopen, and wishes all the tenants well for the future.

Rent freeze announcement welcomed by Highlands & Islands MSP

Emma speaking in Parliament in the Programme for Government 2022-23 debate - she is wearing a red cardigan and a dark, floral dress.
Emma speaking in Parliament in the Programme for Government 2022-23 debate

Highlands & Islands MSP Emma Roddick has welcomed the announcement of a rent freeze and moratorium on evictions to help people through the cost crisis as part of the Scottish Government’s 2022-23 Programme for Government. 

The programme, published yesterday [6th September 2022], contains details on the emergency legislation which will be called upon to introduce a freeze on rents until at least 31st March 2023. Ms Roddick made clear that, for communities in the Highlands & Islands to survive, affordable housing was of crucial importance and also welcomed the fresh tenants’ rights campaign included within the programme. 

Speaking in the Chamber following the First Minister’s statement, Roddick commented: 

“To say that I am relieved that a freeze will now be introduced ahead of the new Housing Bill is an understatement. This is the right thing to do, it prioritises people’s safety and security over private financial gain, and it will save lives.

“I feel for those who have had their rents increased over recent months, but I hope that people can see the value in the peace of mind provided by not having further increases at a time where very few can afford it. I’m glad also to hear that the Housing Bill itself will look at protections in the long term, as well as addressing short-term lets and other housing pressures which are devastating communities in the Highlands & Islands.

“If communities in my region are to stand any chance of continuing, and if employers, including the NHS, are to be able to recruit in those areas, we need people to be able to find an affordable place to live. Sadly, that is not possible in many of our towns.

“I want my region to diversify, to use its vast resources and knowledge and to be a key player in Scotland’s place on the world stage. That is far from out of reach, but we need support to retain the people who we have and, right now, only those on the highest of salaries can live and work in and contribute to those communities. Housing is absolutely at the heart of that issue, and today’s announcement recognises that.”

Roddick supports proposed criminal justice reforms

Emma speaking in Parliament. She is wearing a red cardigan and a dark floral dress.
Emma speaking in Parliament in the Programme for Government 2022-23 debate

Highlands & Islands MSP Emma Roddick has spoken out in support of the Scottish Government’s announcement that it will bring forward a Criminal Justice Reform Bill which will propose the end of the ‘Not Proven’ verdict in Scots Law and include a range of measures such as protecting the anonymity of complainers in cases of a sexual offence. The announcement came as part of the Scottish Government’s 2022-23 Programme for Government. 

Speaking in the Chamber following the announcement, the SNP MSP – who has spoken out in the past about her own experience of sexual assault – discussed the significance of these proposed changes specifically for women, drawing on the play “Prima Facie” which explores the experiences of victims of sexual assault in court, reflecting on the fact that their perpetrators are rarely brought to justice. She commented:

“The disproportionately high usage of the ‘Not Proven’ verdict in rape cases in Scotland is incredibly harmful to victims of sexual abuse, the majority of which are women. This is exacerbated even further for disabled, Black, and minority ethnic women. Rape Crisis Scotland found that the ‘Not Proven’ verdict made up 44% of rape and attempted rape acquittals compared with 20% for all crimes and offences, illustrating that the law does not work for women.

“I sincerely welcome the significant news that the Scottish Government is pressing forward with these much-needed changes, which have the potential to address a horrendous imbalance in our justice system and make it possible for a survivor to even imagine that their case might succeed.

“I understand that the reforms will not be easy and will be controversial, but they are worth it and it is personally meaningful to me that the Scottish Government feels that they are worth it, too.”

Highlands & Islands MSP attends first in-person UHI Shetland graduation ceremony

Professor Todd Walker, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of UHI, on the left, wearing academic dress, and Emma Roddick standing on the right in a black and white dress after the graduation ceremony. They are looking at the camera and smiling.
Professor Todd Walker, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of UHI, and Emma Roddick after the graduation ceremony

Emma Roddick MSP was spotted in Lerwick attending UHI Shetland’s first in-person graduation ceremony. The graduation celebrated students who graduated over the pandemic and those graduating in 2022, giving the opportunity for those that didn’t have a traditional graduation ceremony to celebrate with their fellow students and loved ones.

Commenting Roddick said:

“I was humbled to be invited to the graduation ceremony today, celebrating the efforts of so many students that worked so hard over the past few years to achieve their degrees. I have so much respect for them.

“It was great to see students graduate across such a breadth of subjects – there is so much happening in Shetland, being done by Shetlanders. I was so excited and proud to hear about degrees exploring Shetland’s Norse heritage, like the Masters in Literature in Viking Studies.

“Professor Todd Walker, the Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the UHI, told us in his keynote speech how UHI is now l ranked 8th in the UK for research impact, which is incredible and a reflection of the hard work and dedication of all the staff and students at UHI. The fact that the UHI has only been established recently makes it even more impressive.

“It’s been such a great day and I’ve loved seeing all the happy faces around me celebrating – I have no doubt all these students will get up to a lot of great things.”