Contrary to anything you may have heard, MSPs (or the good ones anyway) don’t disappear for the whole of the months of July and August when Parliament is not in session.
If anything, it gives a chance to get some work done, without having to fly back and forth to Edinburgh every other day.
That said, I have had time to bring home the peats, in spite of the wettest summer for doing this since (I am told) 1926!
Writing this new column will hopefully be a chance to share some of the work I have been doing, and to invite people to get in touch with any issues or questions they would like me to pursue.
Bank of Scotland ATMs
I have recently written to the Bank of Scotland to urge them to consider reversing the decision to cut down the number of days some branches in the Western Isles are open. I also have raised the reliability of some of their ATMs.
Island communities rely on basic services like these to be viable, and it is does not help our tourist industry when visitors struggle to easily withdraw money.
Over the summer many people have got in touch with me to complain about the lack of capacity on the Ullapool – Inverness bus service, with foot passengers being stranded at times in Ullapool.
It is impossible to understate just how important it is for us here in the islands to have a properly integrated transport network, and I will be meeting with Citylink’s Operations Director in Scotland next month to emphasis this point.
people with dignity
We have recently seen worrying reports that officials from the Department of Work and Pensions are now being given training on how to handle benefit claimants that threaten suicide on the phone because they have been “sanctioned”.
This pitiful situation illustrates the urgent need for welfare to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament.
The Scottish Government already provides support to the disabled, elderly, lone parents and other vulnerable groups from its own budget to try and mitigate the effects of the Tories’ damaging welfare reform.
However, we need more powers if we are to take a fundamentally different approach that does not focus on pushing people into destitution and despair.
We have had the very positive announcement this summer that Fibre Optic Broadband has reached the Isles.
This is a huge achievement which we would not have seen this take place on the commercial market without the major investment the Scottish Government and others have provided to overcome these challenges.
The next challenge, and one I continue to discuss with HIE, is to ensure that we see broadband speeds improve in areas of the islands where superfast broadband is not yet scheduled.
With this we can minimise, as time goes on, the number of households who have to rely on wireless and other solutions.
Get in touch
To get in touch with Alasdair about any matter, please contact 01851 702272 or firstname.lastname@example.org