Rhoda Grant calls for SNP to reverse Fuel Poverty Budget Cut as yet another Fuel Company Announces Price Hike

22 July 2011

Speaking today as Scottish & Southern Energy announced that household gas bills will increase by an average 18% and electricity bills by an average 11%, Scottish Labour’s deputy finance spokesperson Rhoda Grant MSP said,

“With energy company after energy company announcing price hikes like this it is our duty to help the poorest and most vulnerable in our society, who will be hit hardest by soaring bills in these already tough times.

“The fact that one in three Scots are now struggling to heat their homes – almost twice as many as in England – underlines just how wrong it was for the SNP government to slash the fuel poverty budget by almost a third.

“I urge the SNP government to wake-up to the reality facing hard-pressed Scots and urgently reverse its cut to the fuel poverty budget.”


Celebrating the work of Cairngorms National Park

Speech in the Scottish Parliament

14 June 2011

The Cairngorms National Park is indeed one of the most iconic and beautiful destinations in Europe.

For so long we did not have National Parks in Scotland.

The first steps to creating National Parks in Scotland came under Donald Dewar’s leadership.

I was a member the rural affairs committee that oversaw the passage of the National Parks Bill in 2000.

Because of this and because the Cairngorms National Park is in my region I have taken a close interest in their progress

I remember the long debates we had in committee during the passage of the bill,

What the role the Park Authority should have in relation to “promoting economic and social development”; tensions between the Parks role in protecting the environment and the more social and economic aspects of their remit.

Many people living in our most iconic and beautiful places sometimes feel they are the endangered species.

That is why the Parks aims were to integrate the social, economic and environmental and promoting sustainability.

There were also concerns about how this would work in practice and how the Park would interact with stakeholders.

Tonight we will hear from the Cairngorms Buisiness Partnership which is one of the many stakeholder groups that not only interact with the board but are integral to the success of the Boards work and that of the Park.

The Cairngorm National Park is a special place. We have fantastic landscape and wildlife which people come to marvel at and to enjoy – but it is also special because these places are the heart of our economy.

This is due to the work and dedication of the Board and the many Stakeholders – who have used the legislation, created by this Parliament, to create a Park that is a success in every sense of the word.

Encouraging students to learn about their environment is integral to the Curriculum for Excellence.

Therefore the Parks work in creating a Learning Zone on their website is an excellent resource – as are the many of their other educational projects.

Our National Parks need to be accessible to all, we must all benefit from the health benefits of accessing our beautiful landscape.

The Cairngorms Outdoor Access Trust ensures that we have a quality path network as well as increasing accessibility.

Volunteers lead walks – giving up their own time – and I would like to pay tribute to their work also.

When the Park was officially opened in 2003 Andrew Thin said that this must be a Park for All.

That it must not be a park for the fit and few; but one that is welcoming, accessible and enjoyable for all.

So I am very pleased, and proud, to see the Cairngorms National Park being such a force for good.

It is only 8 years old but has already achieved much – this must augur well for the future.

Welcome for report on Castlebay School

3 June 2011

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant has welcomed a report by HM Inspectorate of Education (HMIe) which shows that Castlebay School is moving in the right direction.

The school was criticised by HMIe following an inspection three years ago.

HMIe said internal tension between secondary staff at Castlebay was affecting the children’s education.

In a new report, the HMIe said the school, which also has primary classes, has made progress.

Rhoda Grant said:

“I welcome the improvement.

“While I recognise there are still issues, It is good that the school is moving in the right direction.

” I hope this can be built upon and that exam results will show an improvement this year.”


Concern over how capital funding is allocated to NHS Highland

24 February 2011

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant has raised concerns about how capital funding is allocated to NHS Highland after it emerged that a £24.8 million project to provide a new day services centre and refurbishment of the renal unit at Raigmore Hospital has now collapsed.

This is despite the centre having been planned for the past several years which would have eased pressure on the existing surgical department.

In her letter to Health Minister Nicola Sturgeon she said:

“As you know the health board had banked £20 million to fund this project and I have since learned that some of this banked capital has been given back by the Scottish Government to support dental services on the Isle of Skye and Oban.

“Clearly whilst extra funding for the dental sector is to be welcomed, at the same time I am somewhat anxious to know on what basis this funding was allocated and why prioritisation was given to dentist facilities over that of the plans for Raigmore.

“It would also be helpful to know if Scottish Government capital spending to NHS Boards is ring fenced to the projects for which they are allocated.

“I would also be grateful to know how these priorities were set.

“Was this a decision made by NHS Highland and if so, did they involve clinical staff and their public participation forum when setting these priorities?

“Is there any opportunity for NHS Highland to change these priorities?

“I would also be grateful to know what assurances you have received that the board will meet its day case surgery targets.”

MSP’s efforts to try to make travelling easier for community nurses in bad weather

15 February 2011

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant and NHS Highland have joined forces to try to help community nurses driving in bad weather.

Rhoda Grant was contacted by a number of nurses who complained that they were not allowed to fit their lease cars with winter tyres even though they were travelling to remote areas where roads are either inadequately gritted or do not have the level of traffic required to churn the gritting salt so that the ice melts.

She then wrote to NHS Highland to see what it could do to resolve the situation.

NHS Highland Chief Executive Elaine Mead said the current position was that the lease companies did not provide or support winter tyres as a standard on all lease vehicles.

They could be fitted for business and private use but only at the expense of the driver -ordinary tyres are fitted free of charge under the lease contract.

The position with the purely Business Use vehicle was that the expense could be covered by the departmental budget.

She added that the NHS Highland Transport Manager had contacted the Transport Manager for NHS National Services Scotland to request that he formally approaches the three lease companies to see if they will consider their position on the fitting and support of winter tyres.

Rhoda Grant commented : “It seems to be ludicrous that community nurses are prevented from having their cars fitted with tyres that are more appropriate to the winter conditions in the areas they cover.

“These journeys would be safer if their cars were better equipped to deal with winter conditions.

“I hope that NHS chiefs will see the necessity for winter tyres to be fitted as a matter of course on all lease vehicles used by community nurses and front line staff, who will often find themselves travelling in bad weather to attend to patients. “

Rhoda Grant “extremely concerned” over £20 million spending for NHS Highland taken away by Scottish Government

23 December 2010

Highlands and islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant is writing to NHS Highland after learning that the Board has been deprived of £20million for future projects by the Scottish Government.

She has written to NHS Highland’s Chief Executive Garry Coutts after noticing from the Board Report that £20m of capital funding banked by NHS Highland with the Scottish Government is no longer available to the Board.

Rhoda Grant said:

“I am extremely concerned about this because I believe that the Scottish Government should not be able to take this money which has already been granted to the Board.

“However, my greater concern is that capital projects within the NHS Highland Board area will be affected.

“I am therefore writing to ask the impact on this decision on the Board’s capital spending plans and what the implications are for future projects.

“It would also be useful to know whether the board been given any indication of its future capital allocation and, if so, what impact that will have on your plans.”

Call to new Transport Minister to deliver on the Lochboisdale-Mallaig ferry

20 December 2010 Highlands and Islands

Labour MSP Rhoda Grant is calling on the new Transport Minister Keith Brown to deliver on the Lochboisdale-Mallaig ferry where his predecessor Stewart Stevenson failed.

She said: “I am writing to Keith Brown to congratulate him on his new job and I hope he will be more willing to provide funding for the Lochboisdale-Mallaig ferry service than Mr Stevenson was when I wrote to him in October.

“The ferry is a vital link between South Uist and the mainland.”