LOCAL MSP BACKS SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT RATES RELIEF

SNP MSP for Stirling Constituency Bruce Crawford has backed the Scottish Government’s proposals on business rates, after Finance Secretary Derek Mackay announced a wide-ranging relief scheme that will offer strong support to businesses across Stirling.

Overall, the complete package of Scottish Government relief will ensure that 71% of business in Stirling Constituency will see either no change or a decrease in their business rates bill – with more businesses being entitled to support through the small business bonus scheme. The Scottish Government had already taken action to reduce the rates poundage to help businesses who have seen a revaluation.

The relief proposals will provide support for hotels, restaurants, pubs and cafes, which had seen their rates rise the steepest following the 2015 revaluation. Any rises in this sector will be capped at 12.5% – providing substantial support to the tourism and hospitality industries in Stirling.

Commenting, SNP MSP Bruce Crawford said:

“This announcement by the Scottish Government proves once again the SNP’s commitment to local businesses across my Constituency – with the substantial package of support ensuring that many businesses will not see any rise in the rates that they pay.

“The support for the tourism and hospitality sectors is very welcome – after these industries were left facing substantial hikes in their rates bills. The cap of a 12.5% increase provides excellent support to hotels, pubs, restaurants and cafes.

“The extension to the small business bonus will see over 100,000 firms across Scotland pay no rates whatsoever, which is a strong package of support for local businesses, and comes in addition to other funding offered in the Scottish Government’s budget, including the £500m Scottish Growth Scheme, and action taken to reduce the rates poundage.

“This relief package shows that only the SNP are interested in taking decisive action to support communities and businesses, whilst the Tories chase cheap headlines by carping from the side-lines.

“Overall, 71% of businesses in Stirling Constituency will see either a decrease or no change in the bills that they pay – helping to protect jobs and support firms. It is time for the opposition parties to put their political opportunism to one side and to get behind the substantial support that the Scottish Government is proposing.”

EARLY YEARS WORKFORCE EXPANSION TO BENEFIT COMMUNITIES IN STIRLING

The Scottish Government announcement that there will be an extra £1.5 million investment for more nursery teachers and graduates in deprived areas across Scotland has been welcomed by local Bruce Crawford MSP for Stirling Constituency– with Stirling set to receive 5 additional teachers or graduates.

The new staff in Stirling, part of 435 nationwide, is part of the wider strategy of tackling the attainment gap and giving every child an equal start in life. The provision of extra high qualified childcare professionals will ensure that young people benefit from the highest quality care and early years education.

The Scottish Government is taking decisive action to improve early years learning and childcare, including expanding guaranteed free provision from 600 hours to 1140 hours – which will have a positive impact for families across Stirling

 

Commenting, SNP MSP for Stirling, Bruce Crawford said:

“This new funding is very welcome news, helping to ensure that more children in our most deprived communities are able to benefit from specialised childcare and high quality early years learning.

“The Scottish Government is committed to closing the attainment gap, and targeting funding in this way, as well as expanding the guaranteed free childcare provision from 600 hours to 1140 hours, is important in making this happen, and to ensure that every child gets an equal start in life.

“The 5 new graduates or teachers that will be joining our workforce in Stirling will help improve childcare provision in our communities, and I look forward to seeing the Scottish Government continue to invest in our children’s futures.”

JOBS BOOST FOR STIRLING AS SCOTTISH TOURISM BOOMS

The number of people working in tourism in Stirling increased by 12% in one year, new figures show – with Scotland as a whole seeing an increase of 11 per cent.

The statistics produced by Visit Scotland show that tourism supports 5800 jobs in across my Constituency, 13% of total jobs in the area.

Between 2014 and 2015, the number of people employed in the sector across Scotland grew to 217,000 – with the 11 per cent increase in Scotland above the 4 per cent rise in Great Britain as a whole.

The 217,000 members of the Scottish tourism industry represent 9 per cent of the country’s total employment and is the highest tourism level since Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES) records began in 2009.

41% of staff in the tourism industry work in restaurants, 24% in hotels and other accommodation and 17% in bars and related businesses.

SNP MSP Bruce Crawford commented:

 “Our tourism industry is going from strength to strength and this increase in jobs shows the vital role that tourism plays in Scotland’s economy and particularly across the Stirling Constituency.

 “Scotland is famed for its warm welcome, incredible scenery and top class attractions – and with 2017 the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology we are celebrating our exceptional historical attractions.

“With Scotland ranked second in the Rough Guides list of the best countries in the world to visit this year, tourism in Stirling has a very bright future.”

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said:

“Tourism is more than a holiday experience. It creates jobs and sustains communities in every corner of Scotland all year round and is at the heart of the Scottish economy.

“These fantastic new figures show that, from hotel owners to waiting staff, tourism really is the driving force for providing the jobs of today and tomorrow. They also demonstrate the industry’s commitment to the 2020 strategy – which aims to generate economic growth through tourism.”

MSP WELCOMES SCOTTISH BUDGET 

Bruce Crawford MSP for Stirling Constituency has welcomed the announcements in the Scottish Government draft budget for the year ahead.

The Draft Budget includes new investment in public services, as well as new measures to support business, jobs, economic growth and help ease the financial burden on families.

The Scottish Government Budget delivers increased investment in education, record investment in the NHS, protects low income households from tax hikes and supports more and better jobs.

Commenting on the proposals Mr Crawford said;

“Closing the attainment gap, reducing child poverty and ensuring equality of access to higher education, will generate long term benefits for our economy and public finances. That is why the Scottish Government are prioritising education and providing the resources to match.

“This budget delivers the Government’s commitment to secure the future of Scotland’s health service. Next year they will invest an additional £300 million in NHS resource budgets – £120 million more than inflation – a massive step toward our promise to Scotland’s health service.

“The Scottish Government budget also provides a strong settlement for local government. This means Stirling Council will see an increase in overall spending power for 2017/18 despite cuts to the Scottish Government budget. Councils will also keep the full value of the revenue from Council Tax re-banding – every penny raised locally will be spent locally as councils see fit.

LOCAL MSP VISITS ROYAL MAIL DELIVERY OFFICE

Bruce Crawford MSP for Stirling Constituency visited the Royal Mail’s Stirling delivery office to pass on Christmas wishes and encouragement to the postmen and women at their busiest time of year.

Mr Crawford was given a tour of the sorting centre by Delivery Office Manager, Paul Turner, and was introduced to the postmen and women who are working hard sorting and delivering mail in the Stirling area during the Festive season.

The last recommended posting date this Christmas for 1st class mail is Wednesday 21st December and for 2nd class mail it is Tuesday 20th December. Overseas dates may be considerably earlier.

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After the visit Mr Crawford said;

“It was great to meet the dedicated, hard-working Royal Mail postmen and women at Stirling delivery office and to see first-hand just how much effort they put into delivering for people at this time of year.

“At no other time is the hard work and dedication of postmen and women clearer than during the festive period. I thank them for the extraordinary lengths they go to ensure Christmas cards and presents are delivered to loved ones on time, and for all they do year-round.”

CONSULTATION OPENS ON OPT-OUT ORGAN DONOR SCHEME

Bruce Crawford MSP for Stirling Constituency is urging constituents in Stirling to give their views on organ and tissue donation in the Government’s new consultation to help inform policy.

The 14-week consultation looks at various ways to increase the number of people being referred to the donation services in Scotland and the number of times when donation is ‘authorised’ to proceed.

The consultation asks whether the current system for authorising organ and tissue donation should be turned on its head. Currently in Scotland, organ and/or tissue donation after a person’s death only occurs if they have given advance authorisation or if their nearest relative authorises on their behalf.

A soft opt out, or deemed authorisation, system is being explored whereby donation can proceed if the person has not opted out or told their family they do not wish to donate.

The study will also look at whether clinicians in Scotland should be given guidance on referring potential donors, so that the possibility of donation can be explored at an earlier opportunity.

Commenting, Mr Crawford said:

“With the amazing help of donors and their families, NHS Scotland has achieved huge amounts in recent years. Since April this year, there has been 85 organ donations made after death compared to 60 over the same period last year.

“However, there is more we can do for those who are still waiting for a transplant and it’s essential that we make sure we’re doing all we can.

“The Scottish Government are asking the public whether a ‘soft opt out’ system is preferable to the current system where a person must explicitly opt in to donating. The government are monitoring progress in Wales carefully to learn lessons from their experience of introducing a new opt out system.

“I would encourage as many people as possible to get involved in this consultation to help inform and shape the policy on organ and tissue donation. It saves lives and is one of the greatest gifts a person can give.”

Scotland’s Lead Clinician for Organ Donation, Dr Iain Macleod, said:

“I welcome this consultation as an opportunity to discuss ways of increasing organ and tissue donation and hear views from a wide range of people.

“As a doctor working in the Intensive Care Unit at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary I know how sensitive and challenging organ donation can be, both for families going through the devastating process of losing a loved one and for NHS staff. However, I also know how important donation is in saving and transforming the lives of hundreds of transplant recipients in Scotland every year and also how much comfort it can give to donors’ families over time to know that their loved one has helped save the lives of others.”

FUNDING FOR LOCAL WAR MEMORIALS

Bruce Crawford MSP for Stirling Constituency is encouraging local groups to apply to the Centenary Memorials Restoration Fund (CMRF) to renovate their local war memorials.

CMRF is a £1 million fund, launched by former First Minister Alex Salmond in 2013, to help communities across Scotland undertake necessary repair and conservation work on local war memorials. The fund forms a central part of the Scottish Government’s commemorations of the centenary of the First World War.

Funding was announced this week ahead of Remembrance Sunday for a number of memorials across Scotland – in Fife, Perthshire, the Western Isles, East Lothian and the Highlands – bringing the total number of beneficiaries to 95. Many more projects are set to benefit from the fund between now and March 2018.

Commenting, Mr Crawford said;

“Our local war memorials are a mark of history and a tribute to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

“While so many communities take great care of local memorials, upkeep can be expensive – and it is a real shame when these memorials are visibly in need of repair. It would be great if as many repair projects as possible could be completed in time for the centenary of Armistice Day in 2018. I would encourage everyone in my Constituency to visit their local war memorial this Remembrance Day and get in touch with the War Memorials Trust if they have a project that could benefit from this fund.

“We owe it to our servicemen to preserve the monuments that honour and remember the fallen.”

MSP for Stirling Constituency