West Fifer Robert Remembers Dunfermline

A former architectural designer with the literary touch hopes his poem on old Dunfermline will spirit fellow West Fifers down memory lane.

Robert Sclater, who has lived and worked locally all his life, has submitted ‘Remember Dunfermline’ to the Scottish Book Trust’s My Favourite Place project. The former pupil of Blacklaw, Woodmill and Queen Anne Schools did so on the recommendation of a tutor, after attending a creative writing course held in Carnegie Library and in East Port’s Music Institute. Read more of this post

S4M-03706: Can-Am Pipe Band’s Jubilee Tour of Scotland

That the Parliament extends its warmest wishes to the 100-strong North American pipe band Can-Am on its jubilee tour of Scotland; understands that the visit of the band will include performances at Pittencrieff Park in Dunfermline and the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow, and, in hoping that Can-Am enjoys a successful jubilee tour, wishes the band fair skies for all of its outdoor performances.

Supported by: Margaret Burgess, Mike MacKenzie, Angus MacDonald, Stuart McMillan, Richard Lyle, Colin Beattie

Date Lodged: 26/07/2012

North American Pipe Band to Perform in Glen

A North American 100-strong pipe band will perform at Pittencrieff Park in Dunfermline on 3rd August, as part of their Jubilee Tour of Scotland.

Can-Am will play outside the Louise Carnegie Gates at 1pm, before marching through the Glen for a 2pm performance outside Pittencrieff House Museum. Read more of this post

Flood-risk Insurance

Recently, I raised a motion in Parliament regarding householders in Scotland contributing disproportionately towards an annual £200 million UK flood-risk subsidy, through their home insurance premiums.

In Scotland, almost no new buildings are ever erected in areas at risk of flooding, compared with 11% of all new buildings in England. Of existing homes, 5% are classed as vulnerable to flooding in Scotland, compared with 23% in England. Yet in order to keep costs down in England, low-risk householders in Scotland are charged higher insurance. Read more of this post

Crown Estate

I would also urge the UK Government to rethink its refusal to devolve the management of Scotland’s coast and seabed from the UK Crown Estate to the Scottish Government, with further devolution to community level.

Currently, the Crown Estate manages around 50% of our coast and most of our seabed, with surplus revenues paid to the Westminster Treasury. The Westminster-appointed Scottish Affairs Committee has produced a highly critical report on the Crown Estate’s management, which it says lacks accountability, transparency and public consultation. Local communities claim the Crown Estate acts like an “absentee landlord” and “tax collector”. Read more of this post

London Olympics

When London won the bid for the 2012 Olympics, I feared a massive drain of taxpayers’ money to the southeast of England.  Although some football matches will be held in Glasgow and we have some sub-contract work, I regret that my concerns have been proved right, with little benefit coming to Scotland. Read more of this post

Visit Dunfermline Seeks Bannockburn Celebration Suggestions

With just under 700 days till the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, Visit Dunfermline has invited the public to submit ideas for Dunfermline-based events to commemorate the occasion. The anniversary, along with the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup, will be a major focus of Scotland’s Homecoming 2014 celebrations.

Dunfermline MSP Bill Walker said: “This is a great opportunity for people to get involved in Homecoming 2014. With the world’s eyes on Scotland in 2014, we have a chance to really boost the profile of Dunfermline. Read more of this post

Alison Rooney Reappointed to NHS Fife Board

Dunfermline MSP Bill Walker has welcomed the re-appointment of Kincardine-resident Alison Rooney as a non-executive board member of NHS Fife. Ms Rooney has already sat on the board for four years.

Mr Walker said: “Congratulations to Alison Rooney on the Health Secretary, Nicola Sturgeon, appointing her for a further four years. Read more of this post

S4M-03654: Low-risk Scots Overpaying £200 Million Flood Subsidy

That the Parliament believes that householders in low flood-risk areas in Scotland should not be contributing disproportionately toward an annual £200 million subsidy on their home insurance to pay for high-risk parts of the UK; understands that 11% of new buildings in England are built in areas vulnerable to flooding compared with almost none in Scotland or Wales; further understands that less than 5% of existing homes in Scotland are at risk of flooding compared with 23% in England; agrees with David Crichton, who is considered an expert in flood insurance and is an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Dundee and Honorary Visiting Professor at University College London, that this subsidy enables continued housing development in high-risk areas in the south east of England, a claim similar to that of Dr Richard Dixon, director of WWF Scotland, who says that householders in Scotland are “effectively subsidising the higher risks in England”, and calls for the insurance of householders in Scotland to proportionately reflect the risk of flooding to their properties.

Supported by: Kenneth Gibson, Richard Lyle

Date Lodged: 17/07/12

S4M-03653: Crown Estate Marine Assets Must be Devolved

That the Parliament calls on the UK Government to reconsider what is seen as its refusal to commit fully to the recommendations of the Scottish Affairs Committee, which has called for the management of Scotland’s coast and seabed to be devolved from the Crown Estate to the Scottish Government, with further devolution at community level; understands that the Crown Estate currently manages around 50% of Scotland’s coast and most of its seabed; expresses considerable alarm at what it considers to be the highly critical nature of the Scottish Affairs Committee’s report, which concludes that the Crown Estate lacks accountability, transparency and public consultation and which records claims by some local communities that the Crown Estate acts like an absentee landlord and tax collector; notes that the committee’s chairman has stated that “the Crown Estate has raised millions more pounds from its assets in Scotland than it invested back into coastal areas”, and strongly believes that Scotland’s marine assets should not be under the control of an unelected body lacking in accountability to local communities.

Supported by: Richard Lyle, Mike Mackenzie

Date Lodged: 17/07/12

Beattie Passive Earns Prestigious Energy Efficiency Certification

House-builders Beattie Passive Ltd, who are currently completing four houses in the Abbeyview area of Dunfermline, have become the first company in the UK to earn prestigious Passivhaus Institut certification.

This certification is awarded for build systems that meet stringent energy efficiency requirements. Beattie Passive houses are said to require 90% less heating than average builds and to reduce CO2 emissions by as much as 100%. Read more of this post

Retail Giant H&M’s Dunfermline Job Boost

MSP Bill Walker has welcomed confirmation that the clothing giant H&M will create up to 30 new jobs in Dunfermline.

The fashion retailer’s latest store is due to launch on 30th August in the Kingsgate Shopping Centre. It will occupy over 11,840 sq ft of retail space on two levels of the recently refurbished mall. Read more of this post

S4M-03609: Warm Congratulations to Andy Murray

That the Parliament warmly congratulates Andy Murray on reaching the final of the 2012 Wimbledon Men’s Tennis Championships; recognises that he is the first Scot to achieve such a feat and is also the first UK citizen to do so since Bunny Austin in 1938, and extends its very best wishes to Andy for his participation in the 2012 London Olympics in the coming weeks.

Supported by: Graeme Dey, Richard Lyle, Maureen Watt, Christine Grahame, Kenneth Gibson

Date Lodged: 09/07/12

S4M-03581: Big Lottery Funding for McLean Primary School

That the Parliament congratulates McLean Primary School in Dunfermline on receiving a Big Lottery award of £1,975 under the 2014 Communities programme; understands that the school has used this award to fund a variety of Olympics-themed after-school activities, including athletics, badminton, football, hockey, basketball, gymnastics, netball and tennis, and considers the 2014 Communities programme to be beneficial in helping schools and other community groups to encourage people of all ages to participate in sport or physical activity in the run up to the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Supported by: Kevin Stewart, Richard Lyle, Stuart McMillan, Colin Beattie

Date Lodged: 04/07/2012

S4M-03584: Congratulations to Eilidh Child on her Olympic Selection

That the Parliament congratulates Eilidh Child from Pitreavie Athletics Club in Dunfermline on being selected by the British Olympic Association to compete in the 400 metre hurdles at London 2012; notes that she is already the silver medallist from the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, and wishes her the very best for further success at London 2012.

Supported by: Colin Beattie, Maureen Watt, Richard Lyle, Stuart McMillan, Margaret Burgess, Kevin Stewart, Alison Johnstone

Date Lodged: 04/07/2012

S4M-03576: Congratulations to Lauriston Nursery on Impressive Inspection

That the Parliament commends Lauriston Nursery in Dunfermline on an inspection by Education Scotland that rated the nursery as very good in every quality indicator; understands that the quality indicators were curriculum, children’s experiences, meeting learning needs, improvements in the nursery’s performance and improvement of the nursery through self-evaluation; notes that, among other results, the inspectors found that the children were making very good progress in learning and development, could take part in a wide range of enriching experiences, including outdoor learning and play, and were encouraged to become involved in deciding what they would like to learn and how they would like to learn; considers these results to be impressive, and applauds the staff of Lauriston Nursery for what it considers to be their hard work and dedication.

Supported by: Kevin Stewart, Richard Lyle, Stuart McMillan, Colin Beattie

Date Lodged: 03/07/2012

Lauriston Nursery’s Impressive Inspection

Dunfermline MSP Bill Walker has welcomed a recent inspection by Education Scotland that ranked Lauriston Nursery as “very good” in all evaluation categories.

Inspectors spoke to parents and children at the Dunfermline nursery and worked closely with the head and staff. They based their assessment on the curriculum, children’s experiences, meeting learning needs, improvements in performance and improvement of the nursery through self-evaluation. Read more of this post

Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama has once again visited Scotland. This time he had engagements in Dundee, Inverness and Edinburgh, including a reception with the Presiding Officer in the Scottish Parliament, but Dunfermline residents may remember that we too received the Tibetan spiritual leader in 2004.

His Holiness works tirelessly to promote peace, freedom and inter-racial harmony.  He has carried his message throughout the world for many decades, and I believe it is an honour for Scotland to have again received one of the most important and admired spiritual leaders of modern times.

As he approaches his 77th birthday, I wish him continued heath and happiness.

The above was originally written for Bill’s Dunfermline Press column. This version may vary slightly.

Police and Fire Reform

Now that The Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act passed into law last week, Scotland’s police are set to merge into a single force, with interim headquarters at Tulliallan.

Though the reforms were necessitated by the ConDems slashing Scotland’s block grant, I am optimistic that the new force will deliver even greater efficiency and effectiveness than before. Very little should change on the ground but, by eliminating cost duplication across the country, we should avoid mirroring the deplorable situation in England and Wales, where an estimated 16,000 frontline police officers are being axed.

I look forward to the new force being up and running by next April.

The above was originally written for Bill’s Dunfermline Press column. This version may vary slightly.

Better Together?

The politicians opposed to Independence for Scotland are now collaborating in a newly launched Tory, Labour and Liberal Democrat campaign called ‘Better Together’.

A wag might be tempted to warn that this carefully chosen name should not to be confused with the ‘Better Together’ NHS programme, particularly since NHS Scotland is thoroughly better off for being independent from the NHS down south! Read more of this post

Big Lottery Olympics Funding for Local Schools

Pupils from four West Fife primary schools have taken part in a cluster Olympic Games, after securing grants from the Big Lottery Fund that enabled them to deliver training sessions.

Maclean, Culross, Townhill and Crossford Primary Schools each delivered activities such as athletics, badminton, football, hockey, basketball, gymnastics, netball and tennis. The funding also went towards items such as t-shirts, flags, gazebos and sports equipment. Read more of this post

Cairneyhill Youth Jazz Orchestra Award

Young jazz enthusiasts from Cairneyhill have secured a grant to attend the Islay Jazz Festival to deliver a workshop for local children. The tutoring will be delivered by recently qualified instructors from the Fife Youth Jazz Orchestra (FYJO), after the group received an Awards for All grant of £1450.

MSP Bill Walker, whose Dunfermline constituency encompasses Cairneyhill, has welcomed the award: Read more of this post