Woodmill High School sixth-former addresses the haggis at Scottish Parliament Burns Supper

Burns Night 014Over 50 Scotland-based consuls-general joined MSPs, including Dunfermline’s Bill Walker, in the Scottish Parliament for the annual Consular Corps Burns Supper last Wednesday.

Mr Walker said: “It was a pleasure to meet representatives from as far afield as China and Rwanda. However, the highlight of the evening was the ‘Address to the Haggis’, given with great panache by Woodmill High School sixth-former, Miss Esther Garrow. Word and pitch perfect, Esther entertained the company with aplomb, including a daring knife display in which she despatched the haggis!  The international guests certainly enjoyed her contribution. Read more of this post

S4M-05493: Congratulations to Andy Murray on Performance at Australian Open Tennis

That the Parliament applauds Andy Murray on reaching the Australian Open Tennis men’s final in Melbourne Park, where he played the world’s number one seed, Novak “iron man” Djokovic; notes that this was Andy’s third Australian Open and sixth Grand Slam final; considers his performance in the final and his previous five-set victory over Roger Federer in the semi-final to be a very promising start to 2013, following on from what it considers to be his incredible year of tennis in 2012, which saw him win gold in the men’s singles at the London Olympics and win the US Open; considers Andy Murray to be an excellent role model for all Scots sporting participants; notes that Andy is currently seeded number three in the world, and wishes him many more successes in what it sees as his outstanding career.

Supported by: Hanzala Malik, Dennis Robertson, Kevin Stewart, Christine Grahame, Richard Lyle, Colin Beattie, Nigel Don, Gil Paterson, Colin Keir

Date Lodged: 28/01/13

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 11,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 18 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Woodmill High School awarded hockey club grant

Big Lottery FundWoodmill High School in Dunfermline has received £2,000 from the Big Lottery Fund’s 2014 Communities programme to develop a new extra-curricular hockey club. The project meets the 2014 Communities outcome of “more people take part in sport or physical activity”.

Bill Walker, MSP for Dunfermline, welcomed the funding: “This is very good news for pupils, and I congratulate PE Teacher Carly Ralfs.

“The 2014 Communities programme aims to build a legacy of well-being in the run up to Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and beyond. It’s great to see Woodmill getting involved in the spirit of the Games. Read more of this post

A Viennese evening in Dunfermline

We are fortunate in west Fife to have two major theatres with first-class facilities: the Alhambra and the Carnegie Hall. These provide a great boost to the profile and cultural fabric of Dunfermline.

Both venues host an impressive variety of performances all year round, including the prestigious Royal Scottish National Orchestra’s annual Viennese New Year concert in the Carnegie Hall. My wife and I were among a full house for the 2013 performance of this popular event. In addition to the traditional Strauss favourites, the RSNO played pieces from Bach, Lehar and others, along with the customary special helping of Scottish reels to complete the evening.  A great treat, according to everyone we chatted with.
Read more of this post

Carnegie Trust Centenary

One hundred years ago, Andrew Carnegie founded the Carnegie UK Trust, based here in Dunfermline, to improve the well-being of people throughout Britain and Ireland.

The Trust will mark its centenary with a variety of events and projects including a book and short film charting its ground-breaking work over the years, a centenary website documenting this work and publicising upcoming commemorative events, and an online searchable archive. Read more of this post

Positive future

By nature, I am a positive person. I believe my fellow Scots are perfectly capable of operating our own country successfully in the modern world. I, therefore, find it difficult to understand the perpetual negativity of the No Campaign – the Tory-Labour-Liberal Democrat alliance opposed to Scotland achieving political independence from Westminster. These people tell us we are “Better Together”, but instead of explaining why 21st century Austerity Britain is the positive outcome of 300 years of London domination, their single tactic is to trot out a continuous diet of gloom and despair. This seems to be based on the notion that Scotland is a lost cause, though perhaps it isn’t surprising as politicians who owe their careers to Westminster will campaign on that basis.

As a campaigner for the return of our country’s independence, I want to see Scotland re-join the international community of nations, free to prioritise our specific needs and make our own links, including with our immediate neighbours in England and the rest of Europe. We now have a chance to restore our identity and to present our own outlook and set of values to the world. Read more of this post

S4M-05456: Christmas Story Raises Funds for African Children

That the Parliament commends Joan Newbigging on her voluntary work with Educate the Kids, a charity founded in 1998, which, it understands, believes that education is the key to ensuring that children in Africa have their needs met and their rights upheld; understands that Ms Newbigging volunteered to work for three months at a school in Kenya and has recently published a book, The Christmas Child, which has so far raised £240 for Educate the Kids, and wishes Educate the Kids and Ms Newbigging further success.

Supported by: David Torrance, Kevin Stewart, Stuart McMillan, Colin Beattie, Richard Lyle, Dave Thompson, Mike MacKenzie, Dennis Robertson, Nigel Don

Date Lodged: 23/01/13

St Margaret’s RC School and Nursery pass inspection

St MargaretsLocal MSP Bill Walker has welcomed the results of a Scottish Government inspection of St Margaret’s RC Primary School and Nursery Class in Dunfermline, which found that children are benefiting from a “strong, nurturing ethos”.

The school and nursery class rated as good in performance, good in meeting learning needs and very good in children’s experiences. The curriculum was good and improvement through self-evaluation was very good.

Mr Walker said: “I was pleased to receive a copy of the inspection report, which made encouraging reading.
Read more of this post

Successful inspection for McLean School and Nursery

McLeanDunfermline’s McLean Primary School and Nursery have passed a recent Scottish Government inspection, which concluded that the children are happy, motivated and are learning and achieving well in and beyond the classroom.

Both the school and nursery rated as very good in improvements to performance and in meeting learners’ needs, and rated good in children’s experiences. The curriculum was good and improvement through self-evaluation was very good. Read more of this post

S4M-05425: EU Co-equal Successor States

That the Parliament welcomes the opinion of Professor David Scheffer, the Harvard and Oxford-educated American international lawyer and academic, that both Scotland and the rest of the UK will become “co-equal successor states” to the EU in the event of Scotland regaining independence; considers the contributions of such leading authorities as Professor Scheffer, whose posts have included Special Advisor to Madeleine Albright at the United Nations, first US Ambassador-at-large for War Crimes Issues under Bill Clinton’s administration and lecturer at North Western University School of Law, to be extremely valuable in helping the Scottish electorate reach an informed decision in the run-up to the independence referendum; hopes that the professor’s contribution will both reassure and be welcomed by those who are concerned about whether or not Scotland would have to reapply to join the EU after independence, and considers the main threat to Scotland’s continuing membership of the EU to come from Westminster, where factions of MPs on both the Conservative and Labour benches are reported to be pressing their leaders for an in-out EU referendum for the UK.

Supported by: Richard Lyle, Bill Kidd, Kenneth Gibson, John Mason, David Torrance, Gil Paterson, Colin Beattie, Jim Eadie, Colin Keir, Christine Grahame, Dave Thompson, Stuart McMillan, Willie Coffey, Mike MacKenzie, John Finnie, Nigel Don, Chic Brodie

Date Lodged: 21/01/13

Leading international lawyer argues Scotland and rUK will be “co-equal successor states” to EU

EUDunfermline MSP Bill Walker has welcomed comments from a top-level international lawyer and academic that post-independence Scotland will be a “co-equal successor” to the EU along with the rest of the UK (rUK).

Professor David Scheffer – formerly Special Advisor to Madeleine Albright at the United Nations and first US Ambassador-at-large for War Crimes Issues under the Clinton administration, and currently lecturing at North Western University School of Law – asserted:

“My argument quite frankly is that we have two co-equal successor states.

“The smart move is to say, ‘look, if it happens – namely if the referendum actually, you know, achieves a “Yes” vote for independence – there will be a path developed for the continued participation of the Scottish people and thus of the new nation of Scotland or the restored nation of Scotland in the European Union”. Read more of this post

Make 2013 your year of community volunteering

BwalkerMSP - 0109Scottish MSPs have joined forces with Focus Scotland Magazine to make the promotion of community-based volunteering their New Year’s Resolution.

The MSPs pledged their support and signed banners promoting the campaign, which aims to get the Scottish public embarking on a volunteering journey in 2013. Focus Scotland hopes to build on the positive image of volunteering provided by last year’s summer of Games. They want the campaign to remind individuals of the impact they can have when volunteering at community level.

Dunfermline MSP Bill Walker, one of the first to sign the campaign banner, said: “Volunteering is a great way to improve your community, since no one knows more about the needs of a community than the people who belong to it. Read more of this post

Christmas Craft Night fundraiser success

Vine ChurchLocal MSP Bill Walker has congratulated Dunfermline’s Vine Church on a successful Christmas Craft Night, which raised £381.63 for the charity Safe Space.

The event, which took place on 12th December, saw over 60 visitors learn new ways of making Christmas decorations and gifts. Visitors watched a demonstration before attempting their own hands at projects. The crafts were made from recycled or household materials and included book sculpture, wire work, and tree decorations made from fabrics, homemade clay and straw.

Mr Walker said: “Well done to the Vine Church on their fund-raising. I’m sure everyone had a great time learning new crafts.” Read more of this post

Applications open for Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games

Bill Walker MSP meets Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Mascot, Clyde

Prospective volunteers for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games have from today until 28th February to apply. No previous Games experience is necessary. Organisers are looking for helpful, friendly people who will be aged 16 or over by 28th February. Volunteers must be eligible to work in the UK and be available for at least eight days during the Games, which take place between 23rd July and 3rd August 2014. Volunteers must be available for up to six days ahead of the Games for interviews in Glasgow, training and uniform collection.

Glasgow 2014 also requires volunteers with a range of specialist skills including medical staff, drivers and people with specific sports expertise.

Applications can be made online at www.glasgow2014.com/volunteer and help is available in person at the Volunteer Centre in Glasgow or by phone via the Glasgow 2014 Contact Centre. Staff at every library in Scotland are also geared up to assist with the application process.

S4M-05349: Arctic Youth Jazz Orchestra Returns for Fife Jazz Festival

That the Parliament is delighted to welcome the Arctic Youth Jazz Orchestra on its second visit from Sweden to perform at the Fife Jazz Festival in February 2013, where it will once more collaborate with the award-winning Fife Youth Jazz Orchestra (FYJO) and also with the saxophonist and FYJO graduate, Helena Kay; extends its warmest welcome to the other international musicians taking part in the festival, including Sweden’s Norrbotten Big Band, the New York pianist and singer, Champian Fulton, blues musician and son of the late Muddy Waters, Mud Morganfield and Finland’s Erja Lyytinen, and wishes all the international and home-grown musicians and attendees a very enjoyable festival.

Supported by: Angus MacDonald, Richard Lyle, Mike MacKenzie, Sandra White, David Torrance, Colin Beattie, Nigel Don, Gil Paterson, Colin Keir, Stuart MacMillan

Date Lodged: 11/01/13

Winter Roads Information from Transport Scotland

Transport ScotlandTransport Scotland has released information detailing how winter service is delivered on the trunk road and motorway network. The “Winter Preparedness Roads Information Sheet” also outlines the intelligence gathering and decision-making processes, contains information on the innovative technology Transport Scotland uses, and provides links to online resources that can help people plan their journeys.


Duloch School Visit

On an MSP visit to Duloch Primary School, along with regional colleagues Willie Rennie and Claire Baker, I was impressed by the enthusiasm and awareness of the primary 4 and 5 pupils.

Set with the task of founding new political parties, the children came up with names, objectives, manifestos and even rosettes. They asked wide-ranging questions during a lively Q&A session, with environmental issues a recurrent theme.

I have visited a good number of schools over the last year, where the pupils have ranged in age and in the level of support they needed, and have invariably found the pupils to have a lively interest in politics. It is great to see them so engaged, particularly in times of general voter apathy. In a few short years, it will be their time to play a productive role in making our society a better one.

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

Fracking in Fife?

Many constituents have contacted me with concerns about fracking, the hydraulic fracturing of underground shale rock to release gas. This procedure, though known for decades, has come to prominence following massive exploitation in America, which has seen gas released for use at greatly reduced prices.

Masses of gas, reasonably accessible at current economic costs, lie underground throughout the UK. When used to generate electricity, shale gas produces less CO2 emissions than coal. But potential downsides of fracking include the risk of interfering with the underground water-table on which we depend. Also, explosive charges used underground in Lancashire caused two minor tremors. Another concern is that funding could be diverted from long-term development of sustainable and renewable natural energy sources such as wind and marine.

I believe there is a case for further practical evaluation of shale gas extraction but am opposed to public funding of fracking in the form of tax allowances or price subsidies levied on customers, as happens currently with windfarms. Also, since Scotland has a wealth of alternatives for long-term energy generation, fracking must be found to be at least as safe as other energy sources.

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

Chief Constable Stephen House

I recently met up with the new Chief Constable of Scotland, Stephen House, at Tulliallan Castle, where the restructured single national police force has its interim headquarters.

As a supporter of making Tulliallan the permanent HQ, I was happy to note that the Chief Constable does not seem opposed to the possibility, though the police service will have to weigh up the pros and cons of all alternatives. Tulliallan is a convenient central location with an established Police College and with many facilities already in place, but the cost of installing a modern command and control centre will likely be key to the final decision.

Something Mr House made crystal clear is his long-standing support for the national police force. At this significant juncture in Scottish policing, his ‘can-do’ manner and impressive experience – 37 years’ service by the time his current four-year contract ends – give the reassuring feeling that he is the right man to deliver greater efficiency and effectiveness. Read more of this post

S4M-05311: 2013 Centenary of the Carnegie UK Trust

That the Parliament commends the Carnegie UK Trust on 100 years of working to improve the lives and wellbeing of people throughout the UK and Ireland as it celebrates its centenary throughout 2013; understands that, since its founding by Andrew Carnegie, the Dunfermline-born businessman and philanthropist, the trust has awarded extensive grants, created and supported new organisations and commissioned many reports on major social issues; wishes the trust success with the range of events and projects that will mark its centenary, including a book and film charting the trust’s work, the launching of a centenary website and online searchable archive and the supporting of musical initiatives, and looks forward to welcoming the Carnegie UK Trust to the Parliament in October 2013 for the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy.

Supported by: Graeme Dey, John Mason, Brian Adam, Bill Kidd, Kevin Stewart, John Finnie, Kenneth Gibson, Chic Brodie, David Torrance, Dave Thompson, Mike MacKenzie, Colin Beattie, Nigel Don, Colin Keir, Maureen Watt, Sandra White, Richard Lyle, Gil Paterson, Christine Graham, Fiona McLeod, Stuart McMillan, Claire Adamson

Date Lodged: 08/01/13