£25 million upgrade project underway at Longannet Power Station

LongannetDunfermline MSP Bill Walker has welcomed confirmation that a major upgrade project is underway to deliver a £25 million overhaul of one of Longannet Power Station’s four generating units. More than 50 individual contracts have been awarded, and up to 650 workers will be onsite over a four month period.

The work is being carried out on Unit 3, which alone is capable of generating up to 600MW of electricity – approximately 10% of Scotland’s average peak electricity demand. Major boiler parts will be fully replaced, including pipe work and the Generator Transformer, while the valves, pumps and motors will be overhauled.

Mr Walker said: “Longannet has been a large employer of skilled and professional Fife workers over the last four decades, and this hefty investment will ensure the station continues to operate efficiently.” Read more of this post

Scottish Vintage Bus Museum

Finally, while on the topic of buses, I would like to congratulate the Scottish Vintage Bus Museum, based at Lathalmond near Dunfermline, for all their work in restoring and operating around 160 historic buses of mostly Scottish origin. Many locals and visitors appreciate this museum, which also houses such vehicles as historic lorries and conducts tours around west Fife.

This museum is a pleasant and happy reminder of the outcome of manufacturing with a positive economic and social purpose.

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

Manufacturing in Scotland

The Scottish Government sent out a clear and strong commitment to manufacturing when they chose Falkirk-based bus and coach manufacturer Alexander Dennis as the venue to launch the paper “Scotland’s economy: the case for independence”. Alexander Dennis produces around half of the UK’s buses, in addition to sending vehicles around the world. It is a high-skilled operation, which employs a number of west Fifers.

Manufacturing is key to a successful and sustainable Scottish economy right now and in the future.  We already have a strong manufacturing sector supporting the prosperous oil, gas and renewable energies industries. These areas are all of great importance to Dunfermline and nearby Rosyth, through, for example, FMC Technologies and Babcock Engineering. Carnegie College, in addition, provides first-class manufacturing and energy training. Read more of this post

Yes Scotland Campaign

Prominent independence supporters from across the political and business spectrum have taken part in a packed and buoyant Yes Scotland meeting at the Dell Farquharson Centre in Dunfermline.

Yes Scotland Chairman and former Labour MP Dennis Canavan headed the panel. Also sharing their visions for a fairer and more prosperous independent Scotland were solicitor Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, Allan Grogan of Labour for Independence, Trade Unionist Derek Durkin, and international business entrepreneur Ivan McKee from Business for Scotland. Read more of this post

S4M-06790: Stephens Wins Scottish Baker of the Year

That the Parliament congratulates Stephens of Dunfermline on winning Scottish Baker of the Year 2013; understands that this family-owned craft bakery is famous locally for its steak bridies and morning rolls and that both products earned recognition in the competition, with morning rolls winning best in category; understands that 15,000 customers from Stranraer to Shetland voted for their favourite bakery products, which were then judged by a panel of independent experts including the artisan baker, Robert Ross, and various retired master bakers; notes that Stephens was also runner-up in in 2012, which was the competition’s first year; considers that Stephens is important to the local economy, with 165 staff, 14 shops and 59 franchise stores, and congratulates Stephens on its 140th anniversary in May, which coincided with this endorsement from the industry.

Supported by: Colin Beattie, David Torrance, Mike MacKenzie, Richard Lyle, Kenneth Gibson, Bill Kidd, Stuart McMillan, Murdo Fraser, Kevin Stewart, Nigel Don, Angus MacDonald, Jean Urquhart, Maureen Watt, Gil Paterson

Date Lodged: 30/05/2013

Dunfermline residents urged to follow Hearing Loss communication tips

IMG_0642MSP Bill Walker is urging Dunfermline residents to follow some top tips from Action on Hearing Loss to avoid making everyday life harder for family, friends or colleagues with hearing loss.

The charity’s website (www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/daw2013) features videos highlighting how difficult communication is for people who live life without sound. Visitors can take part in a fun challenge to lipread examples of everyday conversation, to discover just how confusing this can be for people who are deaf. Read more of this post

Epilepsy awareness week

Dunfermline MSP Bill Walker has pledged his support for the 54,000 people living with epilepsy in Scotland.

Speaking during National Epilepsy Week (19-25 May), Mr Walker said: “Epilepsy is still the most common, serious neurological condition in the world but it impacts each person’s life in a unique and individual way.

“Epilepsy affects men, women and children of all ages from every ethnic group and social status. Read more of this post

NHS Fife new Executive Director announcement

NHSMSP for Dunfermline, Bill Walker, has welcomed the announcement that Dr Scott McLean will become NHS Fife’s new Executive Director of Nursing.

Dr McLean, currently Director of Nursing and Governance at Barts Health NHS Trust in London, takes up the position this summer following the early retirement of current Board Nurse Director, Anne Buchanan.

Mr Walker said: “Dr McLean began his nursing career as a Registered Nurse at the Victoria Hospital, so I am delighted he has decided to return to Fife. He brings extensive experience, and I wish him every success in his new role serving the people of Fife once again.” Read more of this post

Summer-themed Synergie Disco in Dunfermline

image-1Synergie will be holding a laser disco for teenagers on 31st May in the Vine Conference Centre, with DJs Sonar Zone and James Dean.

Other activities on the night include air hockey, Just Dance Wii, giant Jenga, inflatables, energy drainer and lots more. Ice cream, burgers and hot dogs will be on sale for the peckish.

Previous events have attracted around 80 young people, and organisers are hoping for an even bigger turn out this time. Following the successful superheroes theme at the last event, the current theme is summer. Read more of this post

Bill Walker MSP signs youth work pledge

Bill WalkerDunfermline MSP Bill Walker has added his name to a pledge to ensure sustained and long-term investment in the future of youth work.

Thirty-two MSPs signed the pledge during a YouthLink Scotland reception in Holyrood, held in honour of the outstanding winners from the National Youth Worker of the Year Awards 2013.

The pledge asks politicians to acknowledge the value of youth work and the positive impact it has on the lives of young people. It also states the need for sustained and long-term investment in the sector. Read more of this post

Yes campaign for independence holds packed meeting in Dunfermline

044The Dell Farquharson Centre in Dunfermline recently hosted a packed Yes Scotland meeting. Around 200 people of all ages came together to share a vision of “a fairer, more prosperous” independent Scotland.

Yes Scotland Chairman and former Labour MP Dennis Canavan headed the panel, while former SNP MSP Shirley-Anne Somerville, a director of the Yes campaign, convened the meeting. Read more of this post

Campaign to stop MS lottery

Sue PolsonDunfermline MSP Bill Walker has pledged to help ensure everyone living with multiple sclerosis (MS) in Scotland has access to the right treatment, care and support, regardless of where they live. This comes after the largest ever survey of people with MS found that this was not always the case. Read more of this post

New NHS Fife Chair appointment

Dunfermline MSP Bill Walker has welcomed the appointment of Allan Burns as NHS Fife’s new Chairman. Mr Burns, who holds a CBE for services to Scottish industry, took over this month from Professor Jim McGoldrick.

Mr Walker said: “I wish Mr Burns all the best in his new role. I’m sure he will bring extensive experience to NHS Fife and follow on from the dedicated service of Professor McGoldrick.” Read more of this post

S4M-06391: Congratulations to Culross Abbey

That the Parliament congratulates Culross Abbey in west Fife on the completion of substantial repair and replacement work to the roof and other fabric of this historic building;  understands that the required £310,000 was raised from a number of sources including the Heritage Lottery, Historic Scotland, the  Baird Trust, Fife Common Good Fund, the Church of Scotland, the Scottish Churches Architectural Heritage Trust,  Fife Environment Trust and the abbey’s own funds; recognises all the hard work carried out by the Property Convener, Mr John Laird, and his colleagues in getting the restoration completed, especially considering all the recent poor weather; believes that this ancient Scottish abbey will be a place of worship, safety and heritage for many years to come, and wishes the parish and local community well for the official open day on 26 May 2013 from 2 to 5pm, when it understands a wide programme of welcome, tours, fun and celebration will be held at Culross Abbey.

Supported by: Angus MacDonald, Bill Kidd, Kenneth Gibson, Richard Lyle, Nigel Don, Murdo Fraser, Kevin Stewart, Mike MacKenzie, Sandra White, Colin Beattie, Colin Keir, David Torrance, Maureen Watt

Date Lodged: 29/04/2013

Chris Hoy

Sir Chris Hoy has been a great advert for Scottish and UK sports for years but even his body can’t take the demanding pressures for ever.  He’ll be a great ambassador for the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games with, hopefully, many following in his footsteps … or should that be pedals?

Margaret Thatcher

I was never a fan of Margaret Thatcher. I actively opposed various policies in Scotland in the 1980s, including the de-industrialisation of our country, the selling off of council houses and the imposition of the iniquitous Poll Tax. The legacy of some of these policies lives with us to this day.

Nevertheless, she unquestionably made a positive impact elsewhere. In the 1970s, various Trades Union barons were making a mockery of democracy. Legislation was required, and Mrs Thatcher passed laws that no Government since has repealed. Read more of this post

The Collapse of Scottish Coal

The mothballing of the Blair House opencast mine between Oakley and Saline last year was an omen of things to come.  At that time, geological difficulties and falling prices for the coal extracted were given as reasons.  Coal prices on the international market are now very low and shall probably stay that way for some time.  It is far cheaper for coal users such as Scottish Power at Longannet to import from half way round the world than to buy local.  Scottish Coal just couldn’t sell its opencast coal and make any profit. Read more of this post