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A Parliamentary Question by South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has prompted the Scottish Government to publish the proposed membership of the new South of Scotland Enterprise Partnership.

Colin Smyth tabled the question last week to ask the Government when the membership would be announced. The question was scheduled to be answered today in Parliament (18 January) resulting in the Scottish Government publishing the list of members yesterday- months after initially promised.

The Government also re-announced the Scottish Government’s draft budget proposals from December that allocated just £10m to the new board - less than 15% of the budget of Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

Commenting on the announcement Colin Smyth MSP said, “I’m pleased that my question to the Cabinet Secretary has resulted in the Government at last announcing the membership of the new interim board, even although the new board was supposed to be up and running last year. However, there is understandable concern from the business community and third sector at the lack of transparency and openness in the process of appointing members from those two sectors.

That’s why in Parliament I urged the Cabinet Secretary to ensure that when it comes to the membership of the full Agency, he properly consults the business and third sector on that membership and the process is led from the South of Scotland, not imposed by Ministers in Edinburgh. 

“It’s also disappointing that the interim board has been awarded just £10m as that budget is less than 15% of the budget of Highlands and Islands Enterprise. That’s why I urged the Government to increase the budget to deliver the transformative economic change we need to stop the South of Scotland economy falling even further behind”.

PARLIAMENTARY QUESTION PROMPTS ANNOUNCEMENT ON SOUTH OF SCOTLAND INTERIM BOARD

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South of Scotland MSP Colin Smyth secured an Urgent Question in the Scottish Parliament today (17 January) after hundreds of motorists were left stranded on the M74 last night.

Scottish Labour’s Rural Economy and Connectivity spokesperson challenged the SNP Transport Minister Humza Yousaf over whether enough was done, and all resources needed were deployed, to the M74 to keep traffic moving on one of Scotland’s busiest motorways or to put in place a road closure to avoid motorists being stranded on the M74.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament Colin Smyth also praised the efforts of Emergency Services, winter services workers and Moffat Mountain Rescue workers.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Colin Smyth said, “I want to thank our emergency services and winter service workers, and the volunteers of Moffat mountain rescue team for their heroic efforts yesterday evening as they tried to keep the M74 open and support drivers who were stranded”.

“In December, the minister said, in response to a parliamentary question, that the ‘winter service capability has never been higher’.

“Is the minister absolutely confident that everything possible was done and that all resources needed were deployed on the M74 to try to keep the motorway open and to prevent traffic accessing the stretch of the road that was blocked, which is well known for being badly affected during adverse weather?”

“Given the amber warning that the minister has mentioned is now in place, what specific lessons have been learned to ensure that we do not have a repeat of drivers being stranded on the motorway this evening?”

The local MSP also highlighted the fact that cuts to local council budgets by the Scottish Government meant many local councils have already overspent their winter maintenance budgets due to the current adverse weather. Colin Smyth added, “The minister will know that the adverse weather also impacts the roads that are maintained by our local authorities, which are often used as alternatives to motorways when they are closed. This week, council after council from the north to the south of Scotland reported that they have already overspent their winter maintenance budgets for this year”.

“What assessment has been made by the Scottish Government of the effect of cuts to councils on the level of their winter maintenance budgets? Does the minister accept that the cuts will impact on the extent to which our councils can keep Scotland moving and the public safe on the roads and pavements during the current adverse weather.”

Commenting after the exchange in Parliament Colin Smyth added, “Commuters and drivers across Scotland deserve reassurances that they will not be left stranded on roads for hours on end because of the weather – but Humza Yousaf provided anything but”.

“Of course, all drivers should heed warnings and plan their journeys carefully, but road users deserve guarantees that lessons have been learned following the recent gridlock on the M74 and if need be extra resources will be deployed to keep Scotland moving.”

 

You can read the full exchange between Colin Smyth and Transport Minister Humza Yousaf in the Scottish Parliament today (17 January 2018) here:

http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=11306&i=102890

and watch the exchange here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpKcs7wZbqk

SOUTH SCOTLAND MSP SECURES URGENT PARLIAMENTARY QUESTION OVER M74 GRIDLOCK

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