Category Archives: Scotland

Scottish Government must reverse bridge cuts in upcoming budget

The Scottish Government has been urged to properly fund the Forth Road Bridge when it announces its budget next week.

The vital structure has been closed for a week after cracks were found, prompting travel chaos across the east of Scotland and damaging businesses.

It has since emerged that the budget for the bridge between Edinburgh and Fife has been slashed by 65 per cent in recent years.

Today, at First Minister’s Questions, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said – with more money for capital spending having been announced by Chancellor George Osborne – the SNP had to now ensure the bridge was properly funded.

Wednesday’s budget, she added, would be the perfect opportunity for finance secretary John Swinney to do just that.

Ruth also challenged the First Minister on whether or not the bridge would be accessible to all vehicles when it reopens in early January, after senior engineers suggested it may no longer be able to take heavy goods vehicles.

Nicola Sturgeon said it was her “full intention” for the bridge to reopen “as normal” to all vehicles.

 

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said:

“The priority clearly must be to ensure the bridge is fixed as soon as possible and that any problems are addressed in full.

“But the SNP cannot avoid the fact the budget for the Forth Road Bridge has been hammered in recent years.

“It’s clear the authorities gambled that the old bridge could be patched up until the new one was ready.

“Now we know that gamble has failed.

“Two weeks ago the Chancellor announced a significant increase in capital expenditure for Scotland.

“The money is there, and the Scottish Government must now commit to properly funding the Forth Road Bridge to ensure this chaos is never repeated again.

“It’s also essential Nicola Sturgeon gives businesses the commitment they are looking for that this vital route will be reopened in full to all vehicles at the beginning of January.”

UK Government’s £4m help for flood-hit regions of Scotland

Scotland is set to benefit from £4m of UK Government funding to help the areas worst-affected by recent floods.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced today in Westminster that around £40 million of support will be released through the new Community Recovery Scheme.

And thanks to the Barnett Formula, around 10 per cent of that will come north to help areas across the south of Scotland which were damaged during Storm Desmond.

The cash will go to local councils to provide targeted support homes and businesses most in need.

The Scottish Conservatives welcomed the move, and have already challenged the SNP to match separate commitments made by the UK Government on council tax and business rates relief.

 

Scottish Conservative MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire John Lamont said:

“The UK Government is very much taking the lead on this, and it’s now up to the SNP to match that.

“The £4 million announced today will make a huge difference to homes and businesses across my constituency and the south of Scotland as a whole.

 

“When unpredictable, natural events occur like they did at the end of last week, it’s critical government moves fast to protect those worst affected.

“George Osborne has done that today, and I hope the Scottish Government will show similar determination to help.

“As well as today’s announcement, the UK Government’s policy of offering council tax and business rates relief to those affected by the flooding should be replicated north of the border.

“There are many steps the Scottish Government should be taking, but so far its response has been found wanting.”

Shocking rise in liver disease in Scotland’s most deprived areas

There has been a shocking rise in liver disease in Scotland’s most deprived areas, official figures revealed today.

Latest ISD Scotland statistics show levels of the disease are six times higher and patients are more likely to die if they live in Scotland’s poorest areas.

In total, 821 people died from the illness last year with 587 of those deaths being in the most deprived areas.

Today’s report also reveals that those who live in a disadvantaged area are five times more likely to end up in hospital with the disease.

The data shows 80 per cent of liver disease deaths are the cause of alcohol consumption and mortality rates are more prevalent in males than females.

Despite recent improvements in consumption, the Scottish Conservatives are warning that the liver disease rate north of the border shows Scotland’s battle with alcohol is far from over.

Scottish Conservative health spokesman Jackson Carlaw said:

“The record number of liver disease deaths serves as a reminder that Scotland’s relationship with alcohol is deep-rooted and complex.

“Even with recent improvements in consumption, it will take years, if not decades, for this to be reflected in death rates.

“We cannot afford to be complacent, and we have to keep pushing the importance of responsible intake.

“Highlighting personal responsibility as part of that will be absolutely key – this is not something the NHS can do on its own.”