A warm welcome back to Rhoda Grant MSP who resumes our monthly updates from Parliamentary representatives for Moray.
THE SCOTTISH ELECTION is now in the past and the political landscape has changed again, no more so than here in Moray.
My colleague David Stewart and I were returned on the Highlands and Islands Regional List which serves the Highlands, Islands and most of Moray. I know it is confusing to have Highlands and Islands representatives covering Moray, indeed we also cover Argyll and Bute.
The official name of the region does not always clearly represent the area covered – so just for the record you have a constituency MSP and seven Regional MSPs, I am one and another is my Scottish Labour colleague David Stewart.
Police Control Rooms
Last month I raised my continued concerns about the Police Control Room closures, after I learned that the procurement process for the new Police IT system had been withdrawn. I wrote once more to the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Michael Matheson, asking for reassurance.
I have continually called for a halt to the closure of our North Control Rooms until such a time as everyone is as reassured as they can be, that a more efficient and effective system is being introduced, a system which gives top priority to the safety of the public.
Until then we have to stop this cost cutting measure which in effect puts lives at risk. I continue to make the case that our current set up for the North Control Rooms provides an excellent service, it reassures the public in their dealings with the Police and also protects jobs.
The HMIC review of the Police Control Rooms detailed many elements that required attention. It was agreed that the centralisation programme for Control Rooms would not take effect until all issues highlighted in this review were dealt with.
The Government and Police Scotland keep telling us that the service that will be provided, by moving all Control Rooms to the central belt, will not diminish service, efficiency or effectiveness. I do not understand how that can be the case when the computer system that was supposed to take the place of local knowledge has been shelved.
I want the Cabinet Secretary to assure us that he is 100% satisfied that the service which will be provided to the Highlands and Islands by Police Scotland by the new centrally based Police Control Rooms will not be diminished or negatively affect the service that was received from the North Control Rooms.
If they are all so confident, then this statement should be a simple one to make.
Domestic Abuse Courts
This is an area where I really want a positive change to be made (and you can read more on my activities in this area through previous reports on insideMoray).
One in five women experience domestic abuse and I want the victims in the North to realise we do care and we want the proper level of support for victims.
I have lodged two Parliamentary Questions with the Government asking them if they accept that Domestic Abuse Courts provide a better service to the victims of domestic abuse and to ask what plans they have to roll out domestic abuse courts across the Highlands, Islands and Moray.
I am delighted to take every opportunity to highlight successes in Moray. These past few weeks I have lodged three motions directly linked to Moray success.
Forres Events Ltd, have done a magnificent job with regards to their organisation of the European Pipe Band Championships (and I noted that this was once again a fantastic success at the weekend).
What this group have done for the economy of Moray has to be acknowledged and recognised.
This event is a great opportunity for local people to showcase their skills world-wide and I was delighted to lodge a motion in support of Forres Events Ltd and their organisation of the championships.
I was made aware that Lucy Lintott, who is bravely fighting MND, has dedicated her time to inspire and help others. She has raised £100,000 to help find a cure for MND and in recognition of all her efforts she has won the Scottish Council for Voluntary Services (SCVO) Charity Champion Award, plus the Special People’s Choice Award and only last month she became the recipient of the Point of Light Award, an award reserved for the most outstanding volunteers in the UK.
I am delighted for Lucy that her dedication and hard work have been recognised with such prestigious awards and on hearing her story I was humbled and felt it entirely appropriate to try and get as many colleagues in the Scottish Parliament to support my motion acknowledging and recognising Lucy’s great achievements.
Moray Waste Busters were awarded two coveted new accreditation, one from EFQM European Foundation for Quality Management certification from Quality Scotland, and REVOLVE recertification through Zero Waste Scotland.
I understand that Moray Waste Busters has been on the go since 2002 and they have diverted 750,000 items away from landfill back into the community for reuse. These awards show that the public can have real confidence in the services provided by staff and volunteers and in the products.
What is also encouraging and to be commended is that the charity is in fact a social enterprise, which means any profit goes back into growing the organisation. I wish all concerned continued success in all that they do as they continue to make a real positive impact on our environment locally.
So, all in all there is a lot happening in the Highlands & Islands and in the space I have kindly been afforded I can only touch on one or two of these highlights as they relate to Moray.
Please be aware that if you have any issue you would like me to look into for you that I can be contacted by Email on Rhoda.firstname.lastname@example.org, or by writing to me at PO Box 5717, Inverness, IV1 1YT.
Although I am based in Inverness I try and keep fully abreast of issues affecting Moray and I try to be in Moray as often as possible.