This week marks the beginning of summer recess for the Scottish Parliament. A two-month period over July and August when MSPs don’t have to travel up and down to Edinburgh each week. It’s an opportunity for me to spend time in the constituency meeting as many of you as possible.
I will be visiting local businesses and community groups, attending local meetings and holding regular surgeries across the constituency. If you have an issue you want to discuss with your local MSP, an event you would like me to come along to or a community group you would like to showcase, please do get in touch with my office on 01556 504 991. I’m looking forward to a jam-packed summer!
I am the Scottish Conservatives spokesman for Farming and Fishing. It’s my job to hold the Scottish Government to account over its rural policy. Unfortunately, I have been rather busy recently. Scotland’s farming communities are owed an apology from the First Minister and her rural affairs secretary over the latest CAP fiasco. It was confirmed last Thursday that the Scottish Government has asked Europe for an extension in processing crucial Common Agricultural Policy payments, even though both Nicola Sturgeon and Fergus Ewing had earlier denied this. As the 30th June deadline for processing all payments fast approaches, there are still thousands of farmers waiting for much-needed cash. As such, Scottish Government officials have asked the European Commission for that deadline to be extended to mid-October, or they face fines of up to £60 million. It wasn’t just Parliament they kept this from. Fergus Ewing failed to let farmers know what they are doing, showing utter contempt for our rural communities.
This episode has been a disgrace and has exposed the SNP for what it is: secretive, out of touch, and all at sea. Scotland deserves better.
A new enterprise agency is to be created to meet the economic needs of communities in the south of Scotland. The move is part of the final report from the Scottish government’s enterprise and skills review. The aim of the review is to ensure that businesses, workforce, training providers, colleges and universities and young people all receive the joined-up support they need.
I have long campaigned for a south of Scotland Enterprise Agency, and very much welcome last week’s announcement. What is really important, and the case I have been making all along, is that this must be a well-resourced, robust and autonomous agency. Only with a fully autonomous board, like that of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, will our region fully benefit.