NHS staff praised for vi­tal work

Strathearn Herald - - FESTIVE MESSAGES 2017 -

Another year has passed and I hope all read­ers had a Merry Christ­mas and wish every­one a Happy New Year.

Whilst most of us are spend­ing time with friends and family, many pub­lic sec­tor work­ers across Perth and Kin­ross are work­ing hard to main­tain vi­tal ser­vices in our com­mu­ni­ties.

Nurses, doc­tors, paramedics, po­lice of­fi­cers and fire­fight­ers will all miss cel­e­bra­tions with family and friends to keep us safe. It’s only right that we ac­knowl­edge this sac­ri­fice and thank them for their work over the fes­tive pe­riod.

2017 was another year of seem­ingly never-end­ing elec­tions. First up were the lo­cal elec­tions in May fol­lowed by a snap gen­eral elec­tion in June. Re­sults from both pro­vided fur­ther progress and gains for the Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tives. Af­ter five years of SNP con­trol, Perth and Kin­ross Coun­cil re­turned to Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tive hands. Even more im­pres­sive was the re­sult in the West­min­ster seat of Ochil and South Perthshire, where vot­ers re­turned a Con­ser­va­tive MP for the first time, over­turn­ing a 15,000 ma­jor­ity in the process.

Both of these re­sults demon­strated a clear swing from the SNP to the Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tives and it is now our job to re­pay the faith of vot­ers.

To this end, I have been work­ing hard in Holy­rood to de­liver for lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties. In the past year we have suc­cess­fully op­posed the dis­as­trous named per­son’s scheme, pres­sured a U-turn on ru­inous tax hikes for leisure cen­tres and put to bed plans for a sec­ond di­vi­sive ref­er­en­dum.

In my role as shadow ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter, I have called for a greater focus on re­duc­ing the at­tain­ment gap and im­prov­ing life chances for school leavers. Un­der the SNP, pass marks have dropped and the fail­ing cur­ricu­lum for ex­cel­lence is in des­per­ate need of a re­boot. Im­prov­ing ed­u­ca­tion needn’t be party po­lit­i­cal and I want the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment to find more com­mon ground with op­po­si­tion politi­cians. Good ed­u­ca­tion starts with em­pow­ered head­mas­ters, teach­ers and par­ents and I want re­spon­si­bil­ity to be placed in the hands of those most able to drive up re­sults.

2017 was also a year where pres­sure was placed on ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties. Peo­ple liv­ing out­with ma­jor pop­u­la­tion cen­tres are re­ceiv­ing the short end of the wedge when it comes to pub­lic ser­vices and in­vest­ment. For ru­ral ar­eas to grow, they will need pow­er­ful lo­cal cham­pi­ons and in 2018 I will con­tinue my fight to en­sure ser­vices are re­tained lo­cally.

The clo­sure of bank branches, post of­fices and pared back health­care ser­vices is af­fect­ing the way peo­ple live their lives and its time that focus was placed on en­sur­ing re­mote ar­eas re­main vi­able places to stay. In short, this means faster, more ac­ces­si­ble broad­band, bet­ter pub­lic trans­port links and a clear com­mit­ment from health­care bosses to main­tain the cur­rent net­work of health cen­tres. Only by plac­ing pres­sure on gov­ern­ment will any of this be achieved, and I will work hard in 2018 to en­sure that the voices of these ru­ral con­stituents are heard.

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