NHS staff praised for vital work
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.