‘Fair­ness, pros­per­ity and ed­u­ca­tion’

The Oban Times - - News -

A QUES­TION-and-an­swer ses­sion be­tween the Scot­tish par­lia­ment and the Oban public saw more than 400 peo­ple turn out to quiz lead­ing politi­cians.

Ed­u­ca­tion, marine pro­tected ar­eas, small busi­ness, health and young peo­ple were among the top­ics dis­cussed by the large crowd at At­lantis leisure in Oban on Mon­day evening.

First Min­is­ter, Ni­cola Stur­geon, ad­dressed the largest crowd the vis­it­ing par­lia­ment had seen through­out Scot­land, say­ing: ‘You can ask us any­thing that you like. If we can’t an­swer, we will get back to you over the next cou­ple of days.’

Ms Stur­geon said she and her col­leagues had taken the op­por­tu­nity to visit 24 dif­fer­ent projects and she was im­pressed with what she had seen. Af­ter talk­ing about Oban Phoenix Cin­ema, where she met rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Gigha, Mull and Iona and Ar­gyll and Is­lands Tourism Co- op­er­a­tive (AITC), she said: ‘I’ll be back.’

Ms Stur­geon added that the Scot­tish gov­ern­ment had three pri­or­i­ties: ‘Fair­ness, pros­per­ity and ed­u­ca­tion.’

Mull-based coun­cil­lor, Mary-Jean Devon, asked about a re­cently re-in­tro­duced rul­ing re­gard­ing ed­u­ca­tional main­te­nance grants and young car­ers, and wanted to know if the gov­ern­ment would re­con­sider re­lax­ing the strict rules around non-pay­ment of main­te­nance grants for peo­ple who may be car­ers.

Ms Devon said: ‘The Scot­tish gov­ern­ment needs to think again and have young car­ers cham­pi­ons in schools.’ Ms Stur­geon called it a sen­si­ble sug­ges­tion and that she would take it away and dis­cuss the mat­ter with col­leagues.

There was lit­tle com­fort for Kenny MacNab, the rep­re­sen­ta­tive of west coast fish­er­men.

Richard Lochhead, min­is­ter for the en­vi­ron­ment, told Mr MacNab there would be a longer ‘lead in’ pe­riod be­fore marine pro­tected ar­eas (MPA) were in­tro­duced. This was to al­low time to look at the dis­pro­por­tion­ate ef­fect on trawler­men’s in­comes on the west coast.

But he con­tin­ued: ‘The sci­en­tific ad­vice is that a ban on dredg­ing is nec­es­sary. But we will have more time for an eco­nomic im­pact as­sess­ment. Some peo­ple say we are not go­ing far enough.’ Christo­pher Chisholm asked about the length of time road were closed af­ter four roads had been shut off on Sun­day for hours on end.

Keith Brown, roads min­is­ter, ar­gued that roads needed to be closed in or­der to al­low po­lice enough time carry out their work.

‘We have 3D imag­ing cam­eras that are be­ing tri­alled in or­der to speed up the process and I hope, over time, these can be rolled out to all ar­eas.’

While most ques­tions were an­swered, some peo­ple were dis­grun­tled that they could not ask sup­ple­men­tary ques­tions.

Aisling Clark, from Oban, asked for de­tails on ed­u­ca­tional at­tain­ment and ap­peared not to agree with the an­swer she was given. Another man, Ian John­son, who asked about equal­i­ties in health care be­tween men and women, was asked to hold his sup­ple­men­tary ques­tions to the end of the de­bate.

Ian had wanted to know what the Scot­tish gov­ern­ment was do­ing about the high in­ci­dence of death from prostate can­cer, which was higher than the num­bers for breast can­cer.

Alex Neil, equal­i­ties min­is­ter, had said there were many ar­eas of in­equal­ity in life and the gov­ern­ment was do­ing all it could to ad­dress these mat­ters.

The ses­sion lasted un­til af­ter 9pm and saw min­is­ters end the evening by spend­ing the last half an hour in pri­vate con­ver­sa­tions with mem­bers of the public over a cup of tea.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.