SQA FUNDING: JOHNSTONE URGES SUPPORT FOR TEACHERS

Friday, July 3rd, 2015

Alison Johnstone, Scottish Green MSP for Lothian and education spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, is urging the Scottish Government to do more to support teachers delivering new qualifications in light of the SQA asking ministers for an additional £4.9million. Alison small pic

The exams body is facing rising costs connected with Curriculum for Excellence reforms.

Alison Johnstone MSP said:

“The roll out of new National and Higher exams has clearly required more support for teachers and it’s essential that the Scottish Government resources this properly. Looking ahead, it’s equally important that the SQA looks for ways to minimise bureaucracy for teachers, so they have more time for learning and teaching.

“Curriculum for Excellence has many strengths but I would like to see Scottish ministers put more effort into supporting and developing teachers so they are free to focus on educating the whole child, not just getting them through exams.”

 

Curriculum for Excellence has many strengths but I would like to see Scottish ministers put more effort into supporting and developing teachers so they are free to focus on educating the whole child, not just getting them through exams.
Alison Johnstone MSP

MAGGIE CHAPMAN TO STEP DOWN AS LEITH WALK COUNCILLOR

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

Maggie Chapman, Green councillor for Leith Walk, has announced her intention to step down as a councillor in order to focus on winning a Green seat in the North East of Scotland in the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections. She recently topped a selection ballot of North East party members to be the party’s lead candidate in the North East region. Maggie is already Rector of Aberdeen University, and will be moving to Dundee shortly.

Maggie Chapman said, “It has been a huge honour and privilege to serve and work with the people of Leith Walk for the last eight years. I am proud of my successes in introducing “Leith Decides”, opening up council decision-making as chair of the petitions committee, and being the first politician in Scotland to call for the introduction of a Living Wage. I am confident that voters in Leith Walk will respond positively to our campaign to elect a successor Green councillor to continue that hard work. There are significant battles to be fought over the coming months and years, not least against austerity cuts, zero hours contracts, lack of affordable housing and inequality.

“This has been a decision I have been considering since my selection as top candidate for NE Scotland for 2016. While I am taking nothing for granted and will work hard for every single vote, I also firmly believe that we can and will win MSPs in every region in Scotland. And in that context, I think it is best to stand down now, and give the voters of Leith Walk the chance to elect one administration and one opposition councillor in the forthcoming by-election, as well as ensuring they continue to get the best possible support from local councillors.”

Steve Burgess, Convenor of the Green Group on City of Edinburgh Council added:

“I thank Maggie for her work as a Green Councillor over the last eight years. We will campaign hard to ensure a new Green councillor is elected at the by-election, on a promise that only the Greens can offer a progressive and constructive opposition to the current Labour-SNP administration at the City Chambers. We’ll battle for communities to have a greater say in what goes on in their area, we’ll campaign for local services against funding cuts; and we’ll fight to make sure promises made to Leith, on new jobs and transport, are promises delivered.

“People in Leith Walk have shown consistent and rising support for the Greens over the last 10 years and I’m sure they will want to ensure that they still have a Green councillor as one of the 4 councillors representing them.”

The timing of Maggie’s resignation should mean a two-member by-election in the Leith Walk ward on 10 September, with Deirdre Brock MP having already resigned, though this is subject to confirmation by the returning officer. If confirmed, it is believed to be the first time since council voting reform in 2007 that a by election has had two places on offer, making the contest a much more open race.

Edinburgh Green Party is currently selecting a candidate to fight the by-election and a further announcement will be made after 9 July.

There are significant battles to be fought over the coming months and years, not least against austerity cuts, zero hours contracts, lack of affordable housing and inequality.
Cllr Maggie Chapman, Scottish Greens Co-convenor

Scottish Greens Statement on Greece

Monday, June 29th, 2015

In reaction to the unfolding events in Greece Maggie Chapman Co-Convenor of the Scottish Green Party said:

“We are in the midst of a crisis caused by the rich. The great economic challenge of our time is ending their power to punish the rest of us for a crisis we did not cause. Austerity is the mechanism they use and the place that has borne the brunt of austerity more than anywhere is Greece.

We know austerity is doomed to fail, but in that failure it will only extend the economic pain felt by the most vulnerable people in society. All around Europe we must stand with the people of Greece in their stand against austerity, for a decent future and for democracy.

The election of an anti-austerity SYRIZA led government in January was a clear signal that the people of Greece have rejected austerity. Greece’s creditors, represented by the so-called Institutions – the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund – are trying to subvert that democracy. Their actions have been counterproductive and destructive. After 5 and a half years of brutal austerity Greek debt is higher, while the Greek people have suffered untold harm.

As a democratic party and a party opposed to austerity the Scottish Greens stand with the people of Greece. As Co-Convener of the Scottish Greens I stand in solidarity with my SYRIZA & Ecologist Greens comrades in the the Greek Government as they lead Europe’s opposition to austerity. We call on the Scottish and UK Governments to intervene with the Institutions to secure the substantial restructuring of Greece’s debts and an end to austerity.”

Glasgow anti austeirty rally 20 june 2015

Cllr Maggie Chapman, Scottish Greens Co-convenor

ARCHES: HARVIE DISAPPOINTED AS LICENSING AMENDMENTS FALL

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

Patrick Harvie, Scottish Green MSP for Glasgow, is expressing disappointment that MSPs have voted down amendments to the Air Weapons and Licensing Bill which attempted to address issues arising from the hugely unpopular closure of The Arches music and arts venue in the city.PH thumbnail

Mr Harvie’s amendments would have added “promoting social and cultural life” to Licensing Objectives and consideration of the impact of decisions on a Licensing Board’s whole area when reviewing a venue’s license.

Patrick Harvie MSP said:

“It’s unrealistic to imagine that recreational drug use will be reduced by closing one venue, especially one with a record of staff training, medical facilities and a willingness to report problems rather than hiding them. The loss of The Arches leaves a huge gap in the social and cultural scene of Scotland’s biggest city, and it’s disappointing MSPs have chosen not to take the opportunity to reconsider licensing objectives.”

The loss of The Arches leaves a huge gap in the social and cultural scene of Scotland's biggest city, and it's disappointing MSPs have chosen not to take the opportunity to reconsider licensing objectives.
Patrick Harvie MSP

FORT KINNAIRD: JOHNSTONE QUIZZES MUNDELL OVER DEVOLUTION EXEMPTION

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

Alison Johnstone, Scottish Green MSP for Lothian and a member of Holyrood’s Devolution committee, today pressed Scottish Secretary David Mundell on the UK Conservative Government’s plans to resist devolving control of Fort Kinnaird retail park in Edinburgh.Alison small pic

The Scotland Bill aims to devolve the management and revenue of the Crown Estate in Scotland but the UK Government is proposing a complex transfer scheme managed by the Treasury which exempts “property, rights or interests held by a limited partnership”.

Fort Kinnaird is the only land held by the Crown in partnership, so under the current proposals would become an island of Crown land in Scotland run from London with profits still flowing to the UK Treasury.

Alison Johnstone MSP said:

“Fort Kinnaird is a money-maker for the Treasury and it’s notable that the UK Government wants to exempt it from devolution of the Crown Estate as agreed by the Smith Commission. It’s simply not credible for the Scottish Secretary to say he doesn’t accept that this arrangement is overly-complex.

“I’m sure most of us in the Edinburgh area familiar with Fort Kinnaird will find it ludicrous that it is destined to become a satellite of the Treasury rather than under Scottish control like the rest of Crown Estate land in Scotland. It is illogical and inconsistent, and it cannot go unresolved.”

It is illogical and inconsistent, and it cannot go unresolved.
Alison Johnstone MSP

GREEN INVESTMENT BANK SELL-OFF: HARVIE HITS OUT

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

Patrick Harvie, Scottish Green MSP for Glasgow and a member of Holyrood’s economy and energy committee, is criticising the UK Government for preparing to privatise the Green Investment Bank.PH thumbnail

Treasury ministers have hired Bank of America Merrill Lynch to advise on the sell-off of the Scottish-headquartered bank.

Patrick Harvie MSP said:

“The sell-off of the Green Investment Bank proves that David Cameron’s comment about wanting to ‘cut the green crap’ has now become a full-blown mantra for a right-wing Government determined to wreck our renewable energy opportunities. The bank was a half-hearted effort by the Tory-Libdem Coalition, with limited powers and funding. Rather than taking another backward step we need governments to go further and faster on developing new energy sources and cleaner industries as the need to leave fossil fuels in the ground becomes ever more urgent.”

Rather than taking another backward step we need governments to go further and faster on developing new energy sources and cleaner industries as the need to leave fossil fuels in the ground becomes ever more urgent.
Patrick Harvie MSP

CHILDCARE: JOHNSTONE WELCOMES REPORT URGING RADICAL ACTION

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

Alison Johnstone, Scottish Green MSP for Lothian, is welcoming the report of the Commission for Childcare Reform, which calls for “radical action to transform childcare” in Scotland.

The report calls for 50 hours a week of free or subsidised childcare, with a system that takes account of parents’ income to ensure affordability.

The Scottish Government’s current aim is 30 hours a week by the end of the next parliament in 2020.

Alison Johnstone MSP said:

“This report rightly keeps childcare on the agenda. The current arrangements are patchy and inflexible, and Scotland’s childcare system remains one of the most expensive in Europe.

“We know that if we invest in good quality childcare we have a better chance of tackling unemployment, giving parents easier access to further and higher education, and it can help reduce inequality. We must focus on quality as well as quantity, with more opportunities for learning and training for childcare providers, and decent rates of pay.

“Given that this issue requires a joined up approach across local, devolved and reserved responsibilities, it is crucial that all levels of government work together to make progress.”

 

Given that this issue requires a joined up approach across local, devolved and reserved responsibilities, it is crucial that all levels of government work together to make progress.
Alison Johnstone MSP

POLICE CALLS: JOHNSTONE COMMENTS ON MERGER PROBLEMS

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

Alison Johnstone, Scottish Green MSP for Lothian, has expressed alarm at figures presented today (24 June) to the Scottish Police Authority (SPA), showing dozens of calls to the Bilston Glen service centre are abandoned every week as people give up waiting for assistance.Alison small pic

Ms Johnstone previously warned that the control room would be adversely affected by mergers that now see it also handling calls from Fife, with this situation replicated nationally, as 11 control centres were reduced to four.

Police Scotland cite staff illness and problems with recruitment as the reason for emergency calls taking up to three minutes to answer, with non-emergency calls unanswered for as long as 11 minutes.

Alison Johnstone MSP said:

“Scottish Greens campaigned strongly against the merger of Scotland’s police forces and fire brigades, warning of the implications for local jobs and accountability. The call centre mergers were a terrible blow for the highly skilled staff, and I share the deep concern of many of my constituents who now worry about the ability of the police to provide the support that their communities require. It is very distressing for staff who know that they are unable to deal efficiently with the high volume of calls and suggests that increasing staff resources and capacity should be a priority.”

“The trend of centralisation under the current Scottish Government is creating stresses and strains on our public services and employees. I welcome Police Scotland’s pledge to tackle recruitment but I also want to hear from the Scottish Government what they are doing to ensure the safety and security of the public is given priority.”

 

Update on Contact, Command and Control Division for today’s SPA board meeting

I welcome Police Scotland's pledge to tackle recruitment but I also want to hear from the Scottish Government what they are doing to ensure the safety and security of the public is given priority.
GreenComms

LAND REFORM: JOHNSTONE URGES GOVERNMENT TO BE BOLDER

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

Alison Johnstone, Scottish Green MSP for Lothian and rural affairs spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, is welcoming the publication of the Scottish Government’s Land Reform (Scotland) Bill, but is urging ministers to be bolder.

 

Today’s publication includes positive measures that would end tax relief for shooting estates, provide a community right-to-buy land to further sustainable development, and force the sale of land where owners block development. But it does not include recommendations made by the independent Land Reform Review Group such as placing an upper limit on the total amount of land that can be held or giving consideration to a land value tax.

 

Alison Johnstone MSP said:

 

“We still have a long way to go if we aspire to truly reform our undemocratic system of land ownership, and end the vast inequalities where half the country is estimated to be owned by as few as 432 people. This Bill can allow us to begin to address some of the deepest problems of land ownership in Scotland, but we cannot pretend it is now job done.

 

“Scottish Greens have long advocated the introduction of a Land Value Tax as an example of how we can improve conditions for both urban and rural Scotland. Last year’s report by the independent Land Reform Review Group recommended that LVT be given serious consideration and that there be an upper limit on the total amount of land in Scotland that can be held by a private land owner. I would urge ministers to reconsider these ideas, so we can pursue a truly bold land reform agenda.”

I would urge ministers to reconsider these ideas, so we can pursue a truly bold land reform agenda.
Alison Johnstone MSP

ARCHES: HARVIE TO PROPOSE AMENDMENTS IN LICENSING BILL DEBATE

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

Patrick Harvie, Scottish Green MSP for Glasgow, will this week use a Scottish Parliament debate to raise issues relating to the hugely unpopular closure of The Arches music and arts venue in the city.

 

On Thursday (25 June) MSPs will vote on changes to Scotland’s alcohol licensing laws, on the final day of debate on the Air Weapons and Licensing Bill.

 

Mr Harvie intends to move amendments to add “promoting social and cultural life” to Licensing Objectives and consideration of the impact of decisions on a Licensing Board’s whole area when reviewing a venue’s license.

 

Patrick Harvie MSP said:

 

“The loss of The Arches has been terrible for staff and for the cultural fabric of Scotland’s biggest city. The venue showed consistent responsibility on safety issues, and the decision to restrict its license, which led directly to its closure, was incredibly short-sighted.

 

“It would be absurd to imagine that recreational drug use will be reduced because of this decision, or that public safety will be helped in any way. All that will happen is that people will switch to other, perhaps less experienced and less responsible, venues. Many venues will think twice in future before they report problems resulting from drug use to the police. This attitude to licensing is compounding the failures of this country’s drug laws.

 

“Sadly this chance to change the law comes too late for The Arches itself. There have been warm words from the Scottish Government following the closure but we need much more than that. The Licensing Bill presents an opportunity to at least begin a debate about how we take account of the bigger picture, of cultural and social values, when reaching such decisions.”

The Licensing Bill presents an opportunity to at least begin a debate about how we take account of the bigger picture, of cultural and social values, when reaching such decisions.
Patrick Harvie MSP