Ebrief Week Beginning 13 May 2013
Historic Environment Strategy Launched
This week saw the publication of the first-ever overarching strategy for Scotland’s historic environment by Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop.
The 'historic environment' is defined as the physical evidence of past human activity. This is widely acknowledged to include the following categories of evidence:
• Archaeological sites and monuments
• Buildings and architecture
• Gardens and designed landscapes, battlefields and other cultural landscapes
• Palaeoenvironmental sites
• Marine and maritime sites
This definition can also include associated evidence:
• Artefacts, especially in situ or otherwise associated with places
• Archives, including maps and other documents, which describe, depict or relate to places and often provide the only surviving evidence for past human activity
Until now there has been no overarching strategy for our historic environment. These proposals are intended to ensure Scotland’s historic environment is understood, valued, enjoyed and enhanced - now and in the future.
The historic environment is central to telling the story of our nation. It is right at the heart of our cultural identity and has a key role in defining Scotland’s place in the world.
Too often we take the historic environment for granted, or assume it will last forever. In practice, the historic environment needs careful management and a clear sense of direction. It is a precious asset, capable of providing real and increasing benefits to Scotland’s people.
Our historic environment is not simply stones, bricks and mortar. It is a combination of the tangible and the intangible – from buildings, landscapes and objects, to traditions, stories and memories.
The Carrick, Cumnock & Doon Valley area is a very strong historic environment well known worldwide as Burns country as well as it's links with Robert the Bruce to name but a few. I certainly welcome both the recognition of this valuable local asset and it’s protection in the future.
The 12-week public consultation follows a fundamental review of the Scottish Government’s policy on the historic environment.
You can view the draft strategy at: Draft historic environment strategy and consultation paper
East Ayrshire Hosts Play Talk Read Bus
Parents, carers and their kids can look forward to getting on board the purple PlayTalkRead bus as it travels across East Ayrshire from 21 – 31 May, stopping at different locations each day.
The free roadshow is part of a campaign to raises awareness of how parents can improve their children’s future life chances – and there will be lots of imaginative, fun activities for all to try.
Parents and children can join in with storytelling, rhymes and song sessions on the bus and receive a free book or playcube to take home. The Scottish Book Trust’s BookBug sessions will support mums and dads in giving their children a lifelong love of reading.
There will also be a range of services offering advice and ideas on various topics. These will vary from venue to venue, but will include representatives from East Ayrshire Council’s Early Years team, family workers, Childsmile, CARIS (Childcare and Recreation Information Service) and NHS Community Food Workers.
I hope that as many children and parents as possible get on board and make the most of playing, talking and reading together on our fun and colourful bus.
The PlayTalkRead bus will be at the following venues 9am-5pm:
30 May – Tesco, Auchinleck
31 May – The Square, Cumnock
Improving Diabetes Care
A further 660 insulin pumps will be available for people with type 1 diabetes in Scotland as part of a £3 million investment announced this week by the Minister for Public Health Michael Matheson.
The funding will be used to purchase the small medical devices that attach to a person’s body and administer the correct amount of insulin needed, removing the need for insulin injections and making the condition easier to manage.
A dedicated insulin pump support team will also support NHS staff around the country to widen access to the pumps.
The moves come as the Government has reaffirmed its commitment to ensure that 25 per cent of under-18s with type 1 diabetes have access to the pumps, as health boards continue to make the progress the Government wants to see in this area.
Since 2009, the Scottish Government have more than doubled the total number of people on insulin pumps and the number of people starting insulin pump therapy each year. All boards have worked to develop their pump services capacity and staff skills and this good practice will be shared to ensure diabetes services as whole continue to improve in future.
NHS Ayrshire & Arran are working towards increasing their pumps from the current 25 in paediatrics and 19 in adults to 72 and 104 by 2014/15.
This additional investment will support the boards efforts to deliver their action plan and achieve their commitment in ensuring insulin pumps are available.
Health board’s progress on the commitment to ensure that all eligible under 18s with type 1 diabetes have access to the pumps by 2013 is available at: http://diabetesinscotland.org.uk/Publications.aspx
Additional £2 Million for Student Awards Agency
An extra £2 million has been injected into Scotland’s students awards agency (SAAS) to improve delivery of the best ever package of student support in the UK.
The move follows an independent review carried out by David Wallace of the Student Loans Company, commissioned in November 2012 in recognition of the fact that there were issues at SAAS that needed to be addressed.
The £2 million will fund a programme of improvements, some of which are already underway, to deliver the extra £200 million invested to support students this year.
• 50 new members of staff to handle calls, process applications and help students with their queries. A 200 per cent increase in the number of staff handling calls during peak times;
• A new package of student support with a simpler way to apply;
• During peak periods, starting June, 3, the SAAS helpline will be open from 0800 in the morning until 1900 at night – an additional day and a half of contact time each week for students;
• Revised information targeted at students showing them how to fill out applications correctly;
• Putting in place arrangements for student advisors to highlight directly to SAAS any priority cases.
Alongside the Scottish Governments policy of no tuition fees, they are delivering the best package of support available anywhere in the UK to a growing population of students. To put that money in student pockets, we must have a flexible and efficient system of administering applications that is able to meet the expectations of students and this review and additional funding will certainly go some way in delivering.
Banking Sector in Scotland
The Scottish Government have published proposals that should form the foundation of a healthy, diverse and competitive banking sector in Scotland which puts the needs of its customers first.
Sustainable, Responsible Banking: A strategy for Scotland, developed in consultation with industry, consumer groups and others, outlines a range of measures that can be taken in the current environment to encourage diversity in the sector and enhance professional standards.
* Developing options to further promote community banking and other financial institutions to provide greater diversity in banking products and services to meet the needs of a wide range of customers
* Working with the Chartered Banker Institute and the banks in Scotland to ensure that banking is recognised as a profession and that bankers should be appropriately qualified and should adhere to professional standards
* Encouraging the banks to work with public agencies, to enhance the quality of SME loan proposals
The Scottish Government will also continue to work closely with the banks to deliver improved access to finance for Scottish SMEs and it will examine the business case for the creation of a Scottish business development bank.
This strategy is the first of its kind for banking in Scotland. Banking plays a core role in supporting our economy, and our society and has a major part to play in securing our economic recovery.
This strategy looks at what more we can do right now to provide diversity, to develop community banking, to support credit unions and help banks meet the commitments they have made to improve conduct, support small and medium sized businesses and focus on customer service.
This strategy provides a framework to work closely with the banks and others to restore the traditional principles of Scottish banking based on probity, prudence and stewardship.
New Tribunals Bill
Legislation to create a more user-friendly, simplified structure for Scotland’s tribunals has been published by the Scottish Parliament.
Tribunals are a key part of the legal system, protecting people from potentially unfair treatment in a range of specialist areas such as support for learning, health, land and housing.
However, the current system – which has developed in an ad-hoc and unplanned way over many years – is long overdue for reform.
The Tribunals Bill is designed to create a structure which is more user-friendly, independent and less complex. It will:
• Create a simple two-tier structure for tribunals - a First-tier Tribunal for hearing first decision cases and Upper Tribunal Scotland primarily for appeals from the first-tier
• Bring judicial leadership under the remit of the Lord President
• Create a new office, the President of Scottish Tribunals (PST), with the responsibility for ensuring tribunal business runs effectively and efficiently
• Establish new independent appointment arrangements
• Continue to protect the distinctive nature and culture of each particular jurisdiction.
Tribunals are a central part of our justice system, providing access to justice for some of the most vulnerable people in our society. However the current system is overdue for reform - it has developed over a long time in different ways, with differing leadership structures, appointment processes and ways to appeal.
The Tribunals Bill is at the very heart of the Scottish Governments commitment to improving our justice system, providing vital protection while ensuring people are treated fairly.
It will establish a streamlined two-tier structure and a new office, the President of Scottish Tribunals, to protect the expertise of each jurisdiction and ensure business runs efficiently.
By simplifying the tribunals structure and standardising some processes, the Bill will make the system more user-friendly and effective, saving time and resources while retaining the benefits of the current specialised tribunals.
News in Brief
• Rarely-seen documents celebrating the legacy of working Scots have gone on show at the National Records of Scotland. From Antarctic adventure to tartan, from banking to engineering, and from coal to the world’s best-selling whisky, ‘Scots at Work’ draws together treasures from the archives of Scottish industries and businesses for the first time, in support of The Working Archive campaign. More information on the exhibition can be found at: http://www.nas.gov.uk/about/130429.asp
• Veterans Minister Keith Brown visited Loch Ewe this week to attend a memorial service for the arctic convoys who served during world war 2. He also attended a medal ceremony where the convoys were awarded with the arctic star medal by the UK Government.
• Stornoway Black Pudding has been given official recognition from the EU – protecting it against unauthorised imitation. Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead announced that Stornoway Black Pudding has been awarded Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status, under the EU's Protected Food Name (PFN) scheme, giving consumers the utmost guarantee that they are buying the genuine, premium product.
• A young voter registration form that will give young people the right to have their say on the opportunity of independence for Scotland has been endorsed after independent testing. The Young Voter Registration form was developed by the Scottish Government to enable eligible 15-year-olds to register for the forthcoming vote on independence, as part of the Scottish Independence Referendum (Franchise) Bill. Those already 16 or 17 will be registered through the standard annual canvas form.
• A planning tool is being developed to ensure that hospitals and communities have the right beds in place to treat patients as Scotland’s health service faces the challenge of an ageing population. With projections showing that the population of over 75 year olds is set to increase by around 80 per cent over the next 20 years, services need to evolve to meet the challenges of an ageing population, including ensuring there is the necessary hospital capacity with the right type and number of beds and staff, in the right place.
Tuesday 14 May 2013
2.00 pm Time for Reflection – Rabbi David Rose, Rabbi of the East Scotland, executive member of the Interfaith Scotland and Member of the Conference of Scotland’s Religious Leaders.
Parliamentary Bureau Motions
Topical Questions (if selected)
Stage 1 Debate: Scottish Independence Referendum (Franchise) Bill
Parliamentary Bureau Motions
5.00 pm Decision Time
Members’ Business – S4M-05676 Christina McKelvie: Voices From the Frontline, Digital by Default
Wednesday 15 May 2013
2.00 pm Parliamentary Bureau Motions
2.00 pm Portfolio Questions
Culture and External Affairs;
Infrastructure, Investment and Cities
Stage 3 Proceedings: Aquaculture and Fisheries (Scotland) Bill
Parliamentary Bureau Motions
5.00 pm Decision Time
Members’ Business – S4M-05891 Aileen McLeod: History is Made at the Mull of Galloway
Thursday 16 May 2013
11.40 am Parliamentary Bureau Motions
11.40 am General Questions
12.00 pm First Minister’s Questions
12.30 pm Members’ Business – S4M-06139 Margaret McDougall: University Marine Biological Station Millport
2.30 pm Parliamentary Bureau Motions
2.30 pm Scottish Government Debate: Electricity Market Reform
Parliamentary Bureau Motions
5.00 pm Decision Time