The heartbreaking scenes of desperate people fleeing their homes and looking for refuge in Europe have touched many people in Scotland and I know there is great support across the country for all of us to play our part in offering what help we can.
The Scottish Government has been quick to respond with the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon holding a summit on the refugee crisis in Edinburgh at the beginning of the month and pledging £1 million in aid from the Scottish Government for a taskforce.
The group which will be chaired by Europe and International Development Minister Humza Yousaf will use the funding to support local authorities, the third sector and humanitarian groups in delivering the practical steps required to welcome those fleeing persecution in Syria and elsewhere to Scotland.
The Scottish Government will consider what further support is required as the taskforce progresses its work.
The long awaited report from the independent reporter for the Maybole Bypass was submitted to the Scottish Government at the end of July. We are now looking at a maximum of three months from this date to the final Ministerial decision.
The process may seem lengthy but it is necessary to ensure works on this scale with substantial public funding can deliver and all objections are properly addressed.
Having campaigned for this bypass for many years I will be pleased to see the project reach shovel ready status. That leaves a financial commitment from the Scottish Government as the final step to be taken on what has been a long journey.
Everyone across the local area will be welcoming the news of another significant milestone passed with planning permission granted for the new Girvan and South Carrick leisure and community facility.
The formal site building works will get underway in January 2016, with the facility open by March 2017. In the meantime, work will progress on the detailed designs for the building and proposals for the operating model.
This has been a long process particularly for those who have been driving the initiative forward and I, as I’m sure those who will benefit from the centre, would like to thank them for their determination and vision.
Dairy farmers are facing huge difficulties because of the low price being paid for milk and volatility on the global market. I would like to urge all retailers, food service and other buyers, big and small, to get behind our Scottish dairy farmers and support them in this time of need for the industry.
The Scottish Government and their partners are taking a range of active steps to provide support as set out in the Dairy Plan and will continue to actively encourage investment in new capacity, measures to spread dairy farmer best practice, promote consumption and demand, encourage transparency in the market, explore EU support arrangements, and work with First Milk on business development, including capital support.
I’m backing the Electoral Commission’s Time to get#IN campaign to promote voter registration for young people. It aims to ensure 16 and 17 year olds (and 15 year olds who will be 16 on polling day 5 May 2016) are informed and able to register to vote in Scottish Parliamentary and local government elections.
In last year’s referendum 16, 17 and 18 year olds overwhelmingly grasped the opportunity to have their democratic voice heard. Since then the Scottish Parliament passed The Scottish Elections (Reduction of Voting Age) Act 2015 enabling 16 and 17 year olds in Scotland to vote at Scottish elections, including Scottish Parliamentary and local government elections.
Young people are now rightly considered a key part of the democratic process in Scotland.
It’s easy to apply and I would encourage those who have not already done so to register online now at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote