I am pleased to say further progress has been made on the Maybole Bypass with Ministers agreeing that the necessary Road Orders be made without modification following a Public Local inquiry earlier this year.
It’s pleasing to note that the Reporter in his conclusion stated “I conclude that there is a strong justification for the scheme, which would bring substantial benefits to road users on the A77 and to those who live, work and shop along the existing route through town. The scheme represents good value for money.”
If you would like to view the report please go to http://www.dpea.scotland.gov.uk/CaseDetails.aspx?id=115589&T=20
I took the opportunity to question the Minister in Parliament on the future of the Auchincruive Veterinary Centre. Many of you will be aware that Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) has been consulting on the future of its disease surveillance laboratory network.
Auchincruive hosts one of the busiest disease surveillance centres in a livestock intensive area and I have made representations to both the College and the Scottish Government including a submission to the consultation on the importance of this centre.
I was very happy to hear the Ministers response that SRUC have indicated that they no longer plan to move the centre to Glasgow but will be convening a meeting this month to discuss alternative proposals due to the large number of concerns expressed through the consultation.
The debate over tax credits has thrown light onto the challenges and opportunities that come with the new powers proposed by the Smith Commission.
If the Scottish Parliament is to properly embrace these responsibilities, then we must all acknowledge that new powers for the Scottish Parliament are about much more than undoing the damage done by the UK Government. They are about enabling this, and future Scottish Governments, to take a distinctive approach to the challenges we face, to design policies and programmes that align with our vision of a stronger, wealthier and fairer society.
We all know the Scotland Bill is far from perfect.
It does however contain more powers that can be used in the best interests of Scotland. Working with stakeholders across the country that is what this Scottish government is preparing to do. New fiscal powers mean the Scottish Parliament will gain more power over income tax from 2017, giving us the ability to vary both tax rates and tax thresholds.
The Scottish Government has used the tax powers available to them to support those on low incomes – for example by freezing the council tax or removing tax on buying a home from the 50% of people at the bottom of the market.