Great news this week with the final hurdle crossed for SCLD and their plans for a leisure centre in Girvan.
This has been a very long process but the determination and enthusiasm for this project by members of SCLD have ensured success and I congratulate them on their resolve.
The project can now progress to the construction phase which is anticipated to start later this month with completion due in March 2017.
An appropriate sod cutting ceremony will be arranged in due course to mark the start of this very welcome and exciting new project.
In tough financial times, the SNP in government has sought to provide relief to households by putting in place a freeze on increases in council tax.
Regrettably some councils across the country are looking to axe this relief to households.
The SNP have kept our promise to freeze the council tax in every budget of this parliament.
All of Scotland’s council tax payers have benefited from the council tax freeze, which has provided much needed financial relief – particularly to vulnerable groups, including pensioners.
By the end of this parliamentary term council tax will have been frozen for nine consecutive years, saving the average household £1,500 in total on a band D bill.
By contrast, between 2007-08 and 2015-16, council tax has increased by 12% in England, and soared by 32% under Labour in Wales.
The SNP Scottish Government is committed to fully funding the council tax freeze. Scotland’s local authorities have received an extra £70 million per annum since 2008-09, to put the council tax freeze in place.
Analysis from the independent Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) has shown that the Council Tax freeze has been more than fully funded by the SNP Government.
In fact, the research goes so far as to say that the Council Tax freeze has been overfunded.
However the SNP believe the council tax system in Scotland is unfair and needs to be reformed. That’s why, along with our local government partners, we established the Commission on Local Tax Reform, to consider replacement options.
The Commission is made up from representatives from political parties and the finance, law and advice sectors and published its first report in December of last year.
Later this year the Scottish Government will bring forward proposals for a fairer and more progressive system of local taxation.
Until these proposals have been brought forward the SNP Government are taking the most appropriate action by helping households and supporting local councils to deliver the freeze.
Mental health is one of the biggest public health challenges we face in Scotland. With around one in three people affected by mental illness in any given year, the SNP Government has made improving mental health services a priority.
Despite a large increase in demand for mental health services, waiting times for mental health services have come down significantly in recent years.
Over the next five years £150 million has been allocated to improve mental health services. Funding will be provided to NHS boards to, improve capacity to see people more quickly; redesign local services to make them more efficient, effective and sustainable; improve workforce supply and train existing staff to deliver services for children and young people, and psychological therapies for all ages.