Wheelhouse Welcomes A1 Improvements

10th September 2015

Paul Wheelhouse MSP (SNP South Scotland) has welcomed a £250,000 investment from Transport Scotland to make improvements to seven junctions on the A1 in Berwickshire.

Paul said:

“I am absolutely delighted with the news having previously made representations to Transport Scotland and the Transport Ministers in the Scottish Government about safety on the A1 at the junctions where I myself have had near misses with cars when a driver has failed to navigate a junction correctly. 

“I am, therefore, delighted that Transport Scotland and the Transport Minister have taken on board the constructive comments of local residents and campaigners to make these improvements.  As a resident of Ayton and frequent visitor to both Eyemouth and Reston I am aware of just how much this issue matters locally.

“Refreshing the road markings and making lines clearer, replacement road studs and having vegetation cut back to improve visibility will all make a difference to locals and tourists who are less familiar with the roads.

“I have passed on my sincere thanks to both Transport Scotland and the Scottish Government for listening to the concerns of the A1 Action Group and for visiting the area to see the junctions and listen to local residents and the then taking decisive action.  It is a great example of putting the community first that I am pleased to see this positive engagement also being welcomed by campaigners.”

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Big Lottery Fund Plans for East Lothian/Scottish Borders

19th August 2015

SNP MSP for South Scotland, Paul Wheelhouse, has congratulated the most recent recipients in East Lothian/Scottish Borders of Big Lottery Awards For All Scotland funding.

Alison Cargill House, Pencaitland and Winton Bowling and Community Club, Pix in the Stix and The Children’s Parliament all received funding in East Lothian, bringing £23,270 to the area.

Jedforest Rugby Football Club and Southdean Hall both received funding in the Scottish Borders, bringing £12,456 to the area.

Paul said:

“The Big Lottery funding has contributed massively to local communities over the years and this most recent round will make a huge difference to the clubs and organisations it has been awarded to.

“The community facilities and initiatives that this funding contributes to allows projects to be run for and by local people.  I am sure that residents in the communities receiving assistance will also continue to support these projects and I look forward to seeing these organisations flourish as a result.”

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Hawick Attainment Funding Welcomed

19th August 2015

Paul Wheelhouse MSP (SNP, South Scotland) has welcomed the extension of the Scottish Government’s Attainment Fund, which includes Burnfoot Community School and St Margaret’s RC Primary School.

Underlining the SNP’s unwavering commitment to improving education in Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon this week announced that the fund will be extended to help even more schools – taking the number of schools benefiting from the fund to more than 300.
The fund focuses on improving literacy, numeracy, health and wellbeing in primary schools in these areas, with the clear objective being to give all primary-school age pupils – regardless of background - the best start in life.
The First Minister also announced the creation of the Aspirations Package for schools, which will be delivered with organisations, local employers and entrepreneurs to ensure young people can access the experience, knowledge and networks they need to help them succeed.

Paul said:

“The extension of the Attainment Fund, which will now benefit Hawick, is very welcome indeed. Scotland’s children must be given everything they need to fulfil their full potential in life and the Attainment Fund is an important step in the right direction.
“Since coming to office in 2007 the SNP has worked tirelessly to improve education - pre-school age children now benefit from 600 hours of free childcare, compared to only 412 in 2007 - and we have rebuilt or refurbished 520 schools in the last eight years.
“Our primary one children are in smaller classes, more student teachers find permanent employment and more of our young people than ever now leave school and go into work, training or continue with their education.
“However, there is no room for complacency – and the extension of the Attainment Fund along with the recent launch of the Read, Write, Count plan underlines the unwavering ambition of this SNP government to raise standards further.
“If re-elected in 2016, the SNP will continue to build on our strong record on education and will deliver in the face of harsh Westminster Tory cuts to budgets and welfare.
“The SNP is committed to making Scotland the best place in the world to grow up – and this fund will help make this a reality for children in the Scottish Borders.”

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Wheelhouse Comments on RBS Closures

31st July 2015

SNP MSP for South Scotland, Paul Wheelhouse, has commented on the RBS branch closures in Ayton and Earlston.

Paul said:

“As a resident of Ayton a key concern about the branch closure here and in Earlston is the impact on customers, many of whom, due to the rural nature of the community and the lack of reliable digital infrastructure, are unable to rely on internet banking for their personal and business needs following what has been a continued programme of branch closures that flies in the face of RBS campaigns claiming they would “never shut down the last branch in town” and warm words along similar lines given to MSPs in private briefings by RBS since 2011.

“Having used the branch myself, I am also concerned about the impact on the well-respected staff who maintain excellent customer service and who are a credit to the bank.  I hope any disruption or impact upon staff will be minimised and I am writing today to RBS seeking assurances that employees’ jobs will be protected.

“I have also requested that an ATM, at the very least, be placed in Ayton and the existing ATM be maintained in Earlston given the recent closure of Chirnside, Greenlaw and Newtown St Boswells branches provide even less face-to-face banking in the Scottish Borders and these cuts mean that RBS customers are increasingly inconvenienced when they need access to cash as a result of a relentless programme of branch closures that could impact on custom for local retailers too. 

“RBS is still a state controlled bank (for now) and while I appreciate the Bank’s management are having to follow Chancellor Osborne’s bidding, it is totally unacceptable that RBS is seemingly cutting local services to increase the shareholder value for re-privatisation. Retail operations are not the cause of the bank’s recent problems – which we know were caused by risky decisions taken in the Boardroom and the trading rooms of the City.  The closure of our local branch in Ayton also marks a sad milestone in that it not only, yet again, breaches now abandoned promises to protect local branches, but finally severs a historic link between the village and RBS which dates back to the days of William Michell-Innes, Chief Cashier of the bank and a director in the mid-19th century. He was, of course, the man who commissioned the magnificent Ayton Castle which is located nearby and we can only speculate, but perhaps he will be birling in his grave at the latest decisions by his beloved Bank.”

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Wheelhouse Welcomes NHS Borders Exceeding A&E Targets

22nd July 2015

Paul Wheelhouse MSP (SNP South Scotland) has today (Wednesday) welcomed new A&E figures showing NHS Borders has exceeded the Scottish Government’s interim target of treating patients within four hours.

NHS Borders treated 96.7% of patients within the timeframe, which exceeds the target of 95%.

Paul said:

“These figures are obviously very welcome, showing that Borders General Hospital A&E exceeded the 95% target, and this is a tribute to the work of the NHS staff who have been working so hard to cut waiting times while delivering the best possible service for patients in the Scottish Borders.  I thank the staff for their hard work on behalf of my constituents.  

“I believe the SNP’s commitment to our health service is second to none – investing an additional £383m in frontline health spending in 2015/16, meaning Scottish health spending will now be above £12bn for the first time ever, despite Westminster's very challenging constraints on the Scottish Government budget – and these figures show that this Scottish Government investment is delivering real results.  In stark contrast to the Tories' creeping privatisation of the NHS in England, the Scottish Government appreciates the value of our publicly owned and controlled NHS in Scotland and will do everything possible to protect the vital services it provides.

“While these A & E figures are welcome, there is always more that can be done – and staff and patients can rest assured that an SNP Scottish Government will be working harder than ever to support the staff within our NHS to further protect and improve NHS services and to deliver the first-class health service people in the south of Scotland deserve.”

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Wheelhouse Comments on Border Precision Engineering Ltd

1st July 2015

SNP MSP for South Scotland, Paul Wheelhouse, has today (Wednesday) contacted Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth, John Swinney MSP, to establish what support is to be made available to employees of Border Precision Engineering who are now facing redundancy.

Paul said:

“My thoughts are with those employees and their families currently facing uncertainty at this most stressful of times.  It is always difficult to witness any company face potential insolvency, but it is especially upsetting to see a company that is so important a local employer face such a savage change of its fortunes and to see it happen so unexpectedly.

“I have today contacted the Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, who is very much aware of the situation, and expressed his own great concern for the company's employees. Mr Swinney has informed me that the 79 employees facing redundancy are being offered PACE support with an event being held for them in the Tait Hall in Kelso on Tuesday (7th July) between 1pm-4pm, where they can find out more about their options and support available to them.  Further information will, I understand, have been sent to employees on this today.

“I also understand a meeting between the company and liquidators was also due to take place today and I hope that it may not be beyond the possibility that something may yet be salvaged from what is undoubtedly a very worrying situation.

“If I can be of assistance to any of my constituents in dealing with the knock-on consequences of this news for them, I will of course do whatever I can to support them.  The Deputy First Minister has offered to keep me up-to-date with any developments and my staff and I stand ready to provide any support we can through my office in Hawick, supporting the efforts of the PACE team and other national and local agencies.”

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