If it matters to Scotland it matters to us
Staff from the National Park Authority, local councils and communities gathered together to “get a head start on the issue” ahead of the parks’ busiest months.
The focus was primarily around the A82, a traditional trouble spot for litter.
Lay-bys, verges and undergrowth along a 15 mile stretch from Duck Bay to Tarbetstretch were monitored and cleared of all rubbish by the team.
West Dunbartonshire Council also organised an A82 clean up from Barloan Toll roundabout in Dumbarton to Stoneymollan roundabout above Balloch.
Simon Jones, Director of Environment and Visitor Services at Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority said: “We have dedicated staff time right through April to help clean the National Park up before the influx of visitors we are expecting this summer.
“We’ve seen a big difference already with visible improvements on the A82 in particular.
“Despite this effort from our staff, partners, local businesses and communities, there is more to be done, so we are calling on everyone to take responsibility for respecting and protecting this special place.
“As well as being a serious threat to the National Park’s wildlife, litter impacts local communities and affects visitors’ enjoyment while they are here. Coming out of lockdown, the benefits that people get from spending time in nature are more important than ever.
Those with long memories will recall previous SNP pledges to abolish council tax, reduce class sizes in primary school to no more than 18, and introduce a cash grant for first-time house buyers – none of which have been delivered in 14 long years of SNP government in Scotland, despite a parliamentary majority at one point which would have enabled them to do just that.
A similarly cynical view might be taken to last week’s launch of the SNP manifesto for this coming election, offering a range of ambitious – and expensive – policy commitments. There are pledges to explore a four-day working week, to pilot a universal basic income for all citizens, new funding for the NHS, free dental care, a free bicycle for every child, and so the list goes on. There is, it seems, something for everyone.
But how, exactly, will all this be paid for? Analysis carried out by the Scottish Conservatives shows that the Scottish budget would need to at least double for the SNP to implement their manifesto in full, given their spending commitments total some £95 billion in a single year.
All this at a time when they are saying that rates of taxation in Scotland would not require to rise (although, of course, they made the same promise back in 2016, and swiftly broke it).
But do not just rely on Conservative criticism of the SNP’s figures. The independent and widely respected Institute for Fiscal Studies states: “The manifesto does not provide information on how much these various pledges will cost altogether… but the list of policies included clearly has significant net cost. Paying for this in the context of what will likely be a tight fiscal environment in the coming Parliament would require tricky trade-offs, and potentially either (as yet unspoken) tax rises, or cuts to at least some areas of public spending.”
The same IFS has already pointed out that the SNP are utilising one-off Covid money coming in cash grants from the British Treasury to fund ongoing policy commitments. This diversion of vital resources infuriates business owners desperate for support funds, particularly when they see similar enterprises south of the Border able to reopen when they are still closed. Moreover, it is simply not sustainable in the long run, and will require – as the IFS fairly point out – either future tax rises, cuts elsewhere, or a mixture of both.
The owner of one of Scotland’s most successful bus companies has said the controversy over the building of two new ferries at the Ferguson Marine shipyard was a “national embarrassment”.
Sandy Easdale, who owns the Greenock-based McGill’s Buses, spoke out in the wake of fresh revelations the Scottish Government paid consultant Tim Hair a total of £791,285 last year to run the stricken yard in Port Glasgow.
Mr Easdale, who along with his brother James, had expressed an interest in buying the shipyard when it went into administration in 2014, before it was sold to Jim McColl and subsequently won a £97 million contract for two new CalMac vessels.
The SNP manifesto contains a lot of promises to make a lot of things “free” if it wins the election on May 6, along with some hefty spending commitments, such as an extra £2.5 billion for the NHS and £1 billion to help close the educational attainment gap between rich and poor.
But then, it has been pointed out that when a politician promises to spend lots of money, we should remember it’s our money they will be spending, not theirs. One way or another, all this would be coming out of our pockets.
The poll, undertaken by Savanta ComRes for The Scotsman, suggests the Scottish public is most likely to back an SNP majority or an SNP/Green coalition as the “best mandate” for a second independence referendum.
It also showed more than two thirds of voters who said they will vote for the SNP on the regional list viewed themselves as “unlikely” to back Alex Salmond’s new party.
As part of the survey respondents were asked to pick their three “most important issues facing Scotland”, including options such as immigration, Brexit and housing.
Of the options, the economy was picked by half of Scots as one of the most important issues, health by 45 per cent of Scots, and employment and welfare by 35 per cent of Scots.
Education (31 per cent), Brexit (25 per cent) and independence (19 per cent) were the next choices, with housing (16 per cent) and the environment (17 per cent) next on the list.
It is the first time fewer than one in five have viewed independence as one of the top issues facing Scotland, and is down four points from a high of 23 per cent during this series of polls.
The poll showed support for the union and independence neck and neck with Yes on 50 per cent and No on 50 per cent after don’t knows are excluded.
However, the poll showed the number of Scots who want to see a referendum within the next two years is at 38 per cent with 53 per cent believing it should take place within the next five years or sooner.
More than one in five (22 per cent) of Scots never want another independence referendum, with one in nine saying it should take place in more than ten years.
WHEN Eve McTiernan heard Nicola Sturgeon say there was no requirement for senior pupils to sit prelims or exams this year – a message also publicly promoted by the Scottish Qualifications Authority – her reaction was one of disbelief.
“To be honest, I laughed,” she says. Eve, who is a sixth year pupil at Kilsyth Academy, is crashing three Highers: French, Politics and PE, and needs at least one B to take up her conditional place to study politics at Glasgow University.
Despite the Scottish government’s pronouncements, she already has her timetable of what may officially be termed ‘assessments’ – but which, to her, look very much like exams.
She can take a script of utter fantasy and make her audience believe it is actual reality. Alice Through the Looking Glass would be an ideal movie for her – with a starring role as the Red Queen, allowing her to shout “off with their heads” at former close friends whom she now has no use of.
In the first full week of campaigning, we saw Nicola rattling out promises like a nuclear-powered Gatling Gun she can have no possible idea how to keep. Electoral bribe after electoral bribe was fired in every direction to make sure she hit a target somewhere – but who’s paying for the ammo? The election give-aways might be costed but how they will be afforded is beyond her ken.