ScotRail, Dogs and the council

Monday April 29th 2019

Christine Grahame

ScotRail again

Christine Grahame MSP writes her monthly column for Midlothian View.

I can’t believe that I’m still having to deal with failings on the Borders railway.

After all the years campaigning with others to have the line rebuilt, to celebrate its opening and now a few years on the performance of ScotRail has worsened. In the early years there were cancelations, stop skipping (and at least that has lessened).

Now it’s overcrowding and no drivers for the service. This is as a result of little or no forward planning for driver requirements which I uncovered in questioning the Chief Executive Alex Hynes at committee a few weeks back.

Then this weekend, with blazing sunshine and no doubt folks considering taking that lovely train journey to the Borders to stop off on Melrose perhaps visiting the Abbey and indeed Abbotsford there were few trains to catch. Five cancellations South-bound on Easter Sunday.

I’m coming to the view that the Borders railway alone is being given a rough deal so if there are shortages, it’s the first route to suffer. I had already written Alex Hynes inviting him to travel with me peak-time on the line but I am now also taking up these recent failings both with him and the Government.

All of this flies in the face of his pledge to increase carriages and stops on the line “within months” at the recent Borders Railway Community Partnership meeting. I think we would all settle just now for trains to run to schedule for starters.

Dog Attacks

The recent horrific attack of the baby on Hawick has left it badly injured, the family distraught and the dog, a Lakeland terrier, has been destroyed.

This is a dreadful but not isolated occurrence. Indeed within a matter of days a boy had been killed by a dog he was left alone with in a caravan.

These tragedies have common factors. The baby and the boy were left alone with the dogs. The dogs belonged to other people and the children were in unfamiliar surroundings. Yet I thought we knew that children, especially young children and babies, should not be left unsupervised with dogs, even family dogs and certainly in early days when a baby comes into a household.

The smell and the sound of a baby unfamiliar to the animal may set in into, attack and defence mode. The baby, the child is a threat. The dog and I will say it here, is not at fault. Neither is it the breed or size of dog.

Should children have dogs as pets? Certainly. My two sons were raised with a loving Irish Setter called Roostie who adopted them as her puppies. However I was around when they were with her when young. I taught them and her to respect each other and we all wept buckets when she had to be put down as cancer took its toll.

Which brings me to my proposed Bill called “Responsible Dog Ownership”. In this I want anyone considering having a dog to have to go through a check-list to test whether they are ready or right for a dog. In this way I hope we can prevent such dreadful tragedies. That said, my heartfelt thoughts are with the family and relatives who are living with this hour by hour.

Communications with Midlothian Council

I at last had a reply from Councillor Jim Muirhead which give it its due was lengthy though somewhat testy.

I have responded because long though it was it still did not provide details as to who made, and when ,any representations at the 8 council Leaders’ Meetings at COSLA were made regarding Midlothian’s budget settlement (You will recall that the Scottish Government negotiates with COSLA the total settlement for Scotland’s 32 local authorities and this is distributed according to a COSLA agreed formula).

That was two weeks ago. Given the last time I waited for a reply, I have a bit to wait yet and still no “Out of Office” reply on Councillor Milligan’s emails! I am happy to provide IT training if that would help.

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