Friday September 17th 2021
Lorna Slater, Scottish Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity, Lothian MSP and Scottish Greens co-leader writes her monthly column for Midlothian View.
My first four months as an MSP have been extremely busy. My Green colleagues and I spent a lot of the summer in negotiations with the Scottish Government, reaching a historic cooperation agreement that we believe will have a positive and lasting impact in Midlothian and beyond.
It is the first time that Green politicians have been in government in any part of the UK, and we will use it to make a difference. It’s a big opportunity for us to change Scotland, and that comes with a big responsibility. We will be investing in people and the planet and to ensure a recovery that puts people first. The changes that we are agreeing today could have an impact for years to come.
One area where I am particularly excited about the long-term prospects is the investment we are making in teachers and education. In Midlothian we will be recruiting new teachers and classroom assistants, letting schools reduce class sizes while giving pupils more individual support and allowing more time for teachers to prepare for lessons.
Another priority is housing. The escalating cost of housing in Edinburgh has forced thousands of people out of the capital over recent years, and we need to mitigate the impact that is having on the cost of living in Midlothian.
To that end will be working to provide warmer and better homes and support tenants by introducing new rights, such as the right to keep pets as well as rent control measures.
The focus on housing will be supported by vital changes to welfare, such as the doubling of child payment, to help families who are having their budgets stretched. We will ensure that we live our values by making public funding of businesses conditional on them paying the living wage and recognising trade unions.
But, as we rebuild from the pandemic, the biggest challenge facing us is the climate crisis. It is a global crisis, and one that the Scottish Government takes very seriously.
Transport is Scotland’s biggest source of greenhouse gases. That is why we will promote public transport, with the establishment of a community bus fund, as well as £5 billion to improve and decarbonise our railways, and £320 million a year for cycling and walking infrastructure.
We also want to ensure that people are not priced out of public transport. To this end, we have agreed to commission a Fair Fares Review to ensure a sustainable and integrated approach to public transport fares. As part of this we will look at the range of discounts and concessionary schemes that are available on all modes including bus, rail and ferry.
By making these changes and others, we can encourage people out of cars by promoting public transport and making it a better, more accessible and environmentally friendly choice for morning commuters and people making longer journeys.
These are just some of the changes that we will be making to build a fairer, greener future for Midlothian. But I don’t want you to judge this government by its words, I want you to judge us by our actions and the impacts that we have.
I am grateful to Midlothian View for offering me this space. I would like to hear about what is most important to you and the changes that you would like to see in your community. If there is anything that my office can help you with, then please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.Tweet Share on Facebook