Scott: Grants and bursaries slashed under SNP

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Tavish Scott today said the SNP have "slashed" grants and bursaries after new higher education figures revealed they are nowhere near the levels of 10 years ago.

The total amount paid in bursaries and grants is 27% lower than it was a decade ago, with the average amount paid per student falling 22%.

Meanwhile, student loans have ballooned. The total value of loans has risen 183% and the average loan authorised per student has risen by 119%.

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Scott Presses Government on Broadband Provision for the North Isles

Improving broadband coverage in Shetland was raised today with Ministers at Holyrood’s General Question Time. Tavish Scott MSP pressed the Scottish Government to ensure that Shetland’s outer and Northern Isles are first in the R100 investment programme.

 

Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, Paul Wheelhouse MSP, confirmed that the Government is taking an “outside-in approach” to target remote and rural communities first for coverage.  

 

The Scottish Government has repeatedly promised that 100% of premises in Scotland will have access to superfast broadband of 30Mb/s or more but an Audit Scotland report in September concluded that it will be difficult for the Government to fulfil this commitment. The report also found speeds in Shetland are still among the slowest in the country with almost a fifth of properties still unable to access 10Mb/s.

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Scott: Ministers must not lash out at councils over P1 testing boycotts

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Tavish Scott MSP has demanded that councils who boycott controversial tests for P1 pupils do not face "recriminations" from the SNP Government, ahead of a statement at Parliament by the Education Secretary this week.

On 19 September 2018, the Scottish Parliament voted to end the tests. However, Education Secretary John Swinney immediately vowed that the tests would continue, despite the stated "will of Parliament" and criticism from campaigners, teachers, parents and the EIS union.

A number of councils including Aberdeen City, East Lothian and Fife have since either voted against continuing with the controversial assessments or instructed council officers to explore such measures.

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Scott reveals almost 100 school leadership vacancies

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Tavish Scott has today revealed that at the start of the latest school term, almost 100 head teacher and deputy head teacher positions were still being advertised.

Figures obtained under freedom of information laws from 26 of Scotland's 32 local authorities show 92 senior leadership roles vacant, including 17 in Aberdeen and 12 in Glasgow as well as more than 500 class and principal teacher vacancies.

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Water Charges Threaten Sustainability of Community Halls

Shetland MSP Tavish Scott and Voluntary Action Shetland are highlighting the serious financial pressure Shetland’s community halls are under following changes to the Scottish Government’s Water & Sewerage Exemption Scheme. Mr Scott will question the Government in Parliament this Thursday on whether it carried out an Islands Impact Assessment prior to the changes.

Under the previous scheme community halls were exempt from all charges but with the end of transition measures following a review in 2015, and with changes to the way charges are calculated, some community halls holding a permanent alcohol licence are now liable to pay water and sewerage charges of almost £2,000.

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Islanders urged to take part in consultation on 4G "notspots"

Shetland MSP Tavish Scott is calling on islanders fed up with poor mobile coverage to take part in a Scottish consultation on 4G "notspots".

The Government is consulting on 100 potential sites to be included in a programme to deploy 4G to areas without any mobile network coverage. There are 2 potential sites identified in Shetland, one in Foula and one on the Westside, and members of the public are invited to provide evidence of other notspots for consideration.

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Scott on FOI action plan

Commenting on the publication of the Scottish Government’s action plan to improve its FOI performance, Shetland MSP Tavish Scott said:

“The question journalists and MSPs want answered is whether our requests for information will be fairly dealt with in the future.

“The SNP do not like answering difficult questions so time and time again, MSPs have to resort to FoI as obfuscation is taken to new levels by our government. We then found that SNP political advisors, paid for by the taxpayer, were neutering these answers.

“All this must be swept away. That will be the acid test of whether this Action Plan works. Perhaps we should all begin by using FoI to discover what we can about the process leading up to the publication of the Action Plan.”

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Scott contacts Scottish Ministers over "unacceptable" freight delays

Salmon worth £1 million was left in Lerwick, rather than being shipped south yesterday (Tuesday). Following Wednesday's meeting of hauliers, the seafood sector and Serco Northlink, which Shetland MSP Tavish Scott attended, he is arranging to speak with Transport Secretary, Michael Matheson. 

The Stewart Building Transport Group want extra freight capacity introduced immediately otherwise salmon and whitefish will continue to be left in Lerwick rather than shipped south. This is despite the best efforts of Northlink whose work was praised by the industry today. 

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“Decommissioning News Good for Shetland” say Scott and Carmichael

Tavish Scott MSP and Alistair Carmichael MP have welcomed the announcement that more decommissioning work will be coming to Shetland as contracts are announced by Veolia Peterson and Allseas. 

They have also welcomed the release of a Scottish Government study that has identified Dales Voe as the ideal location for the UK’s first Ultra-Deep port for dismantling oil and gas installations.

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FM refuses to confirm she would respect will of parliament over P1 testing

Shetland MSP and Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Tavish Scott has today condemned comments from the First Minister suggesting that if the Scottish Parliament voted for the abolition of national tests for P1s she may not respect the results of the vote.

Speaking in response to a question from Tavish at First Minister's Questions asking whether the Government would respect a parliamentary vote to scrap the tests, Nicola Sturgeon said: "We'll continue to make the case for what we are doing."

 

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