Audit Scotland has released a damning report into the way the Scottish Government processed CAP payments for farmers.Read the full story ›
The Scottish people are fed up of politicians bickering when they should be working together, the Secretary of State will say today.Read the full story ›
Environment Minister Aileen McLeod has visited Selkirk to announce a £235m action plan to protect properties across Scotland from flooding.Read the full story ›
The construction of a £25 million Dalbeattie Learning Campus has moved a step closer.
Funding for the scheme had been held up because of a European ruling, but the Scottish Government says that has now been resolved.
The building of a new £21.4 million school in Kelso has been given the go-ahead, and is expected to begin in early 2016.
Kelso High School will be built at Nethershot on Angraflat Road.
The project had stalled because of a European ruling, which affected ten schools and two health centres across the country.
But the Scottish Government now says that has been resolved.
I am pleased that the issues which have held back the new Kelso High School have finally been settled.
It has been a frustrating period for everyone associated with the school including the wider community, and the people of Kelso should be thanked for their patience during this time.
The new school will include grass and synthetic sports pitches and community facilities, which will provide health and educational benefits for not just generations of schoolchildren but the whole town.”
Growing genetically modified crops is to be banned in Scotland, the Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead has announced.
Mr Lochhead has confirmed that the Scottish Government intends to take advantage of new EU rules allowing countries to opt out of growing EU-authorised GM crops.
The Scottish Government will shortly submit a request that Scotland is excluded from any European consents for the cultivation of GM crops, including the variety of genetically modified maize already approved and six other GM crops that are awaiting authorisation.
The Cabinet Secretary said:
“Scotland is known around the world for our beautiful natural environment - and banning growing genetically modified crops will protect and further enhance our clean, green status. “There is no evidence of significant demand for GM products by Scottish consumers and I am concerned that allowing GM crops to be grown in Scotland would damage our clean and green brand, thereby gambling with the future of our £14 billion food and drink sector. “Scottish food and drink is valued at home and abroad for its natural, high quality which often attracts a premium price, and I have heard directly from food and drink producers in other countries that are ditching GM because of a consumer backlash. “That is why I strongly support the continued application of the precautionary principle in relation to GM crops and intend to take full advantage of the flexibility allowed under these new EU rules to ban GM crops from being grown in Scotland. “The Scottish Government has long-standing concerns about GM crops - concerns that are shared by other European countries and consumers, and which should not be dismissed lightly. “I firmly believe that GM policy in Scotland should be guided by what's best for our economy and our own agricultural sector rather than the priorities of others. I recently kicked off a national discussion on the future of Scottish agriculture, and welcome views from all sides of the GM debate.”
Scott Walker, NFU Scotland Chief Executive commented:
“We are disappointed that the Scottish Government has decided that no GM crops should ever be grown in Scotland. Other countries are embracing biotechnology where appropriate and we should be open to doing the same here in Scotland.
“Decisions should be taken on the individual merits of each variety, based on science and determined by whether the variety will deliver overall benefit. These crops could have a role in shaping sustainable agriculture at some point and at the same time protecting the environment which we all cherish in Scotland.
“What we want is an open debate that then allows decisions to be taken from an informed position reflecting current technology.”
Figures obtained by Scottish Labour suggest Police officers have lost 53,000 working days due to stress in the past 2 years in Scotland.
Dumfriesshire MSP Elaine Murray used a Freedom of Information Request to obtain the figures, after a former Police Officer raised concerns about the issue.
The figures show that 10,000 days were taken off due to stress-related conditions between January and March this year.
Elaine Murray is calling on the Scottish Government to take action:
If it isn't working properly 2 years in, we need to have a look at it, and there is a body of opinion now which is saying things are not working as well as they should be, the culture within Police Scotland is not as it should be, there are also significant budget cuts, more to come, there have been serious budget cuts and there is more to come which I know officers are worried about. The government needs to take responsibility for its legislation and needs to look at this.
Deputy Chief Constable Rose Fitzpatrick said:
During the first two years of Police Scotland, the total number of days lost through stress-related absence have fallen year on year by more than 17,000. Police Scotland, which has almost 23,000 people who work for the service and in common with any other large organisation, recognises that stress can be a factor in absence rates amongst personnel.
We work hard to ensure that having come through the most significant public sector reform of recent generations, absence and the causes of it are closely monitored and managed to ensure attendance at work is maintained and the level of service to communities is not adversely affected. All of our staff and officers have access to a wide range of support, guidance and welfare services.
We have recently carried out a major staff survey and will continue to work with our personnel at all levels to address issues which arise from it following careful analysis of the results.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said:
The Scottish Police Authority and Police Scotland take the welfare and wellbeing of their officers and staff seriously and provide a range of support service to help officers and staff in what can be a stressful job.
The recording and management of sickness absence for police officers and staff is a matter for the SPA and Police Scotland. Sickness absence is reported to the SPA Board regularly, with papers published on the SPA website.
It is not appropriate to prejudge the results of the on-going, live PIRC investigation or the HMICS review. It is very important both independent enquiries are now allowed to conclude so that all the facts are established and any issues can be clearly identified and promptly remedied.
A local MSP is urging the Scottish Government to ensure a buyer is found for a Borders textile mill.Read the full story ›
Landowners have hit out at plans to scrap tax breaks for shooting estates in Scotland, saying they could cost rural jobs.Read the full story ›