News - Naidheachdan

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has hailed the announcement that funding for the “transformational” Stornoway Deep Water Terminal project has been secured. 

Earlier today, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing confirmed £49 million worth of investment from a number of partners to strengthen transport links and support a range of diverse industries in the Western Isles. 

The project includes a facility for berthing for cruise ships up to 350 metres long, a new deep water berth to cater for larger cargo vessels, and a freight ferry berth; berthing and unloading facilities for renewable energy components and development land for a range of uses such as industrial processes and decommissioning.

A deep-water port is a crucial part of Stornoway Port Authority’s ambitious 20-year masterplan and more than 200 jobs will be created through the development of the terminal.

Alasdair Allan commented: 

“This is a project that will create economic growth for the islands for years to come and I am delighted with today’s announcement of significant investment. 

“I first met with the Cabinet Secretary about the Port Authority’s plans back in 2017, and he - and the Scottish Government - quickly appreciated how important these proposals could be.

“I would like to pay tribute to the tremendous amount of work the Port Authority have put into this development, as well as the work of other partners such as HIE, the Comhairle and the Scottish Government. 

“This project will mean that Stornoway is well-placed to take advantage of a diverse range of economic opportunities and bring in much-needed jobs. I look forward to seeing the terminal take shape over the course of next year.”

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has called on the UK Government not to sell out Scotland’s fishing industry as talks for leaving the transition period with the European Union enter their final phase.

Alasdair Allan commented:

“The Tories sold out Scottish fishermen on our way into the European Union and with the transition period set to end within weeks there is a real fear history is about to repeat itself.

“Scotland’s fishing industry supports millions of pounds worth of economic activity, not least in coastal communities like the Western Isles where it provides hundreds of vital jobs. It deserves better than to be used as a bargaining chip in negotiations with the EU.

“We have seen during the pandemic just how crucial the export market to the EU is, and just how much of an impact disruptions to this can have on jobs locally. Westminster needs to do right by Scotland’s fishing industry and ensure our fishermen get a fair deal while continuing their access to European markets.

“Unlike the Tories, the SNP will always stand up for Scotland’s fishing sector. If Scotland had a seat at the EU top table as an independent member, Scotland’s interests would always be at the centre of any negotiations.”

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has commented on the news that BiFab, operator of the Arnish fabrication yard on the Isle of Lewis, has today entered administration.

BiFab had been put into difficulty in recent months after missing out on a contract to manufacture jackets for the Seagreen offshore wind farm in September, and having an existing bid to manufacture jackets for the Neart na Gaoithe offshore wind farm project collapse.

The islands MSP raised the issues at Arnish and BiFab in a speech to the Scottish Parliament last night.

Alasdair Allan MSP commented:

“It is frustrating to see BiFab again fall into administration.

“The promise of inward investment and contracts when BiFab was taken over has been followed by a lack of corporate investment. It is ultimately the responsibility of JV Driver, as the majority shareholder, to provide that investment.

“There is no legal route for the Scottish Government or the UK Government to provide further financial support to BiFab in the absence of a shareholder guarantee and investment from the majority shareholder.

“The focus now has to be on securing a future for the yard. I will be pressing the Scottish Government, as I did yesterday in Parliament, to ensure all options are kept open so that Arnish can be the integral part of our green recovery that it deserves to be.”

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has welcomed the announcement that every primary school pupil in the Western Isles will be eligible for free school meals, all year around, if the SNP is re-elected in May.

Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, set out this latest step in the drive to tackle child poverty and make Scotland the first nation in the UK to offer universal free primary school meals at the SNP annual conference this weekend.

The SNP previously extended eligibility for a free school lunch to all P1 to P3 pupils while P4 to P7 pupils are eligible based on a range of income and benefits criteria.

Now, in the face of predictions that Westminster cuts will drive child poverty rates even higher, the expansion - estimated to cost around £230 million per year in additional expenditure - will introduce a free year-round breakfast and lunch for all primary school pupils from August 2022.

Alasdair Allan MSP commented:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has put real financial pressure on families, and it’s right that the Scottish Government ensured that children in the islands would continue to receive free school meals over the holidays.

“But we should not stop there. If the SNP is re-elected in May, every single primary school pupil in the Western Isles will be eligible for free breakfast and lunch, all year round.

“And unlike the Tories, we didn’t have to be publicly shamed and condemned into choosing to feed hungry children – that is the basic duty of any government.

“This ambitious expansion of the free school meals scheme is the next step in our battle to stop the Tories forcing more and more kids into poverty, support families, and make Scotland the best place to grow up.

“That progressive vision, underpinned by human rights, equality and wellbeing, is exactly why people in Scotland continue to put their faith in the SNP.”

ISLANDERS SHELLING OUT ADDITIONAL £1.6 MILLION PER YEAR

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has highlighted the unfair delivery charges islanders continue to face after a report revealed the scale of the problem across Scotland.

A report by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) found Scots were being left out of pocket to the tune of millions of pounds, with delivery surcharges to households in the Western Isles amounting to £1,632,000 on top of what they had already bought.

Across Scotland, more than £43.1 million extra is spent by online shoppers on delivery charges - an increase of £6.7 million in the past three years.

The charges have created a postcode lottery for many, with rural communities often charged more than other areas.

Alasdair Allan MSP commented:

“It is frustrating that the Western Isles continues to be one of the worse affected areas of Scotland when it comes to unfair delivery charges.

“Despite efforts from MSPs and Scottish Government initiatives like the fairdeliveries.scot website, consumers in rural and island areas face substantial additional charges relative to the rest of the UK.

“Islanders rely online shopping for items that cannot easily be obtained locally, and the charges they face can often seem arbitrary and unjustified.

"Now, more than ever, delivery charges across the UK should be fair and transparent, and people should have the information they need to make informed choices.”

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan is urging constituents to be cautious when shopping online for electrical products in the run up to Christmas.

Concerns around COVID-19 have led many people to do more of their shopping online. Consumer safety charity Electrical Safety First has carried out some research for Electrical Safety Week (23rd-29th November) which shows that three out of five consumers in Scotland will be shopping on online marketplaces this Christmas.

But the charity is warning shoppers that they need to be aware of risks. Multiple investigations by Electrical Safety First have found dangerous electrical products, which present a serious fire risk, can easily be bought from third party sellers via online marketplaces.

Now Alasdair Allan, as part of his support for Electrical Fire Safety Week, is helping the charity raise awareness of this risk in the run up to the Christmas shopping period.

Alasdair Allan MSP commented:

“Electrical Safety First’s research has shown that almost 60% of us in Scotland will buy from online marketplaces this Christmas. And 58% are planning to use these websites more than usual.

“This seems to be partly because some people believe these websites are a safer way of shopping than going to local shops during the pandemic. But this confidence is not supported by the charity’s investigations, which have repeatedly found unsafe electricals for sale online, including on Amazon Marketplace, eBay and Wish.com.

“Electrical Safety First’s research indicates that over 20% are planning to buy an electrical item as a gift this Christmas – yet it has previously found that in the UK three out of five fake electricals are purchased online, with a third of buyers experiencing major problems with the item.

“I am joining with Electrical Safety First to urge my constituents to reduce their chances of buying dangerous electricals by sticking to the stores or websites of known manufacturers and retailers and to beware of buying from third party sellers on these platforms. We all love a bargain and Christmas is always expensive, but with nearly three-quarters of house fires in Scotland caused by electricity - and most arising from electrical products - this is a risk you don’t want to take.”

For more advice on how to shop safe this Christmas visit: www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/spotthefake

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