Wednesday, 25 October 2006

Dogs dirt, glass and crumbling pavillions

Whilst out walking at the Double Hedges park in Edinburgh a few months ago I got chatting to the coach of the local youth football team. He told me of the lack of decent changing facilities at the park. Since then there have been articles in the Edinburgh Evening News highlighting the absolutely abysmal state some of our pitches are in.
Reports from coaches of teams across Edinburgh showed that their primary concern on a Saturday or Sunday morning is the removal of Dog's dirt and broken glass from the pitches the children are supposed to play on. Then there's the ramshackle state of the changing facilities at these parks. It's just not good enough to expect children to change in these facilities. What with Scotland's poor health record, including increasing obesity we should be doing everything in our power to make physical activity and sport as pleasurable as possible for our youngsters.
I fully support moves by the Coaches of the youth teams in Edinburgh to try and remedy this situation - I've submitted two motions and two questions to the Scottish Parliament (below) and will be going along to a meeting they've organised on the 5th November. I'll post an update later.


S2M-4956 Colin Fox (Lothians) (SSP) : Need for Investment in Football Facilities— That the Parliament congratulates the national football team for its excellent start to the Euro 2008 qualifiers, notwithstanding the defeat in Kiev, and wishes the squad all the best in the remaining matches; believes that youth development provides the lifeblood for future success at club and international level but observes that much of our sporting facilities at local level across Scotland are in an awful state of disrepair, as most recently highlighted in Edinburgh; recognises the vital contribution which volunteers, who give up their time to run thousands of clubs across Scotland, make to the success of football in Scotland but notes the dispiriting environment in which they often find themselves working in pavilions, changing rooms and other facilities which are not up to scratch, and believes that the Scottish Executive must recognise the vital role that youth football plays and, for the future of the game, must invest in new or renovated facilities to sustain football at all stages from soccer sevens through to professional level.

Supported by: Ms Rosemary Byrne, Frances Curran, Carolyn Leckie, Mr Kenny MacAskill, Tommy Sheridan, John Swinburne

Lodged on 16 October 2006; current 16 October 2006

S2M-4954 Colin Fox (Lothians) (SSP) : Upgrading Edinburgh Sports Pavilions— That the Parliament welcomes the campaigning initiative of Hutchison Vale FC young footballers for increased funding for Edinburgh sports pavilions; notes that the City of Edinburgh Council has earmarked £4 million to replace three crumbling pavilions; recognises that more major investment is required to ensure that this is no longer seen as a “Cinderella service”, and believes that, at a time when it is vitally important that young people are encouraged to take up competitive sport, it is unacceptable that changing facilities are squalid and not fit for purpose.

Supported by: Fiona Hyslop, Tommy Sheridan

Lodged on 13 October 2006; current
S2W-29027 - Colin Fox (Lothians) (SSP) (Date Lodged 11 October 2006) : To ask the Scottish Executive when and by whom the city of Edinburgh’s sports pavilions were last audited to ensure that they are fit for purpose.
Due for Answer 8 November 2006
Answered by Patricia Ferguson (7 November 2006):
This is a matter for the owners of the sports pavilions. Sportscotland provided support to the City of Edinburgh Council in the preparation of the Council’s Sports Pitch Strategy, which was completed in 2002 and part of this work considered the condition of the associated sports pavilions. Information on the condition of the sports pavilions should be obtained from the City of Edinburgh Council or the relevant pavilion owners direct.
S2W-29085 - Colin Fox (Lothians) (SSP) (Date Lodged 16 October 2006) : To ask the Scottish Executive how much funding it will make available for the renovation and upgrading of changing facilities and pavilions for sporting use at public parks in each of the next three years.
Due for Answer 13 November 2006
Answered by Patricia Ferguson (10 November 2006):
Local authorities need to take a strategic overview of the range and location of sports facilities its communities require before considering funding packages for renovating or upgrading pavilions or changing facilities. Where facilities are in private ownership a needs assessment should be prepared and discussed with the sports governing body and the local authority. Sportscotland’s Building for Sport programme can support the re-development of changing facilities and pavilions. However, it is for the board of sportscotland to determine which applications are supported and the level of any contribution.

Tuesday, 24 October 2006

S2M-4942 Colin Fox (Lothians) (SSP) : Lothian alliance against depression: anti-stigma campaign

That the Parliament recognises that, partially because of the stigma surrounding mental illness, as many as 75% of people suffering from depression do not seek help from their GP; therefore welcomes the launch of the “Mother, father, son, daughter” anti-stigma campaign by Lothian Alliance Against Depression, and congratulates Depression Alliance Scotland, the University of Edinburgh and NHS Lothian for the initiative.
Supported by: Chris Ballance, Mark Ballard, Bill Butler, Ms Rosemary Byrne, Frances Curran, Robin Harper, Rosie Kane, Carolyn Leckie, Tommy Sheridan, Murray Tosh, Mr David Davidson, Nora Radcliffe, Eleanor Scott, Margaret Smith, John Swinburne, Fiona Hyslop, Mr Adam Ingram, Mrs Nanette Milne, Trish Godman

Lodged on 11 October 2006

SSP campaigns against nuclear power

The SSP has a proud record of opposing nuclear weapons at Faslane as well as the more recent threat of nuclear power stations - Lothians SSP members and myself spent the summer on the streets of Edinburgh calling for more renewables as opposed to nuclear.
I've used my position in the Scottish Parliament to highlight the hypocrisy of the outcry by nuclear powers against recent tests by North Korea. More nuclear weapons in the world are surely a bad thing - they don't just hold their own destructive power but are also economically destructive. The billions of pounds it will cost to replace Trident could be better used increasing pensions or building schools and hospitals or introducing a decent minimum wage.

Parliamentary motion
S2M-4946 Colin Fox (Lothians) (SSP) : North Korean Nuclear Missiles and Non-Proliferation— That the Parliament believes the test firing of a nuclear weapon by the North Korean Government represents a severe blow to the world’s nuclear non-proliferation programme; notes that this test now takes the number of countries with nuclear weapons to nine: Russia with 16,000 weapons, the United States of America with 10,300 weapons, China with 410 weapons, France with 350 weapons, the United Kingdom with 200 weapons, India with 100 weapons, Israel with 100 weapons, Pakistan with 100 weapons and North Korea with 13 weapons; also notes that this test could accelerate similar test programmes underway in Iran, Japan, Brazil and South Korea; believes that the recent sabre-rattling by George Bush against North Korea and the presence of 37,000 US troops amassed on its border stoked fears in Pyongyang of another US invasion and, therefore, inexorably propelled their weapons testing programme; calls for greater understanding of North Korea and greater engagement with this enigmatic regime and the pressing needs of its people, and calls for the UK Government to press the case for all nine countries with nuclear weapons to sign up to, and honour, the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty.
Lodged on 12 October 2006

S2M-4947 Colin Fox (Lothians) (SSP) : Strike by passport workers

That the Parliament supports the 24-hour strike by Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) members at passport offices across Britain, including the one in Glasgow, on Friday 13 October, in pursuit of a 4.4% wage claim; regrets both the unfortunate disruption that will caused to the general public and that the action is necessary, but believes the union is entitled to feel aggrieved that some two months after the agreed settlement date for the pay negotiations no offer has yet been made, and believes that this effective pay freeze is part of a wider attack on the public sector where workers’ pay and conditions and pension rights are being diminished and that continuous privatisation eats away at the quality of service to the public.
Supported by: Ms Rosemary Byrne, Frances Curran, Rosie Kane, Carolyn Leckie, Campbell Martin, Tommy Sheridan
Lodged on 12 October 2006

S2M-4951 Colin Fox (Lothians) (SSP) : Congratulations to Stirling tenants for rejecting stock transfer plans

That the Parliament welcomes the vote by tenants of Stirling Council to reject housing stock transfer proposals; believes that the overwhelming result of 69% to 31% represents a knock-out blow for the Scottish Executive’s flagship policy of housing stock transfer, which many consider to be privatisation by the back door, following as it does the similar vote by Edinburgh tenants last year; congratulates the “no” campaign on its ability to counteract the expensive propaganda and ultimately wasted public money spent promoting privatisation, and believes that it is now incumbent on the Executive to realise that the writing is on the wall for housing stock transfer, that tenants across Scotland reject it and demand instead to see meaningful investment in publicly owned, affordable to all, social housing for rent to ensure that everyone has a home fit for the 21st century.

Monday, 23 October 2006

2006 SSP Conference

Video footage of my speech to the SSP conference in October:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3: