Welcome to my blog. I hope to keep you updated on what has been happening in Dundee City West and in the Scottish Parliament. I will also provide regular updates on the 2021 Holyrood election campaign.
If you have any queries, or require my assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Register to Vote and Sign Up for a Postal Vote:
As the Scottish Parliament election in May fast approaches, make sure that you have registered to vote at your current address. You can register at: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
With all of the uncertainty around Covid at the moment, lots of people are signing up for a postal vote. You can download a form to send to the Electoral Registration Office at: https://www.snp.org/postal-vote/
Thanks to everyone continuing to follow lockdown restrictions, Dundee’s case numbers have fallen since the new year. On 8th January, Dundee had 375.7 case per 100,000 people with a test positivity rate of 12.9%. This had fallen to 47.5 cases per 100,000 people with a positivity rate of 3.2% by 16th February.
This shows that restrictions have successfully slowed transmission of the virus. The First Minister confirmed this week that the Scottish Government will soon be in a position to publish a revised strategic framework, which will set out in much more detail when and how we might gradually emerge from the lockdown.
Thanks to the incredible work of everyone involved in the vaccine rollout, we remain on schedule to meet all targets. I am extremely grateful to all the staff and also to those of you who have rolled up their sleeve in large numbers so far.
As at 8:30am on Friday 19 February:
1,386,152 people have received the first dose of the Covid vaccination and 29,015 have received their second dose.
- 30,670 care home residents (exceeding the initial target for residents in older adult care homes and 96% of residents in all care homes).
- 41,753 care home staff (93% of staff in older adult care homes and 80% of staff in all care homes).
- 287,800 frontline health and social care workers exceeding the initial target provided by Health Boards.
- 151,046 people who are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (84% of those on the shielding list).
Latest progress for each age group on first doses shows we have vaccinated:
- 273,063 people aged 80 or over (exceeding estimated population based on the latest mid-2019 population estimates)
- 205,981 people aged 75-79 (exceeding estimated population)
- 261,681 people aged 70-74 (94%)
- 220,470 people aged 65-69 (74%)
Phased School Return
The successful slowing of virus transmission has also meant that our youngest pupils can return to the classroom from Monday 22nd February.
The Scottish Government hope that further detail on the next phase of school return could be provided on 2 March.
Whilst the majority of primary and secondary school pupils will continue with remote learning until at least mid-March, I am sure you will agree that this is an encouraging step in the right direction.
As part of the move, The Scottish Government announced a package of support and safety steps including:
- A further £40 million to help councils implement safety mitigations aligned with clinical advice
- £60m of additional investment in education recovery, including employing more teachers, classroom support staff and facilities management
- Twice weekly at-home testing to be offered to people who work in schools, early learning and childcare settings attached to schools, and senior phase pupils. Comprehensive testing guidance has been issued to schools and local authorities, and by the start of this week, more than 2,200 schools had received test kits, with deliveries to remaining schools continuing throughout the rest of this week. The programme will be expanded to stand alone childcare settings as soon as possible thereafter
- All secondary pupils will be required to observe two metre physical distancing while in school and on school transport in the period immediately after the return. This is in addition to existing measures including the use of face coverings
Funding to Tackle Poverty and Inequality
A package of measures worth £37.2 million has been announced to tackle poverty and inequality, in this financial year.
The funding, confirmed in a Statement to Parliament by the Finance Secretary this week, will support the delivery of two key investments for 2020-2021:
- A further £100 COVID Hardship Payment for qualifying low income families whose children receive free meals in schools and early learning and childcare settings
- Additional funding of £20 million for councils to tackle financial insecurity at a local level, making almost £47 million available for this priority
More information is available here.
Council Tax Freeze
Last month, Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes, announced a £90 million fund to compensate local authorities who choose to scrap planned rises in Council Tax.
We all know the financial impact that this global pandemic has had in Dundee and beyond. So it is great news that this SNP Government has sought to provide relief to households by supporting local authorities to freeze increases in Council Tax for the coming year.
Non-domestic Rates Relief Extended
Retail, tourism, hospitality and aviation businesses will pay no rates during 2021-22 under proposals outlined this week. It is one of a series of measures proposed by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes following confirmation of a further £1.1 billion of consequential funding arising from UK Government coronavirus (COVID-19) spending.
More information is available here.
Western Gateway Community Engagement
I recently met virtually with representatives of the Western Gateway Community group to discuss several issues that have arisen in the area.
I wrote to Planning Officers at Dundee City Council regarding the redevelopment of the Swallow Roundabout and have met virtually with the Executive Director of City Development at the Council. Today, I met with Springfield (developer) to discuss their plans for the redevelopment of the junction. I will continue to provide updates on this matter.
I am also in contact with the Council regarding glass recycling at Western Gateway. I have been informed that officers visited the area this week to identify two potential sites for glass bins. The Council will now need to enter discussions with landowners with a view to installing larger units to cater for the potential volumes of glass.
I am awaiting a response from Royal Mail regarding post boxes in the area. Additionally, I have met with Xplore to discuss connecting Western Gateway via new bus routes.
Concerns were also raised about the winter maintenance plans for some roads in the area. The specific area highlighted is the responsibility of Springfield. Following contact with the Chief Executive of Springfield, a commitment was made to grit the most problematic areas and ensure that grit bins are regularly filled.
21 polls in a row have shown that a majority of Scots now support Scottish independence. The most recent poll put support for independence at 53% among those expressing an opinion.
The same poll found a majority of people would vote SNP in the Scottish Parliament elections, with support for the SNP at 54% in the constituency ballot and 43% in the regional ballot.
In 2016, the SNP increased its constituency vote, but we lost our majority and ended up with fewer pro-independence seats. It was the list vote that got the SNP over the majority line in 2011. Scotland’s future is in your hands. Make it #BothVotesSNP for #IndyRef2.
The below video explains why it crucial to cast #BothVotesSNP if you support an independent Scotland.
That’s all for this week. As ever, if you have any queries or if I can help with anything, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via email@example.com, or you can message me on Facebook at: facebook.com/JoeFitzPatrickSNP
Yours for Scotland,
Joe FitzPatrick MSP (Dundee City West Constituency)
a: 37 Dock Street, Dundee, DD1 3DR
t: 01382 843244