Newsletter of Rob Gibson, MSP for the Highlands & Islands (SNP


Published Spring 2010 there is still much to do before another Parliamentary term ends in 2011. 2010 promises real progress with a great deal on the Parliament’s agenda including crofting reform, protecting tenants rights, increasing affordable housing, tackling Scotland’s unhealthy relationship with alcohol and debating a new patients’ rights bill. As a member of the Transport, Infrastructure & Climate Change Committee and Deputy Convener of the Economy, Energy & Tourism Committee I focus on promoting green jobs and development in the Highlands & Islands in order to help Scotland realise its renewables potential and work towards delivering the ambitious targets set last year in Scotland’s world-leading Climate Change Act. I work for you., so if there is an issue I can help you with please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’m honoured to represent the Highlands & Islands and will go forward in 2010 with the same level of commitment and enthusiasm that I've delivered for the past 6 years. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy reading about some of the things I’ve done over the past year. Yours sincerely,

THANK YOU for taking the time to read about my work as one of your MSPs over the past year. It’s been a busy 12 months and

Fair services in hard times
THE Scottish Government budget was passed earlier this year. Finance Secretary John Swinney included a review group to inform the public and Parliament about the effect of expected budget cuts by around £1 billion (3.6%) each year in real terms from 2011 through 2014. The most significant reductions are expected next year. Pentalina and Councils and all other public services Rob sails on thethe services of subsidised and often compares will be hit. These forecasts of falls in pub- unsubsidised ferry operators lic spending will hit ferry services, health spending and other services. All parts of the country will feel the pinch. That's why a wide debate is needed to maintain the quality of public services which the Parliament agreed. Undue fears are expressed that Northlink services will be unfairly hit. Orcadians know that choices are available and every community across the land will have similar concerns. Rob has been leading calls for full local local consultations of all services to compliment the review for Mr Swinney. Rob needs to hear your views loud and clear, so please contact him using any of the details below. Left: View from Stromness Hotel, Hamnavoe getting ready to sail.

News in brief
• Highlighted Orkney’s archaeological treasure trove after 5,000yr-old Neolithic figure was found on Westray • Visited European Parliament as part of EET Committee’s Energy Inquiry • Met with European Languages Commissioner to promote the Scots Leid • Lobbied Enterprise Minister for better broadband in Orkney and islands • Pressed MoD to take responsibility for destroying Laxford Bridge • Lodged motion for CEC to announce Pentland leases locally • Attended Caithness Transport Forum • Opened Far North Beef Event, Lairg • Questioned BBC’s Robert Peston in EET Committee’s Banking Inquiry • Opened Taste of Tain Festival • Welcomed upgrades to 71 rural broadband exchanges • Lobbied HIE and Scottish Government over Dornoch Abattoir closure • Backed Beauly-Denny decision • Continuing to press for fair transmission charging for renewable energy created in Scotland • Enjoying the Year of Orkney Dialect

Email: Blog: Wick A: 4 Grant Street, Wick, Caithness, KW1 5AY Wick T: 01955 605 016 Parliament A: The Scottish Parliament, Room M4.06, Edinburgh, EH99 1SP Parliament T: 0131 348 5726

EET Committee Visits Bank of England
IN February, members of the Parliament’s Economy Committee met with the Bank of England Governor Mervyn King at his historic Head Quarters in London to discuss the Committee’s Financial Services inquiry The Committee has published its report on the need for future bankFrom left: Chris Harvie MSP, Con- ing to serve local busiIt can be vener Iain Smith MSP, Wendy Alex- nesses. ander MSP and Rob, the Deputy Con- viewed on the Scottish Parliament website. vener, on Threadneedle Street.

75th Anniversary of Airmail Service

It’s time for a festival of island cultures
ROB paid tribute to the growing support for a 2011 festival of island cultures in a motion to the Scottish Parliament last May. In it he highlighted the work of Orkney Council in promoting the importance of the islands to Scotland’s economy, sustainable growth, environment and cultural diversity. Such a natural develEnjoying the Orkney Folk Festival opment would attract more visitors, investments and improve transport links. In the motion Rob also praised the work of the Scottish Islands Federation through the European Small Islands Network and called for the European Union to inaugurate a European year of islands.

ON 29 May 2009, 75 years after the launch of the UK’s first internal Royal Mail airmail service, Rob watched pilots take to the skies in vintage Dragon aircraft to recreate

the historic flight between Inverness and Kirkwall, which for the first time carried airmail to the islands from the mainland, remaining a vital link for island communities today.

Balfour aims for best practice
ON a visit to discuss local health issues at Balfour Hospital with NHS Orkney Chair John Ross Scott, Rob was shown the vital hand washing process that is key to cutting hospital-acquired infections. ROB DEALS with hundreds of constituency cases each year, and during the last 12 months the top 5 issues raised by concerned constituents have been:
• • • • •

In the Constituency
THE HIGHLANDS & ISLANDS enjoy some of the most beautiful landscapes in Scotland. Equally, the Highlands & Islands is the largest Parliamentary region in Scotland, constituting over 40,000sq km - roughly the same size as Belgium! Rob spends a majority of his time travelling throughout the north in order to meet with constituents, community groups and local businesses. When not travelling around the constituency, Rob spends 3 days each week in Parliament raising his constituents’ concerns in Committees, in debates, with Ministers and with fellow MSPs across parties.

Local Issues eg. broadband Environment & Energy Jobs & Economy Education eg. school buildings Health

We’re keen on being green!
Did you know that more than one-third of the direct mail each household receives in Scotland is thrown away before ever being read?

Intangible cultural heritage

Rob hails Kirkwall’s Nordic Studies Centre
ROB had the pleasure of visiting Kiln Corner, home to UHI’s new expanded Nordic Studies centre in Kirkwall. Rob has since lodged a motion in the Parliament welcoming the dynamic role the centre plays in promoting and preserving all the indigenous cultures of the Highlands & Islands by including Norse, Scots and Gaelic in its courses, which include the rich literature of Orkney.

ICH in Scotland Manager Alison McCleery (left) and Joanne Orr, CEO of Museums Galleries Scotland, in Parliament

EDINBURGH Napier Scotland. At a recent University is leading a Parliamentary briefing, With the Centre’s Director Dr Donna project on Intangible Cul- Rob took the opportunity Heddle reviewing a rare Norse text tural Heritage in Scotland, to highlight the famous documenting current Kirkwall Ba’ Game, practices of traditions in played since the 1800s. Rob joins in honour to WW2 Arctic Convoys Scot SINCE he successfully lobbied Historic Scotland to augment the Scara Brae timeline on Gagarin Day 2008, Rob has worked to develop Russian links with Orkney. With Orkney Island Council well-engaged, further trade links are now being forged with Ugra, Siberia’s oil & gas province, showing Rob (in kilt & green bonnet) joined the official party last August “Erected in honour of all who that mutual respect with old allies helps to at the unveiling of the WW2 Arctic Convoys memorial at Lyness, sailed from Scapa Flow on the open new trade doors Hoy where OIC Vice Convener James Stockan addresses 300 Artic Convoys. Their sacrifice islanders and their Russian guests before the memorial’s unveiling. was made for our freedom.” today.

In the Parliament

• UHI introduced their new Principal and

A COMMON request many MSPs get is to host an event in the Scottish Parliament. • CifalFindhorn, Royal Mail, UNITAR and Businesses, organisations and individuals use others celebrated the new ‘Hydrogen this as an opportunity to meet with MSPs and Corridor’ from Aberdeen to Peterhead. other guests in order to raise areas of interest, opportunity or concern as well as to raise • The Environment Secretary joined Rob for Scotland Food & Drink’s to kick off the profile of their activities. to their annual Fortnight. This kind of networking often results in new opportunities for projects and partner- • A delegation of female Congolese acships which they might not have thought pos- tivists discussed the DRC crisis & imsible before the event. Rob has hosted a portance of empowering women. wide of range of events throughout his 6 • Albyn Housing profiled their work in years in Parliament. Some that have been the Highlands providing quality, affordheld over the past 12 months include: able housing to thousands.

future plans to MSPs, the Education Secretary and guests in February.

2009 in Numbers 85 Parliamentary Questions 74 Committee Meetings 72 Journeys to Parliament 53 Motions Lodged 38 Chamber Debates 10 Events Hosted 9 Cross Party Group

If you’d like to subscribe electronically to Holyrood Matters, just let us know using any of the details overleaf.

Thanks for doing your bit!

Rob nominated Green Politician of the Year
to demonstrate the urgent action needed to reduce green house gases and step up renewable energy production. At the end of the year, Rob was delighted to earn a nomination as 2009 Politician of the Year at the Green Energy Awards—a big honour. Rob is now enjoying a new year of championing the wealth of green resources and expertise within the Highlands & Islands— the renewables capital of not just Scotland, but potentially the whole of Europe. IT’S been a busy year for Rob. As well as his work on the Climate Change Committee, which helped create Scotland’s world-leading Climate Change Act, Rob has taken every opportunity to press the need for environmental awareness, conservation and forward-thinking in legislation, national and community projects, infrastructure developments and in the economy. In December, Rob represented the Scottish Parliament at the global climate change summit in Copenhagen. There, he met with representatives from countries such as Argentina and Sweden to explain the measures Scotland has put in place Pictured (from top left, clockwise): At the Climate Leaders Summit in Copenhagen; With a VIBES winner, Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham and SEPA Chairman David Sigsworth while hosting the Vision in Business for the Environment Awards (VIBES) in Parliament; With EU policy expert Dr Aileen McLeod on one of Rob’s visits to Stromness’ EMEC to see developments in marine renewables; On ferry from Lyness where the WW2 quays are due for major upgrade, thanks to ERDF funding, to launch wave power machines into the Pentland Firth.

Orkney, Scrabster, Wick and Nigg can all share in the clean energy revolution
A clean energy revolution can create new jobs across the north, but needs to be backed up by serious funding to help put in place the infrastructure — in Scapa Flow, at Scrabster Harbour on the Pentland Firth and at Nigg — needed to realise the north’s potential. A fully functioning Nigg yard could build & service offshore structures, creating jobs and capacity for the north. Rob has been fighting for its revival since first taking office in 2003 and has been pressing Highland Council to stick to its policy of compulsory purchase.

Email: Blog: Wick A: 4 Grant Street, Wick, Caithness, KW1 5AY Wick T: 01955 605 016 Parliament A: The Scottish Parliament, Room M4.06, Edinburgh, EH99 1SP Parliament T: 0131 348 5726
The costs of this publication have been met out of Parliamentary resources. The Scottish Parliament is not responsible for the content of external websites.