ASH DENHAM DEMANDS BREXIT EXTENSION TO PROTECT CAPITAL JOBS

SNP MSP Ash Denham has called on the UK government to extend the Brexit transition period in light of coronavirus – with new analysis showing billions of pounds could be wiped from the Scottish economy.

The transition arrangements currently keep the UK close to the EU and can be extended for two years – beyond 31 December – if the UK Government asks for an extension by the end of this month.

But a new study from the Scottish Government says if an extension is not agreed, Scottish GDP could be up to 1.1% lower after two years. The cumulative loss of economic activity from leaving the EU would be up to £3 billion over those two years – on top of the devastating effects of the Coronavirus outbreak.

The paper indicates there will be further major costs from Brexit for years to come and also highlights that without an extension or having a free trade deal in place, Scotland’s agriculture, fisheries and manufacturing sectors will be especially badly hit.

Ms. Denham said:

“Coronavirus is causing enormous economic disruption and people across Edinburgh expect government to be focused on protecting public health and the Scottish economy.

“It would be an act of extraordinary recklessness for the UK government to allow us to crash out of the transition period at the end of this year.

“The SNP believe the best future for Scotland is as an independent member of the EU.

“But regardless of your opinion on Brexit or independence, it makes no sense to crash out of the European single market at precisely the moment we need stability.

“Businesses across the Capital are focused on securing their future – they simply don’t have the capacity to prepare for Brexit on top of a pandemic.

“The UK government must do the sensible thing, protect jobs in Edinburgh and extend the transition period.”

ENDS

Notes:

COVID-19: The Case for Extending the Brexit Transition Period

https://www.gov.scot/publications/covid-19-case-extending-brexit-transition-period/

DENHAM WELCOMES DECISION TO AWARD FUNDING TO LOCAL PROJECTS FOLLOWING LETTER TO COUNCILLORS

Ash Denham MSP has welcomed the decision by the City of Edinburgh Council to allocate funding to an additional 15 community projects across the Capital who had looked to have missed out following recommendations set out by council officers at the beginning of the year in the 2020/23 Communities and Families Grant to Third Parties Programme report.

The Edinburgh Eastern MSP had written to the members of the council’s Education, Children and Families Committee asking councillors not to approve the recommendations which would see the likes of the Health Opportunities Team (pictured), the Venchie Children and Young People’s Project and the Goodtrees Neighbourhood Centre miss out on vital funding.

In the letter to councillors, Ms. Denham argued that the projects recommended for funding were “not evenly spread out through the city” and were not going to the areas most in need, pointing to statistics from the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation Index showing Craigmillar and Gilmerton to be among the most impoverished parts of the Capital.

Last week, the council made the decision that those projects already recommended for funding would still receive it but in addition would split a total of £611,902 between a further 15 projects which weren’t initially successful, including 5 in Ms. Denham’s Edinburgh Eastern constituency: Craigmillar Books for Babies (£9,165), Goodtrees Neighbourhood Centre (£5,000), Health Opportunities Team (£138,264), The Ripple Project (£101,207), and the Venchie Children and Young People’s Project (£36,132).

Commenting, Ms. Denham said:

“I welcome this decision by the City of Edinburgh Council to allocate funding to a further five community projects in my constituency, which I believe in some cases would not have been able to continue without it.

“When it looked like these charities had missed out on funding, I wrote to councillors imploring them to reconsider and I am pleased that monies have now been set aside for the projects I highlighted, as well as others in my constituency.

“I and my office have worked closely with a number of these organisations and I’m relieved that they have now been given a lifeline and will be able to continue their incredible work across the constituency, which I have witnessed first hand on numerous occasions.

“However, while I am pleased to see significant resources invested in projects based in the Craigmillar and Lochend areas, I share the concerns of many groups in the Gilmerton area – including the local community council – over the challenges the Goodtrees Neighbourhood Centre will face in meeting the needs and demands of those living in Gilmerton and Liberton.

“Goodtrees has done so much for local people – not least their inspirational work in supporting the most vulnerable in our community during the lockdown – and so I ask the council to continue to engage with the Goodtrees management in order to ensure young people are heard and are supported.”

ENDS

Notes;

Funding announcement: https://democracy.edinburgh.gov.uk/documents/b16542/Version%203%20-%20Motions%20and%20Amendments%2028th-May-2020%2010.00%20Policy%20and%20Sustainability%20Committee.pdf?T=9 (Page 17)

DENHAM CALL FOR TORY MSPS TO ENSURE £70 MILLION FUNDING PLEDGES ARE HONOURED

CALL FOR TORY MSPS TO ENSURE £70 MILLION FUNDING PLEDGES ARE HONOURED

UK GOVERNMENT BACKTRACKS ON CORONAVIRUS SUPPORT FOR SCOTLAND

Edinburgh Eastern MSP, Ash Denham, has called on Scottish Conservative MSPs, including those representing the City of Edinburgh, to make the case for coronavirus funding pledges to be honoured by Boris Johnson – after the UK Government backtracked on £70 million worth of funding for business and charities in Scotland.

On 2nd May, the UK Government announced a £617 million extension to business grants, which it advised would generate £60 million of funding consequentials for Scotland under the Barnett Formula.

However, the UK Government informed the Scottish Government this week that this additional funding would not now materialise, which will cause concern for businesses and industry in the Capital.

Furthermore, last month £35 million of consequentials was earmarked to the Scottish Government in respect of charity support direct grant, but this was amended by the Treasury to £25 million at a later date.

Commenting, Ms. Denham said:

“Funding commitments from the UK Government have to be taken in good faith as we work through this pandemic, but the fact that Boris Johnson’s government has simply pulled the rug on £70 million of funding completely undermines the whole process.

“The Scottish Government committed to spending that money in the belief that the UK Government would honour its word – Tory MSPs in Edinburgh and across Scotland should urgently seek reassurance from their colleagues in the Treasury that future funding announcements will be robust and reliable enough to act upon without creating unnecessary financial risks.

“We’ve already seen the Scottish Government take action to fill gaps in UK-wide support schemes, so the last thing we need is an additional financial burden put on businesses here in the Capital because of the Treasury’s shameful decision to short-change Scotland.

“The UK government must act immediately to ensure the £70 million they promised is allocated as quickly as possible and in its entirety, so that the Scottish Government can continue to protect jobs and businesses in Edinburgh and across Scotland.”

ENDS

Notes;

Link to Scottish Government release, including letter from Kate Forbes MSP to the Treasury – https://www.gov.scot/news/covid-funding-plea/

Link to UK Government funding announcement – https://www.gov.uk/government/news/top-up-to-local-business-grant-funds-scheme

EDINBURGH EASTERN MSP CONGRATULATES CONSTITUENTS ON BEING THE FIRST TO GRADUATE FROM SFRS’S NEW FACILITY

Ash Denham MSP has welcomed the news that four trainee firefighters from her constituency have made history alongside 20 others in being the first to graduate from Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s £10.5m state-of-the-art facility in Newbridge, Edinburgh.

The four trainees from Edinburgh Eastern – Ross Brown, Donald MacAlister, Darren McGrath, and Paul Van Rietvelde – will now join crews in the city at either the Newcraighall Fire Station or Marionville Fire Station.

The recruits will continue to hone their response and technical skills under a structured three-year training programme.

Ash Denham MSP, who officially opened the SFRS training facility at Newbridge in January, said:

“In common with our other emergency services, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service can be proud of the important work they are doing to keep our communities safe during the current Covid-19 emergency.

“Training is a key component in ensuring firefighters continue to have the skills and professional competencies they need to carry out their essential life-saving duties.

“I am pleased to see new recruits passing through the new purpose-built training centre in
the East of Scotland. These men and women will be a valuable addition in helping keep our
communities safe during the challenging times we are experiencing.

“And as their local MSP, I pass on my congratulations to Ross, Donald, Darren and Paul on graduating and thank them for choosing to become firefighters with Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, an organisation that continues to keep Scotland safe.”

ENDS

ASH DENHAM ANNOUNCES POLICE CAN ACCESS TESTS FOLLOWING A COVID INCIDENT

Ash Denham MSP has confirmed that Police Scotland officers who come into contact with someone suspected of having COVID-19 can access a test, even if symptomless.

The Edinburgh Eastern MSP outlined the government’s position in Parliament on Tuesday 12th May, as Police Scotland revealed that more than 100 coronavirus-related attacks on officers and staff had now been recorded.

Ms. Denham, who is the Scottish Government’s Minister for Community Safety, said that she agreed it was “completely unacceptable” for police officers to be victims of violence or abuse whilst doing their jobs.

She also praised the police force in Scotland for achieving a strong level of public confidence and consent during the first phase of the pandemic, following a public opinion survey published this week by the Scottish Police Authority (SPA).

Commenting, Ms. Denham said:

“Police Scotland officers are on the frontline each day to protect the public and keep us all safe, including from COVID-19.

“It is totally unacceptable for any police officer to be a victim of abuse or violence while trying to do their job.

“Anyone who assaults our officers or engages in such behaviour can lead to a prison sentence of up to a year, a £10,000 fine, or both following a conviction of assaulting, hindering or obstructing a police officer.

“If any officer is concerned after a COVID-19 interaction – as I imagine many would be – then they can speak to Police Scotland’s Human Resources department to access testing if that is judged to be appropriate following a risk assessment. And I can confirm that officers do not have to be symptomatic to access testing.”

On the recently published SPA report, the Edinburgh Eastern MSP praised officers working across the country:

“Police Officers are putting themselves at risk working in these challenging and unprecedented times. These positive survey findings underline officers’ professionalism during the pandemic.

“It is worth noting that public confidence in policing in Scotland was higher last month than when compared to the last survey in 2017/18, and that public support for the approach taken by policing in Scotland during the pandemic is higher than a recent YouGov survey for the UK.”

ENDS

Notes;

SPA survey link: http://www.spa.police.uk/news/618708/

Ash Denham MSP’s quotes from Tuesday 12th May’s Parliamentary session in full:

Covid-19 (Attacks on Police Officers)
2. Alexander Stewart (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con):
To ask the Scottish Government what urgent action it will take in light of reports of Covid-19-related attacks on police officers. (S5T-02152)

The Minister for Community Safety (Ash Denham):
Our police officers are on the front line each day to protect the public and to keep us all safe from Covid-19. No police officer should be the victim of abuse or violence while at work, and I support the chief constable in describing such behaviour as totally unacceptable.

Yesterday, the Cabinet Secretary for Justice spoke to the chief constable and the chair of the Scottish Police Federation, and he had very positive discussions with both. It is clear that, when an officer has a Covid-19 interaction, Police Scotland can offer facilities for an assessment and, where appropriate, a test.

The Lord Advocate has confirmed that those who assault our officers and engage in such behaviour will be dealt with robustly by Scotland’s prosecution service. The Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012 enables penalties of up to 12 months’ imprisonment, a £10,000 fine or both following conviction for the offences of assaulting, hindering or obstructing a police officer. Our justice system also provides for protection for all workers under our common laws of assault, threatening and abusive behaviour and breach of the peace.

Alexander Stewart:
Police officers are on the front line of enforcing the lockdown, and they continue to do their usual jobs of detecting crime and keeping us safe. For that, we cannot thank them enough. Unfortunately, some officers report being spat at and coughed at in a disgusting attempt to spread the coronavirus. Such behaviour is an attack on us all. The Scottish Police Federation has called for a guarantee that such individuals will not be released before appearing in court, so why has the Crown Office not directed that to happen?

Ash Denham:
As I have just said, any police officer who is concerned after having a Covid-19 interaction—as I imagine many of them would be—can speak to Police Scotland’s human resources department and access a test, even if they are not symptomatic. There is no barrier to accessing testing. As Alexander Stewart rightly says, the police are at the front line, putting themselves at risk on a daily basis in order to keep the rest of us safe. We want them to have confidence that those who are concerned can access testing, and we expect them to be able to do so.

Alexander Stewart mentioned automatic remand for those who carry out such an assault on a police officer. I point him towards the Crown Office’s recent guidelines, which were issued by the Lord Advocate at the start of the Covid-19 outbreak. He said that liberation is a decision for the police based on the circumstances of the individual incident and that the police can detain any person to protect the public from risk of harm. A person spitting at someone and saying that they have the virus would obviously meet a reasonable description of putting someone at risk of harm.

Alexander Stewart:
The Scottish Police Federation has also called for routine testing of officers who do not have symptoms but who might be spreading the coronavirus across communities without knowing. When the Deputy First Minister was asked about that on the radio yesterday, he did not respond by saying that that would happen. Can we get a straight answer from the minister that police officers who are putting themselves at risk will receive tests?

Ash Denham:
Yes. I am happy to go on the record as saying that there is no barrier to accessing testing for police officers or staff. Any police officer or member of staff who is concerned about their health or wellbeing following an assault of any kind relating to Covid-19 should contact Police Scotland’s HR department to be risk assessed. Following that, a decision will be made about whether testing is appropriate for that individual.

Since 6 April, we have been working with Police Scotland to ensure that officers and staff can access testing at a number of sites, so that those who can be tested are being tested. Police Scotland’s HR department is now able to risk assess any officer or member of staff who believes that they are at a heightened risk, and they will be able to access testing if that is judged to be appropriate. I emphasise that people do not have to be symptomatic to access testing. If someone has had an interaction that has given them concern, they can contact Police Scotland’s HR department to access testing.

We are ensuring that Police Scotland continues to have priority access to testing. The testing of police officers and staff is important and will continue for as long as is necessary.

Fulton MacGregor (Coatbridge and Chryston) (SNP):
Police officers have performed a crucial role during the first phase of the Covid-19 emergency, and it was right for the minister to clearly state that no police officer should be the victim of abuse or violence while they are at work. Can she outline the extent to which the public has confidence in policing in Scotland during the coronavirus pandemic?

Ash Denham:
Last week, the Scottish Police Authority published the initial results from its new public opinion survey. Those results indicated a strong level of public confidence in and consent for Police Scotland during the first phase of the Covid-19 emergency. The SPA reported that

“Public confidence in policing in Scotland was higher in April 2020 than when compared to the last Scottish Crime and Justice Survey”.

The last survey was carried out in 2017-18. The SPA also reported that

“Public support for the approach taken by policing in Scotland to the Covid-19 emergency is higher than a recent YouGov survey finding for Great Britain.”

PUBLIC TO HAVE THEIR SAY ON LOCKDOWN RESTRICTIONS

SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT PUBLISHES UPDATE ON “LIFE BEYOND LOCKDOWN”

Ash Denham MSP has urged people in the Capital to have their say as the Scottish Government publishes an update on what life might look like when coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions are altered.

‘COVID-19: A Framework for Decision Making’ says the current lockdown is pushing the number of infectious cases down, but concludes that the virus continues to pose a serious threat to public health in Scotland.

The Edinburgh Eastern MSP has also encouraged constituents to read the Scottish Government’s “Test, Trace, Isolate, Support” paper, published yesterday, which will be a “key aspect” of the next phase of the battle against Coronavirus.

The testing and tracing strategy will work alongside other virus suppression measures, including physical distancing, hand washing and the use of face coverings. Thousands of contact tracing staff are also to be taken on, and new digital tools including an app are being developed.

Ms. Denham said:

“The decisions as we transition out of lockdown will affect all of us – and so it’s important that these decisions are made as openly and collaboratively as possible, with councils, businesses, unions, public services and community groups in Edinburgh all forming part of the discussion.

“The Scottish Government has today launched an online forum that gives people the opportunity to offer their reflections on lockdown restrictions – and I’d urge everyone in my constituency and across the Capital to share any ideas they have on how we should move forward.

“There are no easy answers – but it is right for the Scottish Government to keep people up-to-date and be clear about the factors that inform decision making, and I’d encourage everyone to continue reading the official guidance and information published.

“For now, the advice for people here in Edinburgh remains the same – staying at home and only making essential journeys is saving lives. Keeping physical distance in the limited circumstances when you have to be around people and continuing to regularly wash your hands are still the best way to reduce your risk of infection.

“Everyone has a part to play in combatting this virus, and while I understand that these measures are difficult for all of us, they are saving lives and protecting our NHS.”

ENDS

Notes;

COVID-19 – “Test, Trace, Isolate, Support
https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-test-trace-isolate-support/

COVID-19 – Framework for Decision-Making

https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-framework-decision-making-further-information/

CAPITAL BUSINESSES GET £49.45M CASH SUPPORT THROUGH CRISIS

SNP MSP Ash Denham has welcomed new figures showing that 3,784 businesses in Edinburgh have received Scottish Government grants to support firms through the coronavirus crisis.

A total of £49.45m has been awarded in Edinburgh through a Scottish Government scheme to support small businesses and the retail, hospitality and leisure sector.

This grant support is worth over £1 billion to business, and is part of the wider business support package worth £2.3 billion.

So that funding can be distributed as quickly as possible, eligibility for the grant scheme is linked to the non-domestic rates system.

Commenting, Edinburgh Eastern MSP, Ash Denham said:

“At an unprecedented time for business, the Scottish Government has made decisive interventions to support the Scottish economy so it is on the best possible footing to get through this health crisis.

“Grants of up to £25,000 have been allocated to a total of 3,784 businesses across the Capital totalling £49.45m, higher than any other local authority in Scotland, to support businesses in desperate need.

“The Scottish Government’s support for business is now worth £2.3bn, which is more than we have received from the UK Government and actively works to fill the gaps in the UK schemes with tailored support for the Scottish economy.

“We will come through this crisis together and I would encourage all businesses in my Edinburgh Eastern constituency, across the Capital, and across the country to ensure they are receiving the support they are entitled to.”

ENDS

Notes:

A £10,000 grant is available to non-domestic ratepayers with properties in receipt of:

Small Business Bonus Scheme relief (SBSS) or Rural Relief
Nursery Relief, Disabled Relief, Business Growth Accelerator, Discretionary Sports Relief, Enterprise Areas Relief or Fresh Start but eligible for SBSS
A £25,000 grant is available to the ratepayers of properties in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with property with a rateable value between £18,001 – £51,000.

https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-business-support-fund-grant-statistics/

ASH DENHAM BACKS ‘CLEAR YOUR HEAD’ MENTAL HEALTH CAMPAIGN

Ash Denham MSP is encouraging those across the Capital to look after the mental health during the coronavirus outbreak and has recommended a new Scottish Government website with some helpful tips to promote mental wellbeing.

The website is called ‘Clear Your Head’, which has been backed by Samaritans Scotland, and offers tips and ideas for Scots on the topics of staying healthy, staying connected, looking after yourself, creating routine and keeping moving.

As well as providing useful tips, the site includes links to other websites promoting wellbeing, such as the Paths For All and JogScotland, with advice on making the most of people’s daily form of exercise, and advice from NHS Inform,NHS 24, Breathing Space, Samaritans and the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH).

The Edinburgh Eastern MSP said:

“The lockdown is and has been really tough for everyone across society and it’s ok not to be feeling in a great place mentally at the minute.

“But what this Scottish Government website can do is give the public ideas for keeping moving outdoors and indoors, creating a good structure and sleep pattern, managing online use, looking after yourself by reducing stress and staying healthy when it comes to food and drink.

“We are living in unprecedented times and so it’s never been more important to look after our mental health and to know where support is available when needed.

“This campaign and website is about the little things we can all do each day to feel better and stay mentally healthy. It can also point you in the right direction for further support, such as through the NHS and charities including Samaritans, Breathing Space and SAMH.”

Visit the website at https://clearyourhead.scot/. To call Samaritans, they can be contacted for free on 116 123 at any time or day.

ENDS

Notes;

Ash Denham MSP is pictured alongside Mairi Gordon of Samaritans last year.

DENHAM: WE MUST PREPARE FOR “NEW NORMAL” AS PLAN TO EASE LOCKDOWN PUBLISHED

Edinburgh Eastern MSP Ash Denham has said that the public must prepare for restrictions on normal life to continue for some time.

The comments come as the Scottish Government published a new document outlining how decisions will be taken to control coronavirus (COVID-19) while restoring a degree of normality to everyday life.

The paper – ‘COVID-19: A Framework for Decision-Making’ – sets out the position during this ongoing period of lockdown and outlines the factors that must be considered as we move gradually to ease restrictions.

It also recognises that new ways of living – effectively a “new normal” – may have to be in place for some time to come.

Ms. Denham said:

“It is welcome that the Scottish Government has published an outline of how and when the lockdown may be lifted and I urge everyone to take the time to read the document.

“It is vital that any decision to ease restrictions is based on the best scientific advice possible – but we are in uncharted territory and we must be prepared to adapt. That might mean having to reapply restrictions after they are lifted.

“It is only when we are sure the virus is under control that we can even start to ease any of the restrictions because the virus will not have gone away.

“There are no easy answers – but it is right for the Scottish Government to be clear about the factors that will inform decision making.

“In the coming days and weeks members of the public will be invited to contribute their thoughts and views on the next steps we must make together.

“Unfortunately, returning to what we regard as a normal life will not be possible in the near future so we need to prepare for a new normal until treatments and a vaccine offer different solutions.

“While these measures are difficult for all of us, they are saving lives and protecting our NHS.”

ENDS

Notes;

The document is available here:
https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-framework-decision-making/

EDINBURGH EASTERN MSP WARNS OF INCREASE IN SCAMS DURING COVID-19 CRISIS

PUBLIC ENCOURAGED TO BE VIGILANT AND REPORT SCAMS
MSP for Edinburgh Eastern, Ash Denham has encouraged people in the Capital to be aware of scams and fake news following an increase in reports across Scotland about scam emails, text messages, and doorstep callers.
Across the UK there is evidence fraudsters are increasingly targeting members of the public, as well as organisations of all sizes, with emails, texts, telephone calls, social media messages and online shopping scams relating to the outbreak. While the charity Crimestoppers Scotland has warned that doorstep criminals are cunning, creative, and often very convincing at targeting people – especially bogus callers and rogue traders.
Police Scotland have now launched a new Shut Out Scammers resource to protect the public and businesses from COVID-19 related scams. The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has also launched an email reporting service, which the public can use to report any suspicious activity.
Ash Denham MSP said:
“While the community response to the coronavirus outbreak in Edinburgh has been overwhelmingly positive, it’s disappointing to see a few individuals taking advantage of the situation with unsolicited emails, phone calls, text messages and doorstep calls.
 
“During this coronavirus crisis, everyone across the Capital should take extra care to ensure that they only share information from trusted sources, ask for identification from all doorstep callers, and never hand over any personal information.
 
“It’s vital that we remain vigilant against scams during this challenging time and report any suspicious activity to the relevant authorities.”
ENDS
Notes;

Call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111