Rennie demands clarity on zero covid strategy

Responding to comments from Professor Mark Woolhouse that “Scotland was not close to elimination at any stage during this epidemic”, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: 

“The professor has punctured the First Minister’s claims about the success of last summer. 

"The truth is that the SNP Government did not use the time last summer to prepare for the second wave.

 

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Transport emissions statistics show need for radical overhaul of Scottish transport

Scottish Liberal Democrats have today said that new figures showing increases in car traffic demand a radical overhaul of Scotland’s transport network.

The Scottish Transport Statistics 2020 highlighted that:

  • Transport accounted for 35.6% of Scotland’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2018.

  • The number of bus journeys has fallen again

  • The distance travelled on Scotland’s roads was at the highest level ever recorded. In 2019, 48.7 billion vehicle kilometres were travelled, an increase of 1% compared to the previous year, and 10% more than in 2009.

  • There were 96.4 million ScotRail passenger journeys in 2018-19, 1.4% less than the previous year and the first decrease in passenger numbers in many years.

Scottish Liberal Democrat transport spokesperson and lead candidate for Glasgow, Carole Ford said:  

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Ministers must plug gaps in funding support, not govern by press release

Responding to today's briefing from Audit Scotland and the new blog from Scottish Auditor General Stephen Boyle who writes "it’s getting harder to identify what is, and isn’t, Covid-19 spending... That’s because of the volume of announcements (over 170 to date)", Scottish Liberal Democrat economy spokesperson Katy Gordon said:

"Scottish businesses have paid the price for SNP ministers governing by press release. The Scottish Government love to announce new funding schemes but too often we discover weeks later that money still hasn't found its way to the businesses who need it.

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Conservative plan would have stripped £600m of health funding

Commenting on this afternoon's Conservative debate on local government funding, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said:

"The Conservatives have got it monumentally wrong today.

"Under today’s Conservative plan, more than £600million would have been automatically removed from the NHS Scotland annual budget between 2018 and 2023.  

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McArthur: Conservatives playing tired old tune on prisoner voting

Commenting on this afternoon’s Scottish Conservative party debate on prisoner voting, Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP said:

“The public understands that our communities are safer when we invest in smart justice. They understand that imprisonment should be a chance to give people who have done wrong the opportunity to do right in the future.

 

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Ministers must not sell Prestwick for £2 and claim it's a profit

Commenting on the news that a preferred bidder has been appointed for Prestwick airport, transport spokesperson and lead list candidate for Glasgow, Carole Ford said:

"I hope that the new owners can rejuvenate the airport and ensure that it escapes its controversial reliance on the US military for custom.

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Government should be "ashamed" over homeless deaths

Scottish Liberal Democrats housing spokesperson Paul McGarry has today said that the Scottish Government should be "ashamed" after statistics published by the National Records of Scotland revealed 216 homeless people died in 2019 - an 11% increase on the estimate of the previous year.

The statistics also showed:

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Clarity needed on testing and vaccine passports

Responding to the First Minister's route map out of lockdown, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said:

"There is a broad consensus in the country on the caution required and we must never forget that there are many harms like mental health and education, not just covid, which is why we need to move to ease as soon as we can without allowing the virus to get out of control again.

"The measures today are broadly similar to those early measures announced by Boris Johnson on Monday with an earlier, if phased, easing on schools and two-person outdoor limit and a slightly later easing on shops. I agree with that approach. 

On care home visiting he added:

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More than 100,000 wait for key diagnostic test

Responding to new figures from Public Health Scotland showing that around 101,000 patients in Scotland were waiting for a key diagnostic test on 31st December 2020, Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said: 

“It is really sad to learn that over 100,000 patients were waiting for a key diagnostic test in December 2020, an increase of 15.3% on the same time last year.

 

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SNP Government "can't shrug off" attainment gap data

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Beatrice Wishart has urged the Scottish Government to "put recovery first" after new official statistics showed one measure of the poverty-related attainment gap at its widest point since 2012/13.

The Summary Statistics for Attainment and Initial leaver Destinations showed:

  • "The gap between the proportion of school leavers from the most deprived and least deprived areas attaining 1 pass or more at SCQF Level 4 or better, was 7.1 percentage points...the widest it has been since 2012/13"
  • "At SCQF Level 5 or better, the gap was 20.8 percentage points in 2019/20"
  • "At SCQF Level 6 or better, the gap was 36.1 percentage points in 2019/20"

Beatrice Wishart MSP commented:

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