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"Politics is all about people. As a Central Scotland MSP it is both a pleasure and a privilege to meet and become involved with a hugely diverse number of people and organisations"

Margaret Mitchell
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Archive for April 2012

Localism

Apr. 30th 2012

The Scottish Conservatives last week launched a scathing attack on the SNP Government criticising its centralising agenda during a debate at the Scottish Parliament

The increasing number of local decisions being centrally overturned – often to the detriment of local communities – were highlighted, as well as a numerous other centralising Scottish Government initiatives.

Margaret, who spoke in the debate, said:

“To date the Scottish Government has made all the right noises about supporting local decision making, but last week’s debate painted a worrying picture illustrating that the government’s rhetoric does not marry with the reality of the decisions that it makes.

“We heard plentiful examples of the Scottish Government’s centralising programme.

“Be it with regards to decisions over housing, renewable energy projects or phone masts; the proposal to bring the Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland (PCCS) under the Scottish Public Service Ombudsman (SPSO); or the mooted replacement of Prison Visiting Committees, the Scottish Government is steamrolling through central decisions and national initiatives at the expense of local democracy.

“Unlike the SNP, the Scottish Conservatives are fierce advocates of local government and local decision making.

“Not only does this add value to the quality of life in our communities, but also because it is fundamentally right in principle.

“Local communities are being sold short by this majority SNP government and its agenda of centralisation.

“Quite simply local people deserve more.”

The Official Report of the debate can be found here:

http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/28862.aspx?r=6993&mode=pdf

Female Offenders

Apr. 30th 2012

Last week Margaret spoke in the Chamber debate regarding female offenders. This followed the publication of the ‘Commission on Women Offenders’ report. The Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee, of which Margaret was convener from 2007 to 2011, published its report into ‘Female Offenders in the Criminal Justice System’ in 2009 and made many of the same points which the Commission raised.

Commenting, Margaret said:

“Although I warmly welcome the report of the Commission on Women Offenders, my over-riding reaction is a depressing: ‘Here we go again’.

“For example, the Equal Opportunities report highlighted the fact that 70 per cent of female offenders on remand will not go on to serve a custodial sentence but this has not been addressed and the issue of remand is again raised by the Commission.

“If the mental health, remand and sentencing recommendations alone from the 2009 report had been taken on board – as they could quite easily have been over the past three years – that would have gone some considerable way towards addressing the overcrowding problems at Corton Vale.

“That in turn would have freed up prison staff to help deliver rehabilitation programmes for the prisoners for whom prison is quite definitely the correct sentence.

“However, it takes leadership and political will to make such changes, and sadly they have been absent. The Scottish Government is dragging its heels on the reform of female prisons.”

The Official Report of the debate can be found here:

http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/28862.aspx?r=6993&mode=pdf  

 


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