Scottish Parliament: Rural Roundup

This week in the Scottish Parliament, there were lots of issues affecting people who live and work across rural Scotland raised.

  • Finlay Carson lodged a Motion to welcomed the #SRP18 coming to Stranraer in November – read more about our Scottish Rural Parliament announcement.
  • Gail Ross asked whether the Scottish Government has provided a response to the National Council of Rural Advisers’ interim report on the implications of Brexit for rural
    • Cab Sec: Yes, I provided a response to the Co-Chairs of the National Council of RuralAdvisers earlier this month. The text of letter is available on the NCRA webpage of the Scottish Government website.
  • Mike Rumbles lodged a question: by what date the National Council for Rural Advisers will complete its remit “to produce recommendations for a vibrant and sustainable rural economy” (answer expected by 31 May)
  • Kate Forbes lodged a Motion, thanking retained firefighters in rural Scotland.
  • Claudia Beamish lodged a Motion acknowledging Mental Health Awareness week and highlighted issues with services in rural communities. Read our concerns about NHS24 and rural mental health.
  • The Rural Economy & Connectivity Committee met and discussed transport and a UK Bill on parking. Find out more about our rural transport conference.
  • Local Government & Communities Committee met and discussed the Joint Housing Delivery Plan for Scotland 2015-2020.
  • Jamie Halcrow asked the Government how it supports older people in remote and rural areas
  • Gordon MacDonald asked the Government what discussions it has had with the Equality and Human Rights Commission regarding whether the recent and proposed bank closures contravene the Equality Act 2010. Read our letter to the Equality and Human Rights Commission outlining our concerns.
    • Cabinet Secretary responded: I believe that the proposed bank closures and their replacement with mobile banking services will have serious implications for disabled people. That is why I have written to the Scotland commissioner at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, asking her to consider those implications in the light of the requirements placed on organisations by the provisions of the Equality Act 2010 to ensure that a disabled person can access the same services and premises, as far as possible, as someone who is not disabled. I am happy to share that letter with Gordon MacDonald.
    • GMacD: The mobile banks that have been introduced in my constituency of Edinburgh Pentlands do not provide disability access. Does the minister share my concern that the 30-minute stopping timeframe is inadequate to meet the demands of individuals and the areas that are served?
    • Cab Sec: I very much share the concerns that the member has articulated, and I know that they are shared by many members across the chamber. In my view, it is unacceptable that disabled people could in effect be excluded from conducting their financial affairs in bank facilities because the physical barriers presented by the mobile banking fleet may make it impossible for them to use those services. That is why I have raised the issue with the EHRC. The Equality Act 2010 places a requirement on organisations to take positive steps to ensure that, as far as possible, a disabled person can access the same services and premises as someone who is not disabled. If the proposed mobile banking alternative does not meet that standard, the potential implications would be considerable.On the time constraint, I urge the bank in question to reconsider that. People should have sufficient time to conduct their transactions without having to worry about a time limit.
  • Monica Lennon asked the Government: Proposals by Link, which runs the United Kingdom’s largest cash machine network, have raised fears that many automated teller machines could disappear from the high street. Age Scotland warns that that will hit older people hard. Does the minister agree that banks should invest more in the ATM network? Does she welcome the bill proposed by Ged Killen MP that seeks to ban ATM charges and protect access to free cash withdrawals?
    • Cab Sec: The member raises a very considered point. A range of financial and banking services are important to us all. The ATM network improves access for everybody, but particularly for people who may have disability issues or other issues to contend with in life. Therefore, it is worth while to have an ATM service that is as available as possible. I echo the concerns of Age Scotland and others about charging for ATM services. If the member would like ministers to pick up aspects of the matter that she has raised, we could certainly do that. I have outlined the action that we have taken in my portfolio, but ministers in other portfolios are engaging with the bank in question as a business in relation to how it could be more inclusive.
Paul Daly

Paul Daly

Paul has an MSc in Environmental Studies, and a BA (Hons) in Psychology.

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