When it comes to buses, you can’t beat Edinburgh’s fleet. The publicly-owned Lothian Bus services that keep the city moving all year round are second to none. Without the excellent service they provide, getting across the city would be chaos.
Nationally, other areas have not been so fortunate and bus services under the SNP have seen networks being slowly dismantled and passenger numbers falling, by ten per cent in the last five years.
When the Transport Bill comes before the Scottish Parliament I’ll be backing amendments to facilitate municipal ownership and radical re-regulation of our buses, ending the ban on local councils setting up local bus companies, meaning more parts of Scotland can benefit from a similar service to that provided in the capital.
Edinburgh’s buses recently extended services into East Lothian, a welcome move and one which shows what a difference it could make if we give more councils the power to do the same and end the dismantling of lifeline bus routes and put a stop to rip-off fares.
In addition to this, at the Scottish Labour conference last weekend, we announced a commitment to introduce free bus travel for the under-25s.
Currently, a Young Scot Card entitles those aged 16-18 to a discount of a third off adult single fares on any registered bus service in Scotland, which in Edinburgh means each journey costs £1.10.
Studies show that every £1 spent on concessionary bus travel generates at least £2.87 in benefits to bus pass users and to the wider economy.
Extending concessionary bus travel, which already applies to older and disabled people, is both popular and successful and it makes sense, for both our young people and our economy.
Feed your responses to consultation on food
The Lothians are home to some of Scotland’s best food and drink producers and worldwide we have a reputation for producing high quality products fuelling international demand.
This is why I am welcoming the launch of the Scottish Government consultation on Good Food Nation legislation.
Due to close on March 29, the consultation is seeking public views on what should be included in a new laws for Scotland’s food system.
Scottish Labour have called on the Scottish Government to include a statutory right to food in the Good Food Nation bill.
Reformation of our food system is long overdue. We advertise Scotland as a nation of food and drink, yet more than a third of people in the Lothians worry about putting food on the table. An ever-increasing number of people continue to be priced out of a decent diet, forced to rely on food banks and suffering from poor nutrition.
We undervalue the people who work to produce and process food, the wildlife, natural resources and farm animals that all form part of our food system.
This cannot be allowed to continue. I believe there should be a statutory right to food, which joins up all policies related to food and has the power to measure the government’s success in feeding its people.
We need to work together to push for change. I would therefore urge everyone in Edinburgh and across the Lothian region to respond to the consultation and make their voices heard.