Despite the parliamentary recess the last month has been very busy. We are now 6 months on from the cooperation agreement that we negotiated with the Scottish Government.
In that time we have introduced free bus travel for everyone aged 21 or under, a record investment in nature restoration and biodiversity, a £70 million fund to upgrade Scotland’s recycling infrastructure, £150 million for walking, wheeling and cycling infrastructure, and £145 million to recruit additional teachers and school staff.
We have also announced a ban on many of the worst single-use plastics and the doubling of the Scottish Child Payment which will be worth an extra £500 a year for every eligible child. These are all big changes, and they show the positive difference that we are making.
To mark the six-month anniversary I did an interview with the Herald in which I reflected on this and discussed the role of the Scottish Greens in a future Scottish independence referendum. This is something that we will build on in the months ahead.
This week the Scottish Government will publish the Gender Recognition Act reform. This is a long overdue piece of legislation that the Scottish Greens have consistently called for and supported. This will allow self-identification and remove some of the bureaucracy and trauma from the existing system.
I am looking forward to working with you all in the weeks ahead as we try to ensure a record number of Green councillors across Lothian. My time is very limited, so please contact Cameron if you would like me to attend events in your ward.
In terms of my Lothian team, we are extending the hours of one of my caseworkers, Chloe, as of this week. We are also in the process of expanding the team with the appointment of a paid intern via Inclusion Scotland. This internship will be split with Gillian Mackay’s office and is open to anyone who defines as disabled.
Unfortunately the last week has also had some very bad news. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has been devastating and has rightly dominated the news. Last week the Scottish Parliament united in its opposition to the war. But words are not enough. That is why the Greens and the Scottish Government have called for the UK to follow the lead of countries like Ireland and Moldova by waiving visa rules and providing support for refugees.
Last Friday I spoke at the protest outside the Russian Consulate. Unfortunately the powers of the Scottish Parliament are very limited, but I will be working with the Scottish Government as well as my Green MSP colleagues and councillors to ensure that Scotland does its bit. It is important that we stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine, but also that we do everything we can to help what is a terrible situation.