It was good to see so many of you at our Spring Conference this month. It was a really positive conference and so good to be able to do it in person again. As a party, we have really stepped-up preparations for the local election, and I am looking forward to seeing you over the weeks ahead and securing a record number of Green councillors in May.
This month, in my Ministerial role, I launched the Scottish Government’s new anti-food waste campaign. This was launched at the Ripple in Restalrig, a community organisation that provides vital services to some of the most deprived communities in our city. In Scotland, we throw away a staggering amount of food, with around 600,000 tonnes of household food waste going to landfill every year.
I also announced the steps that we are taking to ban the destruction of unsold goods and make sure they make it into the hands of those that need them. This will be a key part of a Circular Economy Bill that I will be taking through Parliament. The Bill we present will be a bold and ambitious one that aims to transform the way we manage waste and relate to our economy.
My office has received a lot of correspondence from people that have been impacted by Russia’s catastrophic invasion of Ukraine. As an MSP group, we are doing all we can to stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine. The Scottish Government has called for the Home Office to waive visa restrictions for refugees and provide more support for people fleeing the terrible conflict. There have been cross-party events and protests, which we have supported and my office has provided assistance for people who want to provide accommodation and support.
March also marked six months since we entered government. It was a good time to reflect on what we have achieved in that time.
It has been a busy time, with free bus travel for everyone under 22, a record investment in active travel and biodiversity, £145 million for additional teachers and support staff, the doubling of the Scottish child payment ban on many of the worst single-use plastics. I am proud of what we have achieved in that time, as well as being hopeful about the longer-term changes we are delivering, including GRA reform and better rights for tenants, including rent controls.
Finally, my office team will be boosted in the weeks ahead, with the recruitment of a paid intern via Inclusion Scotland. They will be working across my office and the office of Gillian Mackay MSP. The quality of applicants was very high and I am glad that we are able to provide an opportunity via this excellent scheme.
Over the weeks ahead I will be taking part in events across the country to promote our candidates and to help us to secure a record number of Green councillors.