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Scottish Political Insider – Friday 26 April 2019

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 26 April 2019

Scottish politics returns to the top of the agenda after the Easter recess that nearly wasn’t as the First Minister made an emergency statement to Holyrood on what she terms Scotland’s constitutional future. In the end, news that she wants a second referendum on Scottish independence by 2021 if the country is taken out of the EU was no great surprise, but there is a determination in the SNP that hasn’t been seen since the giddy days of 2014.

Downing Street has re-iterated that it said previously that it will not grant a new Section 30 order, which made the 2014 referendum legal, however Ms Sturgeon said this position was “unsustainable” and challenged her party to increase support and demand for independence.

Before the Easter break, Holyrood’s Local Government and Communities Committee launched an inquiry into Scotland’s empty homes and how these can be brought back into use. They will examine the scale of the issue, the effectiveness of current legislation and what more can be done to prevent properties remaining empty for extended periods of time. The remit of the inquiry is as follows:

·       The extent of, and reasons for, empty homes in Scotland;

·       How effective existing legislation and policy is at addressing the problem of empty homes;

·       What more can be done to prevent homes remaining empty and to encourage owners to bring them back into use.

2019 marks 20 years since devolution and, in a speech hosted by Reform Scotland, former Labour First Minister Lord (Jack) McConnell reflected on the anniversary including his time as First Minister. Applying three tests to whether devolution had been successful, he assessed that the quality of legislation and the ability of both Parliament and Government to “speak for Scotland” had been overwhelmingly positive. On the third test, Parliament’s record in holding the Executive to account, he was less positive, suggesting several improvements including elected committee conveners, a time-limit on list MSPs and further changes at a UK level. 

On Wednesday, entrepreneurial icons flocked to Scotland as the second edition of CAN DO Fest, Scotland’s festival of impactful entrepreneurship, kicked off with EIE 2019 – one of the UK’s leading events for tech entrepreneurs and investors. Almost 4,500 entrepreneurial leaders, change makers and innovators are expected to attend the new-look festival to help them spark ideas, collaborate and grow. 

And finally… Perceptive client Scotframe, part of the global Saint-Gobain group, hosted Housing, Planning and Local Government Minister Kevin Stewart MSP on Wednesday as he formally opened their new Dundee office and showroom. The visit was organised by Perceptive and, staying longer than expected, the Minister had an extended discussion with senior management. As he left, he said he found their approach to timber frame construction ‘most enlightening.’

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie Moulsdale on 07734 932578 or julie.moulsdale@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk     

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 12 April 2019

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 12 April 2019

Trick or treat? It has the potential to be both and you couldn’t quite make it up! A dream for the headline writers of this world, the new 31 October Halloween deadline (also our political guru Devin’s birthday but we’re saying nothing….) was announced this week and the prime minister’s acceptance that leaving the EU without a formal arrangement in place could be a disaster won out.

European Union leaders granted the UK a six-month extension to Brexit, after late-night talks in Brussels on Wednesday. European Council President Donald Tusk said his “message to British friends” was “please do not waste this time”. This message was replicated by Nicola Sturgeon who also said the UK must not waste time now a flexible extension to Brexit has been agreed until 31 October. In a tweet, Ms Sturgeon said it was “a relief” that the UK would not be “crashing out” of the EU on Friday. She added that allowing people to decide if they still wanted to leave was now imperative, and that Scotland’s interests must be protected.

The First Minister said it is essential now that this time is used constructively and not wasted, and she has called for ongoing talks over EU exit to include the devolved administrations, and for any deal agreed by the UK Parliament to be put to a second referendum. She has copied the letter to the First Minister of Wales. Details: https://news.gov.scot/news/letter-to-the-prime-minister-1

Holyrood, on Easter recess this week, will not be recalled now that the extension has been agreed.

Also, at Holyrood this week it was announced that the Scottish Parliament is calling for public feedback on business rates reforms which could see independent schools lose their charitable status. The proposals, many of which are based on the recommendations of the Barclay Review, include reducing the current five-year valuation cycle to three years and measures aimed at improving the administration of the system. Ministers also want to tackle known tax avoidance, including tactics involving unoccupied or under-used properties.

And finally…As well as supporting the homeless charity, Social Bite in Scotland, this week Homes for Scotland has led a team with charity, Habitat for Humanity to help build homes for vulnerable people in Homa Bay, Kenya. 

The dedicated team of volunteers spans the housebuilding sector, including employees of Cruden, Buccleuch Property, Mactaggart & Mickel and Homes for Scotland.  Homes for Scotland Chief Executive Nicola Barclay, who is on the build this week says: “Regardless of where in the world you live, the right to a home is one of life’s most basic needs, and I look forward to making a real difference to someone’s life.”

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie Moulsdale on 07734 932578 or julie.mousdale@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk    

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 5 April 2019

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 5 April 2019

Talks between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn to break the Brexit deadlock have been called “constructive”. Take that with a very large print of salt!

The two leaders met on Wednesday afternoon and agreed a “programme of work” to try to find a way forward to put to MPs for a vote.It is understood that each party has appointed a negotiating teamA spokesman for No 10 said both sides were “showing flexibility”.On Thursday MPs voted by a majority of one to force the prime minister to ask for an extension to the Brexit process, in a bid to avoid a no-deal scenario.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned against accepting a “bad compromise” after holding Brexit talks with Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn. Ms Sturgeon was in London this week along with other political leaders in a bid to break the logjam over the UK’s exit from the EU.

At Holyrood, the Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee met with client, Construction Scotland as part of the final phase of evidence gathering for their Construction inquiry. Construction Scotland Chair Ken Gillespie, Executive Director Ron Fraser and Industry Leadership Group Member, Ann Allen MBE gave evidence in a lengthy solo session in which MSPs participated enthusiastically.

On Wednesday in Holyrood, MSPs unanimously backed the general principles of the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill. The Scottish Government confirmed it will make amendments to the bill after fresh independent advice on targets has been published. A coalition of charities has called on Scottish ministers to strengthen the bill by setting a net-zero emissions target in the legislation. New advice from the Committee on Climate Change is due on 2 May.

In the business world, the Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI) has appointed Sara Thiam, a member of the Scottish Government’s newly-formed Infrastructure Commission, as its new chief executive.  Ms Thiam, who is currently the Scotland director of the Institution of Civil Engineers, is expected to focus the think tank around skills, technology and tackling climate change.  Ms Thiam said: “In common with other countries around the world Scotland faces unprecedented environmental, demographic, mobility, educational and technological challenges.”

Next week is meant to be the start of the two week Easter recess but at the time of writing, it looks likely thatHolyrood will meet if the UK is forced out of the European Union with no deal in place, MSPs have been told. Relations Secretary Michael Russell MSP said a no-deal Brexit would be a “moment of crisis” and MSPs would need to be made aware of the arrangements that would be put in place. 

And finally, the judging and interviews for the prestigious Homes for Scotland awards took place this week.  Perceptive is shortlisted in the Best Supporting Organisation category. Perceptive client, Mactaggart & Mickel is also shorlisted for Private Developer of the Year (Medium) for its development at Greenan Views, Ayr and in the Company Innovation and Best Practice category for its game changing Employer of Choice programme.  

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie Moulsdale 

on 07734 932578 or julie.moulsdale@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk    

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