After weeks of campaigning from Scotland’s political parties, the country’s voters go the polls today (Thursday, 5 May). Polling stations up and down the country are open from 7am until 10pm, with the final election results expected in the early hours of Friday morning. Scottish Party leaders had a busy week and used their last full week of campaigning to highlight their aspirations for Scottish education and job creation.
In housing and construction news, a Scottish housing alliance claimed overall housebuilding has dropped by 40 per cent since 2007 and that demand was outstripping supply, leading to a shortage of homes across Scotland. Elsewhere, the Scottish Green Party proposed the introduction of a new Housing and Tenant Rights Commissioner. More on these stories and others are included within this week’s report.
Housing and Construction News
New housing alliance emerges in election week
A housing alliance comprising the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, Shelter Scotland, the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland and the Royal Town Planning Institute signed an open letter to all the parties on ‘Scotland’s housing crisis’. In the open letter, the private housebuilders’ group Homes for Scotland claimed overall housebuilding had dropped by 40 per cent since 2007 and claimed that demand was outstripping supply, leading to a shortage of homes across Scotland. Nicola Barclay, chief executive of Homes for Scotland, said: “We are united in one simple request, that our politicians take whatever action is necessary to end the housing pressure affecting so many of those living in Scotland.”
Greens Propose Housing and Tenant Rights Commissioner
In a news release issued this week, the Scottish Green Party reiterated its commitment to Scottish housing which would see plans to build 60,000 social rented homes over the coming 5 years, make rent fair and end fuel poverty. Its Scottish Greens co-convener, Maggie Chapman, the party’s housing spokesperson and MSP candidate for the North East, also claimed that she wanted to see a much more co-ordinated approach to housing, stating: “Everyone needs a home, and the current housing system does not deliver this. People are being priced out of decent accommodation because rents are too high and ‘affordable housing’ is not actually affordable for most.” The release also saw the proposal for a new Housing and Tenant rights coordinator. Ms Chapman, added: “If elected on Thursday, I will introduce a Housing and Tenants’ Rights Commission non-executive Bill. This Bill would seek to appoint a Housing and Tenants’ Rights Commissioner.” Under the proposals, the Commissioner would work with tenants, Local Authorities, Housing Associations, housing co-operatives and the private housing sector to develop a Charter of Rights for tenants.
Elsewhere on the final week of the 2016 Holyrood Election Campaign
Education and employment the key focus areas this week
The last week of election campaigning saw the party leaders focusing on education and jobs. SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon spoke to business leaders in Aberdeen to illustrate how her party would help to create jobs. Ms Sturgeon, said: “As we have shown in recent months, we will relentlessly champion Scottish business and always stand up for our key industries.”
Meanwhile, Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale focused her party’s campaign on ongoing cuts to Scotland’s education budget, a message reiterated by Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats. Ms Dugdale argued: “A vote for Labour is a vote to use the new powers of the Scottish Parliament to tax the richest 1% so we can invest in schools and stop the cuts to public services. A vote for the SNP is a vote for cuts to children’s education, cuts to frontline services and cutting jobs.” Mr Rennie claimed: “Everywhere I go, people tell me that they are pleased that we are talking about big issues like education and mental health that were neglected while the SNP campaigned for independence. The last thing Scotland needs is a groundhog day debate on the constitution.”
Elsewhere, Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservatives used the last day to reiterate claims that her party would be a strong party opposition, ready to hold the SNP to account. She said: “Many people are supporting me because they just want an opposition at Holyrood which will really hold the SNP to account for once. Labour has had its chance – I am ready to step up and do a job for Scotland.”
UKIP candidate claims his party are on the brink – and calls for a change in leadership
Alan Melville of the Edinburgh North & Leith Constituency claimed UKIP “stands on the brink of disintegration and all-out civil war,” in Scotland following renewed calls for a leadership change. He is the latest in a string of party members to call for the removal of David Coburn MEP as the party’s Scottish leader.
EU Referendum – Weekly Update
- The Trade Union Congress has claimed Workers’ rights will be watered down if Britain leaves the EU. A report issued by the union body this week claimed that complete withdrawal from the single market could pave the way for a government “to make sweeping changes to employment law.”
- Greg Hands, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, argued this week that the UK leaving the EU would cost up to 100,000 jobs while the NHS and other public services would face significant cuts
- A BMG poll for The Herald found that when comparing a split from Europe versus a split from the UK, 68 per cent voted independence from the UK as their “least preferred option” versus 32 per cent for leaving Europe
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