The severity of last week’s storm was huge. Three people tragically lost their lives in the rail accident in Aberdeenshire and nearer to home there’s been serious damage to a lot of homes and businesses. It’s enormously distressing for anyone to see their home and possessions being destroyed. The first priority for the Council and other services in an emergency such as this must always be to protect lives that may be at risk and I know this was very much the case in some parts of Fife. I have been contacted by some constituents who thought the response in the days immediately afterwards was not good enough. I have passed these concerns on to Fife Council and I hope that, without in any way criticising the workers who were out all night in some of the worst weather we’ve ever seen, the Council will take these concerns seriously and consider whether there are lessons to be learned.
Last week I wrote to John Swinney MSP on behalf of the young people who had contacted me with concerns about this year’s SQA assessment results and I was delighted with the solution he later announced in the Scottish Parliament. Our school assessment system depends very heavily on the results of the end of year exams and when these had to be cancelled it was always going to be difficult to come up with an alternative that was at least as fair and robust as the usual exam system. Every year there are pupils who are disappointed with their results but so many people contacted me that it was obvious something had gone seriously wrong this year. Sadly, but inevitably, there were some politicians who were more interested in party political point scoring than in helping find a solution to the problem. John Swinney accepted responsibility for the problem and apologised directly to those who were affected by it – an example that politicians from all parties should follow.
I’m being contacted on a daily basis by businesses who are understandably impatient to be allowed to reopen and also by employees and customers who are concerned about businesses that have reopened and don’t seem to be following the rules to prevent the spread of covid-19. Although not everyone will agree with some of the restrictions that are still in place, they are there for a reason and the worst thing we could possibly do would be to have everyone just making up their own rules about what is and is not safe. We’ve seen several small and localised outbreaks in Scotland, and several countries who thought they were over the worst of the pandemic are seeing a serious resurgence in cases. The virus has not gone away, there is no known cure and no confirmed vaccine. The only thing standing between us and another major outbreak is our compliance with the advice from Public Health Scotland and the Scottish Government.