COMMENT: PARLIAMENTARY AND CONSTITUENCY UPDATES.
Last year I wrote about the scandalous failure at the Department for Work & Pensions who had wrongly calculated thousands of people’s pension entitlement, sometimes going back for decades. The Department’s annual accounts were recently published and they show that the problem was even worse than they first thought. They now estimate that 237,000 pensioners were underpaid and the total amount involved was nearly £1.5 billion. For some people the mistakes were very minor and the amount they were underpaid was very small but some people have lost out on thousands of pounds, and many of them are no longer alive. Perhaps the worst thing about the whole affair was the length of time it took the DWP to admit that it could have happened.
I’ve had a lot of constituents contacting me about pedestrian and cycling access across the reinstated Levenmouth Rail Link. The area between Coaltown / Milton of Balgonie and the Standing Stanes Road near Coaltown of Wemyss is very popular for walking and cycling. In the old days there would have been unmanned level crossings but Network Rail won’t allow these today. It should be perfectly feasible to put in one or more ramped footbridges to let people cross the line safely. Network Rail have wrongly claimed that none of these routes is a Right of Way; in fact it’s not up to Network Rail to decide this. It’s almost certain that at least one of the routes is in fact a public Right of Way. I’ve been in touch with Fife Council’s Outdoor Access Officers who are following this up. Very importantly they have confirmed that there has been no final decision – something else Network Rail seem to have got wrong.
It was great to visit the Methil Care Village to see the progress that’s being made with the new care home, housing, nursery and community hub. The buildings are really taking shape now and it’s possible to get a feel for the layout of what will be a fantastic facility. Originally this was planned as a replacement for Methilhaven Care Home but thanks to some highly innovative thinking by Fife Council and others it’s going to be much more than that.
Earlier this week I visited Specsavers in Glenrothes to hear about a service you might not have associated with them. As well as the obvious eye tests they also have qualified audiologists who can carry out a full hearing test. Most people who start to lose their hearing wait for years before they do anything about it and as their hearing loss gets worse they become more and more isolated. Recently we marked “Loneliness Awareness Week” and there’s no doubt that getting a hearing test and dealing with any level of hearing loss can help prevent people from feeling isolated even when they’re in company.
It’s been great to see so many communities being able to hold spring fayre’s village fetes and so on after a gap of several years. One such event was the Party of The Green at West Wemyss which was so well attended they ran out of burgers within about an hour!