FIBRE OPTIC BROADBAND SET TO COME TO STRANRAER

FIBRE OPTIC BROADBAND SET TO COME TO STRANRAER

Local politicians have welcomed the announcement by BT that Stranraer is set to receive fibre optic broadband.

The telecoms company have revealed today (Tuesday) that the almost 4,000 homes in the town will receive the high spread broadband next year.

Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown said:

“This is very welcome news from BT for Stranraer. Super-fast broadband is an essential building block to economic recovery and growth. In a rural area like ours broadband access is just as important a form of infrastructure as roads and rail.

“Stranraer is really suffering because of the economic downturn and this news gives our local firms a boost. These improved links will really help local businesses, and will attract investment and new jobs. Residents will also benefit from being able to do more, better and faster, online.

“However, even after this announcement far too many people in our area remain on painfully slow internet spends. We need to roll out superfast broadband to smaller towns and villages too because everyone in our region needs to be benefit.”

Labour’s Stranraer and North Rhins councillor, Marion McCutcheon, added:

“This is fantastic news because slow broadband speeds are one of local people’s top concerns. There has been a real fear that our area is being left behind. Whether it’s keeping in touch with friends and relatives, online banking or shopping our internet connection is our link with the world and local communities need fast access. For far too many people locally that just haven’t been available yet and this investment by BT is a great leap in the right direction.”

ENDS

CONTACT – ANDREW MACKENZIE 07769206856

LOCAL MP URGES SPORTS CLUBS TO HARNESS ENTHUSIASM OF OLYMPICS

LOCAL MP URGES SPORTS CLUBS TO HARNESS ENTHUSIASM OF OLYMPICS

Local MP Russell Brown is urging local sports clubs in Dumfries and Galloway to sign up for the ‘Join in’ weekend to seize the once in a lifetime opportunity of the Olympics.

The ‘Join In Weekend’ will take place the weekend after the Olympics and before the Paralympics, the 18th/19th of August, and is aiming to get people involved in local sports. It hopes to get as many people as possible who have been inspired by the Olympics to turn up, take part and join in at their local sports facilities.

The Olympics is expected to generate unprecedented enthusiasm for sport in the UK and ‘Join In Weekend’ allows local sports groups to take advantage of this unique moment. By converting this once in a lifetime wave of interest into future membership, the hope is to get more people involved in sport and their local communities.

Russell Brown is calling on local sports clubs across the region to sign up to get local people joining in local sports during the weekend of 18th/19th of August.

Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown said:

“With the Olympics, the biggest sporting event in the world, taking place in the UK, this is a great opportunity to get people involved in sports. Young or old, getting involved in a local sports club is a great way to keep fit. Every great champion started at their local sports facilities and we may discover the next one right here in Dumfries and Galloway.

“Local sports clubs are also about building our communities, and there are lots of other ways to get involved, such as helping run it as coaches, drivers or even tea makers!

“The Join In Weekend on the 18th/19th of August is a great platform for clubs to harness the enthusiasm for the Olympics and make sure they get local people engaged. I hope local clubs in our area will sign up at www.joininuk.org.”

Seb Coe, Chair of London 2012, said:

“Millions will be inspired by what they witness over the summer and I hope this creates opportunities in every community for people to join in their local sports clubs. People across the UK can turn up and take part in local sports just after the Olympic Games finishes.”

Stewart Harris, Chief Executive of Sport Scotland, said:

“We want to make sure that this fantastic summer of sport gives a real boost to grassroots activity.”

ENDS

CONTACT – ANDREW MACKENZIE 07769206856

NOTES TO EDITORS

Local sports clubs can find out more information and sign up at www.joininuk.org

SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT REFUSES CALLS FOR INVESTIGATION INTO PORTS SECURITY – DESPITE ADMITTING ‘CONCERN’ ABOUT DETERIORATING SITUATION

SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT REFUSES CALLS FOR INVESTIGATION INTO PORTS SECURITY – DESPITE ADMITTING ‘CONCERN’ ABOUT DETERIORATING SITUATION

LOCAL MP TO MEET INDEPENDENT CHIEF INSPECTOR NEXT WEEK TO DISCUSS GALLOWAY PORTS

Local MP Russell Brown has criticised the Scottish Government after it refused his calls for an investigation into border security at the Galloway Ports, even though the Justice Secretary has admitted his ‘concern’ about the increasing number of illegal immigration offenders being detected. (1)

Russell Brown wrote to Scottish Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill, last month demanding a joint investigation with the UK Government into the security arrangements at the Loch Ryan and Cairnryan Ports, following the revelation that the number of illegal entrants detained had increased. (2)

In his reply, Mr MacAskill refuses to consider the request for an investigation, simply saying he is looking to ‘strengthen sharing of information’. However he says that he is concerned by the ‘significant increase’ in the number of immigration offenders seeking to abuse the route between Northern Ireland and Dumfries and Galloway. In particular, he highlights the length of time Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary have to spend dealing with immigration matters.

The Justice Secretary also confirms in his letter that between January 2011 and December 2011 the number of immigration offenders detected travelling on the route between Northern Ireland and Dumfries and Galloway soared by 145% compared to the previous year. The number of immigration offences detected at the Galloway Ports alone increased by 33% over the same period.

Last week Dumfries and Galloway seized over £2 billion worth of drugs at the ports, one of the largest hauls ever.

Russell Brown is to meet Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, John Vine, who has been critical of the UK Border Agency next Tuesday (3 July) to discuss the worsening situation at the Galloway Ports.

Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown said:

“On the one hand the Justice Secretary says he is concerned about the number of immigration offenders using the Galloway Ports, but on the other he is refusing my request for a joint government investigation into security arrangements.

“We were told we didn’t have to worry about the ports police being cut because beefed up arrangements at the Northern Ireland end would take care of the problem. That policy has completely failed. The total numbers of immigration offenders using the route has soared in the space of a year and the numbers being detected at Dumfries and Galloway’s ports has increased by a third.

“As well as being a nexus point for illegal immigration, the Galloway Ports are becoming a magnet for drug smuggling. Only last week the Police seized over £2 million of cannabis, one of their largest hauls ever.

“The Galloway Ports have been hit by a double whammy of cuts by both the UK and Scottish Governments. I want both to work together to improve security and it is extremely disappointing that the Scottish Government won’t even consider getting round the table.”

ENDS

CONTACT – ANDREW MACKENZIE 07769206856

NOTES TO EDITORS

1. Letter from Kenny MacAskill attached.

In the final paragraph, Mr MacAskill says:

“…the significant increase overall has meant that time used by Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary on immigration matters has also increased; this remains a concern for me.”

2. Orgininal letter from Russell Brown to Kenny MacAskill:
16 May 2012
Dear Kenny
I have written to you several times before regarding my concerns about the border security situation at the ferry ports in Stranraer and Cairnryan. While you announced earlier this year that the Scottish Government would provide funding to reinstate four police officers at the ports, that represents less than a third of the 14.5 FTE officers cut since 2009.
In addition, as you know, the UK Government cuts to the UK Border Agency led to the removal of all UKBA funding for seconded police officers at the ports.
I have enclosed a copy of the most recent response to a Freedom of Information request I made to Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary, which shows the number of illegal immigration offenders dealt with at the ports of Loch Ryan (formerly Stranraer) and Cairnryan between 2009 and March this year.
The number of illegal entrants is defined as “a person who has entered the United Kingdom without obtaining the necessary permission from the Home office.” As you will see from the three tables on pages one and two of the FOI response, the number of illegal entrants detected at the Galloway Ports has increased from 67 in 2009 to 120 in 2011 – an increase of 80%.
During that same period, the proportion of the travelling public being checked has actually fallen from around 2% to 0.4%. Given these figures, it is likely that the number of illegal entrants detected is just the tip of the iceberg and the true numbers will be much larger.
While there have been attempts to improve the border security in Northern Ireland, the fact the number of illegal entrants being detected in the Galloway Ports is still increasing clearly demonstrates this is not working.
In addition to illegal immigration, the FOI response also shows that since 2009 the police have made over £1 million worth of seizures at the ports.
While immigration is a UK Government issue, I hope that the Scottish Government will take a more pro-active role in working in conjunction with the UK Government to ensure the safety and security of the ports. Given these latest figures, I hope the UK and Scottish Governments will consider initiating a joint investigation into the border security at the ports. I have also written to Home Secretary in the hope we can all work together on this issue.
I look forward to your response, and trust you will treat this issue with the urgency it demands.
Yours sincerely
Russell Brown MP

NOTHING COULD DISGUISE THE FACT THE MINISTER CAME “EMPTY HANDED”

NOTHING COULD DISGUISE THE FACT THE MINISTER CAME “EMPTY HANDED”

THE SNP MUST STOP JUST TALKING AND “ACTUALLY START DELIVERING FOR OUR REGION”

Commenting on the Youth Unemployment Action Summit in Dumfries today, Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown said:

“Nothing could disguise the fact that the Minister came to Dumfries empty handed. I had hoped she would have announced some specific funding for our region, because so far we have been forgotten by the Scottish Government. Local people are paying the price for the SNP Government’s refusal to give Dumfries and Galloway its fair share of help to tackle the jobs crisis. The Scottish Government has spent £9 million on youth unemployment and set up a network of Enterprise Zones, but our region received none of it.”

Speaking about the businesses and young people who attended the summit, Russell Brown said:

“I speak to local businesses all the time and, as usual, they had a wealth of knowledge about how to tackle the jobs crisis and they are frustrated because the help they need just isn’t there. Many are concerned that Government doesn’t understand our area or take account of the vast distances people have to sometimes travel to find a job compared to the central belt. I don’t think the Government recognises that just because a scheme works in the central belt doesn’t mean it can simply be transplanted here. We didn’t hear anything from the Minister about what she will do to change that.

“I want to pay particular tribute to the young people who attended the summit. They spoke with such passion and enthusiasm for getting into work that it really pains me to see so many on the dole. The Minister has been left in no doubt of the real challenges facing our region and I just hope that after she reflects on what she heard, that the SNP will stop just talking and actually start delivering for our region.”

ENDS


CONTACT – ANDREW MACKENZIE 07769206856

OLYMPIC TORCH RELAY “A PROUD DAY FOR OUR REGION”

OLYMPIC TORCH RELAY “A PROUD DAY FOR OUR REGION”

Commenting on the Olympic torch’s passage through Dumfriesshire yesterday (Thursday), Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown said:

“With the eyes of the world on us, this was a proud day for our region and we gave the torch a fantastic Scottish send off. Thousands of people came out to see the torch up close and cheer on the local heroes who were carrying the flame. After the disappointment of our area being missed out of the initial plans for the relay route, it was a real delight to see the torch on home soil.”

Dumfriesshire MSP Elaine Murray said:

“The turnout right across Dumfriesshire was fantastic and everyone seemed to have enjoyed themselves. I was especially pleased to see so many children watching the torch, as it was a moment they will remember for the rest of their lives.”

ENDS


CONTACT – ANDREW MACKENZIE 07769206856