My Dunfermline Press Column for May 2014: Bedroom Tax and Rail Station at Halbeath.

Bedroom Tax
On the evening I was elected to the Scottish Parliament I highlighted the bedroom tax as a key priority that I would fight to get rid of. I did so because I believe this legislation is inhumane in that it attacks people on the basis of their income. If you are a couple and you have separate rooms you can do so as long as you are not on a low income, if you are disabled and you need an extra room or it is not suitable for you to sleep in the same room as your partner you can do so as long as you are not on a low income and if you have a spare room because you have your grandchildren stay over on a regular basis then that is ok as long as you are not on a low income. Then to top it all if you live in a two bed council house and you are deemed to have an extra room there is not a lot you can do anyway for the council does not have spare one bedroom accommodation for you. So on your very low income; you are liable for the bedroom tax.
I voted for John Swinneys budget partly on the basis it included an amendment from Ian Gray which agreed to allocate funds to fully mitigate the bedroom tax through discretionary housing payments to those affected. Since this was approved we have been caught in a technical debate about who had what powers but thankfully this seems to be resolved and the UK government have agreed to transfer the powers on the discretionary housing payments to the Scottish government. So we now seem to have an agreed means of effectively ending the impact of the bedroom tax in Scotland and I am calling for this to happen with immediate effect.

Rail Station Halbeath

This week I was able to secure a members debate on the Park and Choose at Halbeath making the argument for a rail halt to be included at this site. The motion I submitted for the debate stated; “That the Parliament welcomes the opening of the Halbeath Park and Ride scheme, which provides 1,000 free car parking spaces, including 48 disabled bays and 12 electric car charging bays, to residents of Cowdenbeath, Dunfermline and the surrounding towns and villages; understands that the scheme is already proving extremely popular with commuters and is a welcome transport link connecting Fife to the rest of Scotland, and considers that a rail link and railway station at the site would further the economic and transport potential of the scheme”.
Within the Strategic Transport Projects review (2009) both a Park and Ride Bus site and Park and Ride Rail Halt were identified as was the creation of a rail link between Inverkeithing and Halbeath, and improved access into the Port of Rosyth. Such a development would greatly enhance the rail network for Fife accessing the city region and would also reduce journey times from Aberdeen, Perth and Dundee to Edinburgh whilst the improvements for access to the Port will support the development of freight and the growth of the Port.
I am arguing that the Halt and Station estimated at a cost of £7 million be progressed as the first stage of the project and that a timeframe be developed for the Halbeath to Inverkeithing new line project including Rosyth access improvements with an estimated cost between £50 – £100 million at today’s prices. By achieving better transport links with the rest of Scotland we will greatly enhance the economic opportunities for Fife and Fifers.


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Post Author: Alex Rowley