It was encouraging to see large gatherings of people on Sunday attending the remembrance services across our communities. I laid wreaths at three services in my constituency over the course of the day and observed not just high numbers of people but also lots of younger people paying their respects and taking part in services. I met a man at the service in Lochore who was in his 70’s and he showed me a photo of him as a child sitting on his father’s knee and told me he never got to know his father as he was killed in the Second World War at the age of 25. And that really brings home to you the horror of war and why it is right that we do remember and pay respect to all the brave men from our communities who went off to war to defend their country our country and never returned. I hope it also makes us much more aware that today we still live in a very unstable world and we should place a demand on all our leaders to work with countries around the world to bring about peace and stability in every region of the world.
I also had the pleasure this week of attending the Cowdenbeath Area Youth Awards, the ‘YOSCARS’ and presented an award to a youth group from my home village of Kelty in recognition of their work to design and raise money for a new skate park. Other groups in the Cowdenbeath are have also brought forward plans and raised money and later this year all these communities will have new skate parks thanks to the work of the young people involved. From biking to caring and supporting others the work of young people in our communities is to be commended.
Last week I spoke in a debate in the Parliament on the issue of Town Centres and was able to highlight the work of the BIDs and Fife Council in Dunfermline where many projects such as the digital signage and lighting up of historic buildings have been introduced. I also was able to highlight some of the difficulties in Cowdenbeath High Street and the work I am kicking off with Community Development Scotland looking at forming a development trust for the High Street area. People have changed their shopping habits both in terms of large out of town and supermarkets as well as internet shopping so we do need to be more imaginative in how we support town centres including bringing housing back into centres and breaking down barriers for local enterprise and specialist shops to locate and using the planning and rating system to support town centres.
This week I have also been meeting with a number of employers across the constituency discussing with them how business and industry can play its part in partnership with schools and colleges in supporting young people to gain the qualifications and skills required to be in a position to get access to apprenticeships and jobs. I have been speaking up in the Parliament for a new approach that puts every bit as much value on vocational education as that placed on academic. I want to see the massive cuts to college budgets being reversed and a new partnership between employers, schools and colleges that gives our young people the best chances for skills and jobs. I note that there is another planning application for Rosyth to build more pods to house workers from abroad whilst all around us we have unacceptable levels of unemployment. This simply does not add up and we must address the skills gap at home.
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