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Scottish Labour’s Candidate in the Far North, John Erskine, has slammed SNP plans from Michael Matheson, the SNP Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Justice to wind up the British Transport Police.

 

The Minister announced today last week that Police Scotland will take over railway policing when the function is devolved. The move means that the British Transport Police (BTP) will no longer operate as a separate force in Scotland.

BTP wanted to continue providing this service, with oversight by Holyrood instead of Westminster but Mr Matheson wants the force's Scottish operations and more than 200 officers integrated into Police Scotland.

In a statement, the Scottish government said: "Police Scotland is responsible for all policing in Scotland outwith the railways and we believe the functions of the British Transport Police should be integrated within the single service.

The announcement has been criticised by local Labour candidate John Erskine, who said: 

“Thanks to the SNP obsession with the centralisation ,the Highlands has lost out and seen the loss of local accountability.  Nothing demonstrates this more than Police Scotland and the mistakes that have been made of arming the police.  Yet this SNP attempt to scrap BTP shows they have learnt nothing.  The Smith Agreement rightly agreed that the functions of the British Transport Police should be devolved with accountability to the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament. We did not agree to the BTP being scrapped and services being delivered by Police Scotland. The SNP wont stand up for the far north – they only stand for centralisation of services."

“Dissolving the BTP into Police Scotland is yet another attempt to centralise services and reduce accountability. BTP has a proud history and a reputation for effective policing. Funding is provided by the rail operators and it works seamlessly across jurisdictions. The SNP Government seems to be obsessed with power rather than looking at what's best for rail passengers.

“We have been given no guarantees on funding, legal jurisdiction on cross-border journeys or any guarantees about staffing and service levels on trains. Instead the SNP wants to wind up BTP and create an even bigger Police Scotland. 

“We have already witnessed rising complaints about the lack of accountability of Police Scotland and the way policies are being developed and delivered.  The SNP Government is trying to pull a fast one. The UK Government must resist any change until there are binding guarantees on funding, structures and accountability"

INDEPENDENCE OF BRITISH TRANSPORT POLICE MUST BE MAINTAINED

Scottish Labour’s Candidate in the Far North, John Erskine, has slammed SNP plans from Michael Matheson, the SNP Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Justice to wind up the British Transport Police....

John Erskine, Scottish Labour candidate for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross in May’s General Election, has expressed concerns over the long term future of the universal service obligation (USO) provide by the Royal Mail.

 This comes after a report by the UK Parliament’s Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) committee which warned that although the universal service was not currently under threat, this could change in a rapidly changing postal market and that Ofcom needed to protect the Royal Mail in a market which is experiencing a battle for lowest price competition.  Currently the Universal Service Obligations means that the postal service is available to everyone living United Kingdom, delivering at the same cost and with the same standard.  If the Universal Service Obligation was lost, those in rural areas like the Highlands could face similar prices from Royal Mail that they face from other couriers service with some rural communities already been charged up to 500 per cent more than the standard delivery rate by private courier companies

 John Erskine said:

 “It deeply concerning that the Committee report believes that Ofcom needs to have a plan to protect the USO.  The USO is vital to an area like ours as it means that local people do not have to pay over the odds when using the Royal Mail.  It is bad enough that they face such high charges from other delivery companies.  There can be no denying that this risk is due to the privatisation of the Royal Mail and it having to compete for profits instead of providing local people with a service.   When I and the local Labour Party were campaigning with the CWU’s Save Our Royal Mail campaign, we warned that the universal service may come under risk.  Yet this was ignored by the Tories and the Liberal Democrats as they went ahead and privatised our oldest public service.”

“If elected to represent Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross I will fight for the USO.  I know how important it is to local people and local businesses.  I will fight to get private delivery companies to reduce their delivery prices to our area.  Local people must stop being punished by this Government for living in the Highlands.”

LABOUR CANDIDATE EXPRESSES CONCERNS OVER LONG TERM FUTURE OF UNIVERSAL SERVICE OBLIGATION

John Erskine, Scottish Labour candidate for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross in May’s General Election, has expressed concerns over the long term future of the universal service obligation (USO) provide...

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This past Friday (13 March 2015) John Erskine, Scottish Labour candidate for the upcoming general election, followed the North Coast 500 as part of his election campaign. By following the North Highland Initiative’s latest tourism pull that showcases what the North Highlands has to offer.
 
Mr Erskine travelled along the west coast of the constituency on his way up to Thurso.  Along the way he stopped in a number of the villages on the route including Lochinver, Scourie, Durness, Tongue and Bettyhill to talk with local people about his and Scottish Labour’s plan for Scotland.  Mr Erskine also took the opportunity to meet with a couple of local businesses to discuss the challenges they face in the area as well as what advantages promoting the North Coast 500 as a key tourist route can bring.
 
Mr Erskine said:
 
“The North Coast 500 is a spectacular route.  The route takes in some of Scotland’s best natural sights such as Suilven and Smoo Cave.  These sights alone would be enough to attract tourists to the route,  and there are excellent  tourist attractions along the route as well such Ardvreck Castle and  the Craft Village in Durness.  I did the route with a few members of my campaign team who had never been on the route before and by the end of it, they could not believe they had waited so long to do it.  In fact they are planning a longer journey again this summer.  This is exactly kind of enthusiasm we need to generate to attract tourists to the remote Highlands in North West Sutherland and Caithness. “
“If elected in May, I will work alongside tourist organisations and local businesses to promote this route, as well as the constituency as a prime area for tourists from both home and abroad to visit.  As the route develops as proven attraction, I believe we should improve the route further by improving the roads on section of it.”
 

LABOUR CANDIDATE FOLLOWS NORTH COAST 500 ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL

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