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Scottish Socialist Party

Colin Fox, co-convenor of the Scottish Socialist Party and former Lothians MSP, tonight called for the extension of the SNP Governments proposal to abolish NHS hospital car park fees to include the crucial Scottish PFI built hospitals.

Edinburgh and Glasgow Royal Infirmary’s and Ninewells in Dundee, all Private Financial Initiative built hospitals, will continue to operate private profit car parks.

Colin, a campaigner against PFI private finance of public facilities from before the first brick was laid at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary hospital, said this evening;

“It will come as a blessed relief for thousands of Scots that they will no longer have to pay to park their car when they visit sick family and friends.
“For thousands of us, though, the iniquity of the Private Finance Initiative hospitals will sicken us yet another time.
“Private car park charges are to continue in 3 of Scotland’s biggest hospitals; Glasgow and Edinburgh Royal Infirmary’s and at Ninewells in Dundee.
“The Scottish Socialists welcome the SNP government’s realisation that this issue has caused great resentment amongst NHS patients and their families but we want to know why the PFI hospitals were excluded.
“Every NHS patient and family who will continue to pay private car park costs will echo the call of the SSP to force PFI hospitals to end private profiteering from the sick.”

The Scottish Socialists hit the Glenrothes campaign trail at the weekend, greeting passengers at Markinch Station with the offer of free public transport. Prospective candidate, Morag Balfour also took time to assess access at the station for disabled travellers.

“Free public transport is an unashamedly socialist response to the problems of increased carbon emissions,” explained Ms Balfour. “The reduction in transport emissions we can expect from this policy would make our environment more sustainable. It would also help reduce levels of asthma and other respiratory diseases that blight the lives of thousands and cost the NHS millions of pounds every year.”

The chaos on Scotland’s roads would also be alleviated by the policy’s implementation, said Ms Balfour.

“Scottish businesses are seriously impacted by the working hours lost to traffic congestion. Free public transport could save businesses in Scotland up to £1,000 million every year. Workers forced to waste hours in traffic jams, when they would rather be with their families, or engaging in leisure activities would also benefit from a properly integrated and free public transport system. Not to mention the extra £40 to £100 they wouldn’t need to fork out each month.”

The SSP candidate further claimed that low income families – who rely most on public transport – would be the principle beneficiaries.

“An anti-poverty, pro-social inclusion policy like free public transport takes the burden of funding away from those who can ill-afford it, yet need it so much and enables that expenditure to be shared amongst those who can. It’s not rocket science, just common sense!”

With regard to the new facilities at Markinch, Ms Balfour took the opportunity to offer her praise.

“A purpose-built project like this one shows what can be done when people in power take the time to think creatively not just about function, but about outward appearance. Markinch Station shows what can be done, but we have a long way to go to make the principles of the Disability Discrimination Act a living reality in Scotland.”

Members of the Scottish Socialist Party in Cumbernauld have been campaigning against the threatened closure of a local post office in the Kildrum area of the town.As part of their plans to close up to 2 500 post office branches across the country, Royal Mail have announced another raft of proposed closures in Lanarkshire, Ayrshire, Inverclyde and Renfrewshire. Scandalously they are aiming to close 44 branches in communities across these areas.

SSP member Liz Hair commented, “As a long term resident of Kildrum I was shocked when I heard of the plans to close our post office. I know it is a well-used and important facility for many of us in the area and its loss would be felt by many in Kildrum. It once again seems a case of the interests of communities and individuals being put behind corporate interests and when you consider Royal Mail is supposedly there to provide a public service then this closure cannot be justified.”

As well as campaigning against individual closures in Kildrum, Banton and Queenzieburn, the party is highlighting that the blame for these attempted closure lies at the feet of both Royal Mail management and the government who both seem determined to run the postal service down and hand it over to private companies.

Party member Kevin McVey added, “This closure threat is part of a longer process whose endgame is privatisation of our postal services. Services have been stripped out of local post offices and handed to banks and profitable postal routes are being cherry picked by big business. The public purse is effectively cross subsidising those interested in making a profit from another key public service. Our primary concern is to save Kildrum and the other post offices threatened with closure, but the bigger picture cannot be ignored as another of our valued public services is being sacrificed on the altar of Labour’s slavish support for free market policies.”

SSP members in communities facing the lost of their local post offices will be aiming to work with these communities to keep their local post offices open and keep our postal services out of the hands of private companies. Privatised energy companies are showing what happens when our key services and utilities are run for profit not need.


Socialists Condemn Privatisation Threat

Posted by Eddie Truman |

Members of East Kilbride Scottish Socialist Party are involved in campaigning against the threat of privatisation of a local GP practice in the town.

Lanarkshire NHS Health Board have put one of the practices at Alison Lea Medical Centre out to tender in a process that could see private healthcare companies being brought into providing frontline services in the NHS.

Local SSP member and ex-MSP Carolyn Leckie commented, “how ironic in the month that sees the 60th anniversary of the NHS that Lanarkshire Health Board seem determined to undermine public control of our local health services. Having failed before in their attempts to hive off local surgeries elsewhere in Lanarkshire they are back to try again in East Kilbride. Privatisation of our health service will be a disaster, as it will mean that profit will come before patients and that flies in the face of the basic ethos of the NHS, which is about appropriate healthcare for all at the point of need. The Health Board must be made to see sense and make sure this creeping privatisation is stopped.”

Local campaigning, which involved the SSP, has previously stopped an earlier attempt by the health board to privatise a GP practice in Harthill in North Lanarkshire and a similar campaign will be needed to ensure the practice remains under NHS control.

Whilst an MSP, Carolyn raised concerns over links that individuals who once worked on the health board had with big private health providers like SERCO, who may again bid in East Kilbride, and sought to get the Scottish Parliament to agree to rule out the type of privatisation threatened at Alison Lea.

Carolyn added, “I was concerned that big health care corporations were looking at the potential profits from not just auxiliary services in the NHS but from front line services to patients and at that time were being given encouragement by the Labour Executive and the then health minister, East Kilbride MSP Andy Kerr. Those concerns remain with a health board that’s committed to privatisation, as Lanarkshire seems to be. Local people need to make their voices heard and the current administration could do worse than to look at the Bill for ‘Patients Not Profit’ that I laid in the last Parliament to stop this whole process in its tracks.”


All Out On 20th August

Posted by Eddie Truman |

A bit of working class history is being made in Scotland on Wednesday 20th August. For the first time ever, all three trade unions in all 32 Scottish local authorities are taking united strike action. The cause is a derisory pay offer from COSLA, the coalition of Labour, SNP and Lib Dem councils; an offer that falls far short of inflation and that would imprison up to 200,000 workers in pay cuts for the next three years.
Read SSP workplace organiser Richie Venton here...