East Kilbride News Column September 2018

PEOPLE have been complaining about the train service in East Kilbride for as long as I can remember.

Not for the sake of it but with good reason. Crowded carriages, cancelled trains, too few trains taking too long, lack of parking – it’s quite a list. As politicians we can only do so much but what we can do is talk to the right people. The best way to do this quite often is in the background, quietly, without issuing a press release.

That’s what Linda Fabiani and I have been doing. We are political rivals but we work together well and we both know what needs to be done. The other week Linda and I had a very positive meeting with rail industry representatives and I would say things are now moving in the right direction – that people are on board.

Of course, if the train service here is to improve that could lead to extra demand and that would mean even more parking is required. We don’t have enough as it is. I have argued for a long time that South Lanarkshire Council could make a case for City Deal money to help fund rail improvements here – including car parking. They should ditch the plan to dual Stewartfield Way, which is only wanted by a handful of folk. But the dithering at the top of the council is extraordinary and it is serving no one well.

I sit on the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Communities Committee and we have been paying close attention the City Deals, largely on the back of some of the more bonkers projects that have been thrown into the mix. Readers can be assured that we will continue our scrutiny and I will report back.

Much of my time at the moment is being taken up by the Planning Bill as it goes through parliament. We are currently debating and voting on around 300 amendments – many in my name – and it is going to take weeks. The SNP is losing votes on amendments every week and doesn’t seem to know what to do.

I have tabled an amendment which would allow councils to acquire land at existing use value and then use the increase in value which happens when planning permission is given to fund infrastructure.  This profit can then be used to spend on affordable housing, new roads and better infrastructure. It would also allow councils to parcel off land to smaller builders and those who aspire to build their own homes.

It’s not a new idea – it’s what was used to build new towns, like East Kilbride. A new generation of these would go some way to easing the housing crisis and getting prices down for our youngsters. Highlighting yet again that only the Scottish Conservatives offer real solutions for the people of Scotland.