Nicola Sturgeon is today outlining key guarantees for pensioners offered by independence – and challenged Labour to back them instead of backing the Tories.

Scotland’s Future sets out a process to set a state pension age that is appropriate for Scotland, to retain the savings credit, uprate pension credit and the state pension by a triple-lock that keeps pace with the cost of living and set the value of the Single Tier Pension in Scotland at a minimum of £160 per week - a move that will benefit new pensioners by £260 a year compared to what is estimated to be on offer from the anti-independence parties.

Meanwhile, as the referendum campaign enters its final weeks, Labour is standing firmly behind the Tories and their plans to increase the state pension age to 67 at an accelerated pace, their failure to properly uprate entitlement to pension credit, their decision to abolish the savings credit which hits poorer pensioners and their utter failure to state what the value of the single tier pension will be.

Commenting, SNP Depute Leader and Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“Gordon Brown and Labour have to explain why they are backing Tory plans to cut payments for pensioners across Scotland.

"When he was the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown backed a much slower increase in the state pension age, but now the Labour party has joined the Tories in plans to increase the state pension age to 67 from 2026.

“This decision is unfair to men and women across Scotland and will mean that Scottish pensioners continue to lose on average £10,000 compared to pensioners in the rest of the UK.

“The decision to follow the Tory lead and abolish savings credit is a direct hit on poorer pensioners who have saved for their retirement.

“This is a particularly mean spirited decision and Labour should be ashamed that they have signed up with the Tories on this cut.

“Similarly the decision not to increase pension credit in line with the triple-lock is a blow to poorer pensioners

“Labour and the Tories are singing from the same hymn sheet on pension cuts and it is only a Yes vote that will protect pensioners in future from these cuts.

“Scotland is a rich country which can well afford to fund out pension payments and an independent Scotland will give pensions and pensioners the priority they deserve. It is only with independence that all our pensioners will be protected from Tory cuts.”

MacDonald Launches £4 million Inner Forth Landscape initiative

21 August 2014 saw the official launch of the £4 million Inner Forth Landscape initiative. The launch was marked by a reception in The Scottish Parliament hosted by Falkirk East MSP, Angus MacDonald.

In March 2014, RSPB Scotland, on behalf of the Inner Forth Landscape Initiative Partnership, was awarded a grant of £1.9 million through the National Lottery’s Heritage Lottery Fund Landscape Partnership Scheme programme. This will enable delivery of the £4m programme of work developed by the Initiative.
The Inner Forth Landscape Initiative is an exciting programme of work that will conserve, enhance and celebrate the unique landscape, natural and cultural heritage of the upper reaches of the Firth of Forth.

The IFLI partnership is made up of RSPB Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage, Falkirk Council, Stirling Council, Clackmannanshire Council, Central Scotland Green Network Trust, Sustrans, Historic Scotland and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency. It covers an area stretching from Bo’ness and Rosyth to the east to Stirling to the west, and consists of 50 individual but inter-related projects that will run between now and 2018

Commenting on the official launch of the initiative, Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald said:

“I am delighted to host the launch of the Inner Forth Landscape - it’s an unique project that sees many agencies working together to develop and utilise the landscape across the Forth Valley area.”

“I’m pleased that many of the projects in my constituency are already underway, with many more still at the planning stage. In my constituency alone, there are projects ranging from drystone walling outside Bo’ness to church restoration at Kinneil Estate, aquatic projects at Bothkennar and Skinflats and an orchard at the Pineapple at Dunmore.

“I look forward to progress on all 50 projects over the coming months and years, and also look forward to seeing the fruits of everyone’s hard work in four years’ time when all the projects are due to be completed.”

MSP unveils revamped gardens at Jupiter Urban Wildlife Centre

Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald cutting the ribbon with Alexander Edwind and Emma from the Jupiter Wildlife Watch Club

 Angus cutting the ribbon with Emma, Alexander and Edwind from the Jupiter Wildlife Watch Club

The refurbished wildlife gardens at the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Jupiter Urban Wildlife Centre have been reopened by MSP for Falkirk East, Angus McDonald.

Thanks to a £36,000 grant from The Veolia Environmental Trust, awarded through the Landfill Communities Fund, the Scottish Wildlife Trust is undertaking an extensive upgrade at Jupiter Urban Wildlife Centre to reinvigorate the demonstration wildlife gardens, improve the all-abilities accessibility of its facilities and improve the on-site interpretation and signage.

The initial phase of this project - the demonstration wildlife gardens - is now finished and ready for the public to enjoy once again.

The gardens have been completely redesigned and are now separated into three distinct areas, illustrating how the most popular domestic garden styles can incorporate wildlife friendly features.

The ‘Upcycled Garden’ demonstrates how domestic products can be repurposed and recycled into beautiful, wildlife friendly features. It also shows how even the smallest garden can incorporate nectar and pollen-rich plants to benefit vital pollinating insects.

Using a more traditional design, the ‘Rustic Garden’ has raised, timber planters filled with vegetables and herbs but still has room for garden birdfeeders, insect homes, a small pond and a small wildflower meadow.

The ‘Contemporary Garden’ is a modern design which incorporates cutting-edge wildlife features, such as a wildlife tower which creates habitat for mini-beasts, pollinators and birds. The highlight of this garden is the wildlife friendly lawn, filled with low-growing wildflowers - perfect for important pollinating insects. 

Commenting after the official opening, Falkirk East MSP, Angus MacDonald said: “I am delighted to support Jupiter Urban Wildlife Centre; it is a fantastic asset for Grangemouth and provides a great educational and recreational experience for all ages. That is why I have tabled a motion in The Scottish Parliament today which welcomes the official opening of the upgraded wildlife garden.

“The £36,000 funding from The Veolia Environmental Trust has made this upgrade of the gardens possible and we are all extremely grateful.

“The popularity of the gardens is a credit to the staff and volunteers from the Scottish Wildlife Trust who put a lot of time and effort into the project. I am sure that the upgraded gardens will be enjoyed by many thousands of people over the years to come.”

The Scottish Wildlife Trust Reserve Manager for East Central Scotland, Rory Sandison, said: “The Trust would like to thank Angus McDonald MSP for making time to open the refurbished wildlife gardens, and The Veolia Environmental Trust for making it all possible.

“Not only will people be able to enjoy the gardens when they visit, but the real aim is that they are inspired to use some of the techniques themselves. Members of the public are welcome to come to Jupiter Urban Wildlife Centre and ask staff more about the techniques and to utilise them in their own gardens.

“Wildlife friendly gardening is a great way to encourage hedgehogs, birds and pollinators to use your garden as their home, while also allowing people to get more in touch with the natural world around them.”

The Executive Director of The Veolia Environmental Trust, Paul Taylor, added:  “It is great to hear that these improved gardens are now open so that people of all ages and abilities can visit and enjoy them, and engage with nature and learn about simple steps they can take to make their gardens more wildlife-friendly. I look forward to hearing about the gardens thriving in the future.”

Copyright © Angus MacDonald MSP 2014

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