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Call for no further delay in delivery of new community hospital

New analysis has revealed that the East Lothian community hospital is among almost 50 major infrastructure projects that are delayed or over budget in Scotland.

The analysis by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) identified the community hospital as one of 30 projects that have had their completion date changed to a later date, although the delay is only by a month on this occasion.

Following this latest delay, Iain Gray MSP is calling on the Scottish Government to ensure there is no further slippage in the timetable for delivering the project.

Iain Gray MSP said:

“Unfortunately, the news that our community hospital has suffered a further delay in its completion comes as no surprise. After all, it suffered a 10 year delay after the Scottish Government’s decision to turn the hospital into a “Scottish Futures Trust” PFI project.

“Ministers also rubber-stamped NHS Lothian’s plans to downgrade the surgery carried out in Haddington meaning the new facility will no longer undertake surgery under general anaesthetic.

“While the latest delay is minor compared with the decade lost by Ministers’ dithering, it means that the project will not be completed until 2020, 13 years after the SNP first assumed office.

“I want to ensure that this is the last delay in this vital project. East Lothian has waited long enough for a new community hospital and it should now be delivered without further delay.”

Iain helps open new nursery in Haddington

Iain Gray MSP has helped the Pear Tree nursery in Haddington open a second facility on the town’s West Road.

The new nursery, which features a giant indoor sandpit and separate baby unit with a sensory room and quiet areas, was officially opened by Mr Gray at a ceremony earlier this week.

Speaking about the opening of the new nursery, Iain Gray MSP said:

“Pear Tree Nursery has been doing a great job for many Haddington families in recent – years – including my own grandsons.  I have seen for myself on lots of occasions the great atmosphere in the existing nursery, and have watched that reflected in the many national awards Pear Tree has won for the quality of their provision.

“I was delighted then to help open the new Pear Tree in West Road.  This is a beautiful building, and it has been fitted out to provide the best of care.  Not only will it increase the availability of childcare, but it will create a significant number of new jobs in the town too.  This is now a highly qualified and professional sector, and Pear Tree has a great track record on staff support and training, so these are excellent opportunities for local people.

“With childcare entitlement expanding and the town of Haddington also increasing in size this is a much needed and welcome facility.  I look forward to visiting again soon when it is fully up and running.”

Iain welcomes Community Foundation’s support for local charity

Iain Gray MSP has presented local charity East Lothian Roots and Fruits with a cheque for £1000 and a signed ball and strip from Hibs to support their fundraising efforts.

Combining his roles as local MSP and Chair of the Hibernian Community Foundation, which made the donation to the charity, Mr Gray presented project manager Pamela McKinlay with the cheque, strip and ball at the charity’s base in Elphinstone.

Speaking after the presentation, Iain Gray MSP said:

“As the local MSP I have long been a supporter of the work of East Lothian Roots and Fruits​, and their promotion of healthier eating across the County.

“So I was delighted, in my role as Chair of the Hibernian Community Foundation​, to present them with a cheque for £1000, along with a signed ball and signed strip, which was worn by Ryan Porteous in last season’s famous 5-5 draw with Rangers.

“This was a win-win for the Foundation, because we deliver a programme of work to encourage healthier lifestyles, including healthier eating, and we also do much of our work at the Hibernian Training Centre where Roots and Fruits, now based in Elphinstone, are our near neighbours.

“We have ambitious plans to develop a new community facility at the Training Centre, with a community food element, so we are hoping to be doing much more in partnership with Roots and Fruits in the future.”

Roots and Fruits Project Manager, Pamela McKinlay said:

“The Hibernian Community Foundation have been a great support to our project in many ways over the past few months especially when our project is facing challenging times. It is great to know that there are people out there who believe in our project and what we aim to do and support us.

“The money and the football items that they have donated to us will be put to good use and help us to continue the work that we do for the people and communities throughout East Lothian. We look forward to continuing working with them in the future.”

Brenda Black, Project Manager at Hibernian Community Foundation, said:

“We are absolutely thrilled to offer Pam and her loyal team at Roots and Fruits a donation of a unique match-day top, ball and cheque for £1000. We have been truly inspired by their commitment to serve and connect the local community through healthier food provision.

“It was great to meet their customers at the Elphinstone store today and chat to them about getting out-and-about in East Lothian.  We hope to continue our relationship with Roots and Fruits and be back soon for more delicious seasonal produce.”

Iain applauds East Lothian on Year of Young People activity

Iain Gray MSP has welcomed the announcement that East Lothian Council has been awarded £10,000 in lottery funding to support a project to encourage young people from under-represented backgrounds to take part in sport.

The Futures Project is one of numerous activities undertaken by East Lothian Council to promote and support Scotland’s Year of Young People, including the county’s first Youth Summit and its young provost competition.

Iain Gray MSP said:

“East Lothian Council deserves great credit for its work on the Year of Young People. It has really embraced the opportunity the year presents and organised a diverse range of events and projects to engage and empower the county’s young people.

“The Futures Project is another great example of this work, with the lottery funding supporting young leaders to design and deliver mini projects to engage underrepresented groups in sport. This is a really worthwhile project which I hope will provide an important legacy from the Year of Young People.”

Iain backs charity’s fundraising with shop visit

Iain Gray MSP has visited Chest, Heart & Stroke Scotland’s Haddington shop to meet staff and volunteers and help promote the charity’s important work.

The visit came just weeks after CHSS published its new strategy ‘No Life Half Lived’. It sets out the charity’s ambition to reach over 250,000 people in Scotland with its support and services by 2021, including the families and carers of those affected.

Mr Gray met with CHSS Policy Manager, Katherine Byrne, to discuss the strategy and its plans for doing more to help the 1 in 5 of Scotland’s population who are affected by conditions such as stroke, asthma, coronary heart disease, chronic lung disease, and heart failure.

He then joined Ms Byrne in visiting the Haddington shop to meet staff and volunteers and find out more about how the funds raised there contribute to CHSS’s overall activity.

Speaking after the visit, Iain Gray MSP said:

“Chest, Heart & Stroke Scotland is one of the most active and respected charity’s in the Scottish health sector. It undertakes great work raising awareness, supporting people living with various conditions and lobbying for better care and services. Its ambitious new strategy is set to take that work to another level and I’m very happy to support their work.

“One of the ways I agreed to help was by publicising a national survey of people’s experience of living with these conditions, which CHSS is running throughout the month of July. It can be completed on the charity’s website and I would urge any East Lothian residents with experience of these conditions to send their feedback in now.

“I also agreed to help promote CHSS’s fundraising activity and encourage local people to volunteer for them. To support this, I visited their Haddington shop, although I have been a regular customer there for many years so it was already very familiar to me. It always has some great bargains and is a vital part of the charity’s fundraising efforts.”

Katherine Byrne, Chest, Heart & Stroke Scotland’s Policy Manager, said:

“Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland is excited about the support we’re seeing for our new strategy – No Life Half Lived – which sets out our ambition to double the number of people we reach with our support services across the country. 

“One in five of Scotland’s population are living with chest or heart conditions like COPD, asthma, and heart failure, or have had a stroke or heart attack.  With our help, we want people to live their lives well, with the right support at the right time and in the right place.  Our shops, like the one in Haddington, give us vital income to allow us to deliver our services.

“We also want to hear from people about what their experience is of living with these health conditions, which is why we’re carrying out a national survey at until 31st July, to give people a voice.

You can find out more about donating or supporting the charity’s work as a volunteer at


Motion acknowledges Haddington RFC’s world record attempt

A motion highlighting the forthcoming world record attempt by Haddington RFC has been tabled in the Scottish Parliament.

Iain Gray MSP put down the motion to mark the club’s attempt to have 700 people involved in a tag rugby match on 12th August, which would shatter the current record of 442 people.

Speaking about the motion, Iain Gray MSP said:

“The various activities for the Haddington 700 celebrations have already given the town many memorable moments but if this world record attempt is achieved it will be a real highlight.

“Given its high profile, I felt it was appropriate to acknowledge the attempt in Parliament and raise awareness of Haddington 700 and what the club is trying to achieve among my parliamentary colleagues.

“I will be following the details of the attempt closely over the next few weeks and wish the club and everyone involved in trying to break the world record every success with it.”

The full motion is as follows:

That the Parliament welcomes the success of Haddington RFC in being awarded a £1,000 top prize by Royal Bank RugbyForce, the nationwide rugby programme launched by Royal Bank in partnership with Scottish Rugby, and in securing a visit from a current Scottish International player during this year’s RugbyForce weekend, which takes place on 11-12 August 2018; notes that, in addition to using some of the funding to support a recruitment drive to increase playing numbers at all levels and funding community engagement projects, the club will also attempt to invite 700 people for the world’s largest game of tag rugby with the aim of marking one person for each year since the town of Haddington gained a Royal Charter and thereby beating the current world record of 442 people, and wishes the club and everyone involved the best of luck with the attempt.


Iain backs Council on Cockenzie power station site planning application

Responding to East Lothian Council’s decision to urge the Scottish Government to refuse the planning application for an electricity substation at the former Cockenzie power station site, Iain Gray MSP said:

“I welcome East Lothian Council’s decision to urge the Scottish Government to reject the substation planning application. I campaigned for Ministers to return the substation decision to the Council and local communities to determine, but as they are not minded to do that I hope they will do the right thing and reject the application.

“As the Council has pointed out, if Ministers do allow the application the potential of the site to deliver new jobs and economic development for the area will be put at risk. This is a once in a generation opportunity for East Lothian that should not be jeopardised by SNP Ministers in Edinburgh.”

Pledging support for Armed Forces Day

The county’s MSP and MP have pledged their support for this year’s Armed Forces Day, the annual celebration of the UK’s outstanding Armed Forces personnel, veterans, Service families and cadets.

Iain Gray MSP attended East Lothian Council’s Armed Forces Day flag raising ceremony in Haddington today (Monday 25th June), while both Mr Gray and Martin Whitfield MP also showed their support ahead of the day, which takes place on Saturday 30th June.

Armed Forces Day was initiated in 2009 as a way for the public and elected representatives to pay tribute to the men and women who serve in the Armed Forces and recognise their huge contribution to the UK.

In addition to providing the opportunity to publicly celebrate our Armed Forces, the day also aims to help raise awareness and understanding of the role of the Royal Navy, the Army, the Royal Air Force, Reservists, veterans, cadets and the wider Armed Forces family across the UK.

Speaking after the local ceremony, Iain Gray MSP said:

“Armed Forces Day is an important opportunity for communities to recognise the service local people make to the UK’s outstanding Armed Forces. Our first rate Service personnel put themselves in danger around the world to protect the UK’s interests and provide assistance to others. This annual event is a fitting way to pay tribute to them for all that they do for us.”

Martin Whitfield MP said:

“Many families throughout East Lothian have a strong connection to and affinity with the UK’s Armed Forces, and care deeply about our Service personnel. Armed Forces Day provides them and communities across the UK with a chance to acknowledge and honour the contribution of those who are currently serving, as well as those who have served in the past.”

Find out more about Armed Forces Day and show your support for it at

Local project leads way on understanding adoption issues in schools

A pioneering project run here in East Lothian is helping to inform a national campaign on raising awareness around attachment issues for adopted and looked after children.

Iain Gray MSP met with representatives of Adoption UK at Holyrood to learn more about the Attachment Ambassadors’ Project which the charity has been running in the North Berwick schools cluster.

The project aims to raise awareness of attachment issues and early trauma which can put children at a significant disadvantage in schools unless handled with sensitivity, understanding and appropriate responses to challenging behaviour.

The project ran a series of workshops and training events for teachers, other school staff and parents, covering issues such as child development, inclusion and peer support. An in-service day conference on attachment, relationships and resilience was also attended by 130 teachers.

Six teachers, one in each cluster school, subsequently became Attachment Ambassadors, attending training provided by Adoption UK and receiving ongoing support in the form of group and 1 to 1 meetings.

Following the success of the project in the North Berwick cluster, the charity is planning to roll out the same project structure in schools in the Haddington and Lammermuir partnership area.

At the same time as this local project was being delivered, Adoption UK has been developing its Equal Chance campaign to make every school attachment-aware and raise awareness of the systemic changes needed to give adopted children the same chances as their peers.

The campaign launches on 27th June and Iain Gray MSP will host a reception at the Scottish Parliament on 4th September to highlight the campaign and its objectives to MSPs and the Scottish Government.

Iain Gray MSP said:

“I was pleased to meet with representatives of Adoption UK and find out more about its Attachment Ambassadors’ Project. The project has clearly been a big success in the North Berwick cluster, with teachers, other staff, parents and pupils themselves all benefiting from the training and support it has provided.

“We know that looked after and adopted children can face particular challenges at school, so it’s really positive to see East Lothian playing an important part in helping to increase understanding of children’s experience of attachment issues and how schools can better support them.

“The experience in schools in the North Berwick cluster shows that the project is not only beneficial for adopted children but that all children can benefit from increased awareness and understanding of attachment issues, relationships and resilience, as well as behaviour management approaches.

“I am sure that the Haddington cluster project will go on to be a similar success, and look forward to helping promote the charity’s Equal Chance campaign at their parliamentary reception later in the year.”

Fiona Aitken, Adoption UK’s Director, Scotland, said:

“We are grateful to have received funding to continue our work in schools in East Lothian – our continued presence in the area allows us to offer ongoing support to teachers and schools who have implemented our Attachment Ambassador programme.  

“This programme, led by our education project manager and adoptive parent Kathy Allan, offers an opportunity for all children to benefit from school staff team’s increased knowledge and awareness of trauma and attachment issues.

“Our Equal Chance campaign is designed to offer adopted children the same chance as their peers in school, through programmes such as ours and encouragement of others to ensure their needs are better met and understood in their educational placement. Adopted and care experienced children are at a disadvantage due to their early experiences – we want to change their experiences of school to support them to achieve their potential.  

“We are delighted to be highlighting this campaign at our parliamentary event on 4th September, and very pleased to have the support of Mr Gray in the campaign and through the sponsorship of this event.”

SNP Government lets local students down again

Iain Gray MSP has hit out at the SNP Scottish Government’s response to its own review of student support, after ministers ignored the main recommendation – the introduction of a minimum student income of £8,100.

The SNP were elected in 2007 with a promise to abolish student debt and loans, and bring back student grants for all. But instead of “dumping the debt”, they subsequently dumped the promise.

In 2013 they slashed grants for students from low income families, and as a result student debt has doubled under the SNP. Under pressure, they promised a review of student support, and earlier this month, the Minister for HE and FE finally responded to the Review.

Speaking about the Government’s response, Iain Gray MSP said:

“I welcomed the Government’s decision to establish a review of student support as an opportunity to solve a serious and longstanding problem. It came up with some positive recommendations, including the proposal to introduce a minimum student income of £8,100 which would have helped hundreds of students from East Lothian.

“The Government’s response came six months after the review’s recommendations and over 18 months since it was first announced. After that long delay, ministers simply ignored the review’s main recommendation and announced changes to bursaries instead.

“The changes to bursaries mean the Government have nowhere near restored their own 2013 cuts. Once these changes eventually take place, the maximum bursary entitlement for a disadvantaged young person at university will still be over £600 lower than in 2013.

“In fact, all students will get is £125 on their grant, and not until 2019/20. That is £2.40 per week, nowhere near enough to help improve the lives of struggling students in East Lothian or elsewhere in Scotland.”