Ash Lagoons

PROPOSALS to prevent the ash clouds that blighted West Fife villages will be discussed next month.

In April and May last year, dust from the lagoons at Low Valleyfield was carried on the wind and hung over the area for weeks, sparking health warnings from NHS Fife and enforcement action from SEPA (Scottish Environment Protection Agency).

Scottish Power apologised and have now come forward with proposals for engineering works and the final capping of the lagoons, with public exhibitions to be held in February.

The ash is a by-product of the coal burned at Longannet Power Station and when the plant was operational, the ash was mixed with water, transported and safely deposited in the lagoons.

Longannet closed in March 2016 and Scottish Power has no further need for the lagoons, which cover a vast area of more than 176 hectares – a full-size football pitch is typically just under one hectare.

After the disruption last year, the energy giant apologised and said the ash clouds had been caused by “exceptionally dry and windy” weather, adding that the dust was “not considered to be hazardous”.

However, SEPA served two enforcement notices on Scottish Power while school pupils were kept indoors at break times and NHS Fife issued several warnings.

This is an extract from the Dunfermline Press.  To read the full article click here.

Family Burns Supper

Saturday 27th January.

Torryburn Community Centre


7.30 pm – 10.30 pm
Adults £12. Children free. Pay at the door.   
Music by Dougie Smith.
Raffle Prizes gratefully accepted.
Donations of a dessert or biscuits and cheese most welcome.   BYOB

Jennie and Julian Smith work exceptionally hard to make this such an enjoyable event but we need your help, particularly for catering purposes so please e:mail by Wednesday 24th January giving your party numbers.

Many thanks.



Tory Power Grab threat to Scottish Parliament’s powers claims First Minister.

Nicola Sturgeon has warned that a “blatant power grab” by the Tories poses the biggest threat to the Scottish Parliament‘s powers since the vote for devolution two decades ago.

The First Minister’s dramatic claim came ahead of a landmark speech she is to deliver tomorrow to mark 20 years since the historic devolution referendum on September 11, 1997.

Writing for the Sunday Herald, Sturgeon said the devolution settlement is now under unprecedented attack from the UK Government‘s Brexit plans to repatriate powers from Brussels to London.

She warned of the urgent need to defend the parliament in Edinburgh and to prevent a massive step backwards for Scotland‘s democracy.

She said the UK Government’s EU withdrawal bill includes the “wholesale transfer of powers” from Brussels to Whitehall and Westminster.

However, she warned the transfer of those powers will see London take charge of policy areas traditionally devolved to Holyrood such as farming and fishing.

Sturgeon said the plan reverses the process of devolution for the first time since the opening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999.

To read the full article in the Herald click here. 


Sunday 8 October to Tuesday 10 October 2017
The Scottish Event Campus, Glasgow

If you wish to represent your branch as a delegate at the conference please let our secretary know by emailing her at

You can also attend as a visitor and you can arrange this via the website.




Alyn Smith’s latest Update on Brexit

“So, that was the third round of negotiations. I must admit, even I thought this was the week when the UK would get serious. In reality, nothing has happened. As Michel Barnier, the lead EU negotiator, said at the end of the week “we made no decisive progress on the main subjects.

The situation is rapidly becoming a farce.”

To read more of this update please click here.

The Impact of UK Welfare Policy

THE Tory government are making the poorest families in Scotland thousands of pounds poorer, with single parents the worst hit by George Osborne’s welfare reforms, a new report has claimed.

The Scottish Government research paper, The Impact of UK Welfare Policy on Families with Children, found cuts to benefits and welfare policy reforms implemented since 2015 have left some families losing as much as £4000 a year.

The Tories fought the 2015 General Election on a promise to cut welfare spending by £12 billion, and in that parliament, Osborne, chancellor at the time, moved fast to make significant changes to Britain’s benefits.

In his first budget he introduced a four-year freeze to working age benefits, keeping most welfare payments at 2015 levels until 2019, rather than increase them with the rate of pay.  He also introduced a two-child limit on Universal Credit and child tax credits, and a cap on local housing authority rent.

In their report, the Scottish Government say the four-year freeze to working age benefits is having the biggest impact in Scotland, leading to welfare cuts north of the Border of £370 million by 2020/21.

Researchers pulled together three different scenarios looking at how the changes affect lone parents, a couple on a low income, and a couple with four children where both parents work; in all of the case studies, the families lose at least £1000 every year.

For a lone parent with three children, including one born after April 2016, the difference, because of the two-child limit and freeze, is a drop of £4080 a year, with their income going from £23,385 to £19,205.   The researchers claim that even if the parent secures work, they will still be £940 a year worse off due to benefit changes.

Meanwhile, a working couple with two children face an estimated £1540 reduction in annual income to £24,300 by 2020/21

Researchers said the analysis does not take into account the impact of transitional protection payments which families may be entitled to and disregards entitlements to reclaim childcare costs under universal credit, claiming it is “less relevant”.

Previous research from the Institute of Fiscal Studies estimated that the UK Government’s welfare policies will cut, on average, more than 10 per cent from the incomes of low income families with children.

Equalities Secretary Angela Constance said: “By the end of this decade, the cuts being imposed on Scotland since 2010 are expected to reduce welfare spending in Scotland by nearly £4bn a year.  “As well as moral objections, taking money away from low income families makes no economic sense.  “This is money taken from the pockets of families that are already surviving on low incomes and pushing them into crisis, debt and is creating problems that have to be picked up by other public services and emergency aid such as the Scottish Welfare Fund and food banks.

“In Scotland we are taking a different approach.  “Our new social security system will recognise social security as a basic human right and we will ensure that people are treated with dignity and respect.”

This is an extract from Calumn Baird’s article in The National.  To read the remainder of the article click here.