I’ve had a busy few months since the Council term started up again after a summer break. Top of the list is the fight to gain Scottish Government to deal with Reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC).
West Lothian has been at the vanguard of dealing with RAAC in their school estate, but there has been no offer of assistance, financial or otherwise, from the Scottish Government, despite repeated requests. To date, the bill that West Lothian Council has self-funded is in excess of £50 million.
Imagine what else we could spend that on.
I first called for a Scottish Government fund to be set up to deal with the crisis in June, and I recently helped to secure agreement that West Lothian Council will write again to the Scottish Government requesting they fully fund all remedial works associated with RAAC.
As you probably know, the Scottish Liberal Democrats are also calling for the establishment of a national fund for local authorities and other local bodies to enable them to make all buildings with RAAC safe.
This was an issue brought to me by a constituent, warning of the lack of publicity over a digital switchover affecting the Careline service (an alarm system helping the frail and elderly stay in their homes).
Following the request, I raised awareness of the digital switchover deadline and the potential impact for Careline users in West Lothian. I have also secured agreement that the Council will send letters to all Careline users urgently to alert them to the fact that the switchover is happening and what action they need to take.
Cash payments in Livingston Civic Centre Cafe
I also successfully campaigned for the reintroduction of cash payments in the well-used Livingston Civic Centre Cafe. When the cafe reopened following the end of the pandemic restrictions, a decision was taken to accept card payments only, excluding many people from being able to buy a simple cup of tea or snack.
After first proposing the reintroduction of cash payments in May and instructing Council Officers to investigate, it is with great relief that I can now confirm that the cafe will resume accepting cash again as soon as is practicable.
The bus situation in West Lothian is ever evolving. I sit on the board of regional transport partnership Sestran, where we are keeping a close eye on developments.
I’ll have more on this later, but you can see part of my thinking in this report from the Holyrood magazine.