30 April 2024 – yesterday’s (other) press releases

  • Suspected drug deaths up by 11%
  • Welsh Lib Dems criticise Tata’s “heavy handed” approach to steel workers concerns
  • Cole-Hamilton speaks in abortion safe access zones debate
  • UK Governments Rwanda plans are “cold and callous”- Welsh Lib Dems
  • Blackie: scrap business rates, boost our high streets

Suspected drug deaths up by 11%

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has today warned that the country’s drugs crisis continues to “end lives and blight communities”, as new quarterly statistics revealed that suspected drug deaths have increased by 11%.

Figures published today show that between December 2023 and February 2024, the total number of suspected drug deaths was 278, which is 11% higher than the previous quarter in which 267 suspected drug deaths were recorded.

Public Health Scotland also confirmed that: “Based on the latest post-mortem toxicology testing, nitazenes were detected in 38 deaths (from the first detection in June 2022 to 31 December 2023).”

Mr Cole-Hamilton said:

Scotland’s drug deaths emergency continues to end lives and blight communities.

We are also seeing increasing evidence of nitazenes, a synthetic opioid 50 times stronger than heroin, contributing significantly to that crisis.

I have joined with campaigners in warning that these substances represent a growing part of the drugs death crisis, highlighting that their presence in Scotland will require an immediate response. That’s why I asked Humza Yousaf about nitazenes during First Minister’s Questions in early January.

Despite these emerging threats, the Scottish Government have delivered a brutal real-terms cut to drug services.

Well-meaning words and promises just won’t cut it. As well as delivering radical and transformational action to help all those suffering, I want ministers to protect and strengthen the drug and alcohol budget so that everyone can access care when they need it.

Welsh Lib Dems criticise Tata’s “heavy handed” approach to steel workers concerns

Today in the Senedd, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have called out Tata Steel for threatening to withdraw redundancy packages from workers at their Port Talbot site if they decide to go on strike over potential job losses.

The company also rejected plans submitted by the unions which would have kept at least one of the blast furnaces running at the site.

The steel firm recently announced plans to build a £1.25 billion electric arc furnace, to replace two blast furnaces, at Port Talbot, with £500 million UK government support.

Around 2,800 jobs are likely to go across Tata’s UK operations, with the bulk at Port Talbot

The Welsh Lib Dems have criticised the Indian-based steel firm for their heavy-handed approach towards the concerns of workers at the company’s Port Talbot site as well as for rejecting the union’s proposals.

The party have also called on the Welsh Government to provide both “short and long-term” support to the local community in light of these recent developments.

Commenting, the Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats Jane Dodds MS said:

Tata’s unnecessarily heavy-handed approach towards this crisis has only added further fuel to the fire, and their threat to withdraw redundancy packages will do nothing to calm the nerves of those workers already at risk of losing their livelihoods.

Our Welsh workers cannot be cast aside and treated as collateral damage, they are real people dealing with governmental negligence and abandonment.

Tata’s proposed transition will result in an economic disaster for thousands of workers, their families, and the surrounding community of Port Talbot. Whilst also contributing towards a mental health crisis that could see a grave increase in risks of suicide.

It’s not only people’s wallets at risk here but also their lives.

We must have a comprehensive plan, built in cooperation with the workers, that not only provides retraining but also financial security and dignity.

We cannot afford to hand Tata the keys and await the impending crash, we must act now for the sake of the community of Port Talbot.

Cole-Hamilton speaks in abortion safe access zones debate

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament this afternoon during the debate on the Abortion Services (Safe Access Zones) Bill, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said:

When I was first elected to this place in 2016, within 18 months I had asked the first questions about safe access zones. But it took the election of Ms Mackay to this chamber in 2021 to actually move it to a statutory footing, where we are today.

Nobody should be forced to cross a picket line to access intimate medical care.

Scottish Liberal Democrats have been guardians, among others, of freedom of expression within the bounds of the law, but we are entirely clear that this bill is compatible with that tradition.

The Pregnancy Advisory Service has said that 70% of women in Scotland live in a health board area where protests have taken place. In 2019, they say that more than 100,000 women were targeted outside clinics across the UK.

All this bill seeks to do is to ensure that anyone accessing medical care can do so without harassment or fear or judgement. It seeks to safeguard their basic right to medical privacy.

I still have concerns about the powers of the bill as drafted to offer ministers the ability to reduce the size of buffer zones if they so choose, and I welcome the committee’s observation around that in their report.

I have met with Gillian Mackay and Jenni Minto in recent months to discuss this and I look forward to working with them to find a way through this.

Introducing buffer zones around these clinics is a reasonable and proportionate step to protect safe and discreet access to abortion services in this country.

I am very proud to offer the support of the Liberal Democrats to Gillian Mackay’s bill.

UK Governments Rwanda plans are “cold and callous”- Welsh Lib Dems

Today in the Senedd, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have criticised the Conservative Governments plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

Speaking to the Siambr, party leader Jane Dodds MS described the government’s plans as “cold and callous”.

Jane Dodds MS also called on the Welsh Government to ensure that those who have been welcomed in Wales as a citizen of sanctuary are not being placed in detention with the possibility of then being put on a plane to the central African nation.

Commenting, the Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats Jane Dodds MS said:

The UK Conservative Government’s cold and callous Rwanda policy should not be allowed to rear its ugly head here in Wales.

We as a nation have prided ourselves on our openness and inclusivity, we have welcomed those fleeing from danger with open arms and have shown kindness and compassion to those most in need.

This is why we must take a stance against the Tories ugly rhetoric around asylum seekers.

I am calling on the Welsh Government to ensure that those who have been welcomed in Wales as citizens of sanctuary will not be at risk of being placed into detention with the possibility of then being sent to Rwanda.

Blackie: scrap business rates, boost our high streets

Liberal Democrat London Mayoral candidate Rob Blackie has called for business rates to be scrapped as part of his party’s plan for high streets.

Speaking on a visit to businesses in Brick Lane, Blackie said:

Our tax reforms will slash the burden on struggling high street shop owners, and make sure landowners pay their fair share – especially as they have often benefited from rising land values.

The current business rates system forces struggling high street tenants to pay tax on top of high energy bills and rising production costs. “. Only the Liberal Democrats have a credible plan for reforming business taxes.

Our proposal aims to provide essential relief and inject vitality into our local economies.

Blackie was joined by Rabina Khan, Liberal Democrat MP candidate for Bethnal Green and Stepney, who said:

We aim to create a more equitable system that supports our local businesses.

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This entry was posted in London, News, Press releases, Scotland and Wales.

One Comment

  • nigel hunter 2nd May '24 - 10:06am

    Port Talbot. An example of the Govnt not investing in developing our own British owned industries that then do not have to dance to overseas tunes.

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