February has been a pleasantly busy month. I have managed to balance my time extremely well between my parliamentary role, my portfolio, and getting to know those in my region even better. Overall, it’s been a great month.
I have been out and about mentoring and supporting the majority of the BAME candidates to stand in the council elections this May, with some excellent news: the largest number of BAME candidates elected to stand in the council elections for the Scottish Conservatives.
I visited a range of local businesses from the electrical services sector, retail, and leisure. We discussed the obstacles they are facing and their growth plans for the upcoming year. But what amazed me most was the desire to give back to the local community through training, jobs, and charitable work. It was great to see just how resilient and optimistic they were about the future.
My visit with the local Police Scotland branch in East Dunbartonshire went great, we discussed many things, among them, public safety, mental health and crime prevention. I look forward to working with the local team over the course of my parliamentary term to raise awareness about public safety concerns constituents may have.
I even had the opportunity to do some cultural visits. I was invited to the Scottish Indian Mahila Cultural Centre, to celebrate Lohri and Burns Night – with representation from Africa, India, and Scotland. Then later in the month, I attended the Lillie Gallery - one of the regions cultural treasures – with Shadow Culture Minister, Sharon Dowey, to see some beautiful art and learn more about the challenges facing art venues.
Aside from local visits, things have been very busy at the Scottish Parliament, too. I had the opportunity to partake in more portfolio questions this month, as opposed to previous months. I thoroughly enjoyed this; it gave me a chance to hold the SNP to account and learn more about other portfolio areas.
When it came to the COVID-19 recovery, for me, it was crucial to address the skills shortages currently facing businesses, and why the SNP believe that now is the time to make a real-term cut to colleges, especially given that colleges are pertinent to responding to industry needs, apprenticeships, and skills provisions.
After having supported the Homeless Veterans Project Rehome a veteran, I jumped at the opportunity to address support provision for veterans. In the Social Justice, Local Government & Housing, I questioned whether the SNP would work with local government to nominate Armed Forces Lead Officers in their housing and homelessness service, in order to support veterans into safe and stable housing as quickly as possible.
In the Equalities, Human Rights, and Civil Justice Committee, we have been busy discussing the Miners’ Strike; and our consultation on the ban on conversion therapy has now reached completion. I also sat in on two Social Justice and Social Security Committee meetings, where we discussed the Afghan Resettlement Scheme. Again, it was great to be able to broaden my horizons.
I later contributed in chamber to a motion brought forward by my colleague to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of Her Majesty’s accession to the throne, where I spoke about Her Majesty’s role in normalising female leadership and how she singlehandedly garnered the respect of world leaders at such a young age.
In addition to my contributions in Parliament and visiting local businesses, I published four articles this month, which you can view, here: https://www.pamgosal.org.uk/news. I wrote about college cuts and the impact this has on business, our economy, and future workforce; the importance of investing in our local high streets; the benefits of levelling up for our local communities; and the underfunding of universities and the cap on Scottish students keeping Scots out of university unfairly.
All work starts in the local constituency and I am excited for the year ahead as I continue to learn more about issues my constituency are facing, what works well for them, and how I can use my role to ensure these challenges are addressed.
Thank you for your interest and support in the work I do as your MSP. If you want to know more please follow my social media links: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.