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Inside Holyrood: No one should be having to choose between heating and eating this New Year but sadly the truth is that tens of thousands of people in Scotland are living in food poverty

By Scott Maclennan

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Labour's Rhoda Grant MSP.
Labour's Rhoda Grant MSP.

Firstly let me begin this column by wishing everyone a Happy New Year. The Christmas and New Year period felt very different again this year.

I want to express my deepest sympathies to those who didn’t have family members present and to those who had a different Christmas and New Year to the one they hoped for.

Constituents have been raising valid fears for their businesses and jobs as it appears that we’ve moved back a few steps in the fight to battle this virus.

I hope this uncertainty ends soon and that 2022 will be better than 2021. I believe that adequate support should be given through the re-introduction of the furlough scheme, where required, and that businesses who have not benefited from Christmas business will be supported to survive.

Last month, I welcomed the publication of the Part 1 Options Appraisal on the A9 North Kessock to Tore safety study. While the appraisal appears to have ruled out the option of reducing the speed limit along the stretch of road from North Kessock to Tore, I am pleased to see that there is overwhelming support for extending the slip road south and support for a grade- separated junction at the Munlochy turn off.

I’m also delighted to see that work has began on installing street lighting at the Munlochy junction. This was also popular among respondents and I know communities the length of the Black Isle and beyond will be relieved to see it.

Its important that the next stages press ahead without delay and I will continue to push for this.

This month, I will continue to collect responses on my consultation for my Right to Food Bill. Many of us take the availability of food for granted, but the truth is tens of thousands of people in Scotland are living in food poverty, even in 2021.

My proposed Bill would place duties on the Scottish Government to ensure that food is accessible for all, is adequate and is nutritious.

No one should be having to choose between heating and eating this New Year but sadly, many are. If you would like to read the consultation or take part in my survey, you can find it on my website at www.rhodagrant.org.uk

My New Year’s wish is to see this Bill become law so that foodbanks are consigned to history.

As we reflect on last year and the toughest of times during the pandemic generally, I would like to again take the chance to thank our amazing NHS workers, indeed all of our key workers who have kept us going since the pandemic hit.

So too, our emergency services workers who selflessly work as hard over the Christmas and New Year period, as they do all year round keeping us safe. It really is appreciated.

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