Well it has been a very busy couple of weeks for me, both in Parliament and in the constituency. In Parliament I’ve been taking part in many debates, including the Assisted Dying Bill and the Trade Union Bill. The SNP group also had an Opposition Day debate on the issue of Assistance for Middle East Refugees.
I was quite saddened by the reaction of the Conservative Party to this debate, who all voted against the motion which was for greater international efforts through the United Nations to secure the position of refugees across the Middle East and in favour of the UK playing a full role, with others, in providing sanctuary.
After a lot of consultation with various groups and professionals I decided to vote in favour of the Assisted Dying Bill, however, this was defeated in the house and the Bill will not proceed. This issue was treated as a matter of conscience and as such each MP could vote in any way they wanted.
The Trade Union Bill had its second reading in the House last week, which I, along with my SNP colleagues, voted against. Unfortunately we were in the minority in this instance and the Bill proceeds to the next stage. I am very concerned at the contents of this Bill, which could see the rights of workers in the UK considerably affected.
I’m very happy to report, at the time of writing, that I am very close to having my constituency office open to the public. This, however, has not been without its dramas!
In July, two members of my team found me an office and some fantastic office furniture. New office furniture is extremely expensive, so as to keep my costs under control, I have sourced furniture from the Internet which was from an office which was closing down. We had a great day as a staff team constructing the furniture and getting things in the right place. I estimate that I saved around £4,000 by purchasing the furniture second hand!
So I had an office and some furniture, now for the next step of adding in IT and communications.
In July, I ordered a telephone and broadband service from a well known supplier, unfortunately, 10 days later, they had not been in touch at all to confirm matters were in hand, so I went for a different provider.
My initial enquiries went very well and I was happy that for an affordable price I was going to get a good system so that constituents can communicate with me effectively.
I was assured that the installation would take place just 10 days later.
Then the pantomime ensued! Despite calling the telephone company several times to ensure that engineers had the correct number to reach my office manager on, they still were trying to reach us on a number which didn’t exist!
Despite emailing and calling several times to get them to change the address of my office as they had made a mistake when compiling the order, they still tried to instal the service at one of my neighbour’s addresses!
Despite our best efforts, I only got the service installed and working correctly last week, even at this they attempted to send the telephones to another address!
The whole experience has given me a first hand view of how frustrating matters are in our area for setting up accounts and dealing with the large companies who provide it.
My postbag has a large number of people getting in touch with me about the problems with either repairing or making new connections with the network, I now have direct experience of dealing with these matters myself!
I’m happy to take up cases for any constituents on communications matters, along with any other reserved matter.
I have been working closely with my MSP colleagues too in devolved matters, as they are best placed to get positive outcomes in these types of cases. If you would like to get in touch via letter, please write to me at: First Floor, New Office Building, North Deeside Road, Banchory, AB31 5YR, or email me on: email@example.com, or telephone on: 01330 828171