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Summary

  1. 2.05pm: Topical questions
  2. Next: Stage 3 Proceedings: Historic Environment Scotland Bill
  3. Next: Ministerial Statement: Scottish Greenhouse Gas Emissions Annual Target Report 2012
  4. Scottish Government Debate: Town Centre Action Plan, One Year On
  5. 5.15pm: SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson: "The Importance of School Bus Safety Around Scotland"

Live Reporting

By Craig Hutchison and Carol Duncan

All times stated are UK

Debate closing

In closing, Transport Minister Keith Brown says Transport Scotland in taking on a range of measures like high visibility signage.

Mr Brown says the Scottish government will do more, but says the devolution of further powers would allow more to be done..

Transport Minister
BBC
Transport Minister

The transport minister says he is happy to meet with Ron Beaty, who he says he has met on a number of occasions.

Mr Brown says legislation will be brought forward by 2018 to ensure seat belts are fitted in all school transport

'Tireless commitment'

Transport Minister Keith Brown praises Ron Beaty's tireless commitment and tenacity in campaigning to prevent school bus accidents.

The Scottish government is taking forward a range of measures to increase safety on school transport,says the minister.

Mr Brown says clear and visible signs showing the bus iscarrying young people are vital

However the minister points out the power to legislate lies with Westminster which refuses to devolve the necessary powers to Scotland.

'Outstanding example'

SNP MSP Christian Allard also congratulates Ron Beaty, saying the success of the Scottish Parliament is the Public Petitions Committee which allows people like Mr Beaty can have access to democracy.

Lib Dem MSP Allison Mcinnes and Labour MSP Lewis MacDonald add their voices to the congratulations for Mr Beaty.

"Ron Beaty is an outstanding example of an active citizen, affected by a tragic accident to a child on our roads, who has worked tirelessly to reduce the risk to other children of suffering in the way his granddaughter has done." Says Mr MacDonald.

Mr Beaty has been calling for a law that stops vehicles passing any school bus as it loads or unloads pupils through the

School Bus Safety Group.

Praise for Ron Beaty

MSPs including Alex Rowley and Mary Scanlon add to the praise and acknowledgement of the role Ron Beaty has played in keeping the issue of school bus safety high.

Ron Beaty
BBC
Ron Beaty

Alex Rowley

Labour MSP Alex Rowley says he has some concerns about the pressures on local authority budgets, saying school transport is often an easy answer when they want to save money.

He points out that parents parking too close to the school can create a hazard, and he often jokes that some parents would park in the playground if they could.

The Labour MSP says we need to continue to be vigilant and ensure budgetary pressures do not compromise school transport.

Ron Beaty

Mr Stevenson congratulates Ron Beaty who has been campaigning about school bus safety since 2004 when his granddaughter Erin was left wheelchair bound after she was knocked down after getting off a school bus.

Stationery school buses

Mr Stevenson highlights the importance of prominent signage on school buses and flashing lights on the vehicle.

SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson
BBC
SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson

He stresses the importance of drivers respecting and being aware of stationery school buses.

School bus safety motion

Mr Stevenson's motion:

That the Parliament notes the importance of school bus safety around Scotland and what it considers the important work of Ron Beaty of Gardenstown, whom it congratulates for his efforts on this issue, specifically in relation to bus safety signs and bus visibility; considers that there is a very real danger of school pupils being injured if the situation at present is allowed to continue as it understands that recommendations from Transport Scotland are not being carried out across the country, and hopes that the need to ensure the safety of children across Scotland is urgently recognised, acknowledging that Mr Beaty first petitioned the Parliament on this matter in 2005.

Stewart Stevenson: "The Importance of School Bus Safety Around Scotland"

Apologies the member's debate is now being led by Stewart Stevenson: "The Importance of School Bus Safety Around Scotland"

MSPs vote

MSPs vote unanimously to pass the Historic Environment Scotland Bill.

MSPs then vote unanimously to pass the motion from the debate on town centres, with the Tory amendment being defeated.

They also vote to pass LCMs for UK legislation: the Deregulation Bill and the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill.

Decision time

MSPs will shortly vote on legislative consent motions for UK legislation: the Deregulation Bill and the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill.

They will also vote on the motion and amendment from the debate on town centres and on whether to pass the Historic Environment Scotland Bill.

New funding

Publication of the report coincides with an announcement of close to £300,000 in funding towards two initiatives intended to support town centre regeneration.

Melrose town centre
Walter Baxter
Melrose town centre

The first is a programme of town centre planning pilots, which will see the Government provide nine local authorities with a share of £119,000 over two years to fund pilot schemes under the proactive planning theme.

The other will see a grant of approximately £160,000 provided to the Scottish Business in the Community (SBC) to set up Business Hubs in four local authorities, including Angus, Ayrshire, Borders and Moray.

The hubs would engage with businesses of all sizes and encourage them to work together to improve the economic, social and environmental well-being of their town centres.

The Town Centre Action Plan - One Year On report

The Town Centre Action Plan - One Year On report has been published ahead of a Parliamentary debate that will be led by Local Government and Planning Minister Derek Mackay today.

The government says the report highlights a range of milestones that have been reached as part of the Action Plan, including:

  • Agreement between the Scottish Cabinet and COSLA on the Town Centre First Principle, where Government, public bodies, businesses and communities put the health of town centres at the heart of decision-making
  • An expansion of the Fresh Start business rates relief scheme to pubs, hotels and restaurants
  • Record numbers of business properties in Scotland benefiting from an extension of the Small Business Bonus Scheme, with 96,265 properties paying zero or reduced business rates in 2014-15, an increase of almost 4,000 properties since last year.
  • Growth in the number of Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) helping to support economic growth in town centres. There are currently 27 BIDs, with ballots on a further eight expected before April 2015.
  • Recognition of the role of town centres in the new National Planning Framework 3 and Scottish Planning Policy
  • A share of £2.75 million in funding awarded to seven projects under the Town Centre Housing Fund, creating 82 units for affordable housing
  • A £186,000 grant to strengthen the role of the Scotland's Towns Partnership (STP) as the 'go-to' body for advice on town centre development

Town Centre Action Plan

The original Town Centre Action Plan includes:

Selkirk
Walter Baxter
Selkirk town centre

  • £2m to help bring empty town centre properties back into use
  • Work with Cosla to develop a town centre first principle, illustrated by demonstration projects
  • Powers for local authorities to establish Town Centre Investment Zones
  • £120,000 for Town Centre Charettes
  • A competition for entrepreneurs for regeneration ideas
  • Local government minister named as dedicated minister for town centres
  • Maintaining the Small Business Bonus Scheme for the life of the current parliament
  • Identify support priorities for Business Improvement District projects
  • Investigating expanding Scottish Future Trust "place-based reviews" that encourage town planning decisions with communities at the core
  • Expanding the 'Fresh Start' business rates relief from property with a rateable value of £45,000 to £65,000

Labour

Labour MSP Sarah Boyack says we need local authorities with more financial tools and capability to make the changes necessary for our town centres.

Sarah Boyack
BBC

Ms Boyack says the civic role of local authorities to make town centres attractive to people is crucial.

Tory amendment

Scottish Conservative MSP Gavin Brown's amendment : Town Centre Action Plan - One Year On—As an amendment to motion S4M-11386 in the name of Derek Mackay (Town Centre Action Plan - One Year On), insert at end "; however, in so doing, believes that the Scottish Government generally needs to improve its rate of progress, in particular with regard to the Business Rates Incentivisation Scheme, which has been a disappointment so far, and calls on the Scottish Government to give serious consideration to an updated Town Centre Regeneration Fund and to implement a relief scheme for retail properties that have a rateable value of up to £50,000".

Conservatives

Scottish Conservative MSP Gavin Brown says there is nothing in the motion he disagrees with.

Gavin Brown
BBC

However he says the actions of the Scottish government in closing courts in town centres and closing police counters in town centres contradicted the commitment to town centres.

Town centre funding

Mr Mackay says he announced £119k towards a programme of town centre planning pilots in collaboration with nine planning authorities, testing out ideas which will help simplify planning processes in town centres and help to encourage enterprise and innovation.

Town centres first

Planning Minister Derek MacKay says "The Action Plan sets out our strategic response to the key themes identified by the external advisory group who undertook the Town Centre Review.

"It clearly shows where we need to align our main functions and policies in order to create the necessary conditions to support local vision and delivery."

Derek MacKay
BBC

"The Town Centre First Principle was agreed by Cabinet on 24 June and announced jointly with COSLA on 9 July.

"It was the main ask from the national review. It calls on central government, local authorities, communities and the wider public sector to put town centres at the heart of proportionate and best value decision making."

Scottish government motion:

Local Government Minister Derek Mackay's motion: Town Centre Action Plan - One Year On—That the Parliament acknowledges the publication of the report, Town Centre Action Plan - One Year On, and notes cross-government delivery against each of the key themes; welcomes the partnership with COSLA and local government in the agreement and adoption of the Town Centre First Principle; is encouraged by the progress being made during the demonstration phase; agrees that local decision-making and delivery, good place-making and a renewed spirit of entrepreneurialism in town centres are key to their social and economic success; acknowledges the growing engagement and wider work underway by councils, communities and business across Scotland; encourages all parties to share and promote details about their activities through Scotland's Towns Partnership; looks forward to following the progress under the second year of the plan, and reiterates its call for elected representatives at all levels, local communities and wider public and private sector partners to continue to work together to revitalise Scotland's town centres.

Scottish Government Debate: Town Centre Action Plan, One Year On

Local Government Minister Derek Mackay leads a debate on the

Town Centre Action Plan.

Last year a series of proposals to revive Scotland's town centres was launched by the government.

Plans included £2m to help bring empty town centre properties back into use, and more rates relief for businesses that take on these properties.

Scottish Greens

Scottish Green Party co-convener Patrick Harvie says since before the Climate Change Act 2009 was passed he was concerned about the myth of Scottish Climate Change consensus, saying there was never consensus on how to meet the targets.

Mr Harvie asks what the minister mean by RPP2 being delivered in full and will his government make energy efficiency in our housing stock a national priority.

Patrick Harvie
BBC

Mr Wheelhouse says we have to strive to achieve the proposals in RPP2.

Lib Dems

Lib Dem MSP Tavish Scott asks why the cabinet sub-committee on climate change only met once in June, how many times it intends to meet and how important a role will it have.

Tavish Scott
BBC

Mr Wheelhouse says the cabinet sub-committee is being taken seriously and efforts will be made to have a shorter gap before its next meeting.

Climate change targets

The coal fuelled Ferrybridge power station
Getty Images

In response to a question from Labour MSP Claudia Beamish, who asked if the government intended to meet its annual climate change targets, Mr Wheelhouse says the creation of the climate change sub-committee should help efforts to meet the annual targets.

Conservatives

Conservative MSP Jamie McGrigor asks if enough is being done about the energy efficiency of houses.

Mr Wheelhouse says a lot of progress is being made on the issue.

Labour

Labour MSP Claire Baker says this is the third year in a row of the Scottish government missing its statutory targets which is hugely disappointing

Ms Baker says we are in a difficult place, but it is clear we do have the potential to meet the targets if we just use the levers the Scottish government has at its disposal.

Climate change reality

We remain committed to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 42% by 2020 and by 80% by 2050, says Mr Wheelhouse.

"Climate change is a reality it is happening now."

"Scotland is making good progress but I also agree more needs to be done."

Paul Wheelhouse
BBC

Mr Wheelhouse acknowledges that targets, missed for the third year in a row, are difficult to meet: "The fixed annual targets are considerably more challenging than when they were set and may get more difficult still."

Climate change sub-committee

The environment and climate change minister reminds MSPs of the creation of the Scottish government's cabinet sub-committee on climate change.

Mr Wheelhouse says we will work collectively to ensure each portfolio of the government does its best to tackle climate change.

Target missed

Environment and Climate Change Minister Paul Wheelhouse says Scotland is making good progress with a substantial net reduction.

These percentage reductions mean Scotland is well on the way to its interim target of reducing emissions by 42% by 2020

Mr Wheelhouse concedes Scotland missed it statutory target in tonnage of carbon.

He says he will outline the measures to address this miss.

Scottish Greenhouse Gas Emissions Annual Target Report: Ministerial statement

Environment and Climate Change Minister Paul Wheelhouse gives a ministerial statement on the

Scottish Greenhouse Gas Emissions Annual Target Report.

Whitelee Wind Farm
Getty Images
Scotland is praised for its switch to renewable sources of energy

A ministerial taskforce was appointed earlier this year, to get to grips with Scotland's greenhouse gas emissions after reduction targets were missed for the third year in a row.

At the time Mr Wheelhouse said the cabinet sub-committee on climate change would aim to ensure co-ordination of the strategic response to emissions, which rose slightly (0.8%) in 2012, bucking a general downward trend over the last decade.

In 2012, emissions were estimated to be 55.6 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e), above the target of 53.226 Mt.

HES bill debate closes

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop closes what has been a very short and very consensual debate.

It looks certain the Historic Environment Scotland Bill will be passed unanimously at decision time, which begins at the later time of 5.15pm today.

Tory closing speech

Conservative MSP Liz Smith says the identity of cultural aspects can define a whole community and pays tribute to the work that goes on at sites across Scotland to preserve the historic environment.

Lib Dems

Liam McArthur, in his closing speech, says the bill illustrates why the merger must not result in centralisation.

The expertise of HES is an important resource for local councils, revenue raising cannot come at the expense of technical but more costly functions says the Lib Dem MSP

Liz Smith

Crichton Castle, Midlothian
BBC
Historic Scotland cares for castle, churches and monuments

Liz Smith, speaking for the Scottish Conservatives, says her party warmly welcomes the bill as the logic behind it is sound and it will enhance Scotland's historic environment.

Labour MSP Patricia Ferguson

Labour's culture spokesperson Patricia Ferguson says the historic environment tells every story of every community in Scotland.

Patricia Ferguson
BBC

"It is perhaps our most green resource, changing function over time."

Historic environment

Ms Hyslop says the Historic Environment Scotland bill will deliver real and important benefits to the people of Scotland.

She says the creation of Historic Environment Scotland (HES) will bring together the skills and resources of Historic Scotland and RCAHMS in one place.

"Our historic environment must be part of the solution not part of the problem."

The bill will create a lead body not a command body, insists the cabinet secretary.

HES bill debate

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop begins the final debate on the Historic Environment Scotland Bill.

The new body, HES, will take on the functions currently carried out by Historic Scotland and RCAHMS, including those relating to:

-protecting and managing the historic environment

-listed buildings

Edinburgh Castle
Getty Images
Edinburgh Castle

-scheduled monuments

-promotion of understanding of the historic environment and its collections

-leadership with regard to the historic environment.

After the debate two MSPs tried to raise points of order relating to first minister's questions.

Minister's amendments passed

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop speaks to her technical amendments to the bill.

Fiona Hyslop
BBC

The technical amendments are duly unanimously passed.

Ms Hyslop then speaks to amendments on the determination of appeals by the Scottish ministers, which are also passed unanimously.

Tory amendment falls

Liz Smith sees her amendments defeated with 44 MSPs backing them and with 65 MSPs voting against.

Conservative amendment

Conservative MSP Liz Smith explains there could be conflicts of interests for HES with the bill as it stands.

Liz Smith
BBC

Ms Smith's amendments refers to the extent of compliance with directions.

The culture secretary says she agrees the corporate plan for HES must have the highest status, but must oppose the amendments.