Scotland

Scottish election: Parties on Scots election trail

Holyrood chamber
Image caption Parties are battling to win as many seats in the next Scottish Parliament

Scotland's main political parties have been focussing on diverse issues, including transport, health and policing while election campaigning.

Labour pledged to reinstate the Glasgow Airport Rail Link, although its event was abandoned due to protesters.

The Tories highlighted plans to boost health visitors and the Lib Dems opposed a single police force.

The SNP announced a plan to re-invest savings from the cost of the new Forth road bridge in a new "futures fund".

Voters go to the polls on 5 May.

SNP leader Alex Salmond said the £250m fund would be paid for through savings from the cost of the new Forth crossing.

Mr Salmond said the £1.87bn set aside for the bridge between now and 2016 had been reduced to £1.54bn, with the new fund supporting five projects with funding of £50m each.

They include initiatives to help young people, take advantage of new digital technology, boost transport and the establishment of a warm homes fund.

Image caption The SNP focused on plans for the Forth crossings

Mr Salmond said: "The Scottish Futures Fund is an initiative that will put all of Scotland - young and old, urban and rural - in the best possible position to benefit from the 21st century economy, so that we achieve our full potential as a nation and as a society."

Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray promised to reinstate the Glasgow Airport Rail Link, if re-elected, after the project was cancelled by the SNP.

The event, at Glasgow Central Station, was disrupted by protesters from Citizens United Against Public Sector Cuts, but Mr Gray said: "The Glasgow Airport Rail Link is exactly the kind of project we need in Scotland to stimulate the economy, create jobs and improve infrastructure.

"Scrapping Garl was a colossal mistake which cost the city jobs during the downturn, but that's exactly what the SNP government did."

Meanwhile, the Tories' Annabel Goldie visited Glasgow's Springburn Health Centre to highlight her pledge on bringing back recently-scrapped prescription charges to raise £20m for more health visitors.

Facebook campaign

She said: "Six years ago, there were nearly 1,500 health visitors in Scotland. Now there are marginally over 1,200.

Image caption The Tories want to bring back prescription fees to pay for health visitors

"Health visitors are the vital point of contact with parents and young families, in the community, in their homes, speaking to mum and dad, giving reassurance, help and advice, and often spotting problems before they develop."

Scottish Lib Dem leader Tavish Scott launched a campaign on social media website, Facebook, against a single police force.

He has strongly opposed such a move and claimed it could mean between 3,000 and 4,000 police officers removed from the beat, while deployment decisions would be taken out of the hands of local police chiefs.

Labour and the Tories back merging Scotland's eight police forces into one to make vital savings.

The SNP government announced a consultation on the issue before the break-up of parliament, although Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said a "strong case" exists for a single force.

Speaking in Aberdeen, Mr Scott said: "Grampian's chief constable says centralisation could cost 400 jobs in the north east.

"Only the Liberal Democrats are standing up for local policing."

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