Rachael Hamilton is Conservative MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire

SNP Car Park Tax set to hit Borders commuters

The Greens and the SNP, as their party colours would suggest, are like the ‘lemons’ and ‘limes’ of Scottish politics. We all know lemons and limes have one thing in common, they are both sour.

Last week in the Scottish Parliament, there were more ‘sour’ plans to give local councils the power to charge a levy on workplace parking. They were passed by the SNP and the Greens as part of the Transport (Scotland) Bill.

It seems that this is the par for the course now in Holyrood. The Greens influencing the SNP with more ludicrous policy ideas which affect all hardworking commuters and families.

Thankfully, the Scottish Conservative led Scottish Borders Council have been clear about their opposition to the SNP’s plans to introduce a so-called ‘workplace parking levy’, but that doesn’t leave us immune to it.

It will affect those who commute by car to Edinburgh, as the SNP-led council in the capital city have considered an introduction of the car park tax. Roughly, 3,300 people commute daily to the capital from the Borders, which will affect a lot of businesses in Edinburgh. If businesses struggle to pay the new car park tax, it could affect job creation and may even lead to job losses if they cannot balance the books.

From what we’ve been told, it is to be based on the Nottingham model, where the council introduced a workplace-parking levy that means employers offering more than 10 spaces are charged £415 a year for every space. This is worrying stuff indeed.

Closure of mental health services

It deeply worried me about the recent and unexpected withdrawal of mental health services in the NHS Borders area.

The NHS Borders finance director identified that £1.3 million of cuts have to be made to the budget, and patients were essentially told at last minute their appointments weren’t to be taking place due to services stopping.

I will be writing to the Health Minister to urge her to ensure that NHS Borders receives a portion of the £180 million funding that is coming from Westminster to top up the Scottish NHS’s budget. This is one the many benefits of being part of the United Kingdom, where the broad shoulders of our Union means we can pull and share resources.

If mental health provision is a Scottish priority, then I am angered at the failure of the SNP to properly fund our NHS boards so they can deliver these vital services.