• Kenneth Gibson MSP

Out with the Old, In with the New



A lot can be said about 2016, but "instantly forgettable" isn't one of them.

Many will remember 2016 as the year the world lost an exceptional wealth of talent. Who would have thought we would lose the likes of Prince, Leonard Cohen, Muhammad Ali, David Bowie and Zsa Zsa Gabor all in one year?

More powers were devolved to the Scottish Parliament, which has become responsible for issues such as Abortion, Consumer Advocacy and Advice and Equal Opportunities. Holyrood also gained responsibility over parts of the social security system and as of April 2017, Discretionary Housing Payments will be devolved, allowing abolition of the Bedroom Tax.

The EU Referendum dominated headlines. Votes were cast, regrets expressed and within hours of the result it became clear that the UK Government had not even scribbled any plans for a possible Leave vote on the back of the proverbial fag packet. The media soon picked up on the fact that Nicola Sturgeon was the only one with a plan and clear vision of what steps should be taken to protect Scotland's interests during and after the process of leaving the EU.

Prime Minister David Cameron expected to win this referendum but things did not turn out as planned and he even resigned his seat at Westminster. At least the Tories managed to have a new leader in place two weeks after his resignation, contrary to the seemingly endless Labour saga which took up three quarters of 2016.

The election of Donald Trump as President Elect shook many.

Looking at the year ahead, we will see - amongst numerous pieces of legislation - the completion of the Limitation (Childhood Abuse) Bill, which fulfils a recommendation from the Scottish Human Rights Commission by removing a barrier for child abuse survivors to accessing civil justice. There will also be an Islands Bill, which will reflect the unique needs of Scotland's island communities and provide them with more local powers. And a consultation will be published regarding a draft Referendum Bill, so that it is ready for introduction should the Scottish Government decide to seek Parliament's agreement that independence is the best or only way to protect Scotland's interests in the wake of the EU referendum.

2016 was also the Year of the Dad, an initiative by Fathers Network Scotland backed by the SNP Government to acknowledge, support and celebrate the role fathers across Scotland play in their children's' lives.

It was the year Saltcoats Town Hall re-opened after a £3.77 million refurbishment, funded by NAC and the SNP Government and Historic Scotland. The Dalry Bypass was again included in the SNP Government’s Budget and agreed despite Opposition parties voting against it. The bypass should have been completed by late 2014 but due to a handful of statutory objections, a Public Local Inquiry was required causing a delay of more than two years. Work will begin, at last, in 2017. We will also see the opening of the new £43 million Garnock Academy Campus in January, construction of the £28 million Brodick Harbour will be completed in early spring and I am optimistic that Ardrossan will retain the Arran ferry route, accompanied by significant investment in Ardrossan Harbour which will prove a catalyst for Ardrossan’s regeneration.

Finally, it was a privilege to be re-elected this year to serve a third consecutive term as Constituency MSP for Cunninghame North. I am grateful to have earned enough trust to secure an 8,724 majority this time and I will look forward to continuing to repay that trust in the months and years ahead.

ENDS