Douglas's constituency includes, Crossgates, Hill of Beath and Moss-side

Support small businesses

New figures show that self-employment rates in the Kingdom are above the national average. This is good news because - as one small business owner told me recently - locally owned businesses “are the fabric of the community.” A Central Fife area above the national average was Crossgates. The Federation of Small Business (FSB) findings show that self-employment thrives in resilient local economies, however there is a challenge for less well-off communities. I believe Fife Council can do more to encourage people in those areas to start their own business. Many benefit from the Scottish Government's Small Businesses Bonus, meaning they pay no business rates at all. An extra 100,000 businesses have been aided by this initiative. I echo the FSB call for Fife Council to lease it's vacant properties for free to local business start-ups.

Fight the fouling

Last week’s Times revealed that there were 99 complaints about dog fouling in just six months in the Cowdenbeath-Lochgelly area. In that same period, there were nearly 500 complaints across Fife. How do we deal with this mess? Liverpool’s mayor said he will offer a year’s exemption from council tax to anyone who provides evidence of dog fouling! Closer to home, dog owners in Rosyth who clean-up after their pet are given goody bags to thank them - Tesco and I backed that ‘Awesome Owners’ scheme championed by SNP Councillor Sharon Wilson. Safer Communities Officers are responsible for dealing with dog fouling complaints. They can be contacted on 03451 550022 or by emailing

Meanwhile, in Norway...

Last week I visited Norway with members of the Defence Committee. We are preparing for an inquiry into issues in the Arctic and High North, which is also of immense interest to the defence of Scotland. The melting ice cap has changed things; The northwest and east passages have become seasonally ice-free, leading to renewed interest in the region for commercial, scientific and defence from many Arctic countries, including Russia. Visit my Facebook page this week for my report on this research trip. And yes, it was freezing!

Coming of age

A Parliamentary recess allowed me to visit some of our primary and high schools recently. I love the range of questions and topics that crop up - at one primary we were discussing the voting age and one lad told me he believed that he firmly believed it should be reduced to 12! The voting age for Scottish elections was reduced to 16 in 2016 - they can even register to vote from the age of 14. It has helped engage more young people in politics in Scotland. In England and Wales it remains at 18. That means it’s more likely they will feel alienated from decisions which affect them but which they can’t help decide.