A FIFE MSP has called for the Scottish Government to restore funding to the Coalfields Regeneration Trust (CRT).

Alex Rowley secured a debate in the Scottish Parliament where he set out the case for continued support to former mining communities and called on the Scottish Government to restore the £100,000 cut to the CRT which supports local activity in mining communities.

Mr Rowley acknowledged the "difficult financial situation" the government finds itself in but argued this was all the more reason to focus spending where it gets the best value for money.

He said: “Across all parts of Fife, local groups have benefitted from the financial support that has come through the Coalfields Regeneration Trust along with the expertise the Trust is able to provide.

"And, over these years thousands of people have been able to access skills training that has supported them into college and university courses as well as employment.

"The former mining communities have suffered from generational inequality struggling to recover from the closure of the mining industry and that is why we need to continue with focussed support not cut these budgets.

Rowley told Parliament: “I continue to believe the best route out of poverty is education, skills and employment and it is therefore worrying that the Scottish government have chosen to cut the funding of an organisation that is focussed on such regeneration opportunities.

"The Trust has also a great track record of supporting local groups through sport, the arts and play. Indeed there is hardly a mining community in Fife that has not seen such benefits."

During the debate, which was presided over by Annabelle Ewing MSP, parliamentarians of all political parties spoke of the major successes of the Trust in supporting local mining communities and urged the Scottish Government to think again and restore the funding to allow the work of the Trust to continue.

In response, a Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government is supporting the valuable work of Coalfields Regeneration Trust (CRT) with a substantial grant of nearly £650k in 2023/24, enabling the Trust to sustain its core operations and deliver its programme of work in Scotland.

"This builds on over £28 million provided to CRT to date. The support provided to CRT is part of a range of investments we deliver to support coalfield and disadvantaged communities across Scotland.

“This situation results from what the Deputy First Minister has described as a ‘worst case scenario’ UK Government Autumn Statement, which failed to provide the investment needed in services and infrastructure, reflecting the UK’s economic circumstances after Brexit.

“We will continue to support CRT as far as we are able within the challenging budget context.”