'THE new Planning Bill made its way through Parliament and was approved in the last week. I voted against this Bill after I had tried to put forward amendments that would have at least improved the Bill but these did not pass.

In the end Labour, the Greens and Liberal MSPs all voted against the Bill but it was passed on the votes of Tory and SNP MSP’s. The Bill failed to address the major blocks to development like having the upfront funding for infrastructure such as schools, health facilities and community facilities, so we end up with thousands of houses built without having the public services that should go alongside them.

We also tried to balance the powers between communities and developers but the SNP and Tories were having none of it and voted down all proposals that were trying to give communities more say over development. So sadly I am afraid, the voice of vested interests and big developers won the day.

We also saw the proposal to give councils the power to introduce a workplace parking tax voted through to the next stage of becoming law. My own view on this tax is that it is a tax on workers, is ill considered and should be stopped at the final stage. I am urging everyone who sees that this is a bad tax to contact their MSPs and tell them so.

There is also a Bill making its way through on reforming the Non Domestic Rates and this week I sat in on an evidence session from some of the Heads of private schools in Scotland. One proposal is that private schools will have to start paying business rates just as state schools currently have to do. What was interesting was that when I put to them that primary schools in Fife have a lot of classes with 32 kids in a class, one Head confirmed that the average class size in his school is 14 and the teacher pupil ration is 1 adult to 7 children.

This demonstrates that a major area of inequality in our society is the difference between state schools and private schools and it shows why we need far more investment into our local schools both in terms of teachers and teaching assistants. The difference of 1 teacher to 32 pupils in the local state school compared to 1 teacher to 7 pupils in the private school says it all'.