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Archived From Main MSP Pages 2008

20 February 08
The announcement last week that the Chancellor is to increase fuel charges has prompted a call by North MSP Jamie Stone to abandon his 2p hike in fuel duty, Jamie has repeated his call for the Chancellor to use his powers to vary taxation rates across the UK to bring the cost of fuel in the Highlands in line with the rest of the UK.
Jamie Stone said: “In the North we are already burdened with a huge annual fuel burden and thus the Chancellor’s extra 2p is going to hammer the rural motorist. The current Chancellor must realise that fuel in the North is already between 5 and 10 pence more than the UK average, and the higher the duty the greater the inequality.”
“The Chancellor has the power to vary duty and he must use it. Last July, Highlands and Islands Liberal Democrat MP’s at Westminster tabled an amendment to the government’s finance Bill, to cut fuel duty in remote areas with a Rural Fuel Discount. It was voted down by an axis of Labour and Tory MP’s. With the cost oil rising around the world, the Chancellor must lift the heavy burden he is already placing on Highland life.”

2 February 08
Gibson calls for national plan for threatened phone boxes
Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibso0n has lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament calling for a national plan to be drawn up by BT before any more phone boxes are removed in Scotland. Mr Gibson motion comes in the wake of an announcement from BT who wish to scrap many under used phone boxes. Mr Gibson's motion calls for cashless or emergency only boxes to be made available in rural areas where communities with sparse and mobile phone reception is patchy. It also calls for Ofcom to heed the views of communities before any action is taken.
Mr Gibson said.... "Without a doubt some phone boxes are not used and it would make better sense for them to be removed . However the fact is that in rural communities they can be a lifeline. Residents or traveller must not be put in danger by the removal of a telephone box." "It is like a life belt beside a harbour or river it is little (if ever) used however it s there in case of an emergency. I am urging BT to consider this issue when they come to scrapping phone boxes in Scotland."
He continued... "It is imperative that communities that are facing the disappearance of their phone boxes are consulted before any decisions have been made and that criteria's are put in place by BT and Ofcom to review the effect that a removal of a phone box will have on any remote locality."
Copy of motion..
Short Title: Closure of Telephone Boxes
S3M-01270 Rob Gibson (Highlands and Islands) (SNP): That the Parliament notes with concern the plans by BT to close telephone boxes in Scotland; notes with particular concern the impact that this might have in rural areas where populations are sparse and mobile phone reception is patchy; calls on Ofcom to make sure that no residents or travellers could be put in danger through lack of emergency phones; calls for a national plan to be drawn up by the regulator and BT before any further telephone box closures are proposed, including consideration of options such as cashless or emergency only boxes for those deemed essential, and urges Ofcom to consult all the affected communities to gain their support.