MSP for Helensburgh and Lomond, Jackie Baillie, condemns ScotRail's cutting of free children's tickets and promotes better access to mental health services across the area in this week's community column.


SCOTRAIL has recently announced that they will be increasing ticket prices in January and withdrawing Kids Go Free tickets.

Scrooge is clearly alive and well this Christmas. And all this at a time when our services are so poor. No wonder passengers are annoyed.

For months, passengers travelling to and from Dumbarton, Alexandria and Helensburgh have experienced almost-daily delays and cancellations. I have raised this in the strongest terms with Michael Matheson, the Cabinet secretary for transport, and with Alex Hynes, the managing director of ScotRail, highlighting the extent of the problem. It is so disappointing that at a time when passengers need the Scottish Government to stand up for them, they have weakened the targets that ScotRail need to meet. The fight continues.

LAST week, I spoke in a debate in the Scottish Parliament on the Strategy for our Veterans. The strategy has been endorsed by the UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments, and it aims to support service personnel and their families and ensure that they are not disadvantaged by the fact of their service.

Service personnel and their families make a fantastic contribution to our communities and it is essential that we repay them for their service by ensuring that their transition to civilian life is as seamless as possible.

One area I highlighted was the lack of access to mental health services. There are long waiting lists and staff shortages which impact on patients generally, but the lack of specialist services for conditions like PTSD make transition back to civilian life more challenging, and I urged the Scottish Government to invest in these services in their upcoming budget.

I paid tribute to the many service families living in Helensburgh and Lomond for their contribution to our society, our economy and of course to the protection of our country and our way of life.

And as this is my last column before the festive season, let me wish all of you a very Happy Christmas!