SNP Galloway and West Dumfries Candidate Emma Harper has welcomed the launch of the SNP Manifesto which she has said will continue to build on the SNP’s transformational work both across Dumfries and Galloway and Scotland.

The SNP candidate, and current South Scotland MSP, has said that the manifesto has “ambitious plans to continue to transform Galloway and West Dumfries on all matters from health and care services to transport and infrastructure and education and community regeneration”.

On transport and infrastructure – which Ms Harper has campaigned for improvements to, since her election – the SNP Manifesto, for example, contains a continuous programme of improvements for the A75 and A77, and the development of better freight facilities, especially to support the timber industry in the area. It contains a commitment to explore the potential merits of new stations and services to improve connections to Glasgow on the South Western line, and the reopening of a rail link between Stranraer and Dumfries.

Ms Harper has said that these commitments also play a vital role in Scotland’s green recovery and in our region playing our part in the climate emergency through emissions reduction and investment in public transport.

With health and social care services having been on the front line of the pandemic, Ms Harper has welcomed that the SNP Government would deliver a 20% increase in frontline NHS spending worth £2.5bn, and would establish a National Care Service, backed by a 25% increase in social care investment. The commitment for increased financial support for Mental Health is also greatly welcome and commitment to have a mental health professional in all GP practices as part of the overall Health and Wellbeing strategy.

Here in Dumfries and Galloway, the SNP have pledged to establish a National Institute for Remote and Rural Medicine, which Ms Harper has been calling for, to better address the needs of people who live in remote and rural areas. The SNP have also pledged to establish a fast track cancer diagnostic centres to help better support patients with non-specific symptoms suspicious of cancer. NHS Dumfries and Galloway will be one of the first three and will be up and running by the end of May this year.

On farming and our rural economy, the SNP will continue to stand up against the harms caused by Brexit and will go further to better support tenant farmers, new entrant farmers and to support our farming sector to be world leaders in emissions reduction. Ms Harper, who herself successfully took forward Bill to better protect farmers from attacks on their livestock by out of control dogs in the countryside, has reaffirmed her commitment to D&G’s rural sector and to supporting farmers and our food and drink producers if returned to the Scottish Parliament.

Commenting, Ms Harper said:

“This past year has been the most difficult that most of us will ever remember. The SNP have dedicated our energy to one over-riding task: keeping people in Scotland as safe possible. Tackling the COVID pandemic has been our priority and for as long as this crisis is ongoing, it will remain so.

“A year ago, we had to act fast without the knowledge we have now about this virus – and without the benefit of the hindsight we have today.

“It is that combination of commitment and experience that is vital as we go into the next session of Parliament. In the manifesto, the SNP is setting out a serious programme for serious times. It is practical and optimistic – and it is transformational in its ambition.

“A Scotland founded on compassion and kindness, where we look out for one another in a spirit of solidarity, where everyone is valued equally, in which we celebrate our rich diversity and where we welcome those who choose to make our country their home. A nation of fulfilling jobs, financial security, happy homes and healthy families. This is what the SNP vision is and is what I want to see replicated here in Dumfries and Galloway.

“The manifesto has commitments to address issues I have been raising since my election. Issues which are so important to Galloway and West Dumfries. The establishment of a National Institute for Remote and Rural Medicine, could address the historic cancer pathway issues which people across Wigtownshire have faced for years.

“The commitment to a continuous programme of improvements and upgrades to our arterial routes – the A75 and A77 – is ambitious and welcome and will improve the attractiveness of our region to people and business. We do currently have a climate emergency, and I therefore welcome the commitments to improving our regions rail services and to re-establishing the Dumfries – Stranraer rail link, which will reduce emissions and boost green tourism.

“There is also a raft of commitments to our young people, including to ensure all young people have a device with access to the internet. The SNP will continue to stand up for our farmers and rural Scotland too, as I have done through successfully taking a Bill through Parliament to strengthen the law on attacks on livestock.

“The SNP and I have a proven track record of getting things done for the people of D&G and only a vote for me as your constituency MSP and the SNP so that we can build on our progress to benefit our fantastic communities, people and businesses.”