Four weeks into my term as the MP for Central Ayrshire, I finally feel like I am starting to find my feet. I have made my maiden speech in the House of Commons as part of the Queen’s Speech debate on Health and I have also had the opportunity to question the Secretary State for Health on his plans to increase GP numbers and the Under-Secretary of State for Health on the integration of health and social care.
Closer to home, I took part in the Big Beach Clean-up in Irvine at the end of May. The event was organised by local charity Coastwatch Scotland to help remove the rubbish and flotsam plaguing the beach and riverbank.
There was a great turnout on what was a beautiful day and, after a week in the stuffiness of London, it was lovely to be out enjoying the fresh coastal air.
One of the most pleasing aspects was the number of families with young children who came along. Events of this nature are a great way to educate children about the problems litter can cause to humans, animals, and the environment, as well as help them understand that rubbish doesn’t pick itself up; it has to be done by someone.
It costs us all money for the Council to arrange for staff to pick up after us; money which could be put to far better use. We are spoiled in Ayrshire for beautiful beaches and scenery, yet many sites are blighted by litter making them unattractive to visitors or, in worst cases, unusable.
The litter pick is a great example of what a community can do when it comes together. However, we shouldn’t sit back and wait for others to organise these events. Preserving and improving our local environment is something that everyone can be involved in on an on-going basis, not just politicians and charitable groups.
The Better Scotland we all want to see will only succeed if we work together from the ground up. We need to empower communities and harness the energy and enthusiasm in civic life which we have seen across the country over the past year to develop the necessary activism at a local level. The more progressive action we can take closer to home the more effectual the change for the nation as a whole.