Live music venue in the Highlands & Islands has moved a step closer to moving into new premises after crunch talks with key players

THE LEADING live music venue in the Highlands & Islands has moved a step closer to moving into new premises after crunch talks with key players.

The Ironwork’s director Caroline Campbell said the mood music that came out of the meeting led by the region’s Labour MSP David Stewart was “fantastically positive”.

Proposals for a hotel to be built on the site could leave The Ironworks with little time to relocate.

However, Caroline Campbell said the commitment shown to support the music business has spurred her on to investigate a potential venue for a move she believes could be seamless for her network of musicians and bookings, and her 62 staff.

She said: “David Stewart MSP and senior members of HIE, High Life Highland, Highland Council and Creative Scotland, discussed finding a new home for our key live music business that plays a vital role in the cultural life of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland and I felt it was a fantastically positive meeting. David Stewart’s online petition was also discussed, and everyone took on board how important the venue is to the people of Inverness and to music-lovers across the wider Highlands and Islands and beyond.”

She added: “I can’t stress this enough when I say this building we are in right now is just a shell. Everything in it we own and is transferrable. I invested heavily in new equipment and that was done deliberately so it could be moveable. It’s business as usual for The Ironworks and details will be released as soon as we know where our new space will be.”

The meeting was arranged by the Labour MSP David Stewart on the back of his campaign to find a new home for the venue.

Highland Council’s executive chief officer Stuart Black told the meeting the local authority was “very keen to see The Ironworks remain in the city centre”.

James Martin, head of development at High Life Highland, agreed to supply Mrs Campbell with costs and crowd-capacity figures for his charity’s network of buildings. Two senior officials from Highlands and Islands Enterprise – Iain Hamilton and Stephanie Andrew – also gave a commitment to investigate the kinds of support the organisation could give to the venue.

Creative Scotland, the public body that distributes funding from the Scottish Government and the UK National Lottery to supports the arts, screen and creative industries, is also engaged in the relocation effort.

MSP David Stewart, who has secured a meeting with Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop on October 29, said he was “convinced there will be a permanent alternative home for The Ironworks”.
He said: “This venue is vital to the region’s music scene and to its cultural values not to mention the boost it brings to the city’s night-time economy and in turn to Scotland’s culture secretary Fiona Hyslop’s commitment to increase music tourism.

“People who come from as far as Dundee to see bands play at The Ironworks have signed my online petition. It’s been an institution in Inverness for more than a decade, contributing in so many ways without the backing of any regular public funding and I think it is time the Scottish Government started to recognise the good work it is doing. But for me, one of the most positive things that came out of the meeting, is we know there are levers we might be able to pull on to secure it a new home.”

A follow-up meeting has been scheduled for Friday, November 8.

FMQ – 27.09.19

On Thursday at FMQ’s i asked about a new study which suggested young people in the poorest parts of the country are three times more likely to die before their 25th birthday than those in the most affluent areas.You can see my question and the First Minister’s response below.

Campaign to get more RAF veterans back on the radar

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, David Stewart, pledged to support the RAF Benevolent Fund, the Royal Air Force’s leading welfare charity, in their drive to reach even more RAF veterans in need.

It is estimated that as many as 100,000 people are in urgent need of what could be life-changing support, but they are often unaware that such help is available or that they might be eligible for it. Recognising there is a limited time to help these veterans, the campaign’s main aim is to reach them before it is too late.

Research carried out by the charity estimates that 35% of us (one in three) know of someone who has served in the RAF and therefore the Join the Search. Change a Life. campaign calls on us all to reach out to those men and women who served as regulars or reservists or did their National Service in the RAF. Many are too proud to ask for help when they need it most or simply do not know that the RAF Benevolent Fund is here to support them.

Mr Stewart, who was a member of Westminster’s Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme for two sessions, said: “The RAF Benevolent Fund has launched a major new campaign in its centenary year urging the country to help repay the debt we all owe to the RAF veterans and their families who urgently need help. In particular, we need to reach out to the National Service and Second World War veterans, before it’s too late. They put on the uniform of our country when we needed them to, the least we can do is be there for them when they themselves need our help.

The RAF Benevolent Fund offers a wide range of support, from financial grants for one-off and day-to-day costs, respite breaks and emotional support. Last year it spent £21M supporting 53,000 members of the RAF Family across the globe.

In Scotland they spent over £1M (£1.13M) supporting 290 people directly with support ranging from housing to Care Home top up fees, mobility and adaptations in the home so individuals can live more independently. They also supported thousands more with grants provided to other organisations such as Scottish Veterans Residences, National Gulf Veterans and Families Association, and RAF Widows Association.

The campaign was launched at the end of June and to date more than 5,700 people have been in touch with the Fund seeking information, 4,300 of which have been welfare specific. More than half of those have come from family members or friends of an RAF service person or spouse, 41% has come from the individual themselves and requests for help have come from as far as Canada and South Africa

Bullying and Harassment within the NHS.

Earlier this week I spoke at the Bullying and Harassment within the NHS debate. You can hear my speech above.

I also asked the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport about the investigation post Sturrock review into Argyll and Bute. You can hear my question and the Cabinet Secretary’s response below.

Public Petitions Committee – 5th September 2019

I recently spoke at the Public Petitions Committee regarding the public petition 1695 on access to justice. You can watch below where I give some backround information on this petition.
If you would like to learn more on this petition, you can click on the link below.…/Petitions/PE01695

Operations cancelled due to lack of capacity

I have had sight of figures which show that operations had to be cancelled across NHS Highland because hospitals simply could not cope.
Data published by ISD Scotland shows that 45 operations were cancelled in May 2019 due to non-clinical reasons such as not having enough staff or unclean equipment.
Across Scotland, 500 planned operations were cancelled in May 2019 because hospitals could not cope.
Scottish Labour has pointed out that the figures show our NHS is simply not getting enough resources from the SNP government.
We have to remember that behind each of these figures is a patient waiting in pain for treatment that hospitals have not been able to give.
We have seen a staffing crisis develop in our health service, with huge unfilled gaps for consultants, nurses and midwives.
Patients across NHS Highland are being let down by the SNP government and are not getting the care they deserve.
It is time to use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to properly fund our NHS.

FMQ’s – 16.05.19

Today at FMQ’s, I highlighted the mental health care needs of those with diabetes during mental health awareness week.
You can see my question and the First Minister’s response.