First Minister Nicola Sturgeon took time from her busy schedule to speak to the Advertiser on Monday, during a day in Midlothian with her Cabinet.
Ms Sturgeon and her ministers were at the Easter Bush Campus in the morning, with the First Minister officially opening the Roslin Innovation Centre at the University of Edinburgh’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies. She later held public discussion at Ladywood Leisure Centre in Penicuik with local people.
In between she answered our questions about issues impacting our county.
Firstly, she explained what her government plans to do to tackle the burning issue in Midlothian of the lack of infrastructure whilst constant housebuilding makes our county the fastest growing in Scotland.
She said: “Midlothian is a part of Scotland having a population growing much higher than throughout the rest of the country as a whole.
“It’s a popular area. People want to live here. That’s why we are investing so much in housing.
“With that comes a whole range of needs. Obviously broadband is important, for business and homes. While transport links are also vital. That is why we have spent money on improving broadband coverage and transport links in Midlothian.
“More generally we have significantly increased infrastructure investment and this part of the country will benefit from that funding. We will look at setting priorities where the need lies and in an area like this that is booming, that will be very important.”
Since the SNP took power at Holyrood in 2007 Midlothian has witnessed the building of new schools and major school renovations, including the community hubs of Lasswade Centre and Newbattle Campus, and most recently Loanhead Centre and Paradykes Primary.
Ms Sturgeon is happy with the amount of new schools built in the area and she promised further investment in education. She said: “We are very pleased with the overall investment, working with local authorities. We have seen many more schools built or refurbished so that’s positive.
“That’s essential in an area like Midlothian where the population is growing.
“We are also investing to try to close the attainment gap. It’s a big focus of our work at the moment.”
The First Minister also answered a question from one of our readers. Liz Campbell asked on our Facebook page: “Can they please look into the waste of drugs that can’t be returned to be reused. This costs £100,000s to the NHS.”
Ms Sturgeon responded: “We have worked hard to reduce inefficiencies and save money where possible. So in the drugs budget for example by using generic medicines rather than branded alternatives where possible.
“There is a an issue when it comes to reusing medicines that have been opened. Medicines for patient safety reasons are highly regulated. So often there are safety concerns if a packet of medicine has been opened for that then to be re-used.
“We have got to put patient safety first. But within that, where it is possible, the NHS works to do everything it can acting as efficiently as possible so as much resource goes to frontline patient care.”
Speaking about opening Roslin Innovation Centre, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “The Roslin Institute is at the centre of innovation that is enhancing animal and human welfare through world class research into animal biology. It is a great privilege to open the Roslin Innovation Centre in the Charnock Bradley Building, which was supported with £10 million investment, and meet businesses driving forward life science innovation.
“Research and innovation, the economy and higher education are key priorities for this government and The Roslin Institute is an outstanding Scottish success story in that regard.”
Professor Peter Mathieson, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh, said: “We are delighted to welcome the First Minister and her Cabinet to our world leading campus for animal sciences. The opening of Roslin Innovation Centre brings opportunities for enterprise together with our excellent teaching and research facilities.”