Learn to Let Go

Question Time — Scottish Executive – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:30 pm on 6th March 2003.

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Photo of Stewart Stevenson Stewart Stevenson Scottish National Party 2:30 pm, 6th March 2003

To ask the Scottish Executive what the achievements of its learn to let go campaign have been. (S1O-6568)

Photo of Lewis Macdonald Lewis Macdonald Labour

The learn to let go campaign is designed to encourage people to consider a wider range of options when undertaking their daily journeys. Recent independent research indicates that it has been successful in raising travel awareness for significant numbers of people throughout Scotland.

Photo of Stewart Stevenson Stewart Stevenson Scottish National Party

Does the minister agree that, having spent £1.1 million over recent times, it is disgraceful that only now is he getting round to evaluating the research? Is he aware of research, commissioned by his own department, which states that advertising, however well designed, is unlikely to impact upon behaviour and that there is no evidence of it having such an impact? Does he recognise that the Executive has a serial addiction to spending our money on promoting its benefits and that it is the minister's party that must learn to let go over the next eight weeks?

Photo of Lewis Macdonald Lewis Macdonald Labour

An attack on advertising by the Scottish National Party is a fascinating political initiative.

I will set some of the facts straight, because Stewart Stevenson is clearly not aware of them. The research to which I refer includes research conducted by two different agencies; it was conducted in February 2001, October 2001, December 2002 and January 2003. I am sorry that he has only now got round to reading that research but, now that he has, he will appreciate that the campaign contributes significantly to our strategy of raising awareness about the availability of public transport throughout Scotland.

Photo of David Davidson David Davidson Conservative

Does the minister agree that the best way in which to get people to give up using their cars is to provide adequate public transport choices, particularly in rural Scotland? To that end, will he further the progress of the petition to reopen Laurencekirk station in Aberdeenshire?

Photo of Lewis Macdonald Lewis Macdonald Labour

I agree with Mr Davidson's point about the importance of rural public transport. I am glad to put on the record the Executive's contributions in the past few weeks, such as another £150,000 towards rural community transport in Aberdeenshire alone. Our contributions to scheduled rural bus services in Aberdeenshire are significant and, at the end of last year, we agreed to provide a further £2 million for the consideration of bus access from Aberdeenshire to Aberdeen.

The appropriate body, which is Aberdeenshire Council, is considering Laurencekirk railway station, and I look forward with interest to the council's conclusions.