Article by Stuart Wilson from the Ayrshire Post
The man bidding to extend his run as Scotland's longest serving Tory says protecting our town centres must be the priority coming out of covid.
John Scott will attempt to be re-elected for a 21st year representing the Ayr constituency on May 6.
And there is more work to be done than ever in terms of rebuilding the economy.
He said: "The number one priority over the next few years needs to be protecting jobs and the economic recovery from Covid, and that will be my clear focus if, with the support of local people, I am fortunate enough to be re-elected as the MSP for the Ayr constituency.
"While the easing of restrictions over recent days has been welcome, the fact is there's a world of difference between being legally allowed to open and being able to trade profitably.
"Many small firms will have built up considerable debt over the last year, and will continue to face restrictions over the months to come that will hinder their ability to trade and support local jobs.
"All of this means that the survival of local small and medium sized businesses and the jobs they support are still on the line, and we need to do everything we can to support them.
"There's a need for decisive action here by the Scottish Parliament to help these businesses, their employees and the communities they serve."
Mr Scott, whose latest challenge is led by SNP councillor Siobhian Brown, added: "As a start, I want the Scottish Government to provide full funding for councils to scrap parking charges on publicly-owned car parks, to encourage more people to support our high streets recover."
"We need to help make going to the local shops as easy and cost-effective as possible and tackling car parking charges is one way to do it.
"We also have to accept that economic uncertainty will continue for a long time to come, so to help businesses deal with that, and to encourage them to keep jobs in our town centres, rates relief of at least 25 per cent should be extended into 2022-23.
"Easing the overheads of small businesses is one of the most direct ways of helping them survive and of encouraging more businesses back into our high streets and town centres.
"There's no denying that town centres have been struggling for years, and that the pandemic has made that struggle all the worse, but with a determined focus by everyone involved, local government, the Scottish Government, and the businesses community itself, we can make this the year our town centres finally turn a corner and begin the revival in local shopping we all want to see."