'Treasure our athletes and Games' golden moments'

Glasgow 2014, continues to light up sport, and enhance the reputation of the city.

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Among the many distractions and subplots surrounding Usain Bolt, Kylie Minogue and Tunnocks Teacakes, the athletes continue to take centre stage.

How wonderful it was to see 13-year-old Shetland swimmer, Erraid Davies, Scotland's youngest ever competitor, win bronze in the para sport 100m breaststroke final in Tollcross.

Erraid's beaming smile was truly a gift, and while her medal may have been bronze, she truly represented Commonwealth gold for the organisers of Glasgow 2014.

We then had vision-impaired sprinter Libby Clegg, who won gold in the 100m at Hampden, with her guide runner, Mikail Huggins.

My congratulations go to both, and to all those athletes who have distinguished themselves.

Their achievements are truly inspiring. All of our athletes, and these girls in particular, have every right to feel proud, and so do we.

A REPORT, published this week by the Scottish Housing Commission, recommends the creation of more new towns in Scotland, and the expansion of the private rental sector.

The Commission, led by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, says that urgent action is required, to avert a potential housing crisis.

Among a number of published recommendations, it includes proposals to adjust the planning system for housing, to deliver a 100% increase in new projects, by 2016.

However, the proposal which has attracted most attention, is the one which suggests the creation of between six to eight new towns, across Scotland.

The report acknowledges that the regeneration of existing towns, may also be a viable option.

In my opinion, the creation of such new towns would be a costly mistake. The creation of new transport infrastructure, education and health facilities,and the other support infrastructure needed, would drive up cost and extend construction timeframes.

The regeneration of existing areas carries a number of benefits.

Firstly, the new housing developments can take advantage of the existing infrastructure.

In addition, the wider area will benefit from the incoming investment and existing facilities can be upgraded and further developed for the collective good, of a much wider community.

However, another report published this week, by the National Records for Scotland, gives us food for thought, in looking at our housing requirements for the next 25 years.

Their report predicts that by 2037, some 25% of Scots, aged 16 and above, will be living alone.

They also predict that the number of households in Scotland, will increase by 400,000. Most of that increase will be in the older age groups, consistent with our ageing population. So what kind of housing will be needed? Where should it be?

I still remain unclear as to why increasing numbers of us wish to live alone. What long-term effects will that have on our sense of community, our interaction with others, our family units?

Will it increasingly isolate members of our community?

The publication of these reports, in the same week, gives me some concern that, at the national level, the right hand of Government doesn't know what the left hand is doing.

I suspect, rather than new towns, we need new policies.

I see that the energy regulator, Ofgem, has ordered electricity companies to cut prices from 2015.

New prices will be set for the next eight years, between 2015 and 2023.

This will see customers, on average, save a whopping £12 a year. Whoop-de-do!

Five out of the six big providers, including Scottish Power, and Scottish and Southern Electricity, have been instructed to get prices down.

Following on from the numerous issues of overcharging, confusing tariffs, fines and accusations of operating a cartel, what exactly does Ofgem think this latest move will achieve ?

It will certainly not inspire any confidence in the public of the ability of Ofgem to regulate this industry.

It will also not achieve any public confidence in the ability of the industry to regulate itself.

It is simply too little from a regulator which has failed to do its job, and too late for an industry which has lost the public's trust.

The Scottish Government, this week committed some half million pounds, in aid, to the people of Gaza.

In addition to the £10 million provided so far by the UK, the money will be used to provide water, food and medicine to those most affected. Well done to the Scottish Government.

Irrespective of the rights and wrongs on both sides of the Arab/ Israeli conflict, it is clear that the international community has to do much more to end the slaughter.

The victims of the conflict are innocent civilians, more than 1300 of them so far have lost their lives.

The reality of the violence, and its effects upon the civilian population, is truly horrifying and extremely disturbing.

To many, the Arab-Israeli conflict, particularly in relation to the Palestinian issue, is not one that can be resolved.

Some 20 years ago, the same was said about achieving peace in Northern Ireland.

They were wrong then, as they are now.

Peace in the Middle East is possible, but it will require the same international impetus and priority.

So where is it?

Local government

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