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Minister takes £4.68 taxi to physical activity speech

Maureen Watt decided to take a taxpayer-funded cab rather than walk 0.9 miles.

Taxi: Maureen Watt took the taxi from the Scottish Parliament.
Taxi: Maureen Watt took the taxi from the Scottish Parliament. PA

A Scottish Government minister took a taxpayer-funded £4.68 taxi ride to give a speech aimed at promoting physical activity, STV News has learned.

Maureen Watt, who is the Scottish Government's mental health minister, made the trip on May 18 earlier this year.

The 66-year-old travelled the short distance from the Scottish Parliament to the Meadowbank Sports Centre and then claimed for the fare back as part of her ministerial expenses.

The minister was at the venue to give a speech promoting the benefits of active learning through physical activity for people with learning difficulties.

Watt could have used the 0.9-mile journey to reach almost all of her daily mile walking or running goal, a target which the Scottish Government has set for Scots to achieve to boost our "physical and mental health".

A spokesman for Scottish Government said: "We continually look for ways to minimise the use of cars for official journeys.

"When practical, ministers car share, use public transport or walk to their engagements, but given time constraints and the nature of government business this is not always possible."

Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Miles Briggs said: "This is another classic example of SNP hypocrisy.

"Clearly this minister thinks she can dish out lectures on an active lifestyle yet she sees it fit not only to take a miniscule taxi journey but charge taxpayers for the privilege.

"It's time for SNP ministers to practice what they preach."

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