Local MSP Gil Paterson is highlighting calls for the Westminster Tory Education Secretary Damian Hind to end uncertainty over the Erasmus+ programme, the European Union programme for education, training, youth and sport.
SNP Education Spokesperson at Westminster Carol Monaghan MP, pressed Mr Hind to commit to further funding in 2019/20 for students currently studying, and planning to study, in Europe in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Erasmus+ aims to modernise education, training and youth work across Europe. Young people can study, volunteer and gain work experience abroad, to develop new skills, gain vital international experience and boost their employability.
Staff can teach or train abroad, to develop their professional practice, build relationships with international peers, and gain fresh ideas and UK organisations can collaborate with international partners, to drive innovation, share best practice, and offer new opportunities to young people.
Last week, the European Commission issued a guarantee that, in case of a no-deal Brexit, current Erasmus students will be able to complete their stay without interruption “provided that the United Kingdom honours its financial obligations under the EU budget."
Speaking to the Herald Mr Paterson said:
“Since 2014 Scotland has received €60 million from this scheme which allows students from all over the EU to travel, study and experience new cultures.
“It provides opportunity to students who would otherwise not be able to afford to study abroad and benefit from that experience.
“Erasmus encourages some of the brightest minds to come together, to work together to tackle some of the biggest challenges we face today.
“The Tory Westminster government must follow the EU’s lead and commit to funding all 2019/20 Erasmus+ placements.
“The Brexit negotiations have been utterly and completely shambolic, Erasmus+ cannot be put at risk by an incompetent UK government putting party interests before country interests especially those of our young people.”
Gil Paterson MSP has called on the UK government to revise its approach to digital connectivity and invest more money delivering high-speed broadband for residents in Clydebank, after it was criticised for ‘short-changing’ Scots on high-speed broadband by a parliamentary committee.
The Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity committee this week called on the UK government to deliver its fair share of UK broadband funding after it was revealed that the Tories have contributed just 3% of the total funding for the ‘Reaching 100%’ project.
Despite connectivity and broadband being a reserved matter, the Scottish Government has invested £600 million in the ‘R100’ programme to deliver super-fast broadband to every home and business in Scotland.
Commenting, Mr Paterson said:
“Digital connectivity is an essential part of modern life and an indispensable tool for business, stimulating economic growth. Here in West Dunbartonshire we have some of the highest speeds in Scotland but the Tories’ lack of ambition for broadband is extremely disappointing, and far behind that of the Scottish Government despite the fact that connectivity and broadband is wholly under the power of the UK Tory government at Westminster. Rural areas have been especially let down by Westminster with a lack of adequate broadband coverage.
‘’The Scottish Government has committed to extending superfast access to all of Scotland by 2021 – with speeds of at least 30Mbps – and committed £600 million to delivering that. The UK government contribution is a paltry £20.99 million which is about 3% of the overall budget.
“It’s time for the Tories to step up to the plate and deliver for the people of Clydebank. They must commit to joining Scotland in the 21st century.”
You can access the consultation documents for my Bill proposal here. I'be very grateful if you would take a minute to let me know your thoughts.
Local MSP Gil Paterson has lodged a proposed Bill at the Scottish Parliament to change the procedure for a second post mortem examination in cases of murder.
Mr Paterson began working on the proposed change in legislation after meeting with the family of Paige Docherty following her tragic murder in March 2016. He had his first meeting with Police Scotland to discuss the issue in July 2016.
Since then Mr Paterson has consulted extensively meeting with forensic pathology experts, the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates and the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service in 2016 as well as accompanying Paige’s mother, Pamela Munro, to a meeting with the First Minister.
In 2017 he met again with the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates on several occasions, the Law Society of Scotland and the then Justice Secretary.
After his comprehensive research, Mr Paterson arrived at a proposal that he says would make the process of requesting a second post mortem examination more transparent and easier to understand for the families of victims while at the same time protecting the absolute right of the accused to a fair trial.
Mr Paterson’s suggestion is that there should be a time limit for the defence lawyers to conduct a second post mortem examination and, only if there were sound reasons why they could not do so within the agreed time, they would be able to apply to the court for an extension to the time limit.
Speaking about his proposed Bill, Mr Paterson said:
“This is an extremely complex issue which is why it has taken such a lot of work to arrive at this proposed change to legislation. It is in everyone’s interest that the right person is found guilty and no one, least of all the families of victims would want to see that interfered with. Obviously, it is an issue which needed careful thought and sensitivity never forgetting that I was working with very traumatised families and loved ones.
“However, I believe it is possible to protect the right to a fair trial while, at the same time, giving victims’ families greater certainty about when they will be able to hold a funeral for their loved ones.
“I’m dedicating this work to the memory of Paige Docherty and to her mother, Pamela Munro, and family.”
Local MSP Gil Paterson is warning Bankies to keep their wits about them following reports of scam phone calls from crooks pretending to be from HMRC.
The scammers have managed to clone the HMRC helpline number and when people answer the call they hear a recorded message telling them that they are being investigated for tax fraud and a warrant has been issued for their arrest.
Commenting on the scam, Mr Paterson said;
“The conmen who prey on innocent, often elderly, people with scams like this are despicable, we all have to be vigilant so that they don’t get away with it.
“HMRC have told me that they would never contact you over the phone, if HMRC need to get in touch with you they will write, they will not phone so don’t ever give any personal information over the phone.
“The message is clear, just hang up, don’t engage in conversation with these people, don’t press any keys on your phone, hang up immediately.”
HMRC advise anyone who thinks that they may have fallen victim to this scam to contact the police. Anyone who has revealed financial information should also contact their bank.
Recent big news was the UK Chancellor’s Budget and the Tory Government announcement that austerity is over. Make no mistake, the tax cuts announced by the Tory Government benefit the top earners far more than they benefit those on more modest incomes and, as usual, it is the poorest in our communities who continue to carry the burden of austerity. Austerity is certainly over for the richest who got a generous tax cut from the Chancellor to take their minds off the Tory Brexit fiasco, but it’s not over for those who are struggling.
Not long ago the UK Prime Minister was lecturing on no “magic money tree” and how austerity was essential. The Westminster Government won’t raid the coffers when people in need are forced to use foodbanks to feed their families and are struggling to keep a roof over their head - the Tory Chancellor is holding £15 billion in reserve for a rainy day. Nevertheless, it’s a different story for the better off when the Tory Party needs support.
We’ve come to expect no better from the Tories but Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell stunned members of his own Labour Party by proclaiming Labour support for Tory tax cuts. Mr McDonnell declared “We’re not going to take money out of people’s pockets, simple as that.” this despite figures from the Resolution Foundation showing that changes to tax and benefits since 2015 mean the better-off gain £390 and those on lower incomes lose £400.
The Resolution Foundation analysis of the Budget found that more than three quarters of the Tory Government’s proposed £12billion in welfare cuts is still Government policy so will still feature in their plans for the future.
In Scotland, the SNP Government take a different approach by asking those who have more, to pay a little more, so that we can support NHS Scotland, (which is consistently, and by far, the best performing NHS in the UK), so that we can plug the £400 million gap left by the Tory cuts to welfare and so that we can support our public services to make Scotland a better place to live for everyone.
The Tory Chancellor boasts that Scotland is getting “extra” money in the Budget, but he doesn’t admit the Tories have cut Scotland’s budget by nearly £2 billion since the financial year 2010/11 leaving less to spend in real terms today than we had in 2011. The Tories would rather give tax cuts to their supporters than sort out the shambles of Universal Credit, invest in public services, grow the economy or boost living standards and the Labour Party, the official opposition, meekly accept it.
Local MSP Gil Paterson says that he is pleased to be hosting the Google Digital Garage Bus during its visit to Clydebank.
Google’s bus tour is part of its Digital Garage initiative, which provides free digital skills training to people across the UK so they have the knowledge they need in order to grow in their confidence, career or business. It also follows a successful launch of a high street training hub in the centre of Edinburgh and a presence in the Mitchell Library in Glasgow.
Google’s converted double decker Digital Garage bus will be in Clydebank Shopping Centre on Friday 26th October from 10am until 4pm and Mr. Paterson is encouraging Bankies of all ages to go along and get free expert advice.
The day will be split into three themed sessions and an Eventbrite listing has been set up so that people can register for each event but Mr Paterson is very keen to stress that anyone can drop-in at any time during the day.
The sessions planned for the event are ‘Stay Safe Online’ from 10am -11:30am; ‘First Steps Online’ 12noon – 2pm and ‘Build a CV’ 3pm – 4pm.
Speaking to the Clydebank Post, Mr Paterson said:
“I’m excited to be partnering up with The Google Digital Garage bus tour. The Google Digital Garage is a place where anyone can come and learn how to harness the power of the internet to grow their business, just learn more about the internet or develop new vocational skills.
“I think it is a great idea and I would urge anyone who is free on Friday the 26th October and would like to take advantage of free face-to-face coaching from Google internet experts to pop down to the shopping centre. If you want to learn new skills or even just increase your confidence, then this is for you.”
The Google Digital Garage bus tour was launched in 2017 and has visited over 100 locations across the UK so far. The bus will travel to over 50 locations in the Glasgow region offering free courses on a wide range of topics from how to build a CV to social media strategy.
You can register for any of the session at the EventBrite listings;
Google Garage Bus Tour: Clydebank, 3 Queens Square, Clydebank Shopping Centre 10am to 4pm on Friday 26th October
Following a recent meeting with Transport Secretary, Michael Matheson, where concerns were raised over the performance of the Milngavie Rail line, local SNP MSPs Gil Paterson and Rona Mackay have received written details of the actions being taken to improve performance on the line.
In his letter to Mr Paterson, the Transport Secretary highlighted steps which have already been taken as well as those planned for implementation over the coming months.
Actions already in place include prompt departure times for the Argyle line services, which is already delivering improvements; driver changes at Hyndland station were identified as causing delays which have been eliminated, information has been gathered on time lost daily at the Wishaw turn back and speed restrictions between Bargeddie and Mount Vernon are being reviewed. Skip stopping, except as a last resort, has been suspended.
An Infrastructure scheme at Westerton which allows a 6-car train to be accommodated on the Glasgow platform without blocking the route to Milngavie will be delivered Mid November.
Plans are in review to run an express service from Glasgow to Milngavie during peak times and also on selected trains from Balloch and from Helensburgh central.
Measures to improve management of drivers at Milngavie are planned for December this year which, in conjunction with an additional engine unit being introduced into the circuit, will re-instate 20-minute turnaround times ensuring greater punctuality.
Discussions are also taking place with train drivers’ unions to find ways of reducing the berthing times for trains arriving at Milngavie Station.
Speaking to the Milngavie and Bearsden Herald, Mr Paterson said:
“Obviously ScotRail are taking this matter seriously and are making changes and putting in investment. Let’s hope it has the desired effect”
Local MSP Gil Paterson has asked Scotland’s First Minister to demand action from the UK Tory Government after important clinical trials of a new heart drug at the Golden Jubilee Hospital in Clydebank were stopped.
Trials were due to take place on patients in the Golden Jubilee Hospital of a drug called Dutopgliptin, a drug intended to be used in conjunction with other medicines to help repair damaged heart tissue. However, California-based drug research company, Recardio, pulled the plug on the UK trials citing uncertainty due to the UK’s exit from the EU and what it called “completely unresolved” issues around the European Medicines Agency which it says represent “a significant risk” to its business.
During First Minister’s Questions at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh last week, Mr Paterson raised the issue of the work undertaken at the Golden Jubilee is of national, if not global significance and he urged Nicola Sturgeon to raise the issue with the UK Government and demand action to allow the ground-breaking research to go ahead at the Clydebank hospital.
He also raised concerns that the situation should not reflect on the fantastic reputation for on-going world-leading research earned by the Golden Jubilee Hospital.
Speaking to the Clydebank Post, Mr Paterson said:
“We are now beginning to see the real impact of the Tory Brexit fiasco.
“Heart disease is a major problem in Clydebank and the west of Scotland, thousands of local people as well as those from further afield have already benefitted from the research carried out at the Golden Jubilee, this world –leading heart hospital has saved the lives of thousands of my constituents but this drug has the potential to do even more. This ground-breaking treatment may be able to help the heart repair itself and may have the capacity to be life-changing for many in our constituency and the world over.
“It is high time Theresa May stopped her political song and dance routine and faced up to reality, we need a Brexit deal that allows innovative research like this to continue unhampered. We need the Tories to stop their bickering and commit to the Single Market and membership of the Customs Union, that’s the only feasible option to limit the damage of this Tory madness and safeguard our healthcare. Scotland did not vote for Brexit and it’s now starting to have a disastrous effect on our people.
The on-going building work at Queens Quay resulted in motorists being stuck in traffic on Glasgow Road at the junction with Cart Street for more than half an hour.
Temporary traffic lights created a queue that extended beyond Yoker.
MSP Gil Paterson visited the building site to express his concern and made a formal complaint to Joyce White, chief executive of West Dunbartonshire Council.
Speaking after sending the letter, he said: “I was extremely concerned when I saw the extent of the traffic jam this morning on what is the main route to the Golden Jubilee.
“In some life-threatening situations every second counts which is why I felt it necessary to submit an official complaint, not to mention the inconvenience for motorists and businesses in the area.
“The work will continue for a further two weeks, but West Dunbartonshire Council have assured me that the lights will be manned during peak times, starting Tuesday evening, to reduce the traffic chaos.
“It is commendable that the company have reacted swiftly to concerns as this situation cannot be allowed to continue.”
Mr Paterson said in his letter the situation was “unacceptable” and “caused by a lack of a proper care being exercised by the contractors responsible”.
Apart from the congestion causing disruption to the public, he also highlighted the potential problems it could cause the emergency services.
He wrote: “The Golden Jubilee is the main centre in the West of Scotland for current heart attack incidents and any delay could cause a life to be lost.”
One resident posted on West Dunbartonshire Council’s social media saying: “Can your traffic management people sort out the carnage that occurred this morning on the road down to the college please because the lights aren’t set properly. Took over an hour to go 2 miles from Mountblow into college. Unacceptable.”
A spokeswoman for West Dunbartonshire Council said: "We would like to apologise for any disruption experienced by drivers at Cart Street, Clydebank this morning.
"This was due to a fault with a temporary traffic light at nearby roadworks associated with the development of Queens Quay.
"This has now been fixed and lights will be manned during peak times to help reduce any congestion.
"We appreciate residents’ patience while the work is ongoing."
The Young Start programme in Scotland which is aimed at organisations working with young people aged between 8 and 24 years reopens for applications on Thursday 30th August.
The programme, which is run by the Big Lottery Fund Scotland for the Scottish Government, seeks to help children and young people play an active part in realising their own potential and becoming confident citizens.
The awards, which use money from dormant bank and building society accounts, fund a range of activities to support better physical, mental and emotional well-being among young people, encourage better connections with the wider community and give access to new skills and training opportunities.
Mr Paterson urged local groups in the area to consider applying for funding saying:
“Encouraging and supporting our young people is an excellent way to make use of the money from dormant bank and building society accounts so I would urge local organisations to have a look at the Young Start programme.
“They already fund all sorts of activities including sport, dance, music, film and local heritage. Even if you are not sure whether your group would qualify, just pick up the phone and have a chat with the organisers to see if this funding could be right for you – they will be able to advise on eligibility.”
Potential applicants can chat about their projects before applying to the fund by calling 0300 123 7110
SNP MSP Gil Paterson has hailed the news that carers in West Dunbartonshire will receive the first payments of the new Carer’s Allowance Supplement from mid-September, back-dated to April.
This new benefit will be paid twice a year by Social Security Scotland, the first major new public service to be created since devolution.
Eligible carers will get a supplementary payment of £221, equivalent of an extra £8.50 per week, an increase of 13% on Carer’s Allowance from the Department of Work and Pensions.
The Carer’s Allowance Supplement is worth more than £30 million a year and will benefit 1610 carers in West Dunbartonshire.
Carers will receive letters from Social Security Scotland from week beginning 10th September so that they know in advance to expect a payment.
SNP MSP Gil Paterson said:
“This roll out of the Carer’s Allowance Supplement marks the beginning of a bright new chapter in Scottish public service.
“The work that carers do is vital to our communities. Carers, who sacrifice so much in order to look after loved ones, must be respected, supported and treated fairly. This is not happening in the UK at the moment so I’m glad that the supplementary payment will enable us to get more money into the pockets of carers in Scotland quickly.
“The SNP Government in Edinburgh has always made clear that Carer’s Allowance should be paid at the same rate as Jobseeker’s Allowance. We have used the new powers over social security to give this additional payment in recognition of the incredible contribution carers make to our society.”
Exam results help
Exam results day is coming. Whether things don’t go according to plan or better than expected, Skills Development Scotland has a variety of options to support learners from 7 August onwards.
Getting your results can be a stressful time, and some people struggle to decide what to do next.
Skills Development Scotland (SDS) has support services available over the phone, online and in person.
Over the phone
Learners, parents and carers can call the Exam Results Helpline to speak with one of SDS’s trained advisers about their options. From apprenticeships to UCAS Clearing, college to employment, they have information on what you can do next. The Helpline is open from 7-15 August and you can get details at myworldofwork.co.uk/examresults.
Scotland’s online careers service My World of Work has lots of useful articles and information to help you plan your future. You can check it all out at myworldofwork.co.uk/examresults.
On social media
You can message advisers via DM on Twitter at @mywowscotland or private message via facebook.com/myworldofwork or your local SDS Facebook page.
SDS careers centres are located nationwide, and careers advisers are available year-round – not just on results day – to offer advice on your career options. Find your nearest centre at myworldofwork.co.uk/centres
The most important thing to remember is – don’t panic! Whatever your results, there is a way to follow your ambitions, and SDS advisers are ready to help you think about options.
Find out more
Get further information on the support offered by Skills Development Scotland at myworldofwork.co.uk/examresults. Exam Results Helpline opens 7th-8th August, 8am-8pm; 9th-15th August 9am-5pm. More details online.
With the start of the school summer holidays being accompanied by a spell of fine weather, Gil Paterson MSP is urging everyone not to take risks around open water.
Scottish Water is promoting its social media campaign #ReservoirSafety and has produced a video to highlight the importance of safety around open water. www.scottishwater.co.uk/reservoirvideo
Speaking about the dangers, Mr Paterson said,
“In the Clydebank area we have the river Clyde, The Forth and Clyde canal and numerous reservoirs. On a hot day the water can look inviting but open water can be very cold and conceal hidden dangers.
“Everyone should be aware of the hazards of open water, especially children, so I’m asking parents to watch the Scottish Water video and talk to their children to make sure that they understand swimming in a reservoir or a canal is very different to swimming in a swimming pool.
“Even on hot days open water can be extremely cold and can cause shock and cramps, obstacles may be hidden just beneath the surface of the water as well as weeds and dangerous currents. There is no way to tell how deep the water is and there is no lifeguard on duty if you get into trouble and cannot get out because of steep or slippy banks. Really strong swimmers can still get into difficulty.
“I want everyone to enjoy the summer safely, so make sure that you and your children are aware of the hazards and take a little extra care.”
The latest figures from the National Water Safety Forum show that, in 2017, a total of 255 people lost their lives to unintentional drowning in the UK, 46 of which were in Scotland.
Local MSP Gil Paterson is highlighting the National Autistic Society Scotland’s Moving Forward programme which works with young people who are on the autistic spectrum to help them develop skills for the workplace, gain confidence in social interaction and take positive steps to finding employment.
The programme is funded by the Scottish Government's CashBack for Communities initiative which takes money seized from criminals under the proceeds of crime legislation and uses it to help young people in need across Scotland.
Over the next three years the National Autistic Society Scotland aims to support 300 young people aged between 16 and 24 who have a diagnosis of autism using a flexible, person centred pathway. Mentoring is a key element of that pathway, matching young people who are furthest from employment with Volunteer Mentors.
Speaking about the programme, Mr Paterson said;
"The Moving Forward programme is a fantastic initiative and a great way to use money seized from criminals to make a really positive impact on the lives of young people who have autism.
"Statistics show that finding some kind of paid employment is especially difficult for people with autism so it is right that we offer them extra support. I would urge any young person in Clydebank who has autism and is struggling to find work to get in touch with the National Autistic Society.
"Equally, I would say to employers, if you think you could help a young person with a diagnosis of autism by taking part in the Moving Forward programme, then do contact the NAS Scotland. Your participation could make all the difference to a young person."
The National Autistic Society Scotland aims to close the autism employment gap, the charities research found that just 16% of autistic adults in the UK are in full-time paid work and only 32% of autistic adults are in some kind of paid work, compared to 47% of disabled people and 80% of the general population. The charity takes a two-pronged approach, supporting autistic people to find work and helping employers to ensure that autistic people succeed in post.
If you, or someone you know, could benefit from the Moving Forward programme or you are a business interested in learning more then please do get in touch by phoning 0141 248 1725 or emailing email@example.com.
Gil Paterson MSP has voiced his disappointment in the LibDem/Tory leadership of East Dunbartonshire Council following days of disruption for his constituents due to strikes by Council workers.
The strikes follow changes to workers’ terms and conditions introduced by the new council administration. The previous SNP administration stood down in December of last year after the LibDem and Tory opposition councillors joined together in an attempt to force the SNP administration to implement the changes.
The strikes resulted in the closure of all schools and nurseries across East Dunbartonshire for four days meaning that many pupils missed out on end of school events and celebrations and working parents were left struggling to find alternative provision for their children.
Speaking about the council administration, Mr Paterson said:
“LibDem and Tory councillors were warned that they faced a near total breakdown of the relationship between the council and their workers if they forced through these changes to terms and conditions without consultation. My constituents are now suffering the consequences of their failure to heed these warnings.
“While I am in total sympathy with my constituents affected by the strike action we must remember that no-one takes the decision to strike lightly. Many of East Dunbartonshire Council’s workers also live in the area so they are affected too and, most importantly, they will lose pay.
“Council staff have suffered years of below inflation pay rises at a time of rising prices in the shops because of the punishing and needless austerity introduced by the LibDem and Tory coalition government at Westminster and carried on by the present Tory UK Government.
“The Libdem and Tory administration on East Dunbartonshire Council need to sort out this mess, which is of their own making, without delay so that workers can get back to doing their job and my constituents are no longer inconvenienced.
“I’m against the expansion of Heathrow as it will throttle direct flights from Scotland while increasing flights to London to feed the Heathrow hub.
“The airplanes used for internal flights are smaller than those used for international flights so it stands to reason that direct international flights, transporting more people in a single airplane, mean less individual flights over Clydebank and the rest of Scotland.
“Conversely feeding the Heathrow Hub with smaller internal airplanes will mean more individual flights.
“In the past, whenever there has been severe weather in London or there is outfall from Icelandic volcanoes, the first flights to be cancelled are those between London and Scotland leaving international travellers to and from Scotland stranded. There is no reason to suppose this will change. This is a lose/lose situation for my constituents in Clydebank and for the whole of Scotland.”
Local MSPs, Gil Paterson and Rona Mackay have welcomed East Dunbartonshire Council’s submission to the Scottish Government’s Rail Development Fund to explore the benefits of twin tracking the full length of the Milngavie rail line.
If successful, the application, which follows an amended Motion put to East Dunbartonshire Council by SNP Councillors, which was unanimously accepted, will provide a robust appraisal of the costs and benefits of re-twinning against other potential transport improvements in the area.
Mr Paterson said:
“We have spent many months lobbying rail operators Abellio ScotRail, Network Rail and Transport Scotland about the unacceptable service provided to travellers on the Milngavie line.
“We wrote to East Dunbartonshire Council, as well as Strathclyde Partnership for Transport, back in April requesting their support for re-twinning the track between Westerton and Milngavie so we are pleased that they have taken steps to have a feasibility study carried out. The fact that this has cross-party support is magnificent.
“After numerous meetings with the rail industry and independent experts, we remain convinced that re-twinning will go a very long way to solving the problems of train cancellations, station skipping and lateness which the travelling public are, quite rightly, sick and tired of.”
For those who support independence things have got that bit more exciting, the Brexit shambles is a perfect illustration of why we need strong politicians to stand up for Scotland and take a different direction.
It also shows why we need to have a conversation now about what we want for the future of Scotland. In the independence referendum the choice was between staying with UK and (so we were told) the EU, or building our own future as a strong independent country. Clydebank was a Yes town and voted overwhelmingly to forge our own future but not everyone agreed and we are now part of a very different UK to the one that the no side promised which will see us dragged out of the EU. Coming out of the most important part of the EU, The Customs Union will mean the loss of an untold number of jobs. So whether you voted for independence or to stay in the UK, we need to be thinking about where we go from here.
The Growth Commission report published recently is the perfect vehicle for stimulating that conversation. It was commissioned by the SNP almost 2 years ago and offers the opportunity to consider what the future aspirations for Scotland should be, where the opportunities are (and there are plenty) but also where constraints might be and what needs to change so that we can boost economic growth and manage our finances to build the country we want for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren. Many of the people who voted no to independence tell me they worried about the economics of independence. The growth commission explains how Scotland can thrive economically and is worth a careful read.
I was struck by how outward looking the Growth Commission was. They took their inspiration from the 12 most successful small developed countries in the world. The report argues Scotland has economic potential that far outstrips its current and long-term performance, we have to find ways of turning that around. This is an approach I agree with, there are loads of small countries, with much fewer resources than Scotland, who do better than we do, there is no need to reinvent the wheel, we can look at what these countries are doing and design solutions tailor-made for us.
But the most startling thing that jumped out at me from the Commission’s findings was if we had simply followed the different path they suggest, then austerity and all the abject misery it brought with it, would never have happened.
You can read the report here https://www.sustainablegrowthcommission.scot/
SNP MSP Gil Paterson has hailed Scotland’s Schools for the Future school building programme for investing £10.2 million in East Dunbartonshire, on the same day the SNP Scottish Government has opened a hat-trick of new high school buildings in Largs, Dundee and Edinburgh.
£10.2 million has been spent refurbishing schools in the area under the SNP since 2009, and a total of 750 schools have been built or refurbished since the SNP came to power in Scotland.
The Scottish Government’s school building programme that launched in 2009 will see the construction or refurbishment of 117 schools in total by March 2020, 87 of which are already open.
SNP MSP Gil Paterson said:
“The SNP Scottish Government is investing in building and refurbishing schools in every local authority across the country through Scotland’s £1.8bn Schools for the Future programme, including £10.2 million investment in our area.
“Supporting Milngavie and Bearsden pupils, teachers, parents and wider communities with state of the art school buildings, combined with the £170m Attainment Scotland Funding this year, will help ensure that every child in Scotland gets the best possible start in life, no matter what school they go to.”
Local MSP Gil Paterson has revealed that he has been in touch with music charity Sistema Scotland, since October last year, in a bid to bring their Big Noise programme to Clydebank.
The Big Noise is an orchestral music programme that changes the lives of young people through music by fostering confidence, discipline, teamwork, pride and aspiration in those who take part enabling them to reach their full potential and lead successful and fulfilled lives. This philosophy has a knock on effect for families and wider community in general.
Gil Paterson MSP told the post, “I have been in discussions which are fairly well developed with Sistema for nearly a year, including visiting The Big Noise in Raploch, Stirling, which has been what can only be described as an outstanding success over the last ten years.
“My office has also had meetings with The Big Noise in Govanhill where the same work with children has been taking place for the last 5 years. Work which is also bearing abundant fruit.
“I am delighted to say that a meeting with representatives of Sistema will take place this coming week to further develop and explore the possibility of the Big Noise establishing itself in Clydebank. A fairly high powered delegation from West Dunbartonshire Council will attend as will my office.
"In these times of austerity projects like this bring music tuition within the grasp of those who may not otherwise be able to afford it.
“It is safe to say that I am really pleased with the seriousness with which this has been taken, the truth is the benefits that the Big Noise programme can bring to children their families and the whole community are immense because the Big Noise Project has a lifelong positive impact and changes things for the better.
“I know that is a very bold statement to make but the living proof to back this statement up is there for all to see.”
Leader of West Dunbartonshire Council, Jonathan McColl said:
“I appreciate the work done by Gil Paterson so far and I’m looking forward to the meeting with Sistemsa in Stirling. It’ll be a good chance to get more detailed information on the implementation and running of the scheme. This project that has the potential to transform young peoples’ lives and I hope that with Gil’s help we will be able to take it forward in the not too distant future.”
El Sistema was founded in Venezuela in 1975 by Maestro Jose Antonio Abreu to create a world renowned music project which they name the ‘Big Noise’. It first came to the Raploch in Stirling 10 years ago and Sistema Scotland recently celebrated its 10th birthday with a concert and reception in the Scottish Parliament.
The project works with children from nursery to adulthood and works closely with local schools and community groups. While its most obvious achievement is musical, research has shown that learning to play an instrument equips children with a multitude of transferable skills as well as boosting educational performance, health and wellbeing which also impacts positively on the wider community
Scotland now has four Big Noise projects which include the original one in the Raploch, Stirling. There are projects in Torry in Aberdeenshire, Govanhill in Glasgow and in Douglas in Dundee. Mr Paterson hopes that the next project to open will find a home in Clydebank.