YOUNG carers have been praised by Gil Paterson MSP for their efforts amid “incredibly difficult” family situations.
The Clydebank and Milngavie MSP’s words come on Young Carers Day when their efforts are recognised across Scotland.
Mr Paterson describes the work of young carers as “compassionate” and “self-sacrificing” and backed calls for more support.
He said: “I am very concerned about the struggles young carers in my constituency and across Scotland are going through.
“It is a situation no young person should be in, but the stark reality is that many young people have to endure this vastly different lifestyle to their peers.
“Young carers are so compassionate and self-sacrificing, and I really do commend the work they do.
“In 2016, the SNP passed The Carers (Scotland) Act which, for the first time, enshrined in law the rights of carers.
“We have committed to, when the new Scottish social security agency is formed, to increasing Carer’s Allowance by around £600 a year.
“I am glad that when this time comes the SNP government is also to consider the introduction of a Young Carer’s Allowance to bolster support for young people with significant caring responsibilities.”
MSP Gil Paterson is warning parents and schools of the privacy concerns of an image and video sharing social media app Snapchat.
Users can hone in on areas of a map and view hotspots for people posting pictures and videos on their Our Story feature.
Traditionally, ‘friends’ or contacts of a said Snapchat user could see what was posted on the user’s Your Story, but a later feature Our Story was added as an option alongside it to tick off who to or where the post goes.
Originally, Our Story was not linked to a map, or Snapmap, but since earlier in 2017 the GPS map feature was rolled out.
Now anyone using the app can explore a map of the world and look at posts in areas displayed like heat signatures, relative to how much posting is going on with the Our Story feature.
It is possible to scroll over a school, for example, and check if any posts have been made to Snapchat and view them. It is also possible to search for a location and be drawn to that part of the map to potentially look at snaps.
Snapmap also comes with a feature — one users are asked to activate when they open the map — whereby friends can view on the same map where other users are, location is updated in real-time.
Police have encouraged youngsters to use ‘ghost mode’ which hides them from the map because it is very often young people collate vast ‘friends’ lists with scores of contacts they are not trusted friends with.
Scottish Government minister Kevin Stewart has been in touch with Snapchat to raise these concerns and has started a petition to ask the UK Government to look into the matter, as communications is reserved to Westminster.
Mr Paterson said: “The Snapchat map feature allows anyone using the app to tap on the location of a school and see what users have been posting on the Our Story feature.
“It is possible to look around Clydebank and see where posts to Our Story have been made and throughout our research there have been concentrations of posts coming from secondary schools.
“It is often the case that Snapchat users will share images and videos directly with friends, on the Your Story and Our Story feature all at once to maximise exposure.
“However, young people can be naive to the consequences of publicly sharing what they are doing, where they are doing it and when they are doing it.
“School officials, teachers and parents should be aware of this because it adds a new element of invasion of privacy into the pupils’ lives.
“The feature is unlikely to be removed by Snapchat as the app is attempting to become a truly global and open social media platform – making awareness very important.
“Ultimately, parents are responsible for what their children are doing online and I would highly advise they become aware of Snapchat and the newer risks it poses.”
PLASTICS in the River Clyde are contributing towards a worldwide environmental disaster, MSP Gil Paterson has said.
The Clydebank and Milngavie MSP has highlighted the problem at a trouble spot in Clydebank at Queens Quay.
A section of the shore is littered in bottles, container and manufactured debris washed up – and is a stark example of what ends up in the river
Mr Paterson’s call for action ties in with global condemnation of how plastics are polluting the ocean, killing marine life and even getting into food supplies.
He said: “It is estimated only 30 per cent of plastics we use are being recycled – the rest are ending up in landfills and increasingly in our oceans.
“In our oceans, plastics are causing the death of thousands of seabirds and sea turtles, seals and other marine mammals. Some rare species now face extinction due to the scale of the problem.
“The River Clyde itself is awash with plastics and what is not washed up will inevitably end up somewhere in the world’s oceans.
“I think everyone agrees we need to do more to tackle the way in which we dispose of plastics – especially the likes of plastic bottles.
“We need to double down on our efforts to recycle or risk ruining our oceans – the power authorities possess over our seas is simply not enough. We need to encourage a cultural shift, which I think is happening.
“In December, the European Parliament and Council voted through a new plan to recycle 65 per cent of urban waste but I am very saddened to see it has come to light the UK Tory Government opposes this plan despite making big claims about how they want to tackle plastics in our oceans.
“The UK Tory Government cannot grandstand about recycling targets then quietly oppose them when a proper initiative is launched – it’s absolute hypocrisy.”
MSP Gil Paterson has welcomed a rise the number of people registered for the dentist in his health board catchment in the last year.
A total of 95.8 per cent of adults (1.1 million) have registered with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde - up from 94.8 per cent in 2016.
In 2017, 96.1 per cent of children in the NHSGGC area are registered - up from 95 per cent in 2016.
The Clydebank and Milngavie MSP told the national figure how the figure has nearly doubled since the SNP government took over in 2007.
Under the previous administration, the number of people registered in Scotland decreased, from 2.7 million in 2000 to 2.5 million in 2007, including more than 40,000 fewer children.
In contrast, there are now more than 5 million registered for NHS dentists in Scotland.
Mr Paterson said: “The latest dental registration statistics show the continued progress the SNP Scottish Government is making in improving oral health in Clydebank, Milngavie, Bearsden and across Scotland.
“Since the SNP came to power in 2007, the number of people registered with a dentist has nearly doubled across Scotland, sitting at over 5 million, following years of decline under Labour and the Lib Dems.
“And, with nearly one million children now registered with an NHS dentist, it is clear that we are building the right attitudes to improve oral health for the next generation as well.
“People across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde are benefitting from this improvement, with 95.8 per cent of people now registered with a dentist, including 96.1 per cent of children.
“The new oral health improvement plan will show how we intend to keep this good work going, and ensure that people are not only registering with a dentist, but also getting regular check-ups.
“Our oral health is vital for our wider health and wellbeing – and it is great to see people taking steps to ensure that they are able to access an NHS dentist in communities across Clydebank and Milngavie and throughout Scotland.”
MSP Gil Paterson has praised new investments and the continuation of older hallmark policies in the 2018 Scots budget.
The 2018-19 Draft Budget will see increased funding for the NHS, an income tax rise to pay for Tory cuts, an increase in the police’s budget, rises in investments to colleges and universities, even more money going into closing the attainment gap, a higher pay rise than RUK for public sector workers and even more.
Additionally, it will continue to provide for key SNP policies, from free tuition fees to free personal care for the elderly.
Mr Paterson said: “What is good about this budget is that it increases funding to our vital services, like the NHS, police, schools and such, but also maintains the hallmark policies of the SNP government.
“For example, free university and college tuition, free and increasing childcare, the abolition of prescription charges, free personal care for the elderly, free bus passes, paying the Bedroom Tax and more will be maintained – which in itself is a very impressive feat.
“Scotland still remains the lowest taxed part of the UK for most Scots, when all taxes are considered, despite a small rise in income tax to cope with the Tory budget cuts that have been forced through since 2011. And as suggested in recent polling, most Scots support it.
“Another aspect of the budget I like is the increased investment in Scotland’s culture and heritage sector between 2018 and 2019, which will help fund all sorts of projects from Historic Environments Scotland to the Glasgow 2018 European Championships.
“There are a whole range of policies we are putting through in this budget that are tailor made to make Scotland a more prosperous place to live and do business. I urge constituents who want to delve deeper into what we’re doing to read over the draft budget.”
INCOME TAX RISE SUPPORT: https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/poll-most-scots-back-snp-s-tax-rise-plan-1-4664721
DRAFT BUDGET: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2017/12/8959/17
MSP Gil Paterson has called the Liberal Democrats an “absolute disgrace” after the party was fined £18,000 for breaching expenses rules during the EU referendum.
In late 2017, the Electoral Commission reported the Liberal Democrats failed to provide acceptable invoices or receipts for 80 payments worth more than £80,000.
It comes as East Dunbartonshire’s MP Jo Swinson, the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, is being investigated by the police for alleged inconsistencies in her election expenses.
In 2016, the Liberal Democrats were also fined £20,000 as a result of the Electoral Commission’s investigation into the party’s 2015 UK Parliamentary General Election campaign spending return.
Mr Paterson said: “Very strict rules about election expenses exist to uphold the democratic system and prevent it from being thwarted by those seeking to become legislators.
“This fine from the Electoral Commission shows the Liberal Democrats have cheated the system, and in many cases could have an unfair advantage over opponents.
“The public will be rightly concerned given the party’s deputy leader Jo Swinson MP just here in East Dunbartonshire is under police investigation for her election expenses.
“This is not the first time the Liberal Democrats have been fined. Elections are no longer a level playing field as they have had the advantage many times.
“The Liberal Democrats cannot go on undermining the fabric of democracy, their behaviour has been an absolute disgrace. The public deserve so much better.”
More info: https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/journalist/electoral-commission-media-centre/news-releases-donations/liberal-democrats-fined-18,000-for-breaches-of-campaign-finance-rules
MSP Gil Paterson is encouraging constituents looking to save money on energy to attend a special Citizens Advice Bureau event this month.
West Dunbartonshire CAB is launching Local Energy Awareness Project on Saturday January 20 in Clydebank Town Hall.
From 10.30am to 1.30pm, representatives from Scottish Power, SSE, NPower, Home Energy Scotland and more will be on hand to assist the public.
The event also coincides with the start of Big Energy Saving Week that will a number of events take place around West Dunbartonshire.
A full range of CAB services will be accessible and tea and coffee available to all in attendance.
Mr Paterson said: “I am encouraging constituents who are struggling through the winter months with bills to go to this launch and get first rate advice from CAB and the energy providers.
“The wide range of organisations at the event will ensure all bases are covered, including general problems that CAB can help members of the public out with in their time of need.
“I would like to commend West Dunbartonshire CAB for pulling the Local Energy Awareness Project together, it is an important matter as I know many constituents of mine find this time of year to be much more expensive.
“This is one solution to fuel poverty that should not be ignored – do not struggle, seek support and advice.”
Local Energy Awareness Project launch:
ELIGABLE constituents are being encouraged to take up the offer of a free flu vaccination by MSP Gil Paterson.
Everyone aged 65 and over, pregnant women and people at most risk of serious illness are offered the flu vaccination on the NHS.
Flu rates in Scotland doubled in December with the most recent figures from Health Protection Scotland showing around 46 Scots in every 100,000 were suffering from the virus, comparing to 22 in every 100,000 for the same week in 2016.
Mr Paterson, SNP MSP for Clydebank and Milngavie, said: “It’s not too late to get the flu jab – and if constituents are eligible for vaccination on the NHS it’s important they take up that offer.
“Cases of flu were at double the rate in December as the previous year, and can be a serious illness that can make even healthy people very unwell.
“NHS staff in Clydebank, Milngavie and Bearsden are doing a tremendous job at a tough time of year, and we should all do our bit to not add unnecessary pressure on the health service.
“If you’re eligible, please make getting the vaccination a priority and book an appointment with your GP practice or health board as soon as possible.”
For more information on the flu jab visit: http://www.healthscotland.com/flu
MSP Gil Paterson has backed West College Scotland’s campaign to reach out to Clydebank’s business community.
The college is looking for survey participants to share commercial needs, including skills, training and business support.
Results will help inform the college, particularly around curriculum planning and employer engagement.
Mr Paterson, MSP for Clydebank and Milngavie, has welcomed the West of Scotland Skills Survey, launched on January 8, 2018.
He said: “The West of Scotland Skills Survey is a very industrious move by West College Scotland which will help create opportunities for both those in further education and the business community.
“I encourage as many local businesses as possible to help the College shape its curriculum by feeding back to them what skills they are needing in their industry.
“The mutual benefits of strong communication between colleges and the business sector cannot be stressed enough – it is vital to growing our economy and making Scotland a more competitive place to study and run businesses.
“I fully support the survey and will be assisting to promote it via my social media and through word of mouth, for West College Scotland is an invaluable asset to the people and businesses of my constituency.”
The survey can be found here: http://www.westcollegescotland.ac.uk/skills-survey
COUNCIL gyms in West Dunbartonshire have been praised by MSP Gil Paterson after a surge in membership in recent years.
West Dunbartonshire Leisure membership since 2012/13 has risen from 740 to 1,914 in 2016/17, according to information collated by the Scottish Government.
The biggest leap was recorded in 2016/17, from 1,120 to 1,914 – a rise of around 71 per cent.
Mr Paterson has praised West Dunbartonshire Council for running the service and highlighted the opening of Clydebank Leisure Centre as a milestone in creating a healthier community.
The Clydebank and Milngavie MSP said: “West Dunbartonshire Council must be praised for this encouraging uptake in its gyms – it is so important that we get more and more people exercising and living an active life to confront Scotland’s obesity epidemic.
“In 2016, 65 per cent of adults in Scotland aged 16 and up were overweight, including 29 per cent who were obese. This is due to lack of activity and having a poor diet, according to the Scottish Health Survey. Being overweight or obese causes a plethora of life-ending diseases and huge damage to mental health.
“It simply cannot go on and government, both local and national, need to be at the forefront of providing people with the tools to lose weight.
“For example, we have the new Clydebank Leisure Centre, which I believe is a strong reason for the uptake of gym subscribers in 2017 in West Dunbartonshire.
“I am also glad the SNP government’s investments at a school, community and national level to promote healthy living seems to be having an effect.
“Hopefully, this upward trend of gym use continues, because self-improvement and living an active lifestyle not only changes the life of the individual but rubs off on family, friends and other members of the community. And importantly, exercise has an incredible effect on improving mental health, in improving confidence and self-esteem.”
Obesity statistics in Scotland: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Health/TrendObesity
West Dunbartonshire Leisure membership figures:
Press releases prepared by Alan Ferguson, Gil Paterson MSP's communications manager, who can be contacted at email@example.com or 07342 061722..