Local MSP Gil Paterson is calling on the UK Government to sort out the mess they have made of access for EU students to study in Scotland following Brexit.
The UK Government have announced their intention to introduce 3-year temporary leave for EU nationals to study in the UK seemingly ignoring the 4-year standard honours course in Scotland.
SNP MSP Gil Paterson pointed out that the UK Government's plans for three-year temporary leave for EU nationals in the event of a no-deal Brexit won’t cover EU students studying in Scotland – where a degree is typically 4 years - or those on specialist courses in the rest of the UK.
EU students would have to apply for a Tier 4 visa to complete their course or face the threat of being forced to leave before finishing their education. Extra paperwork and uncertainty could mean that fewer EU nationals come to Scotland to study.
Speaking to the Herald Mr Paterson said:
“Yet again Scotland’s interests have been ignored by this Tory UK Government desperate to appease the right-wing Brexiteers in their party.
“Our excellent universities are flourishing, and our EU students make an enormous contribution to academic life, our culture and economy. When we are dragged out of the EU, Scotland’s colleges and universities will miss out on millions of pounds of EU funding, our young people will be stripped of the opportunity to take part in the Erasmus programme and forcing EU students to apply for a visa to complete their studies just adds insult to injury.
“Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU but throughout the Tory Brexit process our voice has been ignored and our needs disregarded. The UK Government must sort out this threat to our universities immediately.
“We have the perfect opportunity in the EU elections on the 23rd May to send a strong message that Scotland opposes Brexit and I am hoping for a strong turnout from Remain voters.”
MSP Gil Paterson has joined local activist Pauline Bowie to highlight Lyme Disease Awareness Month. Pauline, who suffers from the Lyme disease, has arranged for the Titan Crane to be lit-up green on the 16th May to help raise awareness locally.
Lyme disease is an increasingly common disease caused by a bacterial infection spread by infected blacklegged ticks – also known as deer ticks. Ticks are found crawling around in tall grass and leaf litter waiting for a host to attach themselves to. They do not jump or fly.
Symptoms, the best known of which is a red or pinkish rash in a bulls-eye pattern, are likely to appear 2 – 30 days after a bite from an infected tick. However, less than 20 % of all Lyme disease rashes have this classic bulls-eye appearance so the advice is to remove ticks promptly and seek medical advice as soon as possible.
Other early symptoms of Lyme disease include muscle and joint pain, fever, fatigue and headache with some people noticing areas of numbness or tingling.
Speaking to the Clydebank Post, Mr Paterson said;
“Lyme disease can be a debilitating disease and can produce symptoms throughout a lifetime.
“It is becoming increasingly common so everyone should be aware of the dangers and what to do if you pick up a tick. That’s why I commend Pauline’s efforts to highlight this issue by arranging for the landmark Titan Crane to be lit-up green during Lyme Disease Awareness Month.
“Pauline has worked tirelessly to help educate people about the facts of Lyme disease and to promote research into treatment.
“The best course of action is to prevent infection by using insect repellent, covering your skin when you are out in the countryside – tuck your trousers into your socks - and sticking to the middle of the path where possible.
“It is also a good idea to wear light coloured clothing so that the dark coloured ticks show-up and are easier to see.
“I would urge everyone to check for ticks whenever they’ve been out in the countryside or in tall grass anywhere. Better safe than sorry.”
Left untreated a Lyme infection can affect any system in the body and can produce debilitating fatigue, headaches, muscle pain, arthritis in any joint, numbness, tingling, nerve pain and weakness, heart problems, psychiatric disorders, difficulty with thinking and memory as well as problems with vision and hearing. The sheer variety of symptoms can make diagnosis difficult.
Treatment is generally a course of antibiotics, it can be necessary to take antibiotics over a sustained period of time.
For further information, visit the Lyme Resource Centre at http://www.lymeresourcecentre.com/
A team from the school’s P6 travelled to the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh to take part in the national finals of the Scottish European Educational Trust Euroquiz and were delighted to come out on top. Team members Beth Dalrymple, Daniel Scullion, Cian Hynde and Michael Pearce carried on the winning ways for the school who also topped the table at last year’s event.
Local MSP Gil Paterson visited the school to congratulate the quiz team members who told him that they had “worked very hard and had lots of fun” practising for the quiz. They said they had a “great team” and were glad that their hard work had all paid off. The team also paid tribute to school teacher Ms Donnelly who trained the team and said “they couldn’t have done it without her.”
Ms Donnelly told Mr Paterson she was extremely proud of the pupils’ hard work, dedication and enthusiasm.
Euroquiz is an annual project open to all P6 pupils across Scotland, which sees teams of four working together to broaden their knowledge of Europe and the wider world. Subjects covered include languages, history, geography, culture and European affairs. The team from St Mary’s won through the heats, which take place in every local authority, to represent West Dunbartonshire, along with runners-up Levenvale Primary School, in the National Euroquiz Final which was held in the Debating Chamber of the Scottish Parliament.
In the final round of the competition St Mary’s faced the team from Levenvale, who were also runners-up in the national final as well as the West Dunbartonshire heats, meaning the top two slots went to West Dunbartonshire schools.
Speaking to the Clydebank Post, Mr Paterson said:
“This is a fantastic achievement for the quiz team and for St Mary’s.
“The team members are a credit to their school, to their parents, and to our whole community.
“I must also pay tribute to Ms Donnelly who gave so much of her time to prepare and motivate the children. I’m sure they will look back on their experience with pride and happy memories.”
Local MSP Gil Paterson joined fellow MSP Ross Greer and MP Jo Swinson at a protest in Bearsden last Saturday.
The gathering at Bearsden Community Hub was in protest to proposed plans to build 63 houses on an area of greenbelt at Thorn Road and Bearsden Golf Club near the site of the Antonine Wall. Mr Paterson was invited to the protest by members of the Bearsdone and Milngone campaign group. The group have consulted him on several occasions and say that they appreciate his helpful and consistent support.
Speaking about the issue Mr Paterson said:
“The hugely important Antonine Wall is a Unesco World Heritage Site. It is our duty to protect it, not just for our generation, but for future generations as well. Who knows what opportunities may arise from our rich heritage in the future?
“I recognise the need to address the housing shortage we presently face but our green spaces are precious and greenbelt land must be protected wherever possible. Enough planning applications have been passed for East Dunbartonshire to meet their house building target so there is no need to build on this sensitive and historically important site.
“I commend the members of the community who have worked hard to raise awareness of this issue.”
UK Government changes to the eligibility criteria for claiming Pension Credit will take effect from 15th May 2019 and local MSP Gil Paterson wants to warn pensioners of the deadline in order that those who qualify now don’t lose out.
Pension Credit is an entitlement for people on the lowest levels of the State Pension to top up their pension but changes to the eligibility criteria for pensioner couples introduced by the UK Government in Westminster could mean that thousands of older couples living in Scotland could be worse off to the tune of £7,000 a year.
When the changes come into effect a pensioner who lives with a younger partner (who is not yet of pension age) will no longer be able to claim Pension Credit. These pensioners will also miss out on extra entitlements such as housing benefit, council tax reduction, cold weather payment and support for dental and eyecare costs. The initial £7000 reduction effectively doubles when you take into account the value of these other benefits pensioners can claim if they are in receipt of Pension Credit.
Mr Paterson commented saying:
“Pensioners need to act right now to safeguard their entitlement.
“If you are not sure if you qualify for Pension Credit then speak to your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau or get in touch with Age Scotland on their free helpline. Don’t delay as the deadline of the 15th May is looming so you need to act now.
“I think it is despicable that the Westminster Government is treating our poorest pensioners in this fashion and the Conservative UK Government know it is, otherwise why would they sneak the announcement out on the day of their first meaningful Brexit vote?
“This is yet another glaring example of why Scotland needs control of all of our social security.”
The charity Age Scotland say they believe that changes will have a devastating impact on the lives of some of the poorest pensioners in Scotland and have advised those affected to call their helpline on 0800 12 44 222 before the 15th May deadline.
The helpline is free to call and is open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm