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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Milngavie MSP Gil Paterson has raised concerns about the greenbelt future of the farm land between Milngavie and Bearsden which he believes has been targeted by house builders for residential development.
Mr. Paterson said “Apart from the loss of a farm tenancy, a tenancy which has been worked for many decades, the land of South Mains Farm is one of the last pieces of greenbelt left separating the two communities of Milngavie and Bearsden and if lost to ever more expensive housing this would be a huge blow to the local amenity and environmental balance of the area.”
He continued “I had a meeting earlier in the week with Mr. & Mrs Gibb of South Mains Farm who are trying to protect their tenancy and the retention of the green belt so that farming and open space can continue for future generations in this location, a position I absolutely agree with.”
He added “So far as I am aware there is only one way that that this greenbelt land can be lost. That is if the site is included in the new Local Development Plan, currently being worked on. East Dunbartonshire Council will decide whether this site is to be included or not in the new Local Development Plan and my hope is that all of the EDC councillors will reject the inclusion of the South Mains Farm land in the new Local Development Plan and protect a very important part of the greenbelt and of course, a family-run farm.”
Local MSP Gil Paterson is using National Volunteers’ Week to highlight the huge contribution that East Dunbartonshire’s volunteers make to our community.
Volunteers’ Week Scotland takes place from the 1st – 7th June and this year’s theme is ‘Volunteering For All’
The work of volunteers throughout Scotland is valued at £2 billion every year and research shows that Scotland’s young people are particularly keen to make a difference with participation rates almost double those of older age-groups.
It is estimated that around 22,000 people volunteer in East Dunbartonshire
Commenting on the figures Mr Paterson said:
“Volunteers’ Week Scotland gives us a great opportunity to recognise and celebrate the people in our community who give up their time, energy and skills to help others.
I’m especially pleased to see that, in this the Year of Young People, so many of those who are volunteering to make a difference are young people. Volunteering not only benefits the environment or people who get the help, it can also have a really positive effect on the person doing the volunteering.
“This year’s theme that volunteering is for all highlights the extensive variety of ways that so many people make such a big difference. I’m sure everyone will wish to join me in offering all our volunteers, young and old, a huge vote of thanks.”
For more information on National Volunteers’ Week https://www.volunteerscotland.net/about-us/news-blog/news/volunteers-week-2018/
New figures show that the Scottish Government’s business rate relief scheme saved businesses in West Dunbartonshire £50 million between 2009-10 and 2016-17.
Across Scotland, this scheme has saved taxpayers around £4.5 billion between 2009-10 and 2015-16 by reducing their rates liability and taking many firms out of business rates altogether.
And across West Dunbartonshire, the latest figures show that 1277 local firms benefitted from this flagship Scottish Government policy in 2016. This figure does not, however, include premises that qualified for the new 100% reliefs introduced, including Day Nursery Relief and the Business Growth Accelerator.
Commenting, local SNP MSP Gil Paterson said:
“The SNP is delivering the most competitive business rates relief package in the whole of the UK, saving businesses in West Dunbartonshire £50 million over the last seven years. The Scottish Government will also spend an estimated record £720 million on rates relief across Scotland in this year alone.
“Since coming to office, the SNP Scottish Government has taken strong action to support business growth and jobs in West Dunbartonshire, helping to keep money in our neighbourhoods and boost our high streets.
“Only the SNP are taking the necessary action to help our local firms – and it is great to see over a thousand firms benefitting from rates relief in 2016, a figure that will likely rise with the new measures introduced in this year’s budget.”
MSP Gil Paterson took a walk down memory lane when he visited the first ever Singer Stories Festival at Clydebank Townhall. As a young man the Clydebank and Milngavie MSP worked in the Singer repair workshop in York Street in Glasgow doing electrical repairs on sewing machines and a wide variety of Singer white goods.
The festival showcased West Dunbartonshire’s collection of Singer sewing machines, which is the largest of its kind in Europe, as well as celebrating the history of Singer in Clydebank with music, sewing competitions, film and debate.
A team of volunteers have been collecting personal stories and memories of Singer sewing machines and life in the Singer factory in Clydebank throughout the last year. They will use these recordings to create a social history archive.
Speaking at the event, Mr Paterson said:
“I remember working on machines like these when I was a young electrical repairman, I spent a lot of time supressing sewing machines so that they didn’t interfere with the TV!
“The collection of sewing machines here in Clydebank is one the finest in Europe so we should be showing it off and telling the stories of the people who remember Singer in its heyday. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Jen Smith and Andrew Graham for showing me round and for all their hard work to get the first festival off the ground.
“Clydebank has a fascinating story to tell, not just about the Singer factory but also our shipbuilding, the horrific experiences of the blitz and our excellent examples of prehistoric rock art. Few towns can boast of such a rich heritage and it is one of which Bankies should be proud, so I’m delighted that this first Singer Stories Festival has been such a success and I’m sure it will go from strength to strength.”
Charity group Brothers In Arms staged an exhibition at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh last week.
The aim of the exhibition, which was sponsored by local MSP Gil Paterson along with East Dunbartonshire MSP Rona Mackay, was to raise awareness of suicide among men and to highlight the group’s work providing information and support to men who are struggling to cope with stress or anxiety or common mental health issues.
Suicide is the single biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK, 75% of all suicide is male. Brothers In Arms use men’s peer groups, their voices and interests to reach them. They’ve launched a new App where you can find exclusive content and get details of support resources in Scotland. The App which is free to download and was developed in consultation with psychiatrists and psychologists, provides a clinically proven, confidential, wellbeing service The group have teamed up with BAFTA award winning documentary film maker Duncan Cowles to create their first film and they’re also collaborating with the Being Mankind organisation to donate 80 of their books, Being Mankind Volume 1, to schools and youth organisations throughout Scotland.
Welcoming the group to Holyrood Gil Paterson MSP said:
“Suicide is a huge issue in our society which has devastating consequences not just for the young men who takes their own lives but for their families and loved ones as well.
“Too many men grow up feeling that to admit that they are struggling or to ask for help is a sign of weakness. There is pressure on men to be strong and never show any vulnerability. But the level of suicide in young men as a result of this macho culture is shocking so we need to find different ways to tackle this, different ways to reach them in order to prevent young men from taking their lives in such tragic circumstances. The Brothers In Arms App, which has been developed with the help of psychologists and psychiatrists, is just the kind of thing which could make a real difference, as is their campaign to bring the issue to schools and youth organisation throughout the country. Let’s get young men talking about how they’re feeling.”
While researching further ways to assist households to insulate against air craft noise, Gil Paterson MSP came across a UK wide initiative for a scheme that offers owner occupiers help to insulate their house against heat loss.
Mr Paterson, who had previously been unaware of the existence of this scheme, has written to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy of the UK Government at Westminster requesting a meeting with the Secretary of State, the Rt Hon Greg Clark, to find out if this scheme could be adapted to accommodate households living under the flight path of Glasgow Airport.
Mr Paterson told the Milngavie & Bearsden Herald:
“In my view this scheme is an excellent initiative for owner occupiers and since it is already in operation, perhaps anyone who already qualifies for assistance and also happens to live under the flight path in Milngavie or Bearsden could benefit if the system were to be augmented.
“Materials could be used that protect against heat loss and sound penetration rather than the most commonly used heat loss products which do not have any resistance to sound.”
Mr Paterson continued:
“It seems sensible to me, that for just a small amount of further investment, those who are affected by both heat and sound problems could be offered a cost effective solution.”
Local MSP Gil Paterson has submitted a motion to the Scottish Parliament highlighting the news that the charity ‘Y sort it’ has been awarded funding from the SNP Government’s Climate Challenge Fund to establish and develop a StreetBikes initiative in West Dunbartonshire.
The aims of the project are to increase levels of active travel throughout the community by creating a hub where young people can learn about safe cycling and bicycle repair and maintenance as well as take part in peer-led cycling trips.The project will also decrease wastefulness by reusing and recycling unwanted bikes that would otherwise have been landfilled. Y sort it will integrate tackling climate change into their everyday activities and work to increase levels of understanding within the community. On top of all that the project will create employment as a full-time Street Bikes Development Coordinator will be appointed.
Commenting on the initiative Mr Paterson said:
“This is a fantastic project which ticks all the right boxes. It encourages people to get more active and so improve their health and well-being, it gets young people to exercise out in the fresh air while socialising with others, it teaches them how to maintain and repair their bicycle giving them new skills at the same time as well as being great for the environment. On top of all that it will provide employment for a Development Coordinator. It is a really exciting project and I would encourage everyone to support it.”
Gil Paterson MSP has highlighted the need for Scotland to control its own immigration policy after the country’s population hit a record 5.42 million. This means that Scotland has equalled the average European population growth which is good news according to the politician:
“Scotland’s population is artificially low by a considerable amount due to years of enforced emigration from the Highland Clearances onward. It’s great to see this vibrancy in the population, we need young workers in order to ensure that we keep opportunities here for future generations.
“The over 75’s are projected to be the fastest growing age-group in Scotland, increasing by 75% over the next 25 years. It is very welcome news that people are living longer and healthier lives but those people will become more likely to need health and social services as they get older. These services need young people to work in them and to generate the money to pay for them by paying taxes. We need to increase our population year on year to meet the demand and the fastest way to do that is through immigration.
“Scotland has its own distinct immigration needs different from other nations on these isles so we must have the ability to implement a distinct migration policy, our economic and cultural prosperity depends on it.
“We have already seen the effect that Brexit is having on our ability to attract workers to come here. Couple that with the scandal of the cruel and heartless Tory Windrush fiasco, recently reported cases like those of the Merry family and the UK no longer looks like a welcoming place for young migrants to live and work.
“So while it’s good to see this increase we need the power to do more.”
Local MSP Gil Paterson has revealed that he is in possession of a letter from the UK Civil Aviation Authority addressed to an official at Glasgow Airport, which, he says, confirms that careful consideration to the proposals for the present Glasgow Airport consultation was given by both the CAA and the airport and that, after this consideration, the CAA gave assurances that the proposals would be assessed against existing guidance and timelines.
Speaking about the letter, Mr Paterson said:
“I was shocked to discover that, as late as December 2017, the Civil Aviation Authority were saying that it would not be feasible or reasonable to expect Glasgow Airport to fully comply with the new process on consultations because of the amount of work and planning that had already been done.
“You have to remember that Glasgow Airport had been planning this for two years, well before the new process came into being. They say that they went beyond the requirements of previous guidelines in order to try to anticipate any new criteria yet to be finalised.
“The letter in my possession backs this up so I would like to know what has changed since December 2017 to warrant such a complete about-turn by the CAA right at the end of the consultation period?
“There may be good reason for the change of heart but I have written to the Civil Aviation Authority asking for answers to a number of questions and the response I received does not make things any clearer.
“The CAA confirmed that they were aware of the timing of the consultation in advance of its implementation and also that they agreed with the process used by Glasgow Airport. They offer no explanation for how this could possibly happen.
“Along with others, I have put in a fair amount of time and resources in order that the public be made aware of this very important consultation. From the numbers who participated it would seem that my constituents engaged enthusiastically and it is unacceptable for them to be inconvenienced by this.
“They turned out at the public meetings, they submitted their views, they made their feelings known and would be justified in feeling anger if their participation were to be devalued in any way because of this 11th hour change of mind.”
Local MSPs Gil Paterson and Rona Mackay have welcomed the SNP Group’s motion to East Dunbartonshire Council which calls on the Council to commission a feasibility study into re-twin tracking the Milngavie rail line.
The study would also look into providing new rail halts with park and ride facilities at the Allander in Bearsden, Westerhill in Bishopbriggs and Woodilee in Kirkintilloch.
The funding to undertake the feasibility study would come from the Rail Pipeline Fund, recently initiated by the Scottish Government.
Gil Paterson said: “It is gratifying that after many months of work lobbying the rail operators Abellio ScotRail, Network Rail and Transport Scotland about measures to resolve the unacceptable train performance on the Milngavie rail line East Dunbartonshire Council can now make application to the new Rail Pipeline Fund established recently by the Scottish Government to tackle local problems with the rail infrastructure.
“Rona and I have written jointly to the Strathclyde Partnership for Transport and East Dunbartonshire Council requesting their support for the re-twin tracking of the Rail line from Westerton to Milngavie which we believe is the first action necessary if we are to improve rail services in East Dunbartonshire. We hope to meet with both organisations soon to outline our concerns and highlight potential solutions suggested to us by rail professionals.”
Rona Mackay commented: “The travelling public are rightly sick and tired of unannounced train cancellations, station skipping and late arrivals. The Milngavie rail line was recently reported as the worst performing line in Scotland so something has to be done to resolve these unacceptable problems. The re-twinning of the track between Westerton and Milngavie will be biggest, least expensive and easiest change for improvement in East Dunbartonshire.
“Once this urgent twin tracking work is completed it will enable the three new rail halts with park and ride facilities which will resolve much of our congestion problems and reduce the bad air quality experienced in East Dunbartonshire.”
She added: “I hope when Cllr Gordan Low’s motion is decided on 26 April the debate does not descend into a party political points scoring argument and all councillors see the merit in the potential improvement this action will achieve for the local communities of Bearsden and Milngavie.”
MSP Gil Paterson is backing calls from SNP MP Alison Thewliss for Scottish Tories to re-think their position on the abhorrent rape clause.
The campaigning MP has renewed her calls for the Tory Government to scrap its two child policy and rape clause for child tax credits, one year since the policy was fully implemented by the UK Government.
Since the two child policy and rape clause came into force on 6th April 2017, Ms Thewliss has repeatedly challenged DWP Ministers on the impact of the policy on vulnerable women across the UK. She will be joining campaigners in Edinburgh on 19th April to call for an immediate end to the rape clause.
Figures from the Child Poverty Action Group estimate that the rape clause and two child policy will put an additional 250,000 children into poverty by the end of the decade. CPAG have mounted a judicial review of the two child policy and rape clause and a judgement on the case is expected imminently.
Mr Paterson commented saying:
“Now is the time for the Tory UK government to call a halt to this evil nonsense. It’s a sickening policy which forces women to relive some of the worst experiences imaginable.
“I spent 11 years on the board of Rape Crisis, an organisation that provides help and support to victims of sexual violence and I am horrified at the callous attitude of Tory MPs.
“And what of the child labelled the product of rape? What effect would this have on a vulnerable child if this kind of information got out?
“The two child policy is a ludicrous policy in the first place so it is no surprise that the rape clause stemmed from it. Why on earth should a child be penalised for the order that they were conceived in? We now have the situation where a loving parent who falls on difficult circumstances, and let’s face it that could happen to any of us, can be plunged into poverty because they have a third child who they could well provide for before they hit hard times.”
Commenting, Alison Thewliss MP said:
“The new Scottish Tory MPs have been in Westminster for almost a year and it’s time they had a re-think about their position on the abhorrent rape clause policy.
"The policy not only plunges children in to poverty, but forcing women to disclose one of the worst experiences of their lives, just in order to make a claim for a benefit, has to be one of the most abhorrent polices to have come out of this heartless Tory Government.
"What is the position of the new Scottish Tory MPs? In light of the research carried out by Child Poverty Action Group, and the public outcry - do they still believe the policy is justified?
“One year on from its introduction, serious problems remain about the impact of the two child policy and rape clause on vulnerable women and children. I’ve continued to ask questions, but Ministers haven’t given me any answers, or reassurance or justification that this policy is either workable or necessary.
“The UK Government has made U-turns at short notice, even after holding out on its position for a long time. This despicable policy should be the next one to be axed.”
MSP Gil Paterson was pleased to receive confirmation from the Chief Inspector of East Dunbartonshire Police that the abhorrent so-called “Punish a Muslim Day” went off without incident in East Dunbartonshire.
Recently the Milngavie & Bearsden Herald reported on a young Muslim girl who was too scared to go outside because of the vile letters which were circulated in some parts of the UK last month. The letters received a significant amount of attention both in the press and on social media.
Mr Paterson said;
“This vile hatred has no place in our society and should be condemned by all right-thinking people which is why I was so pleased to hear from Chief Inspector Corrigan that the day passed without incident in East Dunbartonshire.
“As I understand it, UK North West Counter Terrorism Police are investigating the source of the original hardcopy letters, all of which had a Sheffield postmark and none of which were received by anyone in East Dunbartonshire or indeed in Scotland.
“I am assured that hate crime is treated very seriously and investigated robustly by our Police force who visited both of East Dunbartonshire’s Mosques last week to provide advice and reassurance as well as performing extra patrols in these areas.
“While we can never become complacent, it is important that we do not sensationalise the actions of these hateful individuals as that would play right into their hands. I look forward to a speedy conclusion to North West Counter Terrorism Police’s enquiry and trust that those responsible will feel the full force of the law.
“When highlighting and quoting matters that are happening in England we need to be careful not to alarm people in Scotland. It’s important to set the record straight and to point out hate crime is on the rise in England and most commentators have put it down to connecting immigration with Brexit. On the other hand I’m pleased to say hate crime in Scotland is already low and still falling.
“I hope that all Muslims who have made their home in East Dunbartonshire feel confident that they are welcome and valued citizens of our community.”
Gil Paterson MSP is highlighting a £250K fund which is available to support locally produced food and drink.
Grants of around £5000 will be available for local food and drink producers, and regional food and drink networks, from May.
The fund, targeted at producers who can traditionally find it difficult to attract funding, will be overseen by Scotland Food and Drink.
Mr Paterson said;
“Scotland has been particularly successful in exporting food and drink with more than £6 million worth of Scottish food and drink consumed worldwide in the last year.
“The Scottish Government is committed to promoting locally sourced and locally produced food and beverages.
“Brexit is looming and the future position with regard to our international trading partners is very uncertain so it is essential that we plan ahead to ensure a robust market at home for our regional producers.
“Any local producers who think they might benefit from this investment should keep an eye on www.scotlandfoodanddrink.org for more details.”
Gil Paterson MSP for Clydebank and Milngavie has highlighted calculations from The Scottish Parliament Information Centre showing that Scottish taxpayers are saving an average of over £160 a year on their prescriptions compared to patients south of the border.
On average, Scots take out 19 prescriptions per year. If these were charged at the English rate of £8.60 each, people in Scotland would be out of pocket by an average of £1,143.80 since prescription charges were abolished in 2011.
Commenting, Mr Paterson said:
“People who are unfortunate enough to suffer ill health and those who have long-term conditions requiring medication should not have the added stress of worrying about how to pay for the medication they need.
“There is little point in GPs, consultants, dentists and all the other health professionals caring for the people who need their help if those people cannot then afford to take the medication prescribed. It makes sense for healthcare free at the point of need to include prescriptions.
“£160 is a substantial amount of money for people who may be struggling to get by and when you also take account of ending parking charges at NHS-run hospital car parks, free eye tests, free school meals for P1 to P3, care for the elderly and free bus passes for the elderly, free university education and investment in childcare, it all adds up.
“The Tories at Westminster are intent on inflicting their austerity agenda while the Scottish Government are getting on with delivering services for all of the people of Scotland.”
MSP Gil Paterson has highlighted the news that 68% of gross electricity consumption in Scotland was met by renewables last year.
The figure represents an increase of 26% on last year’s figures making 2017 a record year for renewable generation and for the first time ever Scotland has more than 10GW of installed renewable capacity.
Speaking about the figures, Mr Paterson said;
“These are fantastic figures showing that our renewables industry is stronger than ever and reflecting the Scottish Government’s commitment to clean, green energy.
“The future for renewables is bright which is good news as a low carbon economy makes both practical and economic sense, and renewable production has a role to play in securing our energy supply in these uncertain times.
“Clydebank is well on course to provide a significant contribution to the effort with work on the District heating network at Queen’s Quay now well under way.
“Renewable energy is set to play a significant role in Scotland's future and we need to take the right decisions to support this sector of our economy as it goes from strength to strength.
“Of course this is despite the background of damaging policies put in place by UK Government at Westminster which have resulted in a 56% drop in investment in green energy UK wide throughout 2017 – the biggest fall of any country. It’s gratifying to see that Scotland is bucking the trend.”