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Returning Councillor made Labour Group Leader
12th May 2022

Labour Group Leader Iain McMillanAt the first meeting of the Renfrewshire Council Labour Group, returning Councillor Iain McMillan was elected as the group’s leader.

Councillor McMillan previously a Councillor from 1995 before standing down in 2017 was returned to represent Johnstone South and Elderslie at the election earlier this month and has now won the backing of his Party’s Council colleagues to lead the group in challenging the SNP administration.

After the inaugural meeting of the new Labour Group where Councillor McMillan was elected leader, he said he was “honoured” to take on the role after being voted in at the group’s AGM on Monday.

Councillor McMillan said “I am delighted and honoured to be elected as the new Labour group leader on Renfrewshire Council. The group which I will lead is full of talent and experience. Our aim is to bring our Labour values to the council and ensure the administration of the council is scrutinised and held accountable for its decisions.”

“There is plenty of work to do – not least the issue of the cost-of-living crisis, which is having a huge impact on everybody here in Renfrewshire, particularly hitting hard vulnerable members of our community. I look forward to working with the deputy leader, Councillor Alison Ann-Dowling, who was also elected by Labour members at our AGM.”

“The expanded Labour Group on Renfrewshire Council will have a relentless focus on facing the many challenges before us and will face these as a united group.”

Councillor McMillan will be supported in his leadership role by Councillor Alison Ann-Dowling after she was elected depute leader.

“I look forward to working with the deputy leader, Councillor Alison Ann-Dowling, who was also elected by Labour members at our AGM.”

The development follows the election of 15 Labour councillors on this month – two more than at the 2017 council election.

Several other roles within the Labour group were also confirmed with Councillor Gillian Graham made Chair and Councillor Ben Smith Vice-Chair. Councillor Kevin Montgomery was appointed secretary. Councillor Graeme Clark will be treasurer with Councillor Sam Mullin chief whip and Councillor Janis McDonald deputy whip.

Candidates and Supporters celebrate their elections!Election sees new and old faces join Labour group of Councillors
6th May 2022

Renfrewshire Council Labour group has welcomed some new and returning faces following the results of this week’s Council elections at the Lagoon Leisure Centre in Paisley today.

This week’s elections have seen several new Labour Councillors elected, some sitting Councillors who were contesting their seats returned and some former Councillors coming back to join the group.

In total the number of Labour Councillors has increased by two to 15 and whilst not enough to wrest control of the Council from the SNP has signified that the voter’s trust in the party is returning.

Speaking at the count, Renfrewshire Labour member Daniel Harris said, “Whilst of course we would have liked to have been in a position for our Councillors to have formed an administration, we recognise that work still needs to be done to build the trust with the voters and demonstrate our policies and plans will work to the advantage of local people and be a proper alternative to current administration. Our campaign detected obvious frustrations with the SNPs management of Renfrewshire Council and the Labour Group on the Council will act to robustly hold the SNP administration to account and push for better quality services.”

John Hood and Iain McMillan pledge to improve local area
2nd May 2022

Labour candidates John Hood and Iain McMillan have pledged to make a difference in the area if they are re-elected.

The Labour duo who are both standing in the Johnstone South and Elderslie ward, are among six candidates vying to win one of the four seats available.

Councillor Hood said "I am hoping to be re-elected to continue working for the area I've lived in for most of my life. There is much work to do and I still have plenty of commitment, enthusiasm and energy to make a difference to our area."

Iain McMillan was an elected member for 22 years – most recently representing Johnstone South, Elderslie and Howwood – until he quit in 2017. Now, after five years out, he is hoping to win a seat once again after spending the past few years as secretary of Johnstone Community Council.

Mr McMillan said: "After 22 years on the council, I've spent the last five years working voluntary for a number of organisations in the area. I've got a lot of experience both in and out of the council and I want to put that to good use in working for the people of Johnstone South and Elderslie.  Both John and I will be working to bring about much needed improvements to the area."

Renfrewshire Labour Launches 'It's Time for Change' Manifesto
27th April 2022

Renfrewshire Labour today launched its manifesto for the May 5th Renfrewshire Council election, with a promise to “put Renfrewshire first” and “get the basics right.”

Unveiling its plans for a Labour administration in Renfrewshire over the next five years, the party outlined a raft of policies in the areas of education, the cost-of-living crisis, the economy and work, housing, local environment, health and social care, and transport.

aunching the manifesto, Chair of Renfrewshire Labour’s Local Government Committee Margaret McCormick said “Renfrewshire has been going backwards under the current SNP Council. They have been content to manage decline. They have broken promises, cut services, and continuously wasted taxpayers’ money. They have also completely failed to stand up for Renfrewshire against the cuts being inflicted on our community by both the SNP and Tory governments. The people of Renfrewshire deserve better."

"Renfrewshire’s election on May 5th isn’t about the constitution or your position on independence. It’s about local people, local services, and the local community. Labour has a clear plan for change and for getting the basics right – with policies targeted to clean up our streets, fund the frontline, reinvigorate our town centres and local economy, and work to bring local buses under public control."

"Renfrewshire Labour isn’t promising the earth. We’re just promising to run Renfrewshire properly. Plenty of councils manage to fix the roads and keep the streets clean. The SNP have had their chance in Renfrewshire and they’ve failed. It’s time for change.”

The policies detailed in the manifesto include:

  • A freeze of all council fees and charges for at least two years, and a pledge to keep council tax low.

  • A refreshed strategy to repair our roads and footways and an end to sub-standard road patching.

  • Targeting wardens and CCTV in anti-social behaviour hotspots to make our streets and parks safer.

  • Zero tolerance for fly-tipping and dog-fouling.

  • Reducing Renfrewshire’s educational attainment gap and demanding a renewed emphasis on literacy and numeracy skills.

  • School swimming lessons for all children by age 10.

  • Creating a new master plan for town centres to unlock the potential of our high streets.

  • Supporting local businesses by using council resources to buy local.

  • Working to create a Strathclyde-wide bus network run for people not private profit.

  • Building and enhancing the stock of social housing.

  • Defending our green belt and giving local communities more say over planning decisions.

Speaking as the manifesto was launched, Paisley Northwest Labour candidate Ben Smith commented “The reception on the doors has been really encouraging. Residents who have historically voted for all parties and none are expressing enthusiasm for Labour, and exhaustion with this incompetent SNP Council. Our diverse and energised team of local champions will provide the fresh thinking and ideas that Renfrewshire Council needs. The SNP have had their chance. It’s time for change in Renfrewshire, and a vote for Scottish Labour is a vote to deliver that change.”

You can read and download Renfrewshire Labour's Manifesto here.

Political hopefuls call for help over cost of living crisis
27th April 2022

Labour candidates for Johnstone North, Kilbarchan, Howwood and Lochwinnoch, Gillian Graham and Chris Gilmour have thrown their weight behind the campaign to support Renfrewshire residents impacted by the rising cost of living.

Chris Gilmour and Gillian Graham call for action on Cost of Living CrisisGilliam Graham and Chris Gilmour have urged council chiefs in Renfrewshire to do more to “mitigate the worst effects of the crisis”.

Former local government officer Gillian said: “This is the worst cost of living crisis in our lifetime with food and energy bills soaring. These stretch purse strings to the limit.  Both the UK and Scottish governments need to take immediate action to address people’s real concerns, however we believe that Renfrewshire Council can and should do much more to help provide some financial respite for local people.”

Chris Gilmour added: “Talking to residents and community groups we know that the costs to hire community halls are prohibitive, as are the charges for swimming pools and sports centres operated by One Ren on behalf of the Council. Hundreds of thousands of pounds of council tax payers money was spent on a rebranding of One Ren, this would have been much better spent reducing costs for use of sports centres and pools. The current charges should be frozen for two years.”

They also told how residents had shared concerns over the cost of requesting special uplifts for household goods and waste.

Gillian commented: “Slashing these would have a beneficial effect financially for thousands of households and would help to discourage fly tipping which is an increasing problem in our area. These measures added to our previous commitment to support families by increasing the school clothing grant, fighting for free school meals for all children, providing more affordable child care and continued free parking in our town centres, will provide much needed help.”

Chris said “The recent council budget was based on longer term investment and growth. In normal times this would be welcomed however we are not living in normal times and the current unprecedented financial challenge cannot be ignored. Gain in the long term is important but easing the pain for residents now and in the short term is a responsibility the council needs to recognise and act upon. Any plan to help people cope with the present crisis will require all those elected to the new council to stand up for Renfrewshire and secure the necessary funding from the Scottish and Westminster Governments to provide this much needed help.”

Council Candidate pledges to fight for better rural bus services in Renfrewshire
18th April 2022

Gillian Graham and Chris Gilmour want action on better bus services for the villages of Renfrewshire.One of Labour’s candidates at the forthcoming election on 5th May has pledged to help boost rural bus services in Renfrewshire if she scores an election victory next month.

Gillian Graham will stand in the Johnstone North, Kilbarchan, Howwood and Lochwinnoch ward and the candidate wants to pile on the pressure to have bus services brought back into public ownership, which she says will allow greater connectivity between Renfrewshire's outlying villages and improve rural services.

Ms Graham hopes to see Renfrewshire Council working with neighbouring local authorities to create a publicly-owned transport outfit under new legislation which from July will allow councils to run their own services.

The new legislation was passed in 2019 but its roll out was delayed due to the Coronavirus pandemic, but the Scottish Government hopes the change will give councils greater flexibility in finding solutions to transport challenges in their areas.

Ms Graham said, "Rural bus services have been decimated as a result of de-regulation almost 40 years ago. For too long decisions on bus services have been driven purely by profit and not the needs of the local community and passengers. Cuts and changes to services have made life more difficult for passengers and currently you cannot get a bus between the villages of Kilbarchan and Bridge of Weir."

She added: "Passengers from Lochwinnoch, many of whom are older people, have to get two buses to get to Kilbarchan and since last summer weekday daytime passengers from Kilbarchan have had to get two buses to Johnstone Railway Station. Rural passengers, whether using buses for shopping, GP visits or commuting, are telling me the current service isn’t fit for purpose. There has never been a more critical time for improving and protecting bus services. The rocketing price of fuel and the need to reduce carbon emissions post COP 26 mean that every encouragement for people to transfer to buses must be given."

Additional problems have been thrown up for communities since transport changes in the wake of the pandemic and amidst rising fuel costs as operators are hit in the pocket.

Earlier this month Gibson, a Renfrew based coach firm was forced out of business blaming the impact of the outbreak on business.

Ms Graham believes communities want to see improved links, saying: "Every public consultation has seen overwhelming support for buses to be brought back into public ownership, with services that are tailor-made for local communities. In order to achieve this the council needs to have far more influence on routes timetables and particularly fares, providing a service for which they are accountable. I will work towards that aim urging Renfrewshire Council to work with neighbouring authorities to provide such a service The message from passengers I have spoken with is the sooner this happens the better."

The Council Candidate is being supported in her bid by fellow candidate for the ward and former sitting councillor, Chris Gilmour.

Margaret Thatcher's Tory government commissioned a transport white paper in the 1980s, which led to the 1986 de-regulation of the bus industry in Scotland, England and Wales.

The move, enshrined in the Transport Act 1985, saw the transfer of large-scale bus operations from public bodies such as municipal operators who were not subject to competition, opening up the industry to private operators, sparking stiff competition on profitable routes.

Union bosses issued warnings at the time about the impact of de-regulation.

Labour candidates want to restore 'civic pride'
9th April 2022

Chris Gilmour and Gillian GrahamLabour’s candidates for Johnstone North, Kilbarchan, Howwood and Lochwinnoch ward in the local elections on Thursday 5th May have have pledged to restore “civic pride” to the streets of Johnstone if backed by voters.

Chris Gilmour and Gillian Graham believe the town centre and areas around the three main road entrances to Johnstone require major improvements to their appearance.

Mr Gilmour, who served as a councillor in the area between 2012 and 2017 and who has lived in Johnstone all his life said, “Many people have spoken to me and are disgusted by the state of our town. Some people who used to live here and now visit are absolutely appalled at the way it has deteriorated over the last few years. It is true to say that one never gets a second chance to make a first impression and sadly, whether it be the dilapidated and derelict appearance of Millbrae or the state of the flower beds in Kilbarchan Road, people are left with a negative view of our fine and proud town.”

“There are also concerns expressed by local people at the eyesore that is Johnstone arcade and the lack of attention given to the Ludovic gardens in the centre of town. I have no doubt from speaking to voters that these issues are a priority for the people of Johnstone. We need to listen to their concerns.”

Gillian Graham insists towns such as Johnstone have suffered while the SNP has been in power at Renfrewshire House and said, “You only have to take a walk around the town to conclude that things are worse than five years ago. I am committed to bringing about the necessary improvements to restore Johnstone to its former glory and a town that both residents and visitors from local villages and beyond can be proud of once again.”

Council candidate blasts local authority bosses over "derelict" playpark
1st April 2022

Labour Candidate Jamie McGuire at the Alexander Park PlayparkJamie McGuire, one of Labour's Candidates for the Renfrew North and Braehead ward in the forthcoming Council elections in May has criticised the SNP administration in Renfrewshire Council for failing to include a Renfrew playpark in it's playpark refurbishment programme.

The Labour candidate blasted council bosses over the condition of an "eyesore" Renfrew park and has asked why when the Renfrewshire authority ploughs £1.25 million into a scheme to upgrade several sites throughout the area it has ignored the "derelict" Alexandra Park which he says appears to have been "forgotten" by council chiefs as they embark on upgrades of similar sites across Renfrewshire.

Jamie McGuire said, "The park is basically derelict, it's just been lying there. There are frames but there are no swings on them, there's broken glass strewn around, no bins, the concrete has come up in parts as well so even if you were trying to take a wheelchair or a pram through it could be a major problem. The park is smack in the middle of Renfrew, it's the first thing you see when you come into the town and it's an eyesore, not to mention health and safety.  There's a play park fund there to repair parks but this has been left out. They have done other parks in Renfrew but they have left Alexandra Park out, maybe they think it's too far gone but I don't, I think it needs rejuvenated. There's a lot that could be done and I think the fact it's right in the centre of town, it's the first thing you see when you drive in on the main road, it's literally right in the centre and it should surely be a priority to fix it."

Labour Councillor blast's Council bosses over pothole 'secrecy'
16th March 2022

Labour Councillor Alison Ann-Dowling has demanded action on potholes in Linwood.Labour Councillor Alison Ann-Dowling has made a stinging criticism of Council bosses for refusing to reveal the cost of repairing Renfrewshire's crumbling road network.

Scottish Labour approached all Scottish local authorities with almost all admitting that the cost to make proper repairs would total £1.7 billion.  However, bosses at Renfrewshire Council have refused the Freedom of Information request and now Scottish Labour Councillor Alison Ann-Dowling has called on the SNP run Renfrewshire Council to come clean.

Cllr Alison Ann-Dowling, who represents Houston, Crosslee and Linwood and her colleague Councillor Colin McCulloch for Bridge of Weir, Bishopton and Langbank recently passed a motion at Renfrewshire Council calling for a fresh strategy to improve the state of local roads and pavements.

Councillor Ann-Dowling said “Many people know Renfrewshire’s roads are in a terrible state after years of SNP neglect.  But it is shocking the Council have failed to publish the true extent of their failure. It’s not acceptable for people not to know how much is needed to repair the roads - the SNP administration should come clean and tell us what the road repair backlog is.  Either the SNP won’t tell people how badly they have managed our roads or they simply don’t know. Which is it?”

The councillor is calling for a new strategy for Renfrewshire’s roads and more cash to go into proper re-surfacing rather than pothole repair.  East Renfrewshire, which has a much smaller road network, has £25 million of repairs outstanding.

'Horrendous' potholes across Linwood and Houston must be permanently fixed, insists Labour Councillor
19th February 2022

Labour Councillor Alison Ann-Dowling has called for urgent action to tackle the horrendous potholes across Linwood and Houston which are causing damage to local residents cars and potentially risking serious accidents.

Councillor Ann-Dowling has said a string of roads across her ward need urgent attention after a pile of complaints from residents.  One driver who got in touch with her this week had allegedly blown two tyres because of a pothole on Lyon Road in Linwood. Potholes have also appeared on roads such as Bridge Street, Melrose Avenue, Barochan Road, Kintyre Avenue, Cotton Avenue and Clippens Road in Linwood.

Meanwhile, large road surface damage is causing problems in Houston on Main Street and on Barochan Road between the Deafhillock Roundabout and Magnus Road.

Councillor Ann-Dowling has stressed many of these areas need proper, permanent resurfacing rather than just being temporarily patched up and said, "I have got a huge amount of complaints from across my ward about potholes. The issue seems to be that the council are working hard trying to make repairs but they are all temporary. They do not last and the original problem resurfaces. We need to see significant investment in the roads and proper permanent repairs because I've had people who have damaged tyres."

"One constituent blew two tyres the other day on Lyon Road on the way to WH Malcolm. The whole of Barochan Road needs resurfacing really and Cotton Avenue has some horrendous potholes. Kintyre Avenue is also in terrible condition.  Some roads are due to be resurfaced later on this year but this situation is emblematic of an inadequate maintenance schedule. These roads should not have been allowed to deteriorate so much."

Some of the streets are included in the council's capital roads programme but Clippens Road is only down for patching repairs as opposed to a more thorough resurfacing.

The council has invested £8 million in 2021/22 in upgrading roads and footpaths.

Barochan Road in Houston and Cotton Avenue in Linwood are both down for resurfacing, but Councillor Ann-Dowling said there have been no precise dates set out for this work.

Labour Councillor John Hood calls for action to tackle high number of pest control callouts
3rd February 2022

Councillor John Hood at Maple Drive in JohnstoneLabour Councillor John Hood has asked Council bosses to take urgent action after pest control staff were called out over 1300 times last year to deal with issues from rodent problems to wasp nests.

Johnstone, Paisley and Bishopton were the top 10 areas for rat problems with staff called out nearly 900 times to address residents concerns about vermin.

In Johnstone, residents in Maple Drive, Greenend Avenue, Dimity Street, Macdowall Street and Floorsburn Crescent all had multiple rodent incidents with 60 visits recorded.

Councillor Hood who represents Johnstone South and Elderslie said "Greenend Avenue is beside a number of old school sites and I’ve been getting complaints about rats in nearby streets such as Craigview Avenue, Duncraig Crescent and Craigenfeoch Avenue.  There are also empty buildings in Maple Drive and I believe rats were coming up through the toilets. It was an absolute nightmare.  I’d like to see these hotspots given a massive clean out and then kept clean.”

Labour backs campaign calling for an unsafe cycle lane to be scrapped
1st January 2022

Labour Councillor John Hood at the unsafe cycle lane on Beith Road in JohnstoneLabour Councillor John Hood has joined local campaigners in applying pressure on the SNP Council administration to remove a controversial cycle lane from a busy Johnstone road.

There are increasing concerns over safety as a result of the lane being installed at Beith Road earlier this year as part of a trial cycle route from Howwood to Paisley, funded by Sustrans Scotland after a teenager was injured when he collided with a car on Beith Road, near its junction with Rannoch Road.

Police and ambulances attended an incident on 22nd December where an 18-year-old was taken to the Royal Alexandra Hospital for treatment.

Over 600 local residents have signed a petition asking the Council administration rethink the new layout.

Labour Councillor John Hood said, “Myself and others have warned that this new cycle lane is an accident waiting to happen. We want to see it removed and more safety features put into the area.  One of the reasons a speed camera was installed at that junction was because people have been killed there before.  I’m getting told about near misses on Beith Road almost every day now from residents.”

There have been complaints that the new layout is confusing for drivers to navigate and keeps customers away from nearby shops.

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