News

Labour Councillors visit Riverbrae School to see plans to address HMIE report concerns
13th June 2019


Labour Councillors Eddie Devine, Karen Kennedy, Jim Sharkey and Jim SheridanFollowing a recent negative report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education of the Riverbrae School in Linwood, local Councillor Jim Sheridan visited the school along with Labour Group leader Eddie Devine and fellow Labour Councillors Karen Kennedy and Jim Sharkey.

During the visit the Labour Councillors were given a presentation by the schools Head Teacher Catherine Gilius who outlined what had been learned and what remedies are proposed to rectify the criticisms. As well as the Labour Councillors, a large number of concerned parents also attended and had the opportunity to raise their own concerns.

Speaking after the meeting Jim Sheridan whose ward takes in the school said, “Whilst the staff have acted swiftly in reviewing their work practices and procedures it is clear they are limited with the resources available. It was emphasised by those attending that the school staff work within their means and any criticism should be targeted at the local authority. Riverbrae is an excellent facility which educates and supports pupils with complex disabilities and their parents. Myself and fellow Labour councillors Devine, Kennedy and Sharkey assured the parents their voices will be heard at Council Headquarters and the issues raised within the report and aired at the parents meeting will be vigorously pursued.”


Mary Fee MSP Backs Bid to Get More Women Into Politics
5th June 2019
Mary Fee MSP
West Scotland MSP Mary Fee is backing a new initiative by an alliance of women’s organisation and the Scottish Parliament to get more women into politics and tackle the gender imbalance that blights Scottish politics.

Scotland’s Women Stand is a new initiative launched by the Scottish Parliament and women’s organisations such as The Parliament Project and the YWCA. Its aim is to tackle the gender imbalance in Scottish politics.

Mary Fee, MSP for West Scotland, and an equalities spokesperson for Scottish Labour, has welcomed the new initiative and is encouraging women across West Scotland to get involved and stand for political office.

Following the last local government elections in 2017, women only make up around 30% of councillors in Scotland, with women making up 35% of MSPs in the Scottish Parliament and only 29% of female MP’s representing Scottish constituencies in Westminster.

Ms Fee believes that although a lot of progress has been made in the 20 years since the Scottish Parliament opened, there remains a significant challenge to increase female representation, especially for younger women and those from minority groups.

Any woman that is interested in the imitative is encouraged to visit www.scotwomenstand.org.

Speaking from the Scottish Parliament, Mary said “It is important the more female voices are represented across all levels of government and I am delighted that the Scottish Parliament has launched the Scotland’s Women Stand initiative to tackle the gender imbalance that holds many women back from political life. Although women make up more than half of the population, we know that less than a third of councillors and Scottish MP’s are women and only slightly more are represented in the Scottish Parliament. Progress has been made since the first elections of the Scottish Parliament in 1999, however, more challenges remain for younger women and women from minority groups to have their voices heard and represented.”


Mary Fee MSP Welcomes Moves to Give Children Equal Protection from Assualt
29th May 2019


Mary Fee MSPWest Scotland MSP Mary Fee has welcomed moves by the Scottish Parliament to give children equal protection from assault as already given to adults following the passing of the Stage 1 debate on the Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Bill.

Mary Fee MSP has spoken in favour of the Bill to give children equal protection from assault during a Scottish Parliament debate on Tuesday 28th May and welcomed the passing of the Bill at its first stage in the Parliamentary process.

As a member of the Scottish Parliament’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee, Mary has travelled around Scotland and heard from a range of individuals and organisations expressing either support or opposition to the Bill.

Speaking during the debate in Parliament, the Scottish Labour MSP said “This Bill seeks to give equal protection from assault by prohibiting the physical punishment of children by parents and caregivers. As we heard, the purpose of the bill is to abolish the defence of reasonable chastisement. Parents and others who care for children may currently use that defence if they are facing prosecution for assaulting a child. Let me be clear. The bill is not about criminalising parents and carers. It is about giving children the same protection in the law that adults currently have. Committee members heard a range of views both for and against the principles of the bill. Submissions from organisations that work with and support children fully support the aims of the bill. I understand the concerns that many parents will have regarding the bill; indeed, the majority of individuals who made submissions did not support the bill’s principles. By giving children equal protection from assault, we are protecting children and safeguarding their human rights. Through an effective public education strategy, the bill will aim not to criminalise but to create a positive culture change.”

Speaking after the debate, Mary commented “Today is the first step in the journey to give greater support to children and their human rights. I am delighted the Scottish Parliament has supported the general principles of the Bill and I hope that we can build a consensus to strengthen the proposed legislation as it goes through the process. This would ease many people’s concerns around the proposal.”


Mary Fee MSP Leads Debate on Universal Credit
29th May 2019


Mary Fee MSPScottish Labour MSP Mary Fee has lead a debate in the Scottish Parliament on the impact the Universal Credit system is having on people with mental health problems following the publication of a report by mental health charity the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH).

In March, SAMH published the report ‘It Was a Confusion’ Universal Credit and Mental Health: Recommendations for Change which looks in detail at the impact of the changes to the social security system on people with mental health problems, particularly three case studies details in the report.

Following the publication of the report, Mary Fee MSP lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament to debate the report and attracted support from Scottish Labour, SNP, Liberal Democrat and Green MSP’s.

The SAMH report looks at the additional barriers faced by people with mental health problems, which add to their stress and anxiety, and lays out a range of recommendations to improve the Universal Credit system to better support people with mental health problems to be guaranteed security and to support people in to work.

The debate was held on Tuesday 28th May and opening the debate, West Scotland MSP Mary Fee said “I thank the Scottish Association for Mental Health SAMH and the individuals involved in the case studies for the informative and valuable report. The SAMH report on universal credit and mental health gives us a significant insight into what is happening to the very people whom the social security system was designed to protect. It tells us clearly that universal credit is creating new and additional barriers for people with poor mental health. Those barriers, which include digital by default, the work capability assessment, the payment period and the sanction regime, are leaving people with more stress, more anxiety and more pressure on their mental health. The report also tells us that 86 per cent of people with mental health problems believe that their financial situation heavily influences their mental health. The social security system should not be designed to put people into debt and poverty. Our social security system should be available to all in times of need. It should guarantee a level of economic safety and assistance to people who cannot work, people who find themselves out of work and people who are struggling to make ends meet. Instead, under a cruel and unfeeling Tory Government, the system offers neither safety nor assistance.”

Carolyn Lochhead, Head of Communications and Public Affairs at SAMH said “This report clearly shows that Universal Credit is causing hardship and emotional distress for people with mental health problems. Universal Credit is likely to affect many of the people we support across Scotland, so we hope to see the UK Government implement our recommendations, which include not transferring anyone to Universal Credit until the issues identified have been addressed. We’re grateful to Mary Fee for raising these issues in the Scottish Parliament, and to MSPs for taking the time to consider our findings.”


Councillors Bill Brown and Jim Sharkey visit the stalls at the RCCs B2B Business Matters EventLabour Councillors back local Businesses
16th May 2019


Local Labour Councillors Bill Brown and Jim Sharkey were happy to accept the invitation from the Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce to attend their Business Matters B2B Event at the Lagoon Leisure Centre in Paisley last week.

The event is aimed at helping local businesses as well as encouraging firms to locate locally by highlighting the benefits the companies will have by investing in Renfrewshire.

Speaking after touring the exhibits Councillor Brown said, "We always try to attend this business to business event to show Labour support to our local companies. We enjoy meeting the people who want to do good business in Renfrewshire and we often pick up some good ideas for ourselves. We would encourage anyone who is looking to help make our county a better place to come along next year."


Councillors Bill Brown and Jim Sheridan at the Renfrewshire Anti Stigma Alliance Event at Fountain Gardens in PaisleyLabour Councillors back campaign to end the stigma surround Mental Health
16th May 2019


Local Labour Councillors Bill Brown and Jim Sheridan were amongst the 1000 plus people who took part in walks across Renfrewshire on Wednesday 15th May as part of Mental Health Awareness Week.

The events were arranged by Renfrewshire Anti Stigma Alliance (RASA), to get people in the area talking about mental health. It is part of an effort by See Me, the national programme to end mental health discrimination, to show that it is okay not to be oaky, and that people can speak about mental health.

Councillor Brown said, “I am pleased to support today’s events which hopefully will encourage people to talk about their mental health and speak with others openly about their mental wellbeing.”

Councillor Sheridan said, “Statistics show that the number of people seeking help for mental health issues is increasing with nearly a third of all GP appointments in Scotland being for patients with some form of mental health issue. Tackling the stigma of mental health is vital if people are to get the help they need and not feel ashamed or embarrassed about seeking help.”

The Walk A Mike was the brain child of activist Chris McCullough Young working with See Me, Scotland’s National programme to end mental health stigma and was based on his walk around the Scottish coastline, where he spoke to everyone he met about mental health, to change attitudes one conversation at a time. Across Renfrewshire schools, workplaces, health care staff and members of the public are taking part in the walks, with the main walk at Fountain Gardens in Paisley.


Mary backs Dignity in Dying Campaign
3rd April 2019


Mary Fee MSPMary Fee MSP has given her backing for a new drive to introduce assisted dying in Scotland for terminally ill people following a campaign launch by Dignity in Dying Scotland on Tuesday and new polls show a rise in people supporting a change in the law.

Scottish Labour MSP Mary Fee has backed a new drive to introduce assisted dying in Scotland as polls show a rise in people supporting a change in the law.

Polling on behalf of Dignity in Dying shows that 84% of people in the UK supported a change in the law. In Scotland, 87% of those questioned supported a change to make it legal for assisted dying.

Now Mary Fee MSP, who voted in favour of a change in the law in 2015 for assisted suicide, has joined MSPs from all parties in signing a letter to the Sunday Times calling for a change in the law.

The new campaign has given personal stories of people with terminal illnesses who want to die when they want to and are urging politicians and the public to back the campaign to make assisted dying legal.

Speaking from her Paisley office, Mary said “The campaign for assisted dying is an important one for people to have dignity and choice in how they die. Those with terminal illnesses should not have to suffer more than they wish to or travel abroad to die in clinics away from their home and families. New polling shows the public support a change in the law, and I will continue to make the case for assisted dying to be legalised. I voted for a change in the law in 2015 and I hope that a new Bill can be brought to the Scottish Parliament with more support from MSPs. By legalising assisted dying, we can give people with terminal illnesses the choice to end their unnecessary suffering and die with dignity.”


Scotland Needs to Invest More for Disabled People
1st April 2019


Mary Fee MSPDuring a debate in the Scottish Parliament, Mary Fee MSP has called for investment in better facilities for disabled people and reaffirmed her support for more Changing Places toilets in public spaces and on Scotland road network.

West Scotland MSP Mary Fee has called for investment in better facilities for disabled people during a Scottish Government debate titled ‘Progressing Towards a Fairer Scotland for Disabled People’.

Using her speaking time to talk about toilet facilities for disabled people, such as Changing Places toilets, Mary used personal stories from disability campaigners to highlight the need for greater investment and support disabled people to have greater freedom to travel and use public spaces.

Changing Places toilets are required by disabled people with sever complex needs and their carers. Traditional disabled toilets are not adequate for the estimated 20,000 people with severe and complex needs, as they cannot transfer themselves from a wheelchair to a toilet. Changing Places toilets have a hoist and changing bench that supports disabled people, their families and carers.

The Scottish Labour MSP also highlighted research that shows there are 77,000 germs and viruses on a standard toilet floor and asked MSPs in the chamber if they would be happy to lay on a toilet floor, as many disabled people have to because of the lack of adequate changing facilities.

Speaking after the debate, Mary said “It was important to raise the issue of toilet facilities for disabled people with complex and severe needs during the debate on ‘Progressing Towards a Fairer Scotland for Disabled People’. I have heard from many disabled people, families and carers that access to adequate toilet facilities can limit the freedom to travel and use public spaces, such as leisure centres, concert venues and stadiums. This forces many to stay in their homes and only travel in their own areas. There was a clear shock on many MSPs faces when I told them that there are 77,000 different germs and viruses on a standard toilet floor and it was clear that none of them would be happy to lay on that floor as many disabled people are forced to. Scotland has many great supports in place for disabled people, however we could go further and invest in better facilities.”


Labour to Extend Free Bus Travel to Under 25's
12th March 2019


Mary Fee MSPMary Fee MSP has welcome the pledge by Scottish Labour to extend free bus travel to under 25’s, with the long term view to create free bus travel for everyone in Scotland, after the announcement was made at the party’s spring conference in Dundee.

Scottish Labour has announced that it will seek to extend free bus travel to under 25’s, with a long term aim of building a free bus network to serve the whole of Scotland.

The announcement, made by Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard, has been welcomed by West Scotland MSP Mary Fee who has called the policy “a bold and significantly important promise to deliver for people across Scotland”.

The West Scotland MSP has long advocated for a bus service that is run for people, not profit. In recent years, communities have been left stranded by the failure of the deregulation of bus services that has resulted in a fall in passengers by 10% in five years, the number of buses down 16% and staff employed down by almost 1 in 10. At the same time, fares have risen across Scotland.

The plan to extend free bus travel for under 25’s would supplement the free travel already available to the 60’s - one of Scottish Labour’s achievements in power. Analysis highlighted by the party shows that for every £1 spent on concessionary bus travel, at least £2.87 is generated in benefits to bus pass owners and the wider economy.

Mary has also supported the plans for create a bus network for Scotland in order to tackle climate change, by encouraging a modal shift of people to ditch their car and travel by a publicly-owned bus network.

Speaking for her Paisley-based office, Mary said “This is a bold and significantly important promise to deliver for people across Scotland. Many communities have been let down by private companies, often holding monopolies in providing services. As services across Scotland are being cut and journeys falling by 10%, fares are increasing. The SNP Scottish Government have overseen a bus network in decline. Scottish Labour will create a bus network that is run in the interests of people, not profit hoarding private companies, and a network that encourages travel by public transport to tackle climate change.”


Labour reinstates Houston, Crosslee and Linwood Councillor
25th January 2019


Councillor Jim SheridanCouncillor Jim Sheridan has been reinstated to the Party following an internal investigation amid accusations of anti-Semitism following a post on Social Media last year.

The conclusion of that investigation has been that no further action is warranted.

Speaking today Councillor Sheridan said, “Today 25th January 2019, Rabbie Burns Day, I was notified that my suspension from the Labour Party has been lifted with no further action to be taken by the Party. Whilst I am delighted with this decision I remain of the view that my accusers were misguided and overreacted to what was intended to highlight my personal frustration and criticism of those intent on undermining our leadership in Scotland and the UK. I would also like to reiterate my sincere apologies to the Jewish community whose historic struggle I have supported all my political life.”

“I am extremely humbled by the level of support from across the political spectrum I have received, and from fellow members and supporters of the party whose views and values I respect.”

“Throughout this unfortunate distraction I have maintained my total commitment to my constituents and will continue to do so. Likewise my complete support for the Labour Party and our leaderships at every level continues and reinforces my determination to return Labour administrations at local, devolved and national level for the many, not the few.”


Mary Welcomes New Road Safety Laws
18th January 2019


Mary Fee MSPScottish Labour MSP Mary Fee has warmly welcomed new proposals to tackle drug driving with a zero tolerance for those caught with illegal drugs in their system, however the West Scotland MSP has warned that Police Scotland will need guarantees that the right resources to pro-actively catch drug and drink drivers are provided.

The Scottish Government has recently announced that it will improve road safety with new measures to tackle drug drivers. Any driver caught under the influence of eight most-common illegal drugs, such as cannabis, heroin and cocaine, will face punishment and a list of prescribed drugs for medical use will have new limits based on the impairment and risk to road safety.

Scottish Labour’s Mary Fee MSP has welcomed the zero tolerance approach to drug driving announced by the Scottish Government commenting, “Drug driving is dangerous and completely unacceptable”.

However, Ms Fee has also warned that recent cuts to police budgets and officer numbers could limit the capacity of Police Scotland to use any new powers to tackle such a serious offence.

The Scottish Government have stated their intentions to deliver this new legislation by the end of 2019. MSPs will have to vote on the proposals and Mary is backing the Government to make our roads the safest in the UK.

Speaking from her Paisley based office, Mary Fee said “The new legislation proposed by the Scottish Government is welcome. Drug driving is dangerous and completely unacceptable, and Police Scotland must have the right tools to stop it. However, statistics suggest that cuts to budgets and officer numbers have made policing in Scotland more reactive, calling into question whether Police Scotland will have the capacity to exercise these new powers. Officers must be given the resources they need to implement these important laws.”



   

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