criticises SNP administration for failing to listen to
residents’ concerns over Local Development Plan
7th April 2021
Councillor Jim Sheridan has expressed his concern at the
political manoeuvring of the SNP administration on Renfrewshire
Council to disallow proper scrutiny of the plan.
Councillor Sheridan said, “The plan when presented to the
Communities, Housing & Planning Policy Board on 16th March was
rejected by members including two of the SNPs own councillors.”
Controversy surrounded the Renfrewshire Local Development Plan,
following hundreds of objections from residents in Lochwinnoch
regarding significant house building proposals.
Councillor Sheridan said, “Having taken cognisance of their
genuine concerns the Communities, Housing & Planning Policy
Board rejected the developer’s proposals.”
Members of the Labour Group have since learned that the SNP
administration are working to undermine the work of the
Communities, Housing & Planning Policy Board by taking steps to
bring the plans back before the Committee in the hopes that
their dissenting Councillors would reconsider their objections.
Councillor Sheridan added, “Given that the Local Development
Plan will impact communities across Renfrewshire it was proposed
that all members should be consulted through a Special meeting
of the full Council and this was proposed and supported by all
opposition and independent Councillors but rejected by the SNP
This blatant political manoeuvring seriously calls into question
the SNPs repetitive claim that they are a listening party?”
SNP shocking scandal
of care home deaths
5th April 2021
people are telling Labour candidate Johanna Baxter that they are
shocked at the number of deaths from COVID that have occurred in
Scotland. In care homes in Scotland 9% of deaths were related to
COVID, as opposed to a figure of 7.2% across the UK as a whole.
Many quote the shocking case of 38 residents who died in Erskine
care facilities by October last year.
Earlier in 2021 it was announced that Crown Office and
Procurator Fiscal Service's dedicated Covid 19 Death
Investigation Team (CDIT) is probing the circumstances of
coronavirus-related deaths in 474 care homes across the country.
Johanna Baxter, Labour's candidate for Renfrewshire North and
West, said of the scandal, "As Head of Local Government for
Unison, I was aware of the problems of workers not getting the
correct Personal Protective Equipment and campaigned hard to get
the changed. But there remain many questions that the SNP
Government needs to answer to ensure that the lessons on this
pandemic are understood, and the elderly are never put at
unnecessary risk again."
Only Labour can beat
the SNP in Renfrewshire North and West
2nd April 2021
SNP is knee-deep in controversy. Locally, there has been Derek
Mackay's scandal ridden resignation, and absence from
Parliament; and nationally the Scottish Government's flawed
handling of sexual harassment complaints. Now there's a massive
All the while Scottish Labour is gaining support and closing on
the SNP in Renfrewshire North and West. With Labour climbing in
the polls, Conservative and Lib Dem voters are switching
tactically to Labour locally, in what is becoming a clear
Support for hard-working Labour candidate, Johanna Baxter, is
also increasing with previous SNP voters, phone canvassed by
Labour, saying that this is an election where they may not cost
their votes as usual.
Johanna Baxter commented; "After fourteen years of SNP rule the
electorate is sick and tired of being taken for granted. This is
especially true in Renfrewshire North and West, where Derek
Mackay has not delivered for the last year, yet he has only just
left the party - a month before the elections. He should have
resigned months ago and local by-election take place. Local
people need someone who will show up, stand up and speak for
Solidarity with Rolls Royce workers
31st May 2020
worker’s in Rolls Royce’s Inchinnan plant are being left in the
dark over the announcement of worldwide job losses, amounting to
9,000 of their employees. This is a fifth of its workforce, of
which 8,000 will be in the UK, and it seem Inchinnan workers
will not be immune.
news comes as no surprise as it follows on from similar
announcements in the aviation industries where it seems that
ordinary workers are paying the price for things that are not
their fault. Rolls Royce worker’s are highly skilled and when
redundancies take place it’s not only the job that goes, the
skills go also and it is short termism at its worse to expect
those skills to be there when things pick up which would result
in costing them more.
Union has said that this decision is “shameful opportunism”.
Assistant General Secretary said “The
news Rolls-Royce is preparing to throw thousands of skilled,
loyal, world-class workers, their families and communities under
the bus during the worst public health crisis since 1918 is
“This company has accepted public money to furlough thousands of
workers. Unite and Britain’s taxpayers deserve a more
responsible approach to a national emergency. We call upon
Rolls-Royce to step back from the brink and work with us on a
better way through this crisis”.
It is also incumbent on both governments, at Westminster and
Holyrood, to ensure an inclusive approach that shows Rolls Royce
that this is not the right way to behave in a national
emergency, and to work to save these jobs and skills for future
of this important industry and wider community.
The Labour Group in Renfrewshire Council sends solidarity to,
and will support, the workers in Inchinnan, and will do
everything in our power to stand up for them in any way we can.
From the Renfrewshire Council Labour Group Blog with permission
of the Labour Group.
Black Lives Matter
28th May 2020
the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, on 25th
May, and the huge worldwide showing of public anger and outrage,
people are rightly demanding an end to racism, both societal and
institutional, because too many black and ethnic minority people
face the scourge of racism on a daily basis. Whether it be at
work, in their communities, at school etc., or not being able to
get the same job opportunities in the first place, being
targeted by the police, not being able to get a bank, loan and
so, the BAME community have had enough. Just because of the
colour of their skin, they are being treated as inferior to
white people and that is why the black lives matter message is
heart of this, is our own country’s murky colonial past and how
we treated indigenous populations as we sought to expand our
empire, in particular, how much of that expansion was built on
the backs of slaves. As a result, questions are being asked
about our own country’s involvement in the slave trade and how
we look up to, and honour, those who profited from it.
and Renfrewshire should not be immune to such questions. It is
right and proper that we look at how we prospered from slavery,
directly of indirectly, due to our booming weaving industries in
the late 18th century and all of the 19th
century. We had an industry that relied on the importing of
cheap cotton and we should reflect on how that impacted on the
growth of Paisley and Renfrewshire.
Labour Group are calling on Renfrewshire council to undertake a
review on what was Paisley’s role in the slave trade and how did
we benefit off the back of slaves in general.
From the Renfrewshire Council Labour Group Blog with permission
of the Labour Group.
government in Scotland have a future?
24th May 2020
a Labour Group, we have consistently sent out the message
regarding the chronic underfunding of Renfrewshire Council by
the Scottish Government. The SNP in Holyrood have been in
control of the reins for the past 13 years and local authorities
have borne the brunt of the austerity measures brought in by the
conservatives in Westminster which have been turbo charged in
Scotland, resulting in cuts to services, outsourcing, community
delivery of services, centralising services and redundancies
with over 60.000 jobs been lost.
Figures from the neutral Scottish Parliament Information Centre
(SPICe) show that between 2013-14 and 2018-19, the Scottish
Government’s revenue budget was cut by 2.8 per cent by
Westminster, but the Scottish
even more brutal in their cuts to councils – hammering them with
a 7.5 per cent reduction in funding over the same period.
It was clear that this could not go on. The current situation is
simply unsustainable, and something must be done. But what?
Local authorities know how best to deliver services to local
communities, they have been doing it for years and have
continued to adapt and modernised in response to new situations
and challenges. However, with their centralising agenda and an
increase in ring fencing, the Scottish government may be giving
a glimpse of the future, as they see it.
This pandemic is devastating in its impact in all our
communities. It hurts everyone in our society, we see that by
the number of hospitalisations, deaths, deaths in care homes,
etc, that are occurring and also, in the changes in our daily
lives, our work and leisure lives and in the businesses that are
struggling or failing, where jobs are being lost.
Both governments, in Holyrood and Westminster were slow to act.
Their attitude seemed to be that it will ‘never reach our
shores’. On 16 March, National Clinical Director of the Scottish
Government, Jason Leitch said that he would be comfortable going
to a public event, after his wife went to a Stereophonics’
concert. Talk about burying your head in the sand. This is the
same guy who is all over our television screens telling people
to stay home, so maybe that advice should have gone out sooner.
People have said that we are living in exceptional
circumstances, and we are, and that Covid19 is an unforeseen
occurrence, and they are also right. But pandemics are not. We
have had strategies in place for years. The Civil Contingencies
Act 2004 was supposed to address strategies to deal with civic
emergencies. Chapter 5 of the Act talks about emergency planning
(updated 2011), and preparing for an emergency, should that
occur. In 2016, the then Deputy First Minister of Scotland, John
Swinney, launched the Scottish Government’s ‘Preparing Scotland
– Scottish Guidance on Resilience’, with a number of spokes,
including guidance on dealing with mass fatalities in Scotland
2017, where it talks about dealing with flu pandemics. In July
2018, the UK Government published its Biological Security
Strategy, which the Scottish Government contributes to, and
talks about our response to biological risks. So, we were well
prepared, in fact the UK scores number two, next to the US, in
the Global Health Security Index. What went wrong, is not for
Now, as we all know, austerity has been a disaster for the
working people and the most vulnerable in our society. It has
left our NHS in a critical state, it has hammered our public
sector and decimated Local Authorities. In Scotland, as we have
already stated, the Scottish Government have turbo charged
austerity and passed it on to councils.
It, therefore, shocked no-on when Renfrewshire Council’s Chief
Executive expresses her deep concern that the level of financial
pressures, as a result of Covid19, will significantly exceed
this level of funding.
In total £2.7 billion has been deployed by the Scottish
Government to target a wide range of specific interventions in
response to the COVID19 emergency. However of this only £80
million has been distributed to local government at this stage
with a future £180 yet to be distributed, providing in total
£260 million to support services provided directly by local
authorities, just under 10% of the overall funding deployed by
the Scottish Government. Of this, the Renfrewshire Council has
received £2.7m of the £80 million distributed to date and would
expect to receive in the region of £5.3 million - £5.8 million
of the estimated undistributed £180 million based on normal
distribution approaches. This would provide a share for the
Council of £8 million - £8.8 million of the confirmed funding
made available to directly support local government. This is
significantly less than the estimated £26 million - £27 million
of net additional costs.
The issues that we face in Renfrewshire Council, is one where,
chronic and systematic underfunding has led directly to the loss
of jobs and services, throughout the council which is being
compounded by the current crisis. Unless we see a massive
injection of resources, then services that we all rely on, such
as, refuse collection, grass cutting, social care, education and
schools, leisure and community facilities are all at risk.
Council workers are doing a fantastic job under very difficult
circumstances and we should all applaud them, but Governments
have the ability to ease their burden and the burden of those
they serve, by financing the council properly and recognise the
work that they do.
However, the wider questions are, what does the future hold for
local authorities, in Scotland? Will the deepening funding
crisis that we face, result in irreparable damages to the
services that we provide? In meetings with council officers, we
are constantly reminded of the need for financial stability, and
of course that is important. But you can be financially stable
by having little staff and without providing any services
whatsoever. So, it all becomes a bit meaningless.
Given that that the Scottish Government already has a
centralising agenda and does not seem to trust local councils,
could this be excuse that they have been waiting for? Could we
be seeing more outsourcing to the private or voluntary sector
with the loss of thousands of jobs. More responsibility for
community groups? The loss of democratic accountability at a
Without the funding that is needed, just to survive, this could
just be around the corner for all our local councils in
Scotland. However, we do not just need an injection of cash to
see us through this Covid19 crisis. We need local authorities to
be properly funded with packages where confidence can be
restored among our employees and in our communities, and with
financial stability that would enable services, not just to be
delivered, but to grow also and enable our society to thrive.
Before Covid19, we were limping from one crisis to another with
no end of the devastation in sight. With the arrival of the
coronavirus, we are now at a different level of deepening
uncertainty and imminent emergency. Maybe it is too late.
Perhaps we are already in the throes of Lingchi –
death of a thousand cuts. Time will tell.
From the Renfrewshire Council Labour Group Blog with permission
of the Labour Group.
Mary raises concerns
of Childcare Expansion
11th March 2020
Labour’s Mary Fee MSP has raised a series of concerns about the
state of the childcare expansion for 1,140 funded hours during a
debate in the Scottish Parliament, following an Audit Scotland
report showing the risks of the recruitment and building
Mary Fee, Member of the Scottish Parliament for West Scotland,
was leading a debate in the Holyrood for Scottish Labour on the
childcare expansion, which will see eligible 2 year olds and all
3 and 4 year olds receive 1,140 hours of funded early learning
and childcare. The debate comes after a follow up report
by Audit Scotland, two years after its initial report, shows
that serious risks remain for the all sectors of early learning
In opening for Scottish Labour, Mary warned that the
sustainability of funded providers in the private and voluntary
sectors are at a great risk, partly because of the SNP’s
mismanagement of the expansion. Mary also highlighted
potential loophole that could result in childcare staff not
being paid the living wage, despite this being a key demand in
the contracting of funded hours.
Any risks could delay the expansion beyond the deadline of
August 2020, which leave councils and partner providers with
less than 5 months to complete building work and recruitment.
Figures from the Audit Scotland report shows that over 2,200
council nursery staff are still required. This equates to over a
quarter of the total additional staff identified by councils and
the Scottish Government.
Audit Scotland also highlighted that the infrastructure projects
are the biggest risk to the expansion, with half the places
expected to be created through new building and refurbishment
work to be ready with days and weeks before the start of the new
school year in August. The report also highlighted a
series of delays and lack of contingency planning that could
leave children and families without their full entitlement to
Mary will be writing to all councils in the West Scotland to
receive a further update on recruitment and building work.
Speaking during the debate, Mary Fee said “Scottish Labour
welcomes the finding of the follow up report into early learning
and childcare, as we did the initial report in 2018. Both
reports show the scale of the expansion of funded early learning
and childcare and the challenges faced then and now. Legal
advice shows that private providers may not have to pay their
staff the living wage and we want the Scottish Government to
acknowledge this loophole and set out how they plan to address
this in the coming months. The most significant challenges
facing the expansion are recruitment of staff and the building
of infrastructure projects. The expansion poses risks to
the sustainability of partner providers and childminders. It is
teetering on the edge. The only way we will find out the success
or failure is through the experiences of children and families.
The Scottish Government has 5 months to get this right and 5
months to prevent families from being let down. Scottish
Labour wants to see the best quality childcare, led by
committed, dedicated and well-paid staff.”
5,000 Young Scots
wait to long for Specialist Mental Health Services in 2019
3rd March 2020
than 5,000 children and young people have been forced to wait
more than 18 weeks for access to specialist mental health
treatment, official figures show.
New figures published today by the ISD reveal that 1,307
children and young people seen by CAMHS between October and
December 2019 waited too long, bringing the total number of
people who waited longer than the four and half month target in
2019 to 5,017. In the last three months of 2019,
only 66.4 per cent of children referred to CAHMS were seen
within 18 weeks, down from the 72.8 per cent during the same
quarter in 2018.
Of the children and young people seen by CAMHS between October
and December 2019, 272 had been waiting for over a year.
The West Scotland MSP also reveals that 615 young people in the
Greater Glasgow and Clyde area, which includes Renfrewshire,
Inverclyde, West and East Dunbartonshire, waiting longer that
the 18 week target across 2019. Scottish Labour MSP, Mary
Fee, said “These new figures show what we have known now
for some time – the SNP is failing Scotland’s young people.
At a time when youth suicides have been increasing these figures
should shame SNP ministers into action. Only Scottish
Labour will fund our NHS properly, protect it from privatisation
and invest in new initiatives to support good mental health and
support for people when they need it.”