New Crossing Patroller Welcomed.

MSP Derek Mackay has welcomed the decision to instate a school crossing patroller on a busy Bishopton road.

The location on Greenock Road, at the Lorimers Bar, is a busy spot for children crossing to access Bishopton Primary School.

Following enquires from local parents, Mr Mackay and Cllr Natalie Don have been raising the issue with roads chiefs in Renfrewshire Council. Following a visit to the location, they have now agreed to place a crossing patroller at the site. This should be in place within the next 2 weeks.

Mr Mackay said:

“This is a busy part of the road during school hours, and a number of parents have been continually raising their concerns with me. Following pressure to Renfrewshire Council, including a visit with officials to the site, I am pleased they have now agreed to place a crossing patroller at the busy location.

“I have also asked if they will continue to monitor the situation, especially at peak hours, with a view to further measures if this does not improve the situation.

Bishopton Councillor Natalie Don said:

“This part of the road has been something parents have been concerned about for a long time, I am pleased we have now managed to do something to help improve it.

“The Councillors who attended the visit with officials last week said they were in full agreement with the plans to install a crossing patroller, and I hope this cross-party support will continue.”

Mackay welcomes action on littering from vehicles

Renfrewshire North & West MSP Derek Mackay has welcomed the announcement by the Scottish Government that tougher action is to be taken against those littering from vehicles.

Nearly 7 tonnes – over 1,300 bags – of rubbish is gathered form the sides of the M8 and M9 each month.

Action on this is to be introduced as part of the National Litter Strategy.

Derek Mackay said:

“As a former Transport Minister I know the danger roadworkers put themselves in every single day collecting crisp packets, cans and bottles from the sides of our motorways.

“It is not only the obvious dangers to drivers and clean up teams, there is also a significant amount of many spent cleaning the mess made by others, taking valuable resources away from other public services.

“The amount of litter being thrown from cars by drivers and passengers is unacceptable and action must now be taken.

“I am therefore pleased that the Environment Secretary has committed to introduce measures to try and take action.”

Time to give 16-year-olds vote in General Elections

Scottish Youth Parliament Turnout Shows our Youth are engaged

Renfrewshire North & West MSP Derek Mackay has expressed his delight at the record turnout in Renfrewshire’s elections to the Scottish Youth Parliament. He has also emphasised his belief that the record turnout shows young people are engaged in politics and deserve the opportunity to vote in General Elections.

Over 6,000 young people in Renfrewshire took part in the election last week, with Renfrewshire returning the highest turnout in the country, while accounting for almost a fifth of the total number of votes cast in the whole of Scotland.

16-year-olds can currently vote in local Council elections and Scottish Parliament elections but are not permitted to vote in UK General Elections.

Mr Mackay said:

“This record turnout is down to the hard work of all the candidates in raising the profile of the election and the Scottish Youth Parliament in general. They should all be very proud of this.

“This also proves that our young people are engaged in politics and care deeply about the matters which affect them, their family, and their friends.

“It is time the voting age in General Elections is lowered to 16, giving all our young people the chance to vote, if they wish, in all elections which affect their lives.

“I am proud that the Scottish Parliament allows 16 to 18 year-olds the opportunity to take part in deciding who represents them in the Scottish Parliament and who forms the Government which makes decisions on their behalf.

“Our young people are engaged and interested in politics, we shouldn’t run the risk of losing that. Let’s finally give them the right to vote in all elections.”

Mackay slams Labour for voting against multi-million-pound investment in Renfrewshire’s roads

Labour propose cut to road spending.

Renfrewshire North & West MSP Derek Mackay has today slammed Labour for voting against a £40 million investment in Renfrewshire’s roads.

At last week’s Renfrewshire Council budget meeting Labour Councillors voted against the record funding going to resurfacing, pothole repairs and line re-painting.  Instead Labour’s proposals would have seen spending on local roads and footpaths being cut.

The SNP’s proposals were eventually passed, despite Labour joining the Tories in voting against the investment.

Derek Mackay said:

“Not only did Labour vote against a £40 million investment in our local roads and footpaths, they also revealed that if they were running Renfrewshire Council they would be cutting spending on roads and paths.

“During Labour’s time in charge of Renfrewshire Council they slashed money for roads and footpaths year after year, depriving our highways of the general maintenance they needed, while not fixing pot holes correctly. That is why we are now in a position of having so many roads and footpaths needing major work done to them.

“Over the last year a lot of roads and paths have been resurfaced, but there is still a lot of work to do. For Labour Councillors to vote against putting this record amount of money into bringing our roads up to the standard they should be at is disgraceful, particularly as they caused the mess in the first place.

“Labour neglected our roads when in office, and if they were still in office they would be continuing to cut spending – something their own draft budget confirmed.

“Potholes and footpath conditions is something which affects everyone across Renfrewshire and is one of the biggest issues I am contacted about as a local MSP. I am therefore pleased this record investment is happening, despite Labour’s attempts to stop it.”

Renfrewshire to receive £1.4million to support town centres.

Renfrewshire is set to receive over £1.4million as part of a new Scottish Government £50million fund to help boost town centres.

The Town Centre Fund, which has been set up in partnership with COSLA, is supporting councils to ensure their high streets are more diverse, sustainable and successful in the face of changing and evolving retail patterns.

It will be for local authorities to allocate this fund against the themes of the Town Centre Action Plan.

The money will fund a wide range of investments which will make town centres more vibrant, enterprising, and accessible.

This could include the re-purposing of empty buildings for housing or social and community enterprises.

Speaking as he announced the launch of the fund in Renfrew Town Centre, Renfrewshire MSP and Economy Secretary Derek Mackay said:

“Town centres are facing challenges across Scotland in adapting to a changing retail climate, and it is important that we help them to diversify and adjust to overcome these challenges.

“I want to make sure we can keep life in our high streets, and ensure they continue to be thriving places for communities to live, work and enjoy.

“This fund, which Renfrewshire will receive £1.4 million from, will enable local authorities to stimulate and support a wide range of investments which will encourage town centres to diversify and flourish, and create an increase in footfall through local improvements and partnerships.

“It is part of a wider boost to the economy through providing more than £5 billion of capital investment to grow and modernise Scotland’s infrastructure, and a wider package of support to businesses, including maintaining a competitive business rates package and providing the most generous package of non-domestic rates reliefs anywhere in the UK.”

MSP Supports Charities’ Services for Older Veterans who have Hearing Loss

Derek Mackay MSP is backing a charity’s call for Renfrewshire residents to volunteer for a service supporting older veterans whose lives have been affected by hearing loss.

The MSP for Renfrewshire North and West found out about the local Hearing Forces service when speaking with veterans and Action on Hearing Loss Scotland’s Angela Paton and Caroline McDonald during a visit to a hearing aid support session in the Erskine Reid Macewen Activity Centre, Bishopton.

George Sharp said:

“Hearing Forces provides a friendly service which helps us to hear our friends and family much better through the maintenance and cleaning of our hearing aids, and the provision of batteries to keep them working. When I see people at the centre struggling with hearing loss, I always encourage them to visit the support sessions.”

The MSP was also advised that Hearing Forces, which is part of the Unforgotten Forces consortium led by Poppyscotland, also informs veterans aged 65 or over about assistive equipment, such as amplified telephones or personal listeners, that can make life easier.

Action on Hearing Loss Scotland’s Angela Paton said:

“We thank Derek Mackay MSP for visiting our Hearing Forces session to see how our one-to-one support is transforming the everyday lives of older veterans by enabling them to follow conversations, listen to their favourite television programmes or hear sounds such as birdsong which they haven’t experienced, in some cases, for many years.

“We’d love to speak with people in Renfrewshire who are interested in volunteering for our service so that we can run sessions more frequently to reach more veterans and help them to hear their comrades and relatives through using hearing aids or assistive technology.”

Derek Mackay MSP said:

“I was delighted to speak with several veterans at the Hearing Forces session who have hearing loss and are being supported by Erskine and Action on Hearing Loss Scotland to live independently and develop their IT or art skills as well as access mindfulness and holistic therapies.

“It’s great to see the charities working together in the Unforgotten Forces partnership to help those who served the country to overcome issues relating to their hearing loss and become both socially and physically active.

“I encourage residents in Renfrewshire to come forward to volunteer and provide life-enhancing support which can be appreciate by many more older veterans in our communities who have lost their hearing.”

Action on Hearing Loss Scotland is looking for volunteers to give a few hours of their time every month. Training about deaf awareness, communication tips and assistive equipment will be provided by the charity and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s audiology department will show the volunteers how to carry out basic hearing aid maintenance.

For more details, email: hearing.forces@hearingloss.org.uk or telephone/text 07388 227407.

MSP Launches Consultation on McGill’s Service

Over 1,000 responses received in first 12 hours.

Renfrewshire North & West MSP Derek Mackay has launched a consultation survey on the McGill’s X23 and 23 service, which currently travels from Erskine to Glasgow, via Inchinnan and Renfrew.

At a public meeting in Renfrew this week McGIll’s confirmed they propose to make changes to the service, as they prepare to replace their current fleet of coaches with new ones.

Following the meeting, which between 350 and 400 people attended, Mr Mackay has launched a survey to receive feedback from users of the service.

Over 1,000 people have already responded to the survey, which is available online or in paper form by contacting Mr Mackay’s office.

Speaking Mr Mackay said:

“McGill’s have confirmed they are proposing to make changes to this service. However, unfortunately, the meeting this week did not result in any clear understanding on what their plans are or the proposals they intend to bring forward.

“In order to fully represent my constituent’s views on the potential proposals McGill’s have agreed to go away and draw up, I have launched by own consultation survey.

“If you use the service I would encourage you to complete the survey soon. Once I have the results I will send these to McGill’s and use it to lobby the company on behalf of locals.”

Survey can be found at: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/LT2SLBB

Paper copies can be requested by e-mailing Derek.Mackay.msp@parliament.scot

MSP “very disappointed” by news Town’s Bank to close

Renfrewshire North & West MSP Derek Mackay has spoken of his disappointment at Santanders decision to close their Renfrew branch.

The bank announced their intention to close the branch in the towns High Street in July.

Mr Mackay has written bank bosses to seek more information over the plans, including the possibility of the ATM remaining after closure – something which has been successful in other branch closures.

Mr Mackay said:

“I am very disappointed that Santander has decided to close the Renfrew branch. This is a branch not only used by people from Renfrew, but is also also used by people from Erskine, Inchinnan, Bishopton and other villages.

“I am seeking an urgent update from bank bosses, when I will be pressing the management to consider allowing the much used ATMs to remain. This is something other banks have committed to doing when closing banks in the past.

“It is also essential that the bank ensures there is sufficient capacity elsewhere, to cater for all the needs of the customers and local businesses that will be let down by this decision.”

Mackay welcomes additional help for funeral costs

Mackay welcomes additional help foNew benefit will increase eligibility by around 40%.

A new benefit providing help for people on low-incomes to meet the costs of a funeral is on course to be delivered by the Scottish Government through Social Security Scotland by summer 2019.

The move has been welcomed by Renfrewshire North & West MSP Derek Mackay.

Funeral Expense Assistance (FEA) will replace the current DWP Funeral Payment in Scotland and improvements mean around 40% more people will be eligible to apply. FEA will provide financial support directly to those who need it most at the point of bereavement. Regulations enabling delivery of this new system have been laid in Parliament today.

As with all Scottish Government benefits, Funeral Expense Assistance has been developed with input from those with experience of the present system – helping identify and address the parts of the DWP application process that people currently find difficult or distressing and improving the process and removing barriers to apply.

Mr Mackay said:

“Coping with the death of a loved one is a very difficult time for anyone, and it’s even harder when there’s extra stress finding the money to pay the funeral costs.

“The new assistance, which is being backed by around £2 million of additional funding, will increase eligibility for help by around 40%.

“Help will be provided towards burial or cremation costs, certain transport costs, plus £700 for other costs such as funeral directors fees or flowers. The Scottish Government have committed to up rating the £700 per year to take account of the impact of inflation – something the UK Government has not done since 2003.

 “I am pleased that this benefit will be available later this year and will deliver an improved scheme to help those on lower incomes pay for the cost of a funeral.”

West College Scotland and UWS to benefit from increased Budget Funding 

WRenfrewshire MSP and Finance Secretary Derek Mackay has challenged Labour MSPs to back the Scottish Government’s draft budget that plans to increase higher education spending by £12.1 million and increase spending on colleges by £18.3 million over the coming year.

The proposal, set out in the Scottish Government’s draft budget plans for 2019/20, will maintain investment in Scotland’s universities at over £1 billion and will take college investment to over £606 million.

MSPs will vote on Mr Mackay’s budget plans next month.

Commenting, Derek Mackay said:

“The Scottish Government will deliver over £600 million for Scotland’s colleges, which will be great news for West College Scotland here in Renfrewshire and other institutions across the country.

“I am calling on Labour politicians to get behind the plans to secure substantial funding for our colleges and universities.”