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Council Leader’s community call over regeneration plans

Paisley Abbey

Council Leader’s community call over regeneration plans.

The council unveiled proposals in January for a multi-million pound investment in Paisley’s infrastructure to kickstart heritage-led regeneration and boost the town’s tourist economy.

The hope is this would lead to a bid for UK City of Culture status in 2021 – and Councillor Mark Macmillan wants local groups to help shape that bid.

Council staff have already started to meet local business and community interests to explain the detail behind the Paisley Town Centre Heritage Asset Strategy.

Paisley Abbey

It is thought the existing Paisley Vision Board – a public-private group aimed at boosting town centre trade – could evolve into a wider body which better fits the scope of the council’s proposals.

Cllr Macmillan said: “The next few years are going to be hugely exciting for Renfrewshire as we aim to lead a multi-million-pound investment in our tourist potential and a possible UK City of Culture bid.

“The Paisley Town Centre Heritage Asset Strategy is a bold statement of where we want the area to be – but for us to reach our potential we will need to work in partnership with a wide range of groups who also stand to benefit.

“That will require contributions from a range of people – from public-sector bodies to business leaders to cultural groups to residents and everyone in between, as we look to transform perceptions of Paisley at home and abroad.

“The Paisley Vision Board has served the town well over the years and led the way on many worthwhile projects – but as we widen our ambitions for Paisley and Renfrewshire, we have to widen the scope of who we work in partnership with.

“Over the months ahead I want us to harness the talents of all interested parties and give them the chance to help us transform Paisley’s future for the better.”

Tom Johnston, president of Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce, added: “The plans being taken forward to regenerate Paisley are far-reaching and unique.

“The local business community stands to benefit from these proposals and I would encourage them to get on board and help shape the transformation.”

The Paisley Town Centre Heritage Asset Strategy was commissioned by the council to assess how the town’s rich history and culture could be used to drive tourist-led regeneration.

The report describes Paisley’s heritage – including more than 100 listed buildings, rare books and paintings, and the finest Paisley Shawl collection in the world – as being of ‘international interest and significance’.

It is estimated the developments proposed by the strategy could increase Renfrewshire’s tourist economy by £45m a year, and create around 800 new jobs for the area.

Key recommendations include a multi-million-pound revamp of Paisley Museum, possible new theatre space in the town, and work to investigate whether Paisley could receive UNESCO World Heritage Status, as well as the possible City of Culture bid.

For regular updates on local news and events follow @RenCouncilNews on Twitter or our page on Facebook at

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Council Leader wants Renfrewshire to lead the way on tackling unemployment

Councillor Mark Macmillan

Council Leader wants Renfrewshire to lead the way on tackling unemployment

Renfrewshire Council’s Leader wants the area to lead the way on tackling youth unemployment and is urging partner organisations to do all they can to help.

The council has made a significant investment in its £8m Invest in Renfrewshire programme, which aims to reduce youth unemployment and boost the local economy.

Councillor Mark MacmillanNow, Councillor Mark Macmillan is asking the council’s public-sector partners to consider whether they can do more to help tackle the issue.

He said: “The rate of youth unemployment among young people is far higher than the average for all age groups, in both Renfrewshire and Scotland.

“The council is determined to avoid a ‘lost generation’ of young people who are frozen out of work – which is why we have made tackling youth unemployment a priority though Invest in Renfrewshire.

“The public sector has a crucial role to play in addressing youth unemployment, which is why we are formally asking our partners to buy in to our agenda of up-scaling what Renfrewshire’s public sector does to tackle this issue.

“We want Renfrewshire to lead the way when it comes to cutting unemployment among 18 – 24 year olds.”

A meeting of the Renfrewshire Community Planning Partnership Board saw the council ask other public-sector agencies in the area to consider how well they use existing council or government programmes set up to help young people into work.

Partner agencies agreed to:

* Engage with the Invest programme and provide direct support to young people;

* Agree to host as many internships, work placements and workplace visits as possible;

* Set ambitious targets in providing job opportunities and report back on these.

Invest in Renfrewshire includes an employer recruitment incentive, which pays half the wage costs of a new employee at national minimum wage for up to nine months, with an extra £1,000 available to companies agreeing to pay the Living Wage of £7.50 an hour.

It also includes a graduate internship programme, which pays a subsidy of up to £5,000 to organisations taking on an unemployed graduate for a project-led position of up to 11 months.

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Revamped farmers’ market has taste of success

Paisley farmers' market

Revamped farmers’ market has taste of success

Traders and shoppers alike have given the thumbs-up to Paisley’s relaunched farmers’ market, after its first outing in its new home at the weekend.

The popular twice-monthly market has been a fixture in the town’s County Square for the past 12 years, but last Saturday saw it move along the road to Paisley Cross.

To mark the occasion, organisers hired face painters, stilt walkers and balloon modellers to help keep youngsters entertained.

And the relocation was a success, with hundreds of shoppers turning out to sample the range of fresh farm food on offer, with some traders doubling their takings on the previous market.

As part of the revamp, midweek markets have been introduced – with the event taking place on the second Thursday and last Saturday of every month from now on.

That means the next market – on Thursday 12 September – will be the first to take place during the week.

All markets will now take place slightly later in the day, running from 10am to 2pm, as opposed to the previous time of 9am to 1pm.

The changes came about after a consultation of traders and customers earlier this year. The market is run by Ayrshire Farmers’ Market and promoted by Renfrewshire Council.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan said: “The farmers’ market has been a popular feature in the town for a number of years now, but we wanted to see if there was anything we could do to refresh it.

“The feedback we received was that it should be later in the day and that people wanted midweek markets, so we acted on that.

“Saturday’s turnout suggests the change of location has worked. We hope the market will thrive in its new home and will continue to bring people into the town centre.”

Howard Wilkinson, market relocation co-ordinator, added: “We were delighted with the number of new customers who came to the market, as well as our regulars.

“I hope they found the experience really positive and we look forward to seeing people a week on Thursday at the next market.”

All information and photographs courtesy of Renfrewshire Council.

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Paisley Farmers’ Market is on the move


Paisley Farmers’ Market is on the move

Shoppers looking for some fresh ideas are being encouraged to check out Paisley Farmers’ Market when it moves to a new location and time this weekend.

The popular twice-monthly market has been a fixture in County Square over the past 12 years.

But it is now moving along the street to Paisley Cross as part of a revamp which will see midweek markets introduced for the first time.


Markets will take place on the second Thursday and last Saturday of every month, at a new time of 10am to 2pm, slightly later than the previous time of 9am to 1pm.

The first market at the new location will be this Saturday, 31 August. To mark the occasion, the council is laying on children’s entertainment, including face-painting, stilt walkers and balloon modelling.

Paisley Farmers’ Market features a wide range of stall-holders offering quality fresh produce, straight from the farm to the shopping bag, such as meat,fish, cheese, fruit and veg, and chocolate.

The market is operated by Ayrshire Farmers’ Market and Renfrewshire Council, and the decision to relocate came after consultation with traders and shoppers.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan said: “Town centre regeneration is a big priority for us.

“We hope the new location will improve the visibility of the market and will in turn bring new vibrancy to Paisley High Street.

“The market offers something a little bit different, which complements the range of shops we have already have in the town.

“The feedback we received when we surveyed the public was that they wanted the market to be later in the day and to take place midweek as well as at the weekend

“We took all of that on board, and it would be great to see as many residents as possible check out what is on offer, starting this Saturday.”

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Council Leader presses Scottish Government for Living Wage power

living wage

Council Leader presses Scottish Government for Living Wage power

Renfrewshire Council’s Leader wants private companies to pay a fair Living Wage to any of their staff who deliver work for the local authority – and he has written to the Scottish Government in a bid to turn this into reality.

living wageCouncillor Mark Macmillan has written to the Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, to urge that powers be added to public contract regulations. These would enable councils to specify that contractors’ employees are paid the Living Wage when they deliver work for local authorities. Currently, when awarding contracts to private sector companies, the council cannot take the rate of employees’ wages into consideration.

This move forms part of Renfrewshire Council’s anti-poverty agenda and links to the authority’s work supporting people affected by the UK government’s Welfare Reform and the £8million Invest in Renfrewshire programme that supports businesses while creating work and training opportunities.

Councillor Macmillan said: “I am fighting to get everyone working in Renfrewshire a fair Living Wage. It’s better for business and it means that people can work their way out of poverty. It is simply the right thing to do.

“The Scottish Government needs to change its legislation to let us specify to contractors that, when their staff are delivering work for the council, they have to pay them our Living Wage. It is simply unjust that a worker doing the same job as a council employee is paid at a lower rate.

“Renfrewshire’s Living Wage is fair, it’s encouraging, it shows that we value our employees and their work, and it’s better for the local economy. I’d urge Nicola Sturgeon to give us the powers we need to make sure anyone delivering work for Renfrewshire Council, receives our Living Wage.”

Councillor Macmillan has asked the Nicola Sturgeon, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities, to address these legal issues regarding contractors in the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Bill.

He also plans to work with Renfrewshire employers later this year to encourage them to consider applying the £7.50 per hour Living Wage. Already, companies who recruit employees and interns under the Invest in Renfrewshire programme are paid a £1000 bonus.

The Living Wage is an hourly rate set independently by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and updated annually. It is calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK and employers choose to pay it on a voluntary basis. The current hourly Living Wage outside London is set at £7.45. Renfrewshire Council was one of the first Scottish local authorities to introduce a living wage for its own staff and, for 2013/14, this is set at £7.50 per hour.

The national minimum wage is currently set at £6.21. More information on the Living Wage can be found online at

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Council Leader urges UK Government to give councils new powers over payday loan companies

renfrewshire council logo .JPG

Council Leader urges UK Government to give councils new powers over payday loan companies

The Leader of Renfrewshire Council has written to the UK Government to urge that councils be given new powers to regulate payday loan companies.

Councillor Mark Macmillan has asked the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills to give councils powers as part of their licensing remit, so that payday loan companies would have to apply to local authorities to set up in the area.

renfrewshire council logo .JPGCouncillor Macmillan said: “The Office of Fair Trading has referred the issue of payday loan companies to the Competition Commission to address some serious concerns at national level and responsibility for monitoring such lending companies will pass to the Financial Conduct Authority in April 2014. So some progress is being made.

“But much more needs to be done at local level – and done now – to stop communities falling victim to these companies that fail to check if customers can afford the repayments, and then hound them with aggressive tactics when they can’t pay back the loan.

“It’s scandalous that at the moment these companies can simply move into areas where there are vulnerable people already struggling financially, with no questions asked. Too many families have fallen into a vicious circle of toxic debt after being caught in the payday loan trap of anything up to 4,000 per cent interest.

“I’d urge the UK Government to do the right thing and give councils the local regulation that’s desperately needed over these companies’ ongoing attempts to suck money out of low-income communities.”

The Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 already allows councils to regulate several types of business where it’s in the public interest including taxis, second hand dealers and street traders.

Councillor Macmillan’s letter to Secretary of State, Vince Cable MP, is calling for the scope of the Civic Government Act to be widened to include payday lenders, or that an alternative regulatory scheme be established.

Renfrewshire Council has banned access to pay day loan websites from its own PCs including computers in libraries and community facilities.

The council has also created a 45-strong team to help people who are facing difficulties as a result of benefit cuts. Residents who are struggling with debt or who are worried about benefit cuts should call 0300 300 0288.

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Discount boost for sport in Renfrewshire

ON-X Linwood

Discount boost for sport in Renfrewshire

Local sports teams are being encouraged to get their pre-season training underway by taking advantage of the discounts available across Renfrewshire leisure facilities.

Renfrewshire Council has halved the cost of its synthetic pitches making it more affordable for local teams to continuing training in the area.  The adult team hire cost for a two-hour session has fallen to £91.90 from £183.80 per hour, effectively giving teams their second hour of play for free.

Under 18s also benefit from the same price as a result of the council increasing its concessionary discount from 30 to 50% off the adult price. The concession for young people extends to all activities, across all sport facilities.

ON-X Linwood

The measures are part of the council’s strategy to increase participation in sport and include a

£5 million overhaul of the council’s grass pitches and changing facilities.

Councillor Jim Harte, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Sport, Leisure and Culture Policy Board, said: “Giving residents access to affordable but also modern, high-quality leisure facilities is a key part of our Active Renfrewshire strategy. It increases people’s ability and desire to get active, which is good for individual wellbeing and the future of sport in Renfrewshire”.

Ahead of each new season the council undertakes a programme of maintenance to ensure its pitches remain in match-fit condition. This includes the repair or replacement of goalposts, seeding, weed control and line-painting.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan said, “Our pitches are always fully booked. These measures ensure the clubs and groups that regularly use the pitches continue do so and feel they’re getting a better deal as a result.  Local teams play an important role in supporting healthy lifestyles, promoting community involvement, and in giving younger players the opportunity to participate in sport at a level suited to their ability.

“Getting active in Renfrewshire however isn’t just about engaging in competitive sport. We want more people to take part in, and enjoy, whatever form of physical exercise suits them best. By increasing the concessionary discount, our younger residents have the opportunity to experience a whole range of pursuits such as swimming, visiting the gym, cheerleading or taking part in one of the many exercise classes available at our new facilities – all for half the adult price.”

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