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Commenting on the news that James Wright’s appeal has been thrown out, Michael McClelland, father of Craig McClelland, said:

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“No family should have to go through what we have. Not only was Craig taken from us but he was killed by someone who had no right to be on the streets of Paisley that night. Someone who should have been behind bars. The system that is supposed to keep people safe broke down and, as a consequence, my son was murdered. A murderer has been convicted but there has still not been a full, independent inquiry into why this happened. The authorities need to be held to account too.

“The Lord Advocate promised us a decision on whether he would order a Fatal Accident Inquiry after the appeal. Now the appeal has been dealt with, there is absolutely no reason to delay a decision any further. The Lord Advocate has the power to give us an inquiry and to do it now. Only a full inquiry can help us find the answers we need about why this was allowed to happen and how we can stop it ever happening again.”

Neil Bibby MSP said:

“There must be a Fatal Accident Inquiry into the failures that led to Craig McClelland’s tragic murder. It is not just in the interest of Craig’s family that they find answers, it is in the public interest that this tragedy is fully investigated and the lessons are fully learned. What happened to Craig McClelland cannot be allowed to ever happen again.

“We have known since March that the Scottish Fatalities Investigation Unit have been examining this case, preparing the ground for a potential FAI ahead of James Wright’s appeal. The Lord Advocate himself promised the McClelland family that a decision on whether to order an FAI would be made once the appeal had been heard. Now that the appeal has been thrown out, there is no good reason for the Lord Advocate or anyone else to stand in the way of a Fatal Accident Inquiry.

“The time has come for the Lord Advocate to make his decision and I sincerely hope it is the right one. The only way to restore confidence in the tagging system and help this family find the answers they need is to order an inquiry into the McClelland case.”

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Scottish Labour has launched a public consultation on their proposed ‘Mary Barbour’ law, which will cap annual rent increases in private sector properties at one percentage point above inflation.

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There are an estimated 10,000 private sector renters in Renfrewshire

The Member’s Bill, named after campaigner Mary Barbour who led the 1915 Glasgow Rent Strikes, will cap increases on private sector rents and give more power to tenants.

The proposed law will cap annual private sector rent increases across Scotland at one percentage point above inflation.

The number of people living in private rented accommodation has increased in recent years, with more and more families negatively affected by soaring rent costs.

Scottish Government figures show that 60,000 children living in private rented accommodation are also living in poverty.

The proposed Bill would introduced a package of measures including:

  • Capping annual private sector rent increases at one percentage point above inflation
  • Giving tenants more power in rent appeal processes
  • Expanding the landlord register to include the level of rent charged.

Members of the public have until the 31 July 2019 to make their views known on the proposal.

 

Neil Bibby MSP said:

“Too many families are being unfairly targeted by rip off rent increases.  A lack of social housing is forcing people to rent privately, which is hammering their cost of living and worsening child poverty across Scotland.”

“Labour’s Mary Barbour law will tackle exploitative landlords by capping private sector rent increases – giving people the opportunity to have secure, affordable tenancies – and ensuring that landlords are transparent about the level of rent they are charging.

“Only Scottish Labour has a plan to tackle the housing crisis and transform our economy for the many.”

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Scottish Labour MSP Neil Bibby has backed calls from SAUWS and NUS Scotland to ensure students are ‘free to graduate’ following their shock FOI revelation on graduation costs.

The West of Scotland region MSP was joined at the Scottish Parliament by University of West of Scotland (UWS) Students Association President Emma Shotter and Vice President Societies and Citizenship & President-Elect Franklin Jacob as well as NUS Scotland President Liam McCabe.

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Within the West Scotland region, UWS can charge up to £40 per student just to attend their own graduation ceremony. The Students Association of UWS (SAUWS) recently launched their own petition directed at UWS Principal, Craig Mahoney, receiving over 2,000 signatures.

Following a Freedom of Information request to all of Scotland’s colleges and universities, NUS Scotland has revealed that fees, mandatory robe hire, photography packages and ceremony tickets will see university student forking out anything from £80 to £225 to graduate.

Some institutions even charge students for graduating in absentia, meaning students are still charged to graduate even if they have been priced out of attending their own ceremony. Many institutions were also found to receive commission from each gown or robe hired by their students – a mandatory requirement to attend graduation ceremonies.

NUS Scotland’s ‘Free to Graduate’ campaign calls for an end to graduation charges. Since January, several institutions have scrapped their fees, Including the Universities of Aberdeen, Strathclyde, Robert Gordon and Stirling.

Neil Bibby MSP for West Scotland has called on UWS, to scrap their fee.

Neil Bibby MSP said:

 

“Education in Scotland should be based on the ability to learn, not the ability to pay. The news from NUS Scotland that some students could be out of pocket by as much as £225 is stark reading. Though their ‘Free to Graduate’ campaign, NUS Scotland revealed that UWS within my region charges students up to £40 just in order to graduate.

I would strongly encourage the University to engage with their student membership and to work constructively with NUS Scotland, ensuring every student throughout Scotland is free to graduate.”

NUS Scotland President Liam McCabe labelled the fees as a ‘stealth tax’.

Commenting, Liam stated:

 

“A student’s graduation should be one of the most memorable days of their life as they celebrate their hard-earned achievements.

 However, NUS Scotland’s FOI and our ‘free to graduate’ campaign has revealed many institutions are putting a price on success through disgraceful graduation fees, effectively taxing students by stealth.

Not only do many institutions – particularly universities – demand payment to graduate in the first place, they also require their students to hire and wear expensive academic robes from third party providers. Stunningly, some institutions even get a kick back on these transactions, receiving commission from the involved companies.

We would appeal to all institutions across the country to reflect on their graduation fee policies and the impact they have on their least affluent students. Institutions must ensure that, in future, their graduations are free and accessible to all those who have earned the right to celebrate their academic successes.”

 

Commenting, the Students’ Association of the University of the West of Scotland:

“The Students’ Association of the University of the West of Scotland (SAUWS) is determined to ensure that access to money is not a barrier to any student, particularly when UWS has the highest rate of students from the lowest socio-economic backgrounds in Scotland. Students have worked so hard to successfully complete their studies and should not be excluded from graduation which is such an important celebration of all their accomplishments.

This year alone the Students’ Association has given out over £11,000 in emergency hardship, 46 food bags, and 26 toiletries bags. The fact that even one student is in need of a food bag is appalling and yet for some reason UWS continues to charge for graduation when some of its students are in a dire financial situation.

We have met with the university executive team and agreed to interim measures of a reduction of the in absentia fee and the establishment of a graduation hardship fund. While this meeting was constructive, we believe that the interim measures suggested by UWS do not go far enough and we will continue to fight for the scraping of Graduations Fees for all UWS Students.

“Working in partnership with NUS Scotland, SAUWS will continue to campaign on this matter until a satisfactory outcome is reached. Students are clear at UWS that they do not want graduation fees and we are going to fight to ensure that we get rid of this unfair burden.”

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Neil Bibby MSP is backing calls at Holyrood for an increase in Carers Allowance. Mr Bibby has said that the Scottish Parliament could use its new welfare powers to reverse welfare reforms and ensure the Carer’s Allowance and the Carer’s Supplement will be uprated in line with the higher Retail Price Index (RPI) instead of the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

That would see carers in Paisley receiving a boost in their incomes to better keep pace with the rising costs of living. The Scottish Parliament Information Centre shows that uprating by RPI would leave 82,000 carers better off. This week in a vote at the Scottish Parliament the SNP failed to back the call.

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Neil Bibby MSP said:

“82,000 carers are being short-changed and that needs to change. For years the Scottish Government have said they will deliver a social security system based on dignity and respect but unfortunately they have failed to reverse the pernicious change in uprating from RPI to CPI.

“Day-in, day-out carers in Paisley work tirelessly to care for their loved ones but since 2010, they have lost out on almost £1000 because of the switch to CPI – a loss which gets worse every year. Uprating in line with RPI would see a modest increase in Carers Allowance but taken over time those cumulative rises would add up and leave carers in a stronger position.

“It’s disappointing the SNP failed to back Labour’s call this week and voted against our proposals. The Scottish Parliament has the powers to take a different path, to show that social security is an investment in the people of Scotland, and to give carers the support they need.”

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INQUIRIES MUST BE AUTOMATIC IN TAG MURDERS

A full independent inquiry into the failures leading to the murder of Paisley dad Craig McClelland remains critical to restoring confidence in Scotland’s Home Detention Curfew system.

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However, Craig’s father Michael and Neil Bibby MSP also believe families shouldn’t have to plead for an inquiry in such tragic circumstances – it should be automatic.

Craig McClelland was murdered in an unprovoked attack by a convicted knife criminal who was unlawfully at large, having breached his home detention curfew and broken his electronic tag. The man convicted of his murder last year had been at large for five months at the time of the attack in Paisley.

Calls for an independent public inquiry into the circumstances leading to the death have so far been blocked by Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf. Now the family have written to the Lord Advocate asking for a Fatal Accident Inquiry and Neil Bibby MSP is proposing amendments to the Management of Offenders Bill to enshrine their right to an inquiry in law.

Michael McClelland, Craig’s father, said:

“As a family we will not have any confidence in the system, until lessons are fully learned.

“Process reviews are not good enough – there should be a full independent inquiry and we have said this to Humza Yousaf and the Lord Advocate.

“We need answers to why this happened to Craig and the public need to feel safe and have trust in those who are supposed to protect us.

“So far our calls have been ignored and the Justice Secretary is blocking a public inquiry for no good reason.

“We should not have to plead for an inquiry, it should happen automatically.

“If Humza Yousaf and the Lord Advocate can’t see the need for an inquiry in cases like these then the matter should be taken out of their hands. “The law must be changed and it’s down to MSPs to make sure this happens.”

Neil Bibby MSP said:

“No family should have to go through what Craig’s have. It is critical that confidence is restored in the system and this cannot happen until lessons are learned.

“This is why it is so important that a full and independent inquiry takes place into the failures that led to this tragic murder.

“The Justice Secretary is resisting a public inquiry into the case for no reason whatsoever, leaving Craig’s family devastated. The Lord Advocate has the power to instruct a Fatal Accident Inquiry and the family are now asking him to do so.

“There would be no question of ordering an inquiry if a prisoner were to kill another behind bars. It should be mandatory that an independent inquiry is triggered whenever a prisoner causes a death while out on a tag.

“I will seek to amend the Management of Offenders Bill to ensure that Craig’s family and any other family put in this awful position can get the answers they deserve by making an independent inquiry a legal requirement. Families shouldn’t have to plead for action – an inquiry should be automatic.”

Murder of Craig McClelland – independent inquiry should be a legal right:

 

Sign the Petition here.

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/murder-of-craig-mcclelland-independent-inquiry-should-be-a-legal-right?

We, the family of Craig McClelland, demand:

– a full independent inquiry into the circumstances that led to his murder
– automatic independent inquiries whenever a prisoner on HDC commits a murder
– changes in the law to make HDCs safer for the community.

Why is this important?

Craig McClelland, a loving father of three, was murdered in an unprovoked attack in his hometown of Paisley by a convicted knife criminal who had no right to be there. It could have been any one of us.

Craig’s murderer was on the run, having removed an electronic tag and breached a Home Detention Curfew, and he had been at large for five months. We believe that the Scottish Government, Scottish Prisons Service and Police Scotland all have questions to answer about Craig’s death but our calls for a full inquiry have been blocked by the Justice Secretary, Humza Yousaf MSP for no good reason.

We‘re still in the dark as to why Craig’s murderer was free when he should have been behind bars. We still don’t know why he was at large for months and why he was never caught. It still makes no sense.

Nothing will bring Craig back. The actions of one man mean he is lost to us forever. No one can change that and now three little children will grow up without a dad.

We believe a full independent inquiry is the only way to get the answers we need as a family. But we don’t want another family to go through what we have. We want to stop this happening to other families and to do that lessons must be fully learned.

We were promised answers by the Scottish Government but we still don’t have them.

If Scotland’s Justice Secretary or Lord Advocate can’t see why an inquiry is needed then the matter should be taken out of their hands.

The Management of Offenders Bill is going through the Scottish Parliament right now. MSPs should make it mandatory to have an independent inquiry whenever a prisoner on an HDC kills a law-abiding member of the public. If a prisoner kills another prisoner there would be a Fatal Accident Inquiry so why will families like ours not get one? This needs to change.

Tell the Justice Secretary, tell the Lord Advocate and tell MSPs that you are with us by signing this petition.

Please support our call for an inquiry into the circumstances that led to Craig’s death and changes in the law.

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Responding to the news that the Scottish Government, Renfrewshire Council and Glasgow City Council have ditched plans for the tram-train Glasgow Airport Access Project, Labour MSP for West Scotland, Neil Bibby said:

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“The SNP have ditched the Glasgow Airport rail link again and this time they’re using their own abject failure to manage capacity on the rail network as an excuse. It is incredible that just one week after voting to urgently progress a tram-train link to the airport, that the SNP are shelving it. Major cities across Europe and around the world have modern, reliable, rail connections to their airports yet delivering a rail link to Glasgow Airport seems to be completely beyond the abilities of the SNP and Transport Scotland – it’s a joke.

“There is the money to deliver this project, there is a business case, there is widespread public support but what this announcement tells us is that there is a total absence of political will from SNP.  Local SNP politicians should explain whether they will be stand by this appalling decision made by their bosses or stand up for Renfrewshire?

“This is a project of huge national and local economic importance. M8 congestion is getting worse and it is a barrier to growth in the Renfrewshire economy and beyond. This is a complete betrayal of Renfrewshire and the West and an utter failure of leadership from the SNP nationally and locally.”

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Call for Scotrail fares to be cut as passenger satisfaction plummets

Neil Bibby MSP has called for Scotrail fares to be cut after an annual survey revealed passenger satisfaction with Abellio-run ScotRail has plummeted to a 15-year low. Overall satisfaction with ScotRail is down six percentage-points on last year to 79 per cent, well below the franchise target of 88.5%.

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Fewer than half of passengers, 39 percent are satisfied with how the privately run firm deals with delays – a 12 per cent drop on last year.

Meanwhile  just 51 per cent of passengers feel they are getting value for money – an 8 per cent fall compared to the year before.

Neil Bibby MSP said the survey also highlighted the need to end the failing Abellio ScotRail franchise and bring ScotRail back into public ownership.

Neil Bibby MSP said:

“This survey shows that passengers are fed up with the poor service they are receiving from Scotrail and backs up what people having been telling me. I know commuters in Paisley are particularly fed up with the levels of delays, cancellations and overcrowding they are experiencing. It is disappointing that despite repeated calls, the Scottish Government have failed to act and take enforcement action against Scotrail for its poor performance.

Passengers shouldn’t have to be pay more for a service that is getting worse. But that’s exactly what is happening. At the start of this the Scottish Government let ScotRail hike up ticket prices by 3.2% despite this shoddy service. This shouldn’t have happened and the fare increases should be reversed to give hard-pressed commuters a break.

The Scottish Government should use the current budget process to deliver a fare cut for hard pressed passengers and back my call with unions and the public, for public ownership of our railways, so we have a transport system that works for passengers not private profit.”

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Neil Bibby MSP, has challenged the First Minister over Renfrewshire Council’s decision to increase Primary 2 class sizes from 25 to 30. Mr Bibby has said this proof that there is a difference between Nicola Sturgeon’s rhetoric on education and the reality on the ground.

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The West Scotland MSP also highlighted this as another example of the impact that Scottish Government cuts are having on families in Renfrewshire.

Last Thursday, Renfrewshire Council’s Education Committee voted in favour of increasing Primary 2 class sizes from 25 to 30 and even rejected an amendment to put the plan out to consultation with parents and teachers.

Neil Bibby MSP said:

 

“It is very concerning that P2 class sizes in Renfrewshire will rise particularly when we are told by Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Government that education is meant to be their top priority – it clearly isn’t. Teachers are under enormous pressure, and are already raising legitimate concerns about their workload – we shouldn’t be putting them under more pressure at this time.

This decision like many others we are seeing on the Council are cuts that are the result of underfunding from the Scottish Government in Edinburgh. Nicola Sturgeon and the Finance Secretary Derek Mackay need to properly fund local councils like Renfrewshire so we can avoid cuts that affect our children’s education.

Parents and teachers have been telling me, they are not happy with this decision. I believe it is also it is unacceptable that the SNP administration have decided to increase class sizes without consulting parents and staff. Changes like this should not have been pushed through without seeking the views of parents and teaching staff.”

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Workers at the Inchinnan base of CITB, the construction industry’s national training board, face redundancy with the public body preparing to pull out of Renfrewshire and sell their National Construction College.

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Neil Bibby MSP raised concerns about the future of local CITB workers in the Scottish Parliament, calling on the Scottish Government to help keep CITB jobs in Renfrewshire and retain the knowledge and skills of CITB workers in Scotland. This follows a meeting between the Scottish Government and the GMB Scotland trade union which took place last week. At least 29 administration staff face being paid off in October.

Neil Bibby MSP said: “This is a concerning time for CITB staff at Inchinnan and for many in the construction industry. Not only do workers face the prospect of redundancy but the full impact of relocating CITB on the construction sector is still not clear.

“Although oversight of CITB is reserved to the UK Government, training policy is devolved. I have therefore called on the Scottish Government to make the case to CITB that these jobs must be kept in Renfrewshire and that the knowledge and experience of these workers cannot be lost.”