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Gavin Newlands MP calls for more support for Bridge of Weir Universal Credit claimants

Gavin Newlands, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, has highlighted in Parliament the case of Universal Credit claimants living in Bridge of Weir having to travel over 11 miles for an appointment at a Jobcentre in Greenock.

New Universal Credit claimants living in Bridge of Weir are required to attend Greenock Jobcentre for their initial appointment, as their closest Jobcentre in Johnstone, just 3 miles away, isn’t able to process Universal Credit applications yet.

People from PA11 postcode are included in the full Universal Credit rollout area, unlike most of Renfrewshire. Previously, they had to attend appointments in Port Glasgow, but after the closure of that Jobcentre, claimants living in Bridge of Weir now have to travel even further to Greenock.

Gavin Newlands, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, commented:

“I was shocked to find out that some Universal Credit claimants from Bridge of Weir are being told that they have to make a 20 mile plus roundtrip to attend appointments at the Greenock Jobcentre, when there is a closer one just a few miles away in Johnstone. I have heard from people having to walk for miles as they can’t afford the near £8 bus fare. I have contacted the DWP and they have confirmed that after the initial appointment, people are able to request appointments in Johnstone, but this is little comfort to anyone struggling to make it to the initial appointment in Greenock to get their claim up and running.

“This is just one of the numerous issues with the Universal Credit rollout, which is causing hardship for people all over the country. I have written to the Leader of the House to request support for claimants from Bridge of Weir to help with their travel costs. People shouldn’t have to spend up to 14% of their benefits just on travel to the Jobcentre.”

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Council Leader sets out budget challenges

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Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson has pledged to put local communities at the heart of the Council’s budget plans for the coming financial year.

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The Council Leader pledged to ‘put people first’ and ensure that spending is targeted where it will make a difference for communities and businesses across Renfrewshire.

The level of council tax and the council’s total spending on services and capital investment will be set at a meeting of Renfrewshire Council on 1 March.

Councillor Nicolson said:  “I was delighted to be appointed Leader of the Council after the election last year and we have worked hard with councillors from across the parties to make sure we’re delivering the best deal we can for the people who live and work in Renfrewshire.

“It’s been a fantastic time for Renfrewshire and our recent bid for UK City of Culture. Being part of the competition was supported by all political parties and it gave us this fantastic platform to show everyone what we can do. It’s important now we continue that journey, building on the positive perceptions created and making sure that we make the most of the opportunities we have in front of us.

“We want to make Renfrewshire an attractive place to live, work and visit. We will continue to invest in education, jobs and tackling the inequalities that can hold people back from realising their full potential.

“I promised at the time that we would listen to what communities tell us and we have worked to ensure that with finite resources, we make sure we get the best value for every public pound we spend.

“We want to give people back a pride in their place and we’ve invested in improving our local environment through our team up to clean up programme.”

Councillor Nicolson also highlighted that with limited resources, there would have to be new ways of working together to deliver key public services.

“Like other local authorities, we must work within the budgets we are set and we will continue to work with our local communities and partners to ensure that our investment decisions are based on what will make an impact and ensure our communities continue to thrive.”

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Budget Brings Funding Boost For Paisley.

More Cash For Local Services Thanks To Progressive Reforms

Renfrewshire Council is set to receive a significant funding boost as a result of this year’s SNP Scottish Government budget – with local services in Renfrewshire benefiting from an extra £8.823 million.

The SNP’s progressive reforms – which will see 55% of taxpayers pay less in income tax than if they lived in the rest of the UK – guarantee a 2.83% increase rise in Renfrewshire council’s resource budget, providing extra funding for schools, roads and housing. The budget will also see Renfrewshire schools benefit from £4,272,240 million as part of the Pupil Equity Fund, helping to tackle the attainment gap.

The Scottish Budget also provides additional spending on our NHS – which will see an extra £400 million in funding to help protect our health service from Tory austerity.

Commenting, Paisleys MSP, George Adam said:

“This extra funding for Renfrewshire council – an additional £8.823 million for the coming year – is a great settlement for our communities.

“The SNP’s progressive reforms on income tax, seeing 70% of people pay less than they did last year, and 55% pay less than they would if they lived south of the border, are vital for allowing this funding increase despite continued austerity being imposed by the Tories at Westminster.

“And it takes the total resource budget for our council’s services – such as schools, roads and housing – to £311.453 million for the coming year, an increase of 2.83% when compared with last year.

“This progressive budget also provides extra funding for our NHS, education and broadband, and more money for our economy, research and our environment too – as well as protecting free university tuition, free personal care for the elderly, free school meals and free prescriptions.

“While the Tories propose cutting over £556 million from public services in order to pay for their tax cuts for the wealthiest – the SNP Government delivers for our councils and protects the vital local services in Paisley that we all hold dear.”

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Memories of Auld Paisley Wed 28th Feb Paisley Museum 7-8.30

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Early completion of Bargarran and St John Bosco Primary Schools and Early Learning and Childcare Class

A shared site for two new build Renfrewshire schools is set to be completed and handed over almost two months ahead of schedule.

The new state of the art two storey building which will house the adjacent St John Bosco and Bargarran Primary Schools in Erskine, will be ready for occupation from 16 April.

This early delivery of the new facilities from main contractors Heron Bros to Renfrewshire Council, means the opportunity to move the schools and St John Bosco’s early learning and childcare class, immediately after the spring break.

Parents have been informed of the early move, which is expected to take place between 16 to 18 April.

All the establishments are expected to be closed over that three day period to minimise disruption.

Permission for the period of “exceptional closure” to facilitate the move from the old buildings to the new building has been sought from the schools directorate at the Scottish Government, with confirmation expected imminently.

The early move also means that the demolition of the existing buildings can take place more quickly, meaning that construction would be complete by October this year, as opposed to December.

The £16 million work, which started in January 2017, is part of Renfrewshire Council’s extensive £52million investment programme to improve local schools and promote learning and achievement by giving children the best possible learning environment.

The new building has mirrored wings for the two schools over two levels with flexible spaces which support independent learning.

On the ground floor, all classrooms lead out into a courtyard with canopied areas for outside learning, while upstairs classes have access to a balcony area.  Toilets and cloakroom facilities link to the outside and the shared dining hall will double up as an ‘after school’ area.

The new facility includes an all-weather sports pitch as well as a feature ‘green roof’ where seeds from native species will be planted and video links to classrooms will allow pupils to view wildlife in realtime.

Education and Children’s Services Convener, Councillor Jim Paterson said: “It’s great news that the building is ready ahead of schedule and we have already informed parents.

“The new shared building provides the best possible learning environment for pupils and children and allows them to reach their full potential.

“The three day closure period will allow staff to set up before the return of children and pupils.”

Damian Heron, Group Managing Director at Heron Bros, said: “Heron Bros is delighted to hand over the shared campus for St John Bosco and Bargarran Primary School two months early. Our project management team developed an innovative solution which enabled the fast-tracking of the programme and we are delighted to have been able to complete the project ahead of schedule.

“We would like to thank the entire project team and our local supply chain who all worked in collaboration to deliver this marvellous facility so efficiently, and wish the staff and pupils success and happiness in their new home.”

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Plans to build on Paisley 2021 legacy to go before councillors

Plans to use the momentum of Paisley’s UK City of Culture 2021 bid to help drive a long-term cultural, social and economic transformation of the area are to go before councillors next week.

Renfrewshire Council and its partners have been planning how the town’s bid journey will continue, by building on the positive platform the bid created, and the widespread community support that drove Paisley’s campaign.

Paisley was the only Scottish place and first-ever town to make the shortlist for the prestigious competition, run by the UK Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Feedback from DCMS says Paisley was viewed as ‘a very strong contender’ and the decision to shortlist the bid was ‘an easy one’, while praising the town’s passion and commitment to using culture to tackle social problems, and describing the Paisley bid’s community engagement as ‘exemplary’.

The Paisley 2021 Partnership Board – set up to oversee the bid and bringing together business, cultural, educational, community, health and political representatives – has already confirmed it will continue and will deliver and drive a legacy plan, with some partners intending to maintain their original financial pledges.

That detailed legacy plan will be finalised by the Partnership Board in March – but a report outlining the key points of the local authority’s contribution towards the plan is now going before the council’s Leadership Board

It will continue the ambition to achieve the bid’s original long-term aims to significantly grow Paisley’s creative economy, transform its reputation, see the town recognised for its cultural excellence, lift communities out of poverty, and turn Paisley town centre into a vibrant destination.

And the council will continue to lead on delivering the following:

– the planned £100m-plus investment in venues and infrastructure, including the project under way to turn Paisley Museum into an international-class visitor destination, major internal revamps to transform Paisley Town Hall and Arts Centre, upgrading the sporting facilities at St James Playing Fields and creating new space for outdoor events and festivals, a new library on the High Street, and improvements to the town centre streetscape and road system;

– a new Paisley destination brand and website will also be unveiled in the next few weeks to build on the national and international profile created by the bid and promote the area as an attractive place to visit, live and invest;

– an enhanced cultural events and festivals programme over the next four years to deliver the best of what was planned for 2021, attract visitors to Paisley, and strengthen the local cultural sector;

Plans will also be developed to grow the area’s creative economy through a new apprenticeship programme, support for creative businesses and a new volunteer strategy.

Renfrewshire Council leader Iain Nicolson said: “We must do everything to build on the impact of bidding for UK City of Culture and the momentum it created.

“The campaign took the town’s profile to new levels – with hundreds of millions of people around the world getting the chance to see or hear something positive about Paisley – transformed our reputation, raised awareness of our unique story, and brought self-confidence back to the town.

“It also generated a town-wide discussion about Paisley’s future – with more than 36,000 people engaging with the bid by the time the final submission was made, and new partnerships and relationships developed locally and nationally which will continue to work in Paisley’s interest.

“And it also firmly established the idea that Paisley’s unique cultural and heritage assets can be used to transform its future – and not just in an economic sense, but also through social impact, by harnessing the power of culture to boost health and well-being, and help people out of poverty.

“We may not have won the title – but the important point is we are still going to deliver our vision and many of the aspirations that informed our bid.

“The report going to the leadership board offers an initial outline of those next steps, and as chair of the Paisley Partnership Board I look forward to revealing the detailed action plan with our partners.

“With major investment in our cultural venues, a new destination brand and website set to launch, an enhanced events and festivals programme in the years ahead, and new funding to support local artists and help the local cultural sector grow, there is lots ahead to be excited by.”

The council’s leadership board will meet on Wednesday 21 February.

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Paisley retains coveted Purple Flag Status

Paisley town centre has successfully retained its Purple Flag status following an application for interim renewal.

Purple Flag is a town and city centre award – similar to the Blue Flag for beaches – which aims to raise the standard and broaden the appeal of town and city centres between the hours of 5.00pm and 5.00am.

The award is seen as the benchmark for good night time destinations – areas awarded the Purple Flag are recognised for providing a vibrant and diverse mix of dining, entertainment and culture while promoting the safety and well-being of visitors and local residents.

Recent projects have included the Paisley Purple Flag Student Discount card. More than 60 Paisley First BID businesses have signed up to offer special deals to students in the town with the Purple Flag Student Discount Card accepted at all participating outlets which display the Purple Flag sticker.

Chairman of Paisley First, Ian Henderson, said: “This is a great achievement for all those involved in promoting Paisley as a great place to live, work, study and visit. “It’s important now that we continue to work together so that when it’s time for the full renewal later this year, and the assessors visit the town centre again, they can see great things happening in our vibrant town centre.”

Councillor Marie McGurk, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Communities, Housing and Planning Policy Board, said: “The interim renewal of our Purple Flag status is a fantastic boost for Paisley and recognises that the area continues to be a safe, exciting destination for a night out.

“We are working diligently with our partners to ensure that Paisley continues to offer a diverse range of establishments for people to enjoy, as well as ensuring they are able to travel home safely at the end of their night.

“Paisley’s night time economy is thriving and we look forward to the assessors returning later in the year as part of the full renewal process.”

Purple Flag status was achieved at the beginning of 2017 following an application developed by Paisley First, with partners Renfrewshire Council, Paisley Pubwatch, Police Scotland, Renfrewshire Cabs, Scotrail, Paisley and West Community Council and the Paisley Street Pastors. The town’s Purple Flag is on display at the town’s County Square.

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Mix Equality Events at Paisley Arts Centre

Mix – A New Series of Equalities Work at Paisley Arts Centre

A series of performances has been programmed at Paisley Arts centre as part of Mix – a new season of equalities work, presented by Outspoken Arts Scotland for LGBT History Month.

At A Stretch, is a wordless visual theatre production from Jordan and Skinner aimed at children and families with comedy, exciting choreography and breathtaking physical theatre. This show will be performed on Sat 17 February and follows two women as they become increasingly tied together and learn to negotiate the tricky world of close relationships.

Jumpers for Goalposts is a heart-warming tale about the Leith Gay and Lesbian five a side tournament where fitness, friendships and fabulous Moroccan cuisine are put to the test.

And finally Paisley Arts Centre welcomes back Paisley’s own Carol Laula, who will be performing alongside local musicians Lisa Kowalski, Marie Collins and Linzi Clark with an evening of music and spoken words to mark International Women’s Day.

Morag Macpherson, Head of Cultural Services at Renfrewshire Leisure states ‘We are delighted to be part of LGBT History Month once again and to work in partnership with Outspoken Arts with these three very different, but equally entertaining performances.’

Steven Thomson, of Outspoken Arts states ‘The Mix event is a new boutique season of work spanning LGBT History month and International Women’s Day. We are really excited that this has given us the opportunity to bring these inclusive cultural events to Paisley.’

Notes

At A Stretch is on Sat 17 Feb at 2pm. Tickets are £5 (£4 conc) + bkg fee

Jumpers for Goalposts is on Wed 28 Feb at 7.30pm. Tickets are £8 (£5 conc) + bkg fee

Wicked Women: Carol Laula and Friends is on Thursday 8 March at 7.30pm. Tickets are £10 (£8 conc) + bkg fee

All tickets can be purchased online at www.renfrewshireleisure.com or by phone 0300 300 1210.

Please note that £1 transaction fee is applicable on all tickets booked online.

For more information, or to arrange an interview please contact Carolyn Thom on 0141 618 5109 or carolyn.thom@renfrewshire.gov.uk

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DEREK MACKAY MSP SUPPORTS CHARITY’S NEW HEARING AID SUPPORT SERVICE IN RENFREW LIBRARY

Derek Mackay MSP is encouraging his constituents to use a charity’s new hearing aid support drop-in service in Renfrew.

The MSP for Renfrewshire North and West visited Action on Hearing Loss Scotland’s new monthly Hear to Help drop-in in Renfrew Library to see service coordinator, Lainey McFarlane, and volunteer, Jane Jones, support local people who would otherwise need to go to the audiology department at the RAH.

The Hear to Help service readjusts, cleans and re-tubes NHS hearing aids as well as supplying new batteries. Information about assistive equipment such as amplified phones, TV listeners and vibrating/flashing alarms, which can make life easier, is also provided.

 

The charity is looking for volunteers in Renfrewshire to come forward help the service for just two hours every month. Training will be provided by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s audiology department and the new volunteers will also receive an induction by Action on Hearing Loss Scotland.

 

Derek Mackay MSP said:

 

“I’ve visited the Hear to Help service in my constituency before, so I’m aware of the valuable support provided in Erskine Library and the Bridge, Bridge of Weir, especially for older people with mobility difficulties who are saved from travelling to hospital for low level hearing aid maintenance.

 

“I am delighted to see this service is now being delivered in Renfrew Library so that local people struggling to adapt to their NHS hearing aids can find out how to use the volume or loop controls and understand the importance of changing their batteries and getting the tubes cleaned or replaced.

 

“It is great to see a service making a difference to the lives of local people whilst, at the same time, ensuring that hospital-based NHS audiology staff can focus their resources on diagnosing hearing loss and fitting hearing aids.”

 

Lainey McFarlane, Hear to Help Coordinator, said:

 

“We thank Derek Mackay MSP for visiting our new drop-in service in Renfrew Library to see how we help people experiencing difficulties with their hearing aids to hear their friends and family more clearly.

 

“We are hoping that the service will prove to be popular with local people, so we are looking forward to recruiting more volunteers from Renfrew and surrounding communities to help ensure Hear to Help can meet anticipated increasing demand.”

 

For more information about Hear to Help, telephone: 0141 341 5330 or email: lainey.mcfarlane@hearingloss.org.uk

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Call to community to have their say with consultation on Foxbar Place Plan

A call has gone out to residents to have their say in shaping the future of their own community.

Renfrewshire Council will lead a consultation with Foxbar residents to create a Place Plan, which will identify areas for potential change and enhancement.

The Council has secured funding from the Scottish Government’s Making Places Initiative, which supports communities to take a leading role in shaping their local areas.

The pilot scheme is expected to provide a template for Place Plans across Renfrewshire and will be led by residents, businesses and community groups through a series of workshops and events.

Anyone interested in taking part can sign up to a mailing list.

Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Communities, Housing and Planning Policy Board, Councillor Marie McGurk, said:  “The consultation will be community led from day one and puts locals right at the heart of the project.

“The aim is to empower people to become much more involved in the planning of their places and show what role they can play in its future.

“It’s the first of its kind in Renfrewshire and the community’s likes, dislikes and aspirations will be there from every stage of the process and we will work with them to deliver what they’d like to see.”

Anyone interested in taking part can register their interest by contacting strategyandplace@renfrewshire.gov.uk.