Renfrewshire Leisure social distancing

Chief executive: Charity excited to safely welcome back members and customers to venues and facilities as Covd-19 restrictions ease

Renfrewshire Leisure’s gyms, swimming pools, libraries and heritage centre will reopen from Monday, April 26th.

The announcement comes after the Scottish Government today formally confirmed that the region will drop down to Covid-19 level three restrictions from that date.

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This means the gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools can reopen for individual exercise, in line with all public health guidelines. Outdoors, all organised activities except adult contact sport can also now take place. 

In addition to those facilities available before Christmas, Renfrew Victory Baths will reopen following maintenance work, with extended opening hours in place. Meanwhile, the gym at Johnstone Community Sports Hub will be open outside of school hours. The swimming pool at Johnstone remains closed pending maintenance work.

Gym facilities previously at Park Mains High School will be located at Erskine Sports Centre.

The rule-change also allows for capacity at Renfrewshire Leisure’s popular outdoor fitness classes – which restarted last month while indoor classes are not permitted – can be doubled to 30 people from Monday. That takes the number of weekly slots available to 570.

All 12 of the region’s libraries will reopen too – on a click-and-collect basis for items, with public access to computers also available at each venue.

Members of the public will also again be able to access the heritage centre in Paisley.

Renfrewshire Leisure social distancing

Hygiene and social distancing measures will be in place at the venues. All gym and swimming sessions must be pre-booked, as should visits to the heritage centre. Details about opening times and making a booking can be found at www.renfrewshireleisure.com. Bookings for gyms and swimming sessions will open on Wednesday, April 21st.

Monday will be the first time that the venues have been open to the public since lockdown restrictions came into force on December 26th, although online services have been operating throughout.

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Victoria Hollows, Chief Executive of Renfrewshire Leisure, said: “We are excited to welcome back our loyal members and residents to our venues. We know how keen people are to return and enjoy more of our services. Our team stands ready to support them as best they can.

“In so many ways, the work we do has never been needed more. Encouraging and supporting better health and wellbeing is going to be vital for people as they recover from the impact of Covid-19 on their lives. 

“We are determined to play a key part in our region’s recovery from the pandemic, with the safety of our community and staff the utmost priority.”

The restart of individual exercise sessions at Lagoon Leisure Centre in Paisley and Renfrew Sports Centre will run in tandem with mass vaccinations centres being operated there at the request of Renfrewshire Council. These will have separate entrance and exit points.

Rules for the use of outdoor pitches have been shared with sports clubs.

Staff are also once again manning Barshaw Golf Club. Bowlers, meanwhile, were able to return to Lochfield Bowling Green, Paisley, and Robertson Park Bowling Green in Renfrew from April 1.

Direct debit payment for members – which have been suspended during the disruption to in-person services – will restart from May 7th. Those with annual memberships will have time reimbursed before re-opening.

Regular updates on all services – both in-person and digitally – will be posted via Renfrewshire Leisure’s website and social media.

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Voters are being reassured that polling stations will be safe places to cast their vote ahead of the Scottish Parliamentary election on Thursday 6 May.

Polling stations in Renfrewshire have been adapted to ensure that all required health and safety measures are in place to reflect the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

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Each polling station will have a one-way system in place, two-metre distancing at all times, Perspex screens, hand sanitiser will be available for every voter, disposable pens will be provided, and face coverings will be required to be worn when moving around the polling station – unless the person is exempt.

There will also be a designated cleaner for each polling station and supervisors will be in place to ensure that the safety measures are always followed.

Anyone with symptoms of Coronavirus on polling day should not attend their polling station and should contact the Electoral Registration Officer on 0300 300 0150 as early as possible to discuss their options.

Sandra Black, Returning Officer for Renfrewshire, said: “We recognise that this election is different to all others we will have taken part in and we want to do all we can to ease any reservations that voters may have about polling day.

“Your health and safety has been placed at the forefront of our election planning and the measures we are putting in place will ensure that all our polling stations will be safe places to cast your vote.

“It’s so important that you use your voice and vote in the Scottish Parliamentary election on so please feel confident in visiting our polling stations and have your say in May.”

Polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm on Thursday 6 May, with the count taking place at Braehead Arena on Friday 7 May and Saturday 8 May.

For more information, visit www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/SPElection2021.

Elderslie Village Hall

Three popular community halls across Renfrewshire are set for full refurbishments after councillors approved awarding the £1.6million works contract to City Gate Construction.

The Paisley-based company is expected to start work in May on a wide range of internal and external improvements to Elderslie Village Hall, the McKillop Institute in Lochwinnoch and South End Action Centre in Paisley.

Elderslie Village Hall

Internal improvements include upgraded toilet facilities, new floor finishes and redecoration – providing modern accessible spaces for the varied community groups which use the facilities, from dance and drama classes to craft clubs, toddler groups, yoga sessions and local support groups.

All three facilities will benefit from new roof coverings, with the McKillop roof also incorporating solar panels.

At the McKillop and at Elderslie, the programme of works will also see repairs to external walls.

Replacement doors and windows, electrical rewiring and new alarm systems are also included where required, with the works scheduled for completion later this year.

McKillop Institute

City Gate Construction is an accredited Living Wage employer and the approved contract includes a series of community benefits provided, including two jobs for people currently unemployed and a work experience placement.

The local employer will also host industry awareness events promoting careers in construction and local trades will be invited to a supply chain opportunities event.

South End Action Centre

David Palmer, Commercial Director, City Gate Construction said: “We are genuinely delighted to be taking on this project once the contract is awarded and look forward to continuing our long-term working relationship with Renfrewshire Council.

“As a large local employer, these buildings have been a part of many of our employees’ upbringing and are still an important part of the community for many families in the Renfrewshire area, as well as historically important.

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“We will use our local expertise to deliver a high-quality finish which will enhance the future of these buildings. We are also keen to extend our local employment offering and if any local company or operative is keen to work on these projects, then please do get in touch.”

News of the works have been welcomed by community group Roar, who run activities for older people from community halls in Renfrewshire, focusing on social and physical wellbeing, with exercise, music and quizzes providing an environment for friendships to grow.

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Project worker Anne Morgan said: “Roar Connections for life has been running a group for older adults in the McKillop Institute in Lochwinnoch for more than 12 years and it is a fantastic venue which is central to the village and the refurbishment plans are much needed here. We also use Elderslie Village Hall too and other community halls, our services helping to prevent loneliness and isolation and provide a safe welcoming environment for all service users.

“The older community needs these facilities in order for clubs like Roar to continue and now, more than ever, we need to be able to assist older adults in building their confidence and allow them to stay mobile and stay connected.”

South End Action Centre has been home to the Kathleen Edgar School of Dance ever since the centre first opened.

Kathleen Edgar said: “We’ve been based at South End Action Centre since the very start 40 years ago and over that time, hundreds of children and young people have benefited from this local facility. Our dance school provides a safe, welcoming environment for children to develop their skills, enjoy a healthy activity and build friendships and self-confidence. It’s pleasing to see the centre getting this refurbishment and are looking forward to getting classes back up and running and continuing to provide a valuable resource in the south end of Paisley.”

Elsewhere, surveys are being carried out at Steeple Hall in Kilbarchan to deliver a smaller programme of works upgrading this community facility.

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The journey to transform Paisley Museum into a top cultural destination took a major step forward today (Wed 31 March) as Renfrewshire councillors approved the appointment of the contractor to deliver the £23million main works programme.

Members of the council’s Finance, Resources and Customer Services Policy Board authorised the appointment of Kier Construction Limited as the main works contractor that will transform the A-listed building. Final negotiations will now take place with a view to formally appointing Kier next month. This will result in work beginning on site in early summer with construction likely being completed by late 2022, reopening to the public in 2023.

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This marks a significant milestone in the £42million redevelopment of the museum – the signature project in Paisley’s radical regeneration which also includes refurbishments of the town’s A-listed town hall and a new learning and cultural hub housing library services on the town’s high street.

The museum transformation project is an important part of Paisley’s economic recovery from lockdown both in terms of the on-site activity that will take place during the construction phase and in the increased footfall that will follow when the museum reopens to the public. When Paisley Museum opens its doors it is expected to attract 128,000 visitors each year from Scotland, the UK and overseas and provide a £79million economic boost to the area over the next 30 years.

Paisley Museum Reimagined Project Director, Kirsty Devine, said: “The approval to appoint the main works contractor is an exciting step forward in realising our ambitions of radically transforming this prominent symbol of Paisley’s past for future generations.

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“A great deal of work has taken place behind the scenes over the last year to help realise our vision for the museum and once the contractor is formally appointed and work begins on site in early summer the public will start to see that vision take shape.

“Paisley Museum was founded as a place of learning at the heart of the town and this redevelopment project will preserve that for years to come, while showcasing the town’s globally-significant story like never before.”

The project will not only deliver a cultural facility of significance for Scotland, it will also help transform Paisley’s perception of itself, develop a visitor economy, lead the regeneration of the town centre and once again give Paisley a confident, outward-facing profile to the world.

Senior Curator at the National Galleries of Scotland and Paisley Museum Reimagined Patron, Professor Frances Fowle, said: “It is wonderful that the museum will not only be restored to its former glory, but will be transformed into a world-class venue.  I am excited that Paisley is undergoing this period of cultural Renaissance and am proud to be a Patron of the Paisley Museum Reimagined project.”

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Kier have worked on a number of high-profile heritage construction projects throughout the UK and are currently helping to deliver the refurbishment of The Burrell Collection in Glasgow.

Regional Director of Kier Regional Building North & Scotland, Phil McDowell, said: “The transformation of Paisley Museum is of significant local and national importance and we are looking forward to working with Renfrewshire Council on this project.

“We have extensive experience restoring and reimagining historic cultural buildings and we will work with our local supply chain partners and utilise the very latest digital technologies to transform the museum. We will also engage with the local Paisley community, providing job, training and apprenticeship opportunities as well as working with local organisations as we look to leave a lasting legacy in areas in which we build.”

A programme of community benefits were requested as part of the procurement process. Kier have agreed to offer a number of local employment opportunities, work experience placements, business advice and support to local SMEs, social enterprises and voluntary organisations. They have also made a commitment to ensure that supply chain opportunities are prioritised for Renfrewshire based businesses and pledged to support a local community project.

The redesign of the museum campus, being led by an international team including architects AL_A and exhibition designers Opera Amsterdam, will allow the number of objects on display to be increased by 150%. The designs produced by AL_A radically reimagine the museum and its campus, reshaping it into a cultural hub of discovery, skills development, creativity and innovation. Improvement work will include a new entrance courtyard and entranceway, along with a new west wing, outdoor garden space and an interactive weaving studio.

The museum’s final phase of fundraising is now under way, with the museum website reimagined.paisleymuseum.org showcasing the project’s ambitious vision.

Welcome to Your Vote square

Local people in Renfrewshire are being encouraged to exercise their right to vote at the Scottish Parliament election in May, with foreign nationals able to vote for the first time.

Refugees and other foreign citizens living in Scotland who have leave to remain in the UK, or do not need such permission, can now vote in Scottish Parliament and local council elections.

Welcome to Your Vote square

The Scottish Refugee Council have produced a range of materials, in various languages, to ensure that all foreign citizens are aware of how and why they should vote in May, and that the deadline to register to vote is 19 April.

Sandra Black, Returning Officer for Renfrewshire, said: “It’s important that at the forthcoming election everyone who is able to vote takes the opportunity to have their voice heard.

“Refugees and other foreign citizens living in Scotland who have leave to enter or remain in the UK, or do not need such permission, are now able to vote so I would encourage them to ensure they are registered by 19 April and take part in the election.”

All voters are being urged not to miss the deadline of 5pm on Tuesday 6 April to register for a postal vote.

Application forms are available to be downloaded from the UK Government website and completed forms should be returned to the Electoral Registration Office in Paisley by the 5pm deadline

Kate Crawford, Electoral Registration Officer for Renfrewshire Valuation Joint Board, said: “In the forthcoming election for the Scottish Parliament, you, the voter, have a choice to either vote in person or by post.

“If you would like to vote by post in this election, please ensure you apply by 5pm on the 6th of April . It’s easy to do, just log onto www.renfrewshire-vjb.gov.uk or contact my office ero@renfrewshire-vjb.gov.uk or call us on 0300 300 0150 to arrange.”

Anyone wishing to vote by proxy should have their application in by 5pm on 29 April.

For more information on the election, including what to expect at a polling station on 6 May, please visit: www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/SPelection2021.

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Communities will see grassed areas cut more often and all at once as part of a revised approach to grass cutting in Renfrewshire.

From 5 April, council teams will operate a new fortnightly schedule which will see all grassed services completed at the same time with Renfrewshire is broken down into 14 different areas.

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The new schedule will see open spaces, school playing fields, public parks, cemeteries, as well as the grass and hedge cutting assistance scheme, all carried out in one day.

By focusing the council’s resources into one area each day, this will increase the frequency of grass cutting for each local community and any areas missed will be completed the following day.

Hedge cutting will continue to be provided twice a year and will operate in line with the new grass cutting model, with communities seeing their first cut between mid-May and mid-July and their second cut between mid-August and the end of September.

Ken Gray, Renfrewshire Council’s StreetScene Manager, said: “This will ensure that we focus all our resources correctly and have a fully coordinated grass cutting service for our residents.

“It will allow us to cut the grass more often so I’m looking forward to the new schedule beginning in April.

“It may take time to settle in so I would encourage residents to work with us to resolve any issues in the initial period by reporting them to us as soon as possible.”

Residents can check the council website for details on when teams are due to be in their area, and report any issues with the new service, by visiting www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/grasscutting.

Safer schools

Four Renfrewshire schools will pilot a vehicle exclusion zone during the school run with the aim of improving safety around the school gates for pupil, parents and carers.

The pilot is set to begin on Monday 19 April at Barsail Primary, Lochfield Primary, St Catherine’s Primary and St Charles Primary and will see vehicles unable to enter surrounding streets during restricted times.

Safer schools

On weekdays, between 8.30am and 9.15am and 2.30pm and 3.15pm, vehicles will be unable to enter Brabloch Crescent and Netherhill Road at St Catherine’s, Rowan Street and part of Thrushcraigs Crescent at St Charles and Quarry Road at Lochfield.

The same will apply to Park Moor at Barsail with slightly different times of 8.30am-9.15am and 2.45pm-3.30pm.

Exemptions will be in place for residents within the affected streets and school staff via a permit system, as well as automatic exemptions for blue badge holders, the emergency services, school buses and transport, postal vehicles and other similar essential travel.

The aim of the pilot is to solve congestion issues, reduce emissions, ensure the safety of children around schools, and encourage active travel with pupils walking, wheeling or cycling to school.

Anyone who has to drive to school should park safely away from the school and walk the final part of the journey.

Emma Henry, Head Teacher at St Catherine’s Primary, said: “I’m looking forward to this pilot being introduced as we want to ensure it is as safe as possible for our children to go to and from school every day.

“By stopping vehicles entering these streets during certain times, we will reduce congestion and the risk of accidents, lower pollution levels and create a safer, healthier environment for our pupils to learn in.

“We want our parents and carers to think more about active travel, but above all improve the safety around the school gates during the school run.”

An experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO) will be in place during the pilot and Police Scotland will be able to issue Fixed Penalty Notices to anyone found driving in these streets during the restricted times without a valid exemption.

Significant consultation took place around this project, with feedback received from elected members, head teachers, school staff, parent councils, parents and carers, community organisations and local residents.

This helped shape the design of the pilot, which will be regularly monitored and evaluated throughout, and the council will be seeking further feedback from all stakeholders during the pilot which is set to run until 31 December 2021.

For more information, visit www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/saferschoolspilot.

Additional Information:

Primary School Restriction Times Streets Affected
St Catherine’s, Gallowhill 8.30am – 9.15am Brabloch Crescent and Netherhill Road
2.30pm – 3.15pm
St Charles, Paisley 8.30am – 9.15am Rowan Street and part of Thrushcraigs Crescent
2.30pm – 3.15pm
Lochfield, Paisley 8.30am – 9.15am Quarry Road, Paisley
2.30pm – 3.15pm
Barsail, Erskine
(Note: Different PM time)
8.30am – 9.15am Park Moor
2.45pm – 3.30pm
paisley museum

Next week Renfrewshire councillors will be asked to approve the appointment of the main works contractor for Paisley Museum, marking the next step in transforming the venue into a major cultural destination.

The paper that will be presented to the council’s Finance, Resources and Customer Services Policy Board on 31 March will seek to authorise appointing the £23million main works contract to Kier Construction Limited.

paisley museum

If the paper is approved negotiations will move to the final stage with a view to formally appointing the contractor in the coming weeks. This would result in work beginning on site in early summer with construction likely to be completed by late 2022, reopening to the public in 2023.

A programme of community benefits were requested as part of the procurement process. If approved as the main contractor, Kier Construction Limited have agreed to offer a number of local employment opportunities, work experience placements, business advice and support to local SMEs, social enterprises and voluntary organisations and a commitment to ensure that supply chain opportunities are prioritised for Renfrewshire based businesses.

paisley museum

The £42million redevelopment of the museum is the signature project in Paisley’s radical regeneration which also includes refurbishments of the town’s A-listed town hall and a new learning and cultural hub housing library services on the town’s high street.

Paisley Museum Reimagined Project Director, Kirsty Devine, said: “If the proposed contractor is approved by councillors next week it will enable us to move ahead with plans to realise our ambitious vision for Paisley Museum.

“The redevelopment of the museum provides the perfect opportunity to showcase our internationally significant collections and we’re doing this in collaboration with Renfrewshire communities as well as with partners across the world. The redeveloped museum will be an amazing resource in the heart of Paisley and people should feel rightly proud of that heritage.”

paisley museum

The revamped museum is expected to attract around 128,000 visitors a year when it reopens – creating new footfall and trade for Paisley town centre and supporting new and existing businesses in the surrounding area.

Chair of Paisley First, Colette Cardosi, said: “We welcome what would be a major step forward in the museum redevelopment, a project we know will enhance the reputation of Paisley town centre as a must-visit destination.

“Like everyone who is passionate about the town, it will be great to see real progress at the site and we are looking forward to watching the transformation as the project develops.”

The redesign of the museum campus, being led by an international team including architects AL_A and exhibition designers Opera Amsterdam, will allow the number of objects on display to be increased by 150%.

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Voters in Renfrewshire are being urged not to miss the deadline to register for a postal vote for the Scottish Parliament election in May.

With an expected rise in postal voters, the deadline is earlier than previous elections and voters need to register by 5pm on Tuesday 6 April.

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Polling stations in Renfrewshire will have all the required health and safety measures in place to ensure they are safe places to vote in-person, but voters have the opportunity to vote in advance if they wish.

Application forms can be downloaded from the UK Government website and completed forms should be returned to the Electoral Registration Office in Paisley by the 5pm deadline.

Sandra Black, Returning Officer for Renfrewshire, said: “With the ongoing pandemic, people may wish to take the opportunity to vote by post or proxy for this election and, if so, they should ensure their completed application form is with the Electoral Registration Officer by 5pm on 6 April.

“I want to assure people that we are taking all the necessary precautions to ensure that our polling stations will be safe places to vote and that if you wish to vote in-person then you can do so with confidence.

“It’s important that you have your voice heard so please take five minutes to ensure you are registered to vote and decide which method you would like to use to cast your vote.”

Other deadlines for voters to be aware of include being registered to vote by 19 April and ensure applications for a proxy vote are in by 5pm on 29 April.

Kate Crawford, Electoral Registration Officer for Renfrewshire Valuation Joint Board, said: “In the forthcoming election for the Scottish Parliament, you, the voter, have a choice to either vote in person or by post.

“If you would like to vote by post in this election, please ensure you apply by 5pm on the 6th of April . It’s easy to do, just log onto www.renfrewshire-vjb.gov.uk or contact my office ero@renfrewshire-vjb.gov.uk or call us on 0300 300 0150 to arrange.”

For more information on the election, including what to expect at a polling station on 6 May, please visit: www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/SPelection2021.

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Renfrewshire’s Provost, Lorraine Cameron, has thanked the NHS, key workers and the Renfrewshire community for their efforts during the past year, as Renfrewshire takes part in a National Day of Reflection on Tuesday 23 March.

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The National Day of Reflection, organised by Marie Curie to mark the anniversary of the first UK lockdown, allows the community to come together and reflect on collective loss, support those who’ve been bereaved and hope for a brighter future.

Renfrewshire residents are asked to take part in a minute’s silence at 12 noon, and to shine a light from their doorsteps at 8pm in a moment of reflection.

Prominent landmarks across Renfrewshire will also be lit to remember those who have lost their lives during the pandemic.

Provost Cameron said: “The past year has had an impact on all of us and I have been so proud of how our community has come together to support one another during this time. I have seen first-hand how community groups, local businesses and volunteers have worked together to deliver essential food and medicine, lift spirits, and help tackle loneliness and isolation. Thank you so much for all your efforts – we have been so grateful for your support.

“I’d like to extend a special thank you to all NHS staff, key workers and council staff across Renfrewshire for their unwavering dedication and energy that has gone in to keeping us all safe. Your efforts have been heroic, putting the needs of others before your own and I cannot thank you enough.”

Provost Cameron also plans to dedicate a permanent memorial in Hawkhead Cemetery to pay tribute to every life that has been lost during the pandemic, no matter the cause. The memorial, developed in partnership with Steven Cameron Funeral Directors and McPherson Memorials, will be in place from mid-April.

Provost Cameron said: “While we reflect on our collective loss today, I wanted to ensure Renfrewshire had a permanent memorial to pay tribute to those who have lost their lives.

“I know many of you will have been unable to say a final goodbye to those you loved, and many of you will be struggling with your grief. Every death in our community has been devastating.

“I know this does not ease the pain and loss felt by the community, but I hope this will be a place everyone can visit to remember their loved ones.”