tinsel walk

Get in the festive spirit and step out for Renfrewshire’s tinsel walk

Local people are being urged to put their best foot forward and get in the festive spirit for Renfrewshire’s annual tinsel walk.

The walk will jingle all the way around the outskirts of Lochwinnoch on Wednesday 12 December at 11am.

It’s suited to everyone and while there may be a few small inclines – walkers can go at their own pace.

Don’t forget to bring some tinsel and your singing voices to enjoy some carols as you go.

tinsel walkCouncillor Iain McMillan, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Community and Family Care Policy Board, said: “The annual tinsel walk is a wonderful opportunity for local people to get into the festive spirit while getting active at the same time.

“Walking is an excellent form of exercise and gives you the chance to socialise too, so don your walking shoes and head along.

“The tinsel walk will move at a fairly easy pace so everyone is more than welcome to join the walkers as they enjoy the views and fresh air that Lochwinnoch has to offer.”

The walk will meet at Castle Semple Visitor Centre, Lochwinnoch at 11am on Wednesday 12 December.

Further information is available from Senga McLeod, walking development officer at senga.mcleod@renfrewshire.gov.uk or on  0141 842 3000.

Councillor Iain Mcillan, West PS pupils and The Skoobs

Pupils have monster day out at book giveaway

A group of Paisley schoolchildren got their hands on a pack of free kids’ books – and had a brush with some friendly monsters along the way!

The P1 pupils from West Primary were at the town’s Central Library to each receive a family pack featuring the three titles shortlisted for this year’s Scottish Children’s Book Awards.

The giveaway, courtesy of the Scottish Book Trust, took place as part of Book Week Scotland and has seen Renfrewshire Libraries gift the pack to every local P1 pupil.

And the event also marked the launch of The Skoobs – Renfrewshire Libraries’ new mascots – a group of friendly creatures who live among the books.

The West Primary pupils were treated to a reading from library staff and also met some giant life-size Skoobs.

They were joined by Councillor Ian McMillan, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Community and Family Care Policy Board.

Councillor McMillan said: “One of the council’s key priorities is to equip the area’s children with skills they will need in life, such as a good level of literacy.

“Getting them interested in reading at an early age is a key part of that, and we are grateful to the Scottish Book Trust for enabling us to give away these great books.

“Renfrewshire Libraries have loads for children of all ages, such as a wide selection of books, a range of computer equipment, and regular events.

“If they don’t already do so, I would encourage pupils, parents and teachers to find out what their local library has to offer.”

Throughout November, any Primary One classes visiting a local library have received a free joining pack for each child.

This contains an ‘I love my library’ fluorescent bag, a leaflet with information on how to join, and a usb device containing videos of top children’s authors reading from their books.

The device also promotes the new website for children, teachers and parents at www.renfrewshirelibraries.info

The three books given away in the Bookbug pack are Jack and the Flumflum Tree by Julia Donaldson, Solomon Crocodile by Catherine Rayner, and The Day Louis Got Eaten by John Fardell.

You can also find out what’s on at your local library by following Renfrewshire Libraries on Facebook.

Renfrewshire_Council_ezg_1

Planning blueprint set to be unveiled

The masterplan which will govern how Renfrewshire’s land is used over the next five years is set to be unveiled to the public.

Councillors on Renfrewshire Council’s Planning and Economic Development Policy Board have agreed that a draft version of the Renfrewshire Local Development Plan will be published for consultation early in the new year.

Renfrewshire_Council_ezg_1The proposed plan sets out which areas of land within Renfrewshire are suitable for different types of development – for example, residential, retail or industrial use.

The finalised document will be used as a guide for future planning decisions.

The draft version will be subject to a six-week consultation as of 14 January, where the public can make representations in support of or objecting to any part of it.

Copies of the proposed plan will be available at council headquarters in Paisley, at all council libraries, and online at www.renfrewshire.gov.uk

Councillor Terry Kelly, Convener of the Planning and Economic Development Policy Board, said: “The proposed Local Development Plan is intended to help make the area a more attractive place to live, do business and visit.

“The plan aims to provide high-quality places with land in the right locations to encourage investment, create sustainable communities and help tackle climate change.

“Equally importantly, it identifies areas which, for various reasons, should not be considered for major development, or need explicit protection for their conservation value.

“The process is designed to be transparent and key to that is for people to have the chance to voice their opinions on the contents of the document, which is why I would encourage residents to take part in this consultation.”

Renfrewshire is required to produce an updated local plan every five years, which must fit in with the Strategic Development Plan for the Glasgow and Clyde Valley area.

Council planners have been working on the new version of the document since last year and have already received a substantial amount of feedback.

Renfrewshire_Council_ezg_1

£250,000 playpark improvement work revealed

Sixteen Renfrewshire playparks are set to share in a cash bonanza of a quarter of a million pounds.

A programme of improvements – including resurfacing and the introduction of new play and sports equipment – will be carried out at various sites around the area.

The £250,000 investment was agreed by councillors earlier this year, and priority sites were identified according to need.

Details of the planned work have now been agreed, with seven sites chosen for major renovation work.

Renfrewshire_Council_ezg_1They are: Thomas Shanks Park, Johnstone; Barwood Park, Erskine; Robertson Car Park, Paisley; Kintyre Park, Linwood; Inchinnan Playing Field; Craigburn Avenue, Houston; and Howwood Park.

The work set to be carried out includes new surfaces, the removal of old equipment, and installation of new facilities ranging from swings and roundabouts to outdoor fitness equipment.

An extra site, at Urquhart Crescent, Renfrew, will receive a new multi-activity unit and surface if funding allows.

Eight other sites have also been earmarked for minor improvement and maintenance work: Crags Road, East End Park, Glencoats Park, Maxwellton Park and Skye Crescent, all Paisley; Anne Avenue and Campbell Street, both Renfrew; and Ellerslie Street, Johnstone.

Councillor Jim Harte, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Environment and Infrastructure Policy Board, said: “Play areas offer our young people the chance to develop active lifestyles at an early age.

“Currently, the council owns or maintains 94 play areas throughout Renfrewshire, offering a diverse range of equipment, for young and older children.

“While many of these facilities have an excellent choice of equipment in good condition, there are some which require substantial investment, which is why we have identified these as priority areas.

“Through the Local Area Committees, the council will continue to support communities to develop and upgrade their local play areas.”

The work is due to start early in the new year and is planned to be completed by the end of March.

For more information please visit www.renfrewshire.gov.uk

council wardens

Emissions blitz nets four offenders

A two-day crackdown on dodgy cars which damage the environment saw Renfrewshire Council workers net four offenders.

Staff from the Renfrewshire Wardens Service took to the streets of Paisley town centre to check whether vehicle emissions were within the legal requirements.

Of the 281 vehicles tested, four failed and were issued with £60 fixed-penalty notices.

Also present were staff from the council’s licensing section, who inspected 13 taxis and 20 private-hire vehicles – with one driver given an immediate suspension for failing the emissions test.

Licensing staff also issued six compliance notices to cabbies for a range of defects including worn tyre treads, blown bulbs and missing fire extinguishers.

The tests – at Wallneuk, Renfrew Road, Paisley – were carried out in partnership with officers from Strathclyde Police’s Road Policing Unit, who were responsible for pulling over the vehicles from traffic.

Councillor Chris Gilmour, Deputy Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Environment and Infrastructure Policy Board, visited the testing site to see the operation in action.

He said: “The aim of this campaign was to issue a highly-visible reminder to drivers that it is up to them to ensure their vehicle’s condition complies with the law.

“The fact more than 98 per cent of vehicles passed the emissions test shows that Renfrewshire’s motorists take that responsibility seriously.

“Vehicle emissions which are outwith the legal limit are liable to pollute the air we all breathe, which brings with it various potential health risks.

“The job of the wardens is to make sure Renfrewshire is a greener and cleaner place to live, and preventing damage to the environment is a key part of that.”

All drivers fined on the day will have the penalty waived if they are able to produce evidence the emissions problem has been fixed within 14 days of the offence.

The police also detected a number of minor road offences during the testing, including vehicle defects and seatbelt violations.

All drivers were also given a council leaflet containing information on the problems caused by vehicle idling.

Picture one (from left to right): Martin Brier, civic enforcement officer; Jeanette Love, senior warden; Councillor Chris Gilmour; Andy Redmond, environmental protection officer; PC Sandra Ewing; with Eric Gilday, senior warden (front).

Picture two: Jeanette and Eric test one vehicle’s emissions.

For more information please visit Renfrewshire Council.

renfrewshire council

Renfrewshire residents offered support on benefit cuts

Renfrewshire residents are being urged to prepare now for major welfare reforms which could see them lose out on benefits.

Renfrewshire Council is launching a range of measures to help local residents prepare for the impact of changes being made to the benefits system by the UK Government under their Welfare Reform programme.

Councillor Mike Holmes, Renfrewshire Council’s Welfare Reform spokesperson, said: “The huge benefit changes being brought in by the UK Government are seriously worrying and what we’re particularly concerned about is that people don’t know about the changes or aren’t going to find out early enough for them to prepare.

“That’s why we’re taking action to raise awareness and provide as much information about the changes as possible, as soon as possible.

“We’re also keen to work with our partners wherever possible to support local residents so the Welfare Reform summit in December will be an important opportunity for local organisations to get together and discuss a joined up approach.”

Working age people in Renfrewshire could lose as much as £22million in benefits as a result of welfare reform.

The council is hosting two events in December, including a Welfare Reform summit with partner organisations, such as housing associations and advice providers, whose clients will also be affected in order to explore ways of working together to help local people.

The second event will be a Make the Most of Your Money Day in Paisley Town Hall on Thursday 13 December which will offer members of the public a chance to come along and speak to a range of experts and organisations about benefits, debt and money advice.

Information about the imminent changes will also be provided on the council’s website and social media sites, and staff training is being carried out to ensure key groups of council employees can advise the public of changes that might affect them and where they can get support.

The customer contact centre within the council’s headquarters is also being revamped to create more space to cope with anticipated increase in demand for services from the public.

In addition, eight young unemployed people have been taken on as trainees to provide further support for housing tenants affected by benefit changes. Over the next few weeks, the council will be sending leaflets to tenants expected to be affected by new housing benefit rules, often known as ‘under-occupancy rules’ or ‘bedroom tax’.

These rules will mean people in social rented accommodation who the government believes have more rooms than they need will have their housing benefit cut. In many cases this means the amount of housing benefit they receive will no longer cover their rent.

Councillor Tommy Williams, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Housing and Community Safety Policy Board, said: “We’re sending leaflets to our tenants who are going to be affected by under-occupancy rules set to come into effect in April.

“This change alone is expected to affect more than 3000 households in Renfrewshire and could see more than £1.8million in housing benefit lost locally so it’s vital that we start to speak to our tenants now about what options are available to them.

The changes being brought in under Welfare Reform are largely aimed at people of working age, rather than pensioners.

To find out more about the changes go to www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/benefitchanges

Renfrewshire_TeamoftheYear

Renfrewshire Council’s procurement team is celebrating after staff won three prestigious awards at their industry Oscars – at both UK and Scottish level.

The team – which oversees the council’s purchasing needs – lifted the Team of the Year and Leadership of the Year titles at the Government Opportunities Awards Scotland last month.

They then followed it up by winning the Outstanding Achievement in Procurement for a Unitary Authority honour at the Society of Procurement Officers in Local Government Awards in London.

Renfrewshire_TeamoftheYearRenfrewshire Council established its procurement team in 2009, and since then has delivered savings of around £4 million by introducing more efficient practices.

Councillor Michael Holmes, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s General Management and Finance Policy Board, who attended the GO Awards ceremony in Glasgow, said: “It is of the utmost importance the council gets value for taxpayer money in all its dealings.

“The council spends more than £200 million a year on a massive range of goods and services from thousands of different suppliers, both big and small.

“The job of the corporate procurement unit is to co-ordinate all contracts and spending as efficiently as possible.

“For the team to be recognised by their peers – and not just in Scotland but at a UK level too – is testament to how well they are doing. I would like to congratulate them on these awards.

“In these tough economic times, it is a real boost that we have been able to save
£4 million, which can then be reinvested elsewhere.”

The submissions for both awards outlined how the council has made savings well in excess of targets by introducing new ways of working over the past three years.

The corporate procurement unit’s innovative structure – with one centralised team dealing with all council spending – is considered rare within local government.

Ends

For more information, call Colin Orr, Renfrewshire Council Communications Unit, on 0141 618 7348.

For regular updates on local news and events follow @RenCouncilNews on Twitter or our page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/renfrewshirecouncil.

Paisley photographs of Paisley Christmas lights 2012

Paisley Photographs of the Paisley Christmas Lights 2012

Paisley was transformed into a winter wonderland as the town’s spectacular Christmas lights celebration took place on Saturday.

Chart stars Stooshe were the grand finale to a fantastic day as a record crowd of 38,000 crammed into the town centre.

Cold temperatures and rain showers didn’t put families off enjoying the full day of events, kickstarted by Buddie’s Elf Parade from the Piazza Shopping Centre at noon.

All Paisley Photographs taken by Scott Williamson and has kindly given permission to paisley.org.uk to use them.

LtoR Alex Hamilton_ Joanna Boddy_ Liz Snodgrass and Bob Leslie

Renfrewshire social worker wins top award

Liz Snodgrass, from Renfrewshire Council, has won the first ever Wilma MacDonald Mental Health Officer (MHO) of the Year Award.

The Scottish Association of Social Work (SASW) set up the award in honour of Wilma MacDonald, a Mental Health Officer who worked in the East End of Glasgow for many years. Wilma died in 2010.

LtoR Alex Hamilton_ Joanna Boddy_ Liz Snodgrass and Bob Leslie

Liz was nominated by her colleagues in the MHO Service at Renfrewshire Council. She said, “It’s a great honour and privilege to receive this award, especially as it’s supported by the MacDonald family. Working as an MHO can be very challenging and the support and understanding of colleagues is an essential ingredient in making sure the decisions reached help the individual service user.

“There is a lot of work to do in the area of mental health, not least to try and minimise the stigma of mental illness and to continue to improve the quality of life, and the lifespan, of people who suffer from mental illness. MHOs can and do make a difference in society and it’s great that the SASW has taken the first steps in recognising this.”

Councillor Iain McMillan, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Community and Family Care Policy Board, said, “This is welcome recognition for Liz personally and for Renfrewshire Council’s Social Work Service.

“Liz is a passionate advocate for the people who use our services. She goes the extra mile to protect people’s rights and puts the individual at the centre of her work. She is an excellent team player and a supportive colleague.

“Importantly, Liz is also keen to pass on her knowledge and best practice. She has been a tutor on the MHO training course and is currently a Practice Assessor. Renfrewshire Council’s goal is to ensure that the Social Work Service is staffed by well qualified and well motivated people and Liz is a shining example.”

Liz’ nomination highlighted an example of her work in dealing with an elderly man on a Guardianship Order. His benefits had built up while he was in hospital but his care home had claimed the money in fees. She navigated a complex system and sought the help of the Office for the Public Guardian, the Care Inspectorate and the Mental Welfare Commission to make sure the care home repaid the money.

www.renfrewshire.gov.uk

Paisley Photographs of the Paisley Christmas Lights Switch on 2012

Paisley on the web volunteers were in almost every area of the town for photographs, covering everything from the Santa Claus Parade by the Piazza Shopping Centre to travelling on the open top bus, giving a quite unique angle to the town. We also covered all the events on stage and got some unique shots from the Piazza roof later on during the Lights Switch On. All Paisley Photographs were taken by Alex Kyle for www.paisley.org.uk 

You can find more photographs on the Paisley Facebook Page by clicking here, or to find out more about Alex please click here.