Overwhelming support for refugees at Bearsden public meeting

Overwhelming support for refugees at Bearsden public meeting

INFORMATION on refugees coming to East Dunbartonshire has been welcomed by MSP Rona Mackay at a public meeting in Bearsden.

The Strathkelvin and Bearsden MSP questioned officials from East Dunbartonshire Council on Thursday night in Bearsden Hub. Save the Children also held a presentation revealing the circumstances facing refugees fleeing Syria.

Officials in charge revealed it would take around two weeks to process the case load from the Home Office and then another six to eight weeks for the refugees to arrive.

Families will be housed by a mixture of housing association and council stock in the area. However, the four child refugees – aged between 12 and 18 – will be settled in a care facility with 24-hour staffing, with a view of homing them with families in the future.

Ms Mackay said: “The attendance of the meeting in Bearsden Hub mirrors the overwhelming support the people here have for helping people fleeing war in Syria. There is a lot of compassion and enthusiasm for helping the integration process.

“What was also clear from the meeting is the will the attendees had for resettling more families making the dreadful exodus from Syria.

“Obviously, there are concerns with housing stock in the area but I hope the new council can move on with a view of extending this resettlement programme like many other local authorities in Scotland have done.

“While the enthusiasm is welcomed, I want to echo views of the council and public that we cannot overwhelm the families and young people coming here – because what they have been forced to go through is nightmarish.  We must respect their privacy and vulnerability as they enter this new environment.

“I would like to thank the council for arranging this meeting and for the work they have done so far in helping the people coming here, it was very powerful to hear from Save the Children.”

ENDS

Rona questions First Minister on plans to attract investment to Scotland

Rona questions First Minister on plans to attract investment to Scotland

MSP Rona Mackay has questioned the First Minister about plans to reach out beyond Scotland’s borders and bring jobs and economic growth to Scotland.

During First Minister’s Question Time on Thursday, the Strathkelvin and Bearsden MSP told how Scotland has a great record in attracting investment.

She then asked if Nicola Sturgeon could provide “an update on inward investment and plans to reach out beyond our borders to attract jobs and growth to Scotland?”

Ms Sturgeon answered telling how due to Brexit uncertainty, it is important to talk up business prospects in Scotland to potential investors around the world.

Ms Mackay said: “I am very pleased to have asked the First Minister for an update on what we’re doing to promote Scotland as an international investment opportunity.

“Amid these uncertain times Brexit is generating, we must ensure the world knows Scotland is still open for business – and is a quality and lucrative place to invest in.

“Scotland will also benefit from Nicola Sturgeon’s trip to the United States, where she is focusing on bringing jobs and business to Scotland.”

In her reply, the First Minister put forward the need to promote Scotland as an investment opportunity to companies around the world.

She emphasised how Scotland is “considered as a prime business location for global companies looking for a foothold in and access to Europe”.

During an upcoming visit to the United States, she is set to be “focused on creating jobs, opportunities and economic links for Scotland”.

She said: “The Ernst & Young attractiveness survey is published regularly and in the most recent one it highlighted the fact that we have a record level of investment projects in Scotland.

“For some years now we have seen that Scotland is the most successful part of the UK for inward investment outside of London and the south east.

“We have to work ever harder to continue that success, given the implications of Brexit. That is why we have been taking action, for example, by establishing investment hubs in Dublin, London and Berlin.”

ENDS

FULL EXCHANGE ON 30/3/17

Rona Mackay (Strathkelvin and Bearsden) (SNP):

Scotland has a great record in attracting investment—second only to London in recent years. Can the First Minister provide an update on inward investment and plans to reach out beyond our borders to attract jobs and growth to Scotland?

The First Minister:

It is really important, particularly now, that we give a message that Scotland is open for business. We continue to be considered as a prime business location for global companies looking for a foothold in and access to Europe. Just yesterday I was able to visit Genpact in Glasgow to announce its growth and expansion plans, which involve more than 300 new jobs for the city of Glasgow. I hope that everyone across the chamber will welcome that.

The Ernst & Young attractiveness survey is published regularly and in the most recent one it highlighted the fact that we have a record level of investment projects in Scotland. For some years now we have seen that Scotland is the most successful part of the UK for inward investment outside of London and the south east. We have to work ever harder to continue that success, given the implications of Brexit. That is why we have been taking action, for example, by establishing investment hubs in Dublin, London and Berlin.

Next week I will undertake a series of engagements in the United States, focused on creating jobs, opportunities and economic links for Scotland. Notwithstanding all the challenges that we face that are not of our making, we will continue to focus on doing everything that we can to bring jobs and investment to Scotland.

 

 

Rona: Scots deserve a choice – Tory Brexit or self-governance?

Rona: Scots deserve a choice – Tory Brexit or self-governance?

MSP Rona Mackay has released a statement after successfully voting in favour of an independence referendum. 

On Tuesday, March 28, the Strathkelvin and Bearsden MSP said:

“I voted in favour of giving the ordinary people a choice on their future – the two paths that lie ahead are too important for any politician to decide on.

“The UK’s exit from the EU is predicted to have earth-shattering consequences for Scotland – with tens of thousands of jobs projected to be lost. Among the concerns, huge societal changes about what sort of nation we wish to be.

“The Scottish Parliament has voted for a referendum in two years time. The electorate must be allowed to choose between decades of Tory rule after a hard Brexit or controlling their own destiny as a self-determining nation.

“I echo calls that Theresa May and her government must respect the Scottish Parliament and allow the people to choose between charting our own course or remaining in Tory post-Brexit Britain.”

MSP Rona appeals for constituents to use Council Tax Reduction scheme as rates rise

MSP Rona appeals for constituents to use Council Tax Reduction scheme as rates rise

MSP Rona Mackay is appealing to her constituents to make use of the Council Tax Reduction scheme as bills are set to rise.

Householders in bands E to H will face a higher rate and the basic rate will increase by three per cent in East Dunbartonshire.

The Council Tax Reduction scheme allows for members of the public to apply for a discount should they be facing tough circumstances and struggle to meet the bills.

Ms Mackay said: “After a decade of unchanged council tax bills it is time for a small increase to pay for the upkeep of vital frontline services. From roads, bin collection, parks, schools and much, much more – they all rely on funding from the council tax.

“The council tax freeze has helped so many people across Scotland, keeping bills affordable during very dark economic times, while also ensuring services are funded. It is a record the SNP government can be incredibly proud of.

“The SNP government has ensured no one is thrown into hardship by these increases and created the Council Tax Reduction scheme that any taxpayer can apply for. This was created after the Tory government got rid of a similar scheme that covered the UK – we refused to follow this, however.

“The people of East Dunbartonshire, and indeed the whole of Scotland, get a very good deal – we are still the lowest taxed country in the United Kingdom with the most efficient public services and positives like free education, free prescriptions, free childcare, free care for the elderly, free bus passes, free museum entry and so much more.”

ENDS

Apply for the CTR:


Scottish vs English council tax rates:

  Band A Band B Band C Band D Band E Band F Band G Band H
Average current bill £766 £894 £1,021 £1,149 £1,404 £1,660 £1,915 £2,298
Average reformed bill £766 £894 £1,021 £1,149 £1,510 £1,867 £2,250 £2,815
Difference £0 £0 £0 £0 £106 £207 £335 £517
England £1,020 £1,190 £1,360 £1,530 £1,870 £2,210 £2,550 £3,060

 

MSP Rona Mackay: Bank closure will affect elderly, disabled and vulnerable

MSP Rona Mackay: Bank closure will affect elderly, disabled and vulnerable

THE UPCOMING closure of the RBS branch in Bishopbriggs will leave some without vital banking services in their community, MSP Rona Mackay has said.

RBS Bishopbriggs is set to be shut down as the bank announced a raft of closures across Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Ms Mackay has highlighted the needs of constituents who do not have access to the Internet and are not able to travel far, such as the elderly and disabled. She is now writing to RBS to urge support for the customers who rely on the branch and the staff who face losing their jobs.

The Strathkelvin and Bearsden MSP said: “I am very unhappy at the closure of RBS in Bishopbriggs when I consider the needs of my elderly, disabled and vulnerable constituents who are unable or do not have the know-how or means to access online banking.

“I have written to RBS Bishopbriggs and urged they put in place provisions to help those who rely on face-to-face service in the branch adapt to the upcoming changes as a result of the closure. I have urged the bank supports its local staff who are losing jobs as they find new employment.

“I understand why RBS has had to make what is clearly a tough decision – the changing market place of banking has dramatically decreased the need for most people to visit the bank in person. It is inevitable banks will react to this change in habit.

“What I will say to those who may be effected by this, and to their friends and family, is to plan ahead and find out where the next closest branch is and how to get there. I would encourage people to make use of internet banking via their computer or smartphone if they have the means.”

ENDS

Notes to reporters

Refugees should be given ‘warm welcome’ to East Dunbartonshire

Refugees should be given ‘warm welcome’ to East Dunbartonshire

A WARM welcome should be given to refugees upon their arrival in East Dunbartonshire, MSP Rona Mackay has said.

It follows the announcement of a public meeting in Bearsden on March 30 to provide information on the arrival of four Syrian families and four unaccompanied child refugees from Calais.

The Strathkelvin and Bearsden SNP MSP will be attending the public meeting prior to assisting in community-based integration efforts.

Ms Mackay said:

“At long last, I am glad we can finally give those innocent victims of war a warm welcome to East Dunbartonshire.

“The families and children who have fled war and awful circumstances will be very vulnerable at this stressful time for them – so it is important we respect their privacy.

“There is a lot the public can do to help and I will be attending the upcoming meeting with a view of assisting in a community welcome group with Twechar Healthy Living Centre.”

The meeting will take place in Bearsden Hub on Thursday, March 30 from 6.30pm to 8.30pm. It will include a presentation from Save the Children and an overview of the Syrian Resettlement Programme and the Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children Programme.

Those interested in attending the East Dunbartonshire Council meeting must book a free ticket at: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/preparing-for-refugee-arrivals-registration-32844786641

ENDS

Scotland’s only escape route from Tory Brexit must not be blocked

Scotland’s only escape route from Tory Brexit must not be blocked

MSP Rona Mackay has spoken out after Theresa May turned down calls for an independence referendum in Scotland.

The SNP has said trust must be placed with the Scottish electorate to choose between independence or a hard Tory Brexit.

Ms Mackay said: “It is shocking that Theresa May is willing to block Scotland’s only escape route from her shambolic and divisive Brexit plans. Should she go down this road, it would be a democratic outage to the people of Scotland.

“No one in Scotland is saying we should have a referendum right away – in fact it is following a timetable where the European Commission and the UK insist we would know the terms of Britain leaving the EU. It is the logical time for the Scottish electorate to decide on its future.

“The SNP was elected to power in Scotland last year on the pledge it would seek an independence referendum should we be dragged out of the European Union against our will. We will not be stopped by an insecure Prime Minister, who clearly fears the people of Scotland deciding they would like to govern themselves.”

ENDS

Rona: Play is not a luxury for children — it is essential for health and well-being

Rona: Play is not a luxury for children — it is essential for health and well-being

I thank my colleague Ruth Maguire for bringing this important debate to the chamber.

Children have a right to play, as enshrined in article 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, but the issue is about much more than that: we all know that play is what teaches our children social skills, how to compromise and how to be tolerant and resilient. Play is the universal language of childhood. Even young animals play: we buy toys for our dogs, cats, rabbits and hamsters. The benefits of play in the developing years simply cannot be overstated.

However, not all children are lucky enough to be given encouragement to play or to be bought toys that most children come to expect. As a former children’s panel member, I have seen children who were so neglected and starved of attention that they had to be taught how to play. It was then that I realised what an important part of a child’s development play is.

Since 1998, the benefits of Play Scotland’s inclusive strategic approach have been significant. It aims to ensure that no child is left out. The play charter challenges barriers and ensures that discrimination and stigma based on age, gender, disability, ethnicity, poverty or low income have no place in affecting children’s play experiences, so that all children feel included.

As was outlined by Brian Whittle, the benefit of play to the physical, emotional and mental health of children and young people is immense. Through play, they are able to develop social skills and responsibility, to appreciate the environment and to participate in sports, art and culture. That grows their identity and self-esteem and, in turn, makes them less likely to offend and to engage in antisocial behaviour in later life.

I welcome the positive development that we have heard about, which builds on the Scottish Government’s national play strategy and the getting it right for every child approach to supporting children, young people and their families.

The play charter’s commitment to training adults so that they can support high-quality play experiences in a variety of places where children play is also positive. Those places include nurseries and childcare venues, schools, children’s services facilities, out-of-school clubs and holiday schemes. The approach works to ensure high-quality play experiences across key areas that contribute to children’s development and growth, and which affect their daily life experiences.

The play charter supports children’s participation in the planning, development and evaluation of play services, recognising them as play experts and seeking out their views. Of course, that ensures that children and young people are engaged and that the play charter is reflective of their interests and needs. Play Scotland’s campaigning through the play charter to ensure that play is more strongly embedded within policies, strategies and key qualifications is welcome with regard to making sure that we get it right for every child.

We must all encourage children to play, and we must create the correct environments—indoors and outdoors—where they can do that. Play is not a luxury for our children—in my view, it is essential to the health and wellbeing of future generations.

I wish Play Scotland continued success in its campaign and would be happy to be a play champion. I wish it well in its attempts to raise awareness of the benefits of play and of providing inclusive play experiences for children across Scotland.

MSP Rona Mackay will vote for new independence referendum

MSP Rona Mackay will vote for new independence referendum

 

STRATHKELVIN MSP Rona Mackay will back an independence referendum to protect Scotland from decades of Tory rule in post-Brexit Britain.

The SNP MSP believes a hard Brexit would have “disastrous” consequences for Scotland’s economy and society.

Scotland’s “hand had been forced” following the UK Government’s refusal to listen to compromises from the Scottish Government regarding Brexit.

It follows First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announcing the Scottish Government is seeking approval from Holyrood on a referendum on Scottish independence.

She warned that Brexit will set Scotland on a course that would “change the very nature the society and country we are”.

Ms Mackay said: “The future of Scotland is now at stake as we face a chaotic departure from the European Union and its single market, under a hardline Tory government in Westminster. We did not ask for this situation; Scotland’s hand has been forced.

“The rational requests from Scotland regarding Brexit have not even been listened to – and the Scottish Government is being left in the dark about very simple details, like when Article 50 will be triggered.

“Being ripped out of the EU and the single market will be disastrous for Scotland’s economy – locking in lower living standards and costing up to, if not more than, 70,000 Scottish jobs.

“But not just the economy, we are at a turning point where we can embrace a Britain mutating into something unrecognisable under Tory Brexit, or continue to build Scotland as an outward-looking and principled nation.

“I will be voting to give the people of Scotland a say on whether they accept or reject the upcoming dark decades of post-Brexit Tory rule that the Scottish electorate did not vote for.”

ENDS

NOTES TO REPORTER:

The plan for Scotland has three parts:

(1) The Scottish Government will do all it can to protect Scotland’s interests during the UK’s negotiations to leave the EU.

(2) When the terms of Brexit are known we will give the people the choice over the direction Scotland should take – before it is too late to change course.  So between autumn 2018 and spring 2019.

(3) Before people make that choice the Scottish Government will set out the challenges and opportunities of independence. In particular, it will set out how to secure our relationship with Europe, build a stronger economy, a fairer society, and forge a genuine partnership of equals across these islands.