1 Jun 2011

Paisley Daily Express - 1 June 2011

Linwood - Tesco
I have been contacted by a number of constituents who were worried about rumours that the Tesco development would not go ahead. Local people are quite right to feel anxious given the way Linwood has been messed about on a new town centre. I have contacted the Director of Planning at Renfrewshire Council to seek assurances.
The Director has told me that he has had recent meetings with senior Tesco management and "they have given me no reason to suspect that there is any intention to delay or cancel plans to redevelop the town centre." He went on to say that the demolition should begin imminently and the building work should start by the Autumn.
I will work closely with Jim Sheridan MP and Councillor Anne Hall to make sure that the Council keeps on top of Tesco. Linwood has waited long enough.

Nuclear Energy
The decision by the German Government to phase out nuclear energy, has stimulated again the debate about Scotland’s nuclear power plants. There is no doubt that the disaster at Fukushima in Japan has forced a major reappraisal about the safety of nuclear power plants. The Scottish Government has a highly ambitious target of generating 100 per cent of Scotland’s electricity needs from renewables by 2020. Some experts argue that this is unrealistic.
I also listened to a leading energy expert who questioned reliance on wind turbines. He pointed to the problems faced in Germany during a hot summer in 2003. What we need is an informed debate. We need the equivalent of a Royal Commission on Energy production to look at the safety of nuclear power, the problems and cost if waste disposal, how we generate base load requirements and whether the renewable budget is both achievable and capable of delivering consistent supplies.
We can’t afford to get this wrong and politicians need to make an informed choice, free from party politics.

Reliable buses
Before the election, and since, I have been contacted by constituents who complain about the availability of bus services in the local area. There is no doubt that regular, affordable and reliable buses are vital for many communities across Renfrewshire. This issue was raised by Scottish Labour during the recent campaign.
Alex Salmond and the SNP have changed their stance on demanding a regulated bus service. Perhaps Alex Salmond was influenced by the £500, 000 election donation given to the SNP by Brian Souter, the owner of Stagecoach? Mr Souter and other major operators are vehemently opposed to a regulated service.
We can see the consequences locally. Stagecoach has withdrawn most of its services from Howwood which has angered many local people. When I contacted Stagecoach I was told that "the economics of the routes cannot sustain this additional cost." I was referred to Strathclyde Passenger Transport. This highlights the need for powers to ensure that bus operators commit to local services. We cannot leave this to the market. Too many people rely on buses for politicians to ignore their needs.

Cemetery Disgrace
I have been contacted by a number of people who are angry and upset at the way Renfrewshire Council is behaving towards families who want to bury a loved one who has just died. Many people purchased lairs years ago believing that husbands and wives would be able to be buried together. You can imagine the upset and grief when families try to arrange burial only to be told that Council rules now forbid this to happen. The Council has tried to blame Government rules, but it’s quite clear that the decision is a local one taken by the SNP/Lib Dem administration. The Council claims that in these cases there is no room, yet over the years a similar number of bodies have been interred in other lairs. This is a heartless bureaucratic decision and one which could be overturned if Councillors had the will.
The last thing bereaved families want to hear if that their mother can’t be buried beside their father, despite buying a family lair. The Council should think again.