15 Jun 2011

Paisley Daily Express - 15 June 2011

Teachers left outside the classroom
I am saddened that a new report has said that nearly 80% of newly qualified teachers are not finding work, many here in Renfrewshire. The previous SNP Government failed to tackle the problem of teacher unemployment. The new SNP Government must now address this problem head on.  We need  to see fully qualified teachers in our classrooms. The SNP Government need to put at the top of their agenda the issue of newly qualified teachers who can’t find work.  The inaction of the SNP to help the teaching workforce, now, and in the previous four years, is not just bad for teachers and  parents but ultimately our children. The SNP just don’t make the grade when it comes to teachers and the education of our children and young people.

M74 Extension
The new  M74 is to open next month almost 8 months ahead of schedule The decision to approve the M74 was controversial  at the time.
The new motorway will have a huge impact in the quality of life of those in Renfrewshire and beyond. I have always supported the extension.  If anyone has attempted to drive over the Kingston Bridge you will understand, and it doesn’t even have to be at peak times. The traffic queues have an impact on everyone.
The local economy will benefit, if this project had not gone ahead many businesses who were faced with relentless congestion may have relocated elsewhere meaning job losses. That is why from the start and even when I was Leader of Renfrewshire Council I have been fully in favour of the extension of the M74, along with others such as Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce.
However we must not lose sight of the need to continue to invest in and improve our public transport system. The Scottish Government should commit to and deliver better services in our bus and rail services. Likewise, the investment in public transport should not lessen our commitment to improve our roads. The M74 extension is good news for Scotland, and in particular Renfrewshire.  

Make a date to donate
Last week was National Blood Week to raise awareness about the importance of giving blood. The whole of June will see a variety of donor recruitment initiatives. The Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service are looking for 65,000 new donors to come forward. Blood transfusions are vital in treating patients whether it be in the operating theatre, treating cancer or leukaemia. Every blood donor is valuable but many lose contact with the service or get out the habit of donating. If you have not given for a while or wish to donate for the first  time or wish to get more information contact:   http://www.scotblood.co.uk/where-to-donate or contact the donor helpline on 0845 90 90 999.  Remember, donating blood saves lives.

Female re –offenders
There is to be a new Commission to be chaired by the former Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini to look at female re-offenders and how they are treated by the criminal justice system. Far too many offenders re-offend. Having worked with Elish Angiolini in the past I know she will bring a huge amount of experience and knowledge to the Commission. Many women may be deeply vulnerable people for whom offending is a result of chaotic lifestyles, mental health difficulties and severe addiction problems. Many will have been the victims of abuse - physical, sexual or mental - in their childhood. Although this does not excuse breaking the law, we must be able to find better ways of addressing their behaviour.
The commission will aim to identify what works to reduce re-offending and report back to the Scottish Government by the end of this year. People offend for many reasons but we must be looking at why there are so many who re-offend. Hopefully when the Commission reports back to the Scottish Government we will have a better understanding why females re-offend and then take the proper steps to deal with the problem.