7 Sep 2011

Paisley Dailey Express - 07 September 2011

Clean Water
A recent report suggested that the quality of Scottish water had never been better. Try telling that to my constituents who have to endure filthy manganese contaminated water. It has been accepted that those affected, including householders in Johnstone, should have seen remedial action before now. Those affected are unable to cook, bathe or wash laundry. A number of people have reported clothing being damaged and I have demanded that Scottish Water should compensate those who have suffered loss. The real solution should be urgent action at the water treatment works. Clean water should be a right in 21st century Scotland.

Ronnie Burns
Along with friends and colleagues from the Labour Party and Trade Unions, I attended the funeral mass for Ronnie Burns, the ex Provost of Renfrewshire. Ronnie was a gentle person who never had a harsh word to say about anyone. He dedicated his life to helping others and his political and trade union activity came from his determination to help those around him. He was proud to represent Linwood and his contribution to his community was reflected in the turnout of those he had worked with over the years.

New Laws
The Scottish Parliament met last week for the first time since the summer recess. There is not a lot that anyone could disagree with in terms of the Scottish Government’s plans for new laws. The problem may be in the detail of what will be considered. Very few people will disagree with the need to stamp out sectarianism in Scotland. A recent poll indicated over 80% of Scots wanted action. But it’s wrong to simply see sectarianism in terms of football alone. Equally if the Scottish Government wants to jail offenders for up to five years, then surely it has a duty to spell out clearly what the law says so that members of the public know when they are breaking the law? If we can’t or won’t say what is illegal then we are in danger of making some bad mistakes. The other major issue is tackling Scotland’s problem with alcohol. I fully support the Scottish Government’s determination to confront this, but I still have concerns with its determination to pursue minimum pricing, which is untried and untested. I hope we will see proper evidence and studies and I hope that the legal doubts will be properly addressed.
And of course any legislative programme throws up gaps where others think there should be legislation. I would like to have seen further legislation to tackle rogue private sector landlords, as well as legislation to regulate our patchy and inconsistent bus services. I would also like to have seen legislation to give greater protection to workers who face violence when serving the public, and laws to restore school transport to pupils who have to walk three miles to school in all weathers. And finally we could do with legal protection to stop Councils like Renfrewshire trying to replace teachers with unqualified staff.

Burial heartache
The Paisley Daily Express last week reported on another case where Renfrewshire Council had refused to allow family members to be buried together. I have previously raised concerns about other similar cases. Most people would understand that if they purchase a lair, it would only be able to hold a defined number of bodies. But Renfrewshire Council has changed the rules after lairs have been purchased, and the first that grieving families know of this is when they are trying to arrange the funeral.
When I first raised this problem, the Council tried to blame a change in regulations. When I wrote to Government Ministers it was made clear that it was the Council which had made the change. The Council even chastised me for criticising what I believe is a cruel and heartless decision. The Paisley Daily Express article is further proof that there needs to be a rethink.

Linwood Shopping Centre
As Autumn approaches, residents of Linwood will not only be keeping an eye on the weather. The next few months should see the long awaited demolition of the eyesore of a shopping centre which has blighted the town for years. Along with Councillor Anne Hall and Jim Sheridan MP, I will be watching Tesco to make sure that promises are delivered. Linwood residents have had to put up with a lot. They deserve to see progress.