4 Feb 2013

Paisley Daily Express - 4 February 2013

Recycling plant - action needed

Hugh Henry MSP is pictured down at the plant with former senior fireman
George Kennedy (left) Councillors Chris Gilmour, Derek Bibby and
John Hood. Community activist Margaret Lavery (front) who is vice
chair/secretary of Quarrelton Area Tenants Association is also pictured

I have spent a lot of time out in Johnstone talking to concerned residents and businesses since fire raged through the WRC Recycling plant in Floors Street and they are understandably calling for action. They do not want to live with the constant fear that it could be worse next time and they believe there will be a next time. I had a meeting with Steve Beech, the General Manager at McAlpine’s which sits next door to the WRC operation, and he too expressed concerns. We need a top to bottom review of regulations covering recycling plants. It can’t be right that so much combustible and potentially toxic material is piled up so close to residential properties and to a valuable local company employing 135 people. We were lucky no-one was injured in this incident but we should not be complacent about the future. I’m pleased that Alex Salmond has agreed to my request for his Minister to meet with me and the relevant agencies. I have been working with my local Labour colleagues on Renfrewshire Council to represent the views of the community who have had enough and no longer want to live with this operation, and the potential danger it brings, on their doorstep. I want the powers that be to hear their side of the story. I don’t know of any senior public officer who would want to live beside a recycling plant like WRC so I don’t see why my constituents should have to put up with it.

Make 2013 Your Year of Community Volunteering  
Every day volunteers here in Renfrewshire make a huge contribution to the lives of others by giving up some of their free time to care in a wide variety of ways. We are lucky to have so many big hearts in our community. However, groups and organisations in my constituency tell me they always need more helping hands. That’s why I was one of the first to back Focus Scotland when they came to the Scottish Parliament to tell us about their new campaign to make 2013 the year of community volunteering. They hope to get more people to embark on a volunteering journey and I’m sure they will get a great response from our area. If you are interested in volunteering you can contact Engage Renfrewshire on 0141 887 7707 or email info@engagerenfrewshire.com

Holocaust Memorial – A Story of Courage
It was a privilege to hear Kemal Pervanic speak when I went along to Carlibar Primary School in Barrhead for East Renfrewshire's Holocaust Memorial. Kemal gave a moving talk on how he survived the genocide in Bosnia when he was imprisoned at the notorious Omarska concentration camp in 1992 when he was just 24.He and his brother Kasim suffered violence, starvation and the constant threat of murder. The camps had been created for all men and boys over the age of 12 and the guards were Serbians. Some of them were neighbours and fellow students of the brothers who survived and came to the UK shortly after they were released to be united with their family. While we commemorate those communities obliterated during the Holocaust under Nazi persecution we also have to remember subsequent genocides in places such as Cambodia, Rwanda, Darfur, Bosnia and Kosovo. Kemal’s warning is that bitterness and division can spread into actions of inhumanity unless we remain vigilant.

Payday Loans

January is a long, hard month for many families coming so soon after the expense of Christmas. For those paid monthly it was a long time between salary dates. Unfortunately some people have turned to Payday loan companies to borrow money to help tide them over. The interest rates on these loans are horrendous, sometimes running at 3,000 to 4,000 per cent. Last week Scottish Labour called on Alex Salmond’s Government to take the lead in warning against the danger of borrowing from these loan companies. I also want the Scottish Government to do more to publicise the benefits of using local credit unions. We are fortunate in Renfrewshire to have a number of extremely good credit unions which can offer loans with reasonable and affordable rates of interest and staff who are happy to help. I would urge anyone needing a loan to contact them first.