2 Apr 2013

Paisley Daily Express - 1 April 2013

High Hedges

When compared to big issues like the state of the economy or unemployment the vexatious problem of high hedges doesn’t seem to be worthy of consideration. And yet it’s the arguments between neighbours about high hedges that are sometimes the most difficult to resolve. I suppose when an overgrown hedge (often fast growing Leylandii trees) starts to block out daylight into your garden or house or your fence or garden is damaged then it becomes a major issue for you. Last week the Scottish Parliament passed the High Hedges Bill which will finally give Councils the power to enforce action where a high overgrown hedge is causing damage to neighbouring properties or blocking out daylight. While only a relatively few households will benefit, nevertheless for them it will be an almighty relief. Or should I say they can now see the light at the end of the tunnel!

Bedroom Tax

This cruel and vindictive Tory/Lib Dem proposal will have a devastating impact on poor and vulnerable people across the country. What has also been unedifying is watching and listening to Alex Salmond and his SNP colleagues trying to put the responsibility for action onto hard pressed and under funded Councils and Housing Associations. It is heartening to read that Councillor Mark Macmillan and his Labour team at Renfrewshire Council are willing to act to try to help those worst affected.

But Renfrewshire Council is right to demand that Alex Salmond uses the powers available to his Scottish Government to back up their political rhetoric with action and hard cash. It’s a cheap shot for the SNP to demand action from Councils while the SNP Government sits on its hands. Alex Salmond should introduce emergency legislation to prevent vulnerable tenants being evicted as a result of this disgraceful tax. He should also find the money to compensate Councils and Housing Associations who refuse to evict tenants who are in arrears because of the bedroom tax. It would be cowardly for the SNP to sit at the back and shout for Councils to act while they do nothing. Talk is cheap for Alex Salmond. He should show leadership and throw the support of the Scottish Government right behind our Councils to protect vulnerable tenants. He doesn’t need to wait until after the Referendum.  How about immediate action now Alex?

A splash hit

The fantastic new £24milliion ON-X Linwood Sport and Community Centre has been buzzing since it opened its doors to the public just seven days ago. Thousands of people have already visited the complex in its first week to enjoy some of the best facilities in the country. With its three pools, eight-court sports hall; fitness suite; four dance studios and a full-sized outdoor synthetic football park and facilities for community groups it’s got something for everyone and we should all be proud of it. I hope to head there with my grandchildren next time they are back home in Renfrewshire on holiday.

Energy bonuses

Families across Renfrewshire are struggling to pay their soaring fuel bills. And it’s not just the extreme weather that’s the problem. The excessive price rises by all the large energy companies has led to record profits- profits made at your expense. The energy watchdog Ofgem is supposed to look after your interests, but so far it has done nothing to stand up to or challenge the greedy energy companies. Then last week we found out that senior Ofgem officials have managed to look after themselves. The bonus pot went from £53,002 in 2009 to £87,298 last year (on top of their huge salaries). Have they no shame? They stand back and let the energy companies squeeze you, and then they hold out their hands for an unjustified bonus. A bonus for what exactly?