Labour Living Wage boost for Council Workers

Stirling’s Labour Councillors have ensured that the council’s lowest paid workers will receive a little bit extra in their Christmas pay packet thanks to a motion from Bannockburn Councillor Margaret Brisley.

In November, the Living Wage Foundation proposed that the National Living Wage should rise from £9 to £9.30 from 1stApril 2020.  Cllr Brisley proposed that the lowest hourly rate payable at the council should rise from £9.07 per hour to £9.37 per hour, but that it should be backdated to 16thNovember so that employees will see the difference in their Christmas paycheck.

Cllr Brisley’s also committed the council to bringing forward plans in the New Year that could see the council increase its minimum rate of pay to £10 per hour from 1stApril.  Cllr Brisley’s motion called for a proposal to be part of the council budget process to introduce a ‘pay supplement’ to be offered to employees to ensure the lowest wage offered to employees was the equivalent of £10 per hour until the Living Wage Foundation recommends a rate equal to or above £10 per hour and such a rate is adopted by Stirling Council.  

This takes Stirling Council a big step closer to fulfilling a Stirling Labour manifesto commitment ahead of the 2017 Stirling Council election to introduce a £10 Living Wage.  

Cllr Brisley says,

“It was a Labour led Administration that ensured Stirling Council became a Living Wage accredited employer in 2015 and it is the Labour Group on Stirling Council that is leading the way again with another pay rise for our lowest paid workers that is above the Living Wage Foundation recommendation.   The Labour Group are determined to get this pay award over the £10 an hour line, but it is tough trying to overcome Tory austerity and SNP Government cuts to council budgets.  My motion to council today ensures we have a real shot at delivering £10 an hour in April. It would be a done deal if Labour are elected at the General Election and I hope people vote Labour to ensure a government that will deliver real change for the many, not the few.”

Every year the Living Wage Foundation sets an hourly rate for accredited employers to pay and gives them six months to make the change. Under the previous Labour-led Administration, Stirling Council became a Living Wage Accredited Employer in 2015.  Every year since Labour Councillors have voted for the change and for it to be applied almost immediately, ensuring those who need it most get a little extra at Christmas.  

Beware Tory campaign deceit

A statement from CLP Chairperson Mike Robbins:

This week, Tory Brexit cheerleader for Stirling, Stephen Kerr, published a leaflet in ‘Labour red’ colours with headlines and messages that appear to be trying to fool Stirling’s Labour supporters into backing him. 

From Boris Johnson misleading the Queen, to Jacob Rees Mogg’s recent comments about Grenfell, we see Tories treat people with contempt so often that it has begun to seem normal. 

‘The only way to stop Boris Johnson is to vote Labour’

The only way to stop Boris Johnston and five more years of a toxic Tory Government is to vote Labour on 12thDecember.  Nicola Sturgeon has said she won’t work with Labour, so every vote for the SNP in Stirling puts Boris Johnson one step closer to Downing Street. 

The man on the leaflet is Alistair Weir.  Volunteers of all parties who pour their heart and soul into campaigning will recognise the hurt and betrayal felt by Labour activists in Stirling when he publically pledged support for the Tories while in a leadership role within the local Labour party during the 2017 General Election.    

‘After two years and two endorsements, we can safely say Alistair Weir is a Tory’

Everybody is entitled to a change of heart, but sadly Mr Weir didn’t have the decency to resign first and so was expelled.  After two years and two endorsements, we can safely say Alistair Weir is a Tory. 

Rather than setting a standard for others to follow, Stirling Tories are now setting the bar as low as they think they can get away with.  It is not acceptable for entitled Tories to try and cajole, trick or scare people into voting for them.   The local SNP are equally bad; this week their candidate pulled a similar leaflet stunt to try and trick Green party supporters.  

‘If you want real change for ordinary people, then vote Labour on 12th December’

Stirling deserves better.  Labour are offering the most radical and ambitious manifesto in generations. We are offering policies that work for the many, not the few.  If you want real change for ordinary people, then vote Labour on 12thDecember. 

Mike Robbins – CLP Chair

Scottish Labour select student Mary Kate Ross to contest Stirling at the General Election on 12th December

Scottish Labour’s candidate in the 2019 General Election is Mary Kate Ross.  Mary Kate is a nineteen year old History and Politics student studying at the University of Stirling and if elected will be the youngest MP in the country.

Motherwell born Mary comes from a strong line of Labour activists, including her father, a former North Lanarkshire Labour councillor.  At university Mary is the Vice-Chair of the Labour students’ society and the Chair of the Stirling University Tenants Housing Association.

Mary says,

“I was fourteen when the SNP tried to rip apart the United Kingdom and sixteen when the Tories tried to rip us out of Europe.  I didn’t have a voice or a vote on the two biggest issues that will affect my future and that simply isn’t acceptable.  Since I was seven years old, the SNP have been in charge of Education in Scotland and by every measure they are failing my generation.  On climate change, my generation has had to resort to taking days off school to make our voices heard.  Enough is enough.   The youth of Scotland will no longer be silenced by entitled Tories and blinkered nationalists.  If elected to be Stirling’s MP, I will stand up for all of Stirling’s communities and I will ensure that everybody, regardless of their age, has a bright and fair future.’

On the attraction of standing as a candidate in Stirling, Mary Kate says,

“Stirling is now my home and I want to represent Stirling as your MP in Westminster.  I moved to Stirling two years ago because I was attracted to the city, the university and the possibilities of a fantastic life here at the heart of Scotland.  I cannot think of anything better than committing my career to ensuring Stirling has another strong and vibrant Labour champion, as it did for so long under Anne McGuire.   I live in the city and I am a keen champion of tenants’ rights because I believe everybody, no matter their age or circumstances, deserves a warm, secure home.   This election is about the future I will fight to ensure everybody has a good job paying a fair wage and a safe place to come home to at night.”   

Stirling Constituency Labour Party Chair Mike Robbins says,

“Stirling has been a university town for fifty years and I’m delighted that we’ve found Stirling’s next MP from its leafy campus.  Our local party was impressed by Mary-Kate’s passion for the town and clarity of thought on the issues that affect everybody, but in particular youth issues.  Contrast that with Stephen Kerr who has done nothing but inflict Brexit misery on Stirling and an SNP MEP candidate who thinks of Stirling as a back-up plan for when his European gravy train comes off the tracks. Stirling has a clear choice between continued constitutional chaos or a bright future under Labour.  Every vote for Mary Kate Ross is a vote for a brighter, fairer future.”

You can keep up with Mary’s campaign on social media via www.facebook.com/stirlinglabour, or on twitter @labourstirling.  You can contact the campaign to tell Mary about the issues that are important to you by emailing mkrforstirlinglabour@gmail.com

Stirling Labour comment on the EU crisis

‘Stirling Labour strongly condemns the reckless, anti-democratic actions of Tory Prime Minister Boris Johnson in suspending Parliament for a crucial five-week period in the run up to Brexit Day.  It is now clear that he intends to take Britain out of the EU without a deal, and is happy to risk democracy in the process.  He is turning Britain into both a tin-pot dictatorship, and the laughing stock of the Western world.’

‘It is outrageous for Stirling Tory MP Stephen Kerr to cynically talk about the prorogation of Parliament as if it’s a normal event.  It hasn’t been normal since the days of King Charles I, which led to a Civil War.  How on earth can Kerr even try to pretend that shutting down Parliament in the middle of the biggest crisis since World War two is okay? Even some Tory MP’s, including the Speaker of the House of Commons, have referred to Johnson’s action as “a constitutional outrage”. Kerr’s party are threatening the future of the UK, democracy, and our economy by doing this.’

We call on Kerr to reconsider his decision to sit on the fence while populist dictatorial decisions are taken by his Government, and to condemn the actions of Johnson.  Kerr should also stop pretending there is any chance of a decent deal being negotiated with the EU as a result of his Government’s increasingly Trump-like behaviour.

‘This contrasts with Labour’s attempts to unite the country, and broker a deal to ensure that we avoid the effects of a No Deal Brexit, as well as giving the Country an opportunity to think again now that we understand the full implications of our crisis situation.’

‘Democracy is like the Amazon rainforest – it can only be torched once, and it’s gone.  On behalf of the Many, we will do everything we can to ensure these tactics don’t work, and that both Stephen Kerr, and his appalling Government are held to account.’

Published by Mark Eyre – Secretary, Stirling Constituency Labour Party

Airthrey Kerse Planning Appeal REJECTED

Commenting on the news that Scottish Government Ministers have refused a planning appeal that would have allowed 600 homes on land at Airthrey Kerse, Stirling North Labour Councillor Danny Gibson, who represents Causewayhead, Cornton and Stirling University, said,

Danny Gibson “I would say we’ve been holding our breath hoping the Scottish Government would make the right decision, but we’d have been holding it for 382 days.  That’s how long it took between the Scottish Government’s planning and environment appeals division making a recommendation to Scottish Ministers to refuse the appeal, and Ministers getting around to agreeing with them.   This is a victory for local communities who did not support this application and a vindication of Stirling Council’s 2016 decision to refuse planning permission. It is also an indictment of the current national planning procedures, which allow a minority SNP Government to keep communities cruelly hanging on for decisions seemingly on the whim of Ministers.”

This story relates to our 2017 Stirling Council Manifesto Commitment:

  • We will put pressure on the Scottish Government to overhaul the planning system to put more power in the hands of our local communities, not the hands of developers or distant government bureaucrats

Clothing & Footwear grant set to rise significantly for low income families

schooluniformNearly 1500 children across Stirling are set to benefit from a Labour Councillor’s work on a key Stirling Council poverty fund.  From August, children will be eligible for £130 School Clothing and Footwear grant – which research suggests is the cost faced by parents ahead of a new school year.

Stirling Council has a statutory responsibility to help children from families who need financial support with footwear and clothing for school.   COSLA recently agreed to a Scottish Government proposal to fund a national minimum contribution of £100 per child.  A report to Stirling’s Finance & Economy committee this week  recommended this amount be adopted immediately, with £50 coming from the Scottish Government and £50 from Stirling Council.

However, Labour’s Economy spokesperson Margaret Brisley, tabled an amendment calling for the amount to rise to £130 per child.

Margaret explained,

IMGP0497“Research from the Poverty Truth Commission suggests the current cost of clothing a child for school is £129.50, and that is with shopping at supermarkets and bargain stores.    The cost of school uniforms is leaving many children in low income families at risk of bullying and embarrassment because they are sent to school in ill-fitting clothes, or in clothes which don’t meet the dress code. If we are serious about closing the attainment gap and tackling child poverty, then we need to explore every option to get families the help many so desperately need.    This isn’t about blazers and ties, this is about ensuring our children can concentrate on learning rather than what their peers are thinking about them.  This is ensuring parents don’t have to prioritise between gym shoes and pencil cases.  This is about ensuring our policies work for the many, not the few, and target those who need our help the most.”

Margaret’s amendment was accepted, meaning those families who need it will receive the funding in time to prepare for the school year starting in August.

Margaret added,

“I would encourage any family who is struggling to check if you are eligible for this grant and to fill in the application form as soon as possible”

Last year Stirling Council gave 1499 children across the district footwear and clothing grants.  Labour’s proposal to set the amount at £130 per child is expected cost £44,970 per year.

This story relates to our 2017 Stirling Council Manifesto Commitments:  

  • we will poverty proof the school day, ensuring every child has the support they need to learn.

UPDATED: Labour councillors vote for “gold standard” in paternity leave at Stirling Council

**Update 14/06/18 – the motion was carried at the meeting of the Finance and Economy Committee and will become Council policy. 

In 2012, Labour ensured that Stirling Council was one of the first in Scotland to pay its staff the Living Wage.  In 2015, Labour ensured that Stirling Council set standards again by becoming an Accredited Living Wage Employer.  In 2018, Labour will again lead the way by voting for Stirling Council to introduce one of the most family friendly paternity leave standards in Scotland.

Currently staff are entitled to one week on full pay and one week on statutory paternity pay, which is currently £145.18.  Currently, almost a third of eligible council employees don’t take the second week, with many citing financial pressures as their reason for returning to work.

The new proposal, to be debated at the Finance & Economy Committee on Thursday would see new dads entitled to four weeks of paternity leave on full pay, to be taken during the first year after their child is born. Labour’s 2017 General Election manifesto contained a commitment to “double paid parternity leave to to four weeks and increase paternity pay – because fathers are parents too and deserve to spend more time with their new babies.”

Labour’s Finance Spokesperson, and Convenor of the Finance & Economy Committee, Councillor Margaret Brisley says,

IMGP0497I’m proud that Labour is leading this charge on Stirling Council to give new dads every opportunity to play a pivotal role in the critically formative first weeks and months of their children’s lives.  Various international studies have found a link between longer paternity leave and greater involvement of fathers in the early lives of their children, greater well being for mums, reduced incidence of postnatal depression in both mums and dads, better outcomes for children and an increased sharing of household work.  By taking away a little of  the financial pressures, Labour want to ensure that mums and dads can share in both the joy and the work that comes with a new addition to their family.  I hope by adopting this proposal that it sends a message to other employers that they should also consider putting in place similar methods in their businesses.”

In the proposal to the Finance & Economy Committee, it says “if adopted, it would place Stirling Council in a gold standard position in relation to the paternity leave terms and conditions available to employees.”

This story relates to our 2017 Stirling Council Manifesto Commitment:  

  • “we will lead the way by ensuring that Stirling Council sets the standard we want all organisations to aspire to”

Stirling Labour Councillors welcome first moves towards possible rent pressure zone for Stirling City Centre.

Stirling Council have approved plans to begin to gather evidence on the need for a rent pressure zone in Stirling City Centre.

The Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016 introduced the new Private Residential tenancy for all new tenancies created after 1 December 2017.  The Act included a new provision for a local authority to make application to Scottish Ministers for the designation of Rent Pressure Zones.

Rent Pressure Zones may be necessary if rents begin to rise to fast and to far in any given community, causing undue hardship to tenants.

Stirling Labour’s Environment and Housing spokesperson, Cllr Danny Gibson, said,

IMGP9286 (1)“A rent pressure zone doesn’t stop rents rising, it simply limits the rate and amount by which they can rise in any given year.  As a ward councillor for the city centre, I hear anecdotal evidence from tenants about steep rent rises and I see genuine fear about being able to afford to stay in their current home in the future.   What we’ve done at committee is to try and take the guess work out of the picture and begin to gather evidence on what is happening in the rental market in Stirling.”

“Stirling has plenty of landlords who work in partnership with their tenants and I want to ensure that continues.  However, landlords who don’t want to live up to their responsibilities with repairs, or squeeze as much out of people’s pockets as they can, should take note that we’re watching them and we will ensure that tenants are treated fairly now and in the future.”

Scottish Labour has made reforming housing a priority and recently unveiled plans for a “Mary Barbour” law, which would limit rent rises with a link to wages and ensure that they are affordable, as well as ensure that all private rented properties meet proper standards for health, safety and energy efficiency.

This story relates to our 2017 Stirling Council Manifesto Commitments:  

  • We will ensure tenants are always put first and that landlords live up to their obligations.

Stirling Labour invests in Playparks across the District

At the recent meeting of Stirling’s Environment and Housing Committee, Stirling Labour Councillors voted to approve a quarter of a million pound investment in playparks across the district.

Labour’s Environment and Housing Spokesperson, and Deputy Convenor of the Environment and Housing Committee, Danny Gibson, said:

IMGP9286 (1)“In our 2017 Stirling Council manifesto, Labour promised to invest in our playparks and I’m delighted that this year we’re spending £250,000 in replacing equipment in 22 parks across all seven council wards.  From a £20,000 multiclimber in Church Park in Cowie to £13,000 for a roundabout and Trimtrail in Riverside, these investments will make a real difference to children and families using our popular neighbourhood parks. As a dad with young kids myself I regularly see just how well used our parks are and I know how important this investment is.”

This story relates to our 2017 Stirling Council Manifesto Commitment:  

  • we will invest in new equipment for playparks.

Confirmation of long held Labour position on Stirling Smith & Big Noise

Supporters of the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum, and Raploch’s Big Noise, received welcome confirmation today (Thursday) of a long held Labour position that proposals floated by council officers to cut funding to both organisations will NOT be in this year’s Stirling Council budget.

The Smith was facing a 90% reduction in its funding in 2020, with the Big Noise facing big reductions from next year.  Both organisations have been the subject of grass roots campaigns to highlight the importance they play in their communities and the real threat to their futures.

In a Statement from Stirling Council SNP Labour Administration, Labour Councillor and Depute Council Leader Danny Gibson said,

IMGP9286 (1)“The Big Noise and the Stirling Smith are jewels in Stirling’s cultural crown and we will not be taking the budget options concerning them forward into our final proposal this year.  However, the immense pressure on local government finances looks set to get worse and eventually that will mean we cannot give money we do not have.  I would urge everybody who had signed a petition or written a letter to continue their campaign by writing to every MSP and MP and urge them to save Local Authorities from more devastating cuts in the years ahead”.

Councillor Gibson’s comments were echoed by Labour’s Administration Partners, with the SNP’s Scott Farmer stating “the options relating to both the Stirling Smith and Big Noise are being removed from budget projections”.

Rumour has it that the Labour Group made it clear months ago that these options were non-starters, but that they still ended up in the Priority Based Budgeting consultation process.

“When the school bully steals your lunch money, he’s still a bully if he offers you some of it back”

The longer term security of both organisations is no clearer than it is for any other local service, as the pressures on Stirling Council’s finances continue to mount.  The SNP Government has done a deal with the Greens at Holyrood to lessen the impact of Derek Mackay’s turbo charged austerity agenda by increasing the money on offer to Local Authorities this year – but who knows what will happen next time.

Councillor Gibson said,

“When the school bully steals your lunch money, he’s still a bully if he offers you some of it back. It is farcical for (local SNP MSP) Bruce Crawford to agree with Derek MacKay’s “fair” cut to our budget six weeks ago and then claim SNP decisions have delivered a “fairer” budget this week, when he’s only doing it because the Greens told him what to think. This pantomime nonsense of the SNP Government presenting a terrible deal simply so they can let a Green Knight ride to the rescue is hugely damaging and creates unnecessary fear and anxiety for council employees, the communities they serve and the services they provide.  Stirling deserves better than this.”

“The SNP Government has a habit of giving with one hand and taking away with the other”

On the new budget settlement announced this week by the SNP / Green “coalition”, the Labour Group’s Economy Spokesperson Councillor Margaret Brisley said,

IMGP0497“The SNP Government has a habit of giving with one hand and taking away with the other, so I’m going to remain skeptical until we drill down into these figures.  We’ve still got a projected budget deficit over the next five years in Stirling of over £20 million and it still isn’t clear if this is a one year settlement or if this additional cash will be included in the baseline for future settlements.  If not, we’re right back where we started next year.”

So while there is still a great deal of work to be done before Stirling Council sets its budget for 2018/19 on February 22nd, Labour supporters can be assured that our Labour Councillors are working hard to write a budget that delivers for the many, not the few.  Our councillors are also ensuring that the Administration continue to tell Finance Minister Derek MacKay exactly what his continued assault on local services are doing to Stirling, regardless of how uncomfortable that makes the SNP Councillors on the Partnership administration.

Stirling Council will meet to set its budget for the coming year on February 22nd.