Courts AGREE with SNP Government: Fracking NOT currently banned in Scotland

Commenting on the news that fracking is not currently banned in Scotland, Stirling Council’s Environment Spokesperson Cllr Danny Gibson says,

Danny Gibson“In both the current Stirling Council Administration and the previous one, Labour’s environmental policies have made Stirling one of the greenest in the UK.  Labour have invested in low-energy LED streetlights.  Labour are generating power from solar panels on council buildings and council homes.  Labour have helped reduce energy bills by installing insulation measures in council homes and helping the private homes that need it the most.  Labour have ensured Stirling recycles over 55% of its rubbish, one of the highest rates in the country.  Our climate can’t stand another fossil fuel and our communities don’t need the risks associated with fracking.” 

“Fracking was a key issue for voters across Stirling in recent elections.  People can clearly see now that what the SNP Government say on the campaign trail and what they say in the courts are two completely different things.”  

“We need real leadership on this issue and if the SNP Government won’t provide it, Labour will.”

This story relates to our 2017 Stirling Council Manifesto commitment:

  •  We will use all of the tools at our disposal to stop fracking in Stirling and use all of the influence we can bring to bear to ensure a national ban on fracking.

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.

Get help from the Stirling Citizen’s Advice Bureau when you need it

At the recent meeting of the Stirling Constituency Labour Party, Jim Roche, Chair of the Stirling District Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB), gave a presentation on the advice services and assistance offered to people across Stirling.  From offering a drop in service at their offices in Upper Craigs, to providing outreach services in libraries across the District, CAB help Stirling’s citizens get support on everything from applying for benefits to changing energy supplier.

Jim talked about a new rural and Eastern Villages outreach service run in partnership with Stirling Council, which gives advice and support to people transitioning to the Tory’s horrendous Universal Credit benefits scheme.

Labour Councillor Chris Kane, who is Stirling Council’s Convenor of Community Planning & Regeneration, says,

IMGP9304 (1)“So many of the services we rely on in every day are only offered online, meaning we require access to a computer, access to the internet and the skills to use both.   While our children are being swept along by the digital revolution, the rest of us are trying to ensure we’re not swept aside by it.  Digital literacy should never be taken for granted and if you are struggling, please remember you are not alone. Through services such as the Rural and Eastern Villages Advice Network, Stirling Council and CAB staff are here to help.  Not everybody can afford a computer, meaning Stirling Council’s libraries offer a digital lifeline for many people. We want to ensure that nobody is excluded and everyone can get appropriate advice and support as close to home as possible.”  

CLP Secretary Jennifer Preston said,

IMGP9284 (1)“The Stirling District Citizen’s Advice Bureau work hand in hand with Stirling Council staff to provide Stirling’s citizens with the support they need, when they need it most.  Under the current Tory Government, there has never been a greater need for a service like the one CAB have provided so well for so long.  There are many things the Tory Government do that are bordering on inhumane, but the cack handed way they continue to mishandle the most vulnerable in our society through policies like Universal Credit is truly appalling.  Hearing first hand from Jim some of the issues that CAB has to help people deal with was heartbreaking.”

If you are, or know anybody, who could benefit from speaking with CAB, you can get in touch as follows:

  • CAB, 3 Cameronian Street, Stirling, FK8 2DX (their office is opposite the Stirling Observer office on Upper Craigs).  The office offers a drop in service from 10am-3pm Mon-Thu.
  • Outwith the drop in times, you can get in touch at any time by calling 0808 800 9060.
  • You can visit the local CAB website at www.stirlingcab.org.uk

Labour Councillor Chris Kane slams the ‘appalling’ impact of Universal Credit in Stirling

 

At the December meeting of Stirling Council, councillors will hear about the devastating impact that the introduction of Universal Credit is having on our most vulnerable citizens.  A report, first presented to the Council’s Community Planning and Regeneration Committee in November, was sent to full council because the impact was considered so vast and so great, that it cut across all council services.

Speaking at the November meeting, the Labour Convenor of the Community Planning and Regeneration Committee, Councillor Chris Kane, said,

IMGP9304 (1)“It is difficult to overstate how much of a negative impact the introduction of Universal Credit has had in Stirling. 

 I am appalled that a policy, peddled as liberating and progressive, is being implemented in such a cavalier and cruel fashion.  Up and down the country, council after council are telling the same story:  Universal Credit is fundamentally flawed and is devastating to the most vulnerable people in our communities.

 We have heard stories today so astonishing they are almost inconceivable; women fleeing domestic violence being told that before they can begin the long grotesque wait for a new application to be processed, they must first spend weeks disentangling an existing joint claim, and must do it with their abusive partner at their side. 

 Stirling Council, and our third sector partners, have been preparing for this vicious storm for over a year.  It arrived on 28th June and it is showing no signs of abating; in fact, it is getting worse.    The question we must ask is not ‘are our services coping?’, but rather, ‘when will they break?’ 

 So, what must we do?  We must remit this report for consideration by the full council to ensure we have a coordinated response across all of our services and committees.  We must share our evidence of the stark reality of this unfolding disaster with the UK Government, in the vein hope that one more voice pleading for a reassessment might be enough to make a difference.  We must ask the Scottish Government to identify money to assist us; for while Local Authorities have the liabilities of Universal Credit it is Holyrood who have the power to provide mitigation resources. 

 Where this committee can influence change immediately is through internet access, particularly in our libraries. We must instruct our officers to establish what additional measures are required to ensure our citizens, many of whom do not have a computer or even an email address, get the support they need for a Universal Credit application process that is entirely online. 

 Finally, we must thank Stirling Council staff and our Third Sector partners such as Home Start, the Citizens Advice Bureau, Start-Up Stirling and the Stirling Carers Centre for their professionalism and compassion.  It is in stark contrast to the bureaucratic barbarism of the universal credit roll out.  

Stirling Council Labour Group Leader calls on local MSPs to show support for local services in next week’s budget.

Stirling Council Labour Group Leader, Councillor Danny Gibson, has today written to all local MSPs urging them not to support any minority Scottish Government budget that inflicts further financial pain and austerity on Scotland’s Local Authorities.

The letter, sent to constituency MSPs Bruce Crawford and Keith Brown, along with all Mid-Scotland and Fife list MSPs urges them to:

“show your support for our remarkable council staff and our treasured local services by pledging not to support a budget that inflicts more austerity, more cuts and more unnecessary pain on Local Authorities.”

The letter comes just days before SNP Finance Secretary Derek Mackay is due to deliver his budget.  Last week the Accounts Commission said that Local Authority budgets have fallen across Scotland by 7.6% in real terms since 2011.

Councillor Gibson said,

IMGP9286 (1)“Whatever way the minority Scottish Government choose to dress it up, Scotland’s Local Authorities have less money to spend on essential services than they did 6 years ago.  We are heading towards a cliff for local services and rather than throw us a lifeline, the minority Scottish Government is pushing us closer to the edge.  It must stop and it must stop now.  We need the support of all of our local MSPs to stop more council cuts.”

 

The full text of Councillor Gibson’s letter can be read below:

Dear

 Funding for Local Authorities in 2018/19

 Next week the minority Scottish Government will publish its budget for the coming year.  This will include information on the grant being given to Local Authorities, including here in Stirling. 

 I am writing today to ask you to pledge to NOT support any Scottish Government budget that imposes more austerity and financial pain on Local Authorities.

 Last week the Accounts Commission confirmed that Local Authority budgets fell in real terms in 2017/18 compared to 2016/17 and have fallen across Scotland by 7.6% in real terms since 2011. This has resulted in 30,000 local government job losses over this period and Unison Scotland state that nine out of ten austerity job losses in Scotland have been in Councils”.

Whatever way the Scottish Government choose to dress it up, Scotland’s Local Authorities have less money to spend on essential services than they did 6 years ago. 

 If the Scottish Government do not act now to reverse the hugely damaging approach they are taking to Local Government finances, the question we must ask is not if council services will break, but when will they break? 

 We are heading towards a cliff for local services and rather than throw us a lifeline, the Scottish Government is pushing us closer to the edge.  It must stop and it must stop now.  We need the support of all of our local MSPs to stop more council cuts.”

 The Scottish Parliament has never had so many economic levers to use to support our vital local services. We need a wholescale review of council tax, rather than the tinkering around the edges we saw last year.  We need to use the tax raising powers of the Scottish Parliament to protect, not cut, the local services our citizens rely on every day. 

 You can show your support for our remarkable staff and our treasured local services by pledging not to support a budget that inflicts more austerity, more cuts and more unnecessary pain on Local Authorities.

 I urge you to tell Finance Minister Derek MacKay this before next week’s budget.

On budget day, you have a voice inside the chamber at Holyrood and, more importantly, a vote.  

 Kind regards

 Councillor Danny Gibson

Labour Group Leader on Stirling Council

 

 

ENDS

Labour demand local MP take action in response to shock closure news for local Royal Bank branches.

Labour’s Bannockburn Councillor, Margaret Brisley, has today written to local MP Stephen Kerr demanding he stand up for local communities and fight the closure of Royal Bank of Scotland branches in Bannockburn, Bridge of Allan and Dunblane.

Councillor Brisley says,

margaret-brisley“Some of the Royal Bank’s elderly customers have loyally banked with them for half a century or more.  These are the customers whose taxes bailed out the Royal Bank when the Royal Bank needed their support. I find it thoroughly disgusting that customer loyalty and support is being rewarded with the bank door slammed in their faces.  As the majority shareholder, the UK Government can, and should, step in and stop this.” 

The full text of Councillor Brisley’s letter can be read below:

1 December 2017

Dear Stephen

Today, residents in my ward woke to the news that the Royal Bank of Scotland is looking to close their Bannockburn branch.  Residents in Bridge of Allan and Dunblane also received similar news. 

This comes just days after the Bank of Scotland announced closures to branches in Bridge of Allan, Dunblane and Springkerse. 

Elderly residents in my ward and across Stirling who rely on face-to-face banking are being let down by banks. 

Small businesses in my ward and across Stirling who deal predominantly in cash transactions are being let down by the banks.

Communities who see branches as a cornerstone of shopping precincts are being let down by the banks.

The UK Government is the majority shareholder in the Royal Bank of Scotland.  It can put pressure on the Royal Bank to be different. 

Pressure to strengthen communities, not abandon them.  To reward customers for decades of loyalty to the Royal Bank with a little bit of loyalty in return. To give loyal staff much better than callous uncertainly for their futures just weeks before Christmas.

Our communities and our citizens were there for the banks in 2008 when the needed our help.  Will you ask the UK Government to ensure that the Royal Bank is there for our communities when they need help now?

As the Member of Parliament for Stirling, will you meet with relevant government officials and ask them to find a way to reverse these hugely damaging closures?

Will you put pressure on the Royal Bank of Scotland to work with communities to find a way to keep these branches open?

I would be grateful for your responses soon – time is very much of the essence here. 

Kind regards

Cllr Margaret Brisley

Labour Councillor for Bannockburn Ward