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.  

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

Stirling CLP: Delivering on our Manifesto for Stirling

In 2017, Stirling Labour published a Stirling manifesto which contained a series of commitments that would be pursued by Labour Councillors if elected.     Over the last year the Labour Group of Stirling Councillors have shown what a seat around the table and a great deal of hard work can do to deliver Labour commitments that work for the many, not the few.   Here is the first of a new regular series of articles on how your Labour Councillors are delivering on promises for Stirling.

Our manifesto committed us to “ensure tenants are always put first and that landlords live up to their obligations”.

That’s why Cllr Danny Gibson has led on moves to investigate the need for a rent pressure zone in Stirling, saying “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”.

In “jobs and economy”, we promised to “lead the way by ensuring Stirling Council sets the standard we want all organisations to aspire to”.

That’s why this month your Labour Councillors have set a “gold standard” in paternity pay for council employers and adopted Unison’s “Apprenticeship Charter” to ensure our young people have key rights and their managers key responsibility in ensuring we are developing a workforce with the skills we need now and in the future.  We’ve also ensured that the Living Wage at Stirling Council is set higher than the Living Wage Foundation recommends.

We promised to “poverty proof the school day, ensuring every child has the support they need to learn.”

We have a lot still to do here, but this month Cllr Margaret Brisley ensured that nearly 1500 children will benefit from a significant rise in a key Stirling Council poverty fund.  The clothing and footwear grant will rise from £50 to £130 per child, which research suggests is the cost faced by parents ahead of a new school.

Labour Cllr Chris Kane has set up and chaired a Short Life Working Group looking at ways the council can tackle the appalling tragedy that is the Tories’ “Universal Credit”.  His report will be presented at a full meeting of Stirling Council next week, but has already delivered on a key recommendation to help tackle digital poverty with a £200,000 investment in digital support across the council’s libraries.  The Labour Group continue to ensure that the council work in partnership with organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureau to help our citizens deal with universal credit, which Chris says  is “fundamentally flawed and devastating to the most vulnerable people in our communities”.

We promised to “invest in new equipment for play parks”.

Earlier on this month, the Partnership Administration announced a £250,000 boost for play parks which will see new equipment installed across 22 parks in the seven wards that make up the council area.

We said we would commit to making Stirling a dementia friendly city and district.

Again, we have much still to do, but Cllr Christine Simpson is a member of the Council’s Adult Social Care Panel, where she works to promote and further our manifesto commitments on health and social care.  Recently Christine was at Stirling’s King’s Park to hear how the public space has become “dementia friendly.”

We said we would “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”

That’s why we highlighted that it took 382 days for SNP Ministers to agree with their own appeals panel NOT to allow building on Airthrey Kerse, and why we highlighted that Scottish Government Ministers have decided to make the final decision on whether to overturn Stirling Council’s decision to not build more houses on the Bannockburn Battlefield.

Your Labour Councillors will always stand up for STIRLING and its many communities.

Your Labour Councillors will never shy away from putting pressure on the SNP Government, as they demonstrated with their condemnation of the SNP spin on this year’s budget offer to Scottish Local Authorities.  They’ll also continue to put pressure on the Tory Government on issues including Universal Credit and their uncaring attitude to communities affected by RBS closures.

We’ll also call out government measures, both at Holyrood and Westminster, if they make delivering our local manifesto more difficult – as we did when the SNP Government’s published a draft transport bill that undermined our ambition to deliver a community owned public transport company.

Your Labour Councillors have a great deal of work still to do in the coming years, but we stand by our manifesto and will strive to implement as much of it as possible during the current Administration at Stirling Council.  We’ll continue to deliver regular updates on our progress on this website.

Want to join us?  Click here to join Labour and help create a world that works for the many, not the few.

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.

SNP Government draft transport bill undermines Stirling’s ambition for a community owned public transport company

In Stirling Labour’s 2017 manifesto for Stirling Council, we announced plans to create new community ownership models in energy, broadband and public transport.  When the Labour/SNP partnership was formed, six key priorities for local government were agreed.  One of them says:

“We will create and implement environment and infrastructure improvements. We will deliver new ownership and delivery methods around energy generation, public transport and internet access, ensuring profits and services work to community, not commercial priorities.”

The SNP Government’s recent draft transport bill will leave the profits of bus operators in the hands of private companies and let them cherry pick the best routes, while abandoning the loss-making lifeline services and forcing Local Authorities to pick up the pieces.

Stirling Labour’s Community Ownership Spokesperson, Cllr Chris Kane, says,

IMGP9304 (1)“This SNP bill will hamper our ambition to create a community owned public transport company which works to community, not commercial priorities.  This bill will leave profit in the hands of bus companies while councils pick up the gaps and losses.  Once again it seems that Brian Souter’s Stagecoach has more influence over government policy than people and communities.  I support Scottish Labour’s plans to radically overhaul the bill to allow councils to create a public transport plan that works for the many, not the few.”

In its current form, the bill would only allow local authorities to run bus services in very restricted circumstances where there is no private provider and the legislation would not allow any public sector bids for bus franchises.

In practice, the legislation would only allow public control of the routes that private providers deem unprofitable, leaving local councils to pick up the pieces and all the losses going forward.

Scottish Labour will now put forward a series of amendments to radically overhaul the bill and give the country a transport system that works for the many, not the few.

Speaking after the bill was published last week, Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy, Connectivity and Transport Colin Smyth MSP said:

 “Under the SNP government bus fares have soared but passenger numbers have plummeted as bus services have been dismantled route by route. This bill was a chance to deliver real change on our buses and start to reverse the SNP’s decade of decline but instead it is a huge missed opportunity. We know the SNP prefer private to public ownership when it comes to our railways, now we know it is the same on our bus routes. Labour will now put forward a series of amendments to change the bill. We will safeguard the free bus pass for older people, improve concessionary travel for young people and allow local authorities to deliver a people’s bus service where passengers, not profits are the priority.”

This story relates to our 2017 Stirling Council Manifesto Commitment:

  • We will commit to the creation of a municipal public transport company to provide public transport. Community priorities, not commercial priorities, should determine where and when public transport operates.

Labour Councillors introduce Unison’s “Apprenticeship Charter” to Stirling Council

Labour’s Finance & Economy spokesperson, Cllr Margaret Brisley has voted to introduce Unison’s “Apprenticeship Charter” at Stirling Council.  At a recent meeting of the Finance & Economy Committee, which Margaret chairs, the charter was proposed and adopted as council policy immediately.

The Charter details the rights of apprentices and the responsibilities of their managers and the council.

Among the rights afforded to Apprentices are the right to a contract, the right to an interview for a vacant post when their apprenticeship finishes and the right to join and participate in the Trade Union of their choice.

Among the responsibilities placed on their managers are to ensure the quality of the training builds the skills to lead to a real job, to recognise that apprenticeships are investing in “future labour” not “cheap labour”, and to encourage and celebrate apprentices.

Stirling Council currently employs 91 apprentices, with a further 115 employees undertaking professional learning towards the next stage in their careers (such as probationer teachers).  Training is provided by local accredited providers such as Forth Valley College.

Already Stirling Council engages apprentices under a contract of employment and pays a higher rate compared to the national minimum wage. Modern Apprentices start on an hourly rate of £7.14 compared to the national minimum wage of £5.90.  Age 16 Craft Apprentices start on £5.86, compared to the national minimum wage of £3.70 and once they have passed the trade test, their hourly rate increases to £11.13 per hour.

Cllr Brisley says,

IMGP0497“In 2012, Labour ensured that Stirling Council was one of the first in Scotland to pay staff the living wage.  This week we’ve already delivered on a Labour commitment to double paternity leave from two to four weeks on full pay.  Now I’m proud that, working with our Trade Union colleagues, we’ve adopted the Apprenticeship Charter to ensure our young people have key rights and their managers key responsibilities in ensuring we are developing a workforce with the skills we need now and in the future.  Labour is the party of and for workers and I will work tirelessly with Trades Union colleagues to promote, protect and enhance rights while Labour are in Administration on Stirling Council.” 

This story relates to our 2017 Stirling Council Manifesto Commitments:  

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

Universal Credit Savaged by Public Spending Watchdog

The Tory Government’s shambolic and cruel “Universal Credit” benefit has been slated by public spending watchdog The National Audit Office. In a report published on Friday 15 June, the NAO says that Universal Credit cannot prove it helps more people into work, does not deliver value for money and will probably end up costing more than the benefit system it replaces.

The report paints a damning picture of Universal Credit and the Department of Work and Pensions, saying they are defensive, insensitive and dismissive of the pleas from welfare advisors and those directly affected by the roll out of the benefit.

Stirling Labour’s spokesperson on welfare, and Convenor of Stirling Council’s Community Planning & Regeneration Committee, Cllr Chris Kane says,

“It is difficult to overstate how much of a negative impact the introduction of Universal Credit has had in Stirling since it was introduced on 28th June 2017.  In the last few months I have heard stories so astonishing that 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.  Single parents having to go their library because a claim can only be made online and they can’t afford a computer, or internet access, at home.   This new report says that 46% of people say they do not have the digital skills to complete the application without assistance. Up and down the country, council after council, CAB after CAB, claimant after claimant have been sharing evidence with the Tories on the scale of the problem, but other than tinkering around the edges, nothing of substance has changed.  I am ashamed of this Tory Government and its universal credit system that is fundamentally flawed and is devastating to the most vulnerable people in our communities” 

For the last few months Chris has chaired a Short Life Working Group on Stirling Council which has been investigating how the Universal Credit rollout has impacted on Stirling citizens and  council tenants.  The report is due to be published next week ahead of being reported to the full meeting of Stirling Council on 28th June.

Chris also said,

“My thanks go out to Stirling Council staff and 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 spiteful bureaucratic barbarism of the Tory Government at Westminster.”  

If you are affected by Universal Credit, you can seek advice at various drop in events at Stirling Council libraries, by contacting the Stirling Citizens Advice Bureau, or if you are a Stirling Council tenant, by contacting Housing Services.

This story relates to our 2017 Stirling Council Manifesto Commitment

  • We will work tirelessly to create good jobs, warm homes, caring communities and excellent education opportunities for all.

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

Jobs and Tourism boost with new Stirling Hotel

IMG_1748 2Stirling’s tourism sector got a boost today with the official opening of Travelodge’s new £6 million pound hotel.  Stirling Provost Christine Simpson cut the ribbon at the hotel, which is built on the site of the former Rainbow Slides a stone’s throw from Stirling’s Railway Station.

Labour’s Finance & Economy Spokesperson, Councillor Margaret Brisley, said,

“A key Stirling Labour manifesto commitment is to increase the number of two night / three day breaks in Stirling.  To do that we need more places for people to stay and this Travelodge has brought seventy four new bedrooms to our city.   Travelodge estimate their guests will contribute around £2 million to the Stirling economy each year.  This modern hotel also creates twenty five new jobs and is a welcome boost to Stirling’s tourism offering just as the summer season gets underway.” 

Travelodge’s investment in Stirling comes some thirty years after they opened their first Scottish hotel at Stirling’s Motorway Services.

This story relates to our 2017 Stirling Council Manifesto Commitments:  

  • We will promote Stirling to employers around the world and help them to locate in Stirling.
  • We commit to ensuring our cultural and economic policies promote the concept of a three day Stirling visit