Braidbar Quarry and Huntly Park development potentially stalled

A Freedom of Information request from the offices of Jackson Carlaw MSP and Paul Masterton MP suggests that there has been no official communication between East Renfrewshire Council and Advance Construction Ltd or other interested parties since summer 2017 regarding the potential development of Braidbar Quarry and Huntly Park.

Before the May 2017 Council Election, it was revealed that developer Advance Construction Ltd had been in talks with East Renfrewshire Council over a planning proposal to re-develop Braidbar Quarry, which also included part of Huntly Park.

The chain of communications sent to Eastwood’s MSP and East Renfrewshire’s MP show that the last e-mail correspondence from the developer occurred on 6 June 2017 and was in relation to Advance Construction Ltd seeking permission to access Braidbar Quarry in order to carry out a bird survey.

A recent survey exercise carried out by Mr Carlaw and Mr Masterton showed that there is an overwhelming opposition to development at the sites from individuals living in the surrounding houses.

Commenting Eastwood MSP Jackson Carlaw said:

“The correspondence forwarded to us by the council suggests that the proposed development project at Braidbar Quarry and Huntly Park may have potentially stalled.

“Paul and I will be keeping a close eye on this matter and we will remain vigilant to the prospect of any formal planning proposal.”

East Renfrewshire MP Paul Masterton added:

“The results of our FOI request indicate that the council have not been contacted by Advance Construction Ltd in an official capacity since June 2017 regarding the proposal to develop Braidbar Quarry and Huntly Park.

“We certainly hope that this is the case and we remain very much opposed to any planning initiative that would see the loss of much loved Huntly Park.”

Touching tributes for Ian Hutchison

It was with great sadness that we in the Association learned of the news of former provost Ian Hutchison.  As Jackson Carlaw MSP intimated, ” Ian was part of band of councillors including Jean McFie, Robbie Robertson, Burnett McPhail, Judy Edmondson, Leslie Rosin and then latterly Iain Drysdale, Jim Shaw, Barbara Grant and Charlie Gilbert who all served with great distinction together for many years when Conservatives dominated the old Eastwood District Council”. The high esteem in which he was held may be drawn, not just from the large number who, despite the extremities of severest weather, attended his funeral but also from the recent article in the Barrhead News, which we have copied below, where local politicians of all hues paid testament to his influence on civic life in East Renfrewshire. He will be greatly missed.

Touching tributes for Ian Hutchison – extract from Barrhead News 7th March

Touching tributes for former Provost Ian Hutchison

Tributes have been paid to former Eastwood Provost Ian Hutchison after he died at the age of 89.
Best known for his roles as the area’s civic leader and chair of the Eastwood Planning Committee, Mr Hutchison was described as “a remarkable man” by current East Renfrewshire Provost Jim Fletcher.
And a minute’s silence was held in honour of the former Conservative councillor before the full meeting of East Renfrewshire Council on Friday.
Opening the meeting, Provost Fletcher said: “I’ve known Ian since I was first elected in 1988. He was a man who I greatly respected as a councillor.

“When I first joined the council, I enjoyed debating with him.
“He was a real councillor and he was easily elected most of his life.
“In his early days, when he chaired the planning committee, he was never afraid to take a difficult decision if it was right for the council.
“He always did what he thought was right and what was right for the local area. He was quite a remarkable man.”
Tributes also poured in online from friends and former colleagues.
Eastwood MSP Jackson Carlaw released a statement paying tribute to Mr Hutchison.
He said: “It is with great sadness that I heard of the death of former Eastwood Provost and Conservative councillor Ian Hutchison.
“Ian was a long-serving and thoroughly professional public servant in days when councillors gave of their time without any financial salary.
“He led the Eastwood Planning Committee for many years and also served as councillor when the new East Renfrewshire authority was created.
“He had a real ability to cut to the heart of an issue and an engaging and waspish sense of humour.
“I offer my condolences and best wishes to all his family and friends.”

Parliamentary Plaudits for Giffnock North Athlete

Giffnock North High Jumper, Nikki Manson, has received parliamentary plaudits after being selected to represent Scotland in the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast later this year.  Nikki holds the Scottish indoor record for the high jump after she cleared the height of 1.9m.

East Renfrewshire MP, Paul Masterton lodged the Early Day Motion for the high jumper in the House of Commons earlier this week (7th March)

Early Day Motions or EDMs allow MPs to raise awareness of an organisation or cause. The EDM lodged for Nikki reads as follows:

“That this House congratulates Nikki Manson of Giffnock North Athletic Club for being selected to represent Scotland in the high jump in the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in 2018; notes that Nikki celebrated her Gold Cost selection by clearing 1.9 metres to set a new Scottish indoor record; acknowledges that although Nikki initially missed the cut for the Gold Coast, her hard work and dedication eventually paid off to book her place in Team Scotland; also wishes every success to Nikki as she gets ready to take part in Australia.”

East Renfrewshire MP Paul Masterton commented:

“I am delighted for Nikki and her coaches. She has certainly been on a roller-coaster of a journey as far as qualification is concerned but I am happy her hard work and determination has paid off.  I wish her every success in Australia representing Scotland.”

Newton Mearns care home to close following Care Inspectorate concerns

The Care Inspectorate has made a court application for Greenlaw Grove care home in Newton Mearns to be closed down citing an “unacceptable quality of care, leadership, staffing and environment”.

This follows the care home having its grades reduced by the Care Inspectorate and an improvement notice being placed on the home in August 2017, which was extended to 31 January 2018.

East Renfrewshire has now cancelled their contract with the home, having previously placed a hold on any new placements to Greenlaw Grove back in August 2017.

Residents and their families were notified of developments via letter on 23 February 2018.

Commenting Eastwood MSP, Jackson Carlaw said:

“I will be keeping in close contact with council colleagues as this decision develops.

“There are 26 East Renfrewshire residents who will now require to be rehoused with many others now in limbo.

“This news will be daunting for many families, yet it reinforces the importance we in Eastwood put on care for our elders.”

East Renfrewshire MP, Paul Masterton added:

“There have been longstanding concerns about Greenlaw Grove with the Care Inspectorate significantly revising their view on the quality of care provided.

“It would have been remiss of the local Health and Social Care Partnership to continue to commission care with these concerns hanging over the provider and whilst it will be a concerning development for many it remains the correct decision by council colleagues.”

Targeted attacks against Eastwood Asian community raised at FMQs

Today at First Minister’s Questions, Jackson Carlaw MSP raised the issue of a huge upsurge in break-ins to the homes of Eastwood’s Asian community.

Over 25% of all burglaries in East Renfrewshire this year have occurred in homes owned by Asian families in Newton Mearns.

This follows a public meeting with representatives of the Asian community on 9 February 2018 with Area Commander, Chief Inspector Angela Carty along with Chief Inspector Shaheen Baber of the National Safer Communities Department and Inspector John McQuilter of Glasgow Division.

The meeting was organised by Baroness Nosheena Mobarik MEP and attended by Jackson Carlaw MSP, Paul Masterton MP and Newton Mearns Cllr Jim Swift.

In almost every case the thieves struck brazenly in broad daylight.

According to police the gang operates in a highly-professional manner, getting in and out of the targeted property in a very short space of time and leaving no worthwhile clues behind.

They have launched several initiatives in an attempt to track them down, but so far they have proved to be fruitless.

Commenting Jackson Carlaw MSP said:

“These are serious and organised attacks on the homes of many within the Asian community who have been left feeling violated.

“Anyone who has any information that could be of use should come forward however trivial it may seem.

“I welcome that the First Minister is raising this matter with Police Scotland for her own constituents as only by raising its profile will people hopefully come forward with useful information to bring these criminals to justice.”

SNP and Green Party vote to increase East Renfrewshire residents’ Income Tax

Today (20th February 2017), the SNP and the Green party combined in Holyrood to push through changes which will see East Renfrewshire hit with income tax increases. The changes also mean that anyone earning more than £26,000 a year will pay more tax than they would if they lived in England.

Those who voted to increase the amount of tax paid by workers and pensioners across East Renfrewshire included Renfrewshire South MSP, Tom Arthur.

The increase will see around 22,000 people in the area hit by a tax hike. The new rates are as follows:

19p “Starter Rate” from £11,850 to £13,850

20p “Basic Rate” from £13,851 to £24,000

21p “Intermediate Rate” from £24,001 to £44,272

41p “Higher Rate” from £44,274 to £150,000

46p “Additional Rate” for anything over £150,000

Critics of the change point out that taking money out of hard working people’s wallets is not a good way to kick start the economy, and increase consumer spending. Especially at a time when Scotland’s economic growth lags behind that of the UK as a whole. The Scottish Conservatives argued that the correct way to raise additional revenue was the expand the tax base and grow the economy.

Commenting East Renfrewshire MP, Paul Masterton said:

“These income tax changes are extremely disappointing news for East Renfrewshire residents. It will see many hard-working families hit as a result of the SNP’s inability to grow the Scottish economy. This will also break a key manifesto pledge by the SNP not to raise income tax. Put simply, the people of East Renfrewshire are having to pick up the bill for a decade of the SNPs economic mismanagement.”

“There is also no good reason for Scottish taxpayers to be paying more than their friends and family in the rest of the UK.”

“Whilst some people will see an extremely small saving, this will be nothing compared to the increase in Council Tax coming round the corner from the SNP/Labour administration, and all at a time when councils are having to cut back services significantly. All this will lead to is less disposable income for those on the tightest budgets.

East Renfrewshire is paying more to get less, and people here deserve better.”

East Renfrewshire MP pledges to “Count Armed Forces Community In”

Paul Masterton, MP for East Renfrewshire has declared his support for The Royal British Legion and Poppyscotland’s ‘Count Them In’ campaign, which calls for the Armed Forces community to be included as a topic in the next Census.

It has been estimated that there are currently between 6.5 million and 6.7 million members of the Armed Forces community living in the UK, representing about a tenth of the population. However, little is currently known about the exact numbers, location and needs of this significant group. Inclusion of this topic in the next census would provide public bodies, local authorities, and charities with valuable information to ensure they are able to deliver the best services they can for our Armed Forces community.

Paul met with representatives of The Royal British Legion and David, a veteran, to discuss the campaign in Parliament on Tuesday 30 January.

East Renfrewshire MP, Paul Masterton said:  

“Members of the Armed Forces community make huge sacrifices in the service of our country. I enjoyed meeting with David and staff from The Royal British Legion and hearing more about their Count Them In campaign.

I was very disappointed to learn that we currently know more about the UK’s Jedi community than we do about our Armed Forces. It cannot be right that our Servicemen and women, veterans and their families are effectively hidden from official statistics, and that’s why I’m backing the call for new questions to be added to the next UK Census. We count on them – let’s count them in.”

Charles Byrne, Director-General of The Royal British Legion, said:

As a nation we promise to provide lifelong care and support for those who serve our country. By including the Armed Forces community in the 2021 Census, we can help public bodies and charities deliver the best services they can for our Armed Forces community, when and where it is needed most. We thank Paul for adding his support to our campaign: together I’m confident that we can make the next census count for our Armed Forces community”

East Renfrewshire residents pay for biggest increase in Council Tax income in Scotland

According to the latest Audit Scotland report, East Renfrewshire council taxpayers have paid for the biggest percentage increase in Council Tax revenue in Scotland.

East Renfrewshire residents have increased council tax revenue by more than 12% in this financial year, more than any other council area in Scotland.  Council tax has risen because of recent reforms.

9% of the rise came due to council tax banding reform whilst the remaining rise came from council tax increases.

However, even after the additional revenue raised by hardworking families in East Renfrewshire is considered, council chiefs are still faced with a £26 million cut from the budget because of a lack Scottish Government funding.

As a result, a council tax payer will now be paying more for less. Current plans outline a proposed 10% reduction in the infrastructure budget and 8% cut in education spending in East Renfrewshire. 

East Renfrewshire MP, Paul Masterton, said:                                         

“East Renfrewshire council taxpayers are being asked to fork out time and again to fund Scottish Government incompetency. With the proposed £26 million worth of cuts coming and a 12% increase in council tax revenue, East Renfrewshire residents are starting to ask what there hard earned money is being spent on” 

Eastwood MSP, Jackson Carlaw added:

“East Renfrewshire residents are being asked to pay more tax for less as they hit are hit hard by local and national tax rises.”

“With a 12% increase in Council income, a cut in local services and a proposed hike in Income Tax many will be asking themselves how they benefit from these changes”

Paul Masterton MP thanks local postmen and women as they deliver a first class Christmas

Paul Masterton MP visited Newton Mearns Delivery Office to see first-hand the operation of delivering Christmas post and to pass on season’s greetings to its hardworking staff.

Mr Masterton was shown around the office by Delivery Office Manager, Robert Taylor, and was introduced to the postmen and women, who are pulling out all the stops to sort and deliver mail in Newton Mearns over the Christmas period.

The Festive Season is Royal Mail’s busiest period, as millions of people shop online for gifts and send Christmas cards and parcels.

Commenting East Renfrewshire MP, Paul Masterton, said:

“At no other time is the hard work and dedication of postmen and women clearer than during the festive period. There is a huge amount of effort and dedication that goes into delivering a first class Christmas.

“It was great to meet the team here at Newton Mearns and  thank them for the extraordinary lengths they go to ensure Christmas cards and presents are delivered to loved ones on time, and for all they do year-round.”

Robert Taylor, Royal Mail Delivery Office Manager, said:

“Our postmen and women are working extremely hard to deliver Christmas cards, letters and parcels to people across Newton Mearns. We are grateful that Mr Masterton MP visited the office to see our operation and to support the team.’

East Renfrewshire MP raises concerns about ‘Online Ticket Bots’

East Renfrewshire MP, Paul Masterton has raised concerns surrounding ‘online ticket bots’ and the effect they have on pushing up prices for festival and concert goers.

Online bots can harvest hundreds of tickets when they initially go on sale, before re-selling them in a secondary market to the general public. This allows ticketing bot companies to artificially increase the price of a ticket in order to make a profit.

Mr Masterton had raised his concern to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport the Rt. Hon Karen Bradley MP.

The Secretary of State said she ‘sympathised’ with Mr Masterton concerns especially during the festive period. She went on to add that the Government is introducing a new offence in the Digital Economy Act 2017 to prevent such automated software, whilst also strengthening provisions in the Consumer Right Act 2015.

Commenting East Renfrewshire MP, Paul Masterton, said:                                         

‘Constituents had raised concerns with me surrounding the use of online ticket bots. It is simply unacceptable that large companies are able to inflate prices for customers who just want to see a concert or attend a festival or a football match. I am happy to see the UK Government putting measures in place, so practises like this become a thing of the past.’