Scottish Labour has unveiled its list of candidates for the local government elections in Glasgow – and promised to transform the support it offers from birth to old age.
The party’s manifesto for the next five years in Glasgow promises:
- to expand free childcare by up to 1500 per child
- to offer a guarantee of apprenticeships, jobs or training to every 16 – 24 year old in Glasgow.
- to rebuild or refurbish every primary school that needs it
- to build 3500 new homes for rent, and offers first time buyers help with mortgages
- to replace the Winter Fuel Allowance – cut by the Tories -for the over 80s in the city
The party will field 45 candidates across all wards in the city. Full details are on www.glasgowlabour.com/candidates.
Gordon Matheson, Labour Leader of Glasgow City Council, said: ‘This election is about the future of our city. Glasgow has changed so much over the years, but we need to keep moving forward and to give chances to the next generation.
‘Our candidates are working hard across the city, knocking on doors, talking to voters and listening to their concerns.
‘I joined the Labour Party to change society and change lives, and in tough economic times Labour in Glasgow will put people in Glasgow first.
‘That is why I have set out a vision to improve childcare, refurbish our schools, create jobs, build homes, and protect the city’s pensioners.
‘But this isn’t just about policies and new schemes to help people. This is about something much bigger. It is about protecting our citizens from birth to old age, giving chances to the next generation, doing always what we can to make the biggest city in Scotland the greatest city in the world.’
Representatives from some 35 of the country’s brewing companies gathered in Glasgow’s East End recently to discuss the creation of a Scottish small brewers’ association.
The event, which was hosted by WEST Brewery, was held at Templeton Business Centre and attracted delegates from as far north as Orkney.
Petra Wetzel, WEST managing director, said she wanted to move the idea of a Scottish association forward, asking industry partners to get together ‘and talk about things like procurement, logistics, distribution, bottling, quality assurance, marketing, all of these things which affect us all as brewers and could be really worthwhile to exchange ideas on’.
Petra, from Bavaria, is driven by her ideas, and despite being new to the brewing industry is not slow in moving her ideas forward.
‘Sometimes it takes a total outsider – who’s a bit bonkers – to really kind of initiate something like that,’ she said. ‘We have a great facility here, a great beer hall, it was a natural fit for WEST to initiate something like this.’
She added: ‘I think it’s really positive the way people have responded to the idea of starting a co-operative. It wouldn’t just be a trade association. It would go a step farther and say that we could start a co-operative for purchasing, whether that would be for utilities, services, raw materials.
‘We are really keen to explore the idea of starting a bottling co-operative for all the Scottish brewers to combine forces and have this in the central belt that would serve all the small brewers.’
With a British brewing landscape that is dominated by perhaps a dozen household names, many of which are now owned by overseas shareholders, Petra feels that strength in numbers in Scotland is the way forward to compete with the giant players.
‘If we can help each other to work more effectively- and at the end of the day we’re all in business, we’re not running charities – that’s all that matters.’
There is also the hope that co-operation will mean benefits to the Scottish economy, and from there, jobs.
‘A lot of the brewers are sending product down to England to get bottled. Diageo is making people redundant in Kilmarnock. Now, that’s whisky. At the end of the day, there are skilled workers in Kilmarnock who have worked in bottling who will lose their jobs … if we could create a bottling facility in Scotland employing some of those people then we have gained.’
Glasgow is aiming to go back to its roots as the ‘dear green place’ with an ambitious campaign to cut its carbon emissions, meets its energy needs and cash in on the eco-friendly energy boom.
The ‘Sustainable Glasgow’ study by the University of Strathclyde has identified how the city can cut its carbon emissions by 30% over the next 10 years.
In a programme outlined at the City Chambers, proponents of the scheme claim green energy projects could bring in £1.5bn of new investment. It also; recommends a biogas scheme which turns sewage and waste into energy, creation of urban woodland on vacant land, district heating and smart grid electrical systems, use of biogas and electrical powered vehicles and a campaign to help Glaswegians change their behaviour and recognise the importance of sustainability.
Leader of Glasgow City Council Steven Purcell told LOCAL NEWS: ‘There’s a huge opportunity, particularly to invest in the skills that the emerging clean, green industries are looking for, and I think one of the exciting things about this is the idea that our colleges and universities will begin to invest in the kind of courses and training required to provide a labour force for tomorrow’s jobs.’
Batting for Glasgow, he added: ‘I don’t think there’s anywhere else in the UK that’s being as ambitious, whether it’s the skills agenda, the energy masterplan or being much more ambitious in what we do in terms of waste management.
‘We know from this very significant piece of work that’s been done in the past year between the University of Strathclyde, major energy companies ScottishPower and Scottish & Southern Energy and other private sector partners that these opportunities are real. Business and the public sector can’t have invested the time and energy we have in the past year for no reason.
‘I’m confident that we have the energy, the skills and the ambition to deliver on this.’
Asked about squaring the plan for urban woodlands with the demand for housing building within the city, the council leader responded: ‘For every development that takes place in the city, we will guarantee that we will mitigate any carbon emissions by other developments like the urban woodlands.
‘Also, we’re making it a clear requirement now of our planning approach that we look at any development and test how low they are in carbon emissions.’
The plan also suggests a light rail network for the city centre area. However, it is ‘one of many ideas around transport infrastructure that we are flagging up as a possible solution to improving public transport and making the system more viable,’ said Mr Purcell.
‘Clearly it’s something we can only put into the marketplace and see if there is interest.’
By Erik Geddes
Glasgow’s community centres will bear the brunt of hefty budget cuts after the city announced it has a £61m hole in its finances this year.
There were jeers outside City Chambers as 150 people gathered to protest the cuts in public services, which will mean the closure of 11 community centres, a swimming pool and a community library.
Culture & Sport Glasgow will see its budget fall by some £1.7m.
A number of jobs – the city hopes up to 600 voluntary redundancies – in key areas such as community workers and welfare rights are to be slashed.
Some, but not all sports centres will shut for two half-days a week
Kelvingrove, the Gallery of Modern Art and the Burrell Collection – recognised as Glasgow’s flagship and showcase attractions – will not be affected by the reduced opening hours.
Knightswood Pool and Sighthill Community Library will close. In the east of the city, Bellrock Community and Garthamlock Recreation centres will go. The cuts mean closures of facilities in Cadder, Ledgowan, Wyndford and at Red Road.
In the south-east of the city, Cathkin will close, while Invercraig/West Drumoyne and Lorne Street centres in the south west are also targets.
In the west, Argo Street and Overnewton centres will also close.
The facilities to close are, according to the council, ones ‘which have both low usage and would require substantial funds for essential repairs’.
Nicola Burton, Chair of Save Lorne Street and Secretary of Kinning Park Community Council, was one of the protesters whose community centre is set to close on 31 March.
‘The mothers and toddlers are a massive part of Kinning Park community.
‘If this service is cut and the centre closed it would rip the heart out of Kinning Park.
‘Everyone from Mums and Tots, dance classes to community council meeting take place here.
‘We were not involved in the consultation process at all, I’ve not been able approach anyone from Culture and Sport Glasgow. The fact that they are now considered arms length seems to remove them from responsibility.’
Meanwhile, Glasgow City Council dismissed pressure to cut back on their use fancy cars at ceremonial occasions.
Steven Purcell, Leader of the Council, joked that certain elements of the Scottish Green Party Budget proposals were ‘middle class’, and the sort of things he would hear at a West End dinner party.
The proposal – from Councillor Danny Alderslowe – was to reduce the use of limousines by the council.
It was claimed that £175,000 could be saved by using taxis instead of limos for most journeys.
Councillor Alderslowe said: ‘Limos for councillors are a sheer indulgence during these hard times.’
Despite the Labour-led administration ignoring this proposal, he found reason to be positive with the school gardening projects proposals taken on board.
This will see new beds and fruit trees implemented in all of Glasgow’s ‘additional support for learning’ primary schools.
Speaking exclusively to LOCAL NEWS, Councillor Alderslowe said: ‘They (the Labour lead administration) have taken something from our budget every year for the past three budgets.
‘It’s good to know that they that they are adopting some health and some green issues, even if it’s just on a smaller scale.’
The biggest cheer of the chamber came when City Treasurer Gordon Matheson declared an extra £8m to deal with the pot holes in Glasgow’s roads, taking the total spend to £12m.
First Minister Alex Salmond has used an address at a summit in Easterhouse to announce a £34m jobs boost for Scotland.
The event, which also featured a speech by Secretary of State for Scotland Jim Murphy, was attended by elected officials, local authorities, voluntary groups, the business community, trades unions, colleges and universities.
The package will come from European Union funds, creating at least 200 jobs and safeguarding many more, the audience at John Wheatley College heard.
Mr Murphy said some 300 jobs could be created by a boost from the Future Jobs Fund, an initiative driven by the Department of Work and Pensions.
The Scottish Government also announced a £4m package under the ScotAction banner, open to businesses to drive up the number of apprentices.
On the economic front, the Scottish Secretary explained: ‘The recovery from the recession of the 1980s, getting the jobs market back to where it was, was 19 years after the recession started.
‘After the 1990s recession it was six years. If we have a 1990s-style recovery in the jobs market, it’ll be 2014 before we get back to where we were. If we have a 1980s-style recovery in the jobs market, it’ll be 2027.
‘None of us are interested in waiting until 2027 to get us back to where we were before this recession and none of us are interested in waiting till 2014, but that has been the pattern. There is a warning within these figures.’
Education Secretary Mike Russell MSP told LOCAL NEWS GLASGOW: ‘Just as there are, on a national basis, 4,000 incentives of £1000 each to companies to take on an apprentice, there are always local initiatives. I know, on the Glasgow side, the Skills Development Scotland people will be looking for those who might benefit. That’s where the biggest skills pool lies.
‘They will need to go into Glasgow employers and they will need to make sure that those Glasgow employers are full aware of it. I would expect there’ll be substantial targeting of these initiatives within Glasgow.’
Glasgow is looking beyond the recession and equipping young workers with new skills to build a stronger economy, the 12th annual State of the City Economy Conference heard.
Lauding the Commonwealth Apprenticeship Initiative and renewing the city’s commitment to it, Council Leader Steven Purcell said the city was preparing for an economic upturn by building the pool of skilled labour.
More than 1000 qualified school leavers who applied to the scheme launched in March 2008, are in apprenticeships or on a National Progression Award that will lead to an apprenticeship.
The scheme is aimed at equipping the city with the talent to turn the 2014 Commonwealth Games blueprint into reality.
‘I don’t know how long this recession will last, but I do know that at some point we will come out of it and when that happens, we must ensure that Glasgow comes out of it stronger than when we went in,’ Mr Purcell said.
In a bullish address to delegates at the Radisson Hotel on Argyle Street, the Council Leader cited 1,300 new jobs in the nearby financial district, retail expansion in the St Enoch’s Centre and a planned expansion for Buchanan Galleries as evidence of Glasgow’s resilience.
Hotel occupancy rates have risen to 81% over the past two years, he added, with additional room space to come.
The volume of private sector planning permissions granted in 2008-09, suggests that developers continue to have faith in the city’s potential, he said.
Beware! The Government is encouraging you to buy – via the internet or back street shops – polluted herbal preparations ‘spiked’ with banned substances such as toxic heavy metals which have caused liver failure and long-term health problems.
As the European Union tightens the rules on the supply of herbal products, their sale, except for a small number of products for ‘mild illnesses’, will be banned from 2011.
Since 2000, the Government have been consulting on how to bring the 2,500 UK qualified herbalists and traditional medical practitioners (Chinese, Tibetan and Ayurveda) under statutory regulation.
The first consultation, which was published in 2005, had an overwhelming response in favour of statutory regulation.
This most recent consultation process, which closes to public comment on November 16, has been slammed for being far too complicated, with herbalists and their patients unable to respond to the obscure consultation questionnaire. This could affect the chances of its success. If the Government fail to proceed with statutory regulation, practitioners here will lose the right to supply their traditional preparations and medicines.
Then the six million Britons who use herbal practitioners may be forced to scan the internet, which abounds with substandard and potentially dangerous products.
‘We fear if the Government refuses statutory regulation, we will see a black market in herbal products, with unlicensed, potentially dangerous remedies’. Said Dr Michael Dixon, of the Prince’s Foundation for Integrated Health
The UK Department of Health said currently there was currently no timeline for further action on a regulatory scheme.
Scottish Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon’s department said they are working towards a solution that ensures public protection, and ‘Any regulatory proposals must meet the specific needs of the people of Scotland’.
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Esure ensures jobs
Five hundred new jobs will be created in Glasgow’s international financial district in the next five years. The announcement by Peter Wood, Chairman of esure today (Wednesday 18 February 2009) means that within the next 18 months to two years, esure the car and home insurance e -company, will be hiring 250 people. ‘These are good jobs for enthusiastic people,’ said Peter Wood who pioneered direct insurance in the UK with Direct Line. ‘In these terrible times it is even more important that people protect their home with insurance and it is a legal obligation to have car insurance. People are shopping around on the internet and esure is a great brand name. We have several horses in the race with Sheilas’ Wheels and esure. And in Glasgow we have the combination of excellent people, superb infrastructure and a can-do ethic which makes this a perfect place to do business. ‘
He chose to locate the new jobs in Glasgow because it is the ‘engine’ of the esure business and is his favourite city. ‘Anyone who would locate in London needs their head examined,’ he said candidly. ‘With their transport problems and overpriced offices it means highly paid staff have great difficulty getting to work. I cannot understand why anyone with telephone and internet-centred businesses would choose to locate anywhere but Glasgow.’
The company will invest around £17m in the Glasgow development in their own, purpose-built building – Equinox – in Cadogan Street where 610 staff are already employed. There is ample space for the new personnel and a 24 hour operation is planned.
The Scottish Government has provided a Regional Selective Assistance (RSA) grant of £1.4m but Peter Wood emphasised that, while it was a help and made him feel confident the company and the Scottish Government were ‘working well together,’ no amount of RSA would induced him to forgo the competitive advantage. ‘The reason this is happening in Glasgow is because of the excellent workforce.’
There is no requirement to ensure that people from any particular deprived area of the city or people from any agencies preparing those who are out-of-work for the jobs market, will be given a fast track interview or job opportunity.
First Minister Alex Salmond attended the announcement at the esure building in Glasgow. He said: ‘This is a ringing endorsement of one of Scotland’s greatest strengths – our human capital. The skills, expertise and commitment of our workforce have secured this investment and expansion for esure’s Glasgow operations. I welcome this jobs expansion which is a beacon of hope and optimism. Companies like esure will guide Scotland out of the recession and into better times.’