Disregard All the Hype From Westminster – The 2017 General Election Is All About the Extent of Further Financial Austerity Measures to be Introduced After the Election – Regardless of Whichever Party Forms the Government

 

 

 

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2008 United Kingdom Bank Rescue Package

A bank rescue package totalling some £500 billion was announced by the British government on 8 October 2008, as a response to the ongoing global financial crisis.

After two unsteady weeks at the end of September, the first week of October had seen major falls in the stock market and severe worries about the stability of British banks.

The plan aimed to restore market confidence and help stabilise the British banking system, and provided for a range of short-term loans and guarantees of interbank lending, as well as up to £50 billion of state investment in the banks themselves.

The plan provided for several sources of funding to be made available, to an aggregate total of £500 billion in loans and guarantees.

Most simply, £200 billion was made available for short term loans through the Bank of England’s Special Liquidity Scheme.

Secondly, the Government supported British banks in their plan to increase their market capitalisation through the newly formed Bank Recapitalisation Fund, by £25 billion in the first instance with a further £25 billion to be called upon if needed.

Thirdly, the Government temporarily underwrote any eligible lending between British banks, giving a loan guarantee of around £250 billion.

However, only £400 billion of this was ‘fresh money’, as there was already in place a system for short term loans to the value of £100 billion.

Alistair Darling, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, told the House of Commons in a statement on 8 October 2008 that the proposals were “designed to restore confidence in the banking system”, and that the funding would “put the banks on a stronger footing.”

Prime Minister Gordon Brown suggested that the government’s actions had ‘led the way’ for other nations to follow.

But the Shadow Chancellor George Osborne stated, “This is the final chapter of the age of irresponsibility and it’s absolutely extraordinary that a government has been driven by events to today’s announcement”; but he did offer opposition support for the plan.     (Wikipedia)

 

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2017: Crunch Year – Rothschild Wants His Money Back

Borrowing terms agreed between the Labour government and the then bank of last resort for the UK, required that the sum of £300 Billion be repaid to Rothschild’s World bank in 2017.

But at 2017 monthly borrowing from the IMF and other sources by the Tory government routinely exceeds £15 billion leaving only one source available to gather the money to repay the loan. The UK taxpayer.

This year and the years to follow will see the introduction of an even more brutal austerity programme of cuts the bulk of which will be addressed at the welfare state.

Many former sacred cows will be slaughtered upon the altar of need. Pensions, welfare, health, capital building projects, defence and other aspects of expenditure will be brutally cut.

The return of £300 Billion is not negotiable and even repaying the aforesaid loan will still leave the UK £1.9 Trillion in debt. Clearing this will take between 30-50 years.

What a legacy incompetent Unionist governments and bankers are passing onto our children. But the richest 1% will remain outside the austerity agenda. The poor will get poorer and the rich get richer.

 

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The 2017 General Election

In a few weeks the Scottish electorate will once more be asked to vote, this time electing individuals to serve as Members of Parliament at Westminster. The General Election presents Scots with an opportunity to ensure their voices are heard, listened to and acted upon at Westminster.

This has not been the case previously due to the structure of politics within the UK which markedly favours political parties heavily influenced by UK agendas.

But Scotland, the “tail end Charlie” is now placed to bring about change.

The unionist parties response will be harsh. Disinformation, lies, predictions of doom and disaster will feature in all sections of the media.

Scots will need to absorb all of the nonsense then hit back sending 59 SNP MP’s down to London.

It is of no consequence to Scotland which of the Unionist parties forms the next UK government.

Each is determined upon a course of austerity further increasing the misery of Scot’s.

A large body of SNP MP’s will provide balance in the House of Commons.

 

 

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Updated: 2017 General Election – Early Swing To Tories – Labour Flat-lining – Added in New Information – Indications – Eight Seats Might Be Lost to The Unionist Parties

 

 

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Regardless of what is going on in the other parts of the UK, the General Election in Scotland is developing into a test of the political will of the electorate.

To the exclusion of all other factors voters will place their votes, either in support of the campaign for independence or conversely with any of the three Unionist parties.

In consequence the landslide victory achieved by the SNP in the last GE cannot realistically be achieved.

Early polling and previous figures gathered by myself suggest seats might change hands, the Tories being the main benefactors:

SNP activists will need to get out in force in the under-noted constituencies otherwise they might be lost.

 

 

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Projected Marginal SNP Holds

71749: Edinburgh West: Michelle Thomson MP: 4388-6.12%: Maj 2015: 3210

GE: 2017: SNP 19309, Liberal 19180, Tory 10960, Labour 3836, Green 1500

65846: Edinburgh South: Ian Murray MP: 3579-5.44%: Maj 2015: 2637

GE: 2017: SNP 15249, Labour 14790, Tory 13311, Liberal 3500, Green 2500

73445: West Abdn & Kinc: S. B. Donaldson MP: 3961-5.40%: Maj 2015: 7033

GE: 2017: SNP 18275, Lib 16620, Tory 16000, Labour 1340, Green 1300

80978: Edinburgh North & Leith: Deidre Brock MP: 4280-5.29%: Maj 2015: 5597

GE: 2017: SNP 22216, Labour 14575, Tory 13992, Green 4081, Liberal 3498

66208: Paisley & Renfrew N: Gavin Newlands MP: 3158-4.77%: Maj 2015: 9076

GE: 2017: SNP 29136, Labour 14564, Tory 13240, Liberal 7944, Green 1240

68875: Argyll & Bute: Brendan O’Hara MP: 3277-4.75%: Maj 2015: 8473

GE: 2017: SNP 18936, Liberal 15510, Tory 10340, Labour 5170, Green 700

77379: Ochil & South Perth: T. Ahmed-Sheikh MP: 3645-4.71%: Maj GE: 2015:

GE: 2017:SNP 19922, Tory 18592, Labour 11620, Liberal 6400, Green 1500

79393: Gordon: Alex Salmond MP: 3711-4.68%: Maj 2015: 8687

GE: 2017: SNP 20757, Liberal 20300, Tory 11600, Labour 3800. Green 1500

79481: East Lothian:George Kerevan MP: 3676-4.63%: Maj 2015: 6803

GE: 2017: SNP 18172, Tory 18081, Labour 14725, Liberal 7068, Green 1800

72178: Edinburgh South West: Joanna Cherry QC: 3283-4.55%: Maj 2015: 8135

GE: 2017: SNP 17928, Tory 17680, Labour 8320, Liberal 6240, Green 2400

71685: Moray: Angus Robertson MP: 2995-4.18%: Maj 2015: Maj 2015: 9065

GE: 2017: SNP 20738, Tory 17820, Labour 3960, Liberal 5445, Green 1500

68609: Banff & Buchan: Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP: 2772-4.04%: Maj 2015: 14339

GE: 2017: SNP 26330, Tory 15640, Labour 2000, Liberal 2000

78037: Lanark & Hamilton E: Angela Crawley MP: 3272-4.19%: Maj 2015: 10100

GE 2017: SNP 25142, Tory 14196, Labour 10920, Liberal 4368

 

 

Seats Under Threat

69982: East Renfrewshire: Kirsten Oswald MP: 4241-6.06%: Maj 2015: 3718

GE: 2017: Tory 25900, SNP 24200, Labour 15400, Liberal 3500, Green 1000

66966: East Dunbartonshire: John Nicolson MP: 3977-5.94%: Maj 2015: 2167

GE: 2017: Liberal 21960, SNP 16629, Tory 11529, Labour 3294, Green 1500

62003: North East Fife: Stephen Gethins MP: 2937-4.74%: Maj 2015: 4344

GE: 2017: Liberal 18120, SNP 12050, Tory 9966, Labour 3624, Green 1500

67236: Stirling: Steven Paterson MP: 3175-4.72%: Maj 2015: 10480

GE: 2017: Tory 17850, SNP 17406, Labour 11550, Liberal 3638, Green 2000

68056: Aberdeen South: Callum McCaig MP: 3618-4.65%: Maj 2015: 7230

GE: 2017: Tory 16429, SNP 15395, Labour 9664, Lib 4832, Green 2000

72447: Perth & North Perthshire: Pete Wishart MP: 3033-4.19%: Maj 2015: 9641

GE: 2017: Tory 22806, SNP 20619, Labour 4000, Liberal 5430, Green 1500

68483: Dumfries, Clyde & Tweed, D Mundell MP:2816-4.11%: Maj 2015: 798:

GE: 2017: Tory 23400, SNP 21320, Labour 4160, Liberal 4160, Green 1500

74179: Berwick, Roxburgh, Selkirk: Calum Kerr MP: 3026-4.08%: Maj 2015: 328

GE: 2017: Tory 20862, SNP 18756, Liberal 13176, Labour 1098, Green 1000

Seats Tory 6, Liberals 2

 

 

 

 

 

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Inverclyde – A Labour Party Fiefdom – 50+ Years of Misrule – The Good People Of the Region Are Entitled to Good Governance- Seize the Day in May – Vote SNP

 

 

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September 2000; Inverclyde – Death of Inverclyde Clyde Under the Labour Party

Inverclyde Council is officially Scotland’s poorest performing local authority. The Council, formerly a part of Strathclyde Region was created by a local government reorganisation.

Its first year’s accounts required 2500 adjustments resulting in a net asset reduction of £49 million, not a lot if you say it quickly, and only taxpayers’ money, not like real money.

Council officers could be forgiven a bit of confusion, after all, Inverclyde had been created by the Tories, who detested Strathclyde, which they also set up, and the reorganisation was to set right all the problems of the past. But not enough resources were allocated.

All very clever ploys by the Tories hoping to regain lost votes didn’t work, but the taxpayers footed the bill for the failure of their trickery. None the less, Inverclyde under Labour had four years to put things right (or should it be left?)

But, true to type they submitted late and poorly prepared accounts, which took some time to correct resulting in a much delayed audit that revealed a failure to achieve statutory targets. Fourteen months passed before the council met revised targets. A very bad year one.

 

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August 2003; People in the West of Scotland live much shorter lives

People living in Glasgow & the West of Scotland have the lowest life expectancy in the UK. The average lifespan of men in the city is more than a decade shorter than in North Dorset, which tops the list for longevity. Health officials blame poverty for the city’s bad record.

Figures relate to life expectancy at birth in 1999-2001:

North Dorset – 80.0
Glasgow – 68.7
Inverclyde – 70.3
West Dunbartonshire – 70.8
Renfrewshire – 71.7
Dundee – 71.8
North Lanarkshire – 71.8
Western Isles – 72.3

The life expectancy for women living in Glasgow & the West of Scotland is not that much better than the men. Scottish council areas accounted for six of the 10 areas with the lowest life expectancy for for women.

West Somerset – 83.5
Glasgow – 76.2
Manchester – 76.5
East Ayrshire – 76.7
West Dunbartonshire – 77.2
Inverclyde – 77.2
North Lanarkshire – 77.5
Renfrewshire – 77.7

The statistics are a national scandal They show that after six full years in power in Westminster and four years in the Scottish Parliament, Labour has completely failed to tackle the underlying problems of poverty and deprivation which lead to low life expectancy. Under Labour, the life expectancy gap between the top and bottom is widening. In reply a spokesman for the Labour party, Scottish Executive said there was “no short-term fix”. (news.bbc.co.uk)

 

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June 2005; Council urged to tackle failings

The Accounts Commission completed a two year study (2003-2005) of the financial performance of local councils in Scotland to assess whether councils were meeting their legal duty to improve services.

Subsequent findings concluded that the report was the most critical to date and identified management problems tracing back to 1996 following another bout of local government reorganisation which had created extensive and fundamental weaknesses in leadership and direction.

Primarily focused on elected members of councils. Senior management in Inverclyde was singled out for adverse comment that it was continuing to prevent the region from improving.

The Accounts Commission said Inverclyde Council required “urgent remedial action” to address weaknesses in its leadership and direction.

Senior managers were ordered to seek outside help to solve the Region’s problems. Then Inverclyde Council leader, Alan Blair said management had drawn up a recovery plan. (bbc.co.uk)

 

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July 2007: Letter from Former Girls And Boys Abused of Quarrier Homes (FBGA) to Mr John Mundell, Chief Executive of Inverclyde Council

Mr Mundell. Further to my conversation with your office today. I am writing as the representative of Former Boys and Girls Abused in Quarriers Homes.

We are writing to ask why you as council leader of Inverclyde Council and the Inverclyde Council have failed in its duties to undertake any type of Enquiry into Quarriers Homes past abuse.

As the Quarriers organisation comes under your sphere of control and regulation. McBearty, Porteous, Wilson, Nicholson, Wallace, Climbie, Drummond, all ex-employees of the care home have all been recently convicted in the Scottish Courts of abusing children in-care either sexually or physically.

In addition a sibling (Gilmore) of a former ex-employee. No other care establishment in the UK has had as many ex-employees convicted of abusing children in its care.
Quarriers Charity are Scotland’s 3rd largest charity today and continue to care for vulnerable adults and children as such it is important that it is fit for purpose going forward and only a full Independent Inquiry will ensure that.

An independent Inquiry will also fully establish the facts and understand the causes and failures in the past care system of Quarriers Homes while ensuring that the current Charity’s organisation has robust care and protection systems in place today to prevent and minimise a repeat of the past.

There have been recent Independent Inquiries into past issues of abuse committed on children in-care by other Councils in Scotland such as Edinburgh and Fife 2002.

An Independent Inquiry or SWSI into Quarriers Homes residential abuses would enable a full understanding of all the abuse issues pertaining to the care home and its residents & ensure the following:

i. Would be able to consider what lessons could be learned from children in-care and any further changes that appear to be needed to minimise the risk to children and vulnerable adults in care in the future.

ii. To review the action of the former organisations senior management and others during the period when children were in the care of the care home.

iii. To identify what action was taken when children at the time reported abuse or made any complaints.

iv. An Independent Inquiry should review the internal Social work audit of measures to protect children and vulnerable adults from abuse in care are sufficient and robust enough and advise whether appropriate and effective safe guards are in place and to make recommendations as to future practice where appropriate.

It is unacceptable that Inverclyde Council and you personally have not initiated any such Independent Inquiry to date. We would like you to consider seriously our request for such an Independent Inquiry for the reasons outlined in our letter. There are many more compelling reasons why such an Inquiry should be undertaken with immediate effect. Signed; David Whelan.

Comment
There are numerous links exposing the scandal of the abuse of children in care in Quarrier homes. This is the most enlightening one. http://aangirfan.blogspot.co.uk/2009/05/child-abuse-suspected.html

 

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Clune Park

 

 

 

 

November 2008; Anger at Council’s Incompetence Failing to Apply for Health Funding

Stuart McMillan MSP, (SNP West of Scotland) reacted angrily to the news that Inverclyde Council had failed to apply for Government funding, allocated to local authorities for tackling health inequalities.

On the back of these reports Mr McMillan has tabled Freedom of Information questions to Inverclyde Council to get to the bottom of this debacle.

He said; “I have today submitted a Freedom of Information request to get to the bottom of this in order to determine whether or not we have witnessed a cover-up as well as a cock up from the Council.

I am extremely angered that Inverclyde Council did not apply for the funding made available by the Scottish Government to tackle health inequalities.

This display of incompetence might have meant that the people of Inverclyde would miss out in their share of vital funding which should have been used to tackle problems such as deprivation and substance abuse.

Thankfully, the Scottish Government have agreed to meet representatives from Inverclyde Council to discuss the matter and hopefully to consider their late submission. The Council must hang their heads in shame on this matter.

I am certain many constituents in Inverclyde will share my anger that Inverclyde Council has shown a lack of leadership over this situation which could prevent much needed support being brought to Inverclyde.”

 

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May 2009; Council Goes Ahead with New Approach to Delivering Excellence in Services

Inverclyde Council has taken the important first step along the road to radically reorganising how it delivers services to its customers to offer excellence at best value for money.

The Future Operating Model reflects a root and branch shift for Inverclyde as it strives to operate more efficiently while giving customers the highest quality services where and when they need it.

Chief Executive John Mundell said: “This is not about our staff doing a bad job. On the contrary they do an incredible job but should be given the freedom to do even more. This is about enabling employees, giving them new skills and a better working environment. “This is all about our customers.

We have spent the past couple of years looking at how we operate as a business and it is clear we can and must change to maximise our resources into front line services and at the same time radically improving our customer service.”

Research identified areas where the Council could improve its operational effectiveness and efficiency at a corporate and service level. Key issues included:

i. Too many points of contact

ii. Too many premises

iii. Too many computer systems

iv. Customer has a different experience with each service and within services
The review was carried out in consultation with staff from a wide range of Council services through participation in workshops and focused discussion groups. Trade unions were also consulted. Research was also carried out through the experience of business transformation projects throughout the UK public sector, local authorities and other organisations.

The new Customer Contact Centre will be located on the ground floor of the Municipal Buildings in Clyde Square. The existing Contact Centre in Wallace Place will be modernised to meet the requirements as it the plan is phased in. The process should be completed by late 2012.

Inverclyde Council Leader Councillor Stephen McCabe said: “We would be failing our communities if we did not act now. Inverclyde’s needs are at the heart of the Future Operating Model. We are determined that our customers get the first class services they deserve from an organisation that is in tune with what they need.”

The six phrase project is funded through £1 million from Council reserves with any additional costs funded by savings created. It is anticipated that savings will cover the cost of loan charges, improving Council buildings, and further investment in frontline services.

Councillor McCabe added: “This really is a case of Spend to Save and is so much more than a shiny new call centre. This is a fundamental change in the way we deliver our services to the customer in a manner that will benefit the Council and the community in the long term.

This is a 10 year model and we expect it to deliver on our fundamental promise to provide excellence to our customers at value for money.” (inverclyde.gov.uk/news/2009/may/)

 

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May 2009; Inverclyde Council’s corporate director of education and social care, Ian Fraser, suspended

Inverclyde Council’s corporate director of education and social care, Ian Fraser, has been suspended by the authority’s chief executive, John Mundell pending an investigation into “a number of management and operational matters”.

The dramatic move followed a decision by the council’s education appeals committee to reverse a decision by the education directorate to refuse a place at Gourock High to a P7 pupil who lived in its catchment.

A council source suggested that the committee’s decision on the parental appeal had been the “final straw”, and not the main reason for Mr Fraser’s suspension.

However, other sources suggest the disciplinary action follows his alleged failure to communicate with the chief executive that the case was effectively a “ticking bomb”.

In Fraser’s defence, it is being pointed that this was a policy he inherited when he moved to the council from East Renfrewshire. As a result of Gourock High’s pending merger with Greenock Academy, the education department – with the backing of the council – had set a limit of 100 places for the S1 intake in August.

However, faced with 101 applications the council held a ballot to select which pupil would attend Greenock Academy. Kirstin Airlie, a pupil at Moorfoot Primary, lost.

The cap had been put at 100 pupils for S1, based on five classes of 20 for practical subjects: the council has now agreed to create another class.

A spokesman for the council said the 101 applications had included an unexpected 12 requests from St Ninian’s Primary – pupils who would normally have gone to St Columba’s High, which is being decanted to another building next year as part of the council’s school modernisation programme.

Education sources suggest Fraser and the council’s chief executive, Mundell, have been engaged in a “power struggle” – not so much over budgets per se but over management style and decision-making.

Some of Fraser’s decisions, such as moving the school holidays, have been controversial with parents. However, the education community regards him as a highly-effective, focused manager, albeit no shrinking violet. (tes.co.uk)

 

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May 2009; Suspended education chief retires

Inverclyde council has granted early retirement to its £100,000 a year education chief after lifting a suspension against him.

The council took action against Ian Fraser two weeks ago as part of an investigation into “management and operational matters”. Now the local authority has announced the 59-year-old year is to retire in August – 10 months early.

He will not receive redundancy or an enhanced package but has not been disciplined. Inverclyde council said it was investigating several issues but Mr Fraser was not the focus.

He was recruited two years ago from the high performing education authority, East Renfrewshire. The council said his suspension, a fortnight ago, was not a direct result of the controversial decision to deny a girl a place at Gourock High School after drawing her name from a ballot.

The girl’s appeal against the decision was upheld by the council, as were the appeals of three other pupils who were denied placing requests at the school. The council has apologised to the families of the four pupils involved for any distress that had been caused.

An independent consultant has also been appointed by lnverclyde to conduct a review and prepare a report on the policies and procedures for school admissions and placing requests and their operational implementation.

John Mundell, chief executive of Inverclyde Council, said: “Inverclyde Council has historically had an excellent track record of high performing education and social care services and Ian contributed to the further development of these services over the last two and half years.” (news.bbc.co.uk)

 

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August 2009; Council blamed for ‘serious mismanagement

Inverclyde promises changes following a hard-hitting inquiry and report into handling of school admissions.

An independent review of Inverclyde Council’s school placing requests policy found four different versions in circulation, with contradictory information contained in each document.

The council’s criteria for granting placing requests appeared to vary from one year to the next, and the admissions process lacked consistency and transparency.

Mr Mundell promised to take immediate action to create a more coherent policy on admissions and parental placing requests after a special meeting of the education and lifelong learning committee considered the report by Maggi Allan, former education director of South Lanarkshire.

Mr Mundell described the report’s findings as “obviously extremely disappointing”, as they had identified a number of serious management and operational issues in the education department.

Ian Fraser, Inverclyde’s former corporate director of education and social care, was suspended and subsequently took early retirement and has since taken up employment with the Scottish Centre for Studies in School Administration (SCSSA), which specialises in leadership and management training.

Ms Allan’s report, which was commissioned in May and cost £35,500, makes a series of recommendations – including the need to reduce the physical capacity of the council’s secondary schools .

This means, in effect, that some classrooms will be turned over to alternative uses, such as community learning and development or teachers’ continuing professional development, so that parents cannot argue that there is space for their children over and above the capping level set by the council.

The council had sought to reduce the S1 intakes for Gourock High and Greenock Academy, pending their merger in 2011 when they become Clydeview High.

Education officials tried to manage the intake by limiting placing requests to the existing two schools, but this was overruled in court.

A sheriff decided that, as Greenock Academy had admitted 160 pupils in 2007, it still had the capacity to admit the same number in 2008, rather than capping its intake at 80.

Ms Allan criticised the directorate for failing to appreciate and act upon the strategic impact of the sheriff’s decision.

The situation was further exacerbated when it was found there were 101 pupils in Gourock High’s catchment, but only 100 places available for 2009-10.

Parents then received a letter informing them that a ballot had taken place to determine which pupil would not be granted entry to Gourock High this month. Thirteen other families, whose placing requests had been rejected, also appealed successfully to the council’s education appeals committee.

Inverclyde also operated its admissions policy for secondary schools purely according to address, rather than simply giving priority to pupils in the associated primaries. That is expected to change, as a result of the review. (tes.co.uk)

 

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Mundell CEO

 

 

 

August 2010; Labour MSP refuses to apologise for ‘Riggi death slur’

Labour MSP Duncan McNeil has refused to apologise for remarks he made following the tragic deaths of the three Riggi children.

The Labour MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde had used the deaths in order to attack SNP politician Keith Brown by suggesting that ministerial inaction over home-schooling had left the children vulnerable.

The bodies of the three children were discovered by firemen who were investigating a gas explosion at the block of flats where they lived, the children had all suffered stab wounds.

Their mother, Theresa Riggi, was found seriously injured after jumping or falling from a second-floor balcony of the building in Edinburgh and has since been charged with their murder.

McNeil, the MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde, implied that home-schooling had left the children in danger and had accused the SNP’s Keith Brown of complacency.

Mr McNeil had questioned whether the home-schooling of the Riggi children may have led to delays in the authorities picking up on the danger they were in.

The Labour MSPs remarks provoked a furious reaction from the Scottish government who accused him of trying to make political capital out of the tragedy.
It also led to home-schooling organisation ‘Schoolhouse’ issuing a statement demanding an apology from the Labour MSP and labelling his remarks deplorable, and an attempt to peddle vile personal prejudice in order to score cheap political points and tantamount to ‘grave-robbing’.

However in a statement McNeil refused to apologise for the remarks suggesting that loopholes in the law could be exploited by some people that would lead to child welfare being compromised. More here; (newsnetscotland.scot)

 

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McCabe Council leader

 

 

 

September 2011; Inverclyde result was a draw. It’ll take more than an Irn-Bru re-branding to turn it round.

Ed Miliband may be relieved at last week’s by-election result in Inverclyde, but for Labour in Scotland, it was no better than a draw.

Labour held the seat with almost the same share as the late David Cairns in what was a good general election result for Labour locally and in Scotland.

That’s the good bit. The SNP almost doubled their vote, appearing to clean up on former Lib Dem voters and winning voters from all other parties.

Enough to say with justification that they’re still riding as high as in the May Holyrood elections.

Hence the importance of the review of the Scottish party led by leading Westminster Blairite Jim Murphy and MSP Sarah Boyack.

Scottish Labour, whose dominance was almost unchallenged for decades, has the fight of its life ahead of it. Full article here; (leftfutures.org/2011/07/)

 

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March 2012; Inverclyde Council suspends four senior bosses because a scheme set up to save cash ended up costing hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Paul Wallace, Corporate Director of Organisational Improvement and Resources at Inverclyde Council, has been suspended by Chief Executive John Mundell along with John Arthur, Head of Safer and Inclusive Communities, Gordon McLoughlin, Head of Customer Service and Business Transformation and head of IT project management Arun Menon.

The four are understood to have been involved with establishing a money-saving drive known as the Future Operating Model, which was unveiled in February 2009, with the aim of helping the council hit an over-all savings target of £6.43 million in three years.

Instead the scheme cost the council £650,000 in fees to consultants Price Waterhouse Cooper, and delivered only £250,000 in savings, far short of the expected £2m target.

The scheme included a raft of efficiency measures and also the establishment of a new council customer contact centre in the Municipal Buildings in Greenock, which opened in October 2009.

But one senior council source said there had been doubts about the need for the new centre. The source said: “Social housing is no longer dealt with by the council, leisure’s not dealt with by the council, what’s this customer service centre for?
They’ve cut away a huge chunk of what a customer service centre is used for.

They’ve even detached the letting of halls to Inverclyde Leisure. In the short term, the expected budget cuts, almost promised savings, have not come to pass, with the result of a black hole in the budget.

The Future Operating Model involves ‘modernisation’. No-one’s prepared to challenge what’s meant by that, but in effect it means more technology, the aspiration to cut staff.

It’s been a budgetary mistake but I don’t think the spend has to be binned. However, the main justification for it was ‘efficiency’ and that has not been successful.”
Lib/Dem Councillor Alan Blair, a former leader of Inverclyde Council said: “It’s a very concerning situation. “It plainly means money is going to have to be found to fill a black hole.

That may well have to come from services important to the public. I think the administration should have been giving much more thought to important projects than recently they have been doing.”

In July 2010, a report by a collection of public watchdogs, including Audit Scotland, warned that the then Labour-run council needed to ensure that the Future Operating Model was going to deliver its projected savings.

The ‘Shared Risk Assessment’ Report’ on Inverclyde Council was co-compiled by the Social Work Inspection Agency, the Scottish Housing Regulator, the Care Commission, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education and Audit Scotland.

It said: “The council has progressed to phase two of their Modernisation and Efficiency Programme which includes designing, building and implementing the council’s Future Operating Model (FOM).

The FOM is based on improvement to both corporate and service level efficiency opportunities through modernisation of current working practices.

The development of a new customer service centre which allows customers to access a range of council services in a single location is expected to deliver significant improvements to customers over the next two years.

The council need to ensure that the FOM delivers the projected efficiency savings and the intended improvements.”

That warning was in stark contrast to the words of Inverclyde Council Leader, Stephen McCabe who launched the plan in May 2009 saying: “This really is a case of spend to save and is so much more than a shiny new call centre.

This is a fundamental change in the way we deliver our services to the customer.

This is a 10-year model and we expect it to deliver on our fundamental promise to provide excellence to our customers at value for money.”

A spokesman for Inverclyde Council said: “Following a review of the council’s operating model, four officers have been suspended, as a precautionary measure, pending further investigation.

Whilst this investigation is being carried out it would be inappropriate to comment on the circumstances of the individuals involved.”

 

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January 2011; PwC consultancy goes sour at Inverclyde

Based on the latest published figures, the FOM project spectacularly failed to do so. In spite of effectively producing an operational loss on this scheme, PwC won a further £300,000 consultancy contract that was not put out to tender, plus another later commission for a contract that did go out to tender. (accountingweb.co.uk/)

 

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January 2011; Inverclyde Project Update

It is now accepted that the major service delivery and value for money project for which they were responsible, the Future Operating Model (FOM), has failed.

It had been intended to produce £1.9 million of savings. In fact all it has made is a loss.

It paid PricewaterhouseCoopers consultants £650,000 and has delivered savings totalling only £250,000.

The FMO project has now been binned and questions are being asked about the supervisory role of the CEO, John Mundell.

He went on sick leave last month (December? Hmmm) and is said to have begun looking at the performance of the FMO project when he came back.

In his defence, it is being said that he asked for a progress report back in October 2010.

That is proving something of a boomerang ploy, raising further questions as to why, if he had queries about FOM’s operations in October, he did not press his request and did not engage with the matter again for some considerable time.

There also appear to be issues around the probity of the council’s relationship with Pricewaterhouse Coopers.

The consultants are alleged to have been given an open contract for £300,000 by the suspended officers.

All of this adds to the pressure for radical reform of local government. (forargyll.com/2011/01)

 

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August 2011; Top council official sacked over saving scheme fiasco

One of Scotland’s leading local government officials has been sacked and several others given final warnings for their role in the collapse of a money-saving scheme.

But cash-strapped Inverclyde Council is continuing to face criticism for taking seven months to complete its probe, during which time it paid out almost £200,000 to the four suspended officers.

The role of the chief executive John Mundell in the saga has also been criticised.

Paul Wallace, the authority’s £100,000-a-year-plus corporate director, was the only member under investigation to be fired for his role in the fiasco, which saw more than £650,000 paid to consultants and savings of barely £250,000 delivered.

The Herald can also reveal Mr Wallace has taken Inverclyde Council to the Court of Session over how it has handled the investigation.

It is understood his case will focus on claims of a lack of transparency in the probe and that chief executive John Mundell’s role in it breached any sense of natural justice.

Two other heads of service, John Arthur and Gordon McLoughlin, both on annual salaries of around £80,000, are on final warnings.

The fourth, Arun Menon, admitted culpability several weeks ago and has also been issued with a final warning.

The decision to sack Mr Wallace comes amid mounting speculation that the former leader of the council at the time the FOM fiasco came to light is to return to the post.

Labour’s Stephen McCabe quit several months ago citing family reasons, but he has been touted to return to the leader’s chair later this month after his successor, Iain McKenzie, was elected to Westminster at the Inverclyde by-election in June.

Last night, senior insiders said the investigation may have cost taxpayers double the amount paid to the four suspended officers as the probe took place and could approach the £500,000 mark.

They also said that despite the outcome there would still be questions about Mr Mundell’s role. (heraldscotland.com/news/home-news)
Comment; Hold on a min, these incompetents were employed by then Council Leader Mr McCabe, he quit because of this screw-up (but before the report that cost the taxpayer many hundreds of thousands (approx £700,000) had been published.)

McKenzie, (formally in McCabes job) lands a higher paid post as an MP at Westminster. McCabe decides to come out of retirement to take up his old job as Council Leader.

If correct the matter needs to be investigated, a professionally qualified person should be appointed not Mr Mccabe is clearly not fit for post.

 

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December 2011; A Special meeting of Inverclyde Council is to be held as part of an inquiry into a failed money-saving scheme.

Councillors are to discuss the Future Operating Model – a project which was designed to save the council cash but ended up costing money – a year after problems came to light.

Four council officials – including a corporate director – were suspended in January this year amid an investigation into the scheme. All have since returned to work, with the last of the employee appeals following the disciplinary action concluded this week.

One senior councillor says that elected members and members of the public should now be told which costs have been associated with the saga.

Lib Dem Alan Blair yesterday told a meeting of Inverclyde Council: “The Lib Dem group are very concerned abut this being dealt with transparently. “We have to get a history of the Future Operating Model, what went wrong and what it has cost the taxpayer. It’s a year since this blew up and that’s too long.”

Council leader Stephen McCabe said the project would be debated in full as soon as a report on it is completed. He said, “The chief executive has given a commitment to the council to report back at the first opportunity.

The chief executive has called a full council meeting to give a detailed report and to allow members the opportunity to question him.” More on Councillor McCabe; http://subrosa-blonde.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/west-of-scotlands-political-world.html

Council chief executive Mundell also gave an assurance that the meeting will be held in public, following a briefing for elected members.

He said: “Full details will be with members and we will try to optimise what will be heard in public.” http://www.itspublicknowledge.info/uploadedFiles/Decision081-2012.pdf

Councillor McCabe defends his record; http://councillorstephenmccabe.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/setting-record-straight.html

 

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18. July 2013; ‘fails’ on jobs and investment targets

A publicly funded urban regeneration firm may face an overhaul over shortcomings in meeting targets on inward investment and job creation.

Riverside Inverclyde was set up in 2006 to create thousands of new jobs and homes and lever in private investment.

A mid-term review shows it has only achieved a small fraction of these targets for its £59m of public funding.

One of its partners, Inverclyde Council, is now proposing changes to the firm’s management structure. Riverside Inverclyde – key facts;
Aims and objectives of Riverside Inverclyde:

i. Launched in 2006 operating for 10 years

ii. Regenerate economically depressed parts of Inverclyde

iii. Create 2,600 jobs

iv. Build 2,285 homes

v. Attract £300m in private investment

vi. Secure £93m in public money

c. Achievements at 2014?

i. £59m of public money ploughed in so far

ii. 191 jobs created

iii. 121 new homes

iv. £3.6m of private investment secured

v. Development of Riverside Business Park:

vi. Enhancements to James Watt Dock

vii. Improvements to parts of Greenock and Port Glasgow town centres

A mid-term performance review was carried out on behalf of the council and Scottish Enterprise by external consultants.

The subsequent report found that Riverside Inverclyde had received about £59m of public funding so far but it had fallen well short in its original targets.

The report credits Riverside Inverclyde with the creation of just 191 jobs and 121 new homes.

It also shows that £3.6m of private investment has been levered in – just over 1% of the original 10-year target.

The report also highlighted some achievements by Riverside Inverclyde, such as the development of Riverside Business Park, enhancements to James Watt Dock and improvements to parts of Greenock and Port Glasgow town centres.

Inverclyde Council, a major financier of Riverside Inverclyde, is now proposing an overhaul of its operations.

If agreed, the board of the regeneration firm would be retained but discussions would take place on its future composition.

The management structure of the firm would also be reviewed and closer monitoring and reviews of it operations would be put in place.

The Council also proposed that both bodies develop a two-year regeneration plan and key economic staff work more closely together.

Inverclyde’s environment and regeneration convener, Councillor Michael McCormick, said: “This mid-term review gives all of the partners a chance to take stock and see what’s working well and what areas we need to change. “It’s clear that in some areas Riverside Inverclyde has worked well and also that we’ve faced some tough economic conditions. “We now wish to focus on delivering a single regeneration and economic development operating plan geared towards the opportunities and financial picture we face today. That way we can make sure that we work together to maximise the impact of our work.”

A spokesman for Scottish Enterprise said: “We remain committed to working with regeneration companies, including Riverside Inverclyde, to create economic opportunities in communities across Scotland.” (bbc.co.uk/news)

 

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July 2013; Agency paid £10m for land that is worth less than nothing

Riverside Inverclyde, the regeneration agency heavily criticised over its misuse of public cash spent in excess of £10 million on land it later emerged was worth less than nothing.

Riverside Inverclyde has so far spent almost £13m on its scheme at the waterfront in Greenock, the vast majority of which was the cost of buying James Watt Dock.

But the report into the seven years of progress of the agency found not only did Riverside Inverclyde pay real estate firm Peel Holdings over the odds for the land but the scale of the contamination on the site left it with a value of minus £6m.

It also claims many of those consulted as part of the review felt the agency lacked rigour in its dealings with Peel. Meanwhile, it has emerged Riverside Inverclyde will appear before the Scottish Parliament’s local government and regeneration committee after the summer recess.

Although the meeting had been scheduled long before it was revealed Riverside Inverclyde had dramatically failed to meet key targets on jobs, homes and investment despite being awarded £60m in public cash, sources insist the findings of the Midterm Review are likely to dominate.

The review of the arm’s-length Riverside Inverclyde found it had met only 7% of its 2600 job targets since 2006, working out at a cost per job cost per job of £321,000.

It built just 5% of the 2285 new homes promised, while also securing just 1% of the private sector investment targeted.

Two leading officials, chief executive Bill Nicol and implementation manager Garry Williamson, have either left or are due to leave.

Mr Nicol and Riverside Inverclyde’s chairman, journalist and commentator Alf Young, have been consulted on the findings of the Deloitte review.

The report found a survey of the James Watt Dock had been carried out across April and May of this year to check on contamination levels of the site, earmarked as the centrepiece of the regeneration of the upper Clyde, complete with prestigious flats and moorings for boats.

It found the extent of the decontamination and “abnormals” works “would indicate significant liabilities in terms of costs as the site is developed and requires an assessment of Riverside Inverclyde’s continuing involvement”.

The report also claimed “the net value of the site was a negative land value, not +£10million” as valued in 2008, adding a leading estate agent “identified no profits would be expected in the development proposal and, in the light of the information provided, indicate a residual negative value of -£5,998,035”.

It then proposed “putting the project on hold until such time as an agreed exit strategy can be developed”. Elsewhere it recommended it is “important to develop an effective partnership with Peel Holdings, allowing some progress to be made on some sites” but adds some feel Riverside Inverclyde could be more robust in its dealings with Peel to achieve better regeneration outcomes”.

Riverside Inverclyde have not returned calls to comment on the reports, while Mr Young said he could not discuss the review as it had not been before the agency’s board.

But one former board member took to social media platform twitter to discuss his four years with Riverside Inverclyde. Chris Osborne, a former SNP councillor, said officials from Inverclyde Council, which together with Scottish Enterprise is behind the body, had expressed concerns about the agency’s progress as far back as 2010.

He said councillors and local authority officers had noted the body “was slow to downsize staff wise when Government funds were reduced” and there were “rumours of tensions over bonuses and pay awards to the chief executive”.

Mr Osborne added: “By and large RI has done much good. More physical regeneration than actual job creation which is obviously disappointing. It must be remembered there was the most severe recession throughout most of it’s existence.

Lots of regeneration projects have suffered because of that. However, the number of jobs created most definitely is a scandal.” (heraldscotland.com/news/home-news)

 

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January 2014; Councillors in Inverclyde to get a two per cent pay rise despite a continuing squeeze on local authority budgets.

The basic pay for all of Scotland’s councillors will go up in March 2014 by one per cent from the current £16,234 to £16,560, backdated to 1 April last year — in line with what has been awarded to staff and offered to teachers.

This will be followed by a further one per cent rise for councillors in April.

The Scottish Government said the move followed representations from councils’ umbrella body Cosla (Convention of Scottish Local Authorities).

Explaining the rise, a Scottish Government spokesman said: “Following representation from Councillors and Cosla, ministers took the decision to end the period of pay restraint and have awarded what they consider is a fair award in the current financial climate.”

The rises were defended today by Inverclyde’s Depute Provost David Wilson, who is Scotland’s representative on the National Association of Councillors. He said: “I will defend these rises until I’m blue in the face.

Councillors work extremely hard and their pay is poor compared with that given to list MSPs. I’ve never really understood what list MSPs actually do, but Councillors certainly deserve their pay rise.”

Mr Wilson also criticised the current level of responsibility payment given to council leaders, describing it as ‘a scandal’.

Inverclyde Council leader Stephen McCabe receives an overall total of £27,058, but Mr Wilson said: The leader is responsible for an enormous budget. It is a big responsibility for very little reward.”

News of the rise in pay, for councillors follows hot on the heels of plans to increase the amounts paid to politicians at Holyrood and Westminster.

The salary of MSPs has been linked to that of MPs since 2002, with politicians at the Scottish Parliament paid 87.5 per cent of an MP’s wage — meaning an MSP’s salary is currently £58,097 a year.

Now proposals are in place to scrap that connection and instead bring MSP rises into line with the public sector.

Meanwhile, MPs could get an 11 per cent increase of £7,600, taking their pay up to £74,000. Inverclyde MP Iain McKenzie has previously said he would refuse such a large rise.

 

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September 2013; Town Hall Rich List-Clydebank
If I was an Inverclyde voter at local elections, I would be making my views quite clear about the disgusting siphoning of public funds towards a select group of individuals.

Is it acceptable for rates-payers money to be allocated away from public services to feather their nests? Surely not?

Chief Executive of Inverclyde council: £141,752
Corporate Dir. of Regeneration & Environment: £122,078
Corporate Dir. of Education & Communities: £122,078
Corporate Dir. of Community Care & Health Partnership: £122,078
Corporate Director of Organisational Improvement & Performance: £120,767
Head of Legal and Democratic Services: £107,513
Adding: “on costs” and associated expenses the total financial commitment to 6 individuals is around £1 million. (rongattway.blog.co.uk/2013/09/28/)

 

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November 2013: Hole Lot Of Bother — Council Way Behind On Pothole Repairs

Only one-in-10 high-risk potholes was made safe or repaired within the target time of seven days in Inverclyde during a six-month period this year, officials have admitted.

And just 14 per cent of less serious potholes were dealt with within the target time of 28 days during a 12-month period, according to an Inverclyde Council report.

Severe wet weather damaging the area’s roads is blamed for the problem and roads bosses are carrying out a review of the situation.

An extra £50,000 is being diverted to reduce backlogs.

The council aims to repair or make high-risk potholes safe within a week of them being identified but between April and September this year that happened for only 12 per cent of such potholes.

In the financial year 2012/3 a level of 26 per cent was achieved. The council’s target for 2013/14 is 80 per cent.

Less serious potholes should be sorted within four weeks of identification, according to council guidelines.

Between April and September this year that response was made in 46 per cent of cases but for the financial year 2012/13, the figure was only 14 per cent. (inverclydenow.com/today)

 

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October 2011; Riverside Inverclyde to build a Gourock Bypass

Riverside Inverclyde, with the support of Inverclyde Council, is to build a one-way bypass around Kempock Street.

Residents of of Gourock are concerned their views are not being taken into account.

Many are of the view that the development is a sticking plaster attempting to solve a more fundamental issue of an ever-increasing volume of traffic.

How creating two fairly busy roads out of one very busy one, creating an island of shops in the middle and alienating the waterfront can be seen as a good thing is beyond belief.

Reduction of traffic the flow has never featured in the options list.

Neither has any thought been given to how else £2.5million (although other reports suggest much much higher) could be spent within Gourock — one would be forgiven for thinking a by-pass was the only way to spend money! It will merely create longer journey times for east-bound traffic and make accessing the north side of Kempock Street more hazardous, as you are forced to cross a main trunk road. (inverclydenow)

 

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January 2014; Labour Councillor under fire after laughing at censorship of Yes campaign in local schools

A Labour Councillor caused anger after appearing to mock local people angered at the news the council was censoring the official “Yes” campaign in local schools despite allowing pupils to view the pro-Union rival site.

Councillor Stephen McCabe has come under fire after he treated the situation as a joke and suggested it would not be resolved until after the independence referendum.

The episode began when Caitlin Brannigan, a student at a local School, tweeted a picture showing that “Yes” Scotland’s site was blocked under content filtering from the Schools internal network but no such block was in place for Better Together.

On hearing this another tweeter Scott Gillan decided to raise the issue with the local Councillor. He tweeted: “How long will it take to resolve “Yes” Scotland page being blocked in our schools Councillor ?”

Inverclyde council leader McCabe responded by tweeting “7 months I’m told Lol”. In a later tweet Mr McCabe described people who had challenged him, “conspiracy theorists”.

However, the Labour Councillor’s response has caused outrage amongst users of social media who have accused the official of treating the matter as a joke and of condoning censorship.

The story provoked controversy in Inverclyde with the local newspaper, reporting that the Labour Councillor is at the centre of a “political storm”.

Speaking to the newspaper, Shona McQuarrie – who leads the “Yes” Inverclyde campaign – said: “This is inexcusable. Mr McCabe was asked a perfectly legitimate question and he chose to make a joke of a very serious matter. There’s been no hint of an apology for his flippancy, or a proper explanation as to what has actually been going on here. It would be different if both websites were blocked. We need to know why the Yes Scotland site was inaccessible, why it was so, and for how long.”
Mrs McQuarrie added: “This is a huge issue. Where is the consideration for what parents think? Pupils are not learning anything about the referendum in local schools if they are only being provided with one side of the debate. It is profoundly undemocratic and I have been told that loads of parents have been complaining.”

Newsnet Scotland spoke to one parent whose children attend local schools in the area. She said: “I wasn’t aware of this until I read the ‘Tully’ [Greenock Telegraph]. It isn’t fair to ban one side but let pupils read the other one. They should either ban both websites or allow both websites.” On the flippant response of the council leader, she said: “He should just fix it and say sorry.”

A spokesman for the local authority told the Greenock Telegraph: “Our IT service have sorted out the small glitch which appears to have caused this. There is absolutely no question of any site being deliberately blocked.” The spokesman added: “The first line of the council’s content filtering system is based on website categories.

The “Yes” Scotland website was categorised under ‘society and culture’, which is blocked by default for pupils in schools.

No-one at the council or school was involved in deciding the category of the website, which meant that it was not accessible.

As soon as we were alerted to this situation yesterday morning the site was unblocked by applying more detailed filtering rules, to ensure it could be accessed.” However the issue is unlikely to die down with some questioning why the pro-independence site had been placed in a category that was blocked.

In another twist, the Labour Councillor has now backtracked on an earlier announcement he would quit twitter over the issue. Last night McCabe told users of the social media platform, “I regret to announce the immediate closure of my account. I can no longer take the constant abuse from Cybernats and fellow travellers.”

However within hours, the Labour Councillor had reactivated his account and tweeted: “Following an overnight barrage from the Cybernats (when do these people sleep?) I’ve decided to resume tweeting with A manufactured “political storm. Didn’t someone think to call me?” (newsnetscotland.scot/index.php/scottish-politics)

 

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March 2014; Drug seizures up by 2,000 per cent in Inverclyde

Police in Inverclyde have recorded a 2,000% increase in drug seizures in just a year.

A massive 34 kilos of cannabis resin — with a potential value of around £150,000 — was taken off local streets last year.

The figure compares with 1.7 kilos of the drug being confiscated during 2012.

Other hauls landed by police during 2013 include nearly 13,000 illicit tablets, plus Class A narcotics crack cocaine, ecstasy and heroin.

Nearly 40 kilos of illegal substances were obtained by officers during stop searches and other drugs busts across the district.

Some of the most significant swoops of 2013 saw 12,929 diazepam and other pills being confiscated, as well as the large amount of cannabis resin.

Separate recoveries of 83 cannabis plants, worth more than £30,000, were also made, as well as smaller amounts of MDMA, ecstasy, black market methadone and temazepam.

Inspector Clare McGuckien said that drugs operations within Inverclyde are a ‘top priority’ for her. She said: “My officers will continue to target this blight on our communities and the misery it causes, which has been highlighted recently in the press.

These drugs are dangerous, there is no quality control in their manufacture.” She added: “I would encourage any member of the public who knows of any illegal activity regarding the sale or supply of controlled or unclassified drugs to contact the police.”

The figures were obtained by the Telegraph under Freedom of Information laws from Police Scotland.The data covers the period 1 January until 30 November 2013.
Quantities of so-called ‘date rape’ drug Rohypnol and herbal cannabis were also seized by police during the year.

Police have recorded a number of successes in recent months as they step up the war against dealers.

Class A substances worth an estimated £700,000 were recovered in February last year during a high profile swoop at Larkfield Industrial Estate.

The figures follow on from significant seizures during 2011, when drugs worth around £530,000 were recovered.

This included a huge haul of heroin with a street value of around £325,000 after a police swoop at a flat in Greenock town centre and the discovery of a cannabis factory in Port Glasgow’s Robert Street. (greenocktelegraph.co.uk/news)

 

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March 2014; 1,000 Inverclyde children living in severe hardship

Pat Burke, of Children in Poverty in Inverclyde, has vowed to do more to help them after his organisation was awarded official charity status.

The group was set up last October and since then, thanks to the local community, has helped provide new clothes for up to 80 youngsters.

The charity now hopes to expand its work by offering day trips to Millport and holidays to a lodge in Dunoon, plus arranging events like Christmas parties and pantomime visits. Pat says the latest research into poverty in Inverclyde shows just how much need there is for his group.

Recent figures show that 1,000 children in the area, 11 per cent, are suffering severe poverty, while the take up for school meals in Inverclyde stands at 28 per cent, significantly higher than the national average of 20 per cent.

Pat said: “It is evident that certain children in Inverclyde are in desperate need. The stigma of poverty has a real and lasting effect, and especially on the physical and emotional development of children.

Our organisation believes that through our main activities, children from families affected by poverty will be given opportunities to participate fully in educational, sporting and social activities in our community.

Children from poor families will, as a consequence of our organisation’s activities, feel valued and be empowered to participate — on an equal footing — with their more affluent peers, in all opportunities available to Inverclyde’s children.”

Pat says his group has been asked to provide all sorts of clothing, from anoraks and underwear to bedclothes, since it was set up. They have also encountered families who have been left destitute after fleeing their homes with only what they were standing in, through domestic violence.

The group recently secured cash from the council to help carry out its work but securing charitable status will mean they are able to do even more.

Pat said: “The recent Inverclyde Council grant award of £2,000 received earlier this month will assist us, but now having registered charity status it opens the way for us to make applications to the large external funders whose potential funding would make a real difference in that we will assist greater numbers.”

He also pledged to continue with fundraising and was swift to praise the community’s generosity. Pat added: “When it comes to supporting deserving causes, the people of Inverclyde have no equal. They won’t let us down.” (http://www.greenocktelegraph.co.uk/news)

 

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August 2014; Why are politicians among the few occupations that cannot be sacked for incompetence?

I make no bones about it: most of the politicians based in Inverclyde are either incompetent or corrupt.

There are, of course, exceptions. I know several personally on both sides of the independence referendum who are extremely hard-working, competent and genuine – but Inverclyde Council has a sordid recent history.

In the last decade alone, the Council has been brought to task by Audit Scotland for its gross incompetence, poor leadership, and generally considered the worst local authority in Scotland.

But while improvements have been made, there are still significant barriers to overcome.

The full article, excellent in it’s content and heavily influenced in it’s approach by a wealth of local knowledge is to found here: (wildernessofpeace.wordpress.com/2014/08/29)

 

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March 2014; This is Greenock – A Video Record of progress
The State of Greenock: Webisode 1 – A Creative Greenock https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qr_qUGut4Jk
The State of Greenock: Webisode 2 – A Greener Greenock https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RE03v7u2zJ4
The State of Greenock: Webisode 3 – A Healthier Greenock https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnTRNECn4o4
The State of Greenock: Webisode 4 – A Wealthier Greenock https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=739J0ezCZis
The State of Greenock: Webisode 5 – A Smarter Greenock https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Drx3XvNMCmY
The State of Greenock: Webisode 6 – A Better Greenock https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGsh_X0jN0I

 

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June 2016: Outrage as fat cat council boss pockets £40k after just 15 Months in the job

Boss at one of Scotland’s most cash-strapped councils pocketed a £40,000 pay-off after just 15 months in a £105,000-a-year job which she chose to resign from. Patricia Cassidy got the remarkable compensation payment from Inverclyde Council, which is facing budget cuts of up to £40million in the next three years.

And just six months later Mrs Cassidy was back on the public sector gravy train in a highly coveted £100,000-a-year Scottish NHS job fifty miles away.

Politicians and campaigners hit out at the pay-off and called for more transparency about high-level public sector pay.

Mrs Cassidy was appointed corporate director of education, communities and organisational development at Greenock based Inverclyde in March 2014. (express.co.uk)

 

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Ruth “the Mooth” Davidson’s – Belief in Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the Scots by the Tories for the Tories – The Job Centre Debacle Provides Example

 

 

 

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January 2017: Glasgow Job Centres to be Cut by Half

The Tory party are well versed in the practice of buying the votes of the electorate, usually within 3-6 months of an election. Conversely they are also expert in dealing negative voters out of any initiative which would improve their well-being and when the occasion requires it they have been known for trialling new systems of taxation or potential revenue savings in these same areas. The “Poll Tax” is one such example.

So it was no great surprise to long suffering Scots when, with no prior briefing of the Scottish government, the Tory government in Westminster announced an immediate cull in the number of Job Centre’s in the UK by 20%.

Adding insult to injury the “try before you buy” city singled out for the pilot scheme was Glasgow. The DWP announcement further stated that the Job Centre real estate would be reduced by 50% (from 16 centre’s to 8) well in excess of the 20% target for the UK.

The Scottish press were quick to expose the matter to the attention of the public believing the decision to be “wrong headed” in light of many thousands of distressing stories of sick and disabled people having their benefits sanctioned due to being late or unable to attend Job Centre appointments (from a choice of the existing 16 job Centre’s). A system change requiring the same group of people to travel much greater distances vastly increases the risk of benefit sanctions well beyond that acceptable to a decent caring society

Questioned, in Westminster about the change Mundell, the Scottish Secretary said it was the Tory government’s intention that the level of service provision to Scot’s in receipt of welfare benefits should not be adversely affected. But until the trial scheme is complete and data is available there might be some inconvenience.

So there we have it. The Tories are dead set on introducing major change without any idea of the impact on the electorate. Shades of the Poll Tax debacle.

It was suggested to the DWP that benefit claimants or applicants were invariably low paid or skint and getting to a more widely dispersed job centre provision might make it impossible for people to to get to them. In reply the DWP suggested that applicants could contact them by telephone or through the internet instead. A laughable proposal since establishing a 0345 response with the DWP takes a very long time, which in turn renders the cost of a call extortionately high and way beyond the means of most.

The SNP response to Mundell made clear their anger and strong opposition to the closure plans. And the SNP led debates at Westminster and at Holyrood detailing the many flaws in the proposals.

In addition, SNP politicians in Glasgow spearheaded a cross party campaign to keep the job centres open. To facilitate the campaign a letter was circulated seeking the support and signatures of all Glasgow MP’s, MSP’s, the Glasgow City Council leader and the Scottish Secretary, Mundell,

The letter was signed promptly by all SNP MP’s and MSP’s, Four labour MSP’s, Patrick Harvie of the green party, Frank McAveety and the Council’s SNP opposition leader Susan Aitken.

Adam Tomkins and Annie Wells Tory Party (List) MSP’s refused to sign the letter or support the campaign. Mundell didn’t even respond.

There is also the issue about the selection of Glasgow as a guinea pig by the Westminster government. To date there have been no other closure announcements in the UK. There is also the DWP statement that planning is for a 20% closure programme and Glasgow is to lose 50% of it’s job centre’s.

 

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February 2017: Job Centre Cuts in Scotland Increased to at least Twenty Three

Scotland will see 23 job centre branches close in the latest DWP proposals including the eight closures in Glasgow announced last month. Staff jobs are under threat as the department of Work and Pensions has refused to reassure staff about their future.

The announcement has been widely criticised by political parties in Scotland, and the Minister for Employability and Training Jamie Hepburn said: “I am deeply concerned about the closure of yet more Job centre Plus offices in Scotland and the potential impact these will have on people looking for support to find a job, and how people in communities across Scotland will be able to access their local Job centre Plus. This announcement has been shambolically handled today by the UK Government who are yet again ignoring the needs of people in Scotland. Not only have they announced these closures without any advance consultation with the communities who will be affected, they also bypassed the Scottish Government, going against the principles of the Smith Agreement.”

 

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Comment: The very last sentence of the final paragraph carries the message for all Scots. Westminster governments will continue to treat Scotland with contempt for as long as we allow it. A yes vote in any future independence referendum will allow Scotland’s return to the world as a free nation from which it should have never been removed.

 

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Annie Wells – Minime Version of her Idol Ruth the Mooth – Exercise Care Annie – The Tories are Latter Day Friends – Oh!! and Get Your Facts Straight!

 

 

 

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Annie Wells – A Most Unlikely Tory Party Member

Carol Ann (‘Annie’) Wells is a Scottish Conservative and Unionist Member of Scottish Parliament (MSP0 for the Glasgow region. She qualified for a seat at Holyrood in 2016, as a list MSP representing Glasgow voters.

Annie was born and raised in Springburn, into a family with strong labour party connections. Her mother cleaned house for the Labour Peer, Michael Martin, former Labour MP for North East Glasgow and Speaker of the Commons at Westminster. Her deceased father Alex (Eck) was a well kent face in Springburn through his associations with local Labour party activists.

Married and divorced, single mother Wells still lives in Springburn. Her Adult son Scott lives nearby. She is currently in a relationship with another woman who identifies herself as a lesbian. Angela Stephen, Irvine resident is also a Tory candidate, for office in Ayrshire

Wells first brush with politics occurred during the referendum on Scottish Independence when she joined the Better Together campaign. She then stood as the Conservative candidate in Glasgow North East in the 2015 general election, finishing 3rd with 4.7% of the vote. She also unsuccessfully contested the Glasgow Provan constituency at the 2016 Scottish Parliament general election, finishing 3rd with 8.6% of the vote, but was elected via the regional list. In the 12 years before taking up a career in politics she worked Marks & Spencers in various locations throughout Glasgow.

Wells is the Scottish Conservative spokesperson for welfare reform and equalities. She sits on the Equal Opportunities Committee of the Scottish Parliament.

 

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Annie Wells – On Lesbian, Gay And Bisexual Representation

“It is pleasing that I get more abuse for being a Tory in Scotland than I do for being a gay woman,” says Annie Wells, one of a batch of new MSPs voted in at the election this month that has made the country’s parliament the most proportionally gay-friendly on earth.

Wells told of her pride at being elected to represent Scotland’s LGBT community and plans to help those who still suffer discrimination come out and get involved in politics.

She is a Conservative, former M&S finance manager who says she never dreamed of going into politics, nor coming out – for fear of upsetting her parents.

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/scotland-lgbt-jeane-freeman-annie-wells-snp-gay-marriage_uk_5735f852e4b01359f686e596

Comment: Weird: Her Wikipedia makes no mention of her role within the LGBT community.

 

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Dykey D’ – Annie Wells and the BBC Scotland smear machine kicks in again

The apparatus of the BBC in Scotland is regularly utilised in order to promote (as widely as possible) smear attacks on one or more SNP politicians. The most recent example occurred this week. Annie Wells Tory MSP seeks to make political capital out of satirical comedy sketch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEEYsHFJZl0 The target was SNP politician Joanna Cherry. Read on: http://indyref2.scot/dykey-d-the-bbc-scotland-smear-machine-kicks-in-again Radio coverage http://indyref2.scot/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/newsdrive_dyke_190916.mp3

 

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Facebook Annie Wells – Reform of Child tax credits – The third child and Rape

In the past week, I have been extremely concerned to hear a number of allegations being made about reforms to child tax credits. I don’t believe a topic of such a highly sensitive nature should be banded about on Twitter with the use of hashtags and this is why I feel it is important to set the record straight on such an important issue.

What I will say is factual. It is said purely in the hope that women who do have children born as a result of rape are not deterred from applying for exemptions to the two child tax credit rule because of misinformation currently in the public domain.

The exemption has been put there to protect women in these circumstances. The UK Government recognised in introducing the two-child limit for receiving tax credits, it still had to recognise highly sensitive circumstances such that when a child is born as a result of rape. In applying for this exemption, women will not be required to either report their rape as a crime, bring new proof of rape or proof of a conviction, or report it directly to HMRC.

In other words, no evidence other than that of a third party professional, such as a health worker or support worker, will be required.

The DWP has made clear that women will be offered support from experienced third party professionals who will be able to support them on their behalf. In other words, once a mother registers for the benefit, it is very much in the hands of professionals to complete the application on her behalf and ensure the right support is given.

This exemption was introduced to protect women from changes to child tax credits in the most sensitive way possible and in going forward, I believe that the situation should continue to be monitored and any improvements to the process made as required. I very much hope this goes some way in reassuring those concerned and brings clarity to the situation. (Annie Wells)
Comment:  This is the woman who questioned the sovereignty of the Scottish Parliament, and had the nerve to criticise campaigners against the Tory rape clause, and steals from the mentally disabled including those with Autism. A nasty vindictive Tory, and quite heartless caring only about herself, and her precious party.

 

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Government Rape Clause Leads to Boycott by Leading Charities

Women’s groups in Scotland have joined in condemnation of a so-called rape clause which forces new mothers to prove they were raped to claim tax credits for more than two children.

Leading charities including Rape Crisis Scotland (RCS), Scottish Women’s Aid (SWA) and Engender now say they will refuse to “collude” with any scheme to assess entitlement for rape victims.

New laws on tax credit entitlement, which come into effect this week, include a clause restricting claimants to a maximum of two children, with exceptions for multiple births and for women who could show that their third or subsequent child was conceived as a result of rape.

It means women who have been raped must be assessed by a “professional third party” – either health workers, police, social workers or rape charities.

The regulations were put into law through a statutory instrument – little known legislation allowing laws to be changed without the UK parliament’s approval.

Yet despite the regulation coming into force tomorrow, there is no indication of how a woman who has been raped can go about claiming an exemption and no advice, information or training has been given to the women’s groups expecting to be involved. (thirdforcenews.org.uk)

 

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Making Mischief – Tory MSP Annie Wells Complains That Mental Health Treatment Times not Being Met

She said: “The Scottish government set a target in 2014 that 90% of adults and children referred by a GP for treatment for mental health issues should begin this treatment within 18 weeks. But in December last year, NHS Stats revealed that only 77.5%% patients were seen within the time frame.

Selecting one month does not provide a reasonable presentation of the facts. In the 12 months June 2015 – June 2016 performance to target (90%) was as listed below.

Scotland Mean Average: 78.0:

Ayrshire & Arran 65.9:
Borders 77.9:
Dumfries & Galloway: 72.1
Fife: 74.2
Forth Valley: 49.3 (performance now between 74-82%)
Grampian: 66.3 (slight improvement recently)
Greater Glasgow & Clyde: 92.4 (Very large number of patients seen)
Highland 98.0: (large number of patients seen in a region with a widely dispersed population)
Lanarkshire 91.6: (very large number of patients seen
Lothian 65.3: (not much improved)
Tayside 88.3:
Island Boards: 88.9

 

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But what about the Tory controlled NHS in England???

 

England : Mental Health Treatment Time Targets Are the Same As in Scotland

More than one in ten (12%) people with mental health problems are stuck on waiting lists for over a year before receiving treatment and over half (54%) wait over three months.

The survey of over 1,600 people who have tried to access therapies such as counselling and cognitive behaviour therapy on the NHS in England over the last two years also shows an increasing number are paying for private therapy to get the help they desperately need.

One in ten (11%) said that they had faced costs for private treatment because the therapy they needed was not available on the NHS.

The choice of treatment on offer was also found to be limited even though CBT, the most commonly prescribed talking treatment, doesn’t work for everyone and three in five people (58%) weren’t offered a choice in the type of therapy they received.

( http://www.mind.org.uk/news-campaigns/news/people-with-mental-health-problems-still-waiting-over-a-year-for-talking-treatments/)

 

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Tory MSP Anne Wells complains that The Queen Elizabeth University Hospital is failing to meet A&E waiting times.

Scotland’s first super hospital, The Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, has not met the Scottish Government’s waiting time target since September of last year and has been the most under-performing hospital over the past 20 weeks when it comes to A&E waiting times.

Latest stats show that only 81.7% of patients are being seen within 4 hours of arriving despite the minimum standard set by the Scottish Government being 95%.

What is the government doing to ensure the hospital meets its accident and emergency waiting times target??????

 

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But first let’s look at the performance of the Tory managed NHS in England in the same month!!!!!

Across the entire NHS in England the average number of patients patients in A&E that were transferred, admitted or discharged within four hours was 82% – rather than the target 95% – (the worst figures on record.)

Trolley dolly’s, 60,000 patients (up from 51,200 in December) waited in corridor’s for a hospital bed between 4-12 hours). http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-38907492

 

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The Scottish government’s response (remember this is one Scottish hospital)!!!

The Scottish Government’s national unscheduled care team (made up of people with clinical improvement expertise) has been working closely with local teams across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, especially with Queen Elizabeth University Hospital and Glasgow Royal Infirmary supporting prompt recovery and sustainable improvements in A and E and the IAU.

The team are supporting implementation of the six essential actions and the implementation of an action plan, which was agreed with the chairman of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde in December 2016 for the Queen Elizabeth university hospital. The team leaders meet the chairman of the board regularly to advise on progress.

In September 2007, there were 25 whole-time-equivalent consultants specialising in emergency medicine in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

In December 2016 there were 75 whole-time-equivalent consultants specialising in emergency medicine in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

That is an increase of 50 whole-time-equivalent consultants, or 200 per cent, under this Scottish National Party Government.

https://www.theyworkforyou.com/sp/?id=2017-03-30.2.0

 

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Austerity – A – Contentious – Strategy – Politically – and – Economically – Cutbacks – to – Public – Service – Pensions – Welfare – Healthcare – That- Disproportionately – Impact – On – Low – Income – Earners – When – They’re – Financially – Vulnerable

 

 

 

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Moneys Tight and Times are Hard So this Year There’ll be no F*****g Xmas Card

Since taking office in 2010, the Tory Government at Westminster has reduced Scotland’s budget each year.

To date the cuts amount to approximately 9 per cent real-terms reduction. In value context this equates to a reduction of about £2.9 billion in Scotland’s budget.

Through the medium of discussions with the press and media the Tories have proposed the introduction of radical tax changes transferring significant amounts of public expenditure to the taxpayer.

This is unacceptable to the Scottish Government and it also exposes the Tories to charges that they are anti-devolution,reducing the effectiveness of the NHS, removing free prescriptions, free education and concessionary travel.

The SNP budget contains a range of measures that are very pro-enterprise and pro-business and that will grow the economy.

The Tories want to play “good cop bad cop” with the electorate. But it is not good management practice to have it both ways, reducing tax, but only for the very richest in our society, while, at the same increasing expenditure in many areas.

They cannot have it both ways cutting taxes, as they propose and spending more on public services is a recipe for disaster

The SNP budget represents an excellent financial support package for business rates, including special measures for small businesses ensuring continued growth of the economy.

There is also substantially increased government capital investment for housing and energy efficiency and the educational attainment fund will be financed through central resources.

A key issue of the budget is the provision of additional resources to vital public services, opposed by the Tories who want to spread “doom and gloom.”

but the SNP government will keep listening and supporting Scotland’s local authorities and to parties in the Parliament building and broadcasting a pro-Scottish economic message.

The Government’s record in office is strong and faced with unprecedented financial cuts by the Westminster Government it will deliver it’s programme.

 

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Many of the Poorest Scots are in Debt up to Their Ears to the Richest Few

Scotland’s enormous wealth divide has been revealed in a shocking report that shows the country’s 10 top most deprived and most affluent areas.

The leafy Glasgow suburb of Lower Whitecraigs is the country’s most affluent area.

Ferguslie Park in Paisley is the most deprived area in Scotland, where social deprivation drives up crime figures and leaves families struggling on low incomes.

Mental health related drug deaths are 233 per cent higher than the average, and hospital treatments for narcotic related psychiatric conditions are more than eight times higher.

Last night politicians clashed over who was to blame for the deprivation. Tory equalities spokeswoman Annie Wells called it a “wake-up” call for the Scottish Government and urged a new approach to tackle poverty.

She said: “We need to see a closer working partnership with the public and voluntary sectors to tackle these deep-rooted problems head on.

“Powers need to be devolved from the Scottish Government to enable cities and city-regions to work more closely together to regenerate and redevelop their local economies.

 

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Scottish government response – Scotland’s Social Enterprise Strategy 2016-2026

The amount of money available to help social entrepreneurs set up new business north of the border has been doubled by the Scottish Government.

For the next three years the Social Entrepreneurs Fund, which offers grants and business support to help people to make their social start-up aspirations a reality, will hand out £1m each year.

Increased backing for the fund was just one of 92 commitments announced today by the government as part of its 2017-2020 Social Enterprise Action Plan.

The plan follows publication of Scotland’s first-ever Social Enterprise Strategy, aimed at sustainably growing the sector over the next decade.

A ten-year, national social enterprise strategy, which sets out our shared ambitions for social enterprise in Scotland, jointly developed with the sector. It provides a framework for action over the next decade.

Social enterprise models include growth and this strategy will support our aim of sustainable economic growth, tackling inequalities and building a fairer Scotland.

The strategy will build on supportive ecosystems, developed over the previous decade, and will cement our reputation as world-leading and the best place to start and grow a social enterprise. It focuses on three main priorities:

1) Stimulating social enterprise

2) Developing stronger organisations

3) Realising market opportunities

These will be developed into a series of action plans spanning the decade, the first of which will be published in 2017. (gov.scot)

 

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10 Most Affluent Areas

1. Lower Whitecraigs and South Giffnock, East Renfrewshire. 2. Midstocket, Aberdeen City. 3. Marchmont West (Area 1), City of Edinburgh. 4. St Andrews South West, Fife. 5. Comely Bank, City of Edinburgh. 6. Joppa, City of Edinburgh. Marchmont West (Area 2), City of Edinburgh. 8. Hilton, Aberdeen City 9. Kilmardinny East, East Dunbartonshire. 10. Bruntsfield, City of Edinburgh.

 
10 Most Deprived Areas

1. Ferguslie Park, Paisley. 2. Carntyne West and Haghill, Glasgow City. 3. North Barlanark and Easterhouse South (Area 1), Glasgow City. 4. Old Shettleston and Parkhead North, Glasgow City. 5. Nitshill, Glasgow City. 6. Muirhouse, City of Edinburgh. 7. Possil Park, Glasgow City. 8. Cliftonville, North Lanarkshire. 9.Drumchapel North, Glasgow City. 10.North Barlanark and Easterhouse South (Area 2), Glasgow City.

Interactive Tool providing more detail. http://simd.scot/2016/#/simd2016/BTTTFTT/9/-4.0000/55.9000/

 

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A Conversation – Memories of Living in Glasgow’s Housing Under Sixty Years of the Labour Party – Take Off the Rose Tinted Glasses – Time For a Change – Give the SNP a Chance

 

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Guardian Readers’ –  A conversation About Memories of Sixty Year’s of Glasgow’s Housing Under the Labour Party

High-rises of the 1960s and 70s built as a solution to slum conditions instead became a new form of slum housing that invited a fresh round of demolition. Who or what is to blame for the recurring housing failures? What has the experience been? Thoughts and memories of regeneration in a Labour Party run Glasgow:

 

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Red StarTrout: The big problem with Scotland’s housing was the old rating system. Up to about 1960 the rates were split between the tenant and the landlord.

That extra cost to landlords meant there was no money to be made building houses to rent and no money available for repairs.

The result was overcrowded old buildings that were falling apart, and not much new building apart from council schemes after 1920.

The lack of building meant a lack of builders: why be a builder if you can’t get a job?

A lot of the old tenements could have been refurbished, but there weren’t enough skilled people and nowhere near enough money.

The only option was to flatten everything and put up the tower blocks. They could be built from factory produced concrete sections; low skill and low cost but also low quality, especially with low spending on maintenance and security.

If the rating system had been reformed earlier it might not have been so bad.

Labour represented the people in the slums, but by opposing any reform that would help landlords they only made things worse.

The Tory win in Scotland in 1955 finally got the Tories in Westminster to change the system but by then the only way out of the disaster was to flatten Glasgow and start again.

Both parties used housing for electoral gain, both helped cause the problem, neither did enough to solve it.

For what happens next, a question. If the Victorians and Georgians could build houses and flats that are still attractive places to live after a century or two, why do we find it so difficult? And why does Glasgow seem to find it impossible?

 

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inconsolable: Thatcherism was to blame. Industry was stripped out of Glasgow in the 80’s. Damp and despair pervaded the flats and schemes. Drugs arrived and found an unhappy home
That was the environment of hopelessness and fear which characterised the Thatcher era for what had been the working classes.

 

ID0384694: These buildings were the results of a power-grab by the Labour run council that ran throughout the 1960s and carried on well into the 70s.

At the end of WWII the plan to rebuild Glasgow involved depopulating the city moving people out of city slums into new towns build around, but not in, Glasgow (Cumbernauld, East Kilbride, Irvine

Pretty quickly Glasgow’s councillors realised this decrease in population was diminishing their standing within the UK, and they feared that Glasgow would drop out of that second-rung of British cities behind London that includes Manchester, Birmingham, etc.

Their response was to hastily increase the number of high-rise developments.

While the previous generation of high rises in Glasgow had been carefully planned, sited and designed, this new wave were thrown down anywhere there was space, and they were designed solely with the aim of increasing population density as quickly and as cheaply as possible.

 

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EckGuavera: The decline of the estates with the high rises coincided with mass unemployment. When the jobs were gone there was nothing in the outlying areas and no money spent to develop or maintain them.

 

Tim Gray: Unfortunately the class structure of our society meant those buildings were never cared for by the governments (local and national) that built them.

 

Johannes56: My grandmother moved to Peel St when they were built. They were good flats, but only bricks and concrete, people make the difference, and after a few years the area looked and actually felt unsafe.

 

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PeterGriffin: People realised there was no future for them and the present was so horrible that the only way to deal with it was to escape via drugs or drink. I don’t think people actually realise just how much Thatcherism destroyed people in the 80s unless you lived through it.

 

Dangermaus: I grew up there at the end of the 70s, and let’s not get all rose tinted about it:

With the shipyards closing, the Thatcher years about to rise, sectarian issues and the propensity for bevvy, glue, jellies and the junk that seems inherent it was perhaps the older generation who had it best in the flats and the tenements as they had a network.

But fundamentally these flats could have been refurbished and saved, as could several of the estates like Rutherglen or Hamilton, and it’s down to the people that moved in who tore it down from the inside, taking it away from everyone.

The Parkhead and Anderson I remember are gone, and the new Glasgow is not the same. These could have been homes for people who need them, but what comes next.

 

EricthePenguin: The concept of the 1960s vertical village so beloved of those who eschewed traditional buildings for it has been shown for what it was: a failed social experiment.

 

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GerryT: beloved of photographers and architects, Bluevale and Whitevale icons,had another problem. I remember as a child walking down Millerston St with my pals aged 8 and 9 and watching these being built.

I lived in a tenement in Dennistoun and I looked forward to the prospect, with my pals, of playing on the lifts. It didn’t take us long to work out that these flats were going to be in the firing line of the most disgusting, smelly smoke that came out of a factory on the corner of Gallowgate and Millerston St.

Right enough, when they were opened and the wind blew from the south, this pongy, revolting coloured gas would drift up into the flats. How we, wee boys, laughed at the stupidity of the builders (we didn’t know much about planners and architects in those days).

 

DocR: Monuments to the failure of socialism in Scotland – massive clearance and replacement of housing that could have been rehabilitated in favour of inhuman blocks that would be at home in the outskirts of Bucharest. Typically Stalinist – but that was the old Scots Labour establishment.

 

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dolcevitamyarse2: Having grown up in Maisonettes in Glasgow here’s my take on it.

1. The materials used for the building were substandard and not fit for purpose this meant that repairs were required which would have cost a fortune and thus were never done. Our house was riddled with dampness. Wallpaper put on a wall in September would be peeling off the wall in November. There was no heating in these flats that you could actually afford to use and the metal framed windows froze on the inside

2. The council housing staff’s approach to residents complaints or requests for repairs or simply maintenance or cleaning of the streets was rebuffed and ignored. One council housing official when my mum a member of the tenants association requested the council cut the grass in the common areas was to say it’s only Springburn you people don;’t deserve it. The grass remained uncut for 6 months through summer

3. The council’s approach to housing people was to put trouble families in areas where the residents maintained and took pride in the area. From experience it only takes one bad family to ruin an entire street

4. Once the decline sets in the families who took pride in the area move out and problem families move in

5. Heroin. Heroin hit Glasgow’s housing schemes (housing estates) in the early 80s and proceeded to make a worsening situation catastrophic. An entire generation became addicts house breaking rocketed. our house was broken into 5 times in 18 months. in this period.

6. Thatcherism wiped out virtually all the local employment. An area where fathers worked now had 8 out of 10 fathers unemployed. A lack of money circulating led to a steady decline

7. Vandalism went up the new problem families allowed their dogs to crap everywhere the council refused to even fix the lifts or change the bulbs in the common stairwell lighting, perfect rape and mugging locations

8. the areas and people were abandoned. Those that could leave did. Those that couldn’t were stuck on an incomprehensible housing points system that left you waiting for a different council house for years if not decades

That was quite simply the reality of my family during the 80s. When my grandfather died they had to carry his coffin down dark stairs as the lift was out of order again and the lighting hadn’t been repaired. Scum families kids spat on people as they walked past, junkies broke into our houses, muggers jumped us in the street, vandals wrecked the environment, the Labour council simply didn’t give a damn and the Tory government did their best to destroy what was left. Just knocking down and rebuilding houses didn’t solve anything in the 60s and wont solve anything now. Actively maintaining an area controlling who gets housing in an area and support for areas who start to show problems may actually work if given a chance.

 

kittymcguire: Your memories of the 80s in Glasgow are similar to mine. I had forgotten about the dog ah it everywhere.

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Carolan99: That’s exactly how I remember it too. I grew up for a few years in the Queen Elizabeth Square flats in the Gorbals. Most of the families were poor but decent.

Some however managed to make their own lives and everyone else’s worse. They were very selfish and didn’t even notice how badly their behaviour impacted on anyone else.

The Council’s attitude was callous and they just treated everyone as if we were scum that deserved no better. I remember the walls being covered in damp and my dad painting it over and over only for the damp to come back through a week later. The flat was freezing and we were overcrowded.

I had a friend two floors down that lived with her grandparents and her cousins because her mum and aunties were addicted to heroin.

The lift often broke down and we had to walk down the back stairs to get to school. We were greeted with drug addicts. I walked past while they stuck a needle somewhere, often with their trousers round their ankles, they would even inject their groin for a hit.

The stairs stunk of vinegar and the bottles lay around, they used this to clean the needles.

My dad struggled to get work and it got to the stage he gave up, after all where is the incentive to work hard all week to live like that.

The cupboards were often bare and free school meals were the only decent meal we got. I can still remember the free milk until Margaret Thatcher the milk snatcher took it away.
Social problems are the biggest factor in destroying housing estates, no matter the type of accommodation someone has.

 

foyherald: Replied to the main article before I had read your comment, I worked in and around the Gorbals area in early 1990s and remember how bad it could be.

I’ll never forget having to take the stairs down from one of the top flats on Caledonia Road because of broken lifts and having to squeeze by junkies on the stairs.

Other problems included vandalism, security entry systems constantly broken and in the high rises people setting fires in the fire escapes stairwells.

 

Carolan99: There was no security back then. The door to the back stairs was open to the public and made a great shelter for the drug addicts.

There was blood squirted on the walls from them pulling needles out of their veins. The council’s ingenious idea was to spray the walls with a type of speckled paint. It was brown and red and hid the blood splatter if you didn’t look too close.

My friends and I thinking we were being responsible one day picked up all the discarded needles and took them to the police station (just down the road from the flats) we were turned away with the needles. We were about 9 years old. Nobody cared, we were just children of the poor scum.

 

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Carolan99: I forgot to mention people pishing in the lifts. How could I forget that always a good start to the day.

My dad would polish my school shoes and then I would stand in a puddle of pish.

Nightmare when the lifts broke down and often did, you could be trapped for an hour or more, so sometimes I would just take the back stairs on purpose.

I remember somehow managing to have fun too, the other people that lived there were good people.

I got invited to parties and sleepovers and the kids were friendly.

Large concrete legs held up the flats, they used to generate a powerful wind and we would turn our jackets inside out and try and fly.

There was a walkway that took you over Ballater Street where we used to play on our skateboards.

kittymcguire: I’m from Drumchapel. During the 80s, many parts of Drumchapel was a dump.

All the housing looked awful. I used to hate going up a lot of the closes as they were smelly, and intimidating.

I was lucky to live up a clean close (having lots of old ladies as neighbours was wonderful.) There are still lots of social problems in the area. I firmly believe that these were caused by the decline of decent jobs during the 80s.

 

rt09: Having lived in tower blocks in Glasgow, the major problems were people who did not know how to live with their neighbours in high rises and poor original construction.

The majority of inhabitants viewed these flats as temp accommodation, until they could get a much nicer flat. Housing associations did a pretty good job of getting rid of the anti-socials, but flooders and chronic noise makers could make life hell.

 

overcrowding

 

foyherald: I had the pleasure of knowing Glasgow architect and author Frank Worsdall who was a campaigner for retaining the heritage of the Glasgow tenement. He and many others were quite vocal in their criticism of housing policy in post WWII years, some even saying that Glasgow City had dome more to destroy communities than the Luftwaffe.

It is now overwhelmingly acknowledged that the houses and high rise schemes built were sub-standard but not only from poor materials but also poor choice of design, building houses with flat roofs is not a good choice given the west of Scotland weather.

In the early 1990s I worked in and around the Gorbals area and the infamous Hutchesontown scheme, the now demolished Queen Elizabeth flats where almost deserted and generally the only tenants left were either extremely desperate and wanting to be re-housed, anti-social that could not be housed elsewhere or those with serious alcohol and/or drug problems.

Like many others I was not saddened to see them torn down. Many areas where the tenements were retained are now highly desirable, hopefully the housing being built to replace the high rises and surrounding schemes will not suffer the same problems that plagued those they have replaced or will be replacing.

 

plastikman2010: All this appalling planning and social decay happen when you have a one party state. In eastern Europe it was communism in Glasgow it was militant left wing labour!! Glasgow pre 90’s shared many features with East European cities.

 

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MacBeat: There was far too much demolition in Glasgow city centre and very little attempt to refurbish the traditional tenement houses; some of them were past it – masses of single ends and tenements where there had been little or no maintenance for generations – but where there was refurbishment it worked and communities were not destroyed.

The biggest source of destruction was the motorway which led to communities all round the city centre being devastated.

Thankfully not all the tenements in the centre were reduced to rubble but it is agonising to see what might have been with more sensible and careful planning.

Even in the Gorbals it would have been possible to refurbish more of the traditional buildings with a bit of effort and imagination.

As for what replaced the tenements well you just have to look at any of the council housing estates in and around Glasgow to see what happened – poor design and construction, poor materials, families dumped on the edge of nowhere with no social cohesion and then combined with the economic problems which followed the collapse of the heavy traditional industries endemic generation after generation unemployment; gangs and drugs thrived in that environment.

political responsibility – which political party was elected there – labour – many of whose members contributed to the problem with captive electorates, nepotism and pretty well corrupt dealings with favourite contractors/architects.

The workmanship was often so shoddy that there was no waterproofing in the walls of the new tenements and no drainage so that, as I experienced in the Auchenback scheme in Barrhead – four storey tenement houses built for Glasgow overspill – when it rained heavily, not unusual in that part of the world, the water poured in a torrent off the hill behind the houses through the stair well and down the front steps.

notangry: The problem wasn’t master planners or even planners. Glasgow Council’s Housing Department, at that time the largest in Europe, was allowed to do precisely what it wanted, unfettered by any planning concerns.

 

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