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Annual Report 2014

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Annual Report 2014
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    The campaign for a north of the river solu-tion to healthcare will soon reach a critical stage when NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde publishes its recommendations for the future of our hospital services. Over 10,000 people from every part of the constituency have already signed up to the campaign to say that the Royal  Alexandria hospital in Paisley is a bridge too far. We want to have access to specialist and acute services at the Golden Jubilee in Dalmuir; pro-tect services at the Vale of Leven hospital and bring A&E back north of the river. With the health board expected to launch its’ consultation in the Spring it is now time to stand together as a community and make sure our voice is heard.   Jackie said: “I have been campaigning for a north of the river solution for over a decade but now we could be on the verge of reaching our goal. This consulta-tion really is crunch time for people in Dumbar-ton, the Vale of Leven, Helensburgh and Lo-mond. The cross - party and community hospital campaign team has worked hard over the past year to keep local healthcare services top of the agenda but this is where it really counts. I have been very pleased by the response to our petition but now we must transform these 10,000 signa-tures into consultation responses.”   Jackie celebrated the opening of the new state - of  - the - art Vale Centre for Health and Care with Lily Kennedy, Jackie Maceira, Gail Casey and Martin Rooney.   The RAH in Paisley is a Bridge too far    1.   The full range of services should be kept at the Vale   1.   Specialist and acute services delivered from the Golden Jubilee   3. A&E should be north of the Clyde      Residents in Dumbarton, Vale of Leven and Helensburgh and Lo-mond now have just eight months to decide before we head to the polls to vote on Scot-land’s future. The refer-endum, which takes place on 18 September 2014, is sure to be one of the most important de-cisions that many of us will make in our lifetime -  between remaining in the United Kingdom or breaking apart. Jackie said: “Independence would have implications for all areas of Scottish life so it is important that everyone gets the answers to their ques-tions before casting their vote. I am keen to speak to as many people as possible over the next few months so please do get in touch if you have any points to raise.”   Youth unemployment is a ticking time bomb in communities across the constituency. Nearly ten per cent of 18 – 24 year olds are out of work and one in five of them are still looking for a job after a year. Jackie recently found out how one local busi-ness is tackling the problem when she at-tended a workshop for young jobseekers at the Co - op’s Balloch store. Jackie said: “It is en-couraging to see local businesses making an effort to increase young people’s chances of finding work. There’s been a slow improve-ment over the past year, partly due to initiatives like this and West Dun-bartonshire Council’s ap-prenticeship scheme, but there is still a long way to go to eradicate the scourge of youth unem-ployment.”   January is always a month when cash is tight but for some local people who turned to payday loan companies to get through Christmas it could be the start of a vicious cycle of debt. Over the past few months Jackie has been campaigning for tougher regulation of payday lend-ers, better promotion of alternatives like credit un-ions and increased sup-port for those struggling with debt.  A recent report from debt charity Stepchange showed that their clients had an average of almost £1000 payday loan debt. Jackie said: “Companies offering quick loans at massive interest rates have invaded our high streets in Dumbarton,  Alexandria and Helens-burgh. With some con-stituents racking up £1000 debts we must cap the cost of credit and stop companies charging eye - watering interest rates of over 5000%. I supported the campaign to ask the Scottish Government to publish wealth warnings to warn people of the dangers of these loans and promote local lend-ers like Dumbarton Credit Union and Vale of Leven Credit Union.”   There are currently five payday lenders operating in the constituency. If you are experiencing any prob-lems with these companies please contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau by calling 01389 744690 (Dumbarton), 08456 123808 (Helensburgh) or 01389 752727 (Alexandria).      Jackie recently joined councillors David McBride and Tommy Rainey on a visit to the new Dumbar-ton Academy. Jackie said: “With almost one in five children in Dumbarton constituency living in pov-erty it is now more im-portant than ever to invest in our children’s educa-tion. I was delighted that pupils at Dumbarton  Academy have joined their peers at Vale of Le-ven Academy and Her-mitage Academy in hav-ing a brand new state - of  - the - art building. We cam-paigned with the local community for new build schools to give our chil-dren the best possible start in life. Once the Council agree on a site for a new Our Lady and St Patrick’s, soon every high school pupil in Dum-barton constituency will benefit from a top - class education in modern sur-roundings. Jackie has been campaign-ing to protect local policing in Dumbarton, Vale of Le-ven, Helensburgh and Lo-mond. Last year Police Scotland announced contro-versial plans to permanently close Alexandria and Gare-lochhead’s police stations to the public and keep the doors shut at Dumbarton police station for 16 hours a day and all weekend. So far Helensburgh has been lucky to escape the axe but there is no guarantee that evening and weekend open-ing will last beyond the fore-seeable future pending the outcome of a CCTV review.   Jackie said: “A damning report from Audit Scotland has made it clear that Po-lice Scotland has no clear financial strategy in place to meet the £1.1 billion cuts the Scottish Government expect of them by 2026.   It’s time the Scottish Government realised that cutting the police budget will drive a wedge between local communities and po-licing and take bobbies off the beat. People rely on our police stations not only in emer-gencies but also when re-porting crime and making enquiries so we must stand up for local policing. Talking to someone in a call centre or social media just isn’t a good enough substitute.”   Jackie is currently tak-ing a Member’s Bill through Parliament which would remove the fear of eviction from hundreds of local ten-ants hit by the bedroom tax. If the Bill receives cross - party support then all social housing tenants would have a no - evictions guarantee backed by law. The Scottish Government is being urged to fund the £50 million gap in coun-cil and housing associ-ation budgets caused by rent arrears. Jackie said: “This is the perfect example of just how the Scottish Parliament could act now to make a difference to those who are struggling most. My Bill has has already won wide support from churches, bedroom tax campaigners and COSLA. West Dunbar-tonshire Council has pledged to protect its tenants but this Bill is the only way to protect all social housing ten-ants in the area   Jackie campaigning with Councillor McGinty outside  Alexandria police station      1. Write: Constituency Office, 11 Castle Street, Dumbarton, G82 1QS   2. Email: jackie.baillie.msp@scottish.parliament.uk   3. Phone: 01389 734214 4. Fax   : 01389 761498   5. Website: www.jackiebaillie.co.uk   The Parliament is not responsible for the content of other internet sites.   6. Visit Jackie at one of her regular advice surgeries on the 3rd Friday of each month:   2.45pm    Alexandria Library, Gilmour Street, Alexandria   4.45pm   Victoria Halls, Helensburgh   6.30pm   Constituency Office, 11 Castle Street, Dumbarton   The costs of this publication have been met out of parliamentary resources   It’s a worrying time for bill payers in Dumbarton, Vale of Leven, Helens-burgh and Lomond as most of us await the first energy bill of the winter.   Local people struggling with the worst cost of living crisis in a century would have been horrified at last year’s price hikes of up to 10%. Fuel poverty already af-fects two fifths of households in Argyll and Bute and one fifth in West Dunbar-tonshire but these increases will force even more low income families to make the choice between heating and eating this winter. Jackie said: “When times are tough the big energy companies should not be forcing their customers to cough up even more cash to boost their profits. The Scottish and UK Governments must look at all options, including a price freeze, to support struggling fam-ilies.   Over the past year Jackie has ramped up the pressure on Strathclyde Passenger Transport to improve the Kilcreggan – Gourock ferry service. When Clydelink won the contract com-muters had to put up with frequent cancelled sailings and worry-ing safety issues. At Holyrood Jackie called on the Scottish Gov-ernment to take responsibility for the route after passengers ex-pressed concerns over SPT’s slow response. Jackie said: “Passengers were offered a glimpse of hope last year when SPT told me that they would be happy to transfer the service to the Scottish Government. But all of a sudden SPT has now changed its mind after meeting with Argyll and Bute Council. The transfer can’t go ahead unless SPT and councillors agree so the ball is in their court. If they continue to block the move then SPT owes it to the hundreds of passengers who use the ferry every day to come up with a plan to respond to calls to improve service.”   Jackie is pleased to be work-ing again this year with Age Scotland to offer free hot tips calendars for elderly resi-dents with advice on how to keep warm and safe this win-ter. The calendar has infor-mation on heating services, room temperature settings, energy efficiency and benefit entitlements for older people.   Jackie said: “It is important that older people have easy access to services that can help them stay warm this win-ter. I have already been dis-tributing the calendar among pensioners groups across the area but you can also pop in to my Dumbarton office be-tween Monday and Friday or call me on 01389 734214 to pick up your free copy.”  

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Jul 23, 2017
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