Irvine Office

Constituency Office:

29A Eglinton Street, IRVINE KA12 8AS

TELEPHONE NO: 01294 311976 

I will be holding constituency surgeries on the last Monday of each month in my office. Just telephone the office to arrange an appointment.

Employment Fair – Monday 14th September

After a very successful employment fair two years ago we are holding another one on Monday the 14th of September  2015, in the Volunteer Rooms, Irvine.

So far we have 30 confirmed employers, along with training providers.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/IrvineEF
Twitter: https://twitter.com/irvineEF

EmployFairPoster

Quarry Road Meeting

Margaret McDougall MSP, recently met with North Ayrshire Council to discuss the new development on Quarry Road.

Speaking after the meeting, Margaret McDougall MSP, said: “I’m not against the idea of regenerating Irvine’s town centre or providing more facility’s which will boost the local economy.

“But I’m concerned that the Quarry Road is not well thought out at this stage, people who will be affected by the development haven’t been notified or consulted and the traffic situation is already a nightmare.   This is before the new sports centre is even completed, and it is only going to get worse with this new development.

“The council have stated that nothing is set in stone as yet and these plans could still change, with this in mind I have organised a public meeting in the Vineburgh Community Centre, Wednesday 12th August at 7pm, I will be chairing this meeting and I hope that North Ayrshire council will be in attendance. If you have strong views about the Quarry Road Development please come along and have your voice heard.”

Margaret McDougall stepping down at next year’s Scottish Parliament elections

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Labour MSP Margaret McDougall has announced that she will stepping down at next year’s Scottish Parliament elections.

Mrs McDougall was elected as an MSP for the West of Scotland region in 2011 having served as a Councillor in Kilwinning since 1999, firstly as the Councillor for Blacklands and Pennyburn and latterly for the whole town after the introduction of multi-member wards in 2007.

During her time as a Councillor Kilwinning saw a great deal of investment with the opening of James Watt College, Kilwinning Sports Club and the regeneration of the Main Street.

As an MSP Margaret has continued to work hard for local people. She played a key role in the campaign to save the Millport Marine Biology Station, has supported Jackie Watt’s campaign for increased access to Strep B testing and most recently has become involved in the dispute over North Ayrshire Councils plans at Quarry Road in Irvine.

Speaking after her announcement Margaret said,

“It has been an honour to have represented people in this local community for over 16 years. During that time I have seen many positive changes in the area and I feel it is the right time for me to take a step back and pass on the baton.”

“Scottish Labour faces a period of renewal following May’s General Election result and I feel our future electoral prospects are best served by a new generation of Labour politicians.”

“Whilst I will remain an MSP until next May’s election and will continue to represent my constituents to the best of my abilities I will be doing all I can to help elect Joe Cullinane as the next MSP for Cunninghame South. Joe replaced me as a Councillor in Kilwinning and his campaigning since then has shown that he would make an excellent MSP for this area.”

Labour MSP Calls for Upgrade of Pennyburn Railway Line Bridge after New Housing Development Opens

Labour MSP Margaret McDougall has lobbied Network Rail for improvement works to the railway line bridges in Pennyburn.

Margaret made the call following the official opening of the new Irvine Housing Association development in the area. The housing development is split in the middle by the railway line bridges which have fallen into a state of disrepair.

Speaking about the issue Margaret said,

“The new housing development is great but the general look of the area is let down badly by the exterior look of the Pennyburn shops and the railway line bridges.”

“The railway line bridge is covered in graffiti and is generally in poor condition. Upgrading the bridge would be a boost to the community and help build on the regeneration of the area through the opening of the Playz and now the replacement of the flats with new, first class, family homes.”

“I asked Network Rail to consider doing work on the bridge and I am pleased that they have informed me they will aim to have the area tidied and the bridges painted by the end of July.”

 

Thousands of children in North Ayrshire at risk from Tory cuts

Nearly 17,100 children in North Ayrshire  at risk from Tory cuts to tax credits according to shocking figures released by Margaret McDougall  MSP.

With the Tory Government looking to slash £12 billion from the welfare bill, tax credits like child tax credit and working tax credit are in the firing line, risking vital income to 9900 thousand families in North Ayrshire.

Scottish Labour MSP Margaret McDougall  has blasted Tory plans to cut tax credits, first introduced by the last Labour Government to tackle in work poverty.

The West Region MSP also urged the SNP Government in Edinburgh to adopt Scottish Labour plans to tackle poverty, by extending the living wage and banning rip off rent rises in the private sector.

Scottish Labour MSP, Margaret McDougall said:

“During the general election the Prime Minister promised the ‘good life’ for families but now he plans to cut vital support for families in North Ayrshire Scotland and across the UK

“With thousands of families in Scotland struggling from week the week the absolute last people the Chancellor should target is low income families, but instead his plans to slash welfare puts nearly 9900 families in North Ayrshire, and 17,100 children at risk.

“The last Labour Government introduced tax credits to tackle working poverty, and it worked.  There are thousands of people in North Ayrshire who can attest to that

“Recently new information has shown that over 200,000 children in Scotland are living in poverty – on what planet does slashing tax credits help those kids?

“The SNP Government Edinburgh need to stand up for these families. New powers coming to Scotland will help but there is so much that could be done at Holyrood now.

“The SNP should back Scottish Labour plans to extend the living wage to more low paid jobs like cleaning, catering and caring. With rents and poverty levels soaring in our private rented sector the SNP Government should also back Scottish Labour plans to ban rip off rent rises.

“Families in North Ayrshire need action, not warm words from the Scottish Government.”

Progress on Child Poverty has Stalled.

One of the most ambitious pledges of the last Labour Government was the promise to eradicate child poverty by 2020; it is unfortunately an ambition that we will never be able to complete, but it will always remain our goal. However, good progress was made and across the United Kingdom between 1998/99 to 2010/11 child poverty  fell from 3.4 million to 2.3 million, a reduction which was unmatched by any other wealthy nation over the same period and a record which I am immensely proud of.

Yet, progress on tackling child poverty has now not only stalled but is at risk of going in to reverse according to analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies. The purist of an Austerity agenda at all costs has brought devastating harm upon the most vulnerable in society and with £12Bn further welfare cuts to come this is only going to get worse. Make no mistake even if the plan was deficit reduction these cuts go to the bone, far beyond what would actually be required to bring the deficit down.

Combined with the introduction of the bedroom tax, rise in both living and housing costs, lack of affordable childcare, low paid and zero hours contacts, the work done by the previous Labour Government to eradicate child poverty by 2020 is being systemically wiped out by a Tory Government who seem to be more concerned with lining their own pockets than protecting vulnerable people. They now wish to ignore child poverty by changing the way in which it is measured, it is an outrage, and all parties should stand against this.

In Scotland the situation is slightly different, between 1999/00 till 2007/8, under the Labour/Liberal administration child poverty in Scotland fell at a steady pace. In 1999/00, children defined in absolute child poverty after housing costs was, 38%, by 2007/8 this was, 22%, a reduction of 16%.

Since 2007/8, and the SNP Government, there has been little reduction in these levels.  According to the most recent figure, 2013/14, it is now 24%, that’s over 200,000 children and progress, according to the Scottish Government’s own figures has not only stalled but is going backwards.

The Scottish Government says it wants to tackle child poverty; that it wants to see a fairer and more equal Scotland, but this does not seem to translate in to real and meaningful action. Many reading this are now probably thinking to themselves that the Scottish Government is doing the best it can in a difficult financial climate with limited powers.

While it’s true that Scotland has been hit hard by Westminster austerity measures, consider this fact, in the last two financial years the Scottish Government has had underspends of both £444m and £376m. If this year’s figure is similar over £1Bn will have been underspent. As any struggling family in Scotland will know, all too often the money runs out before the end of the month.

I also agree that Scotland should have more powers, that is why Labour are fighting hard to bring new powers to Scotland. Through the Scotland Bill we will get a range of job creating powers, welfare powers, income tax raising powers and a host of other measures. The SNP are, however, arguing for Full Fiscal Autonomy, which would see Scotland plunged in to unbearable levels of Austerity, FFA isn’t even supported by Yes Campaign backers the Greens as they realise the damage it could cause. On this issue the SNP stand alone in demanding further hardship for Scottish families and our children.

I also question whether the SNP would actually utilise these powers, they have been so busy demanding new ones they seem to have forgotten about the ones they already have.

For example here is a list of measures that the SNP could introduce, that Scottish Labour would support, to tackle child poverty : a cap on childcare costs, set at no more than 10% of a family’s income; more flexible childcare to ensure wrap round and availability during work hours and out of school hours and more places; the immediate introduction of the living wage in all public procurement contacts, which the SNP voted against; tackling low pay; construction of more social housing and a cap on rip off rents and finally increasing education attainment, reversing colleges cuts to ensure all our children can succeed.

Child poverty is a national scandal, the Tories are targeting the vulnerable while progress has stalled under the SNP and key protections aren’t in place. I want to see child poverty wiped out in both the UK and Scotland. I will work with the SNP to do that but we need action, not just words The measures outlined above are positive, affordable and sensible and my challenge to the Scottish Government is this, stop looking to place blame elsewhere and just get on with it.

Comment on Quarry Road Leisure Centre Development

Speaking about the proposed Quarry Road Leisure Centre Development, Margaret McDougall MSP, said:

“I spoke with Katrina McCauley from North Ayrshire Council on Friday to raise my concerns about this development as well as the lack of consultation.  She explained that she is new in post but advised me that there had been extensive consultation on this, I beg to differ, I live in that area and have never been contacted, neither have my neighbours.”

“It is totally unacceptable to say people will get neighbour notification, as by this point the plans will be fairly well developed and only the immediate neighbours will get these.  I am all for improving facilities in Irvine, strengthening the local economy and bringing jobs to the area however, my concerns about the proposals, as I read in the local press, is the impact this will have on the traffic.”

“There already are tail backs at the junction with Quarry Road and East Road at peak times.  Quarry Road/Crocus Grove is already pretty dangerous because of sight restrictions and when there is Meadow Park football traffic or funeral parlour parking along the surrounding roads it is even more so.
“I asked for a meeting with Ms McCauley and I await her contacting my office to arrange a meeting on her return from annual leave and I have notified Elma Murray of my feelings on the lack of consultation with people who will be directly affected by this.  Proposal to develop this site were thrown out years ago for exactly the same concerns so what has changed?

“I have looked at the Irvine Vision Report and failed to see the development plans mentioned in it.

“I am disappointed in this Councils attitude to residents and elected members who have North Ayrshire’s interests at heart.”

Local MSP blasts  SNP underspend on public services

Margaret McDougall MSP has blasted the Scottish Government for denying public services in North Ayrshire vital funding

Figures released this week revealed the annual underspend in Scotland’s budget for last year is £376 million.

Of this amount, £151 million is the amount of cash the Scottish Government has chosen not to spend funding our schools, hospitals, housing and other public services.

West Region MSP, Margaret McDougall  blasted the decision, saying it was “astonishing” that local services were being underfunded whilst the Scottish Government sit on millions

In 2008 SNP Finance Secretary John Swinney boasted that the days of hundreds of millions in underspends were over – but for the second year he has been sitting on millions whilst local communities suffer brutal cuts to budgets.

Margaret McDougall MSP said:

“It is absolutely astonishing that, during a time of unprecedented austerity, the SNP Government in Edinburgh has decided to deny millions of pounds worth of funding for public services in North Ayrshire

 “Across Scotland we are seeing a NHS which is failing on nearly every measure, an unacceptable attainment gap between rich and poor children in education, and a social housing crisis which sees waiting lists stretch into decades – why isn’t the available money being spent to help communities in North Ayrshire and across Scotland?

“Underspending a budget is a sign of poor financial management, and it is vulnerable people in our poorest communities who feel the effects.”

Addition Information: 

This year’s underspend is the second highest under the SNP, beaten only by last year.

This year: (2014-15): £376m in total

Last year (2013-14): £444m in total

John Swinney previously said:  “Long gone are the days when hundreds of millions of pounds of government money would be underspent each year, doing nothing to help communities around the country.”

 

Margaret McDougall MSP calls for Football Act Review

Margaret McDougall MSP calls for Football Act Review  

Margaret McDougall has called for the Scottish Government to conduct a review of the controversial ‘Football Act’

The MSP believes that the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012 is not tackling Scotland’s problem with sectarianism.

The Act has attracted criticism previously, with one Sherriff describing it as “mince”

Last week the SNP Government backed away from plans to conduct a review of the legislation.

Margaret McDougall MSP, said:

“The Football Act has been a huge source of controversy, criticised not just by football fans but by legal experts too. It has created a culture of mistrust between football fans and the authorities which does nothing to help Scotland have an honest debate about how we tackle, and beat, sectarianism.

“The reality is that bigotry and intolerance are not confined to 90 minutes on a Saturday at football matches. If we want to be the generation that makes sectarianism a thing of the past we must address the issue head on, in our classrooms and communities in North Ayrshrie

“That is why I am calling on the Scottish Government to deliver what they promised – a thorough review of the Football Act.”

Additional Information.

Sheriff Richard Davidson has previously described the Football Act as “mince”

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/crime/crown-office-appeal-after-celtic-1826448

The previous Minister for Community Safety Roseanna Cunningham said that a review should wait until August 2015, once the research released today was complete

“Minister for community safety Roseanna Cunningham had earlier insisted that the review would not be moved from August 2015; when Stirling University researchers are due to publish findings.

http://news.stv.tv/west-central/266111-celtic-condemn-negative-football-laws-and-call-for-urgent-review/

Margaret McDougall wants more support for carers

Local MSP Margaret McDougall has backed more support for carers in the West Region

The Labour MSP will back amendments to the Carers Bill to beef up the powers of the Care Inspectorate.

Under Scottish Labour plans the Care Inspectorate will be given responsibility for inspecting the standards and provision of carer services across Scotland.

This will mean that support groups, information and advice centres for carers meet a national standard.

There are an estimated 72795 carers in West Region.  Margaret McDougall said that too often carers feel isolated, and that Labour’s plans will deliver the extra support carers deserve.

Speaking ahead of Carers Week, Margaret McDougall MSP called on Scotland’s other political parties to back their plans.

Margaret McDougall MSP said:

“Carers Week is one of the most important weeks of the year, as for too long the work of Scotland’s unpaid carers goes unrecognised and unsupported.

“Carers UK estimate that Scotland’s carers save Scotland £10 billion a year, the absolute least we can deliver is more support for the estimated 72795 carers in the West Region and across Scotland.

“That’s why I will be voting to beef up the powers of the Care Inspectorate, to make them responsible for carers services and support. I am calling on the other political parties at Holyrood to put people before politics and deliver a better deal for Scotland’s carers”