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.

Arran Outdoor Education Centre – Scrapping of Mainland Service

SNP lead North Ayrshire Council conducted a review in to Arran Outdoor Education Centre’s has earmarked the centre’s Mainland services to be scrapped in a plan that will allegedly improve the sustainability of the centre and will deliver a saving of £53,843.

Last year the mainland centre provided access to activities to 7000 young people and adults within North Ayrshire and beyond.  They also provide services to schools, community groups and events, working with people from Nursery to Retirement age.

Margaret McDougall MSP, said: “Cutting the mainland services is not consistent with North Ayrshire Council’s objective of maintaining a high quality service for young people within North Ayrshire. Last year the mainland service provided access to activities to 7000 young people and adults within North Ayrshire and beyond. The service also takes bookings from School in the area but as of November was told it should take no more bookings, which had an adverse effect on the centres income.

“Through-out the whole review process no consultation has taken place with the Arran Outdoor Education Centre despite North Ayrshire council claiming they have conducted a range of consultations with both internal and external stakeholders.

“By removing this service they appear to be reducing the opportunities available for thousands of children and hundreds of adults which is not consistent with NAC Commumity Planning objectives. By not engaging with the centre they are falling to give them an opportunity to look at ways they could increase their commercial viability and equally increase the promotion of the service. SNP lead North Ayrshire Council should be looking at ways to better utilise the service to increase sustainability rather than cutting it.

Marine Station

Following a visit to the Marine Station, Margaret McDougall, MSP said:

“It was a great pleasure to visit the Field Studies Council (FSC) Marine Station in Millport.  There were great concerns last year when it was feared it would close through lack of funding. However, after receiving funding from the FSC, North Ayrshire Council and the Scottish Government the marine station is undergoing a transformation.

“Although some posts have been lost, Daniel Moncrieff, Head of the FSC in Scotland is enthusiastic about the future of the Marine Station. Already internal restructuring has been carried out in the main building, providing modern teaching rooms and student facilities. Bigger changes are yet to come with the modernisation of the student accommodation block and work to both the aquarium and museum.

“Daniel and his team are full of ideas to revitalise the Marine station and make it more sustainable. The reputation of the station has meant that they have retained many of the University clients and are hoping to attract more as well as attracting primary and secondary schools. Eventually they hope to provide short course for adults and families to explore marine and wild life in their natural habitats.

“I was greatly encouraged to see the work that has been done already and very much look forward to seeing the completed works in spring next year.”

Daniel Moncrieff, Head of FSC Scotland, added:

“It was a privilege to have the opportunity to show Margaret McDougall around FSC Millport and discuss our building and development plans for the site; particularly after the support she gave last year helping to ensure the station continued beyond 2013.”

Margaret McDougall MSP Has Sixty Reasons To Celebrate

ENABLE at 60!

Local MSP Margaret McDougall joined more than 100 ENABLE Scotland members and friends  at the Scottish Parliament recently for an event to mark the charity’s proud 60th anniversary.

To coincide with Learning Disability Awareness Week, the event included a debate hosted by Jackie Baillie MSP, convenor of the cross-party group on learning disability in the Scottish Parliament.

More than 20 MSPs, who each received commemorative ENABLE Scotland tartan scarves and ties, flocked to the event for news and debate about the most pressing issues facing people with a learning disability and the services on which they rely.

Among the visitors was ENABLE Scotland member, Liam Clark, of Cambuslang.

Liam said: “It was a pleasure to visit the Scottish Parliament and to meet Jackie Baillie. The building is impressive, inside and out, and it was great to have the opportunity to take lots of pictures.

“I was pleased to be able to witness the debate and hear about current issues. I was very proud to be a part of this important day in ENABLE Scotland’s 60th year.”

Commenting after the event, Margaret McDougall MSP said:  “I was delighted to be able to attend the ENABLE Scotland 60th anniversary celebration in the Scottish Parliament, and it was a real pleasure to see so many members and volunteers from the organisation come together from communities across Scotland, including my own.   I was happy to sign the motion in Parliament recognising the rights of people who have learning disabilities, and to wear my ENABLE Scotland tartan to raise awareness throughout Learning Disability Week.  I wish ENABLE Scotland and all of its members and supporters another successful 60 years!”

Peter Scott, CEO at ENABLE Scotland, added: “Our anniversary year and our mission to give every person with a learning disability the choice and control to live the lives they choose was again brought into sharp focus during our recent pilgrimage to the Scottish Parliament.

“Our members and supporters took many valuable messages and ideas from the visit, and our thanks go to everyone who contributed to such a memorable milestone event.”

Enable scotland

VOLUNTEER SCOTLAND CELEBRATES THREE DECADES OF VOLUNTEERING

Scottish charity Volunteer Scotland is celebrating the diversity of volunteers this year. 2014 is a   significant year for volunteering in Scotland and a great time to be celebrating the contribution volunteers make – from the 15,000 Clyde-siders at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games to thousands of volunteers who keep their local sports clubs alive. Volunteers everywhere are at the heart of Scotland’s communities and making them better places.

As Scotland readies itself for the Commonwealth Games, this year also marks three decades of promoting the value and worth of volunteers through two major events – 30th anniversaries of both Volunteer Scotland, the national body for volunteering, and Volunteers’ Week which is an annual event celebrating the difference millions of volunteers make across the UK.

The Scottish Parliament took the opportunity to join celebrations marking 30 years of Volunteer Scotland and Volunteers’ Week. 

George Thomson, Chief Executive of Volunteer Scotland, says: We’re delighted with the tremendous cross party support and leadership for volunteering shown by our MSPs. In Scotland each year, 30% of adults give over 160 million hours of precious time in a vast range of community settings. This makes a huge difference to people, to the economy, to services, and the environment… and all done with a smile! Volunteers’ Week celebrates the good in volunteering and as we look ahead to the changes of the next 30 years one thing I’m sure is that volunteering will continue to be friendly, uplifting and rewarding.”

Pledging their support for Volunteers’ Week and Volunteer Scotland, MSPs stressed the value to local communities of greater local involvement in voluntary action and pledged to help raise awareness throughout Scotland.

Margaret McDougall MSP was among the first to support the campaign.

“I’d like to congratulate Volunteer Scotland on their 30th anniversary and wish them continued success in the important work they do.”

“With the buzz around the Commonwealth Games now is a great time to be involved in volunteering, volunteers are at the heart of communities and its vital that we offer them support and opportunities. We should also be looking to get more people involved in volunteering even if it’s only an hour a week.”

“We have a rich tapestry of community involvement and those involved should be recognised for their efforts and the positive perspective of the West Region that they contribute towards.”

Recent photos of Parliament and Constituency Work

I’m Voting No

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The referendum campaign has now entered its final straight, with less than 100 days to go until Scotland decides whether it will remain in the family of nations which make up the United Kingdom.

I’m voting no, and thought I would share with readers the reason why.

As a Labour MSP I believe in the sharing and pooling of resources across the United Kingdom. I believe in the social solidarity which sees the income tax in paid in North Ayrshire support a pensioner across the UK.

I’m voting no because I believe in fairness, social justice and equality, and do not believe that passion should stop at the border. The Labour movement have delivered great things for people not just in Scotland but across the United Kingdom, from the NHS to the minimum wage. A worker in North Ayrshire has as much in common with a worker in any other area as they do someone in another part of Scotland. I see no sense in walking away from a political union with our friends, family, comrades and colleagues in the other home nations.  We achieve more when we work together.

I’m voting no because I believe staying in the United Kingdom is the best thing for the Scottish economy.  One in five Scots are employed by UK wide companies, and Scotland sells more to the United Kingdom than it does to every other country combined.

I’m voting no because it is the best thing for our pensions. By pooling and sharing our resources across the family of nations we can deal most effectively with the challenges of an ageing population to ensure dignity in retirement for our elderly people today, tomorrow and for generations to come.

I’m voting no because it is the best thing for our schools and hospitals. Our stronger economic position in the United Kingdom allows us to spend more on public services, and decisions on these schools and hospitals are taken here in Scotland, in the Scottish Parliament.

I’m voting no because we have the best of both worlds.  We have a strong Scottish Parliament making decisions on public services, keeping the pound and backed by the strength and the security of the United Kingdom.

In Scotland we have our own education system, our own NHS, our own legal system, and much more, but it makes sense for us to share things like pensions, welfare and defence across 60 million people rather than just five. It means we can spread the risks and share the rewards.

I’m voting no because I believe in a positive future for Scotland in the United Kingdom, working together across the family of nations to deliver a better future for us all.

A better future which means extending the living wage so people get a fair day’s pay for a hard day’s work, cracking down on zero hour contracts, reforming the banks and taxing bankers bonuses, more child care for our families, tackling the cost of living crisis by freezing energy bills and reforming  the private rented sector, improving our schools and hospitals, building more homes and delivering more jobs.

Together we can do this. We do not need  to leave the UK to achieve it; we can lead the UK in achieving it.

That’s why I’m voting No.

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New Kilwinning Sports Clubhouse

Fantastic to be at the official opening of the New Kilwinning sports Clubhouse today. Proud to have been involved.

SNP Failing Garnock Valley

North Ayrshire SNP lead council have been accused of failing the Garnock Valley over their inability to consult local communities regarding the location of the new super campus.
The SNP are pushing forward with a motion to on this Wednesday (25th June) which states that:

“This Council fully supports the existing democratically approved site for the new Garnock Academy and wishes to move forward to construction as soon as possible.”

This is despite strong opposition locally from parents of children who would attend the new school.

Margaret McDougall, MSP, said: “It seems that the  SNP council have not  consulted the local communities affected by this decision, they now want to push through this motion with their fingers in their ears rather than listening to the genuine concerns of local people.”

“I commend Labour councillor John Bell on championing the concerns of local people and putting forward a counter motion that requests that: “that the council finally listen to the local community, that we instruct officers to halt the current planning application in light of the new, more accurate, information, carry out a full option appraisal on the 4 previously short listed sites with the addition of the current school site and report back to council within 3 months””

“Hopefully the SNP will see sense on this issue, but it looks like they will have to be dragged kicking and screaming to respond to the concerns of the local communities effected.

Notes to Editors:

1. SNP Motion

(a) a Motion by Councillor Gibson, seconded by Councillor McMillan, in the following terms:

 

“This Council fully supports the existing democratically approved site for the new Garnock Academy and wishes to move forward to construction as soon as possible.”

2. John Bell’s Motion

(b) a Motion by Councillor Bell, seconded by Councillor Highgate, in the following terms:

 

“The full ground condition surveys for the Longbar site proposed for the

Garnock Campus have now been published, they identify its significant limitations with poor drainage, undermining, and difficult terrain limiting the useable building space and impacting on the extent of facilities planned.

This has resulted in less room for sports facilities and the building having to be pushed to the far side of the site originally shown to councillors, close to the busy main road on one side a railway line on another and no clear safe access points or travel routes identified.

I move that the council finally listen to the local community, that we instruct officers to halt the current planning application in light of the new, more accurate, information, carry out a full option appraisal on the 4 previously short listed sites with the addition of the current school site and report back to council within 3 months. This will ensure the council receives best value for this significant expenditure, prevent further money being thrown at a site which is not fit for purpose and allow the views of the local community, who will actually have to use the facility, regarding the relative accessibility of each of the locations to be taken into account.”

Savings Under Threat with a Yes Vote

Currently Scottish bank accounts are protected by up to £85000, under the UK Government’s Financial Services Compensation Scheme. In the event of another financial crash this Scheme shall make sure savings are safe. However, in the event of a Yes vote this scheme is not guaranteed.

Labour MSP, Margaret McDougall, said: “Currently through the  Financial Services Compensation Scheme, which is a UK Government Scheme, our savings are protected up to £85000, this is in doubt in the event of a Yes vote.”

“So far the SNP Government has failed to give any assurances on whether an Independent Scotland would have its own version of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, how the initial start-up cost of this would be funded and how the service would be maintained with a smaller amount of firms contributing to its costs. Furthermore, no certainty can be given on the issue if an Independent Scotland is not in a Currency Union with the rest of the UK and we know that is unlikely”

“Before the referendum people need assurances that their savings would be safe in the event of a Yes Vote, it’s not enough for the SNP to bluff and bluster their way out of the issue. Currently there is a petition lodged with the Scottish Parliament asking the Scottish Government to give clear answers to these questions, I have also submitted questions. It’s not good enough for the SNP to pretend everything will be alright on the night people need answers before September the 18th. ”

Link to the petition:  http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/GettingInvolved/Petitions/bankaccounts

Questions submitted:

To ask the Scottish Government what assessment it has made of the firms that would contribute to the cost of a financial services compensation scheme in an independent Scotland and what levy they would be charged.

To ask the Scottish Government what consideration it has given to the establishment of a financial services compensation scheme in the event that an independent Scotland did not have a currency union with the rest of the UK.

To ask the Scottish Government whether an independent Scotland would have its own financial services compensation scheme and, if so, what it would cost to establish; how the (a) start-up and (b) operation of the service would be funded, and what thresholds would apply.

Margaret McDougall visits GlaxoSmithKline for Scottish Apprenticeship Week.

Margaret McDougall MSP photo

Labour MSP, Margaret McDougall visited the GlaxoSmithKline plant in Irvine for Scottish Apprenticeship Week.

Margaret McDougall, said: “It was a very informative visit to GSK and great to see the work that they are doing on their Apprenticeship Programmes.  All the apprentices employed across a diverse array of departments within GSK seemed to be really enjoying the programme while gaining many skills and experience, including interacting with schools and communities and working together in designing a garden within the grounds of GSKs site. We need more companies to work with young people to support them to develop skills and opportunities in this crucial industry.”