Scottish Cabinet Visit

This Monday (23rd Nov), Inverclyde will be getting a visit from Cabinet Members of The Scottish Parliament. I am excited to welcome the Cabinet and showcase what Inverclyde has to offer.

About 400 local people have registered to pack out the hall for the public discussion, it is brilliant that so many people have registered to attend the meeting and get involved with the political process.

It will be a great opportunity to ask questions of the Scottish Government and engage with what is going on in the Scottish Parliament.

Our First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has said:

“Traveling Cabinets make this the most accessible government ever, and we have attracted significant interest from the communities that have been visited.

“In terms of numbers attending the public discussion, Inverclyde has exceeded all the other Cabinets that have been held across Scotland.

“This is the chance for local people to give us their views on the matters that are important to them, be that at a local tor national issue. They can also have a face-to-face chat with a Minister following the public discussion.

“These traveling Cabinets are important in that they will help inform the policy decisions my government makes.”

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Off Patent Drug Bill Update

Many people from Inverclyde have been in touch with me to ask about the Off Patent Drug Bill. I am aware that there are many of my constituents who would have greatly benefited from this Bill.

As the Bill was talked out (the government kept talking so the debate ran over time) the Bill did not pass to the Committee Stage, this means that the Bill would not progress at all. It really is as ludicrous as it sounds.

The minister stated in his speech that the Government has been pursuing a non-legislative solution to the issue of off-patent drugs, but we have seen no evidence that genuine progress has been made.

I am going to pursue this in any way that I can to make sure the Government will honour their commitment and turn their words into action.

Trussell Trust Figures

The figures published by the Trussell Trust are alarming and highlight a continued increase in food bank usage, which is worrying.

The figures also show that UK Government benefit changes and delays continue to be the most common reason for people seeking emergency food aid.

These new figures will put further pressure on Chancellor George Osborne to scrap his planned cuts to Tax Credits as the policy only serves to punish the most vulnerable in our society.

Trussell Trust figures show:

  • There were 60,458 referrals to Trussell Trust foodbanks in Scotland in April to September 2015. This represents an increase of 17 per cent compared to the same quarter last year.
  • 19,058 referrals were for children.

Further information can be obtained from the Trussell Trust website

Plege to Support to Improve Care for Terminally Ill.

With 86% of people agreeing that everyone should have the right to palliative care I believe everyone should have access to palliative care when they need it.

It is also important to ensure that people with a terminal illness get access to the high quality care and support that they need and deserve.

Marie Curie is running a campaign calling for the right for everyone to have palliative care when they need it.

I got the opportunity to team up with Marie Curie Nurse Sally Monger-Godfrey and renowned impressionist Jon Culshaw to back the Marie Curie campaign.

If you or someone you’re close to has a terminal illness, you can call the Marie Curie Support Line on 0800 090 2309 Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm or visit mariecurie.org.uk/help. You can also share experiences and talk to people in a similar situation on the Marie Curie community.

 

#GettingReadyForWinter

It is important to be prepared for winter and I want all my constituents in Inverclyde to know what help is available to them, their family and friends.

I advise everyone in Inverclyde to get in touch with their energy supplier to find out what support is on offer.

In the long term, energy efficiency is still the best way to save money on bills however eligible houses can apply for free loft and cavity wall insulation.”

Christine McGourty, Managing Director of Scottish Gas has said:

“Winter can be a challenging time for households and many people will be concerned about their winter energy bill. There is help available and we urge customers to get in touch to find out what advice and support is on offer.”

Visiting No.11 Downing Street

I got the opportunity to visit No.11 Downing Street this week to call on the Chancellor to invest in broadband infrastructure. This is all part of me doing my bit at Westminster to push for better access to mobile and fixed broadband infrastructure in Inverclyde.

More than 100 cross-party MPs and Peers have written an open letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne MP, urging him to continue investing in fixed and mobile broadband as part of the Spending Review and in the future.

The letter was co-ordinated by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Broadband and Digital Communication, which is Co-Chaired by Matt Warman MP and Ian Liddell-Grainger MP, and follows a recent Backbench Business debate on the matter let by Matt.

The signatories, including the Mayor of London Boris Johnson MP, former Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance Simon Hart MP and several former government ministers, welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement of a Universal Service Obligation for broadband of at least 10Mbps, but highlighted that 17 per cent of the UK still does not currently have the option of a superfast broadband connection and, even worse, some 500,000 households still lack even basic broadband.

They also note the social importance of access to broadband, which in some areas can be the difference between isolation and access to vital services, and call for parallel investment into digital skills, which are essential for everyone from jobseekers to pensioners to get by in the modern age.

i Youth Zone Visit

Last week I got the opportunity to pop into our local iYouth Zone on Nicolson Street and meet with both the youth workers and young people that use the centre. I got to see the facilities on offer to young people and hear about the range of information that is available.

The Youth Zone is a great space for young people to meet friends, access computers and the internet, make arts and crafts, participate in team activities, play games and have access to trained youth work staff.

I learned about the Youth Zone’s new initiative #YouthWorkChangesLives and I was extremely encouraged to find out that young people that have used the centre have returned to work there as trained youth workers.

Tele column – 13th Nov

In my last article I spoke about the dark day at Westminster when by accepting EVEL all of Scotland’s MPs were denied the right to fully represent their constituents. Well, the shocking lack of democracy continued on Friday 6th November. The Conservative Health Minister Filibustered (talked out) the Off-patent Drugs Bill. All the details are on my Facebook page ‘Ronnie Cowan MP’. This was the second Friday running that the UK Government used Continue reading “Tele column – 13th Nov”

A Visit from Action on Hearing Loss Scotland

After learning that one in six people in Inverclyde have some kind of hearing loss, including more than half of people aged over 60, myself and my staff invited Action on Hearing Loss Scotland to come into the office, give us a deaf awareness presentation and discuss the best practise for communicating with people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

We made the decision early on after setting up the office that we should install a hearing loop to improve access for constituents who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The hearing loop coupled with our ramp and access toilet makes our office accessible but we are always happy to take on suggestions on how we can improve accessibility for everyone.

Action on Hearing Loss Scotland were a huge help and shared their top tips with myself and my staff members, helping us all become more aware of the individual communication needs of constituents who are deaf or have hearing loss.

It is as simple as taking the time to consider whether we can do or say something differently to make it easier for someone who is deaf or hard of hearing to follow what we am saying. We even got to learn some basic BSL and fingerspelling, which we can use to welcome visitors from the Deaf community.

I really would urge organisations across Inverclyde to contact Action on Hearing Loss Scotland to improve their own deaf awareness, ensure they have hearing loops and help reduce the frustration and isolation experienced by local people who are deaf or have hearing loss.