Network rail apprenticeship scheme now open

Network Rail is recruiting for future rail leaders through our apprenticeship scheme. Applications are now open for a September 2020 start and will close when all places have been filled.

We would be grateful if you could share this information with your contacts and publicise on your communication channels to help us raise awareness about the apprenticeship scheme.

Our apprentices receive expert training, earn while they learn and develop skills for life. What’s more, they have the opportunity to build a career at one of Britain’s biggest employers.

Applicants will need to be available to start their apprenticeship scheme with us on 29th September 2020 if they apply for this intake.

We currently 26 Apprentice positions at various locations throughout Scotland.  

Whichever career path the apprentice takes, they’ll spend their first 24 weeks at Westwood, Network Rails’ training centre in Coventry developing the technical knowhow and leadership abilities they’ll need for the many exciting challenges ahead. During this time, apprentices will also have periods of time away from Westwood to carry out additional training. For example, they will visit their depot/route for a local route induction and meet their teams.

For the rest of the programme apprentices will be able to put their training into practice and will join an engineering team at a depot close to home. They’ll be out and about on the network, learning alongside more experienced colleagues. Apprentices can specify a preferred depot close to home at application stage, however it should be noted that we recruit based on demand of discipline and delivery needs. 

A Network Rail apprenticeship is just the beginning of an exciting career journey that can lead to varied career options.

For further information about the Network Rail apprenticeship Scheme please visit our website, email the apprentice recruitment team at  or post a question via our Facebook page (NetworkRailCareers)

Candidates can also WhatsApp our virtual careers advisor with any questions they may have: 07789336038


The cost of cash: Banks save hundreds of millions while consumers are left footing the bill just to access cash

The UK’s major banks have made hundreds of millions of pounds from cash machine cuts and bank branch closures in the last two years, while fees paid by consumers to access their own cash have soared, new research from Which? reveals.

New figures obtained by the consumer champion show the amount paid by consumers to withdraw cash jumped by £29m to £104m last year – as many free machines vanished or were converted to charge fees.  

In contrast, this seismic shift in the cashpoint network has saved the banks £120m since January 2018, according to the new figures from Link, which runs the UK’s largest cashpoint network. 

More than 8,700 free ATMs have closed since changes to how the Link cashpoint network is funded were pushed through with no regulatory oversight in January 2018, following lobbying by the banks.

Between 2018 and 2019 the percentage of fee-charging machines jumped by 37 per cent (from 11,120 to 15,277) and they now comprise a quarter (25%) of the entire network of 60,291 machines  – leaving countless communities having to pay up to £2 just to withdraw their money.

These changes have seen the number of times people have had to pay to withdraw cash increase from 46m in 2018 to 73m in 2019 – a rise of 59 per cent in a single year.

The banks are also saving vast sums through branch closures – with 1,203 having closed since January 2018 alone. These ongoing closures have drastically reduced people’s ability to access free withdrawals across the UK.

Which? first raised the alarm in December 2017 that incoming cuts to the way cashpoints are funded would lead to a rapid reduction in access to free withdrawals across the country. 

And two years on these new figures show the sheer mismanagement of the cash landscape, which is seeing people cut off from cash – or forced to pay significant fees to access it.

Which? previously revealed that deprived areas are losing free cash machines at a much faster rate than affluent ones across the UK – hitting those who can afford it the least.

Digital banking and payments have brought many benefits to consumers in the UK, but it’s crucial that the transition is better managed to ensure all those still reliant on cash aren’t forced to pay just to access it.  

Which? is calling on the government to intervene with legislation that protects free access to cash for as long as it is needed.


Gambling on Credit Cards to be Banned

The Gambling Commission has announced that gambling with credit cards is to be banned from April 2020.

The SNP has consistently called on the UK Government to bring forward a comprehensive strategy and key reforms that look further into education, research and treatment.

While today’s news is a welcome step in the right direction, this simply doesn’t go far enough to tackle the scourge of gambling-related harm on our communities.

Action to tackle problem gambling has been a long time coming and we are finally seeing agreement in parliament that change is required, but to date, the UK government has proven itself utterly incapable to tackle problem gambling.

If the Tory government continues to refuse to devolve these powers to Scotland, it must now seriously look to introduce a Gambling Act that is fit for the 21st century, to tackle gambling-related harm head-on.

The gambling industry must also provide further support. It’s time to properly explore education, research and treatment to help individuals and families who have been affected and devastated by the scourge of problem gambling.

Any progress on gambling is a positive thing, but this issue requires further robust action – rather than addressing problems as they arise, a new gambling act is required. I look forward to engaging with the gambling industry and the UK government in effectively tackling gambling-related harm.

Further reading:

Gambling Commission – Gambling on Credit Cards to be Banned from April 2020

Drug policy 2020

Many politicians will be only too happy to take the praise if we ever manage to improve on the appalling number of drug related deaths in Scotland but if we are ever to achieve that we need to stop the blame game, stick to the facts and make the changes that will effect an improvement. Then we can all claim we were responsible for the improvements. As it is, we should all be admitting that we are responsible for the failings. Only then can we rip the political machinations out of the process. Recognise the actions required to bring about change for the common good and implement that change. Then we can pat ourselves on the back and indulge in our own self importance. We have tried and failed to open a Drug Consumption Room in Glasgow. DCRs (sometimes known as Safe Drug Consumption Rooms or Overdose Prevention Facilities) have saved lives in every country that they have been established. They have reduced crime and been cost effective in treating problematic drug use. And yet in the U.K. we still refuse to licence them. I would have hoped that at the very least the U.K. government would have recognised that DCRs are worthy of investigation and that running a pilot project would be worthwhile. It is almost two years since I clashed with the Home Office over their lack of knowledge on the effectiveness and the availability of DCRs globally, but I truly hope that what appears to be a softening of their resistance is genuine and that they have finally taken onboard the evidence accrued from foreign shores. But it mustn’t end there. GPs require training so they can comfortably prescribe medical cannabis. Companies need incentives to develop medical cannabis products that can be dispensed, and the law needs changed to protect people from prosecution. Decriminalisation will remove the stigma and reduce the pressure on law enforcement agencies, but we need to invest in rehabilitation centres and provide shelter. Homelessness, poverty and abuse are the drivers that fuel problematic drug use. We must address them if we are to create an environment for the wider solution. If political parties can get together and get behind these proposals, all of which have been successful in other countries, then we can improve the situation and drive down the death rate. We can reduce the harm and we can free up the police force to fight crime. We will save both the NHS and the criminal justice system money and time and we will have created a society where problematic drug use is recognised and treated as a health issue. In the coming weeks I am visiting Jericho House in Greenock to hear first hand the lived experience of the the service users and I am hosting a briefing for MPs at Westminster by the Transform Drugs Policy Foundation and other organisations involved in reform and rehabilitation. A New Year offers renewed hope and if we work together then maybe this can be the year that we finally drag the U.K. drug policy out of the dark ages.


Ronnie Cowan MP

Vice-chair of APPG on drug policy reform

Recycling & donating

Recently, the Scottish Government held a recycling summit where consensus was reached on ensuring more packaging can be recycled and that Scotland’s recycling is managed responsibly and sustainably.

Over the festive period, many people will receive gifts some of which they will never use or want.  I would encourage Inverclyde residents to consider giving said gifts to charity or to a home where they will be utilised.

Alongside this, it’s important we continue to take care of the planet and with this I ask people to ensure all Christmas cards are recycled.  You can find out more information on rubbish, bins and recycling at

Christmas message 2019

The Festive season is upon us once again. It means different things to different people. For some it’s a time of great joy, an opportunity to take days off work and catch up with friends and family. For many it is work as usual and that includes fire, police, ambulance and coastguard. Our hospitals shall remain open and our transport systems will continue to run. But for others it’s a time when economic hardships are stretched to breaking point. Loneliness can crush people living in isolation and feelings of rejection are magnified. The media driven pressure to be happy can have the opposite effect. The constant need to consume and enjoy can be unhealthy. Please remember it’s OK not to be OK. The perfect Christmas is depicted time again in movies and TV, but it doesn’t exist. The festive season does present us with the opportunity bring joy to others and as the saying goes ‘what goes around comes around’. A small gift, a simple act of kindness, a thank you or a smile can make someone’s day. And that is true every day of the year not just at Christmas. I have just emerged from a General Election campaign which, because of the nature of the beast, centred around me. I am only too aware that the job is about serving the community. We do our best work when we don’t seek personal gratification from it, when we can genuinely work for the betterment of others. I would ask that we all remember that there are people in our community that are worse off than we are. As I look towards the coming year, I shall serve Inverclyde to the very best of my ability and respect the trust that the electorate have put in me. My office will be open on the 23rd, 27th and 30th of December and 3rd of January. We shall be accepting donations for the foodbank.

Peace, love and understanding throughout 2020 and beyond.

Samaritans: 116 123 free from any phone. My office address is 20 Crawfurd Street, Greenock, PA15 1LJ

Alternative Queen’s Speech

The SNP published Alternative Queen’s Speech – a twelve-point plan to protect the NHS, end austerity, tackle the climate emergency, and ensure Scotland has the right to choose its own future in an independence referendum.

The ambitious programme to boost the economy, protect public services, tackle poverty, deliver real action on climate change, and respect Scotland’s right to choose, stands in stark contrast to the Tory Queen’s Speech, which would rip Scotland out of the EU and “take a wrecking ball” to public services, living standards, and the economy.

Proposals include; 

An Independence referendum; An NHS Protection Bill; A Parental Leave Expansion; An Equal Living Wage; A Social Security Reform Bill; A Women’s Pension Justice; A Climate Emergency Bill; A new Green Energy; A BBC Licence Fee Bill; An Electoral Franchise Expansion Bill; A House of Lords Abolition; A Trident Abolition Bill. 

The SNP Alternative Queen’s Speech sets out our priorities to ensure Scotland’s right to choose our own future is respected, end austerity, boost our economy, and deliver real action to tackle the climate emergency.



UK Parliament Week 2019

UK Parliament Week is a UK-wide festival taking place from 2-8 November, which aims to engage people, especially young people, from different backgrounds and communities, with the UK Parliament and empower them to get involved.

This is a great opportunity to be part of a thriving democracy, ask questions, think critically and engage with the UK Parliament. Schools, museums, libraries, faith communities and youth organisations representing every constituency across the United Kingdom have already signed up to be part of the conversation.

As Member of Parliament for Inverclyde, I welcome the involvement of schools and people during UK Parliament Week 2019. I am determined to ensure that our voters and citizens of tomorrow understand how vital their participation is in our democracy, and I’m excited to see so many schools, uniform organisations and local groups taking part.

In 2018, UK Parliament Week reached almost 1 million people, with more than 8,100 activities. This year’s UK Parliament Week festival is expected to be the largest ever with even more activities and people taking part.

I look forward to visiting local schools, including St Stephen’s and Port Glasgow High during the week.


European Union vote

The deal being offered by the UK Government is one the people of Inverclyde did not vote for back in 2016.  It would take Scotland out of the European Union, out of the single market and out of the customs union against the overwhelming democratic will of the people of Scotland.

Scotland did not vote for Brexit in any form, and my SNP colleagues and I will not vote for Brexit – especially when it is clear that Scotland, alone of the nations of the UK, is being treated unfairly.

It cannot be right that Scotland alone is facing an outcome it did not vote for – that is democratically unacceptable and makes a mockery of claims the UK is in any way a partnership of equals.  That is not the future that I or the majority of Scots, who voted, envisage for this country.

This deal would leave Scotland as the only part of United Kingdom that is being taken out of the European Union without the electorate’s consent and with no say on any future relationship.