Com­mons Chat We must band to­gether to op­pose aus­ter­ity

Lennox Herald - - A WOMAN'S PALCE -

The com­mu­ni­ties of West Dun­bar­ton­shire have a rich and vi­brant history – of that there is no doubt – and, while we can be proud of our her­itage, we must build upon it and look to the fu­ture and what we can do to im­prove our com­mu­ni­ties.

I am afraid that our progress will be hin­dered by the UK Gov­ern­ment’s drive to­wards aus­ter­ity, which im­pacts all as­pects of our com­mu­ni­ties, par­tic­u­larly in West Dun­bar­ton­shire.

This agenda’s im­pact is com­plex and calls for all of us – not just one sec­tor, but public, pri­vate and third – to work to­gether as we seek to de­fend our com­mu­ni­ties from the worst as­pects of these so-called re­forms.

A key el­e­ment will be to sup­port lo­cal busi­nesses who play a key role as part of the multi-faceted ap­proach to tack­ling poverty. At the most ba­sic level, busi­nesses pro­vide the jobs for peo­ple but, more than that, they are an in­te­gral part of our com­mu­ni­ties, spon­sor­ing and pro­mot­ing lo­cal events and giv­ing real prac­ti­cal help to com­mu­nity groups. I have also seen the dif­fer­ence well-run lo­cal so­cial en­ter­prise com­pa­nies can make in an area. With a not­for-profit, user-led ap­proach em­ploy­ing lo­cal peo­ple and fo­cused solely on im­prov­ing lo­cal out­comes, they also are a vi­tal part of the fab­ric of our com­mu­ni­ties.

As your Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment, part of my job is to pro­mote the area as a place where peo­ple can do busi­ness and make sure that peo­ple look­ing to in­vest in the area find it easy to net­work with the key stake­hold­ers in West Dun­bar­ton­shire, in­clud­ing the coun­cil, Busi­ness Gate­way, cham­bers of com­merce and the lo­cal third sec­tor, to name but a few.

Just as im­por­tant, I want to en­sure that peo­ple al­ready es­tab­lished in the area, with busi­nesses and so­cial en­ter­prises large and small em­bed­ded in our com­mu­ni­ties, have the prac­ti­cal sup­port they need to con­tinue serv­ing our com­mu­ni­ties. MPs, MSPs and coun­cil­lors can help in a very prac­ti­cal way, mak­ing con­nec­tions with public bod­ies and of­fi­cials and rep­re­sent­ing lo­cal em­ploy­ers at ev­ery level of gov­ern­ment, putting em­ployer and em­ployee con­cerns front and cen­tre and rais­ing is­sues on their be­half di­rectly with the peo­ple who can help re­solve them.

Cre­at­ing and sup­port­ing con­tin­u­ing long-term em­ploy­ment is vi­tal to this area’s eco­nomic re­cov­ery and the coun­cil, with cross-party sup­port, re­cently launched the Work­ing4Busi­ness web­site where lo­cal busi­nesses or those look­ing to in­vest can easily find in­for­ma­tion and sup­port.

Fur­ther­more, the Scot­tish gov­ern­ment has in place a num­ber of mea­sures to sup­port em­ploy­ers and grow our econ­omy, in­clud­ing busi­ness rates re­lief to help small com­pa­nies and changes to pro­cure­ment pro­cesses to help make it eas­ier for larger em­ploy­ers to bid for public con­tracts.

Next year I have ev­ery con­fi­dence that the Dum­bar­ton con­stituency will elect an SNP MSP to join Gil Pater­son, MSP from Cly­de­bank, and fol­low­ing that an SNP coun­cil in 2017. Then we will have the strong­est pos­si­ble team, speak­ing with one very loud and very clear voice for you.

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