Boris Appointed PM

Alan Brown MP has slammed Boris Johnson’s appointment as Prime Minister.

Last week, Tory Party members voted for Johnson to be new party leader and in effect the new Prime Minister of the UK.

Johnson defeated Jeremy Hunt in the leadership race by more than 46,000 votes – almost the amount of votes cast in favour of Hunt, 46,656.

And the MP for Kilmarnock and Loudoun has claimed the new PM has no mandate in Scotland.

Commenting, Mr Brown said: “It’s hardly a surprise the Tory party members have opted to elect Boris as their new leader and therefore in the door at Number 10, I do find it hard to accept.

“Scotland never voted for the Tories. We never voted for Brexit, and we certainly never voted for a hard Brexiteer into Downing Street.

“Less than 100,000 people voted to put him in charge of the entire UK, in other words he has the backing of 0.13% of the electorate – that’s some mandate! Bear in mind the SNP winning the 2016 Scottish Government election, 2017 Westminster election (in Scotland) and 2019 European elections (in Scotland) is no mandate for the people of Scotland to be given the opportunity to choose a different path.

“We know Johnson is populist politician and has no real true beliefs or ideals, he’d say or promise anything to win a vote -suddenly he is an arch unionist and cares for Scotland, despite previously displaying many anti-Scottish traits. It will be interesting to see if he proves us all wrong and calls for a general election. Remember he stated Gordon Brown had no mandate to govern the UK after he replaced Tony Blair back in 2007 and never called for a general election. Let’s see if he has any level of credibility about him at all…”

Child Refugees

Alan Brown MP backs the call to rehome 10,000 child refugees.

The MP for Kilmarnock and Loudoun is supporting the campaign for the UK Government and local councils to take in children fleeing war zones.

He’s also calling on East Ayrshire Council to do their bit to help the children fleeing conflict.

Commenting, the MP for Kilmarnock and Loudoun said:

“It is poignant that on the 80th of the Kindertransport we once again call on the UK to take in children in desperate need of safety and fleeing prejudice.

“All those years ago we took in 10,000 children of predominately Jewish faith from Nazi Germany, Austria and Poland among others. Thanks to this act from the UK Government, it meant these 10,000 children were able to escape hate, prejudice and more importantly, almost certain death at the hands of the Nazis.

“Some of those who came here in the late 1930s happened to be the only survivors from their respective families, this literally saved lives, and they then grew up to be our next generation of doctors, nurses, teachers and firefighters. We have a moral duty to give this new generation of child refugees a chance to live a happy and successful life.

“At the moment no local authority in Scotland has agreed to sign up for this initiative. It would be great if East Ayrshire Council could lead by example and welcome these children who are in desperate need of safety.”

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Carers Week 2019

Alan Brown MP pledged his support to unpaid carers across Kilmarnock and Loudoun as part of Carers Week 2019, running from 10-16 June.

Carers Week is a national awareness week that celebrates and recognises the vital contribution made by those caring unpaid for someone living with an illness, disability, mental health condition or as they grow older. Research released for Carers Week suggests there could be many more people than previously thought acting as unpaid carers to their family and friends - as many as 8.8 million adult carers across the UK.

The MP for Kilmarnock and Loudoun attended an event in Parliament to celebrate the valuable contribution carers make locally.

The seven charities driving Carers Week 2019 are calling on individuals, organisations and services throughout the country to improve the lives of carers by getting carers connected to practical and financial support, and are calling for a step change in the way society supports those caring unpaid for family and friends.

The call comes after new research revealed that one in three unpaid carers (35 per cent) are always or often lonely, compared with just one in twenty (five per cent) of the general population.

 Alan Brown said:

 “Carers make a huge contribution to our society, providing vital and often hidden support to friends and family members.That is why I am supporting Carers Week 2019 and encouraging individuals and organisations across Kilmarnock and Loudoun to think about what more they can do to get carers connected to support and ensure carers feel valued and supported.

“Caring for family or friends can be a rewarding experience, but without the right support it can also have a huge impact on carers’ lives. Research shows that many carers feel alone and are struggling with low levels of wellbeing despite the invaluable contribution they make.  It’s time carers received greater recognition and support.

 “Government, employers, health and care professionals, schools and universities, and each of us individually, all have a role putting carers in touch with practical and financial help.”

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Work Experience Week 2019

Alan Brown MP undertook a series of new job roles during his Whitsun Recess from Westminster.

The MP for Kilmarnock and Loudoun decided to once again take on a week of work experience within the constituency as local businesses put him through his paces.

The week began with a trip to MYB Textiles in his hometown of Newmilns. There he learned MYB is the largest producer of theatrical drapes and their fabrics have graced many a film set from Harry Potter to Downtown Abbey.

His week concluded in the convivial settings of the Masons Arms in Galston where he poured pints for regulars.

There was a good mix of work experience for the local MP as he tried to undertake as many different sectors of the working world as possible. From factory work to volunteering, as well as construction to the food & drink industry.

Commenting on his ‘Walk in My Shoes Week’, the MP for Kilmarnock and Loudoun said: “It was a really enjoyable experience and I look forward to doing it again next year.

“This is the second year in a row I have had the work experience week and it is very much my intention to make it a yearly occurrence.

“It is important to highlight the good work local businesses carry out day in day out across the constituency. I am grateful they were all able to accommodate me and give me a taster of the kind of work they do.

“There was a good mix of work for me to do throughout the week, this also allowed me to see how different businesses operate in different sectors. It was great to visit established businesses who have been massive employers in Kilmarnock and Loudoun for many years as well as new businesses who are only weeks old!

“Of course my work experience at the Howard Centre ties in Volunteers’ Week which started on Monday (3 June 2019). I believe it is vital we highlight the valuable and important work our volunteers carry out across the country.”

Alan Brown MP’s full ‘Walk in My Shoes’ Week is as follows; Monday: MYB Textiles and Café City, Tuesday: Kilmarnock Station Railway Heritage Trust, Wednesday: Mossgiel Farm and DM Fruit Co., Thursday: Howard Centre, Friday: Worksmart Ltd, Brownings the Bakers and Masons Arms.

Visit Alan Brown MP’s Facebook Page (@AlanBrownSNP) to see all pictures and further details of his work experience week.

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World Fair Trade Day 2019

Alan Brown MP pledges support for the International Fair Trade Charter and celebrates on World Fair Trade Day

The MP for Kilmarnock and Loudoun has joined other Scottish MPs in their public support for the International Fair Trade Charter and officially pledged his support on World Fair Trade Day 2019.

The Charter lays out the purpose and aims of Fair Trade as agreed by the two largest global Fair Trade organisations, the World Fair Trade Organisation and Fairtrade International.

The new document lays out the unique approach, achievements and impacts of fair trade and illustrates how inclusive economic growth, fair wages and better working conditions can be achieved while empowering women and ensuring opportunities for the next generation.

Commenting, Alan Brown MP said: “I am delighted to pledge my support once again for the International Fair Trade Charter.

“We currently live in a world where the richest 1% own more wealth than the rest of the world combined – that is absurd on so many levels.

“Fair Trade is based on modes of production and trading that put people and planet before financial profit. For too long big businesses have been reaping the rewards out of exploitation and that is why this Charter is a massive step in the right direction to eradicating this.

“I’d like to pay tribute to my local East Ayrshire Fair Trade Group, namely Charles Sim, for the excellent work these guys carry out on a daily basis. I have supported many of their initiatives in the past and I will continue to do this.

“We all have the same objective, a more equal and prosperous future for the world we live in.”

Charles Sim, Chair of the East Ayrshire Fair Trade Steering Group said: “I commend Alan Brown MP for pledging to support the Fair Trade Charter and showing his continued support for the Fair Trade movement.

“We hope this good example will encourage others to follow suit as the support of elected representatives is essential to achieve the ambitious goals of the Fair Trade movement.

“Recognition of the Charter can be a crucial contribution on our way to a future where trade is fair and consumers get a good deal at no cost to the quality of life of producers.”

To achieve the ambitious goals laid out by the Charter, the support of more elected representatives, local authorities and public bodies is needed. This way, we can achieve changes in public policy and involve citizens, which is instrumental to building a fair world and raising awareness of these important issues within Scottish communities.

 

If you or your organisation are interested in more information about pledging your support for the Charter, please contact us through www.scottishfairtradeforum.org.uk.

 

For more information on the Charter, visit www.fair-trade.website.

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Fibromyalgia Awareness Week 2019

Monday 6th May marked Fibromyalgia Awareness Week in Scotland.

Fibromyalgia is a syndrome which impacts the central nervous system and has over 200 symptoms and overlapping conditions. Some of these include; chronic pain, muscle spasms, sleep disorders, mental health and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

In Ayrshire, the group Fibromyalgia Friends United Scotland offer a range of different support networks for people suffering from the disease. In preparation for Fibromyalgia Awareness Week, Alan Brown MP for Kilmarnock and Loudoun met with representatives from the social enterprise.

Commenting, Mr Brown said:

“I recently met with Alison (McColl) and Sharon (Turnbull) from Fibro Friends United Scotland who operate outreach groups in my constituency. Groups like Fibro Friends United are so vital in not only being there to raise awareness but to assist those with Fibromyalgia.

“They bring sufferers together and the value in this cannot be underestimated. Those affected have the opportunity to discuss their illness with others who truly understand what they’re going through.

“Fibromyalgia is a disease where those affected feel chronic pain all over their bodies. Given it is an illness which is difficult to diagnose, and one that can affect anyone, clearly there has to be more attention and awareness drawn to Fibromyalgia and that is why I fully support Fibromyalgia Awareness Week as I believe it is imperative everyone has a duty to educate themselves on the symptoms and potential causes of this condition.”

After FFUS meeting with the MP it has been confirmed that East Ayrshire Council will light up the clock on John Finnie Street purple on Saturday 11th May and Saturday 12th May to mark the occasion. Across the country other landmarks such as; The Kelpies, Falkirk Wheel, Camera Obscura and Titan Crane will also be lit up to commemorate Fibromyalgia awareness.

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MP Charity Bet

Alan Brown MP won his Ladbrokes charity bet at the Grand National.

The MP for Kilmarnock and Loudoun selected local charity Break the Silence to be the beneficiaries of his free bet from Ladbrokes. 

Break the Silence were founded in 2004 who provide a range of tailored, holistic support options for survivors of rape and childhood sexual abuse.

Ladbrokes gave the MP a free flutter on the Grand National for whatever kind of bet fancied. Be it an; accumulator, Lucky 15 or a single. He backed the winner, Tiger Roll at 7/2, who romped the race from the start and his £25 on the horse returned £112.50 which will be donated to Break the Silence. The MP also had money on outsiders; Captain Redbeard, Rock the Kasbah and General Principle.

Commenting, Mr Brown MP said: “I am happy my tactic of covering a few different horses paid off, it’s just a shame Captain Redbeard at 50/1 wasn’t the winner though!

“But in all seriousness, I am relieved one of my selections came in so that I could donate the winnings to this excellent group. I would like to thank Ladbrokes for their generous offer of a free bet for such a worthy and good cause.

“I'd like to thank both Alison and Jamie from the bookies for taking the time out their day to show me around the shop at Croft Street in Kilmarnock.

“There are so many wonderful organisations and charity groups locally so it was a difficult choice to just pick one. Break the Silence provide support to survivors of child abuse and rape, and I commend them for the excellent work they carry out on a daily basis.

“I was astounded to hear that one in six males have been subjected to unwanted sexual advances. It is imperative we promote these wonderful groups so that victims know they are not alone and there are top class support networks in place.

“It’s never too late to speak up.”

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Visit to Ucan

Alan Brown MP visited Ucan and got to see first-hand the wonderful and dedicated work which takes place at the social enterprise in Kilmarnock.

Ucan are a business who aim to give individuals with learning difficulties an opportunity of employment and teach them key life skills which enables them to live independently.

The MP for Kilmarnock and Loudoun was given a tour of the premises by directors; Matt Buckman, David Campbell and Joe Fairbairn. There, he was able to see the excellent facilities on offer which included; a gym area, kitchen, workshop, radio suite and an I.T. room.

The social enterprise have ambitious plans to open a café and expand their work further afield.

Commenting on the visit, Mr Brown said: “I thought the visit was a real inspiration. It was great to see the happiness about the place and the people working away.

“It was interesting to hear of the life skills which people who come here end up developing, in particular being put on the right track to living independently, and basically just helping them get on in life, it is absolutely fantastic.

“It’s a few years since I visited the premises and I can’t believe how much it has grown since then, which again is testament to the commitment of David, Matt, Joe and all the other staff at Ucan.

“I really can’t wait to see the finished product in terms of their café and retail space!”

Director David Campbell added: “We hope to develop people for work and help them with life skills, therefore we try to help them live more independently.

“There is one example of when one of the guys first joined us he had to be cared for seven days a week, but now that is down to just one day a week. We are not saying all of that is down to us, but it clearly shows the individual has learned a lot and is more stable thanks to our process.

“In terms of the future, what we want to do is firstly get this place finished and get the café open – but we also want to increase our reach. We currently cover the whole of Ayrshire but we would like to expand out to East Renfrewshire and the East Kilbride area.

“The ethos of the company is to build enough projects like the café to try and provide employment for the guys who come here as the trainee to then become an employee.”

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Latest Foodbank Figues

A recent report from the Trusell Trust has found the number of Scots using foodbanks has double.

The data which was published today shows that nearly 500,000 emergency food parcels were sent out in Scotland between April 2017 and September 2018. Worryingly, this figure is lower than the total number given 10 independent foodbanks were unable to give details.

However, of the 118 Trussell Trust organisations as well as the 84 independent service details, the report found 480,583 food parcels were issued during this 18-month period.

Experts are also warning that data on food parcel distribution still only provides a partial picture of the number of people in Scotland who are struggling to feed themselves and their families; with most people choosing to use other ways of coping, like skipping meals, rather than use a food bank.

And Alan Brown MP has slammed the Government for their role in this shocking rise. The Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun has laid the blame at the door of the Tories, due to their welfare policies.

Commenting Mr Brown said: “These are shocking figures that illustrate the appalling impact of years of Tory austerity has had on communities across Scotland.

“The Scottish Government is spending hundreds of millions mitigating the worst of Tory cuts but we know there’s a direct link between harmful policies such as Universal Credit and foodbank use. They should be utterly ashamed of these figures—and they must urgently change track.

“Research has shown that changes to the UK-wide benefits system, along with zero hours and temporary contracts that contribute to in-work poverty, is a key driver of foodbank use. The UK Government needs to urgently fix the broken system to ensure a welfare system that delivers on fundamental human rights.”

Scottish Conservative MP, Colin Clark has previously said: “I consider that fact that there are food banks to support people an example of people being charitable.”

And spokesperson for the Scottish Tories also said: “The SNP has more than enough powers to deal with the very problems its complaining about.”

Despite these comments from Scottish Conservatives, Mr Brown said: “The report states that the UK benefits system is a “key driver” of foodbank use. Furthermore, the Trussell Trust’s most recent figures show a 15% year-on-year increase, which is linked directly to the roll out of Universal Credit.”

Also commenting, Sabine Goodwin from Independent Food Aid Network stated: “We need action that deals with the root causes (of food poverty). We need a social security system that is fit for purpose, and wages that are related to the cost of living.”

Finally, Mary Anne MacLeod from A Menu for Change: “The Scottish Government should be commended for its plans to help families put food on the table through the new income supplement (promised by 2022)”

“These figures are truly shameful in rich Scotland and they make for uncomfortable reading for our political leaders.”

Christmas 2018 E-Card Competition

It’s that time of year again and time to announce my Christmas E-Card Winner.

This year’s winner was Nyla Bolton of Annanhill Primary, Kilmarnock with Jay McIntyre of Park School, Kilmarnock taking 2nd place and Tyla Savage of St Patrick’s in Auchinleck coming in 3rd.

My office received over 200 entries and the standard of work was incredibly high – every entrant should be really proud of their work.

The quality was so high that we decided to wrap up the office with some of the best entries. These designs will be in my constituency office window for the duration of the holidays so if you are out and about in Kilmarnock why not take a wander past and see if you can spot yours!

Democracy Matters - Local Conversations

The Scottish Government is inviting people to join a conversation about community decision making, called Democracy Matters.

On the 10 September 2018 there will be an event in the Tower Room at Kilmarnock Train station from 6pm-8pm organised by Elevat8 Community Interest Company. The event is FREE but to book a place and more info please click on the link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/democracy-matters-tickets-48876303339?ref=estw

If you are part of a local group or voluntary organisation you may also be eligible for funding to allow you to host your own event: https://www.voluntaryactionfund.org.uk/funding-and-support/democracy-matters-community-engagement-fund

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East Ayrshire Citizens Advice Bureau Survey

East Ayrshire Citizens Advice Bureau are currently doing some local research on the alleged mis-selling of the Green Deal in Ayrshire.

 If you have the Green Deal, live in EAST AYRSHIRE and would like to take part in their research you can go online to complete it using the link below or drop in to their Kilmarnock Bureau for a paper copy. To say thank you for completing the survey, they are running a FREE PRIZE DRAW for a £50 GIFT CARD. They will announce the winner in a few weeks once the survey is closed.

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/DealornoDeal

 

EU Withdrawal Debate and Tory Power Grab

Most people will by now have picked up that the evening debate on the 12th June on the EU Withdrawal Bill was a democratic outrage. The debate on the devolution aspects of the debate was restricted to only 15 minutes! All of which were taken up by the Tory Government Minister, with not one SNP MP allowed to speak at that juncture.

This Tory Government power-grab was approved following a 15 minute debate, ignoring the voice of Scotland’s Parliament which withheld consent.

I myself tried to raise two points of order about the Government’s approach to the proceedings as you will see from the video. The Tories just don’t get it! and Labour once again failed to defend the interests of devolution.

The lack of respect for the Scottish Parliament and Devolution was then further disregarded when, during PMQ's on Wednesday 13th June, Ian Blackford called on the Prime Minister to bring forward emergency legislation to remove the power grab against the Scottish Parliament. The Prime Minister refused to address the concerns of the SNP, which led to the SNP walkout.

Using Standing Order 163 – which enables any MP to move “That the House sit in private” – the SNP used the Parliamentary procedure to stop the Withdrawal Bill proceeding without proper debate on devolution matters.

Over the last two days, Devolution has been treated with contempt by the UK government.

The UK Government must now bring forward emergency legislation to remove the Clause 11 power grab element of the EU Withdrawal Bill.

SNP MPs have been clear - Scotland’s voice must and will be heard.

My 'Work Experience Week' continues

Tuesday saw me take to the streets with Ayrshire Police Division PC John Douglas and PC Sarah Paterson.

As town centre officers PC Douglas and PC Paterson work in the core town centre of Kilmarnock and the issues they focus on are Drugs, Dishonesty Crimes and Anti-Social Behaviour.  They can walk up to 30,000 steps a day! and try to spend most of their time out in the town centre each day with limited time in the office.

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On Wednesday I began my day at my local butchers - Afton Glen Meats Galston - Afton Glen meats in Galston.  Butcher Ian Holloway gave me a tour of the premises where I saw the preparation areas where he and his team make their own rolls and pies and where they butcher their meat.

Ian produces over 100 dozen rolls a week along with around 1000 pies each week for his shop and another 2000+ pies for MotherwelI FC. I can testify to how great those pies are!

I learned about the traceability of the meat he butchers and was then set to work making slice sausage. It’s a labour intensive process with half an hour of mincing, mixing, mincing again, kneading and then moulding being carried out before leaving the bars to set for around an hour. Each batch is made from around 30llbs of flank and produces 9-10 bars and Ian produces almost 100 bars on a Saturday alone!

It was a fascinating look behind the scenes and great to get hands on experience but I’m not sure if I’ll be asked back…I managed at least to provide some amusement to the team (and wipe out their supply of plasters) with my shocking knife skills!

 

Following my early shift at the butchers I got the opportunity to drop in to Ayrshire (East) Foodbank CVO East Ayrshire Ltd in Darvel to chat with Foodbank Development Worker, David Skilling, see their set up, meet the volunteers who keep the place running and help out a little.

The Darvel Foodbank is the main storage area for the whole of East Ayrshire and sends out an average of 250 packages a month, issuing 900 packs since January and feeding 1217 adults and 612 children giving a combined total of 1829 people - That's an average of 12 people a day they feed.

They rely on the support of the local community and local businesses for donations and volunteering and their loyal team of volunteers make sure that crisis packs are quickly assembled and distributed – I saw for myself this morning what a well organised set up and team they have there.

Recent changes to Charity Law mean it is much harder for them to do donation drives in supermarkets. I saw for myself how low their stocks were today and now, more than ever, they are reliant on the local community making regular donations either directly to their centres or via any of their drop off points in local supermarkets.  If you are a local business or community organisation who would be willing to host a donation drive then please do get in touch with my office and I can pass your details on to David.