Christmas E-Card Competition

Christmas 2017 - Winner.jpg

Judging the entries for my annual Christmas E-Card Competition with local primary schools is always a very tough task. But this year the children surpassed themselves with their artistic endeavours and I really struggled to reach a decision. 

The overall winner was Lucy Daly from Fenwick Primary and you can see her design above. 

The runners-up were: Brad Dalziel from Park School; Andrew Bowman from Newmilns Primary and Caiomhe Welsh from St. Sophia’s and their designs are below.

Thank you to all the children who submitted their designs – I really enjoyed looking at them all.

 

Dementia Friends Awareness Session

Dementia Friends.jpg

My Constituency Office staff recently took part in a training session to become Dementia Friends.

Dementia Friends is an Alzheimer Scotland initiative and anybody can become a Scottish Dementia Friend. It’s just about understanding a bit more about dementia and the small things you can do to help people with the condition. This could be helping someone find the right bus or being patient in a till queue if someone with dementia is taking longer to pay. Every action counts.

Our session was delivered by East Ayrshire Dementia Advisor Helen Hollywood and you can find out more about upcoming local sessions here and more about Dementia Friends Scotland via their website.

Small Business Saturday

Ahead of Small Business Saturday tomorrow I decided to visit some of the independent shops and businesses in Mauchline and Galston.

I know how difficult it can be for independent shops and small businesses to compete in a market that is increasingly dominated by the big players and online shopping.  However, I also know that buying from a locally owned business means the money is much more likely to stay in our community and benefit our local economy. 

That is why I want to take the opportunity to encourage the public to shop local whenever they can and to try and help ensure our local businesses prosper. 

Thank you to all the Mauchline and Galston business owners who took the time to meet with me and discuss areas where I could lend my support as their MP.  As the local MP I want to give my backing and support to the great work that small businesses deliver throughout the constituency.  Indeed it is small businesses like these that are the lifeblood helping deliver strength and vitality into all our towns and villages – please give them your support whenever possible.

Photos of the businesses I visited are below and I'll be posting updates about each visit on my social media over the day tomorrow.

The Royal British Legion Static Bike Challenge

Royal British Legion.jpg

I got the opportunity recently to take part in a static bike challenge organised by the Industry and Parliament Trust (IPT) and The Royal British Legion.

Over 90 Members of Parliament raced alongside serving members of The Armed Forces on an exercise bike to raise money for The Royal British Legion’s annual Poppy Appeal. The 12 hour bike ride was held in Portcullis House, Parliament and aimed to raise money for the Legion’s national Poppy Appeal. Representing the constituency of Kilmarnock and Loudoun I managed to cycle 3.06km in 5 minutes.

The Royal British Legion and Poppy Scotland provide invaluable support to The Armed Forces community and I was pleased to have been able to support such a worthy cause.

I am also looking forward to my visit later this week to the new Poppy Scotland Ayrshire centre that has recently opened in King Street in Kilmarnock. Offering one-to-one local contact, this centre offers specialist support and advice to veterans and their family members. (Telephone: 01563 598000 / email: kilmarnock@poppyscotland.org.uk).

Family Fund

I was delighted to meet with Salena Begley, Partnership Manager of the charity Family Fund recently to find out more about how they can help families raising disabled or seriously ill children and young people. Along with Salena I invited Moira and Charlene to meet me at my office for a chat about some of the challenges for their own families. Both Moira and Charlene are mothers who have been helped by the support and guidance Family Fund have been able to provide.

Family Fund has been around for over 40 years, originally part of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, they have provided grants to over a million families over the years. They provide practical and material support along with advice on what is available for families raising disabled or seriously ill children and young people..

"We believe that all families raising disabled or seriously ill children and young people should have the same opportunities as others. Beginning with the most vulnerable, those on low incomes, and considering all conditions against our disability criteria, we aim to make a difference to outcomes for disabled or seriously ill children and young people and the lives of the families raising them across the UK.

We provide grants for a wide range of items, such as washing machines, sensory toys, family breaks, bedding, tablets, furniture, outdoor play equipment, clothing and computers. It can be a struggle financially, emotionally and physically for families raising a disabled or seriously ill child, and these grants help break down many of the barriers families face, improving their quality of life and easing the additional daily pressures."

If you would like to find out more about the support available please visit https://www.familyfund.org.uk/ or contact Salena.Begley@familyfund.org.uk if you would like to get involved to help Family Fund.

 

 

 

Broadband Information from the Public Meeting (27th September)

The Public Meeting on Broadband Delivery in East Ayrshire held on 27th September helped to bring some understanding of the scale of the task involved to bring high speed broadband across Scotland. It also highlighted some of the problems facing the communities in Kilmarnock and Loudoun.

Duncan Nisbit from Digital Scotland kindly gave permission for the information he presented on the night to be shared which shows the Scottish Governments plans locally. You can find out more online at https://www.scotlandsuperfast.com/.

 

PDF file of Broadband Presentation

PDF file of Broadband Presentation

UK Parliament Week: 14-22 November 2016

UK Parliament Week: 14-22 November 2016

UK Parliament Week: 14-22 November 2016

UK Parliament Week, now in its sixth year is a programme of events and activities that connects people with the UK Parliament explores what the UK parliament means and how people can get involved with the political process.

If you want to find out more go to http://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/

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Unsolicited Marketing Communications (Company Directors): Ten Minute Rule Bill

Unsolicited Marketing Communications (Company Directors): Ten Minute Rule Bill

I was happy to support my colleague Patricia Gibson MP when she brought forward her Ten Minute Rule Bill on the 13th September 2016 and welcome the moves by the UK Government to clampdown on nuisance calls.

The Unsolicited Marketing Communications (Company Directors): Ten Minute Rule Bill was introduced to Parliament on 13 September and included provisions to hold company bosses personally responsible for nuisance calls, by giving the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) the power to take action against named company directors found to have made unsolicited marketing calls in breach of the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003.

Following the debate in Westminster, UK Ministers have now agreed to Patricia Gibson’s proposal to end the scourge of nuisance calls by legislating for company directors to be fined up to £500,000 each if they are found to be in breach of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations. Prior to this, only businesses were liable for fines, many of which try to escape paying nuisance call penalties by declaring bankruptcy - a practice known as “phoenixing”- only to open up again under a new name. 

I gave a comment to the Kilmarnock Standard shortly after Patricia Gibson’s speech:

“Nuisance calls plague millions of people every year and it is wrong that rogue companies are able to avoid paying the penalty for their unlawful actions.
"At best nuisance calls can be an irritant; at worst they can be a blight on the lives of some of the most vulnerable in society.
“If passed, the bill would hold company bosses personally liable for fines imposed for unsolicited marketing calls – elevating the issue of nuisance calls to the boardroom and ensuring that these companies cannot escape responsibility by going into liquidation.
“If the UK government is serious about tackling the practice of cold-calling it should back my bill and give the ICO the powers needed to pursue unpaid fines.
"This would benefit the taxpayer and act as a strong deterrent to firms engaging in this practice.”

If you would like to find out more about the Unsolicited Marketing Communications (Company Directors) Bill the link to the debate in Parliament is here or click the following link to view the speech instead. The Bill has gone to 2nd reading and is due to be heard again on the 18th November 2016.

Notes
To date, fines totalling almost £3.7million have been issued to companies behind nuisance marketing. This year alone, the ICO has fined firms responsible for more than 70 million calls and nearly 8 million spam text messages. Over 114,000 nuisance calls and texts were reported to ICO in the first nine months of 2016. 

Reporting a nuisance call is simple: visit the ICO website at www.ico.org.uk or call their helpline on 0303 123 1113 and they will take it from there.

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Kilmarnock Railway Station – World War 1 Stories

Kilmarnock Railway Station – World War 1 Stories

Back in May 2016 I appealed to constituents and local groups to consider applying to the Heritage Lottery Fund for community projects to learn more about the First World War. The Heritage Lottery Fund announced that they were making money available as part of the ‘First World War: then and now’ programme for small, community grants. This was to encourage local communities interested in marking the Centenary of the First World War to learn more about how the First World War affected the local area and the impact it had on communities.

Through this programme East Ayrshire Council Education Services has come together with the Kilmarnock Station Railway Heritage Trust and applied successfully for a grant of £10,000 for their project ‘Kilmarnock Railway Station – World War 1 Stories’.

I was delighted to be visited by Graham Boyd, Heritage Projects Coordinator East Ayrshire Council along with Sixth Year pupils from St Joseph’s Academy, Ann McGiffen and Ava Hepburn to find out more about the project.

Pupils from local primary schools and St Joseph’s Academy have been researching and developing an archive on a number of Kilmarnock Railway Station workers, employed by the Glasgow & South Western Railway Company and other nearby railway works, who volunteered or were enlisted to serve at The Front during World War 1.

The pupils want to build a picture of what the town was like before WW1 and the changes brought about due to the outbreak of war. Their research is uncovering many fascinating and largely untold stories both with a local and international dimension. In order to share this forgotten heritage with the public, the pupils along with many community groups associated with the Station Village are planning to host a display of the archive along with a service dedicated to the memory of these workers.

I have always been interested in WWI and I think this project combining social history along with consideration of some locals involved in the war is a fantastic way to get a wider understanding of what life really was like. I commend them for their efforts and look forward to the displays. 

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WASPI Petition to the House of Commons

WASPI Petition to the House of Commons

I am helping to support the WASPI campaign by collecting signatures of Kilmarnock and Loudoun for their public petition at my Constituency Office and presenting the petition to the House of Commons on the 11th October.

I will be collecting signatures at the office until Friday 7th October so if you can spare the time please come down to my Constituency Office at 31A Tichfield Street, Kilmarnock to support the campaign and add your signature to the petition.

If you are not available during the week there is an Ayrshire WASPI meeting that I will be attending this Saturday 1st October at 10am in the Kilmarnock Wetherspoons. I will bring the petition to sign and copies for others to gather signatures.

If you're not able to come to the meeting you can download a petition from the WASPI website http://www.waspi.co.uk/action

If you wanted to gather signatures yourself the petition would need to be brought into the office or posted to me and received on or before the 7th October. Please note that any petition I present has to be from Kilmarnock and Loudoun constituents and have the original signatures on the petition (not scanned, copied or emailed).

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UK's Nuclear Deterrent (18 Jul 2016)

UK's Nuclear Deterrent (18 Jul 2016)

Too often today we have heard that Trident is classed as the ultimate deterrent. Yet the great warmonger, Tony Blair, is already on record as saying that it is a status symbol that “serves no military purpose”. What it means is that some others aspire to have that status symbol. We do not argue that we need to stockpile chemical and biological weapons to deter rogue states, so why do we argue that we need nuclear weapons? If we encourage a reckless gambler to play poker, he will not be afraid to go “all in” with his chips, so why do we argue that we should risk nuclear Armageddon as a possible deterrent? That is not the way to go. The only country ever to have suffered a nuclear attack is Japan, and it has never felt the need to get a nuclear weapon as a deterrent against a future attack. Instead, Japan makes the clear and logical argument that we need to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

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