Energy Prices

Many energy companies have recently announced their intention to reduce the cost of gas and electricity. Of course any reduction in costs for consumers is a good thing, but, when the wholesale price of gas has fallen by 20%, the reductions announced are very modest.

The most recent energy company, EDF Energy, have only reduced their gas prices by 1.3%. Even the largest reduction of 5.1% is a fraction of the wholesale fall that companies have experienced. I believe that energy companies must pass on the full fall in prices.

The policies proposed by Labour – to freeze energy bills until 2017 so that prices can full but not rise, reforming the energy market and creating a new regulator who can take serious action against the energy companies and force prices down – are the sensible and tough action needed to sort out the energy market in this country.

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Welcome U-Turn on New Women’s Prison

I am pleased that the Scottish Government has finally decided to U-turn on their decision to replace Cornton Vale with a new super-prison. The policy-change comes after pressure has been increased on the Justice Secretary from across the political spectrum, including the Scottish Labour Party.

I am pleased that the Scottish Government has finally decided to U-turn on their decision to replace Cornton Vale with a new super-prison. The policy-change comes after pressure has been increased on the Justice Secretary from across the political spectrum, including the Scottish Labour Party.

Local Justice Centres will allow a wider variety of groups and agencies to provide support to offenders and help cut re-offending. Some offenders should and must be sent to prison due to the gravity of their offences or the threat the pose to the public at large. But too many women are spend time in prison on remand and for minor offences.

I think that the evidence is overwhelming: the new super-prison is unnecessary and unhelpful. Scottish Labour’s plan – to cancel the building of the new facility and reinvest the costs associated with it in far more successful and humane community-based sentences and family-justice centres tailored for women – would cut crime and reoffending, It costs almost £32,000 a year to keep someone in prison. The human cost is incalculable. I am pleased that the Scottish Government has finally listened to the recommendations of its own report, as well as the considered opinions of a wide range of groups, and reconsidered its position on replacing Cornton Vale.

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New Cumnock Public Meeting – Flooding

We are holding a final meeting regarding the flooding in New Cumnock on Monday 9 February 2015.

The meeting will begin at 19.00, and is being held in the New Cumnock Community Centre.

I will be chairing the meeting and on the panel will be the following:

  • David Faichney, Flood Act Business Change Manager, SEPA   (Science and Strategy)
  • Paul Outram, SEPA   Dumfries Office
  • Anne Connick, SEPA,   Nith Pilot Project
  • Stewart Turner, Head of Roads, Ayrshire Roads Alliance
  • Gordon Wilson, Contracts Director,Transerv
  • Councillor William Crawford, Chair, Working Group.
  • Walter Young, Farmer, Castlemains Farm, New Cumnock

All residents are invited to attend to raise their views.

 

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USC Dundonald Motion

Today I submitted a motion to the Scottish Parliament regarding the disgraceful treatment of the workers at the USC factory in Dundonald:

Motion Number: S4M-12099
Lodged By: Graeme Pearson
Date Lodged: 19/01/2015

Title: USC Dundonald

Motion Text:
That the Parliament deplores the treatment of the workers at the USC plant in Dundonald; recognises the commitment of those workers as demonstrated at a meeting in Kilmarnock with Thompsons Solicitors and the STUC on 16 January 2015, at which more than 50 workers joined together to establish their rights and access to financial support from government, and notes what it considers USC’s abdication of its responsibility to loyal staff, some of whom worked hard with the company for more than 10 years.

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More flooding woes for New Cumnock residents

Earlier this week, I was contacted by residents in New Cumnock who were again dealing with flooding.

In the middle of Wednesday night residents had to call the emergency services for help. They were very grateful for the help and support they received, praising all working for their incredible efforts to protect them and their homes.

I can well understand the frustration of residents. While I am sure that the clearing of drains and gullies recently by the Roads Authority has helped to prevent even more flooding in the town; I warned officials a year ago that work was required quickly to implement flood prevention remedies to prevent more flooding in the town this winter.

Unfortunately that prediction has come to pass.  I know a great deal of work has been completed behind the scenes in preparation for flood prevention remedies to be put in place.  It is critical however that these measures are moved on as quickly as possible to allay the fears of local residents.

At the beginning of this week my office began to make arrangements for a public meeting in New Cumnock. One of the goals of this meeting was to ensure that the improvements proposed for the community during 2014 had been implemented. Given the events of Wednesday night, I am sure that will be a lively meeting. And as soon as the arrangements have been finalised I will post details here, and we will make sure that residents are aware.

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USC Meeting

The closure of the USC factory in Dundonald, South Ayrshire is deeply concerning for those who worked there and the local community more broadly.

Along with Thompsons Solicitors and the STUC, I will be meeting with a group of workers affected by the closure of the factory on Friday morning.

At the meeting, we will be ensuring that the workers are given the right advice and support by both organisations to ensure that they know what their rights are in this situation.

The meeting will be taking place on Friday morning, at 10.30, at the Grand Hall in Kilmarnock.

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Ayrshire Energy Fair

energy fair

Making your home more energy efficient is a key way to cut your energy bills and help the environment at the same time. To help you do this, the Energy Agency will host an energy fair at the University of the West of Scotland’s Ayr Campus on Saturday, February 7th.

There will be a variety of agencies, groups and advisers there to discuss energy efficiency and transport issues as well as provide free, impartial advice about your energy situation. There will also be an opportunity to test drive an electric car and a great deal more.

 

For more information, click here.

 

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Je suis Charlie

Scottish Labour MSPs and Staff

Scottish Labour MSPs and Staff

Sometimes things happen that are so horrific that there I don’t know where to begin. The massacre at the office of Charlie Hebdo in Paris yesterday is one such tragic example.

Masked gunman entered the office and started shooting. 12 people including the Editor, cartoonists and other staff at the satirical magazine along with by-standers and police officers have been killed. Many others have been injured.

It is not clear what the reason is for this attack, although it has been suggested that it was in response to a cartoon mocking ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, which the magazine tweeted an hour before the attack.

The idea that is a reason is astonishing. There can be no justification for such an attack. We cannot give in to terror, and must defend our freedom of speech.

People all over Scotland are standing with the people of France today. And I am proud to be one of them.

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Oil Price a Concern

Although some predicted an oil boom for Scotland, the recent fall in the price of a barrel of oil is a source of deep concern for those who work in the oil industry as well as a major problem for Scotland’s public finances. With the price hovering around $50 a barrel, the Scottish and UK Governments must take action to mitigate the impact on the industry and the broader economy and both should attend the upcoming Oil Crisis Summit being held by Aberdeen City Council.

Against this back drop, fall in the price of oil should mean that our energy prices also come down. It is essential that energy companies pass on the significant reduction in their production costs to hard pressed families.  In the past they have failed to do this, so I believe that the energy regulator should have the power to force energy companies to cut prices if wholesale prices fall.

Despite the lack of action so far, I hope that the energy companies will take this opportunity to help lighten the burden on hard-pressed households.

 

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Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

merry-christmas-card-greeting-2560-1600-83689

 

 

 

 

 

Just a very short message to say thank you to all the constituents and local organisations who have contacted me this year. I have tried to work hard and do my best for you all, and I hope that I have been of assistance.

I also want to wish all constituents in South Scotland a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year!

Best wishes for 2015.

Graeme

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