Joe Cullinane

Scottish Labour Councillor for Kilwinning

Newspaper Column

AMP Control – closing.

Red Cross House – closing.

Hazeldene – closing.

Irvine Citizens Advice office – closing.

These impending closures, coupled with job losses at HOWCO, Clydeport, Mahle in Kilmarnock and of course at North Ayrshire Council due to budget cuts, signify an economy and society under great stress.

Over 600 jobs to go.

In the case of Red Cross House and Hazeldene, vulnerable service users will be left without the support they require. With the Citizens Advice closure local people will lose access to advice services in their own area.

This is a worrying trend. It is certainly not a time for more of the same. It is a time to stand up, be counted and deliver change. That's what I am doing and will continue to do.

With every job or service loss announced I am lobbying for intervention to save them. But what we really need is a change in the way economic development is delivered.

I could write at great length on Scottish Enterprise and its use of public money to prop up companies such as Amazon and ATOS but I want to focus on a bolder, more democratic vision for a future economy – workers co-operatives.

Is it any wonder that our economy works for the few when it is owned and run by the few? That workers can be cut adrift at the first hint of market difficulties and reducing profits?

Imagine an economy where the real wealth creators, the workers, were at the helm delivering sustainable growth, decent employment with fair pay and delivering benefits across our communities?

Democratising our economy and workplaces through public, municipal and cooperative ownership in this way may seem radical, and it is given where we are today in the UK and Scotland, but in other countries it's not so.

For over thirty years, Marcora Law has given redundant workers in Italy the right to transfer their accumulated unemployment benefit into capital so they could buy out their company and create a workers co-operative.

It is an approach that has safeguarded thousands of jobs, created thousands more and the state has not only saved on unemployment payments but has saw a substantial return on their investment, which can then be reinvested in services or indeed other ways to provide co-operatives.

Imagine we had the same rights here?

Workers at AMP Control given the right to buy the company and safe their jobs.

Staff at Red Cross House and Hazeldene able to take over the facilities and continue providing the services that their vulnerable clients require.

It's bold. It's radical. It’s democratic.

It's the reason why I am a Scottish Labour and Co-operative candidate.

I am already doing work on the issue as a Councillor but if I am elected as the MSP for Cunninghame South in May I will be going into that Parliament with a determination to make progress on delivering a step change here in Scotland.

Workers Co-operatives could save local jobs and services

AMP Control – closing. Red Cross House – closing. Hazeldene – closing. Irvine Citizens Advice office – closing. These impending closures, coupled with job losses at HOWCO, Clydeport, Mahle in...

Blackmail. Undemocratic. Imposed.

Those are just some of the words my colleagues have used to describe the way in which the Scottish Government has managed this year’s funding settlement for Councils.

Not content with reducing North Ayrshire Council’s grant allocation by around £10million, the Scottish Government threatened to cut it by a further £11million if Councillors didn’t agree to their terms and conditions.

You elect local Councillors to deliver the public services that your community needs. I find it appalling that Government Ministers are dictating to locally elected representatives in this manner.

This is a clear attack on local democracy which must be challenged.

SNP Ministers are sitting at desks in Edinburgh trying to micro-manage every school, care home and cleansing department in Scotland. A Council leader trying to do this in their own local authority would face inevitable failure. A Minister in Edinburgh trying to do so across the whole country is simply ludicrous.

So, North Ayrshire Council set a budget last Wednesday which contained £13million of cuts to services like library opening hours, community wardens, street cleaning, public toilets, Dreghorn dump, cleaning and school office staff.

The Labour Group moved a few amendments, such as my amendment to abolish the charges levied on schools for hiring on their own school facilities paid for by cutting the lunches the Council provides to Councillors and Officers.

One of our amendments called on all Councillors to oppose the cuts and back Scottish Labour’s plan to add 1p onto the income tax rate set Tory George Osborne. That would generate an additional £475million for the Scottish budget, enough to stop every one of these cuts 

Unfortunately, SNP Councillors, led by their party bosses in Edinburgh, voted against the plan. In doing so they chose to manage Tory austerity rather than oppose it. It’s a decision summed up by North Ayrshire Council’s sole Tory declaring he is happy to see the return of the Tartan Tories.

The uncomfortable truth for the SNP is that Labour’s plan has been proven to be fair. The Scottish Parliament’s Information Centre just last weekend revealed that 92% of the cost of our plan would be paid for by the top half of earners in Scotland. This confirms it is the right thing to do to protect jobs and vital public services that the SNP have just cut.

The Labour movement didn't campaign for the establishment of a Scottish Parliament in order for it to be a conveyor belt for Tory policies. It’s time our Parliament used its powers to protect the Scottish people. Labour would do so, unfortunately the SNP refuse.

Ministers are dictating to councils

Blackmail. Undemocratic. Imposed. Those are just some of the words my colleagues have used to describe the way in which the Scottish Government has managed this year’s funding settlement for...

North Ayrshire Council will set its budget for 2016/17 on the 17th February. It will be the fourth budget of this term and it will be the most challenging yet.

Cuts to councils are cuts to local communities

North Ayrshire Council will set its budget for 2016/17 on the 17th February. It will be the fourth budget of this term and it will be the most challenging yet. Read more

Last week, at an event I was attending as a Labour candidate for the Scottish Parliament, I was asked a question. The question was, “what is the most important issue in your area?” 

My answer was twofold. 

Jobs, and the quality of that employment, is clearly a priority for North Ayrshire. We need good quality jobs and an industrial strategy that helps regenerate our area and creates jobs. We need to tackle the forms of employment on offer – we need jobs that pay at least the Living Wage and offer guaranteed hours. We need to tackle the issue of underemployment. 

The second part of my answer was housing. 

Last June I launched a campaign called ‘Home Sweet Home’. I launched that campaign because we face a housing crisis in Scotland. 

There are currently over 5000 families on the housing waiting list in North Ayrshire. 

People, particularly young people, are struggling to get on the housing ladder and home ownership amongst under 34 year olds has fallen 15% under the SNP to its lowest level since the Scottish Parliament was established. 

Too many, particularly young people, are being forced into the private rented sector, with sky high rents, because they have no other housing options. 

Through my campaign I wanted to highlight these problems and campaign for change. 

When I launched the campaign I said; 

“Housing is not a commodity, it is a basic right and good quality housing changes people’s lives. It therefore shouldn’t be the case that only those who can afford to buy it can have housing options. I want everyone to have that basic right.”  

I am therefore absolutely delighted that Scottish Labour will be offering Scots the most comprehensive housing plan for generations at this May’s election. 

We will build the council houses that local families need, 60,000 across Scotland over the next Parliament. 

We will tackle rip off rents in the private rented sector by supporting rent controls, a move that will make the private rented sector fairer for those who have to use it.

 

And we will support young people to get on the housing ladder, by offering people who save through a first time buyer ISA up to the value of £3000 an additional £3000 towards the cost of a deposit to buy a property. 

The combination of all three policies means that Scottish Labour will radically change our housing system and ensure that everyone has the basic right to good quality housing, with a greater choice. 

Labour was the party that dramatically changed housing after the Second World War, with a mass council house building programme which turned slums into the homes that local families still live in. We are now, once again, offering the bold, radical change that will deliver the houses we need for generations to come. 

This is exactly the sort of change that I was campaigning for when I launched ‘Home Sweet Home’. It will help thousands across North Ayrshire and I hope that local people will back us so that we can deliver the plan in May.

Scottish Labour offers the most comprehensive housing plan for a generation

Last week, at an event I was attending as a Labour candidate for the Scottish Parliament, I was asked a question. The question was, “what is the most important issue in...

Joe explains why he will be asking North Ayrshire Council to declare outright opposition to TTIP.


 

TTIP would strike a blow to the heart of our democracy

Joe explains why he will be asking North Ayrshire Council to declare outright opposition to TTIP.   Read more

Joe outlines his opposition to David Cameron's plan for air strikes in Syria and challenges the far rights use of the Paris attacks to fuel their intolerances.


 

Bombing Syria is the wrong response to threat of ISIL

Joe outlines his opposition to David Cameron's plan for air strikes in Syria and challenges the far rights use of the Paris attacks to fuel their intolerances.   Read more

Following a successful Party Conference in Perth Joe says Scottish Labour is undoubtedly the party of real change in Scotland.


 

Scottish Labour is the party of real change

Following a successful Party Conference in Perth Joe says Scottish Labour is undoubtedly the party of real change in Scotland.   Read more

As Living Wage Week approaches Joe sets out the gains he has achieved through his campaigning.


 

We are making progress on the Living Wage but there is still room for improvement

As Living Wage Week approaches Joe sets out the gains he has achieved through his campaigning.   Read more

Joe heaps praise on Kilwinning Academy Parent Council as they hand in their petition calling for investment in the schools building.


 

Parent Council campaign demonstrates democracy in action

Joe heaps praise on Kilwinning Academy Parent Council as they hand in their petition calling for investment in the schools building.   Read more

Joe continues his campaign for increased investment in Speech and Language Therapy after SNP led North Ayrshire Council withdrew its full funding contribution to the service.


 

Number of children receiving SLT support falls by 34% after SNP cuts

Joe continues his campaign for increased investment in Speech and Language Therapy after SNP led North Ayrshire Council withdrew its full funding contribution to the service.   Read more

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