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Breaking: Politician sends email about politics

You may have read today in the Greenock Telegraph that I’ve allegedly infringed rules regarding email use. Below i will set out the facts of the situation.

I was made aware in November that Labour’s MP for Inverclyde was emailing and writing to constituents telling them that the NHS in Scotland was under threat from the SNP. You will remember that Labour campaigned during the referendum telling us that a no vote was the only way to ensure the safety of the NHS.

Therefore when I was informed by constituents that our local Labour MP was now campaigning on the exact opposite I thought it was my duty to highlight this to the wider Inverclyde public who aren’t active on social media. Labour were either lying to us during the referendum or lying to us now.

On 25th November 2014 I issued a press release to the Greenock Telegraph highlighting the hypocrisy of the local Labour Party pertaining to a service everyone in Inverclyde holds close to their hearts – that is the NHS.

The Greenock Telegraph forwarded this press release to the office of Labours Iain McKenzie MP for Inverclyde. Our Labour MP was given the opportunity to defend his outlandish claims regarding the NHS. It is believed that he passed this email onto our local Labour Leader to scrutinise. At this point Labour have deemed that the email breaches a section of the councillors code of conduct and reported me to the councils monitoring officer.

Now those that are IT literate will be aware that an email costs nothing to send. As the leader of the opposition in Inverclyde council when I receive overwhelming representations on social media I believe that I am duty bound to highlight these concerns to the wider public in our area. This was the course of action I undertook.

However in the event that I did breach a part of the code of conduct – a code that perhaps no longer reflects the nature of modern political life – then I apologise and endeavour not to do so again.

So to summarise the local Labour Party have reported me for sending an email that was of a political nature. It is nothing more than a stunt to distract from their own record in office. Let’s remind ourselves for the benefit of doubt:

– our MP renting a property from a fellow Labour MP at the cost of £1000s to the tax payer.

– a kitchen upgrade at a cost of £3000 to the taxpayer.

– Travelling expenses claimed by our Labour council Leader since 2008 of nearly £10,000 ( compared to my £0)

– The council leader using his council mobile phone as an official phone of the better together campaign.

Labour are a party in Inverclyde who have no policy issues to attack the SNP on as they are the ones in control of the council. Therefore what we are seeing on a more regular occurrence is personal attacks (verbal+written)on members of the SNP locally.

You will be well aware of the massive budget black hole Labour run Inverclyde faces. Perhaps Labour should put more effort into working with the SNP to ensure our frontline public services are protected and provide an administration people want and deserve!

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Inverclyde deserves better – an open letter to Inverclyde CLP

To whom it may concern:

The reason I first stepped into the world of politics was because I wanted my community to improve. Representing our constituents, improving our communities by utilising the resources we have and helping build a better Inverclyde – I hope these are common values that we share and I firmly believe it is what the people of Inverclyde expect.

Of course there will be differences on policy, disagreement on political beliefs and debates on which circumstances best allow Inverclyde to prosper. However it is everyone’s duty to engage with the people who put us into the positions we are in -that is the people that live and work in Inverclyde.

Recently though the personal attacks on me have resulted in many people telling me that this is exactly the sort of behaviour that disengages them. Of course when people on the fringe make verbal attacks behind the anonymity of online alias’ this is something we must simply condem. However the most recent attack on me has been in the form of personal abuse aimed directly at me by the Executive of the Inverclyde Constituency Labour Party.

In an area which has a shameful under-representation of young people and women etc, I fear this behaviour from a senior Labour level in Inverclyde only makes the task more difficult.

This sort of personality politics only serves to undermine our local democracy in Inverclyde. I of course have broad enough shoulders to not let these things bother me too much. However I fear that this promotion of hatred towards the SNP from such a senior Labour Level sets the worst possible example to the 1000s of people across the area that are now energised by the political process.

Of course your internal disciplinary procedures that will handle this recent case are your business but I’m sure I speak for many when I say it’s time for the gutter personality politics to stop. Inverclyde deserves better.

Yours Truly,

Cllr Christopher McEleny
SNP Leader
Inverclyde Council Group

Taking a #unselfie on #givingtuesday for Alzheimer Scotland

On Tuesday I’ll be taking an #unselfie and supporting #givingtuesday

Next week, on Tuesday 2 December 2014, Alzheimer Scotland will be participating in #GivingTuesday, a global day of charitable giving.

With preparations for the festive season in full swing, #GivingTuesday is an opportunity for us to come together and show why it’s good to give. Whether it’s making a donation, volunteering your time or just spreading the word, #GivingTuesday is a call to action for everyone who wants to give something back, to do something for charity.

Every community in Scotland is affected by dementia. There are 88,000 people with dementia in Scotland so there are few families who are untouched by this illness, yet many of us still find it difficult to talk about dementia. By sharing experiences and raising awareness, Alzheimer Scotland want to change society’s attitude to the illness and make sure nobody faces dementia alone. They need your help to do this though.

Alzheimer Scotland want you to get involved with #GivingTuesday – They’d like you to do something charitable on that day and tell them about it to get people talking about dementia. Take an #unselfie photo with info about what you’re doing and post it on your Facebook and Twitter pages. https://storify.com/givingtuesdayuk/may-your-holidays-be-unselfie Ask your friends to share your posts, or you could ask them to do something themselves on #GivingTuesday.

Will you fundraise or donate to support the work of Alzheimer Scotland? Will you take some time to become a Dementia Friend? Or will you volunteer at one of their many events, activities or services?

So this weekend, ask yourself: what can I do on #GivingTuesday to give something back and be #unselfie ?

Inverclyde Budget – SNP Opposition View

As many of you will have now noticed, proposals to plug the multi million pound budget black hole that Labour run Inverclyde council faces have now been circulated. More in depth detail can be found here under agenda item 12:
https://www.inverclyde.gov.uk/GetAsset.aspx?id=fAAyADcAOAA5ADQAfAB8AFQAcgB1AGUAfAB8ADAAfAA1

Put simply we face a situation that the money we require to pay for all our services far exceeds the money available to pay for them. I noted that our Labour council leader was quick to apportion blame to everyone else but his party. No blame at the door of the Westminster Tory government – his party spent the last 2 years supporting – who are passing on cuts to the Scottish Government to deal with. No blame at the door of his own administration of course.

However finger pointing and blaming others will do nothing to help the people that live in Inverclyde who will feel the pain of this budget of cuts.

As a council all parties have agreed to work together to engage with you to listen to your views on what services you believe should be prioritised. As a sensible opposition your SNP group have agreed to join a joint leadership group to discuss issues that emerge during the budget process.

The Coporate Management team of your council have compiled a list of potential savings that can address the funding gap in the councils budget going forward.

On 18th November members of the council will be meeting at the Policy and resources committee to agree that these proposals – important to remember proposals only – go out to consultation with you to learn your views on them.

I’m sure you like me will be absolutely against many of these ideas. Already the SNP group have identified certain proposals that we are completely opposed to. The Clyde would dry up before we accept the closure of our only public golf course or a day that primary schools exist without head teachers!

This is a time for honest principled politics. We must reject the temptation of big tent politics that seek to set a budget based on popularity that neglects the most vulnerable and needy in our towns.

A budget will be set in February 2015. On November 18th we are being asked to agree to consult the public on
what council management propose. It is important to note that agreeing to consult with you is not agreeing to the savings suggested. Of course as I’ve said we reject several of the proposals but my group believe your views are what counts. I hope that the results of the public consultation prove that the public of Inverclyde believe – like we in the SNP do – that we must set a budget that protects the most vulnerable in our society whilst supporting the 1000s of hard working people across Inverclyde.

Of course if at anytime over the coming months as an individual or group you feel you’d like to meet so that we can better understand your situation just let me know.

Christopher.

Living wage week support

SNP Leader supports living wage week:

Inverclyde Council’s SNP Leader Cllr Christopher McEleny has today urged employers across Inverclyde to become an accredited living wage employer.

On Monday 3rd November, the Living Wage rate for Scotland has been set at £7.85 per hour, an increase of 2.6% on the 2013 rate and 21% higher than the national minimum wage of £6.50 per hour; improving the take home pay of 1000s of low-paid workers across the country who are employed by over 1,000 Living Wage accredited organisations.

Commenting the SNP Leader and councillor for Gourock said:

” I have long been a supporter of the living wage. As a society we should strive to increase the wages to people who are paid the lowest so everyone can benefit from the wealthy nation we live in. ”

” The Living Wage affords people the opportunity to provide a better life for themselves and their families. ”

The local SNP leader is writing to employers in Inverclyde asking them to consider paying the living wage which he believes will benefit both employer and employee. He further added:

” An independent study examining the business benefits of implementing a Living Wage policy in London found that more than 80% of employers believe that the Living Wage had enhanced the quality of the work of their staff, while absenteeism had fallen by approximately 25%. ”

“Two thirds of employers reported a significant impact on recruitment and retention within their organisation. 70% of employers felt that the Living Wage had increased consumer awareness of their organisation’s commitment to be an ethical employer.”

” of course what we really need is the power in Scotland to set our own minimum wage so that people in Inverclyde can get a wage they can live off of. Until then though I will be highlighting the business sense of employers paying their staff a living wage. ”

Notes:

More info on the living wage can be found at:

http://www.livingwage.org.uk

Inverclyde Parking Update

Parking update:

After strong representation by Inverclyde SNP the council agreed the following today supported by your SNP council group:

– All time restrictions in Greenock on street parking will be increased to 2 hours.

– restrictions will now finish at 6pm on a Friday and will not include Saturday.

– report to come back regarding other areas such as Gourock and Port Glasgow setting out any issues there that need resolved.

– Importantly, Inverclyde SNP have consistently supported the principal that nobody should be financially penalised for parking outside their home. To that end after a heated debate with the local Labour Party consensus was eventually reached supporting this SNP principal and officers will bring back a report setting out how this will be made practical.

Thanks for the 100s of representations. The scheme will continue to frustrate people and it will continue to cause issues for those living in the outskirts. To this end I’ve made it clear that we can’t neglect our 1000s of council workers and we should work with them to promote use of parking areas.

As time goes on and people continue to highlight issues with the scheme my SNP colleagues and I will continue to represent your issues.

Edit to add: oddly Labour made several references today that ” they’d had barely any representations about parking …only 1 person has contacted me etc”. Think this shows just how out of touch they now are with the real issues on the ground to people in Inverclyde.

Labour lie to the lowest paid

Ed Milliband is currently trying to entice the lowest paid in society to vote Labour in 2015. No doubt he will have realised that in Scotland many Labour voters rejected Labours coalition with the Tories for a no vote in Labour strong holds across Scotland.

To this end Labour are now promising the lowest paid workers ( well if you’re over 21 that is) a minimum wage of £8 per hour by 2020.

However don’t be fooled into this policy without looking at the numbers.

The living wage is something that as a society we should all be striving to promote every employer paying. It’s currently set at £7.65 an hour – £1.15 greater than the minimum wage. So just what would it look like in 2020? During the last year it increased by 2.5%. This of course in times of continued austerity promoted by Labour and the Tories at Westminster. However if it continued to rise at this pessimistic figure in 2020 the living wage would be £8.87. A more optimistic rise of an average of 3.25% would have the living wage at £9.27.

The minimum wage of course if rising at the same rate as the living wage would be between £7.54-£8.

So a potential minimum wage of £8 anyway but a living wage £1.27 higher at £9.27. That means the living wage and the minimum wage will be even further apart than they are today.

Therefore when Labour offer you £8 an hour in 2020 they’re actually offering you nothing. A minimum wage would potentially be that anyway but what they are advocating is the gap getting wider for the poorest in society as they become even further detached from those getting paid the living wage….which should be the minimum wage anyway!

The only way to close the gap and prove that there is a better way in Scotland is by giving the Scottish parliament the powers it needs to set these key fiscal policies.