My remarks yesterday on why I said Yes to the Corlic hill windfarm.

Thank you Provost

This of course is a decision I’m sure elected members are unable to keep everyone happy with regarding how they will vote.

I have considered the various representations and I would like to make the following points:

Firstly I fully respect everyone’s opinion and welcome that so many have taken part in this process.

However I would say in respect of some of them-

In terms of Lurg Moor Roman Fort and Road. Absolutely I accept that this development would change how the area would change how the area would’ve looked in Roman times. I consider though that when I turn around and look towards the Clyde and ask myself would I have objected to our once famous shipyards being built as that’s not what the Clyde would’ve looked like from the Moor in Roman times? How many 10,000s of jobs would that’ve cost Inverclyde over the years?

If I move onto Clyde Muirshiel park. This is a great facility on our doorstep. I have had the privilege that I’ve been able to visit it 100s of times over the years. However one thought that I find inconsistent is the park is objecting to a scheme that promotes renewable energy – ergo protecting the natural Enviroment – but the park has a nuclear power station on its boundary. Of course I am not passing comment on the power station but pointing out an inconsistency in what I would’ve thought a regional park preferred on its doorstep.

Another Representation or objection to consider is Glasgow Airport’s. Now this is probably the most crucial in terms of planning grounds. I should add and regardless of this councils decision this is an objection that will have to be judged at a place further from here.

However to me the most important objection is that that has come from the people that live near the area. Their views must always be given the respect they deserve. I can understand completely that people who have built up a home in this area and have decided to raise their family in this area and stay there afterwards in some cases will have concerns about their area changing. Their concerns are valid and I have listened to them. Their objections are what have made my decision today a hard one.

However it is only right to recognise the positive aspects this development can bring to Inverclyde.

Firstly it brings another bit of industrial work back to the area. A key part in reindustrialising an area which has witnessed it’s industry being wiped out in the 80s and 90s.

Furthermore I previously mentioned our shipbuilding heritage. To this councils credit people of all cross sections came together to safeguard the future of Fergusons shipyard. I believe in the future the renewable sector will be key to the long term growth and sustainability of that workforce. I fear what message we may send out to that sector in terms of Inverclyde’s attitutde in welcoming renewable projects and jobs to the area.

Of course construction of the project will give that sector a boost which it needs. It will bring money into the area in terms of supply chain and materials during the project that will create jobs. I would be keen to see requirements placed on the contractors involved to provide local young people with apprenticeships during the construction phase.

To me though there is another issue that is important with this project. I was touched by a recent article I read in which former Morton player Warren Hawke – now a club consultant – spoke of the difference this project can make to community groups across our area.

I believe the phrase for those of us that aren’t planning experts is that this isn’t a material planning consideration but to me surely the wider community is a crucial consideration ? This project will see £120,000 go to community groups and projects for the next 25 years. I can only imagine the great work that our magnificent community groups and voluntary organisations could do with that. Could this help make Inverclyde a better place ? Could it help poverty projects reduce the need for foodbanks ? Could it be used to target projects that reduce anti social behaviour in the area ? Could it create a better community ? I think the answer is yes.

I genuinely believe this project is good for all of Inverclyde.

Good for future jobs.

Good for the people that need the support it can bring now.

Therefore provost I will be supporting this application and move that it is granted.

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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!

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 ?

Labour block SNP move to pay apprentices a living wage.

Inverclyde SNP’s local council group leader has today spoke of his hurt and disappointment as Labour blocked a move to pay apprentices working for the council a “living wage”.

Councillors were debating a motion to continue paying council staff the living wage by increasing the rate to that which was recently announced by the living wage foundation.

Commenting the Local SNP Group Leader said:

” as a time served apprentice and the former convener of Unite the Union young members in Scotland the rights of apprentices have always been close to my heart. Therefore today I decided that it was time to end this pay inequality in the council. Apprentices are paid as low as £2.73 in the council. That is simply Unnaceptable. When I put forward the proposal that the living wage should be paid to all council employees including apprentices I assumed it would receive cross party support. I was therefore hurt and disappointed that the local Labour Party sided with the Tories and the Lib Dems in the council to block our apprentices getting a living wage. Young people in Inverclyde deserve more, they don’t deserve a continued refusal to pay them a living wage based on their age.

The referendum is over but it seems that Labour are still happy to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Tories to oppose anything proposed by the SNP – even if it is enhanced terms and conditions for young workers in Inverclyde.”

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