To mark this year’s Equal Pay Day here is my #PayGapPledge: argue for better maternity and paternity leave.

According to the Fawcett Society, the average pay gap for full-time workers stands at 14.1%, a figure that hasn’t changed in the last three years. In the Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East constituency, the pay gap now stands at 11.9%.

It is more important than ever that we work together to close the gap for good and take a stand against gender inequality in the workplace.


Together with Jamie Hepburn MSP I’m trying to save the funding for Cumbernauld and Kilsyth Unemployed Workers Union. To that end we wrote to all 40 councillors on North Lanarkshire Council’s Infrastructure Committee who are being asked to cut all funding for the independent advice centres across North Lanarkshire. Our view is that this proposal should be voted down when it appears before the committee on Wednesday.

We know that the demand for these services is increasing as Tory welfare reform is impacting on more people across the area.

The council’s cuts are over £50,000 more than their savings target for this part of the budget. These proposals should be revisited and a sensible solution found that keep the independent advice centres open.

Poppy Appeal Bike Ride

This week in Parliament, I was delighted to help raise money for this year’s poppy appeal by racing alongside members of the armed forces.

All the money raised from the bike ride will help the Royal British Legion provide lifelong support for the armed forces community and it was great to be able to support such a worthwhile cause.


Today I led another debate on the closure of HMRC tax offices. The government’s rationale for these closures is totally flawed and that the programme should be halted and scrutinised.

The tax office in Cumbernauld meets all the key criteria for a successful regional centre, with experienced staff and an excellent location. It makes absolutely no sense for the UK Government to close this office. The overall programme is bad for staff, bad for communities and bad for taxpayers and should be abandoned.


The 33-strong SNP Group on North Lanarkshire Council has successfully sought a Special Meeting of the Full Council to deal with the crisis caused over the launch of new bin-uplift measures – which have been rushed out without proper consultation and planning.

The meeting is scheduled for this Friday, 3rd November, at 10am in the Motherwell Civic Centre.

At the meeting, the SNP will call for a full report on the shambolic launch of the bin-uplift timetables and seek important information about such issues as the scope of the failure to deliver extra bins and bio-degradable bags, the extent of tagging of residents bins for alleged impurities in bins, failure to empty bins on schedule and failure of the complaints phone hotline system.

During the local election campaign in April, the Labour leader in North Lanarkshire promised no change from fortnightly household food waste uplifts to three-weekly – then completely reversed this promise after the election. SNP councillors believe this was a cynical political U-turn which created the fiasco when new measures were announce after June.

The SNP had long called for a public consultation on proposals -but always been ignored. I hope other councillors will finally listen to SNP arguments on Friday.

East Dunbartonshire a Fairtrade Zone

In October 2007, the Fairtrade Foundation designated East Dunbartonshire a Fairtrade Zone – one of Scotland’s first. This award has been renewed four times since then and I was delighted to join the group on Friday as it celebrated 10 years of East Dunbartonshire being a Fairtrade Area.

Congratulations to East Dunbartonshire Fair Trade Group on this fantastic achievement and thank you for your continued hard work. With the local authority procuring fairly traded goods, and local traders also getting involved, it really can make a huge difference to people’s lives.

If people would be interested in getting a similar fair trade group up and running in Cumbernauld and/or Kilsyth, please do get in touch. Neighbouring activists would be happy to help, as would the Fairtrade Foundation.

Winter Advice Surgery

On Friday 17th November, I am hosting a Winter Advice Surgery in Kilsyth along with Jamie Hepburn MSP and Cllr Mark John Kerr, Kilsyth & Villages Ward – SNP. This will take place in the Garrell Vale Community Centre, 12.00 – 2.00pm.

We have a number of organisations coming along to offer a range of advice and support, relating to energy efficiency and fuel bills, financial support and different services available to local residents.

Organisations attending so far: Home Energy Scotland, Citizen’s Advice Bureau, Age Scotland, Scottish Gas, North Lanarkshire Council Money Advice Service, Cumbernauld & Kilsyth Unemployed Workers Centre, Kilsyth Community Foodbank/Arc Project, The Alpha Project, One Parent Familes Scotland and Cumbernauld & Kilsyth Care (school uniform bank and baby bank).

The event is free and open to all residents across Cumbernauld, Kilsyth & Kirkintilloch East.

Jamie, Mark and I will also be there to offer assistance, so please come along if you need our help.

A warm cuppa will also be provided.

NLC Bin Chaos Continues

The SNP Group on North Lanarkshire says Labour and Tory councillors cannot shirk responsibility for forcing through changes to bin collections.

In June Labour received the backing of the Conservatives to introduce new cycles on October 2 – this gave the cleansing staff less than three months to make the arrangements.

Unsurprisingly, chaos has ensued. Both Jamie Hepburn MSP and I will continue to take cases to the council on behalf of constituents, seeking resolution to all the various issue that have arisen – don’t hesitate to get in touch by phone or email.