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Renfrewshire Council Leader pays tribute to our blue light services

emergency services renfrewshire

The work of the emergency services has been praised by Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson as they continue to operate throughout the festive period.

While many places close or offer a reduced service during the festive period, our Police, Fire and Rescue, Ambulance and NHS staff continued to serve Renfrewshire at full capacity.

The festivities can often be one of the busiest times of the year for our emergency responders and the Council Leader has offered his thanks for the work they do to keep the area safe.

Councillor Nicolson said: “The festive period can often bring added pressures to our emergency services, with Christmas nights out sometimes ending in a need for their assistance.

“However, each of the emergency services copes admirably and provide an outstanding service to those in Renfrewshire who need them.

“We often don’t realise how lucky we are to have such dedicated and highly-skilled staff available to help us and I want to thank them for all they do to keep us safe.

“If you’re heading out for Hogmanay, or even just during the festive period, please be careful and ensure you are safe at all times.”

Anyone who needs the assistance of the emergency services should call 999 immediately. If the situation is not an emergency, then please call 101.

Most council offices will be closed over the festive period, although all essential services will continue to operate.

A handy guide on how to access council services during the closure period has been created and can be found on the council website or in your local library, leisure centre or at Renfrewshire House.

For full information on council opening hours and emergency contact numbers, visit www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/festiveclosure.

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Plan your journeys in advance this Hogmanay

taxi

As the bells get set to toll to bring in another year, revellers are being advised to plan ahead and book their taxi home in advance if they’re heading out on Hogmanay.

Renfrewshire Council and Police Scotland have joined forces to give passengers some important safety tips as the New Year celebrations get set to begin.

Party-goers should ensure they plan how to get home from their night out in advance and, where possible, pre-book their taxi home.

They should also only use licensed taxis or private hire vehicles to make any journeys and never be tempted to accept the offer of a lift from a passing car.

Councillor John MacNaughtan, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Regulatory Functions Board, said:  “Hogmanay is one of the main party nights of the year so planning your journey to and from your destination can save you a lot of hassle later in the night, as well as keeping you safe.

“Book your taxi in advance if possible so you know how and when you are getting home and always ensure you are using a licensed taxi or private hire vehicle.

“These will have Renfrewshire Council plates which display the licence details, and the driver’s badge should be displayed within the vehicle.

“If this is not the case, then don’t accept the lift and call your taxi company to confirm that it is the correct vehicle.”

Police Scotland will have additional patrols in Renfrewshire on Hogmanay to ensure that revellers are safe at one of the busiest times of the year.

Chief Inspector Simon Wright, Area Commander for Paisley, said: ” The festive period is an exceptionally busy time of year, with large numbers of people out enjoying themselves across Renfrewshire.

“My message would be to have a fantastic, but safe time while out across Renfrewshire. Always plan ahead and make arrangements to ensure you can get home, preferably in the company of friends.

“Never get into a private hire you have not booked in advance and always ensure that the driver is displaying their drivers badge. If you are in any doubt, seek alternative transport.”

Should you enter a vehicle which you believe to be a taxi or private hire vehicle and become aware it is not, or if you feel unsafe in any way you should contact Police Scotland using 101 or 999 in an emergency.

For more information on taxis in Renfrewshire, visit: www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/taxisandprivatehires.

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A day in the life of a Renfrewshire gritter driver

Renfrewshire Gritters

Snow is falling outside; the presents are wrapped under the tree and a family favourite is just about to begin on tv – then the phone rings.

While many of us may get to experience that stereotypical cosy night in at Christmas, for workers on the frontline they could be called out at any minute.

Renfrewshire Council’s gritting teams work on a 24/7 schedule from October to March to keep the roads clear and free of ice, and sudden weather can have big effect on their festive plans.

Eric Phillips has been working as a gritter driver for more than ? years and has faced many challenges along the way.

Eric said: “Along with the rest of the team, we work non-stop throughout the winter to stay one step ahead of the snow and ice as best we can.

“When cold weather is forecast, we head out during the day to grit the roads before the ice gets a chance to take hold and then again overnight to clear any snow and put down more grit for the morning commuters.”

More than 4000 tonnes of salt is stored in advance of the winter period to ensure that the gritters are fully stocked to protect Renfrewshire’s 800km of roads.

Eric added: “It’s not always straightforward though as the Beast from the East showed last year, with sudden downpours of snow meaning we couldn’t clear it fast enough.

“Many drivers were caught out on the roads, with one car even climbing the Gleniffer Braes in front of my gritter when really it should have been the other way around!

“We often hear that the gritters haven’t been out which can be frustrating when you’ve just driven for hours throughout the night, so I’d ask people to take the time to think about our teams and the work we put in all winter.

“Unfortunately, we can’t reach every residential road, but we do the best we can to keep our main routes, including schools and hospitals, clear and keep Renfrewshire moving when bad weather strikes.”

The team in charge of the gritting vehicles, who were newly-named by the public this year and include famous names such as Ploughlo Grittini and William Wall-ice, are constantly on weather watch and take decisions throughout the day dependant on the forecasts.

Duty controller, John P Wallace, said: “We’re always looking ahead in this role and we do three weather checks, at 7am, 12pm and 7pm, before deciding how many of the gritters need to be on the roads.

“We have 20 drivers on each shift, day and night, meaning we can provide a 24-hour service for winter gritting and the teams do a great job in keeping our roads safe and clear.

“If need be in extreme weather events, we can call on our stand-by workers to help strengthen the team’s efforts and return the roads back to normal as quickly as possible.”

The nine gritters in Renfrewshire have set priority routes to follow which include main roads within Renfrewshire, and bus, emergency and schools routes – before moving onto more residential roads once these are clear.

The vehicles are loaded with salt at the depot before the automatic spreading system ensures that it’s spread evenly across the roads when the gritter is moving.

Once the route is complete, the vehicle returns to base where any leftover salt is weighed and returned to the store and the vehicles are cleaned ahead of their next outing.

For more information on winter gritting and Renfrewshire’s #RenReady campaign, visit www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/readyforwinter.

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Residents urged to seek debt advice before January bills come in

renfrewshire-council-logo

People who are worried about post-Christmas debt are being urged to get help now before their bills start arriving in January.

At least a third of all families will have spent more money than they can afford at Christmas, leaving many struggling in the New Year.

renfrewshire-council-logo

If you are worried about post-Christmas debt, help is available. Organisations like Renfrewshire Citizens Advice Bureau and Renfrewshire Council’s Advice Works provide free, impartial and confidential expert advice on managing debts and what to do if you have got big bills coming in.

The Money Advice Service also provides information on its website about how to manage your money, including online budgets and a financial health checker tool.

Renfrewshire Council’s Convener of Finance, Resources and Customer Services, Councillor John Shaw, said: “I would urge anyone who is struggling with debt after Christmas to contact one of Renfrewshire’s advice services as soon as possible.

“Dealing with debt early is key to making it much more manageable. Advice experts will deal with your situation confidentially, providing you with free and impartial money advice to help you manage your debts.”

It may seem far away, but many money experts are advising people to take the financial strain out of next Christmas by starting to save for it now.

Setting up a Credit Union Christmas account will allow you to put away money regularly and can help you borrow cash without hefty interest charges.

Councillor Shaw added: “It’s always advisable to start saving for the next Christmas as early as possible. You can find out more about managing your money on Advice Renfrewshire’s website.”

For debt advice visit www.advicerenfrewshire.org or call freephone 0808 164 2922. You can also visit www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk.

For more information on Credit Unions visit www.mycreditunionrenfrewshire.co.uk.

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Local talent continues to thrive in Renfrewshire

Paisley International Tango Festival 2018-2

Almost 30 projects have been supported in 2018 through Renfrewshire’s Culture, Heritage and Events Fund – including a two-day music festival, a mini Mela and jewellery making classes.

Paisley International Tango Festival 2018-2

The fund was launched in February 2016 to support Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture in 2021 and has continued as part of a wider plan to use culture and heritage to transform the area’s future, supporting 27 projects in 2018 alone.

It aims to create more chances for people to get involved in cultural activity, help young people develop, boost the local economy, raise Renfrewshire’s profile, and show how creativity can boost education, social inclusion and quality of life.

Three rounds of the Culture, Heritage and Events Fund have been completed in 2018, with a fourth round closing for applications in early December.

Local groups and organisations supported in 2018 include The STAR Project, Paisley YMCA, Right2Dance, Media Monty, Johnstone Band, Paisley Opera and Renfrewshire Carers Centre.

Since 2016, almost 300 applications have been received to the Culture, Heritage and Events Fund from communities, businesses and cultural organisations in Renfrewshire and across Scotland – with a total funding request of £3,422,984. Over a third of these have been supported, with a total of £886,544 spent.

Successful completed projects to date include teenage animator Morgan Spence’s Lego stop-motion animation about Paisley – now seen by millions – and local dance group Right2Dance bringing Sir Matthew Bourne’s Re:Bourne company here for a week-long residency.

The CHE Fund is part of a wider cultural regeneration plan for Paisley which also includes a £100m investment in town centre venues, including the £42m project to turn Paisley Museum in to an international-class destination based around the town’s unique heritage and collections.

Drew Moir, who was awarded funding to host the 2018 Paisley International Tango Festival, said: “The Paisley Tango scene would not exist without support from the Culture, Heritage and Events Fund. We now get approached by two or three professionals a month who want to be invited to perform here, a testament to the quality of the event and the friendly environment our town can create.“

This year, Renfrewshire Council have also launched a new fund, designed to support Renfrewshire’s cultural sector. The Cultural Organisations Development Fund is open to cultural and creative organisations across Renfrewshire and will complement the Culture, Heritage and Events Fund, providing support to build the resilience and sustainability of local organisations, helping them realise their cultural ambitions.

Leader of Renfrewshire Council, Iain Nicolson said: “The CHE Fund has been key in involving local people in cultural and creative activity and it’s great to see so much interest in the fund over 2018.

“We know involvement in culture has a positive impact on health and wellbeing and the projects supported have given people the chance to take part in new experiences and benefit in a number of different ways.

“Through the CHE Fund we’ve seen activities supported in communities right across Renfrewshire and I’m looking forward to seeing what projects the fund can support in 2019.”

The results of the current round of funding are due to be announced in February, with further funding rounds to be announced for 2019 in the new year.

For more information on Renfrewshire’s cultural grants, visit www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/culturalgrants

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Think recycling this Christmas

bins

Residents are being reminded to recycle this Christmas with extra waste expected to be created over the festive period.

bins

With gifts being wrapped up and exchanged, residents will find themselves with more paper, cardboard and packaging than normal.

All wrapping paper, Christmas cards and cardboard packaging should go into the blue recycling bin, with glass and plastic bottles going into the new green bin.

As normal, additional bin bags will be collected during the Christmas and New Year collections if it is unable to fit into the resident’s bin.

Renfrewshire’s Household Waste Recycling Centres will also be open for use throughout the festive period, except on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

Councillor Cathy McEwan, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Infrastructure, Land and Environment Policy Board, said: “I’m sure we’re all looking forward to the festive period and exchanging gifts with friends and family if we can.

“With this though comes extra waste so it’s even more important that you use your recycling bins to separate your general waste from your recycling.

“Make sure you use all your recycling bins as fully as you can and our recycling centres are open to capture any extra you may have if you’ve been especially good this year.

“I’d also like to say a big thank you to our waste teams who are working hard to collect more bins than usual and keep our HWRCs operating over the festive period.”

Bin collections will remain the same over the festive period except for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, and those with a collection on these days should consult their calendar for their alternative collection day.

Those on a Tuesday collection living in Rashielee, Park Mains, Bargarran or North Barr will change to a Sunday over the festive period, and they will move to the new bin collection service in early 2019.

Residents can see their next four collections, sign up for email reminders and download a digital and a pdf calendar via the council website at www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/checkyourcollectionday.

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Renfrewshire Food Bank launches donations appeal after introduction of Universal Credit

Elizabeth Alexander and Councillor John Shaw

Renfrewshire Food Bank has issued a plea for donations to help people who are struggling following the introduction of Universal Credit.

Universal Credit was introduced in Renfrewshire in September 2018.

Elizabeth Alexander and Councillor John Shaw

Administered by the UK Government’s Department of Work and Pensions, the new benefits system replaces Housing Benefit, Income Support, Income Based Jobseekers Allowance, Income Related Employment and Support Allowance, Child Tax Credits and Working Tax Credits with a single monthly payment.

However, research by Trussell Trust has shown there has been a 52% increase in demand at food banks in areas where the new system has been in place for 12 months.

Elizabeth Alexander, manager of Renfrewshire Food Bank, said: “There has been a big increase in demand at food banks in areas where Universal Credit has been in place for a year and there’s no reason to suspect Renfrewshire is going to be any different.”

The food bank, which took in 97 tonnes of donations last year, is now running low on certain items and it has asked people to donate what they can to help.

Items it particularly needs include long-life juice, tinned potatoes, tinned tomatoes, tinned fruit, tinned fish, tinned custard, rice and toiletries. Money can also be donated.

Elizabeth said: “We are looking for donations. Anything people can give will help us support those who are struggling in Renfrewshire.

“We would not be able to do what we do without the people of Renfrewshire. They never fail us, if we are short they always respond. They are so generous.”

Renfrewshire Councillors approved plans to give the food bank £30,000 funding over three years earlier this month to reduce the impact of Universal Credit.

The money will come from the Council’s Tackling Poverty Programme.

It usually takes five weeks to receive your first payment after applying for Universal Credit, meaning anyone currently applying will not receive any money until after Christmas.

Elizabeth added: “We know that we have to be here. We have people coming through our door who often haven’t eaten for a couple of days and if we weren’t able to give them food then they would not eat.

“The funding gives us more stability and security. We have these funds for the next three years and that will help to make sure we’re here to help those in need.”

Renfrewshire Council’s Convener for Finance, Resources and Customer Services, Councillor John Shaw, said: “The introduction of Universal Credit has put a lot of additional pressure on food banks across Scotland and the UK.

“The Food Bank will receive £30,000 from the Tackling Poverty Programme over the next three years to reduce the impact of Universal Credit but it still needs donations to help those in need. This is a particularly challenging time of year for many.  

“If you can donate please do. Anything you can do to help will make a difference to families who are struggling.

“Food banks are not the solution to tackling poverty and we are working on projects that will reduce the need for them in Renfrewshire.”

The Tackling Poverty Programme has been at the centre of many projects to help struggling families and households in Renfrewshire since launching in 2015.

In March 2018 Renfrewshire Council announced £5million funding for the Tackling Poverty Programme over five years to deliver key projects and activities that will support people and families on low incomes.

Projects within the programme are designed to provide support for families that need it most, remove barriers to participation for children and young people, and support health and wellbeing for young people.

To donate visit Renfrewshire Food Bank’s Abercorn facility at Unit 12, 80 Abercorn Street, Paisley on a Monday and Friday between 10am and 12pm or Thursday and Friday between 5pm and 7pm.

For more information on the food bank and where you can donate visit www.renfrewshire.foodbank.org.uk.

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Strictly Come Prancing is coming!

strictly come prancing

On Friday 15th March, fourteen couples will go head to head for charity, as St. Vincent’s Hospice presents their annual Strictly Come Prancing event at the five star Ingliston Country Club and Hotel.

strictly come prancing

Now in its eighth year, the hugely popular event, based on the Strictly Come Dancing television series, sees duos with little or no dancing experience take to the floor in an attempt to impress the judges and live audience, each vying to be crowned the 2019 champions.

Senior Fundraiser for St. Vincent’s Hospice, Louise Strachan, commented on the event, saying: “Strictly Come Prancing is a great, fun filled, evening which is one of the most popular in our fundraising calendar. Since early January, our twinkle toed couples have been giving up time every week to train in preparation for the evening and we are so grateful to them for all their efforts.

“Our couples are in the hands of Curtis Campbell and Rebecca Elliot, our star choreographers who are putting everyone through their paces for the night and we cannot thank them enough for their outstanding contribution.

The evening will be hosted by our very own ‘Brucie’ and ‘Tess’ and will feature performances from our 2018 dance couples, last year’s winners as well as our professional dancers.”

All funds raised from the event go directly towards supporting St. Vincent’s Hospice, a specialist provider of palliative and end of life care for individuals and families affected by life limiting conditions.  

For more information, visit www.SVH.co.uk

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Start-Up Street will help Renfrewshire businesses grow

Chloe Wright

A new project in Paisley will support start-up businesses looking to make the leap into their first commercial premises.

Chloe Wright

The town’s George Street will become Start-Up Street as vacant Renfrewshire Council-owned units are adapted into a range of low-cost, high-quality digitally-connected workspaces for up to 20 businesses.

It follows a survey of new and early-stage Renfrewshire businesses, with more than 80% looking for subsidised space to grow, but many citing high costs and a lack of know-how preventing them taking this significant step.

George Street is next to the University of the West of Scotland business school and close to the council’s existing economic development hubs.

Businesses based here will benefit from an on-site business advisor, training space and a shared reception.

George Street

Each company can rent the space for up to two years, with lease costs incrementally increased until they are ready to move to an alternative commercial space in Renfrewshire.

The Council’s Leadership Board rubber-stamped the proposals yesterday (Wednesday 5 December 2018) and now its economic development team will further develop the plans, working jointly with London Youth Support Trust, a charity which specialises in supporting young entrepreneurs from deprived backgrounds.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “We have a responsibility to nurture new businesses and Start-Up Street is being developed in response to what local businesses are telling us they need.

“It will provide a whole package of support to enable businesses to overcome any barriers and grow sustainably, offering an environment which helps them achieve long-term sustainability, moving into commercial premises in our town centres.

“We’re excited to be working in partnership with the London Youth Support Trust, who have an excellent track record in helping young people progress, adding to our own economic development team’s fantastic achievements in helping local businesses to grow and local people to find jobs.”

The project comes as Renfrewshire’s regeneration continues to make excellent progress, according to the latest economic indicators.

Renfrewshire’s Economic Profile published this week highlights an employment rate outstripping its neighbouring local authorities and well above the national average.

Laura Provan

There are more than 4500 private companies based in Renfrewshire, with a lower average closure rate recorded than across the rest of the country.

And over a two-year period, visitors to Renfrewshire attractions have risen by more than 400,000, while ambitious housebuilding targets remain firmly on target, with 630 new homes completed in the first nine months of 2017.

Councillor Nicolson added: “The latest economic figures give us many reasons to be positive and Start-Up Street is the latest investment in Renfrewshire’s future, building on the five-year funding we have put in place to deliver support to the people and places who need it most.

“We boast the best performing employability programmes in Scotland and our local economy is growing, bolstered by an incredible rise in visitor numbers to the area.

“Against a tough financial outlook for all councils, we remain committed to creating the conditions which attract more companies and bring more jobs to Renfrewshire, ensuring inclusive growth across the region.”

Interested businesses can contact InCube Start-Up on 0300 300 1180 or email incube@renfrewshire.gov.uk

Loopy Lally Designs

Textile designer Chloe Wright is excited by the opportunity Start-Up Street will offer for creative businesses. The former Paisley Grammar School pupil founded Loopy Lally Designs in 2017, producing colourful, abstract interior products including cushions, framed prints and lampshades.

Having outgrown her Paisley house, Chloe is now looking to establish her own premises. She said: “I work from home in the wee spare room, but I’m fast running out of space and from a professional perspective, I don’t want to be inviting people into my house.

“My business is growing and moving into new premises is the natural next step for me, it’s really exciting. You can be waiting for years for studio space so Start-Up Street is coming at the perfect time.

“It sounds great, especially having business advice available whenever you need it. Sometimes you can be too close to your business and so it helps to pick people’s brains and get helpful feedback. It’s really exciting what’s happening in Paisley and for school kids to know that there is an opportunity to do creative arts and set up your own business in the town is great.”

www.loopylally.com

Paisley Pins

For Laura Provan, the buddie behind Paisley Pins, the opportunity Start-Up Street will provide is a “no-brainer” for businesses.

Laura took on her own workspace in her hometown this summer and has not looked back as her popular product continues to build a local, and international customer base.

“It’s amazing the amount of people with connections to Paisley that I meet, I even get orders from Paisley in Oregon in the USA. The acrylic pins continue to fly off the shelves and now there’s a much more diverse product range on offer, with ear-rings and necklaces, tie pins and cuff links.

“I’d been looking for premises for a while as I just didn’t have the space I needed to keep working from home and it was a lonely experience being there, with no opportunities to meet people or collaborate and lots of distractions like tidying up after my kids.

“Having a dedicated workspace has been fantastic, having somewhere where people can find me has definitely improved my business-to-business relationships. Upstairs there’s workspaces for other jewellers to rent out and downstairs we’ve space to run workshops.

“The emotional connection people have with jewellery is very important and people want to know the provenance of a product so it was so important to me that my Paisley product is made here in Paisley.

“Start-Up Street is a fantastic idea and it’s the one thing myself and other creative businesses have always said was sorely missing. It is definitely something people should go for if they’re looking for space, advice and being able to move their business forward – it’s a no-brainer and can only be a positive move.”

www.paisleypins.com

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Extra food bank funds agreed after introduction of Universal Credit

universal credit

Renfrewshire Councillors have approved £30,000 funding to Renfrewshire Food Bank to reduce the impact of Universal Credit.

universal credit

The proposals to give the food bank the money over a three year period were agreed at a meeting of the Council’s Leadership Board today (December 5).

The funding follows the introduction of Universal Credit in Renfrewshire in September 2018.

Administered by the Department of Work and Pensions, Universal Credit replaces Housing Benefit, Income Support, Income Based Jobseekers Allowance, Income Related Employment and Support Allowance, Child Tax Credits and Working Tax Credits with a single monthly payment.

However, research by Trussell Trust has shown that there has been a 52% increase in demand at food banks in areas where the new system has been in place for 12 months.

Renfrewshire Council’s Convener for Finance, Resources and Customer Services, Councillor John Shaw, said: “The introduction of Universal Credit by the UK Government in other areas has put a lot of additional pressure on food banks with more demand from those most in need. This funding will help Renfrewshire Food Bank cope with any increased demand that may come, allowing it to continue supporting anyone in Renfrewshire that needs its help.”

Renfrewshire Council has provided the food bank with funding in recent years, working flexibly with them to provide extra money when needed from its Tackling Poverty Fund.

The Tackling Poverty Programme has been at the centre of many projects to help struggling families and households in Renfrewshire since launching in 2015.

The Healthier, Wealthier Children Service, which is funded by the programme, helped 219 families in Renfrewshire boost their household incomes by a total of £300,000 between April and September 2018. The service gives financial, debt and welfare rights advice to new and expectant parents and helps families check what benefits they are entitled to before and after the arrival of their baby.

The Tackling Poverty Initiative’s energy advice service, which provides support to people who need to reduce their energy bills, has also helped 177 households in Renfrewshire save a total of £49,220 since July 2018.

In March 2018 Renfrewshire Council announced £5million funding for the Tackling Poverty Programme over five years to deliver key projects and activities that will support people and families on low incomes.

Projects within the programme are designed to provide support for families that need it most, remove barriers to participation for children and young people, and support health and wellbeing for young people.

Councillor Shaw said: “The work that the Tackling Poverty Programme is doing is making a real difference to the lives of families in Renfrewshire who are struggling to make ends meet.

“This additional funding will ensure that these crucial services can help families in need in Renfrewshire for years to come.”