Childcare Crisis

Thank goodness my wife and I don’t have to pay for childcare, although like most grandparents we’ve provided childcare for our grandchildren. But if you are a parent in Scotland who needs childcare, you are facing a situation where childcare costs are rising faster than the rate of inflation, and are outpacing rises across the rest of the UK. A recent report from the Family and Childcare Trust exposes the reality of the SNP childcare promises. In Scotland, only 13% of councils are able to offer sufficient childcare for parents who work full time. Contrast that to England where it’s 45% and Wales where it’s 40%. Some aspects of childcare in Scotland are the most expensive in the UK apart from London.

The SNP Government has halved the funding to build new nurseries at a time when the Trust has said that underfunding of free hours is pushing up childcare costs for everyone. Childcare needs to be flexible and affordable. Parents are being let down by the Scottish Government and the cuts to council funding are not going to help.

New life for old Co-op

I was delighted to hear RAMH, a charity that campaigns and works with those with mental health issues, is moving into the former Co-op in Houstoun Square in Johnstone. They plan to open their RAMH Lifeskills business selling pre-loved quality furniture and white goods bound for landfill for great prices which is a real boost for the community. When they were based at the former Cooperative in Paisley they raised an incredible £19,000 in eight months to support their fantastic work in Renfrewshire. It’s welcome news for the people of Johnstone and those struggling to furnish their homes in tough times. It’s also a real triumph for my two Labour colleagues Derek Bibby and Chris Gilmour who worked so hard to make this happen and secure the future of one of the buildings for the time being. Hopefully the move will breathe new life into the arcade and others will follow.

Festival fun

The Inspired Family and Youth Arts Festival taking place in Johnstone and neighbouring Paisley is great news for my constituents with eight weeks of fun scheduled. The festival is a programme of events and activities for young people to get involved with, and be inspired by, the arts. There’s dance performances, drama, exhibitions and free art activities suitable for early years until teens running right up until the 17th April 2016. Some highlights to look out for include interactive shows, performances from the Puppet Animation festival and a drama piece by local Renfrewshire actor Sita Pieracinni. And for the first time ever, Johnstone Town Hall will be hosting film screenings with popular films like Minions and Inside/Out being shown. For a full list of events and activities please visit