Renfrewshire Scottish Socialist Party are hosting an open meeting on Tuesday 8th June 2010. Long time republican campaigner Allan Armstrong will be the guest of the branch to discuss the idea of an independent socialist republic for Scotland's future. All members and any others with an interest are invited to this open meeting at 7.30 pm in Paisley Grammar where they can find out more about the republican concept and about the other policies of the Scottish Socialist Party.
Renfrewshire Scottish Socialist Party hosted a public meeting on Thursday 9th July in the Elderslie Village Hall with a view to helping form a campaign of local citizens to oppose the closures of the Swimming Pools in Elderslie and Johnstone Town Centre. So successful was the turnout that when the numbers attending swelled from over 20 to over 60 with more coming in it was clear that the meeting would have to be moved from the lesser hall to the major one, and that being accomplished Jimmy Kerr, on behalf of the Party, welcomed all of the local people and group representatives who had given up their time to attend. Gerry McCartney opened the discussion by giving some of the history and background of the extensive cuts both current and on the horizon of which the swimming pool closures were believed to be only one small part, and the meeting was thrown open for contributions from the floor.
After some initial good natured initial skirmishing the SSP and the Labour Party quickly agreed with the mood of the meeting that political differences would have to be put aside quickly and firmly and that the campaign would have to be cross party and cross community based if it were to have a real chance of success. Contributions were heard from community councillors from Johnstone and Elderslie, local clubs and local people who had been taught to swim at the Elderslie baths and had enjoyed the facilities of the pool for generation after generation. The child safety and community fitness promoted by swimming, it was felt, would be lost to the next generation if the pool were allowed to close. There were many contributions expressing regret that the local councillor Ms. McGhee had not attended since the preservation of the pool had long been a key element in her own campaigning.
Jimmy Kerr summed up the first half of the meeting saying that the mood was one of anger and determination to reverse this disgraceful decision of the Council by a vigourous and sustained high pressure campaign aimed at exerting local community pressure on the decision makers in the Council. The general feeling that the pool belonged to the community and not the Council was clearly and strongly expressed by all of the contributors.
The second half of the meeting was tasked to come up with a number of ideas for a co-ordinated campaign strategy and this task was undertaken in groups of 10 to 15 people which came up with a broad range of ideas and events to highlight the campaign which were fed back to Jimmy Kerr to organise and prioritise on behalf of a steering committee which he would chair until they could formalise their own arrangements. A steering committee was duly elected and it was agreed that they would meet again on Thursday 16th July in the same place under their own auspices to agree individual functions and responsibilities. There were also a large number of individuals and groups who left phone numbers and email addresses and welcomed the opportunity to be asked to undertake some part of the work of campaigning.
Summing up on behalf of the hosts for the evening, Gerry McCartney of Renfrewshire SSP said ‘This has been one of the most productive meetings we have had for any local campaign, and we now hand over to the steering group to run things of behalf of the local community. It was particularly pleasing to be able to welcome Councillors Jim Sharkey, Neil Bibby, John Caldwell and Eddie Devine of the Labour party to the meeting and their contributions based on years of experience were insightful and will be of enormous help to the newly formed group. These closures affect us all across any political divisions and if we fail to reverse them then we all suffer the loss equally. Thank you all.’
Jimmy Kerr said, ‘I am proud to have been a part of getting this going and the first proposal I will put to the steering group once we sort out our respective roles will be that we quickly organise a similar meeting in Johnstone. This community has shown a real appetite for the fight and we have every confidence it will achieve a successful outcome.’
SSP Renfrewshire, together with with local residents, have launched a campaign to save Johnstone and Elderslie swimming pools, both threatened with closure under the SNP/LibDem council's latest capital spending plans for sports facilities, schools and regeneration projects in Renfrewshire.
The plans, published last week and ratified at a meeting of Renfrewshire Council on June 25th, will see Renfrewshire's sports facilities rationalised, with large sports hubs built and small community swimming pools in Johnstone and Elderslie set to close. SSP Renfrewshire branch is against these cuts to community facilities and plan to fight alongside local residents to keep the pools open.
The branch kicked off the campaign with two stalls in Elderslie and Johnstone, where angry locals, including worried parents who will not be able to travel to the centralised sports hubs, flocked to sign petitions and offer their support.
With this latest cut to public services, SNP have shown themselves to be, not just out of touch with the people that elected them, but contemtuous of public opinion. This disgraceful attitude, was exemplified at a recent meeting of Johnstone Community Council, where residents were gently questioning local SNP Councillor, Bruce McFee, about the swimming pool closures. The Councillor played his cards all wrong when he barked: “Huh, its the first time I've seen a multi-million pound investment being treated as bad news.” Locals were denied a Brucie Bonus when the Councillor then implied that the people were some how not supposed to be concerned if their swimming pool closes, expressing incredulity at the questions and declaring that “people are always resistant to change.”
This attitude permeates SNP policy, both at the national and local level. Nationally SNP Have broken or reatreated from almost half their manifesto commitments, including plans to scrap the Council tax. At the local level, in Renfrewshire, SNP aided by the Liberal Democrats, have closed The South School when they were supposed to be cutting class sizes, wrecked provision for rough sleepers when they are supposedly committed to eliminating homelessnes and decimated the warden service for people in sheltered accomodation, whilst at the same time making them pay extortionate costs for the privelage of having their safety and security ruined. SSP Renfrewshire plans to hold a public meeting next week to discuss how best to save the swimming pools and will publish times and dates in the loacl press as well as this site.
For more information on this campsign or on SSP Renfrewshire, contact Jimmy Kerr, firstname.lastname@example.org, 07856799449