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Member of the Scottish Parliament for South Scotland (Scottish Labour) Member of the Scottish Cooperative Group of MSPs

CONCERN AS TEXTILE SCHOOL CUTS REVEALED In my view, cutting a quarter of the workforce would inevitably impact on the quality of education available to students.

At the start of this month, it was confirmed that Heriot Watt University is considering making cuts to its textiles department in Galashiels. Under the proposals, up to 10 members of staff, a quarter of the workforce, could lose their jobs. The University & College Union (UCU) which represents staff at the campus fears some staff will be sacked so that researchers can be recruited from other textile schools, in a short-term bid to boost research ratings. In the last couple of weeks, I have met with representatives of the University & College Union, with Heriot Watt Principal Steve Chapman and with Textiles School Head Prof Alison Harley to discuss the issue. I also lodged a motion in Parliament backing the union’s campaign and highlighting the impact that cuts could have on the local economy. The textiles industry is a major employer in the Borders and I am concerned about the impact these cuts will have locally.

The School of Textiles and Design is the second oldest textile institution in the world, dating back to 1883, and there are concerns that these proposals could also damage that proud reputation. The merger of the original college with Heriot Watt in 1998 was supposed to safeguard the future of the school. The move provided a major boost to the area with increased higher education opportunities for young people. While I acknowledge that it is essential to secure the long term financial viability of the department, I continue to share concerns expressed by the union that replacing lecturers with researchers is a shortsighted move.

One of the organisation’s key services is to provide women with professional clothing that they can wear for job interviews. The service addresses the dilemma that despite being qualified to fill potential jobs many women returning to work simply can’t afford suitable clothes to wear for an interview. This effectively prevents them from being able to find work. The visit to Parliament encouraged female MSPs to donate new and nearly new business attire including suits, blouses, shoes and accessories. I was delighted to support this worthwhile cause that is helping women to become self-sufficient. If you would like more information on Dress for Success, please visit

It is vital that careful consideration is given to the implications of these proposals on the local economy, the reputation of the school and on opportunities for young people and that alternative plans are put forward and considered.

For all the latest news of my work in the Scottish Parliament, visit my new website.

There are also links to a variety of useful information on the workings of Parliament.

Earlier this month Parliament was visited by Dress for Success, an organisation that supports disadvantaged women find work.

Following my meeting with Prof. Chapman, I am pleased that the consultation period on these proposals is to be extended.

Get the latest news online…

The website is updated on a regular basis with news of what I’ve been up to in Parliament and a video diary on current issues.


Contact Claudia As an MSP for South Scotland I am keen to hear any problems or concerns you may have. If you think I could help you, get in touch… Write: 12 St Vincent Place Lanark ML11 7LA Phone: 01555 664 065 E-mail: Online:

ROBERT OWEN COMMEMORATIVE LECTURE 2012 community benefit rather than shareholder profits helping to build a fairer society. Iain Macdonald, who gave the lecture, retired as Director General of the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) in 2010. I visited New Lanark this month to attend the 2012 Robert Owen Commemorative Lecture. Robert Owen is rightly regarded as one of the key figures in the birth of the global cooperative movement and New Lanark is an important part of that legacy. This year’s lecture took on a special significance for the UN International Year of Cooperatives - highlighting the role that cooperative values can play in meeting the global challenges we face today. The collectively agreed purpose of the year of focus is that “cooperative enterprises build a better world”. By involving normal people in decision making, the cooperative model places the focus on

He highlighted the strength of the cooperative model in many countries across the globe and the ICA’s aim of uniting, representing and serving cooperatives worldwide. Mr Macdonald stressed the resilience of the co-operative model during the world banking crisis and how credit unions had remained strong throughout the recession, supporting challenged communities. He asked us to question why the coop model isn’t so well known in Scotland. As a Scottish Co-operative MSP, I would argue it is effective in the finance and agriculture sectors and continues to develop in other sectors. Many are keen to support it with the opportunities for empowerment and true democracy it brings.

NEWS IN BRIEF Here is a brief look back at some of the stories that have been covered since the last e-news. Click the links below to read more on these stories. Plain Packaging for cigarettes A UK-wide consultation is underway on plain packaging for tobacco products in a bid to reduce smoking. Smoking remains the biggest cause of unnecessary deaths in Scotland. A YouGov opinion poll, published this month, suggests strong public support in Scotland for plain packaging while a review from Stirling University has concluded that plain packaging would reduce the appeal of tobacco products. Promoting Global Citizenship In classrooms across Scotland, children are being taught about the idea of Global Citizenship. There are fantastic resources to help children develop knowledge and understanding of the world around them and about Scotland and the UK’s place in the world. This month I met pupils learning about the importance of water, particularly in countries where it is scarce such as Malawi.

Sunday 3 June marks the fourth annual holding of ‘The Big Lunch’.

Last year, around two million people took part in the big lunch and organisers are hoping to better that this year.

The campaign, organised by the Eden Project, aims to get as many people as possible across the country to have lunch with their neighbours.

Across the country there are events of all sizes taking place from small gatherings of a few neighbours to full scale street parties.

The idea behind the project is simple - to bring people and communities together.

To find out more about the campaign, and how you can get involved, visit

The campaign points towards the fact that people are leading increasingly isolated lives where more and more people are living alone and there is less trust of neighbours. They see the Big Lunch as a great opportunity to get out ant meet the people we live alongside and to help make social isolation history.

It is great to see young people being engaged in topics like this and to learn about the importance of treating scarce resources carefully. Money Advice Service At a time when household budgets are under real strain it is really important for people to have somewhere to turn for advice if they are having problems. The Money Advice Service is a UKwide body that has statutory responsibility for improving public understanding of money matters and helping people to better manage their finances. The service provides free and unbiased money advice through a nationwide network of money advisers. They can be contacted over a telephone Money Advice Line (0300 500 5000) and online at

working hard for South Scotland Promoted by Claudia Beamish MSP. The costs of this publication have been met out of parliamentary resources

e-news May 2012  

May Edition of Claudia Beamish MSP's e-newsletter

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