The Greens are hoping to make history in May by getting the first Green councillors elected in East Renfrewshire.
They’ve spent the past three years working in East Ren communities and are hoping to make a difference this time around.
The two candidates are, Laura Stevens, in Ward 4: Clarkston, Netherlee and Williamwood, and David Allison, candidate for Ward 1: Barrhead, Liboside and Uplawmoor.
Laura said: “I am standing as a candidate in Ward 4 having lived in East Renfrewshire since 2012, when I moved here from Glasgow with my partner. For the past decade I have worked within the higher education sector.
“I’ve supported a wide range of researchers, and have years of experience working with different groups to achieve the best results. Having served as a community councillor in East Ren, I also have first hand knowledge of how the council interacts with the broader community. If elected, I will use all of my skills to fight for greater transparency, accountability and community involvement in East Renfrewshire Council.”
David said: “I’ve lived in East Renfrewshire for almost four years now, and have more first hand experience of the insecurity of private renting than I’d like, but I’ve enjoyed living and campaigning in the area and am happy to call it my home. Having worked in social housing for a decade now, I’ve seen what years of successive cuts have done to our communities and learned how to work with those communities to get things done.
“If elected I look forward to applying lessons learned from both my private and professional lives to help build an East Renfrewshire that lives up to the needs of the people it exists to serve, and to encourage the council to develop the sort of services we’re all going to need to deal with the challenges ahead.”
Public transport is an important issue for both the candidates, especially with the opening of the Eastwood Health and Care Centre last year and the recent cuts to the 4/4A bus routes. There is no direct public transport link between Barrhead and the Health Care Centre in spite of services being relocated there last year when the Centre opened. The bus service operating in Ward 4 that services the Centre does not cover areas of Busby and Clarkston, leaving residents reliant on other methods to travel there to access services. Both Laura and David will work with the Counciland external providers to help improve public transport links and green travel options, including cycling and walking routes, within the area.
Community Empowerment is another key Green priority. The theme of our council campaign is ‘Power In Your Hands’, and we want to see local people given more control over how public money is spent through increased use of participatory budget schemes.
Laura remarked: “There is much focus on the council’s regeneration plans for Clarkston. Using my experiences working with a variety of different interest groups, I will ensure that the voices of the residents and business owners are heard during this ongoing process to help improve the Toll and surrounding area.
“Greens also support real local democracy, so I hope to rebuild the trust between community councils and the local authority by securing increased autonomy and more powers for our community councils.”
David commented: “I believe that we can provide warm, affordable housing for all without damaging our shared environment, and with new development threats to the Fereneze Braes in Barrhead and to other greenfield areas through East Renfrewshire, there’s a real need for fresh thinking on this front.
“Laura and I will aim to put communities on an even footing with developers by campaigning for an even right of appeal in planning - at present, only developers have this right - and by supporting community-led buy-outs, something there’s been a real enthusiasm for when I’ve been talking to people during this campaign!”
The Scottish Green party’s manifesto commits their councillors to prioritising new housing that is affordable, low-carbon, built on brownfield sites and connected to local services like schools and shops. To help deliver housing and reduce land speculation Laura and David say they will support proposals for a local ‘vacant land levy’. Green councillors will also tackle high private rents in East Renfrewshire by applying for rent caps in identified pressure zones
If there are any issues that residents would like to raise with these prospective council candidates, they can be contacted via the following methods:
Laura Stevens, candidate for Ward 4: Clarkston, Netherlee and Williamwood
David Allison, candidate for Ward 1: Barrhead, Liboside and Uplawmoor