- A Merry Christmas and a Happy, Prosperous and Peaceful New Year
I wish you all a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Prosperous and, above all, Peaceful New Year.
- Angus people show strong support for help to refugees
Angus MP Mike Weir has welcomed the huge support shown from across Angus for action to help those who are fleeing from the wars and chaos in the Middle East.
Commenting on the matter Mr Weir said
“Despite the fact that we have many problems at home it is heartening that so many people in Angus have been moved by the horrendous crisis unfolding in the Mediterranean and the Middle East.”
“ I have received an unprecedented number of approaches on the issue and so many people have stepped forward to offer practical help to tackle the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War “
The SNP used their opposition day to call a debate in the House of Commons on the issue and, as SNP Chief Whip, Mr Weir was responsible for agreeing a motion that attracted the support of six party leaders to call on the UK government to do more to help refugees from the Middle East.
AT the vote the SNP motion was backed by Labour, Plaid Cymru, the Liberal Democrats, SDLP, the Greens and Ulster Unionists.
Commenting on the motion Mr Weir said
“Tonight we saw an almost unprecedented sight of seven different political parties in the House of Commons uniting together, with a clear and simple message- the UK must do more to aid the humanitarian crisis.
“We recognise that the UK has contributed a large amount to aid in the refugee camps and whilst we welcomed their announcement of 20,000 refugees over the next five years, it is simply not enough and only equates to six refugees per constituency, per year. “
“It is unfortunate that some seek to equate the refugee crisis with economic migration. They are totally different and this is a huge, immediate humanitarian crisis where immediate action is required.”
“Despite the Tories voting against the motion, the message from the overwhelming majority of parties in this parliament to the thousands of refugees seeking shelter is one of support and goodwill. “
- Brechin RBS closure will increase digital divide
The proposed closure of the Royal Bank of Scotland branch in Brechin has been described as a “worrying move” by Angus MP Mike Weir.
- Brexit could impact on patients and pharmaceutical manufacutuers
Angus MP Mike Weir has expressed concern that UK patients will not have to wait up to a year for access to new drugs as a result of Brexit. There could also be an impact on drug manufacturers such as GSK.
The European Medicine Agency (EMA) provides a drug licensing system which covers the 500 million people in the EEA, meaning new drugs are licensed in the UK six to 12 months before markets such as Canada and Australia. The UK government have indicated that the UK will not seek to remain a member of EMA as any part of a Brexit deal.
Commenting Mr Weir said “The European Medicine Agency provides a single drug licensing system for over 500 million people in the EEA which means new drugs are licensed in the UK around six to 12 months ahead of countries like Canada and Australia.
“The system also means that manufacturers, such as GSK, only need to get any new drug licensed once rather than going through 28 national agencies.”
“Leaving the EMA would have an impact on the UK Pharmaceutical industry as well as denying patients early access to innovative medicines.”
“Clearly drugs require to be licensed before they can be used and delays could adversely impact on patients.”
- Budget good news for Oil and Gas but little else to cheer
Speaking in the Budget debate in the House of Commons Angus MP Mike Weir welcomed measures that would give assistance to the North Sea Oil and Gas industry but there were many missed opportunities to give a real boost to the local economy.
- Cuts and Royal Mail sell off bad news for angus
Angus MP Mike Weir has criticised the Tory UK government’s plans to privatise the remaining 30% stake in the Royal Mail and said that this could prove to be another threat to universal postal services to rural areas such as Angus.
- Disappointment and frustration at Post Office changes
Angus MP Mike Weir has expressed his “disappointment and frustration” at the outcome of the public consultations on the move of post office services in Forfar and Kirriemuir.
- Energy companies must answer over prices
Angus MP and SNP Westminster Spokesperson on Energy Mike Weir has said energy companies must answer over prices following a Which? report which shows bills could have been slashed further and sooner than the recent round of cuts, costing consumers a massive £2.9 billion over the last year.
- Energy supply companies not passing on falls in energy prices to consumers
Angus MP Mike Weir, SNP Spokesperson on Energy, has supported calls for a reduction in energy bills to reflect the reduced cost of wholesale energy and the fall in oil prices.
- Forfar cases demonstrate need for greater consumer protection
Angus MP Mike Weir has called for greater action from the UK government over the regulation of renewable energy installations following serious problems encountered by two constituents in Forfar.
Mr Weir held a debate in Parliament to highlight the issues faced by his constituents and the deficiencies in the current regulations calling upon the Department of Energy and Climate Change to tighten up the system.
In the course of the debate Mr Weir highlighted the case of a constituent in Kingsmuir who had installed photovoltaics and later discovered that there was a leak in her roof under the installation. It had been carried out by an installer certified under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) but due to the installer flitting between two accreditation bodies, and breaching the scheme rules by failing to give the body the required notification that the work had been carried out, she ended up with no protection to deal with the defect. In another case a Forfar constituent had installed an Air Source Heat Pump which failed to work properly. In this case the company changed from a limited company to a partnership and avoided liability as it was then a different legal entity.
Speaking in the debate Mr Weir set out the details of both cases and said
“The Home Renewables Loan Scheme makes it a borrower obligation that loan recipients use such an installer. That appears to be a restriction of trade and distortion of the market that should only be tolerated if the accreditation provides a robust guarantee of workmanship and consumer protection, but as my constituents found, it had no real value at the end of the day. I share the concern that public money is being channelled to companies that are basically being allowed a competitive advantage on the basis of assumed competence without their being subject to proper scrutiny”
He pointed out that the MCS scheme marketed itself to companies on the basis that “by having the MCS logo you will be able to distinguish yourselves as an installer company of merit”
“That is what consumers would expect when seeing that accreditation on an installer’s brochure, invoice or whatever. My constituent not unreasonably believed that as a recipient of public money in the form of loan funds she was being invited to select from a list approved by Government agencies. She trusted that their selection was a form of approval that was contingent on demonstrable competence. They have been let down twice, first by an installer that was neither technically competent nor financially solvent and secondly by an approved accreditation scheme that produces warranties that fail to materialise if the contractor fails to report the job.”
Mr Weir added that a scheme “ which apparently fails to monitor the administration of guarantees and warranties” was unfit for purpose, and pointed out that complaints dealt with by the Renewable Energy Consumer Code had gone up from 607 in 2011 to 1,892 in 2014. “That is a very substantial number, even allowing for that fact that there are liable to be more installations now than in 2011”.
Responding to the debate the Minister, Andrea Leadsom, stressed that the percentage of cases where something went wrong was relatively small but accepted that things had clearly gone wrong in both these cases and undertook to investigate them more fully.
Commenting after the debate Mr Weir said
“I fully appreciate that the majority of installers are reputable, but undoubtedly there are serious failing with some and the scheme fails to adequately deal with these. Home renewables are vitally important in helping to reduce household bills and to enable us to reach our energy reduction and climate change targets, but consumers need to be assured that they will be properly installed and that the regulation system will swiftly and properly deal with those cases which go wrong. I am pleased that the minister has agreed to investigate these two cases and I am passing on all the information I have on them.”
- Graeme and Mike welcome Friockheim Hub lottery funding
“ The Hub will be a huge benefit to the community of Friockheim providing space not only for local groups but also business start up space.”
- Hinkley financial crisis shows UK folly on new nuclear
The Scottish National Party has said the financial crisis surrounding the future of the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant demonstrates yet again the folly of the UK government’s decision to spend huge amounts of public money to subsidise new nuclear power stations. The future of the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant in Somerset is facing a financial crisis as Areva, a shareholder in the project and the designer of the proposed reactors, has seen its shares plunge by almost a quarter.
- Local people could save on winter fuel bills
With winter fast approaching, Angus MP Mike Weir is encouraging local residents to call a free helpline to find out what help they may be entitled to with their energy costs.
Launched ten years ago, Home Heat Helpline (0800 33 66 99/0333 300 3366) is a free, impartial and confidential service offering support to anyone concerned about paying their energy bills and staying warm during winter. The help available includes grants for insulation, new boilers, discount schemes and rebate schemes; including the Warm Home Discount which provides eligible households with £140 off their electricity bill.
Mike Weir MP said:
“I would urge anyone in Angus who is concerned about staying warm in the run up to winter to call Home Heat Helpline on 0800 33 66 99 and seek advice. I would also ask people to look out for neighbours, friends or relatives who may be in difficulty and make sure that they are aware of the Home Heat Helpline and consider calling on their behalf.”
Eligible people include vulnerable, low-income households. New figures show that over 450,000 people have used the services in the last decade to help them manage their energy bills and energy efficiency.
Home Heat Helpline’s Lawrence Slade said:
“Winter can be an incredibly tough time for people financially, around the UK, and we are here to help. There are many out there that could benefit from our support that we haven’t yet spoken to. Even if you are not eligible yourself, you may know someone else who is. Our Home Heat Helpline number – 0800 33 66 99 – is a direct and easy way for you, your neighbours, friends or family, to get the assistance needed to keep warm.”
Home Heat Helpline: 0800 33 66 99 (0333 300 33 66 from a mobile) or visit www.homeheathelpline.org.uk
Notes to editors
- Mike adds support to Carers Week
Angus MP Mike Weir today pledged his support to carers across Angus as part of the national Carers Week 2015 awareness campaign, which runs from 8-14th June.
- Mike and Graeme visit Arbroath Life Boat
Graeme Dey, the MSP for Angus South, and Mike Weir, the MP for Angus, were yesterday (Monday) given a tour of the RNLI’s Arbroath Station and the new state of the art lifeboat it is hoped will be deployed in the port within the next five years.
- Mike and Graeme visit Home Start Angus
MP Mike Weir and MSP Graeme Dey popped into the Home-Start Angus offices recently to show their support and congratulate the organisation on securing £300,000 Big Lottery funding for a 5 year Bumps and Beyond project.
- Mike and Graeme visit Kirriemuir Sorting Office
Graeme Dey MSP and Mike Weir MP have visited Royal Mail’s Kirriemuir Delivery Office to pass on Christmas wishes and encouragement to postmen and women at their busiest time of year.
Mr Dey and Mr Weir were shown around the office by Delivery Office Manager, Brian Boyd, and was introduced to the postmen and women who are working hard sorting and delivering mail in the Kirriemuir (joint visit) area during the Festive season.
Graeme Dey MSP, said: “There is a huge amount of effort and dedication that goes into delivering a first class Christmas at Royal Mail’s busiest time of year. It was great to meet the team here at Kirriemuir.
Mike Weir MP added: “Our postal workers do such an important job at this time of year and I would like to thank them for their efforts and wish them all the best over the busy festive period.”
Brian Boyd, Royal Mail Delivery Office Manager at Kirriemuir commented: “Our postmen and women are working extremely hard to deliver Christmas cards, letters and parcels to people across Kirriemuir. We are grateful that Graeme Dey MSP and Mike Weir MP visited the office to see our operation and to support the team.
“We’d like to remind our customers to post early so that friends and family have longer to enjoy their Christmas greetings. We would also like to ask everyone to please always use the postcode as this helps us greatly in the job that we do at this busy time.”
The last recommend posting dates for Christmas are:
Second Class – Saturday 19 December 2015
First Class – Monday 21 December 2015
Special Delivery – Wednesday 23 December 2015
Customers can also help Royal Mail ensure that all their letters, cards and parcels are delivered as quickly and efficiently as possible by taking a few easy steps:
- Post early – Avoid disappointment by posting your cards and parcels early.
- Use a postcode – A clearly addressed card or parcel, with a postcode, and return address on the back of the envelope, will ensure quick and efficient delivery.
- Use Special Delivery – For valuable and important packages and parcels guarantee delivery with Royal Mail’s Special Delivery, which means your gift is tracked, traced and insured against loss.
- Wrap parcels well and always give a return address
- For more information about Royal Mail’s last recommended posting dates, please visit: www.royalmail.com/greetings or call 03457 740 740.
Ronit Wolfson – email@example.com / 0131 316 7402
About Royal Mail plc
Royal Mail plc is the parent company of Royal Mail Group Limited, the leading provider of postal and delivery services in the UK and the UK’s designated universal postal service provider. UK Parcels, International and Letters (“UKPIL”) comprises the company’s UK and international parcels and letters delivery businesses operating under the “Royal Mail” and “Parcelforce Worldwide” brands. Through the Royal Mail Core Network, the company delivers a one-price-goes-anywhere service on a range of parcels and letters products. Royal Mail has the capability to deliver to more than 29 million addresses in the UK, six days a week (excluding UK public holidays). Parcelforce Worldwide operates a separate UK network which collects and delivers express parcels. Royal Mail also owns General Logistics Systems (GLS) which operates one of the largest ground-based, deferred parcel delivery networks in Europe.
Christmas 2015 and New Year Bank Holiday 2016 opening hours
Royal Mail will be operating extended seasonal delivery and increasing customer collection services until Christmas Eve. This includes more than 400 Delivery Offices remaining open until 5 p.m. for parcel collection on Thursday December 24 2015.
In 2015, Boxing Day (26 December), which is typically a UK-wide Bank Holiday, falls on a Saturday. In Scotland, 2 January 2016, is a Scotland-wide Bank Holiday and also falls on a Saturday. When this has happened previously, (1998 and 2009), Royal Mail has historically received very low volumes of USO mail for delivery. We have consulted with the Communication Workers Union and Ofcom has now agreed that we can be exempt from our USO obligations on these two days.
Across the UK, there will be no delivery services or Customer Service Points open from Friday 25 December 2015 to Monday 28 December 2015 inclusive. Normal mail services will recommence on Tuesday 29 December until Thursday 31 December 2015. There will be no deliveries or Customer Service Points open on Friday 1 January 2016 across the UK, or in Scotland on Saturday 2 January 2016. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, normal mail services will resume on Saturday 2 January 2016, and in Scotland, they will restart on Monday 4 January 2016.
Royal Mail recognises that many online shoppers will order items for delivery after Christmas Day. The business has been working with a number of large customers to support them during this period. Royal Mail will continue to run its network operation throughout the holiday weekends to ensure that mail is ready for normal deliveries on Tuesday 29 December 2015 and Monday 4 2016.
Further information is available at www.royalmail.com/greetings.
- Mike and Graeme welcome rail investment
This project opens up the possibility of major improvements to the rail line and services along the east coast and particularly to Montrose and further north.
- Mike and Mairi visit GSK Montrose
Montrose forms part of a multinational network of manufacturing ingredients that operates in conjunction with facilities in Europe, North America and the Far East, making it an important part of GSK’s plans for the future.
- Mike and Mairi visit Montrose Port
Angus MP Mike Weir and prospective SNP candidate for Angus North and Mearns Cllr Mairi Evans visited Montrose Port Authority on Friday to meet with Chief Executive Nicholas Scott-Gray.
- Mike and Nigel join Angus Food Bank collection
Angus MP Mike Weir and Nigel Don MSP met with volunteers from the Angus Foodbank collecting in the Tesco Montrose store on Friday.
The collection made by volunteers over the weekend are to be increased by Tesco, who were adding 30% to the amounts collected, giving a very significant boost to the local foodbank.
Commenting Mr Weir said
“It was very good to meet the dedicated volunteers from Angus Foodbank and to support the initiative between the foodbank and Tesco.”
“The collection will add significantly to the goods that they have to help the very many families seeking their assistance.”
“Whilst it is unacceptable that in twenty first century Scotland there is a need for Foodbanks it is none the less good to see the community rallying round to help those who find themselves in need. Customers in the shop were very generous in donations to the appeal”
Nigel Don MSP Added
“I have been heartened by the response to this wholly unnecessary crisis within our communities. Whilst there should be no need for food-banks in as prosperous a country as Scotland I want to thank those who volunteer to staff them and the many others who generously give to help folk who are in such serious need.”
The attached photo shows Mr Weir , Mr Don and volunteers at Tesco Montrose
- Mike and Nigel visit Forfar posties
Angus MP Mike Weir and Nigel Don MSP for Angus North and Mearns visited the Forfar Sorting Office to meet local posties and to see them in full swing for Christmas.
- Mike and Nigel visit Montrose Posties
Angus MP Mike Weir and Nigel Don MSP for Angus North and Mearns visited the Montrose Sorting Office to meet local posties and to see them in full swing for Christmas.
- Mike appointed SNP Chief Whip
Mike has been appointed Chief Whip to the new enlarged SNP Westminster Group at their first formal meeting .
commenting on the appointment Mike said
“It is a great honour, although slightly daunting, to be appointed as the Chief Whip of the new group. The SNP are now the third largest party in the House of Commons and, as such, will have a much bigger role in the Chamber and Committees of the House.”
“I look forward to the challenges ahead as we articulate the opposition to the austerity policies of the Conservative government and put forward a positive agenda for change.”
- Mike backs Winter Warmth campaign
Angus MP Mike Weir is backing a campaign by Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution (SHEPD) to make sure local residents know how to stay safe, warm and informed if winter storms cause further disruption to power supplies.