This column appeared in the Lennox Herald on 17 February
The announcement last week that the owners of the Polaroid factory will soon begin transferring its operations to China is terrible news for Dumbarton and the Vale of Leven and my thoughts are with the 107 employees and their families. We are proud to have such an iconic global business in West Dunbartonshire, and with generations of local people having worked there since its 1970’s heyday, it is absolutely vital that we do everything possible to avoid closure. I have already spoken to local directors at Polaroid and the Minister for Business in the Scottish Government and these discussions will continue until all avenues are explored for protecting these much-needed jobs.
That said, the final decision on the sites future will rest with the company owners so in the meantime we should still of course be preparing for the worst case scenario. My first priority is to support the workforce and West Dunbartonshire Council and the Scottish Government must mobilise the full resources of their employment and skills agencies to ensure that every employee gets the support they need to find alternative jobs and training opportunities in the event of closure.
Save the Vale
I was delighted, but not surprised, to read about the phenomenal response from local people to the launch of the Lennox Herald’s campaign against cuts to local health services. I understand that since the call went out a few weeks ago over 2000 people have pledged their support for the Vale of Leven Hospital -; proof, if any were needed, that people in Dumbarton, Vale of Leven, Helensburgh and Lomond are fed up of the constant cuts to the services at our local hospital. If you haven’t done so already, please add your name to the petition online or send back the cut-out form in this newspaper.
The timing of this campaign could not have been more important. Just days after its launch, a leaked paper from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde revealed the true scale of the £60 million cuts facing the health board and what this means for local services. The paper shed light on plans to transfer all remaining emergency services from the Vale to the RAH, close the community maternity unit and cut beds and staff across the region. I have raised the concerns of local patients and staff at a meeting with the health board and with SNP ministers at Holyrood but so far nobody has been able to offer a guarantee that none of the planned cuts will go ahead. Indeed there has been a suggestion that there will be a stay of execution until after the election. What a cynical move that would be.
We deserve better than this, as do the doctors, nurses and other NHS staff who work hard on the frontline night and day. I hope that this campaign and the petition will force the Health Secretary to finally get a grip of the health board, put an end to the cuts by restoring services, and give us a full range of services at the Vale and north of the river. I will not rest until this is delive