SHETTLESTON MSP ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT COMMUNITY COUNCILS

10 Jan 2012

East End MSP, John Mason, has started 2012 by re-stating his enthusiasm for local Community Councils but is disappointed that some areas still do not have them. He highlighted the valuable work these organisations perform at the most local level.

Community Councils are democratic, statutory bodies of elected volunteers representing the views and needs of communities to Glasgow City Council, other public agencies working in their area, MSPs and MPs. Many do much more, including managing local projects and organising special events.

Speaking of Community Councils, SNP Member of the Scottish Parliament for Glasgow Shettleston, John Mason, said:

“Community councils do good work representing local people. Their work is vital and relies upon the hard work of volunteers. Sadly a number of community councils in the East End are struggling to find enough volunteers to keep them going.

“I try to attend community councils in different parts of the East End as often as I can. There I can hear what the local issues are, share information and discuss issues that range from dog fouling and licensing to planning, gritting and many others.

“It is encouraging to see community councils active in Auchenshuggle, Baillieston, Broomhouse, Calton and Bridgeton, Carmyle, Dennistoun, Garrowhill, Mount Vernon, Parkhead, and Swinton. However, there are a number of areas where no community council exists at all, such as Barlanark, Camlachie, Dalmarnock, Fullarton, and Shettleston.

“The advantage that community councils have over other groups like tenants associations is that they are statutory bodies. Therefore, they have to be notified of planning applications in the area and the City Council has to listen to what they say. If anyone is looking for information about their community council or how to go about setting one up, I would be happy to provide information.”

VACANCY: CONSTITUENCY ASSISTANT

05 Jan 2012

John Mason MSP has a vacancy for a Constituency Assistant.

£7.20 p/h. The post is based on a 30 hour week.

The successful candidate will have an important role in helping run a busy constituency office in Glasgow’s Parkhead area. The principal role of the Assistant will be to engage with constituents, undertake constituency casework on their behalf and provide support to the MSP and his small team of staff.

The successful applicant will be able to show excellent communication and organisational skills and an ability to work on their own initiative.

Job Description

KEY RESPONSIBILITIES

• Dealing with constituents’ general enquiries.
• Dealing with constituency casework and investigating and responding to issues raised through correspondence, telephone calls, emails and surgeries.
• Drafting of correspondence as required.
• Administrative work including maintenance of electronic and manual filing systems.
• Drafting and coordinating constituency mailings.
• Additional duties as required to fulfill the role.

KEY SKILLS AND COMPETENCY

• Demonstrable interpersonal skills with the ability to identify and take forward issues on behalf of constituents (Essential).
• The ability to work on own initiative within a small local constituency office (Essential).
• High Standard of administrative skills with a demonstrable working knowledge of Microsoft Office applications, such as Word, Excel, Access and Outlook (Essential).
• Proven communication skills, both written and verbal with a polite, pleasant and confident telephone manner and ability to deal with constituents and outside bodies in a confidential manner (Essential).
• Experience of dealing with sensitive issues and respecting the need for confidentiality (Essential).
• Strong organisational skills (Essential).
• Strong interpersonal skills with the ability to manage a wide range of internal and external relationships effectively (Essential).
• Strong written communication skills (Essential).
• Experience of operating websites and social media including facebook and twitter (Desirable)

To apply, please send a CV and a covering letter explaining why you are applying for the job, to Anne.McGlinchey@scottish.parliament.uk by 5pm on Friday 20th January 2012.

Interviews are likely to take place on Monday 30th January 2012. This is subject to change.

Application deadline: Friday 20th January 2012.

NEW YEAR MESSAGE

30 Dec 2011

At this time of year we tend to look back at the last 12 months and forward to the next year. 2011 has been an amazing year for myself personally and for the SNP. Now I just look forward to seeing what 2012 can have in store.

A year ago I had no paid job and was doing voluntary work at Parkhead Citizens Advice Bureau and Glasgow City Mission. Labour were ahead in the polls for the Holyrood elections. I was the SNP’s candidate for the Glasgow Shettleston constituency and our small band of activists were faithfully campaigning away. However, friends and family were pretty well unanimous in saying I had little chance of being elected and should have put my name on the Glasgow list to be a regional MSP.

Then came May and a remarkable result for the SNP nationally and of course in our local constituency. One of the largest swings to the SNP in a previously Labour-held seat was here in Glasgow Shettleston. I am extremely grateful to the voters of the constituency and all those who helped in the campaign.

Over the eight months since the election there has been a lot of adjusting for myself personally. Having been used to being in a small minority in Glasgow City Council and then at Westminster, it has been strange being in the same party as a majority government!

The constituency office at 1335 Gallowgate is up and running and I am grateful to Anne and David for all their work in this. We hope to recruit a third member of staff fairly soon.

So what does 2012 have in store? Firstly it takes us another year closer to freedom for Scotland! I am not predicting what year Scotland will break out of the United Kingdom. But whenever it comes, we are now closer than we were a year ago.

It looks like there will be tough times ahead with most western economies struggling under a heavy debt burden and making severe cuts in public expenditure. The fear is that it is those with least who will suffer most.

Apart from seeing Scotland free, my main hope in 2012 would be to see a narrower gap between the rich and the poor in our society. For years now we have seen that gap get wider and wider – no matter which party has been in power at Westminster. Narrowing that gap would both help poorer folk and create a more stable society with less chance of tensions building up.

Looking further ahead, we have the 2014 Commonwealth Games to prepare for and we should be seeing several buildings nearing completion in 2012. As far as I am concerned the London Olympics are of less significance compared to our games in 2014 – not least because Scotland is not allowed to compete in the Olympics.

It is perhaps my nature to be optimistic about the future and to believe there will certainly be good things to outweigh the difficulties. And that is my hope and belief for all reading this. 2012 can be a great year for yourself and for Scotland. So may I wish each and every one reading this message a very happy New Year and I look forward to being in contact with many of you in the days ahead.

HAPPY CHRISTMAS

24 Dec 2011

Recently I was asked to write an article on what Christmas meant to me and I was wondering what I could say that was new. So often we read the familiar accounts of Jesus’ birth in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Or we see the deeper meaning of it in John. But what was it like for Jesus Himself?

In the book of Philippians chapter 2 we read of Christ’s humility and how we should imitate it. Verses 5-7 say, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” (NIV).

Operating in the political field I find these verses particularly challenging. Politicians often push themselves forward, seek the limelight, scrap for high position. It is tempting to do the same. But Christmas brings home to us how differently Jesus did things. Maybe we concentrate on how different Christ was from us during his time on earth. Yet, the very fact people argued over who he was, indicates he was not that very different after all. I find it mind-blowing to think of what he gave up to switch from the highest heaven to being born in a stable and living in a fairly basic environment (without even electricity or TV!).

When I worked in Nepal, it was easy to think of all the things we had given up in the West to go out to South Asia and live there. Yet we were challenged to remember how many Nepalis would see us… as having so much more materially than they did and being different in many ways from them. We tended to be proud of ourselves for doing so much to bridge the cultural divide. Yet by contrast we see no pride in Jesus as he crossed another cultural divide. And clearly the divide he crossed and what he gave up is much more than we can even imagine.

In Luke chapter 14 Jesus notes how the guests at an event “picked the places of honour”. Then he challenges the disciples and us to “take the lowest place”. He concludes by saying, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

So for me Christmas is an opportunity to reassess where I am and hopefully realign myself with Jesus and where he wants me to be. Have I drifted away from Jesus’ example of being a servant? There can be no better time than Christmas to put on more of a servant attitude.