SPF Annual Conference 2014, Stirling

This year’s conference took place on Tuesday 10th June 2014 at the Golden Lion Hotel in Stirling. Over 150 delegates were in attendance all representing local pensioners’ organisations, trade union retired members sections, as well as individual pensioner members from throughout Scotland. As always, their continued support and interest in the SPF’s campaigning work was gratefully received. Margaret Murdoch, SPF Chair, welcomed the delegates to conference and indicated that all formal business would take place in the morning session with the afternoon session taking the form of a debate on independence between Denis Canavan and Jackie Baillie MSP. Margaret then introduced Provost Mike Robbins to deliver the civic welcome on behalf of Stirling Council.

Civic Welcome In his address, Provost Robbins warmly welcomed all delegates to Stirling and the beautiful surroundings of the Golden Lion Hotel and remarked how pleased he was that the Scottish Pensioners Forum had chosen to hold their 24th Annual Conference in the town.

The Provost told delegates of the extensive summer programme to be held in Stirling over the summer months, and in particular the Bannockburn Live event, and he indicated that he hoped to see many familiar faces at the event.

Provost Robbins went on to say that he felt humbled as he looked around the room to see the wealth and knowledge of the people sitting there and the valuable contribution that they make to forge a better society.

The provost finished his address by wishing all delegates a successful conference. Financial Report Bill Allison delivered the accounts for the year 2013-2014 and remarked that the financial situation at the SPF continued to thrive due to continued membership and funding from outside sources. Bill called on conference delegates to go out and make pensioners’ voices heard and that continuing to stand together could bring about the changes needed to secure better life for older people. The accounts were then considered and accepted by all in attendance. Auditors’ Report Eileen Cawley delivered a report from the auditors:- ‘An independent examination of the accounts of the Scottish Pensioners’ Forum was carried out by Watson & Co, Hamilton on 21st May 2014. After considering the information given to us, we could find no reason to think that these accounts were not a true and accurate record of accounts for the year 2014.’ This report was accepted by conference and Watson & Co. again nominated as auditors for the year 2014/15.

Election of Executive Committee 2014/2015 A list of nominations and their categories were delivered and the names of the Executive Committee were formalised and accepted by delegates. Election of Standing Orders Committee Maureen Gardner, Jimmy Miller and
Tony Cascarino were nominated to serve on the SPF Standing Orders Committee. These nominations were agreed and accepted by conference and duly appointed.

Motions to Conference There were several motions to conference as follows:- Motion 1 Under V (1), The Executive Committee, after the end of paragraph 5 add the following paragraph: ‘Should any of the above Groups fail to make a nomination for three (3) consecutive years the Executive will have the right to declare that that position on the Executive has been forfeit and may be allocated to another eligible organisation.’
Motion 2. To amend paragraph V (3)(e) by removing from line 1 the words ‘arranging and.’ Motion 3 To amend paragraph V (3)(e) by deleting the words ‘and Auditors’ and replace with ‘Standing Orders Committee.’ Motion 4. Under VII (1), SPF Annual Conference, insert a new paragraph following the first paragraph stating ‘Delegates may at the discretion of the Executive be charged a fee for attendance at Conference to assist towards the cost of the venue and refreshments.’ Motion 5 To amend paragraph VII (1) by removing from line 2 the words ‘arranged and.’ Motion 6 To amend paragraph VII (2) SPF Annual Conference by removing from Line 4 ‘and two auditors’ and replace with ‘and Standing Orders Committee.’

After due consideration and debate by conference, all motions, except Motion 4, were carried.

Independence Debate: Jackie Baillie MSP and Dennis Canavan

Speakers to the conference, Jackie Baillie MSP and Dennis Canavan, addressed conference in way of a debate on the forthcoming Independence Referendum, taking place in September 2014. This debate was chaired by Bill Martin, Executive Committee member of the SPF and West of Scotland Trustee for Age Scotland.

Ms. Baillie started her address by indicating that this was an important time in the lives of many Scottish people when one of the most crucial decisions that they would ever have to make was being asked of them. She went on to say that Scotland was better being part of the union, it had more chance to flourish, was stronger and could be afforded more opportunity than if it stood alone.

Ms Baillie asked pensioners to recall that one million pensioners in the UK were lifted out of poverty under the last Labour government and that for the fight against pensioner poverty to continue that a NO vote must be taken. Thereafter, at the next General Election, the people of Scotland should then get behind a strong and united Labour government in the, who could make this a priority, and a reality.

Dennis Canavan started his address by stating that he had been a Labour MP for 26 years at Westminster and during that time had become increasingly disillusioned with how out of touch Wesminster were to Scottish people’s needs.

Mr. Canavan asked delegates to consider the future for their children and grandchildren. Presently in Scotland, children do not pay university fees, the NHS is still publicly owned by the people and the care packages in place for older people are far superior to those in England and Wales. He went on to say that if these things were possible, why then should the Scottish Parliament not have the power and capability to introduce a fairer welfare system of their own.

Mr Canavan ended by asking why the people of Scotland should continue to suffer from policies they didn’t want from politicians they didn’t vote for and urged delegates to vote YES.

Open Debate

The speakers then indicated that they were happy to participate in an open debate from the floor.

Vote of Thanks

Spf Chairperson, Margaret Murdoch, recorded her thanks to delegates, speakers and staff at the Golden Lion hotel for their contribution on the day and formally closed the conference


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