The final countdown is on to the Scottish Parliament elections, with voters going to the polls this Thursday (May 6).

There are five candidates standing in the sprawling constituency of Renfrewshire South which includes Barrhead, Neilston and Uplawmoor.

Tom Arthur, of the SNP, is hoping to retain his seat but faces competition from East Renfrewshire councillor Paul O’Kane, who is the Labour candidate; former footballer Derek Stillie, who is standing for the Scottish Conservatives; Liberal Democrat hopeful Christine Cosh and Renfrewshire councillor Andy Doig, who is flying the flag for his new pro-independence party Scotia Future.

Voters will also help elect seven MSPs to represent West Scotland from the regional list.

SNP man Arthur targets success in parliament’s ‘most critical’ election ever

Barrhead News:

Tom Arthur has described the election as the most critical in the history of the Scottish Parliament.

At the 2016 election, Mr Arthur cruised to victory with a majority of more than 4,000.

However, he is taking nothing for granted as voters prepare to go to the polls again.

Mr Arthur, who was raised in Barrhead, said: “There are three big issues in this election – choosing who is going to lead us out of the pandemic, kick-starting recovery and the question of where decisions about Scotland should be taken.

“I want Nicola Sturgeon to be able to continue her strong leadership.

“We’ve got a commitment that, once we are over the acute phase of the public health crisis, we will legislate for a referendum to allow the people of Scotland to choose their future and I have every confidence that, if we return a pro-independence parliament, the UK Government recognises it will not be able to say no.

“But our key focus right now is getting Scotland into the recovery phase.”

He added: “I’d ask people to re-elect me so I can continue to be an accessible MSP and so we can put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands.”

Fighting talk from Labour candidate O'Kane

Barrhead News:

Paul O’Kane hopes his fighting spirit can win him a place at Holyrood on a Labour ticket.

Mr O’Kane, who has represented Newton Mearns North and Neilston on East Renfrewshire Council since 2012, said: “I was disappointed not to hold this seat for Labour last time but I have never given up on a fight.

“I have always been determined to serve this community. I think the experience of missing out last time has driven me to stand again.

“There are great people in this community and they need a champion to stand with them.

“I believe I am that person.”

Mr O’Kane said his whole life has been about “community activism.”

“It’s the thing that makes me tick,” he added.

“I would be a dogged fighter for Renfrewshire South not just in Holyrood but on the streets.

“This region needs someone to stand up for our services.”

Stillie sets out road map to victory

Barrhead News:

Tackling the Barrhead area’s pothole problem is one of Scottish Conservative candidate Derek Stillie's priorities.

The former professional footballer has been canvassing voters in the Renfrewshire South constituency and has been left in no doubt about how they view the state of local roads.

Mr Stillie said: “People have concerns about things like education, the state of our roads and infrastructure.

“These are problems that can be addressed by electing a Conservative MSP in Renfrewshire South. I’ve spent a lot of time phoning constituents and I’m hearing over and over again about the state of the roads.”

Cosh aims to win for Lib Dems

Barrhead News:

Having spent 16 years as company secretary for a sports firm, Christine Cosh hopes to produce a surprise result for the Liberal Democrats when voters go to the polls.

Mrs Cosh, who is based in Giffnock, aims to improve on the party’s recent fortunes in Renfrewshire South, with a fourth-place finish recorded at the last Holyrood election in 2016.

She said: “I’m sure the Lib Dems can make gains at this election. Politics is such a changeable platform and I think we’ve seen things change even in these last few weeks.

“We don’t have a glass ball to tell us the results but I think the Lib Dems can make a big difference to communities.”

Doig pledges to provide a 'strong voice' for people in the Barrhead area

Barrhead News:

Scotia Future candidate Mr Doig is hoping his new party’s push for another independence referendum, while also standing against the idea of Scotland rejoining the European Union, will strike a chord with voters in Renfrewshire South.

“I would ask people to vote for me as a strong local voice who has a record of action, not words,” said Mr Doig, who currently serves as a councillor in Renfrewshire.

Greer says there are ‘ten million good reasons’ to vote for Scottish Greens

Barrhead News:

The Scottish Greens are hoping their efforts to secure a “fairer” settlement for council services will encourage East Renfrewshire residents to back the party at next week’s Holyrood election.

Ross Greer, who is standing for re-election as Green MSP for West Scotland, said his party has secured an extra £10million worth of funding for East Renfrewshire Council over the last five years.

He accused the SNP of imposing “harsh cuts” on councils while it operated as a majority government between 2011 and 2016, which led to cuts to services at schools and libraries.

Mr Greer added that, thanks to hundreds of millions of pounds of additional funding secured nationally by the Scottish Greens since 2017, councils have seen their budgets rise in recent years.

He told the Barrhead News: “Scottish Greens MSPs were able to negotiate millions more in funding for East Renfrewshire. This is not just a number on a spreadsheet, it is real money and has protected frontline jobs and the vital services that people rely on every day.

“Other parties have been happy to criticise from the sidelines but the Greens have worked hard to protect and support services such as education, social care and local transport in East Renfrewshire.”