Category Archives: Angus Council

SNP Cllr Bill Duff excuses attacks on BBC’s Nick Robinson

Montrose SNP Cllr Bill Duff has excused CyberNat attacks on the BBC’s Nick Robinson following his diagnosis with cancer. Cllr Duff’s tweet suggested that as he had met people wishing ill of Alex Salmond, that celebrating’s Nick Robinson’s cancer diagnosis was therefore acceptable

Replying to a comment I made on Twitter about ugly nationalism, Twitter user @TheQuietNo tweeted, “Burning Smith Report, saying Murphy stole from the Clutha fund, laughing at Nick Robinson getting cancer, etc. etc. #SNPout”. In response, Angus SNP Cllr Bill Duff tweeted, “Met plenty of people who wished Alex S ill . What’s your point?”

Cllr Duff had previously received criticism for a tweet during the referendum campaign in which he described No Voters as “second class Scots”.

To excuse horrible CyberNats attacks on Nick Robinson is disgraceful. Bill Duff should withdraw his tweet and condemn the attacks on Nick Robinson. Given the “second class Scots” saga, I seriously doubt that he will.

Having watched my mother, father and mother-in-law all lose their battles with cancer, and seeing my wife go through the hell of chemotherapy, I would not wish cancer on anybody. The disgusting comments by CyberNats about Nick Robinson are a new low in the nastiness of the independence debate.

I am on record condemning any abuse by both supporters of keeping Scotland part of the UK and by those supporting Independence. I would expect the same from any elected SNP representative and that includes Bill Duff.

Montrose Lib Dem Cllr David May commented,

Like Sanjay Samani I have had many friends and relations who have lost their battles against cancer and Cllr Duff should withdraw his tweet as there is no excuse for such abuse, from whatever source it comes.

Twitter Conversation

Inspecting pot holes in Angus after prolonged cold weather

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Cllr David May convener of Infrastructure Services and I met in Forfar recently to discuss the impact of the recent prolonged cold snap on roads in Forfar and across Angus. The weather has resulted in a large and unexpected repair bill for Angus Council. Temparature in Angus dipped as low as -13°C, creating significant problems for the Council whilst working hard to keep the roads open and safe.

Whilst the council had to find funds for an extra 13,000 tonnes of salt just to keep the county’s roads open, the sub-zero conditions also caused considerable damage to road surfaces and pavements, which can deteriorate at a rapid rate.

Cllr May said, “There is no doubt that old pot holes are growing and new ones forming on several main and side roads. The damage is caused by water expanding when it freezes, forcing tarmac apart and loosening the surface. Furthermore, recently repaired pot holes have opened up again. The combined effect has had a huge impact on the council’s budget”

I know that the council are already auditing the roads and prioritising the repairs, working through them as quickly as they can. I would call on the Scottish SNP Government to revisit their financial priorities and support rural councils to ensure their roads are safe. In rural areas, such as Angus, the road system is crucial for residents, businesses and farmers.

Cllr May also highlighted that Angus Council is forecasting that an additional £750,000 may be needed by March to meet the cost of winter maintenance and emergency road repairs and he said, “Although Sanjay and I have noted some pot holes and pavements in need of repair and informed the roads officials, we are not aware of all of them and so I encourage people to call ACCESSLine on 08452 777 778 to tell the council about any road and pavement damage. Furthermore, although the roads officials are inspecting the network for damage and taking action as soon as possible, it also also helpful if people in the Forfar area report potholes and broken pavements.”

Sanjay and Cllr David May inspecting potholes in Forfar

Government funding needed for flood prevention

I met with Brechin Cllr Ruth Leslie-Melville and Cllr David May, convener of Infrastructure Services, to discuss the flooding in Brechin and the role the council has played so far to alleviate the problems.

It is no surprise that Brechin residents are alarmed by the threat of flooding. It is clear that the council have done what they can from their roads budget, but they do not have the resources to fund what is now a £13 million project.

Furthermore, the removal of the dedicated government grants has thrown plans for flood protection schemes into complete disarray. Adding to the confusion is the phased introduction of the new Flood Risk Management Act which changes local authorities’ responsibilities and powers.

Surely the SNP government cannot expect councils like Angus to meet such significant development and delivery costs from local budgets. I back Cllr May’s call on the Scottish Government to fund the schemes in Brechin and across Angus to support local residents and businesses. It is surely obvious to the SNP Government that flooding is a national issue that needs national funding.

Sanjay visits site of Brechin flooding with Cllr Ruth Leslie-Melville and Cllr David May

Buy Local in Angus

Sanjay urged all residents in Angus to support the buy local campaign as a way of supporting local shops, businesses and producers. Buying local is particularly important at a time when many local businesses are feeling the pinch and will ensure they are better placed when the economy grows. Buying local also helps to cut down our carbon footprint and plays a crucial role in tackling climate change.

Montrose is blessed with many pubs, cafes, restaurants and hotels. There is also a great variety of our own independent shops such as arts and craft boutiques, antique dealers, first class butchers, bakers, florists and fishmongers, By spending our money in independent shops, we are investing more into our own town centres, preserving the heart of our community and helping to generate work for local people.

Natures Garden, in Montrose, which has only been open for a few months, is a great example of a local shop that not only provides employment, but also sells produce from local farms which could not be fresher, and so gives even more of a boost to the local economy.

Sanjay visiting Nature's Garden

David Irons & Sons, in Forfar, is one of those shops that can only exist in towns like those in Angus. Providing employment for local people, selling items that chain stores would not carry and supported by a community that fully appreciates its rich history. I’m sure that whatever you want, if David Irons & Sons don’t have it stock, they will order it for you! Buying local can help to ensure that David Irons & Sons continues to serve the community in Forfar for another 100 years.

Sanjay visiting David Irons & Sons

Winning Town Centre Regeneration funding is a real opportunity to re-invigorate Brechin’s town centre. By supporting local shops, Brechin residents can help ensure Brechin has a thriving town centre.

Sanjay visiting Brechin

Falconers Family Butchers, in Arbroath, is exactly the sort of independent local business we should be supporting. Angus is blessed with a number of independent butchers, and it is heartening to seem them thrive. And we need to support other independent businesses in the same way.

Sanjay visiting Falconers Family Butchers

The Star Rock Shop is exactly the sort of independent shop we need to be supporting. Founded in 1833, it is part of the town’s history, providing local employment and offering something that little bit different from chain stores that have come to dominate our high streets.

Sanjay visiting The Star Rock Shop

Proposal to end right-to-buy is welcome

I welcome the Scottish Government’s decision to include the Liberal Democrat proposal to remove the right-to-buy for new build council and social landlord houses in the draft Housing (Scotland) Bill. There is an overwhelming case to abolish the right to buy for new build council houses.

However, I was disappointed to hear that my fellow parliamentary candidate, Tory, Alberto Costa, is not supporting the proposal. I am surprised that Mr Costa does not appreciate the hugely negative impact this policy has had on the most vulnerable families, Angus Council’s budget and taxpayers’ funds.

Families across Angus and indeed, Scotland, are having to wait for years for suitable council accommodation. Councils have had to sell off their best assets at steep discounts, under this old Thatcherite policy.

There are much better methods for helping first time buyers get onto the property ladder, such as equity mortgages, that do not disadvantage vulnerable families and do not disrupt Angus Council’s ability to provide suitable housing.

Does Mr Costa seriously expect Angus Council to continue the cycle of finding suitable land, planning, funding and building houses, just to sell them off cheaply to property speculators?

He seems to want to nationalise the costs and privatise the profits. It demonstrates that the Tories have not changed and cannot be trusted to run this country.

Montrose Harbour Development & Infrastructure Study

On Wednesday, I visited Montrose Harbour with Terry Wood of the Harbour Board and Montrose Liberal Democrat Cllr David May. We toured the properties surrounding the northern part of the harbour, many of which house derelict, empty buildings. These are a sad reminder of businesses lost to the area. However, they provide a real opportunity to improve the harbour’s infrastructure and provide space to expand for future development.

Sanjay Samani with Terry Wood, Montrose Harbour Board and Cllr David May

The future development plans for Montrose Harbour are excellent, and I will be supporting them in any way I can. Angus Council is conducting a study on how to best improve the infrastructure around the harbour, to improve access and attract more business. Again this is an excellent approach, supported by the Harbour Board.

I also talked Jim Raeper, Technical Manager, about opportunities for Montrose to win exclusive contracts to survey, service and possibly construct offshore wind farms. Three wind farm developers have already approached Montrose, which is Angus’ only commercial port, to discuss opportunities. Developing the harbour infrastructure seems to be an obvious plan to secure jobs and business for the whole of Angus.

Offshore wind power will be central to Scotland’s future energy supply and it is crucial that Angus does not miss out. Embracing and supporting green energy production will put Angus at the heart of Scotland’s sustainable future.

Sanjay Samani with Terry Wood and Jim Raeper, Montrose Harbour Board

Montrose Harbour already supports over 500 jobs around the county and winning new business could generate hundreds more. Improving the infrastructure will attract more business for Montrose Harbour and provide access to a first class port for all Angus businesses. This will be an investment to create jobs throughout Angus, and I am sure that everyone in Angus would want to support the Harbour’s development plans and the Council’s infrastructure study.

To that end, I would call on the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise and the Westminster Parliament to pay close attention to the outcome of the Council’s study and act quickly to secure a positive future for Montrose and the whole of Angus.