Category Archives: Community

The SNP have centralised the life out of Tayside

The Scottish Lib Dems have published a report showing the impact on SNP centralisation on Scotland.

You can read the full report here: The SNP have centralised the life out of Scotland.

The impact just for Tayside has been:

What has been lost:

  • Perth & Kinross Council, Dundee City Council and Angus Council stripped of financial responsibility.
  • Tayside Police abolished and their Dundee HQ scrapped.
  • Police public counters closed in Auchterarder, Blairgowrie, Brechin, Carnoustie, Crieff, Kinross, Longhaugh, Maryfield and Montrose.
  • Arbroath Sheriff Court closed.
  • Tayside Fire and Rescue Service abolished and their Dundee HQ scrapped.
  • Local Tayside Enterprise company board disbanded and now controlled centrally.
  • NHS capital funding decisions for up to 22 local hospitals now made in Edinburgh.
  • Angus College and Dundee College merged, losing local links.

What has been given:

  • Policing with centrally imposed stop and search targets up 236% in Perth & Kinross, 325% in Angus and 102% in Dundee even though the police admit there is “no robust evidence” it works.
  • Armed police routinely patrolling even the smallest towns and villages.
  • Local health services which miss important treatment time targets for children and young people suffering from mental ill-health.

Busier Sheriff Court in Angus Closed by SNP #SNPFail

Figures revealed yesterday have shown that the SNP Government chose to close the busier of the Sheriff’s Courts in Angus. This was despite there being over £100 million unspent in the last year for Justice and the Procurator Fiscal Service. 

Angus Lib Dems strongly objected to the closure of Arbroath Sheriff Court and the figures reveal that the court was heavily used.  Forcing witnesses and victims to travel long distances will undermine the effectiveness of the justice system in Angus.

SNP representatives for Angus, Mike Weir MP, Nigel Don MSP and Graeme Day MSP seem to have little or no influence on their SNP colleagues making decisions centrally in Holyrood.

It is now clear that closing yet another service in Angus was a big mistake by the SNP.

Click here for the full article in The Courier which gives the following figures:

Between April 2012 to the end of March last year, prisoner journeys to Arbroath totalled 2,568, compared to Forfar’s 991.

Dundee received 5,262 prisoner movements in 2012/13, 5,284 in 2013/14 and 3,588 between April and November last year.

In the same periods, other sheriff courts received the following number of individual prisoner transport journeys:

  • Arbroath (closed in May) — 1,163, 1,405, 255
  • Forfar — 504, 487, 928

Angus Lib Dems call on Shop Owner to close Legal High shops now

Angus Liberal Democrats have welcomed the news that Legal High or “Head” shops in Angus will soon stop selling the controversial products, but have called on the shop owner to close the shops immediately.

The owner of shops in Arbroath and Montrose has said that the campaign against the selling of Legal Highs has been successful and has forced him to reconsider.  In addition, the Lib Dem led policy to make New Psychoactive Substances illegal in future will mean that he will no longer be able to sell the products legally.

Sanjay Samani and David May outside Montrose Legal High Shop

Lib Dem campaigner for Angus, Sanjay Samani, a member of the Montrose Against Legal Highs Group said,

“Angus Lib Dems have fully supported the Montrose and Arbroath Against Legal Highs and we are delighted to see that their campaigns will be successful.  Many parents have been concerned about the effects these Head shops are having on their children.”

“The Lib Dems have taken a grown up approach to tackling drug abuse with the realisation that the current War on Drugs is not working.  As part of the UK Government, Lib Dem Ministers conducted research to show that Legal Highs should be banned, and that those suffering from drug dependence should be treated for their addiction, rather than treated as criminals.”

“We are the only party that are taking common sense, evidence led approach to tackling drug abuse and have a plan than can properly address the issue.”  

Lib Dem Montrose Cllr David May said,

“I am delighted with the news that these shops will soon stop selling Legal Highs but they should stop selling them right now.  They have been a blight on Montrose and Arbroath for several years.  It is fantastic to see a grass roots campaign get wide spread backing from the community and be successful.  Everyone who has backed the Montrose and Arbroath Against Legal Highs should be congratulated on their success and thanked for their hard work.”

“Too many of our residents of all ages, including many youngsters have suffered as a result of easy access to cheap drugs.  We have to take a more grown up approach and help victims of drug abuse, by understanding what led them to drugs in the first place.  We also need to stop an easy supply of cheap dangerous drugs.  That is why I am delighted Lib Dem Government ministers have, despite Tory opposition, indicated that these drugs should be made illegal in future and proper treatment provided for those who have become addicted.”

Living Wage makes more sense than topping up through welfare

The Low Pay Commission’s proposal announced today encouraging the government to pay the living wage to direct employees and encouraging businesses to adopt the living wage is something we can all get behind.

Living wage ‘should go to one million more workers’

I fully suppor this proposal.  I think encouraging companies to pay the living wage is a sensible option, and perhaps could even be encouraged through corporation tax credits.  Concerns over employment were unfounded with the introduction of the minimum wage, and I believe, as the Low Pay Commission does, that these concerns are unfounded for the living wage.

There will inevitably be some companies that the impact on costs will require an increase in prices to remain profitable. Whilst we should be aware of the impact on consumers and inflation, we should consider that we increasingly feel uncomfortable about cheap products being produced by cheap labour in the Far East. We should feel no differently about

Paying a living wage up front makes more sense to me than topping up income through Working Tax Credits, or benefits. There is also a huge psychological benefit of giving workers a sense that they are being valued for the work they do and that they are not dependent on welfare. This is particular the case in an age when Labour and the Tories are hell bent on demonising anyone on welfare, even if they are in work, disabled or elderly.

One issue discussed which is of concerns is whether there will be a ratchet effect to maintain pay differences between pay grades in an organisation. For example, a supervisor will get paid more than one of their staff, but if the staff get a rise to the living wage, the supervisor may not be earning significantly more and there will be a pressure to increase their wages as well. This may then cascade up the management chain.

There needs to be some in depth analysis to understand whether this will be an issue, and the Low Pay Commission seems to have concluded that it will not.

Where I do have a concern is the caveats for some industries, where it is felt that the living wage will have a significant impact on profitability, and hence the recommendation that the Living Wage be advisory, not mandated for private companies. I worry that this will mean that the targetted 1 million to move onto the Living Wage will be the low hanging fruit – those that are earning above the minimum wage, but below the living wage and who will not need much of a rise to bring them on the living wage.

There is a risk that those who are struggling the most on the minimum wage will be left without a rise and a gap develops between them and those on the living wage. Our focus should always be on those that are least well off.

That is why I am delighted that the Lib Dems have delivered those on the minimum wage a £800 tax cut and why we are committed to ensuring that they pay no income tax at all. What is deeply disappointing is the welfare cuts that the Tories have imposed on the least well off who are now bearing a greater share of the burden of recovery than most other groups except the very wealthy.

Noranside Staff Deserve to Know Decision Making Process

I was very disappointed to read of the Scottish Prison Service’s decision not to release information relating to Noranside Open Prions under the Freedom of Information Act, on the pretext that, “it would not be in the public interest”.

It is extremely unfair on the staff at the prison for them to be treated in this way. Staff deserve some certainty and clarity from the SNP government about the future of their jobs. They also deserve to know how the decisions around the prison have been reached.

Not only do they have a right to know how the SNP government came to its decision to close the hugely successful prison, but also why they were assured last year that there were no closure plans, and why the decision has now been delayed until after the election.

The SPS must honour its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act and release details of any documents relating to the decision to close Noranside.

Click here for Robert Brown’s response on The Courier website.

 

Sanjay At Noranside Prison

Income Tax Cut for Thousands in Angus & Mearns

Liberal Democrat Candidate Sanjay Samani for Angus North and Mearns has revealed that 102,500 in Aberdeenshire and 53,200 people in Angus will pay reduced income tax from April this year, thanks to the Liberal Democrat-led increase in the personal tax allowance.

In addition, over 2,500 people in Aberdeenshire and 1,560 people in the Angus will not pay ANY income tax.

Liberal Democrats in the UK Government will be increasing the personal tax allowance to £10,000, meaning no-one will pay any tax on the first £10,000 they earn.  The allowance will rise by £1,000 this April, with a further £600 rise next April, as just announced in the UK budget.

Commenting, Sanjay Samani, said:

“Thanks to the Liberal Democrats, over 4,000 people across Angus, Mearns and Aberdeenshire will not pay any income tax and more than 155,000 people will pay much less than they did before.”

“Liberal Democrats promised at last year’s General Election to increase the personal allowance.  I am proud that my colleagues in Westminster are delivering on that promise.”

“Labour put an incredible income tax burden on the poorest in society.  It is not fair that people on the lowest incomes paid so much of their income in tax. “

Montrose councillor  David May added,

“Liberal Democrats have put money into the pockets of Montrose families.”

“In just 11 months, 54,760 people in Angus have benefited from Liberal Democrats in Government.  This figure will now increase as the tax system gets fairer under Liberal Democrats.”

Stonehaven councillor Peter Bellarby added,

“Liberal Democrats are delivering on their promise to help residents in Stonehaven, Laurencekirk and Mearns.”

“Over 105,000 people in Aberdeenshire will gain from April thanks to Liberal Democrats in Government.  The number who will benefit will rise again next year with the further increase in the allowance and more, year on year through the lifetime of the Coalition Government.”