I was very saddened to read in The Courier on 9th March that 1/4 of Angus Council Staff and Angus Teachers who are off sick are, in fact, suffering with stress. Many of them will not be met with the understanding and sympathy they deserve, as Mental Health is poorly understood and there is a huge stigma attached to it.
Having been off work with stress myself last year, my heart goes out to all of them and hope that they are able to receive the support and treatment they desperately need. Personally, I was fortunate that I was getting great support from the magnificent Maggie’s Centre in Dundee, who have helped considerably in my recovery.
The figures published highlight the need to treat Mental Health on an equal footing with physical health. As the Lib Dem candidate for Angus in the upcoming election, I was delighted to see my party put Mental Health front and centre, adding it as one of our top five priorities on the front page of our manifesto.
However this is an issue that should cross all party political lines as Mental Health effects so many people across Angus and the rest of the country.
I have therefore written to my fellow candidates to politely request that we all agree on a simple set of commitments, if we are elected at the forthcoming election:
- Challenge the stigma around Mental Health so that anyone effected by it feels able to come forward and seek support and treatment as early as possible.
- Treat Mental Health on an equal footing with physical health, with maximum waiting time targets and additional funding for treatment.
- Provide education at schools so that young people are better equipped to understand mental illness should they be effected by it.
If we can dramatically improve Mental Health treatment we can help sufferers to recover more quickly and, as a secondary benefit, help to improve Angus Council’s sickness rates.
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.
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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.”
I welcome Angus Council’s common sense approach to the Arbroath Harbour Visitor Centre’s tenants. The Angus Alliance recently revised its arrangements with tenants at the centre, reducing rents and listening to their concerns.
When visiting the centre, I had the privilege of meeting Patricia Renson, owner of Harbour Interiors and discussing her experience of running a business at the Visitor Centre.
As a small business owner myself, it is good to hear that the Angus Alliance is responding to the needs of local shop owners. Reducing rents is an innovative and enlightened response and will really help them get through the recession. The Arbroath Visitor Centre needs thriving businesses to support its activity promoting the town and this is a big step forward.
The Labour Government has been hostile to small firms, stifling them with red tape and tax increases aimed specifically at small businesses. It is great to see Angus Council taking a more positive and engaging approach.