TAG | Laurencekirk
Angus North and Mearns Liberal Democrats launched a local campaign to Save Our Police this week-end across the constituency.
Reacting to plans by all three other major parties to centralise the police to a single force, Sanjay Samani, Scottish Liberal Democrat candidate for Angus North and Mearns, commented:
“In my view the fight against crime in Scotland is now under threat from plans by the SNP and the other parties to centralise our police. Under their plans local police forces would be disbanded and every police officer would be allocated according to national directions not local policing need.”
“I am particularly concerned that by creating a national police force, the chief constable will come under the political control of a government minister and will lose their links with local communities.
“In addition, the cost of centralisation, building a new HQ and new IT systems will costs a fortune and will cost police jobs. The SNP has refused to answer repeated questions about how much their plans will cost, fuelling fears that police officers will lose their jobs to pay for the changes. Some chief constables have estimated it could cost the jobs of 4,000 police officers.”
Angus and Mearns Liberal Democrats want to keep policing local, help the local police to work with the local community and to keep the number of officers high.
“In the course of the next few weeks we will be distributing thousands of leaflets about our campaign across the constituency,” Sanjay continued, “and I would urge residents to sign and return our petition by Freepost, so their voice can be heard.”
“You can also support the campaign on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SaveOurPolice.”
Commenting on the proposals to centralise police decision making, by Holyrood, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott said:
“This is a slippery slope to one police force. For 150 years people in this democracy have worried about the government gaining political operational control over policing. The First Minister refuses to see that a National Police Board, appointed without debate in this Parliament – and with no basis in law – moves us down that dangerous road.”
“We need a police service that is responsive to local needs not subject to central diktat and centrally imposed targets.”
With Keith Brown MSP’s visit to Laurencekirk junction, the SNP’s governments renewed interest in building a flyover is welcome
I was delighted to hear that the new SNP minister saw the junction for himself and this was a huge step forward. The news that he has asked for more detailed costs is also great news. His predecessor seemed to suggest that the cost could be £23 million, which would make it the most expensive flyover in Scotland!
In my view the flyover should be added back into the Strategic Transport Project Review immediately. The sooner the junction is built, the better. It is great to see road safety back as the top priority for transport policy.
North Angus and Mearns residents, from Forfar, Brechin, Montrose and Laurencekirk see no reason for any further delay. They will be relieved to know that there is now hope for a successful end to the superb campaign led by Jill Campbell.
She should be commended for carrying on the fight, and forcing the Scottish Government to rethink their decision not to build the Laurencekirk flyover.
Supporters of the Laurencekirk flyover campaign are delighted that a new minster has replaced the heavily criticised Stewart Stevenson MSP.
Angus and Mearns Lib Dem campaigner, Sanjay Samani commented:
“Laurencekirk junction has been the scene of several fatalities and many serious accidents in recent years, but has been ignored by the previous SNP minister.”
“This is a great opportunity to restore credibility to Transport Scotland’s road safety reputation. The previous SNP minister claimed flyover decisions were made on the basis of safety, but when forced to reveal accident figures by Laurencekirk campaigners, it was clear that congestion was of higher priority to Mr Stevenson.”
“A Transport Scotland spokesperson has stated that the new minister, Keith Brown MSP, will be reviewing all issues under his new portfolio, including Laurencekirk junction. This is welcome news but Mr Brown needs to take action quickly to prevent further accidents at the junction.”
“Supporters of the campaign, like myself, will be bitterly disappointed by any further delaying tactics. As one MSP on the Petitions Committee put it, Mr Stevenson treated the Committee with “contempt”. Mr Brown needs to distance himself from his predecessor, by being open and decisive.”
Angus Councillor David May has joined Mr Samani in inviting the new minister, Keith Brown MSP, to see the crossing at rush-hour when it is at its busiest.
Cllr May commented
“I will be writing to the petitions committee to make the offer of that meeting and would be delighted if the new minister would accept. Perhaps I am being a little cycnical but I am concerned that this will once again be kicked into the long grass by the SNP.”
“It is absolutely crucial that this junction is in the 20-year strategic plan — the evidence for the need for the flyover is all there.”
Cllr May added, “Unfortunately the fatalities and the accidents are here and now, this should have been addressed by now.”
Supporters have expressed huge relief that Jill Campbell’s petition for a flyover at Laurencekirk has not been closed. There were real concerns after Nigel Don MSP had twice suggested it be closed at previous meetings of the Scottish Parliament’s Petitions Committee.
Furthermore, supporters were delighted to learn that the Committee has asked Transport Minister, Stewart Stevenson to appear before them to explain his decision not to build a flyover at Laurencekirk.
Safety figures, finally released by the Scottish Government, revealed that there have been no fatal accidents at three flyovers approved by the Minister, in comparison to four tragic fatalities at Laurencekirk, including one just last year.
Lib Dem Campaigner for Angus and Mearns, Sanjay Samani has joined local Montrose councillor David May in welcoming the news.
Commenting on the news, Sanjay said:
“Mr Stevenson has been forced to admit that congestion played a big part in his decision making. Given that he has previously stated that safety was the main criteria, it is absolutely right that he be recalled to justify his decisions to the Petitions Committee.”
“Others, like Mr Don, have also confused safety with congestion, by linking the need for a flyover to the building of new houses near Laurencekirk. Those who have supported Jill’s campaign for a long time know that the flyover needs to be built on safety grounds alone. The Government’s own figures back that up.”
Cllr May, who wrote again to the petitions committee with further evidence justifying the need for action on the junction, added:
“I am pleased that developments in Montrose have been recognised as adding to the risks of further tragic accidents at Laurencekirk. It still beggars belief that the Transport Minister has chosen to ignore the evidence he has always had in front of him.”
“I have said before that both Sanjay and I are willing to meet the SNP minister any week-day morning at 7.30 at the junction and he could see for himself the need for a flyover.”
North East MSP and Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson, Alison McInnes also commented:
“The Minister has let down everyone in the area with his cavalier approach to road safety improvements. No one locally doubts the need for proper safe junctions on this stretch of road, it is a pity that Stewart Stevenson isn’t listening.”
I was somewhat bemused by Cllr Valentine’s defence of Nigel Don MSP’s delayed support for a flyover at Laurencekirk in a letter to the Montrose Review. As Mr Don sits on the Scottish Parliament’s Petitions Committee, Jill Campbell’s petition can hardly have failed to come to his attention.
Transport Scotland have finally released safety figures demanded by Jill Campbell and Lib Dem MSP, Mike Rumbles, after years of fudging. The SNP have approved the building of three flyovers at junctions where there have been no deaths since 1999. There have been four tragic deaths at Laurencekirk, including one just last year.
So why did Mr Don try to close down Jill Campbell’s petition, instead of holding his own SNP government to account? Why has he confused the issue of road safety with the building of new houses?
Local Lib Dems have always called for cross party support. I personally contacted Angus candidates during this year’s General Election calling for cross party support and was met with a deafening silence.
That is why it is even more bizarre that Mr Don has not been more vocal in his support, nor has he met with Jill Campbell, Julie Watson, Mike Rumbles MSP ad myself about the issue.
As for Cllr West’s comments about the previous Scottish Executive’s record, he forgets to mention that the previous administration built no fewer than seven flyovers on the A90 between Perth and Laurencekirk.
It is clear that Laurencekirk should have been the next highest priority. Instead the SNP administration chose to build flyovers at junctions with no fatalities.
Earlier this year, I visited Laurencekirk junction with Tavish Scott MSP, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats and Transport Minister in the previous executive, Jill Campbell, Julie Watson, Mike Rumbles MSP, Sir Robert Smith MP and Montrose Cllr David May. The Lib Dems commitment to a flyover at Laurencekirk is crystal clear.
Instead of defending the SNP government, local SNP councillors and their candidate should be demanding better support for people in Angus and the Mearns, who have been badly let down.
PHOTO: Tavish Scott MSP, Mike Rumbles MSP, Sanjay Samani, Sir Robert Smith MP, Julie Watson, Jill Campbell, and Montrose Cllr David May visiting Laurencekirk Junction.
Photo © 2010 Neve Photography
Liberal Democrats in Angus and Mearns have always called for cross party support for Jill Campbell’s Laurencekirk Flyover Campaign. So it is welcome that SNP MSP Nigel Don has finally decided to lend his support. However, there are some serious questions about whether he fully understands the issues at hand.
Why has he TWICE suggested that Jill’s petition be closed whilst sitting on the Scottish Parliament’s Petitions Committee? Sitting with Jill Campbell and fellow campaigner Julie Watson in the public gallery at October’s Petitions Committee, we were all staggered to hear Nigel Don repeat this suggestion.
He claimed that the flyover will “eventually be built” at the Petitions Committee. How does he justify this when the SNP Government have categorically said that it will not be built, and have not included it in their Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR)?
Nigel Don has said that, “he treated it very seriously as a road safety campaign”, but then went on to link the flyover to the building of new homes in the area. Those of us who have been involved with the campaign for a long time, know that the flyover needs to be built for road safety, irrespective of any proposed housing developments.
Nigel Don has been an MSP for the region for 3 and 1/2 years, why has he only now lent his support to the campaign?
Liberal Democrat Mike Rumbles MSP has been holding the SNP Government to account, to ensure that they provide evidence of why other flyovers have been approved, but the one at Laurencekirk has not. Nigel Don should be doing the same.
It is clear that Nigel Don does not fully appreciate what is at stake – the lives of drivers in the region. Rather than trying to close down the petition and confusing the issue with house building, he should perhaps take the time to meet Laurencekirk Campaigners Jill Campbell and Julie Watson, Mike Rumbles MSP and myself. That way we can provide consistent, cross party support for the campaign.
The SNP Governement have overlooked the region and SNP representatives need to be doing much more to stand up for the people of Angus and Mearns.
Nigel Don needs to demonstrate that he understands the issues thoroughly and that he is willing to join in with the cross party campaign for a flyover.