TAG | Montrose
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.”
Following the recent bad weather, Angus Liberal Democrats have renewed their calls for the Scottish Government to do more to help protect Montrose from coastal erosion. There has been further erosion at Montrose Golf Course, which is the 5th oldest in the world and will celebrate its 450th year in just two years time.
Reacting to news of further erosion at the Golf Course and along the coast, Sanjay Samani, Lib Dem campaigner for Angus and Mearns said:
“I was shocked to hear from Montrose Cllr David May this morning that there has been further erosion at Montrose Golf Course. I visited the course with Alison McInnes, Lib Dem MSP for the North East, just three weeks ago to inspect the damage.”
“The SNP have scrapped a special flood funding scheme introduced by the previous Lib Dem / Labour administration. They have largely left Councils to fund such schemes from their own budgets.”
“With both coastal erosion and flooding, the SNP Government have focussed on funding warning systems. While the new warning systems are worthwhile, they do not replace the need for investment to protect our coastline”
“The SNP have not allocated enough money to properly tackle coastal erosion and so risk losing an important part of Scotland’s sporting heritage. The golf course is all that stands between Montrose and the risk of damage to the town.”
Montrose Cllr David May commented, “This morning, I inspected the impact of the recent bad weather on the coastline at Montrose Golf Course. There has been further erosion, especially at some of the more vulnerable holes.”
“I call on the Scottish SNP Government for help, so that hard cash is allocated to help deal with coastal erosion. And furthermore, the SNP needs to change policy on the way it allocates funding.”
“With more bad weather forecast for the coming weekend, there are obviously concerns about the impact on the course if there is further erosion.”
Worries have emerged as part of a recent consultation response to Scottish Government plans, which will shape the nation’s future flood management response, with Angus Lib Dem Cllr David May claiming rural areas such as Angus and Mearns look certain to lose out.
The SNP government’s Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009 has been described as a “big step forward … providing a unique opportunity to shape new ways of working and creating a modern, sustainable approach to flood management fit for the 21st century.”
A number of Angus communities have suffered flood misery in recent years and, at a time when major financial challenges face councils, Angus infrastructure services convener David May has attacked the way money is dished out for flood schemes. Presently under this government, funding depends on the number of properties directly affected.
Mr May said:
“The funding formula means that urban areas — by their very nature more densely populated — are going to be advantaged and areas such as Angus and Mearns will lose out.
“Having in the past year regularly visited areas affected by flooding, I call on the Scottish government to reconsider their policy.”
“Given financial pressures facing councils, so it is more important than ever to make sure we receive adequate funding and do not lose out just because of our location and population.”
Highlighting the specific across Angus, Mr May continued,
“In March this year Angus Council agreed some short term measures to improve the Barry Burn Flood Protection Scheme. However, although these short term measures have been met from the council’s roads budget it is unlikely the Council will be able to fund the potential longer term solutions under investigation for Carnoustie.”
“A similar situation exists in Arbroath, which experienced significant flooding beyond the usual risk areas. The removal of the dedicated government grant scheme has thrown plans for flood protection schemes into complete disarray. Added to this, is the confusion created by the phased introduction of the new Flood Risk Management Act (2009) which changes local authorities’ responsibilities and powers.”
“We are doing what we can locally – today we will be discussing the latest report on the Brechin Flood Protection Scheme. Although this is a relatively modest scheme by national standards, it still comes with a price tag of £13m. Flooding needs to be considered at a national level, as the resources required to properly address it are clearly beyond the financial means of local government.”
Sanjay Samani, Liberal Democrat North East Regional Candidate added his support for Mr May’s comments, saying:
“By funding the new flood prevention schemes for the new act based on population, the SNP Government is being too simplistic. They have announced funding for a new Flood Forecasting Service. The information from this service must be used to target central government funding for flood prevention.”
PHOTO: Sanjay Samani and Cllr David May visit the site of flooding in Brechin with Provost Ruth Leslie Melville:
Responding to the suggestion by Arbroath Cllr David Fairweather that Community Councils be disbanded, Liberal Democrat campaigners for Angus, added their support for the great work done by Community Councils.
Sanjay Samani, campaigner for Angus and Mearns, said:
“As secretary of Alyth Community Council, I am fully aware of the crucial role they play in local communities.”
“In particular, Community Councillors do a huge amount of work on a purely voluntary basis. They organise a tremendous amount of events, discussions and fund raising for local people. In Alyth, sub groups set up by the Community Council are responsible for the Christmas Lights, the Gala and parade, youth activities, management of the Town Hall and a community consultation on long term plans for the town. These are just some of the things that Community Councils are responsible for, all across Angus.”
“All this unpaid work done on a voluntary basis would have to be taken up by the Council at considerably more expense than the nominal savings Cllr Fairweather’s suggestion would make.”
Montrose Councillor David May said:
“I visit three Community Councils on a regular basis. They represent the cross section of opinions to their local councillors and act as a key liaison with Council officials, local police, schools, residents associations and healthcare providers. They are a weather vane for residents’ opinions on key planning applications and on long term planning for their areas.”
“Without the voluntary work done by them, Council officials would have their work cut out to make sure that their decisions are democratic and represent the views of everyday people.”
Kirriemuir Councillor Alison Andrews commented:
“Having attended my local Community Councils, disbanding them would be a huge loss to communities. They would lose the strong voice they have with local service providers, with Angus Councillors and Angus Council as a whole.”
“It is really important that residents are able to raise local issues without involving any party politics and it is vital that communities continue to have their say.”
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
Following a visit to Montrose Harbour with local MSP Alison McInnes, the Scottish Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Climate Change and Angus councillor David May, Angus and Mearns Liberal Democrats have backed calls to protect a fund that could benefit the Port at Montrose.
The £60 million development fund had been allocated by the UK Government to support redevelopment of British ports to service new offshore windfarms. Montrose had hoped to benefit from some of the money, but now faces missing out if the funding is cut in the upcoming spending review.
I visited Montrose harbour area last week with Alison and it is clear that this fund could make a big difference to the port. The off-shore wind farm market is very competitive and there is a need to develop the infrastructure so that Montrose can establish itself on the international market.
There is clearly the potential to create hundreds of green jobs which would be a huge boost to the economy of Angus. I hope the Liberal Democrats in government are able to find a way to salvage this fund from the financial mess left behind by Labour.
Montrose councillor David May, convener of Infrastructure Services, added his support to the call as he has been directly involved in visiting the port on several occasions and is well aware of the potential for jobs. He said:
“It is obvious to me that this funding will make a difference to what Montrose port will be able to do. It has been a huge success in recent years and we are all aware of the possibility of wind-industry work in our port which could lead to hundreds of new jobs in Angus, and this could directly benefit towns such as Brechin, Arbroath and Forfar as well Montrose so the retention of this fund is vital.