Tag Archives: Nigel Don

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

Scottish Government Underspend a body blow for Angus investment

Angus Liberal Democrats have reacted angrily to news that the SNP Government has left £444 million unspent last year, despite closing key services across Angus and failing to invest in local infrastructure.

Accounts have emerged showing that the Scottish Government has underspent:

  • £92 million on Justice
  • £10 million on the Procurator Fiscal Service
  • £102 million on Infrastructure
  • A whopping £165 million on Education
Sanjay Samani and Cllr David May visit the Closed Police Counter in Montrose

Sanjay Samani and Cllr David May visit the Closed Police Counter in Montrose

Lib Dem Campaigner for Angus, Sanjay Samani said,

“The SNP have been steadily closing down services in Angus. They have closed Sheriff’s Courts, Police Counters, Noranside Prison and Angus College. They have failed to build a flyover at Laurencekirk that we desperately need to protect drivers. Yet in all these departments there was plenty of money left to be spent.”

“Meanwhile our SNP elected representatives, Mike Weir MP, Nigel Don MSP and Graeme Dey MSP, have done absolutely nothing to stop the closure of key Angus services by their SNP colleagues in Edinburgh. This has cost Angus jobs, made it harder for students to study, left Laurencekirk junction unsafe and had a negative impact on our local economy.”

“The SNP have blamed all the cuts on Angus services on Westminster, and yet they had close to half a billion pounds left to invest.”

Lib Dem Montrose Cllr David May said,

“As an ex-teacher and head master, I am appalled to see £165 million go unspent on Education. The merger of Angus College with Dundee and loss of hundreds of college places has had a huge impact on our young people, just trying to get on in life.”

“In Montrose we have a major issue with parking on double yellow lines that are not being policed due to SNP cuts, that they have blamed on Westminster, despite having £92 million left over.”

“Sanjay and I have backed Jill Fotheringham’s campaign for a flyover at Laurencekirk for many years. The news that on Infrastructure £102 million was left unspent will be a body blow for those desperate to see safety at the junction improved.”

Sanjay Samani concluded,

“We have an SNP MP and two SNP MSPs who have badly failed Angus residents. This year they will blame cuts on Westminster to gain votes at the General Election. Then we will see a big spending spree in the run up to Scottish Elections in 2016 and they will try to claim the credit.”

“The SNP need to stop playing politics and start investing in Angus.”

Save Our Police Campaign Launch

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.”

Sanjay Samani visiting Forfar police station with Cllr David May

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

Brechin Town Centre Regeneration Fund Meeting hijacked by politics

I attended the public meeting at the Mechanics Hall in Brechin to discuss the Town Centre Regeneration Fund project.

I would like to thank Jim Milne for chairing the meeting and Angus Council for organising it, in the hope of giving Brechin residents the opportunity to hear the background and delivery of the project and to raise their concerns.

I was disappointed that so few local residents got the opportunity to air their views.  With Councillors from all around Angus, MSPs and political party activists turning the event into a political circus.

I attended with a view to listening to the views of local people, and hoping to discover what lessons could be learnt.  My fellow candidates for Angus North and Mearns in the upcoming Scottish Elections, Nigel Don and Alex Johnstone, came to be heard, not listen.  Their questions demonstrated either their lack of knowledge of the project, or willful aim at political point scoring.  In particular Mr Johnstone suggested that a Compulsory Purchase Order could have been used when he knows full well that would never have been possible.

It is not surprising that politicians get a bad name, given that point scoring was more important for many who attended, rather than establishing the facts and learning lessons.

It would appear that the SNP in Angus, faced with justifying the SNP Government’s decision to withdraw funding promised to Brechin, have decided that offence is the best defence.  They have tried to throw mud at Angus Council’s handling of the project, which from my 15 years experience as a Project Manager, has been excellent.

In particular I was very disappointed at the deeply personal attacks made on Council officers who have clearly worked extremely hard to bring £1m of investment into Brechin and are clearly deeply personally disappointed at not having been able to secure the remaining £800,000 from the Scottish Government.

I was well aware of the issues in advance of the meeting and was very impressed with the council officers as they presented the facts, and it was very clear to me that they could not have done more to reach a satisfactory conclusion with the property owners involved.  The reality was that they were undone twice by property owners who broke their promises to sell to Angus Council.

Furthermore, it appears that all Councillors had the opportunity to raise their concerns throughout the period of the project, at various meetings both in Forfar and in Brechin, but did not do so.  As was said last night, hindsight is a wonderful thing, and all councillors, as well as those involved in the Brechin Town Heritage Initiative and the Brechin Area Partnership were given regular updates, as well as given the chance to ask questions and make suggestions.

Let us welcome the £1m of investment in Brechin, along with the private investment in the old Woolworths, and learn lessons for the future, rather than take every opportunity to turn Brechin’s economic circumstances into a political football.

Campaigning on policy, not personal attacks

in a recent article in the Brechin Advertiser about Kevin Hutchens writing to the disbanded City of Brechin and District Community Council, I was reported as being “unavailable” for comment.  I should have stated clearly to Brechin Advertiser reporter Steve Mitchell that even had I not been away on a family break, I would have chosen not to comment in any case.

Whilst Mr Hutchens should really have known about the very disappointing demise of the Community Council, I would not take the opportunity, as my SNP and Conservative opponents, Nigel Don MSP and Alex Johnstone MSP, have done, to stick the knife in to a fellow candidate.

That is because I believe that the Scottish Elections should be about local issues and policy, not about personal attacks.  There are far more pressing concerns for people in Brechin, not least of all the lack of a Community Council.

The town is still reeling from the loss of the Town Centre Regeneration Funding promised by the SNP Government, just as the town had lost its voice through the Community Council. Also, Brechiners will still want to know whether the Scottish Government will help to prevent further flood damage in the town.

I will be focussing, in my campaign, on local issues, not on taking cheap shots at my opponents.

Examing site of Brechin Flooding