Angus & Mearns Liberal DemocratsWorking Year Round for Angus, Mearns & Stonehaven

By davidmay

Hundreds of people joined the Liberal Democrats yesterday following the announcement that Jeremy Corbyn had been re-elected leader of the Labour party.
Over the past week the Liberal Democrats have grown by over 1000 members taking membership to over 78,000 – the highest this century
Over 300 of these members joined yesterday after Corbyn was announced as Labour leader and the number continues to rise.
The Liberal Democrats gained three council seats in by-elections this week, meaning the party has gained 17 council seats since the elections held in May.
Commenting, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said:

“I am delighted to welcome so many new members to the party and look forward to working with them to provide the real opposition to this Conservative Brexit Government.
“We are the voice for those who oppose the politics of fear, division and hatred. Our growth in membership and ongoing successes in council by elections across the country show that the Liberal Democrats are rebuilding our strength.
“The Liberal Democrats are needed more than ever. We are the real voice of opposition to the Conservative Brexit Government and the only party fighting to keep Britain open, tolerant and united.”

From:: David May

By davidmay

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The First Minister has been accused of “letting down” children in need of mental health treatment after figures showed some youngsters are waiting almost two years to access services.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie pointed to the statistics as he questioned Nicola Sturgeon on why targets for those children to be treated with 18 weeks were being missed.

The First Minister disputed Mr Rennie’s portrayal of the situation and said the increasing demand for services shows the stigma surrounding mental health problems is diminishing.

“I think this is one of the most serious issues we face as a society,” the SNP leader told MSPs at Holyrood.

NHS figures recently obtained by the Liberal Democrats show that a youngster waited for 96 weeks for child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS) treatment in NHS Tayside.

Another patient waited 91 weeks in Fife and a few children have waited more than 24 months in Lothian every year since 2013/14.

Raising the issue at First Minister’s Questions, Mr Rennie said: “New figures show that children in Scotland can wait up to two years for mental health treatment.

“The Scottish Government promised they would receive treatment within 18 weeks. That promise has not been kept this year or last year.

“Why is the First Minister letting these children down?”

Ms Sturgeon told him it was an important issue but added: “I don’t agree that with that characterisation”.

She said the Scottish Government recognises there is more work to be done to make sure that all young people get the access to mental health services they need but pointed to “increasing investment” in mental health services and a growing number of clinicians working in the area.

Ms Sturgeon highlighted Government plans to invest an additional £150 million in mental health services.

She told the chamber: “Of course, we are seeing a significant rise in demand for those services and while that puts pressure on services that we have a responsibility to meet, we should welcome that increase in demand to the extent that it shows young people are now more able to come forward because the stigma around mental health is decreasing.”

From:: David May

Sep/16

20

Cole-Hamilton: Action needed to avoid GP shortage

By davidmay

Given the GP shortages problems we have in Brechin I totally agree with Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP who has said that the Scottish Government must act to address Scotland’s GP crisis.

The comments come following new warnings from the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP).

Dr Elaine McNaughton, a GP and deputy chair of policy of the RCGP, told MSPs on Holyrood’s Health Committee this morning:

“We have had 100 new places for training that have been created and have now been advertised and are in the process of appointment, but unfortunately we are not going to fill these places or anything like it and, in fact, we’ve still got a number of unfilled places for GP training from the previous recruitment round.”

Speaking after the evidence session, Mr Cole-Hamilton said:

“This is the clearest warning yet from doctors that the steps which the SNP government have taken will not plug the gaps in primary care that are set to emerge by 2020. It seems an obvious to state that increasing training places will only boost the number of doctors if they are taken up. The Royal College was clear today that the extra places announced by the Scottish Government will not be filled.

“We need urgent action to boost Scotland’s primary care services and give doctors and practice nurses the support they require.”

From:: David May

Protecting our environment has always been a priority for me and as part of this I have always been an advocate for renewable energy.
There are however many people who don’t share my enthusiasm for renewable energy as to them this usually means wind turbines causing an eyesore in the local environment or having to fork up for costly solar panels. These aren’t our only options though!
Something often overlooked by local authorities is sewage energy.
In 2012 Thames Water generated 14% of its annual energy from sewage, saving £15 million from its power bills.
Thermal hydrolysis process plants (THP) are pressure cookers which heat leftovers from wastewater treatment and aid in breaking down waste and producing energy.
Thermal hydrolysis produces 20% more biogas than anaerobic digestion alone.

Currently, there are plans to form an anaerobic digestor plant in Angus, near Caroustie. Upon inspection of a recent report from the Council’s Development Standards Committee I have seen no mention of thermal hydrolysis.
In light of this I have written to the convener of the committee Rob Murray as well as Craig Fotheringham (another member of the committee and councillor for Monifieth and Sidlaw) asking whether the plant will incorporate Thermal Hydrolysis and if not then why not.
Protecting our environment depends on action at all level of government whether its local or international and the formation of the anaerobic digestor plant in Angus presents us with an excellent opportunity to stop wasting our waste!

By davidmay

National Testing to be imposed by the Scottish Governemnt

Next year The Scottish Government policy of moving towards standardised testing or as they effectively will be national tests, is in my view a very backward step as the policy was a dropped as a failure and was massively criticised when it was used. I can remember at the time of hearing of examples across Scotland, when pupils were sitting the test, of teachers and HTs pointing out to individual pupils of questions they should look at again. Why did some do this? It was because the schools tests results led to league tables so that schools were being compared, and I was delighted to see these dropped in Angus and across Scotland but it seems that we will be returning to these due to the decision of the Scottish Government.

Surely we should not have teachers teaching to the test as this is the opposite of what the curriculum for excellence is about.
Do we really want to go back to that? I do not want a return to league tables and the extra form filling burden this will impose on teachers and the extra financial burdens this will impose on schools while they are facing cuts on their budgets.

From:: David May

Sep/16

19

Recent Montrose area constituent issues

By davidmay

In the last week or so I have been following up on issues raised by constituents in the Montrose area such as free compost no longer available at our recycling centre, a green bin not being collected, a leaking pipe which affects a close, the Borrowfield pond and the Curly reeds. This has led me to contacting council officers to get action on the issues.

From:: David May

Sep/16

19

Teacher Numbers and Recruitment

By davidmay

It is welcome to see in Angus teacher numbers that by comparison with this time last year we are in a far better position and the work done by the council director and her staff are to be commended as this had a positive effect in lessoning the shortage.

However, it is still the case that we are 6.8 teacher short in primary schools overall across Angus and it is clear that this is being covered by some supply staff and schools covering internally this through their promoted staff. It is not only a bad start to the year for these schools, it means that promoted staff are not able to do the job they were promoted to do. I just hope that this will not mean that we will , like we had last year, have primary HTs covering classes for months and not being able to do their jobs as HTs. This means that they will not be able to do what they need to in school improvement.

As far as secondary is concerned I appreciate that schools have developed their curriculum to minimise the effect of the possibility of not being able to recruit staff in shortage subject area and having to get staff in areas just to cover classes. However, this means in practice that pupils have less choice and means some pupils not being able to do courses and subject they wish to for their future careers so they will be having to do courses that they would not choose.

This applies across most of our secondary schools and is not good news especially at the start of a school year as it is likely only to get worse and it is the pupils and staff who are covering who suffer. It is not a disaster if this is for a few weeks but if it is week after week that say technical class is being covered for by a series of teachers from other subjects it is the pupils who suffer.

Overall In September we are 5 Full time teachers short in secondary and 4 of these are in Montrose Academy which is really bad news for the pupils and staff at Montrose.

However although it is clear we have had staffing problems in Angus in recent years this staffing shortage is not confined I know to Angus but across Scotland.

The blame for this position of teacher shortage lies clearly with the education minister as he and his predecessors who needed to increase the numbers of teachers going into teacher training. So I hope that the director liaises with the education minister so that he increases the numbers going into teacher training especially in the shortage subjects and highlightng why this must be done given the staffing problems we in Angus have been facing in recent years.

From:: David May

Sep/16

19

The named person policy is in a mess

By davidmay

There is no doubt that this is a Scottish Government disaster and one they did not need to get into as the system which we had previously was working well. It is clear that putting this into statute has caused real anguish and anxiety with staff who have worked the system so well in the past. There are also repeated concerns had been expressed over workload, with being a Named Person set to become an additional burden on teachers, and others in already busy jobs.

The Scottish Education minister must realise, even if it is only to himself that this named person policy is in a mess and he has just made it worse as he is now claiming he is going to consult over it, but he is only going to consult those who agree with him. This is at best token consultation and is a shambolic way to go forward. Consultation means listending and speaking to hear the views even people who are opposed to the policy and hearing their concerns.

It also seems that the named person policy is practice means that some agencies who used to share information in the past are no longer doing it in many cases so that the policy is having the opposite effect to what was intended.

It is also evident that there is confusion of the roles and of the remit of the Named Person , with some organisations warning use of terms such as “relevant and proportionate” being open to wide interpretation.

There are also complaints that those taking on the roles could end up with “too much power”and there was criticism that the term was not strictly defined while some said it was unclear when it was appropriate to exclude parents from decisions concerning their child. Meanwhile, more than half of organisations said they were unsure about what information about children could be shared with others and how the scheme was compatible with the Data Protection Act. “

From:: David May

By davidmay

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Cllr David May and Mike Rumbles MSP have called for urgent action to address the shortage of GPs in Angus and across the North East.

Cllr May expressed his concern for the continuation of services such as the Brechin Health Centre if meaningful action is not taken by the Scottish Ministers.

“I call on Shona Robison to take responsibility and encourage more medical students into our universities and on into GP training programmes. Failure to attract adequate numbers of doctors into general practice has dramatically increased GP workload and is placing an unacceptable strain on services.

“Having been at the helm for a decade, the blame for this unacceptable situation rests firmly on the SNP administration in Edinburgh.

“I commend the exceptional action and contingency planning put in place by NHS staff in the area and their dedication to delivering the best possible service for patients in Brechin, and welcome the recent appointment of a GP to Brechin.”

Mr Rumbles highlighted figures last week that showed more than a quarter of GP training places have not been filled.

“GP’s are the crucial front line of our health service and we need to ensure that primary care is getting the investment it needs.

“In response to this the Scottish Government has increased the number of GP training places, but this will only help boost numbers where these places are taken up. At present a quarter of these places were left unfilled.

“The SNP have not delivered the support GPs need and this is deterring new blood coming into general practice. More empty training places will not solve this crisis, the North East needs meaningful action

From:: David May

Sep/16

12

Great news about tidal power say Scottish Lib Dems

By davidmay

Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP for Orkney Liam McArthur today welcomed the unveiling of plans for the world’s largest free-stream tidal power array.

The announcement of the MeyGen project from the Atlantis group follows Edinburgh-based Nova Innovation switching on its second turbine at Bluemull Sound off Shetland. In Orkney, Scotrenewables has begun testing its SR2000 device at the European Marine Energy Centre.

Commenting, Mr McArthur said:

“The MeyGen project is a welcome addition to Scotland’s growing renewables portfolio and shows the potential that marine renewables can play in our future energy mix. However, we will only see this potential fulfilled if the UK government faces up to its responsibilities to support the growth of wave and tidal energy. This will require funding for developments as well as delivery of the necessary grid infrastructure .”

From:: David May

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