Author Archives: David May

Mulberry Unit closure

By davidmay

It is has been made clear by Tayside Health Board that the temporary closure of the Mulberry unit is due to the lack of mental health staff, and this is a national issue. I therefore, urge the Scottish Health Minister to take action on this by recruiting more staff and I have contacted her about this. There is obviously a long term concern as the health board will have to make decision very soon, as to whether it is going to be a one site option or a two site option as there are units in Perth, Dundee and our one at Stracathro.

Although I am still appalled that they have been forced to make this decision to close it temporarily , I applaud the Mulberry staff who have made the transition for the vulnerable patients to Carseview, to be as satisfactory as possible by every member of the staff moving with their patients.

However, I am still concerned about this move for the friends and families of the patients who are now having to travel over 30 miles to visit them at Careview as it is clearly much further away for them to get to than the state of the art Mulberry Unit. What will help is that Voluntary Action Angus have agreed to organise transport to Carseview for friends and families who contact VAA .

I have also heard that the Mulberry Unit staff are collected by taxi from their homes and transported free to Carseview and this is being rightly done in their work time. However, although this is being done it is economically not sustainable in the long term.

From:: David May

Finding out that mental health progress was worse than we thought – one of the reasons Scottish Liberal Democrats voted against the SNP’s budget

By davidmay

During negotiations on this year’s Scottish Budget, Willie Rennie discovered that the mental health situation in Scotland was much worse than even he had thought. He told activists yesterday at the Kickstart training day in Perth:

Look at the terrible record of this SNP Government on mental health.

They let the share of the budget spent on mental health drop by their own admission for years.

The SNP let its mental health strategy lapse in 2015 with no replacement in place.

Young people still have to wait more than a year for treatment.

It became clear during our budget discussions with them that the SNP Government is much further behind on mental health even than we feared.

The SNP were simply unable to make the changes to their budget towards what we know is important for mental health. We wanted a doubling of services for young people, comprehensive support at GP surgeries and comprehensive cover.

We cannot let this drop. We cannot let the SNP and their neglect of mental health stand. They are letting people down.

I want our council candidates to take our mental health campaign into the council chambers of Scotland.

Liberal Democrat councillors will work in partnership with local health services for better support for people with mental health problems.

Councils can patch up the provision that is neglected by the SNP Government.

We can make sure local education services identify young people with mental health problems and help them get early support, and continue to help them as they transfer to adult services.

We will make sure each council is a mental health champion, promoting good health and helping people back into employment.

We can support voluntary groups that help people tackle loneliness and isolation.

And we can use the influence of councillors on the Integration Joint Boards to make mental health support quick, effective and locally available.

For a time it looked like there might have to be another Scottish election as the SNP didn’t look like they were going to get the agreement of any other party in the Parliament. The Tories and Labour wouldn’t talk to them at all, much to their discredit. Willie spent a substantial amount of time in pretty open and honest (on both sides) negotiations with Derek Mackay, the Finance Minister, but there was no prospect of an agreement in sight. The Greens decided that they wanted a 60% tax rate and they weren’t budging on that.

Until Patrick Harvie, their leader, capitulated live on telly on Wednesday afternoon, muttering about how it would be irresponsible not to let the budget go through. That’s the voice of strong opposition for you. Maybe he was more worried about an election potentially removing the pro-independence majority in the Parliament.

It might have been ok if Patrick hadn’t mucked it up so spectacularly before. In 2009 he voted against the Budget only to capitulate with nothing a few days later. You know what Lady Bracknell would say – once is unfortunate, twice is careless.

Anyway, as the Greens slunk off quietly, Willie talked about his reasons for voting against:

Today the SNP missed a huge opportunity to make Scotland a more liberal and economically strong country. It’s a missed opportunity to meet the challenges of Brexit, a sluggish economy and slipping educational performance. It’s a missed opportunity to see a transformational investment in education, a step change in mental health services and essential support for our police service.

Liberal Democrats held firm on our reasonable and principled positions. Instead of delivering a bold and green country the Green Party have simply helped the SNP deliver a grey and timorous budget.

The SNP and Greens between them have delivered an austerity budget which is not what Scotland’s ailing economy needs right now

From:: David May

Concern about support for local groups

By davidmay

My comments about the council report on the changed system

Angus council have changed the community grant scheme, which I helped to introduce several years ago, and which has given support to many community groups over the years as they could bid for grants of up to £5,000 for very worthwhile projects and made huge difference to the groups and what they could do.

However, the council have now passed a very considerable revision to the scheme and in order to qualify for a reduced support of up to £1,200 they have to have this matched by showing they can get the sum matched by crowdfunding. I have huge concerns about this change as in my view it will put many groups off and the groups themselves as well as what they are able to do will suffer. Furthermore, the sum they can apply for is now much more limited which will in my view means less can be done by the groups.

In a recent report on the previous system, we had groups that were enabled to buy spotlight to enhance a new lighting system to enhance their productions, assistance to a football team towards new equipment, funding to help to purchase a community shed, and assistance towards expand a Montrose Music Festival activity to provide a more family friendly event. The new system might mean less of these were able to be done and 2 of the successful applications were for over the new maximum of £1,200.

From:: David May

Progress for Montrose South Regeneration project

By davidmay

Policy and Resources Council Committee report on the Montrose South Regeneration project

I commented at the committee ” I am delighted to see that there has been considerable progress made on the Montrose South Regeneration project which is the area at the north of our harbour and leading to GSK. Although it has taken longer than we originally expected I am sure this development will make a considerable difference to both the Angus and Montrose economy as it will help to provide jobs which are much needed given the impact of the loss of oil related jobs in our area.

Even at this stage we have already had Rix Shipping with their new 40,000 warehouse and GSK have a planning application of a new 3 storey building which reinforces the fait that GSK have in their excellent workforce and in our town and area.

From:: David May

SNP budget means huge cuts for Angus Council

By davidmay

I agree with Mike Rumbles NE Lib Dem MSP about his comments on the SNP budget being passed with the support from the greens, as this will lead to our council having to make more huge cuts on our services through the budget. As a councillor I am aware that the potential implications of this are cuts on Education services and also on the support we give through the IJB to our elderly in areas such as social care. Although the details of this are not yet out, I am really concerned as over the past few years we have seen cuts on school staff and books for pupils, as well as on our valued day care centre places and shelter housing complexes we are now facing having to make more cuts in the services our councils offer.

Mike Rumbles commented “The SNP’s shambolic and regressive budget plans have been widely criticised by organisations across Scotland, in the media and by the other political parties. Nonetheless, the Budget has passed the first round of debate, thanks to the Green Party’s shameless U-turn in the vote. This means that the SNP’s cuts to local services, underfunding of education and mental health and punitive business rates hike will go through to the next round of debate, bruised but intact.

As Liberal Democrats, we took a constructive approach and listened to all the Finance Minister had to say, but the government offered no meaningful alternatives on issues that we thought were important, such as the lack of funding for education. We had no option but to vote against this harmful budget and we were right to do so.

The North East will be damaged more than most by the SNP’s plans. Our council services are to be cut and many of our local industries and businesses will have to pay thousands more in rates. At a time when we need to see more jobs created, and more support for our local services, the message from Edinburgh is loud and clear – that the central-belt comes first.

We will see if the Minister is willing to offer any concessions over the coming days, and in the meantime we will continue to call for fewer cuts and a reversal of the SNP’s centralisation agenda.”

From:: David May

Curlie playpark

By davidmay

I am delighted to hear that the council are to commence work at the Curlie on the week commencing the 6th February which will involve removal of various items of equipment and reinstatement in the first week followed by the installation of new equipment including a multi-unit. It is anticipated that these works will be carried out over a four week period weather permitting.

This is obviously good news for the families that use the playpark there, as it means new and better facilities for the youngsters to use.

From:: David May

Montrose Community Council meeting

By davidmay

Excellent meeting last night of Montrose Community Council when we discussed the Mid-Links Open Day planned for 10th June, the Facebook vote on the Christmas Lights, Montrose in Bloom, the Taycity Deal and the planning officer’s report.

It was agreed that the public would be surveyed via Facebook on the two most popular choices and this time with the costs.

The chair of the Montrose in Bloom group gave a detailed report on the various projects and the costs of each proposed area and an application will be submitted for funds to help and it was also decided that through Facebook volunteers would get the opportunity to help on Saturday 18th February from 9am to 2pm. I agreed to help to publicise this.
There was a full discussion on dog fouling problems in areas of the town and the meeting was reminded that it was essential that people should contact the Access office in the town about the locations of the dog fouling and if possible times when the dog fouling took place. What is particularly helpful is if the owner of the dog can be identified and the information passed on confidentially to both me and Cllr Duff as we regularly attend the meetings. Both of us agreed that the details would be passed onto the community wardens but no names of who told us would be passed on. It was clear that the wardens took action and followed the sanctions which were available as anyone who falls foul of the legislation and fails to pick up after their pet risks a fine of £80.
As an Angus councillor I then reported on progress with the South Montrose Regeneration scheme, the hard work by the Montrose Playhouse team in bringing films to our town and traffic issues raised by constituents with me about the Borrowfield Junction and Victoria Bridge.

From:: David May

Call for help for local businesses.

By davidmay

Mike Rumbles, the Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP for the North East, today wrote to finance secretary Derek Mackay MSP attacking his unwillingness to provide North East businesses with relief on massive business rates hikes.
With business rates for some North East firms doubling or even tripling, Mr Rumbles has urged the Scottish Government to take action, rather than pass the buck to local authorities. He further notes that failure to act would increase the likelihood of a Scottish Government defeat when their budget is brought to Parliament on Thursday.
Mr Rumbles said: “Mr Mackay may be meeting with North East business leaders and local authority chiefs but he is not taking action to address their valid concerns over rising business rates and the slashing of the council block grants. Rather than leave the local authorities to resolve the issue of business rates, Mr Mackay needs to listen to what they’re saying and take action. He cannot use them as a shield for his decisions.
“The Scottish Government brings its budget to Parliament on Thursday, if it fails to act on this issue it increases the likelihood of a clear and embarrassing defeat.”

From:: David May

Figures show 48% drop in college enrolments by women over past decad

By davidmay

AS a councillor I have over the years heavily criticised the SNP for their cuts on college places but recent figures show that the number of enrolments by women in Scotland’s colleges has almost halved since the SNP came to power.

The number of courses that women have registered on has dropped from 274,618 in 2007/08 to 142,738 in 2015/16, down 48%.

Male enrolments in the same period fell from 214,992 to 138,160, down 36%.

The Scottish Funding Council figures also show the gender gap in engineering is growing, with the number of women enrolled in such courses dropping from 15% in 2008/09 to 7.9% last year.

Scottish Liberal Democrat equalities spokeswoman Caron Lindsay said “It’s shocking that the SNP have presided over such a dramatic fall in female enrolments.

“Cuts to college budgets have led to dramatic reductions in college places, particularly for those who would study part-time, which disproportionately affects female students.

“That’s why in our budget negotiations with the Scottish Government we argued that the SNP should reverse their college cuts and end the college funding squeeze.”

Scottish Conservative shadow education secretary Liz Smith said: “These figures lay bare the damage the SNP has done to our education system.

“Its swathing cuts to the college sector have seen enrolments plummet, and it’s clear that women are suffering the most.

“It is totally unacceptable that the number of courses women are enrolling for is now nearly half the level it was when the SNP came to power.

“Despite all the SNP’s rhetoric, there is now a growing gap between men and women taking courses in Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects such as engineering.”

The party is calling on the Scottish Government to support community efforts to promote vocational education to help young people struggling at school.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Women account for the majority of college enrolments – 51% in 2015/16 – and the number of women on full-time courses is up by over 12% since 2006/07.

“The SFC has published a gender action plan which sets out actions they will undertake with the sector and partners to address existing imbalances and significantly reduce gender gaps in college and undergraduate courses.

“We are committed to helping all students realise their potential and remove barriers to pursuing the career that they want. Colleges are also taking steps themselves to open up more Stem subjects to all students, with City of Glasgow College’s engineering all-women course one example of how traditional job pathways are being challenged and opened up.”

From:: David May

Montrose South Regeneration

By davidmay

There was an information report at today’s council meeting on the Montrose South Regeneration Project and I commented that “I was delighted to note the progress that is being made with it”. I added ” It has taken longer than it was hoped to get to where we are today with the scheme, but this project will hopefully in the medium and longer term make a huge difference to both the Montrose, as well as the Angus economy, especially when we are facing a loss of oil and oil related jobs. It is also good to see that even already we have had Rix Shipping with their new 40,000 sq. feet warehouse and GSK have a planning application for a new 3 storey building.”

From:: David May