Category Archives: Community

Monifieth Medical Centre Bus Stop

A local resident recently contacted me to bring my attention to the bus stop outside the Monifieth Health Centre on Victoria Street.
The markings on the road next to the bus stop need repainted as the recent roadworks on Victoria Street have removed the word ‘stop’ and part of the word ‘bus’.
I have written to the council about this and sent them a picture of the road, hopefully they will repaint it soon.

bus-stop

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

Income Tax Cut for Thousands in Angus & Mearns

Liberal Democrat Candidate Sanjay Samani for Angus North and Mearns has revealed that 102,500 in Aberdeenshire and 53,200 people in Angus will pay reduced income tax from April this year, thanks to the Liberal Democrat-led increase in the personal tax allowance.

In addition, over 2,500 people in Aberdeenshire and 1,560 people in the Angus will not pay ANY income tax.

Liberal Democrats in the UK Government will be increasing the personal tax allowance to £10,000, meaning no-one will pay any tax on the first £10,000 they earn.  The allowance will rise by £1,000 this April, with a further £600 rise next April, as just announced in the UK budget.

Commenting, Sanjay Samani, said:

“Thanks to the Liberal Democrats, over 4,000 people across Angus, Mearns and Aberdeenshire will not pay any income tax and more than 155,000 people will pay much less than they did before.”

“Liberal Democrats promised at last year’s General Election to increase the personal allowance.  I am proud that my colleagues in Westminster are delivering on that promise.”

“Labour put an incredible income tax burden on the poorest in society.  It is not fair that people on the lowest incomes paid so much of their income in tax. “

Montrose councillor  David May added,

“Liberal Democrats have put money into the pockets of Montrose families.”

“In just 11 months, 54,760 people in Angus have benefited from Liberal Democrats in Government.  This figure will now increase as the tax system gets fairer under Liberal Democrats.”

Stonehaven councillor Peter Bellarby added,

“Liberal Democrats are delivering on their promise to help residents in Stonehaven, Laurencekirk and Mearns.”

“Over 105,000 people in Aberdeenshire will gain from April thanks to Liberal Democrats in Government.  The number who will benefit will rise again next year with the further increase in the allowance and more, year on year through the lifetime of the Coalition Government.”

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.

Lib Dem Achievements in Government

Over the last few weeks, I have been disappointed to hear fellow Liberal Democrats repeat the accusations of our opposition, and in particular certain portions of the national media who have been desperately trying to portray Lib Dems in a negative light.  There is a continuing misconception that the Liberal Democrats sacrificed too much to the Conservatives during coalition negotiations. Here’s the real story of what we have achieved in Government.

This document is already 3 months old, so the list has grown since then, but it is a good starting point.

Lib Dem Achievements in Government

 

After the first TV debate during the General Election campaign, our opponents recognised that Nick Clegg was our strongest asset.  Since the morning of the second debate, there has been a sustained attack on him personally and on the reputation of the party as a whole.  Even Ed Milliband has resorted to personal attacks on Nick Clegg.  It is disgraceful, gutter politics.  Unfortunately, if you throw enough mud, it will eventually stick.

Nick Clegg is the antithesis of Teflon Tony Blair.  His record, as demonstrated above, is one to be proud of.  I for one, do not think I could cope with excrement posted through my door, my effigy being burnt, being called a traitor and receiving death threats and still come out fighting the way that Nick Clegg did at the Sheffield Lib Dem Conference.

I cannot agree with those in the party that take the attitude that they are in politics to fight Conservatism as a result of Thatcher’s legacy.  Saying that we would only go into a coalition with a discredited, illiberal, economically incompetent Labour Party would doom our party into subservience.

I came into politics and joined the Lib dems to make a difference on issue that I cared about, whether it was the environment, children’s welfare or civil liberties.  I believe in the values of the party, that local people know best about their area, that solutions should last and that everyone deserves a fair chance.

Those values, issues and policies are now being successfully implemented in Government, and it is a record that we should all be proud of.

 

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

Lib Dems back Save Noranside Petition

Local Lib Dems have backed a petition to save Noranside Open Prison to be submitted to the Scottish Justice Secretary.

Cllr David May commented:

“The SNP Minister’s decision to close Noranside will hugely affect the staff and their families from across all of Angus.”

“Whilst they have been offered choices to transfer to other prisons, prison officers may simply not be able to afford the extra travel or disruption to their family life.  Some may even be forced to move home, out of Angus.”

“The decision may also limit their career prospects as more prison officers compete for fewer senior positions.  The impact of this poorly thought through decision will be long lasting.”

Angus and Mearns campaigner, Sanjay Samani, added his support for the petition, saying:

“It is welcome that Nigel Don MSP and John Swinney MSP, have backed Lib Dem Justice Spokesman, Robert Browne MSP in his criticism of Kenny MacAskill’s decision.”

“However, it is entirely within Mr Swinney’s power as Finance Secretary to provide the funding to save Noranside.  So the question has to be asked why he has not done so.”

“It is vital that Noranside Open Prison, and its staff continue their excellent work, rehabilitating criminals, giving them real prospects and minimising reoffending in the area.”

Cllr May also raised concerns about a bonus culture within the prison service, wasting funds that could be better used to keep Noranside open.

“Reports suggest that overcrowding payments, totalling millions, are encouraging prisons to hold on to prisoners that should be released to open prisons like Noranside.”

“There are questions that need to be asked about bonus payments to top officers.”

“In addition, there are plans to pay huge sums to repair Castle Huntly’s roof.  How can that make economic sense, whilst closing Noranside.”

 

SNP’s withdrawal of TCRF cash a bitter blow for Brechin

The Scottish Government’s decision not to release the remaining Town Centre Regeneration Funds for Brechin is a disappointing decision

The SNP Government has really let down people in Brechin again.  By denying them access to over £900,000 of funding, it will be a bitter blow for attempts to give Brechin’s town centre a much needed boost.

Given that the money was already budgeted, the SNP must explain where the money has gone and where they have spent it instead of Brechin.

The whole Town Centre Regeneration Fund has been handicapped by the SNP from the start.  A sensible proposal for investment in town centres across Scotland by Conservative MSPs, has been hobbled by a poor implementation by the Scottish Government.

With short deadlines, poor communications and no committment to make the funds available when needed, the government has made the process as difficult as possible and clearly begrudged creating the fund in the first place.  It is yet another case of the SNP’s ‘Not Invented Here, We Know Best’ attitude.

The Town Centre Regeneration Fund is precisely the sort of investment that towns like Brechin desperately need during difficult economic times.

It is little surprise then, that people in Brechin will see this as just another broken SNP promise.