Had a very informative meeting with the Principal of Angus College this morning. I started by congratulating him on the success of the college in having 3 finalists in the national college awards ceremony.
Due to the meeting I am much more aware than I was about how the college operates. We discussed many issues including waiting lists, college funding arrangements, commercial work, their centre of enterprise and school college links. As a conseqence of the discussion I feel much better informed about the progress they are making about the merger with Dundee College, and the fact that the principles upon which the merger is based means that the diverse communities the two colleges presently serve, will continue to be met.
While at the Lib Dem conference in Dunfermline I attended the fringe meeting on the effect of the Welfare Changes on the Disabled. We watched the Hardest Hit film and heard from people who were directly affected by the changes and this was very insightful as we heard about the issues they had to deal with every day of the week. There were many very critical points made by party members on the welfare changes, and overall the meeting reinforced my view that much much more has still to be done by the Westminster Government to make the changes fair and more acceptable than they presently are. I took some detailed notes and will be in touch with some Lib Dem MPs about the need to make changes in the scheme and how it affects so many people.
Attended the Scottish Liberal Democrats at the Autumn Conference in Dunfermline yesterday with some local party members from Angus and Mearns. There were many excellent speeches in the course of the day. Willie Rennie’s was inspiring, Ming Campbell impressive argued the case for his Home Rule Commission which was overwhelmingly backed by conference delegates, and government ministers Jo Swinson, Michael Moore. Alistair Carmichael and Danny Alexander made very good contributions. Charles Kennedy, as ever, was both humorous and articulate in his contributions at the conference. There were many good debates in the course of the day, and I had an interesting discussion with the police federation representatives about the impact of the centralisation of the police force.
There was a large turnout of Party members and I was delighted to see the many young people at the conference .
Very positive meeting last night of Montrose Community Council and many issues raised which have led me to contacting council officers about algae/moss on the new bridge, painting of the c.c. information board, litter on Mill Road, a pedestrian crossing, path leading to the beach, street lights, the new swimming pool and litter picking.
Earlier this week I took part in a meeting to discuss ideas for increasing numbers who take out season tickets and play golf at Montrose. The next morning I spent quite some time on drafts of a Montrose Golf Links newsletter, revised season ticket card and press releases. These drafts will be issued for others to comment on before being used.
This past week I have attended council committee meetings including one on education and another on strategic policy. This meant reading the papers as soon as I got them and preparing what I would say at the meetings which included comments on the YM, Youth Engagement, Preventative Spend Projects and the Boundary Commission Review on Westminster Constituencies.
I organised a meeting earlier this week of our Town Regeneration Group with some council officers at the YM. Following discussion we had agreement on the exact seats, bins and planters and their location. The officers will now organise that these be put out to tender and it is expected that these will be in place in the High Street before the summer season next year. Although this has taken longer than we had hoped it is good to see that the work which we have done will soon be seen to be delivered.
Many people have asked me whether Sainsbury’s was still coming to Montrose and I was assured that they were still coming. However, I made contact with Sainsbury’s advisers a few weeks ago and today spoke directly to them. They have made it clear that the site has now been secured and they are still committed to our town. The advisers also told me that they will make a formal announcement before the end of the year and the plan is to announce a date in 2013 when the store will be built.
Aberdeenshire Council has welcomed today’s decision from the UK Supreme Court.
Leader Jim Gifford said: “It’s the decision that we’ve all been waiting for and I’m delighted that after a decade of planning, enquiries and legal proceedings, we finally have the green light to move ahead with this project.
“The majority of residents and businesses in the North East of Scotland have been waiting for progress on the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route for far too long. Today marks the beginning of the delivery of the most significant piece of major infrastructure in the North East of Scotland, since the discovery of oil in the North Sea in the 1960s.
“I’m delighted that at last we can get on with this project which is seen very much as the key to unlocking the full potential of Aberdeenshire, particularly the Energetica corridor up to Peterhead.
“Of course, the road won’t be built next week. We now move into a phase of land purchasing and procurement, but at last we can set realistic timescales, develop project plans and move forwards with identifying funding streams for this work.
“Aberdeenshire Council is committed to working with Aberdeen City Council and Transport Scotland to see the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route become reality as quickly as possible.”
Peter Bellarby also welcomed the decision and said: “I am pleased that the final stumbling block has been overcome so that work can begin in earnest on this project, which is vital for the North East of Scotland. The link road south to Stonehaven is a very necessary part of the project so that we don’t have all road traffic going north from Stonehaven and the south funnelled onto the A90 towards Aberdeen.”
Very considerable flooding problems in the area in the last few days and as a result I posted an update on my facebook page of the roads that were closed and details of other problems resulting from the flooding. I contacted council officers about some specific problems that I was informed about and came across myself.
Today I checked out some of the areas that were worst affected and it is obvious that the water level has considerably reduced from yesterday. Met staff at Logie from Scottish water who have been working from 5 am yesterday. Along with the emergency services they have been superb in their work they have been doing in the last few days to support householders and businesses, and do what is possible to alleviate the massive problems caused by the flooding.