Category Archives: Peter Bellarby

ACTION ON LAURENCEKIRK JUNCTION NEEDED NOW

By Peter Bellarby

Cllr David May, Sir Robert Smith MP, Alison MacInnes MSP and Cllr Peter Bellarby

Cllr David May, Sir Robert Smith MP, Alison MacInnes MSP and Cllr Peter Bellarby

Sir Robert Smith MP and Alison McInnes MSP have called on the Scottish Government to stop dithering and start delivering a solution to the Laurencekirk junction. They recently visited the accident blackspot with Aberdeenshire councillor Peter Bellarby and Angus councillor David May. Plans to the much-needed changes to the road have been repeatedly delayed.

Sir Robert Smith MP commented:

“The North East is the powerhouse of Scotland’s economy, yet the Scottish government have failed to invest in key transport projects like this junction. For many years now the local community have made the case for a safer junction. The fact that the current junction needs a fifty limit goes to show that it is no longer suitable. Meanwhile the Scottish Government are investing in a new rail link between Edinburgh and Glasgow. It is time they stopped neglecting the North East.”

North East Liberal Democrat MSP Alison McInnes said: “The Transport Minister is on record stating that a grade separated junction will have to be funded by developers. But a grade separated junction is needed now to address the existing safety issues. Although the 50mph zone has reduced the risk, there still are drivers who do not heed or see the warning signs and drive at 70mph – or more.

“Developers should only have to fund new junctions when their development is the cause of extra traffic which necessitates a flyover or underpass.

“The Scottish Government should accept its responsibilities and commit to a flyover or underpass now. This is not some airy-fairy political argument. It is about people’s lives.”

Stonehaven Councillor, Peter Bellarby, added: “The junction at Laurencekirk is a huge safety concern to the large number of drivers on the A90 and A937 roads, many of whom will be travelling to or from Stonehaven. Action is needed now before there is another serious accident. I fully support the local people in Laurencekirk who have been campaigning for many years for a flyover.”

From: Peter Bellarby

KINCARDINE COUNCILLORS DISMAYED BY CLOSURE OF POLICE AND FIRE CONTROL ROOMS

By Peter Bellarby

The loss of the North East’s police and fire control rooms has been greeted with dismay by local Liberal Democrat councillors.

The Scottish Police Authority (SPA) met in Glasgow on Thursday (January 30) and rubber-stamped the proposal to close half of Scotland’s police control rooms, including two in Aberdeen. The work of the Aberdeen centres will be transferred to Dundee which will cover the whole of the north of Scotland from December 2015.

On the same day, the Scottish Fire & Rescue Authority (SFRS) met in Dundee and agreed to the closure of its Aberdeen facility, with the operation also being transferred to Dundee. Four other control rooms were also earmarked for closure.

News of the closures, likely to lead to the loss of several hundred highly-skilled jobs across Scotland, has been met by anger from politicians, trade unions and communities in the North East.

North Kincardine councillor Ian Mollison said: “This was a very dark day for the North East. It came as a direct consequence of the SNP’s centralisation of the police and fire services into single Scottish forces under direct ministerial control. The Justice Secretary boasted that the move would generate savings of more than £1bn from police budgets alone, through reducing duplication, while protecting the number of police officers in Scotland.

“The Scottish Liberal Democrats were the only party to vote against this measure, warning that the savings targets were unachievable and that there would be dramatic cut-backs over which local communities would have no say or influence. By moving to a system where chief officers and all the members of the SFA and SFRS were appointed by the Justice Secretary and answer directly to him, more than 100 years of successful local, democratic accountability were swept away.

“We now see the chickens coming home to roost.”

Stonehaven councillor Peter Bellarby added: “The process by which these decisions were reached was a disgrace. Both Police Scotland and the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service are partners in community planning, along with councils, other agencies and communities. Community planning partnerships are legally established to ensure that the public and community sectors work closely together to deliver the best services for their area.

“I was surprised when it emerged that the Fire & Rescue Authority had deliberately chosen not to consult councils on their proposal to close control rooms and shocked that the first councils knew about the threat to the police control rooms in Aberdeen was through the media, less than a week before Thursday’s meeting.

“The SPA business case, which was supposed to justify the closures in Aberdeen, had all the marks of a document written to provide support for a decision already made. It ignored the strengths of the Aberdeen facilities, made light of the significant costs of upgrading the Dundee control room and ignored the risks arising from the loss of detailed local knowledge – of geography and of communities.

“The Justice Secretary has dismissed all of this, claiming that these are purely operational matters for which he has no responsibility. If this is the nationalist vision of how things are going to be done in an independent Scotland, through centralised decision-making with absolutely no local consultation or engagement, the prospect is seriously alarming.

“Local staff employed in these centres have been treated very badly. Local knowledge is of great importance and cannot be fully replaced by technology.

“We warned that this would be the sort of outcome to be expected from the creation of a single police force and a single fire and rescue service. Local democratic accountability has been replaced by diktat from the centre, a one-size-fits-all approach based on practice in the Central Belt and huge damage done to the legacy of the excellent Grampian Police and Grampian Fire & Rescue.

“The fact that no-one was surprised that the proposals were simply rubber-stamped speaks volumes. No other outcome was anticipated.”

From: Peter Bellarby

SNP councillors refuse to back call for improved infrastructure for the North East

By Peter Bellarby

A senior Aberdeenshire councillor has expressed disappointment that SNP councillors refused to support a report calling on the Scottish Government to give greater priority to the vital infrastructure needs of the north east of Scotland.

At a meeting on Thursday last week (23 January 2014), the Council was asked to consider its response to the Scottish Government’s National Planning Framework 3 (NPF3), published by ministers on 14th January. The NPF3 document provides a framework for development across the whole of Scotland, together with the government’s priorities for the next 20 or 30 years.

It also identifies nationally important developments to support its approach, including carbon capture and storage at Peterhead, improvements at Aberdeen airport and the project to develop Aberdeen harbour.

Whilst welcoming many aspects of NPF3, the Council’s response raised concerns over the lack of detailed actions to deliver the infrastructure necessary to support the levels of growth envisioned by Scottish ministers, particularly in the north east.

The report also highlighted concerns previously raised by the council and by Nestrans over the priority being given to a project to develop high speed rail between Edinburgh and Glasgow, rather than to improving journey times between the north east and the central belt.

Commenting, Cllr Peter Argyle, chair of the Infrastructure Services Committee, said, “I was absolutely astonished that the SNP group failed to back a report calling for greater priority to be given to rail links to and from the north east, rather than this unnecessary and uncosted high speed rail project.

“The Scottish Government is already spending £650m on rail improvements between Edinburgh and Glasgow, to reduce journey times by an estimated 8 minutes and increase capacity. High speed rail coming on top of this investment would be a luxury Scotland cannot afford at this stage, certainly not in isolation from the wider UK high speed rail project.

“We urgently need Scottish Government investment to improve journey times between Aberdeen and the central belt. Taking almost three hours to travel by rail from the economic powerhouse of Scotland to the central belt is inadequate in the 21st century. While there are still sections of single track around Montrose, including high speed rail in NPF3 as a priority National Development simply cannot be justified.

“It is a sad fact that of the £2.6bn of capital transport projects underway across Scotland today, none are in the north east. Indeed, the last Scottish Government project to be completed in our area was Laurencekirk station, way back in 2007. It is disappointing that the SNP failed to support the Aberdeenshire community on this issue and instead wanted to back the inclusion of this high speed project.”

Stonehaven Councillor, Peter Bellarby, added: “Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire is the economic centre piece of Scotland. This is where considerable growth is expected in the coming years. We need the infrastructure to match this and that includes transport. The railway journey to the central belt needs to be faster and one thing that would contribute to achieving this would be electrification. The journey time across Fife is particularly slow and attention needs to be paid to the railway infrastructure there as well.”

Following debate and a vote, the Aberdeenshire Alliance proposal to endorse the response was agreed and it will now be forwarded to the Scottish Government.

From: Peter Bellarby

SNP councillors refuse to back call for improved infrastructure for the North East

By Peter Bellarby

A senior Aberdeenshire councillor has expressed disappointment that SNP councillors refused to support a report calling on the Scottish Government to give greater priority to the vital infrastructure needs of the north east of Scotland.

At a meeting on Thursday last week, the Council was asked to consider its response to the Scottish Government’s National Planning Framework 3 (NPF3), published by ministers on 14th January. The NPF3 document provides a framework for development across the whole of Scotland, together with the government’s priorities for the next 20 or 30 years.

It also identifies nationally important developments to support its approach, including carbon capture and storage at Peterhead, improvements at Aberdeen airport and the project to develop Aberdeen harbour.

Whilst welcoming many aspects of NPF3, the Council’s response raised concerns over the lack of detailed actions to deliver the infrastructure necessary to support the levels of growth envisioned by Scottish ministers, particularly in the north east.

The report also highlighted concerns previously raised by the council and by Nestrans over the priority being given to a project to develop high speed rail between Edinburgh and Glasgow, rather than to improving journey times between the north east and the central belt.

Commenting, Cllr Peter Argyle, chair of the Infrastructure Services Committee, said, “I was absolutely astonished that the SNP group failed to back a report calling for greater priority to be given to rail links to and from the north east, rather than this unnecessary and uncosted high speed rail project.

“The Scottish Government is already spending £650m on rail improvements between Edinburgh and Glasgow, to reduce journey times by an estimated 8 minutes and increase capacity. High speed rail coming on top of this investment would be a luxury Scotland cannot afford at this stage, certainly not in isolation from the wider UK high speed rail project.

“We urgently need Scottish Government investment to improve journey times between Aberdeen and the central belt. Taking almost three hours to travel by rail from the economic powerhouse of Scotland to the central belt is inadequate in the 21st century. While there are still sections of single track around Montrose, including high speed rail in NPF3 as a priority National Development simply cannot be justified.

“It is a sad fact that of the £2.6bn of capital transport projects underway across Scotland today, none are in the north east. Indeed, the last Scottish Government project to be completed in our area was Laurencekirk station, way back in 2007. It is disappointing that the SNP failed to support the Aberdeenshire community on this issue and instead wanted to back the inclusion of this high speed project.”

Stonehaven Councillor, Peter Bellarby, added: “Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire is the economic centre piece of Scotland. This is where considerable growth is expected in the coming years. We need the infrastructure to match this and that includes transport. The railway journey to the central belt needs to be faster and one thing that would contribute to achieving this would be electrification. The journey time across Fife is particularly slow and attention needs to be paid to the railway infrastructure there as well.”

Following debate and a vote, the Aberdeenshire Alliance proposal to endorse the response was agreed and it will now be forwarded to the Scottish Government.

From:: Peter Bellarby

Nick Clegg statement on the passing of Nelson Mandela

By Peter Bellarby

“Our thoughts tonight (Thursday) are with the people of S. Africa. Nelson Mandela’s legacy will continue to burn brightly around the globe.

“Our thoughts go out to the people of South Africa who will be left heartbroken by this sad news.

“Every so often history produces an individual whose message is universal, and Nelson Mandela will be mourned and missed on every continent around the globe. The hope he offered was enough to unite races; it bridged cultures and transcended generations; and it could heal the deepest divides.

“That hope must now live on. Nelson Mandela’s legacy will continue to burn brightly, there is little doubt about that. But our greatest tribute to him will be our commitment to equality, humanity and peace – the values for which he very literally put his life on the line.”

From: Peter Bellarby

Robert Smith welcomes move to help businesses employ young people in West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine

By Peter Bellarby

Sir Robert Smith, Liberal Democrat MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine today welcomed the drive to help young people get jobs in West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine will be boosted through plans to abolish employers’ National Insurance Contributions (NICs) for under 21-year-olds.

The news means businesses will no longer have to pay tax on their employees aged under 21-years-old. For example, companies will save £1,000 each year for every young employee earning £16,000.

Across Aberdeenshire the plan to abolish NICs for young people from April 2015 means companies will not have to pay the contributions for 2,680 young people.

Sir Robert welcomed the decision, which was part of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, and said:

“From April 2015 businesses in Aberdeenshire will no longer have to pay National Insurance Contributions for 2,680 young people and I welcome this well-deserved extra support for local businesses and companies.

“The Liberal Democrats are focused on getting young people into work and this is the kind of initiative needed to give businesses a break and encourage them to start recruiting”

From: Peter Bellarby

Robert Smith has welcomed an announcement in the Autumn Statement to support motorists in West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine

By Peter Bellarby

Sir Robert Smith, Liberal Democrat MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine today welcomed the announcement that Fuel Duty has been frozen for another year.

A rise in Fuel Duty planned for September 2015 has been cancelled; meaning that by the end of this parliament the Coalition will have frozen Fuel Duty for 48 months.

Sir Robert commented:

“This will make a real difference to families in West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, particularly those in rural areas where travelling by car is a necessity. Compared to the last government’s plans motorists will be saving more than £11 every time they fill their car.”

Peter Bellarby added: “I am glad to see this move as it will help keep transport costs within bounds. This is particularly important in Aberdeenshire with its large rural area.”

From: Peter Bellarby

Work on Stonehaven flood alleviation measure to start this week

By Peter Bellarby

Work on smaller scale elements of the Stonehaven Flood Protection Scheme are expected to start at the end of this week.

Aberdeenshire Council has appointed contractors to improve the Mill Lade Soakaway. Following invesitgation it was recognised that the soakaway wasn’t functioning to its full capacity.

Locals had asked the Council to consider improving the soakaway, and it will now be repaired and capacity increased to take water away from the existing Mill Lade.

Excavation will be carried out and new pipework installed to help move water away effectively. Inspection chambers will also be created.

Bruce Plant have been appointed to carry out the work and are are expected to start towards the end of the week.

Sections of the town’s boardwalk may have to be closed off from time to time in the interest of safety while construction is carried out.

Rachel Kennedy, Principal Engineer (Flood Protection Works), said: “While the work on the Mill Lade should have an effect on water levels, this is not a solution to the issues the town faces and should be seen in conjunction with the other engineering solutions being proposed.

“We listened to local residents who were keen to see this work take place and have moved swiftly to get it done before the start of winter proper.”

Work is also expected to start soon on another measure to reduce the impact of any flooding event in the Old Town.

It had also been suggested by locals that flood relief channels should be created through boundary walls in the High Street and behind Arbuthnott Court to provide an escape route for floodwater.

As it is a conservation area, care had to be taken to minimise the impact and it would not be possible for large sections of the wall to be removed however pipework will be installed through the walls to allow water to escape more effectively.

Hunter Construction has been appointed to do the work, expected to start in the next few weeks.

A public engagement event in the town to seek views on a proposed Flood Protection Scheme ended at the weekend. (Nov 2) The views gathered will be reported to local councillors at a meeting of the Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee on November 19.

Cllr Peter Bellarby says: “I am really pleased that work on the Mill Lade is about to start. We need to have short term measures like this in place to help with flood alleviation. I also welcome the progress that is being made in designing the big flood alleviation scheme that is needed to deal with the serious flood situation we have in Stonehaven.”

From: Peter Bellarby

Ten Reasons for Staying as part of the United Kingdom

By Peter Bellarby

1. We have a 300 year history of success in global trading, defending, caring for and supporting our families.

2. We have uneqivocal devolution policy already in place regarding education, health, environment, law, sports, transport and local government.

3. We have security, defence and intelligence services that are the envy of the world.

4. We have secure and guaranteed payment of your pension.

5. The United Kingdom is a large country with power and influence in global negotiations.

6. We have one of the best performing economies in the world which ensures your mortgage payments stay as low as they can be.

7. We have no border controls between families spread across the UK.

8. We have a robust banking industry that bailed the Scottish sector out of the 2008 finacial crisis.

9. We have a worldwide diplomatic service in place promoting UK exports and providing humanitarian services.

10. We have the continued sovereignty and idepence of the GBP sterling as our currency.

Why your head must rule your heart

Why risk your family’s future with a leap into the unknown that will take decades to establish even the most basic infrastructure?

From: Peter Bellarby

BRUCE: UK DEVELOPMENT MODEL MUST CHANGE

By Peter Bellarby

The UK development model based on providing grant aid to poor countries will need to change if the UK is to continue to be a world leader on development assistance, according to Sir Malcolm Bruce MP, Chair of the International Development Committee, speaking at the Centre for Sustainable Development at Aberdeen University tonight (Friday).

The Liberal Democrat MP for Gordon said:

“The UK model of development assistance and the delivery of our commitment to 0.7 per cent of GNI on development assistance has served us and the world’s poor people well making the UK a role model in terms of the quantity and quality of our development assistance over the past 15 years.

“However, as more countries move up the income scale and the majority of poor people are living in lower middle income countries we need a much more flexible range of instruments including loans and technical support.

“It is no longer appropriate for example to provide grant aid to India but we cannot turn our backs on India’s poor people who currently outnumber the poor in sub Saharan Africa and have the worst nutrition and sanitation status on the planet.

“The UK should consider establishing a Development Bank which will be more appropriate to meet the needs of our partnership with developing nations and the way we work with other donors and multilateral agencies.

“The UK should continue to be a world leader in development support but to do that will require a radically different approach in the coming years.”

Sir Malcolm confirmed that the committee he chairs will produce a report on the future of development finance before the end of the year and will also be taking evidence on the implications of independence for development assistance claiming that the world’s poor are likely to lose out and that Scotland could not quickly match the capacity and reach of DFID with over 500 staff based in Scotland delivering UK development assistance.

From: Peter Bellarby