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

Supporting local groups – Council committee motion

By davidmay

A report at the council committee today made it clear that in future community groups will only be ably to apply for £1,250 and they will have to match this through “crowdfunding”. In the past the scheme was that applications could be made for up to £5,000 and groups usually had done considerable fund raising in a variety of ways.

After the report was passed I commented ” I have real concerns abut this new system, as the community grant scheme which I had helped to set up, and was initiated by the previous administration ( the Angus Alliance) was a huge success. There is no doubt this previous scheme has made a big difference to many of our community groups who have been able to access funds to help them run not only many community events but also as we have seen improve their facilities.

I fully understand that as a council we are being faced with having to make huge cuts in what we do and this is an area that was always going to be vulnerable to this.

However, I have real concerns about the new system as it will make it more difficult for some of our community groups to develop in the way they would wish. I can appreciate the need for match funding but to confine it to crowdfunding is in my view a mistake and will for some groups be a deterrent. What was wrong with the groups doing their own fundraising instead.

From:: David May

Rumbles: SNP must come clean on bus pass plans

By davidmay

Scottish Liberal Democrat transport spokesperson Mike Rumbles today called on the Scottish Government to come clean on its plans for bus travel in Scotland after the Transport Minister refused to rule out further changes to the concessionary travel scheme in Scotland.

This afternoon Mr Rumbles asked the Transport Minister a series of questions on the concessionary travel scheme, first introduced by Tavish Scott as Transport Minister, including whether there were plans to increase the eligibility age after recent media reports suggested that this would happen.

Commenting after the session Mr Rumbles said:

“I asked the Transport Minister if there were other options on the table besides raising the age of eligibility like the introduction of means testing or introducing a fee for the entitlement card. He refused to rule any of these measures out despite the SNP committing to free bus travel in their manifesto.

“This will worry those who have benefited from a scheme that has been a success in Scotland. The Minister should not be hiding from the electorate and come clean on what he truly wants to achieve with his changes to the free bus pass.”

From:: David May

Rennie: Liberal Democrats will vote against the triggering of Article 50

By davidmay

Commenting in response to the First Minister’s announcement in today’s Daily Record that she will give the Scottish Parliament a vote on the triggering of Article 50 regardless of the outcome of the Supreme Court ruling, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie MSP said:

“Liberal Democrats will vote against the triggering of Article 50 in Parliament unless there is a Brexit deal referendum that gives the British public a say on the terms of Brexit.

“The First Minister believes that the answer to the reckless nationalism of the Tories is the reckless nationalism of independence which will only compound the chaos of Brexit further. Instead of giving up on the UK the SNP should join our efforts of keeping the UK in the EU.”

From:: David May