Angus & Mearns Liberal DemocratsWorking Year Round for Angus, Mearns & Stonehaven

By David May

As a former head teacher and member of Angus Council’s children and learning committee I back this announcement by Willie Rennie. It is clear to me that we have been facing cut after cut in education spending in Angus, and the SNP Government Budget mean they will be keeping pace with the Tories in their austerity plans to make more cuts. In my view we need more money spent on education and not more SNP cuts if we are serious about raising attainment.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats have proposed increasing income tax rates by 1p to raise extra funds for schools.
The party said the change to rates would raise £475m a year, which it would put towards Scottish education.
It would be spent on a “pupil premium” to fund children from more deprived backgrounds, early learning, childcare and college provision, and giving money to councils for schools.
Holyrood’s other parties have also pledged to focus on education.
Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie said his party had “an ambitious plan”, adding: “Scottish education was once the envy of the world. It has fallen hard and fast.
“But we have the plan that will put it right back up there. One penny is a small price for a big boost to get the country fit for the future.”

From:: David May

Feb/16

1

Coronation Avenue Montrose

By David May

IMG_2096

I have spoken to a roads officer at Angus council as there is a considerable problem at the start of Coronation Avenue, when pedestrians try to cross at the lights. The issue is after heavy rain a pool of water collects any vehicles driving along can soak pedestrians while they are waiting to cross. The roads officer is now aware of the problem and will let me know what can be done to resolve it.

From:: David May

Jan/16

31

Civil liberties are being slowly eroded under the SNP

By David May

Mr Rennie said in Laurencekirk at the weekend only his party has effectively opposed the Nationalists on issues such as police stop-and-search, the abolition of corroboration and plans for an ID database.

Speaking at the party’s North East of Scotland regional conference, which was attended by Angus and Means members, he said the Liberal Democrats will continue to stand up to the “illiberal” SNP after May’s Holyrood election.
Mr Rennie commented “Too often we take our civil liberties for granted and under the SNP Government they have been slowly degraded.
“It has only been the effective campaigns run by the Liberal Democrats that has provided any form of opposition to their changes.

“The Liberal Democrats led successful campaigns against industrial scale, unjustified stop-and-search and the routine arming of the police. We fought against the erosion of the scope of freedom of information powers. We forced a retreat on the abolition of corroboration.

“The SNP’s proposal to introduce an intrusive ID database has stalled following opposition from the Liberal Democrats. And just this week we won the case on the regulation of facial recognition technology.

“The Liberal Democrats stood alone in opposition to the centralisation of Scotland’s police forces. It has led to the undermining of traditional Scottish policing, low morale amongst staff and officers, and change being imposed on communities from police HQ in the central belt.

From:: David May

By David May

Scottish Liberal Democrats have welcomed a Scottish Government announcement of funding for a flyover on the A90 at Laurencekirk.

“Alison McInnes MSP, who represents North East Scotland, and local councillors David May (Montrose), Bill Howatson (Mearns) and Peter Bellarby (Stonehaven) have consistently called on successive SNP transport ministers to take action.”

Mrs McInnes said: “It has taken years to get to this point. The government announcement of £24m for Laurencekirk junction improvements, as part of a package of support for the Aberdeen City Region Deal, is most welcome. The flyover will save lives at a very dangerous junction on the A90. The government has listened to our concerted campaigning. Well done to Jill Fotheringham, Councillor David May and all the local campaigners.

“I will be urging the minister to press on as quickly as possible. The 50mph zone which was put in place by Liberal Democrat ministers as a temporary measure has helped save lives but despite the many warning signs too many drivers still speed through at 70mph and more.”

Cllr David May commented “ Like our MSP Alison McInnes I am delighted that after over 9 years of talk but little action I am absolutely delighted to hear the announcement of funding, but I call on the minister to publish the plan of action and timescales as we need to know when the work will be started and when he expects it to be completed.”

From:: David May

Jan/16

27

Swinney offer to councils

By David May

Having read in the media about the very recent offer the SNP finance minister has made to councils I have asked our chief executive for some details of this and in particular what the percentage of cuts we would have to make to our council services. As a councillor and former teacher I have real concerns about the cuts we would have to make to our education budgets and the impact this would have of school, our pupils and social care which is also so essential for the quality of life of so many Angus people some of whom are very elderly.

As education takes makes up so much of our budgets the impact of cuts on the future for our pupils would be devastating. These budgets of education and social care needs protecting and not cut any further.

From:: David May

By David May

On a day when the latest unemployment figures have been widely reported, it is striking that the 4.6% fall in Angus is much smaller than the 15.1% in neighbouring Perth & Kinross, 15.5% in Dundee and 16% in Fife. Clive Sneddon, convener of Angus Liberal Democrats, said:

“If we are to help everyone into work, we must start by improving educational opportunities for all. This begins with the very youngest and goes all the way through to those at college.

“That is why I agree with Willie Rennie MSP, Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, when he calls (Friday 22 January) for a ‘Pupil Premium’ to be introduced in Scotland, targeting support on those who need it. This Lib Dem policy has in England closed the gap between children from the poorest backgrounds and those from better off families. It is a policy that works and helps people do better, and we need it in Angus.”

Speaking to the Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, Mr Rennie will reveal figures showing the impact that this Lib Dem policy has had on closing the attainment gap between the children from the richest and poorest backgrounds in England.

Mr Rennie said

“To get fit for the future our children and young people deserve the best education.

“Just look at the reports from recent weeks: the OECD has warned that Scottish education is slipping from our world-beating position; the Scottish Government has missed its targets for early education for 2-year-olds by 75%; and more than 150,000 college places have been lost under the SNP.

“And now the SNP have singled out local education authorities for a £500million cut to their budgets.

“We can’t stand by and watch the destruction of education in Scotland.

“We know that education is the essential investment that gives every child a chance to reach their potential.

“Our plan involves investing in a Pupil Premium to help children who need extra support and tuition at school. The money is for the pupil no matter where they live or what school they attend. It has been successful in England at closing the attainment gap and I want Scotland’s children to benefit too.

“The Pupil Premium with £2.5 billion a year has paid for breakfast clubs and one to one tuition; for extra staff and equipment; and for outreach programmes to help engage parents.

“It gave schools more than just the money to act – it gave them the incentive to focus on poorer pupils, backed up by Ofsted accountability.

“And it has made a tangible difference.

“Primary School figures from England showed children from the poorest backgrounds getting their best ever results and the gap between them and their better off classmates narrowed.

“The attainment gap between disadvantaged and other pupils narrowed by 4.7 percentage points in primary schools and 1.6 percentage points in secondary schools between 2011 and 2014.

“We need to bring this to Scotland.”

From:: David May

Jan/16

20

McInnes presses for action on Aberdeen and area

By David May

McInnes presses for Aberdeen City Region Deal urgency
Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Alison McInnes has welcomed assurances from Scottish Ministers today that proposals for the Aberdeen City Region Deal are continuing to gather pace.

Questioning the Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities Keith Brown this afternoon, Ms McInnes pressed him on whether the deal remains a key priority for the Scottish Government given continued difficulties in the area.

The Aberdeen City Region Deal is a bid from Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Councils for billions of pounds worth of joint funding from the UK and Scottish governments for a range of infrastructure, housing and innovation improvements.

Speaking after her questioning, Ms McInnes said: “As Brent crude prices drop to their lowest levels in twelve years and oil companies announce hundreds more jobs are to go, the need for regional investment in Aberdeen and the surrounding area is more urgent than ever.

“I’m pleased to hear the Scottish and UK government continue to work on releasing this much-needed funding but this is not just about ministers having regular meetings and discussions.

“A successful deal must be reached and funding released as quickly as possible for a region where people are living in constant fear of losing their jobs.

“The Cabinet Secretary has assured me the Aberdeen City Region Deal is a key priority of his government. I’d welcome an announcement from him and the UK government as quickly as possible.”

From:: David May

Jan/16

20

Flood grant applications

By David May

If your property was directly affected by flooding during recent spells of bad weather you can now apply for a flood relief grant.

The flat rate grant of £1500 can be claimed by households, businesses, community groups and charities, in either of the following circumstances:

for any period when you were absent from your property due to flooding and did not receive the full benefit of local authority services
to enable you to protect your home or business against future floods by installing new flood barriers, or by carrying out flood resilient repairs such as replacing doors and windows with water resistant alternatives, or moving electricity sockets up to a safer level
Only properties (excluding garden ground) which were directly affected by the flooding and were inundated with water will be eligible for grant assistance.
Our flood relief grant page has more information about the application process – applications can be made online now or by downloading an application form. Applications should be submitted by 29 February.

From:: David May

Jan/16

14

Sheltered Housing Motion at the council committee

By David May

The report from the SNP administration at the social work and health committee today meant that they wanted, among other recommendations, to replace the tenancy support officers ( or wardens) with a service run by a voluntary organisation. I supported the amendment at the council to this but the convener did not allow it to be heard despite the fact that the legal advice was that the amendment was competent and could be heard, discussed and voted on. I do not back the SNP administration and I will do my best to back the residents of the sheltered housing complexes who have made it clear to me that they want to retain the wardens and like them I believe the wardens play a key role in all the sheltered housing complexes. To me it is absurd to change a system that works really well and I can understand when people say it is all to do with Scottish Government cuts.

From:: David May

By David May

Scottish Liberal Democrat energy spokesman Liam McArthur MSP has said Scotland has the resources, skills, companies and research base to deliver on ambitious new green energy targets being outlined today.

His comments come as industry body Scottish Renewables issues calls for Scotland to set a new target of generating the equivalent of 50% of its total electricity, heat and transport demand from renewables by 2030.

Mr McArthur said: “I welcome this latest call from Scottish Renewables. Scottish Liberal Democrats are proud of our track record in delivering for renewables in government, both here in Scotland and at a UK level.

“Achieving a target of 50% energy generation from renewables by 2030 will be challenging, but it is within our grasp and the right thing to do to meet our climate change objectives. Heat and transport will have to play a far more prominent part, but we have the skills, companies and research base, as well as the natural resources, to deliver.

“Scottish Liberal Democrats look forward to engaging with Scottish Renewables and others to determine how best this can be achieved. These proposals can help shape the next phase in our efforts to create a renewables revolution.”

From:: David May

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