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

Jul/16

23

By davidmay

As an Angus councillor I agree with what is written about the Reform Scotland report, which has called for a greater role for councils in Scottish policing ,as more local countability is needed as the national accountability is certainly not working and local Angus issues and priorities are needed to be identifies and implemented more than ever. I have never been able to understand why the police report and discussion on it no longer takes place with the public and press there. I fail to comprehend why at the relevant council committee the police report is on green paper so that it is done in private and cannot be reported. As a Lib Dem who believes in openness and transparency this is incomprehensible. I agree that there may well be some issues that must be taken in camera but if the previous Tayside system was able to do that why does Angus Council not do the same so I call on Angus council and the police to implement my suggestion as soon as possible and do what Reform Scotland are pushing for.

“The think tank Reform Scotland has called for a greater role for councils in Scottish policing in a bid to increase local accountability. It has put together a briefing paper based on its response to a government consultation on strategies for the country’s police force.
It called for the return of council funding for the police along with reforms to local government.
The government said police should not be accountable to politicians.
A spokesman said the police were held to account by the Scottish Police Authority (SPA), not ministers, “protecting their ability to serve without political interference”.
And the SPA said a recent review had concluded that the current governance model was the right one.
‘Re-inject localism’
The think tank based its Reinventing Local Policing briefing on its submission to the Scottish government’s draft strategic police priorities for Scotland consultation.

From:: David May

Jul/16

22

Concerns about the affect of the SNP cuts

By davidmay

Like the Scottish Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton I have real concerns about the affect of the huge SNP cuts on central drug and alcohol service funding could leave people stranded and without appropriative and much needed and timely support.

Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP the Scottish Health spokesman yesterday warned that cuts to drug and alcohol services could leave people stranded as new figures revealed that more than 3000 children were treated for drug or alcohol misuse in the last two years.

The statistics, obtained by the Liberal Democrats through Freedom of Information requests, showed that 3336 children were admitted to emergency departments or to hospital in 2014-15 and 2015-16 as a result of drug and alcohol misuse.

Mr Cole-Hamilton called on the Scottish Government to look again at drug and alcohol education in schools and for a review of SNP cuts to central drug and alcohol service funding that saw money slashed by 20% this year.

Commenting, Mr Cole-Hamilton said:

“There is no silver bullet to tackling Scotland’s drink and drug problems but it is fair to say that cutting resources for drug and alcohol services will not help one bit, and could leave people stranded. For the Government to pass the buck to health boards when so many other elements of the health service are under the cosh is just not good enough. They need to look at this again.

“With thousands of children over the last two years having received treatment after drug and alcohol misuse it is clear that education has a vital role to play in keeping children and families safe. This means helping parents keep prescription medicines and other drugs safe at home and working to ensure that older children understand fully the risks associated with drinking and drug use.

“The idea of one of my children requiring hospital treatment as a result of drugs or alcohol leaves me in a cold sweat. I want them to get the education they need to take healthy choices.

“Scotland’s drink problem is well documented and our approach to tackling drug misuse has often seemed to be based on fear of difficult headlines rather than a proper evidence base. We need to see drug addiction and alcoholism treated as medical issues.”

From:: David May

By davidmay

I am appalled to read that under this much criticised SNP flagship policy of centralised policing under Police Scotland that officers are being sent to charity shops to buy basic kit. This not what what we were told when the SNP introduced their centralised policing and even SNP MSPs must hold their party leaders to account on this. The Scottish Lib Dem spokesman Liam McArthur is right to highlight this and the SNP justice minister needs to investigate this and report to Scotland the result and what actions are being taken.

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesman Liam McArthur MSP today warned that poundshop policing will not deliver the service that communities need after the General Secretary of the Scottish Police Federation (SPF) warned that officers are being sent out to buy kit from charity shops.

Calum Steele from the SPF took to social media and claimed officers are “being sent to charity shops to source basic equipment for policing”.

Commenting, Mr McArthur said:

“These are extraordinary claims from the General Secretary of the Police Federation. The idea of officers being sent to charity shops to source essential kit would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious. Police Officers work incredibly hard to keep us safe. They need to be given the equipment they need to do their jobs.

“We know that staff cuts have left officers and civilian staff overstretched. Poundshop policing will not deliver the service we need and the government needs to look urgently into these reports.”

From:: David May

Jul/16

14

Sunnyside Hospital Set for sale

By davidmay

As a regular walker over the Sunnyside Hospital grounds I am delighted to hear it it is set for sale and on the brink of a major development, and I am looking forward to hearing the details of what is planned.
It is not surprising there will be concerns about the plans, but I would give this news a cautious welcome in the hope that there will be a positive future for Sunnyside, which we do not want to see lying empty and deteriorating, and there were worries that the buildings would fall into greater disrepair and perhaps vandalism.
However, there are implications if a considerable amount of more homes are built for local services including the local primary school, which is already close to its maximum capacity.
One key aspect for me is the protection of the wonderful listed buildings there as or example, the ceiling inside the recreation hall and Zodiac room are magnificent and I think everything possible must be done to retain features such as those.
Some of the Sunnyside hospital buildings are listed and indeed are beautiful building and it has been suggested to me that they could have several issues such as retirement-type homes, a superb hotel and an amazing leisure complex.

From:: David May

Jul/16

9

SNP centralisation means loss of local control

By davidmay

“As a Lib Dem councillor in Angus I am appalled that it seems that the SNP haven’t learned from centralisation mistakes in the past as it seems that are considering drastically reducing the number of health boards. The lack of openness and transparency in decision making is already clear to people in Angus, and this will only get worse if decisions are made further and further from the patients.

In my view the Scottish Lib Dems are spot on with their comment as they have said that the SNP Government clearly hasn’t learnt from its record of calamitous centralisations, in response to the news that ministers could reduce the number Health Boards from fourteen to three or five.”

With the shake-up putting the future of health boards from Shetland to the Borders in doubt, Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP commented:

“The challenges that are facing the NHS will be solved through investment and the removal of the suffocating target culture. They won’t be solved through centralisation that would inevitably see power shift from local health boards to ministers in Edinburgh.

“The Scottish Government clearly hasn’t learnt from its record of calamitous centralisations. College mergers saw bosses getting bumper pay-outs at the same time as 152,000 college places were being lost. The imposition of one-size-fits-all policing severed community relationships and jeopardised the hard work of officers and staff.

“Previous attempts at centralisation have blown up in the SNP’s face and the sooner ministers realise one size doesn’t fit all the better. Hoarding more power at Holyrood is rarely the answer.”

Scottish Liberal Democrats today said the SNP Government clearly hasn’t learnt from its record of calamitous centralisations, in response to the news that ministers could reduce the number Health Boards from fourteen to three or five.

With the shake-up putting the future of health boards from Shetland to the Borders in doubt, Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP commented:

“The challenges that are facing the NHS will be solved through investment and the removal of the suffocating target culture. They won’t be solved through centralisation that would inevitably see power shift from local health boards to ministers in Edinburgh.

“The Scottish Government clearly hasn’t learnt from its record of calamitous centralisations. College mergers saw bosses getting bumper pay-outs at the same time as 152,000 college places were being lost. The imposition of one-size-fits-all policing severed community relationships and jeopardised the hard work of officers and staff.

“Previous attempts at centralisation have blown up in the SNP’s face and the sooner ministers realise one size doesn’t fit all the better. Hoarding more power at Holyrood is rarely the answer.”

From:: David May

Jul/16

8

Council issues

By davidmay

Busy few days dealing with issues raised by constituents such as a closed path, dog fouling, a local pond, new bin rota and street lighting. I have also attended meetings on golf marketing, the Adam Centre and the YM.

From:: David May

Jul/16

5

Borrowfield pond

By davidmay

IMG_7594

Sections of the seats and part of the path at Borrowfield pond are underwater due to the high level of the water, and as a result are the seats are unusable. I approached the council and they have been out and have confirmed that they have now investigated the issue and have tried to clear the outlet from the pond. However, it seems that I that this has proved difficult due to the length of culvert at the outlet and the nature of the blockage. Consequently, the council have contacted a contractor who will use a high pressure jetting machine with extended reach to see if this can clear the outlet/culvert blockage.

I have every hope that this will work as the local residents are presently not able to enjoy the amenity which is for their use.

I have been assured by the could officer that I will get an update on progress with the pond, and I will update the blog when I find out more.

IMG_7590

From:: David May

Jul/16

5

Doctors path closure

By davidmay

IMG_7656 (1)

I have had many complaints about the closure of the “Doctors Path” between Rosemount Road and Hospital Road in Hillside, as it is a well used path by many local residents and dog walkers as they go from the Rosemount side of the village to the old Sunnyside Hospital site.

It was clear from what I was told that the path has been closed for some weeks so I made contact with an officer at Angus Council to find out more and what the plans are for the re-opening of the path. However, it appears that the path is not owned by Angus Council as I had thought but instead by Tayside Health Board, so the council officer has informed me that he will contact with the Health Board in order to answer my questions and to find when the path will be repaired and re-open.

From:: David May

By davidmay

IMG_4206

Mike Rumbles, Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP for the North East and Angus Councillor David May have accused the Scottish Government of “washing their hands” of their mental health failures, passing the buck to cash strapped health boards and primary care services.

Following a string of questions to the Scottish Ministers, Mr Rumbles expressed his frustration that simple questions regarding access to mental health services have been left unanswered, particularly regarding access to services in the North East’s rural communities.

Mr Rumbles said: “It is absolutely unacceptable that the Minister for Public Health has chosen to pass the buck for inadequate mental health services to our NHS Boards. Although I welcome the increased use of helpline and online services such as Breathing Space and computerised Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, this cannot be used as a substitute for one to one treatment by a mental health professional.

“The underfunding of mental health services continues to be an issue, with the Scottish Government only providing an additional £150 million over the next 5 years. That’s £30 million a year between 14 health boards. Acute services in NHS Grampian and NHS Tayside will receive just £490,805 and £381,033 per year, respectively – that’s just not good enough!

“The SNP Government needs to accept responsibility for mental health and commit to serious investment to ensure our communities receive the service they deserve.”

David May, Scottish Liberal Democrat Councillor for Montrose and a member of the joint board for Angus Health and Social Care partnership added: ”It seems clear that the shortage of appropriately trained staff is a major reason for the possible closure of the £20 Million Mulberry Unit at Stracathro which was only opened in December 2011. This can to some extent be laid at the door of the Scottish Government Health Minister and she and her predecessor, who have failed to recruit an adequate number of mental health staff. This may result in the closure of the Mulberry Unit at Stracathro Hospital.

Angus residents will be clearly appalled at this threat as closing the facility would have an impact on crisis help in Angus as well as community-based care. It is obvious that closure will mean additional travel and costs for many patients and staff, and support from family and friends for patients will be more difficult. I have also heard that any threat to the Mulberry unit also impacts on the Susan Carnegie and Stroke units at the hospital, which share staff and the health minster must take action to stop this.

The closure of local mental health units is inconsistent with the 20/ 20 vision of the SNP government to treat people at home or as near to home as possible and may force people in our Angus rural communities to travel unnecessary distances to receive the treatment they need.”

From:: David May

Jun/16

30

Cuts in Angus Teacher staffing?

By davidmay

Cuts in teacher staffing in Angus was always going to be a possible outcome when Angus Council agreed to change the structure of the secondary school week from the current thirty five period structure to a thirty three period structure. The council commented “These changes will help schools to maximise the resources they have available.”
“The efficient staffing model will be reflected in the formula used to staff secondary schools.”

“The new model is efficient as it enables teachers to work their 22.5 hours contact time in secondary schools.”

A more efficient staffing model is another way of meaning cuts in staffing, as £370,000 needed to implement the changes must be found.

It is a fact that the SNP and that two Carnoustie independent councillors voted for this and I not only opposed this and voted against this but spoke against it.

The council clearly also voted for the fact it was going to be the Wednesday early closure of our schools and there was no doubt about that.

My comments against this change to the new school week included

  • although I support the reduction of some form time from the present 30 mins each day to 10 mins each day as this will mean more teaching time I do believe we could have had the best of both worlds by a different model which would have meant more teaching time and not having to find an extra £370,000 from the education budget
  • Although I can see that having an afternoon available for work experience, extra curricular actvities sport etc. could add to pupil experience and skills, I am concerned as who will organise it and monitor it as this is outwith the teachers contract I feel that there are workload issues about what is proposed and this has not been explained especially when even the education minister acknowledges this and today the teachers have announced action they are talking over workload.
  • We are speaking about thousands and thousands of pupils for this Wednesday afternoon across the whole of Angus, and i have serious doubts that their will be enough employers, volunteers, sports clubs etc. be about to carry this out. As a former timetabler this will be very challenging to organise.
  • Furthermore, what happens to those pupils who need a bus to get home – they will not take part in this unless their homes can provide the transport. Effectively in practice as a rural authority and especially for many pupils in our rural area and especially those in Forfar, Brechin and Kirriemuir who go home on the contracted bus and not have the opportunity to take part in these extra activities.

From:: David May

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