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

By Sanjay Samani

We are repeating our calls on the SNP Government to build a flyover at Laurencekirk after a new video emerged showing a bus completely blocking the southbound fast lane on the A90 at the notorious junction, forcing drivers to come to a complete stop.

Seeing the video this evening on Facebook was unbelievable. Those of us who have backed Jill Fotheringham’s campaign for a flyover for many years know all too well how dangerous the junction is. But this video shows so clearly that there is a massive safety issue, it is a relief that no-one was hurt.

The SNP Government needs to immediately announce that a flyover will be built, without waiting on the results of the recent consultation, or we may well see a major accident at the junction.

However I do not believe the SNP Government want to be seen to back down, so it is vital that everyone who uses the junction makes their voices heard and give their feedback on the consultation by calling for a flyover.

Montrose Lib Dem Cllr David May said,

“That is one of the most terrifying pictures I have seen and what is truly startling is having it on video as well. This demonstrates the need for a flyover so much more clearly than we could ever do, even with thousands of signatures on Jill’s two petitions, hundreds of photos and 10 years of campaigning.”

“It puts the danger of the junction so starkly that it is plain to see for everyone. Thankfully there was no major accident arising from this.”

From:: Sanjay Samani

Jan/15

23

No excuse not to build a flyover at Laurencekirk now.

By David May

A937/A90 LAURENCEKIRK JUNCTION CAMPAIGN – A flyover

I attended the consultation event this week on the public exhibition in the Dickson Hall in Laurencekirk to seek views on proposed options for junction improvements for the A90 and A937.

The engineering consultancy CH2M HILL was commissioned by the North East of Scotland Transport Partnership (Nestrans) to develop proposals for improving access to Laurencekirk and I was very impressed with the exhibition and the quality of the report. In my view the report is very thorough and I congratulated all the parties including Transport Scotland for their role.
I have looked at each of the 7 options and it seems to me that the option of the flyover is the only serious way forward, and although like others I have argued for years to get the Scottish Government to take this forward there is now hard evidence to back this up.

There has been a massive delay, which I do not believe was necessary, and there is no doubt they have had the money in the bank but made a decision that this was not a priority.
This report is now providing the decision makers with the evidence and there is no doubt in our view that we need a grade-separated junction — and I think this very through fully demonstrates this. I think the transport minister has a huge problem because he can’t ignore the evidence that is there.
There is no excuse not to build the junction, absolutely none. It shouldn’t be a political issue, it should be a safety issue.

Seven packages were developed and the one involving average speed cameras was rejected, which left 6 and I was delighted thatall of which include a grade-separation at the south junction.

I was also pleased to see the excellent attendance at the meeting and repeat the call to the decision makers to look at the evidence that when the decision is eventually made we have a flyover.

However there is the chance for all of us to submit our comments by the end of February to this consultation, so I encourage everyone who was there as well as others who were unable to attend this to do this as this will add weight behind any decision made. Those who attended the meeting will have the form, but for those who couldn’t make it there is a link below where you can do it online. The forms will also be available in Mearns Hardware laurencekirk and Willows Florists in John street montrose.

http://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/t…/TransportationStudies.asp

From:: David May

Jan/15

21

Busier Sheriff Court in Angus Closed by SNP #SNPFail

By Sanjay Samani

Figures revealed yesterday have shown that the SNP Government chose to close the busier of the Sheriff’s Courts in Angus. This was despite there being over £100 million unspent in the last year for Justice and the Procurator Fiscal Service.

Angus Lib Dems strongly objected to the closure of Arbroath Sheriff Court and the figures reveal that the court was heavily used. Forcing witnesses and victims to travel long distances will undermine the effectiveness of the justice system in Angus.

SNP representatives for Angus, Mike Weir MP, Nigel Don MSP and Graeme Day MSP seem to have little or no influence on their SNP colleagues making decisions centrally in Holyrood.

It is now clear that closing yet another service in Angus was a big mistake by the SNP.

Click here for the full article in The Courier which gives the following figures:

Between April 2012 to the end of March last year, prisoner journeys to Arbroath totalled 2,568, compared to Forfar’s 991.

Dundee received 5,262 prisoner movements in 2012/13, 5,284 in 2013/14 and 3,588 between April and November last year.

In the same periods, other sheriff courts received the following number of individual prisoner transport journeys:

  • Arbroath (closed in May) — 1,163, 1,405, 255
  • Forfar — 504, 487, 928

From:: Sanjay Samani

Following the launch of a petition in November, Sir Robert Smith, MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, and Peter Bellarby, councillor for Stonehaven and Lower Deeside, have welcomed confirmation that consideration will be given to the introduction of a specific coastal flood warning system for Stonehaven, but caution that the pressure needs to be kept up.

Sir Robert Smith visits Stonehaven to inspect coastal flooding

In November Sir Robert and Cllr Peter Bellarby launched a petition and wrote to SEPA and the Scottish Government calling for a specific coastal flood warning system for Stonehaven. Responses received from SEPA and the Scottish Government state that consideration will be given to a new warning system this year and if such a system is “feasible” it would be implemented in 2016 at the earliest.

Please click here to sign the petition for a coastal flood warning system for Stonehaven

Commenting, Sir Robert said:

“Following the launch of the Stonehaven coastal flood warning petition it is encouraging that SEPA and the Scottish Government will be giving consideration to a new system later this year.
“However, a new warning system will depend on ‘technical and financial’ considerations. It is also the case that families and businesses in Stonehaven will have to wait until 2016 at the earliest if there is agreement. It is therefore crucial that pressure is kept up to ensure that Stonehaven gets the specific warning it needs, as soon as possible, to help keep residents safe.”

Cllr Peter Bellarby has said:

“It is vital that a proper warning system is provided for Stonehaven and the east Aberdeenshire coast. We need to have this in place as soon as practicable so that residents can take action when needed.”

By David May

“I have had contact with many people both in Angus and in the Mearns, as well as Montrose people not living in the Aberdeen area, and am aware from them that hundreds of oil related jobs are being lost and others are facing considerable pay cuts due to the massive oil price fall. From the news tonight it seems that this oil price fall is likely to stay for some time, and many local families are facing an appalling future. I am, however, glad to see that nearby Scottish Lib Dem MP Sir Bob Smith has tabled a motion in Parliament which has the backing of Labour, SNP and Tory MPs as in my view by working together across not only parties but across the UK that we can help to protect jobs.”

Sir Robert has tabled a motion in Parliament calling on the UK Government to work with North Sea oil and gas companies to protect jobs and retain the industry’s skills base in the UK.
The motion, which has cross-party support, highlights the importance of the North Sea oil and gas industry in anchoring export businesses and a vast supply chain to the UK, the motion also warns that job cuts could result in a loss of skills and expertise.
Commenting, Sir Robert said:
“The falling oil price is putting significant pressure on businesses in the North East and I am very concerned about the job cuts which have been announced.
“The North East is a centre of excellence for energy, but redundancies could result in a loss of expertise. When the oil price picks up the industry will face a skills shortage if experienced and knowledgeable workers have had to look for employment somewhere else.
“There is also a risk that companies may decide to headquarter themselves elsewhere if they lose confidence in the North Sea. This would have serious ramifications for the industry and the UK-wide supply chain.
“I have already written to the Department for Work and Pensions calling for support for workers who have been made redundant; the Government must also work directly with businesses to help them retain jobs.”

(The motion, EDM 691, can be found at http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2014-15/691

Primary sponsor: Smith, Robert
Sponsors:Anne Begg, Mike Weir, Charles Hendry, Eilidh Whiteford, Malcolm Bruce
That this House notes with concern that one of the consequences of the falling oil price is the pressure this is putting on many businesses in the North East of Scotland; recognises the importance of the North Sea oil and gas industry in keeping export-earning businesses and the associated supply chain anchored to the UK; further notes the risk of losing valuable expertise from the UK as a result of job cuts; and calls on the Government to work with North Sea businesses to help them retain jobs and skills during this downturn.)

From:: David May

Jan/15

15

BP Jobs cut wake up call for Independence Supporters

By Sanjay Samani

Today’s announcement by BP that they will be cutting jobs in North East Scotland as a result of falling oil prices is a real blow for the local economy.

The news is a wake up call to supporters of independence who based their economic plans on Oil.

Oil prices are out of the hands of the Scottish and UK governments and is far too unstable to rely on for a major part of a country’s economy.

Falling oil prices are seen as a net positive for the overall UK economy that can weather the impact. It is however a massive blow for North East Scotland that the SNP Government has underfunded for many years. It puts a massive hole in the SNP’s plans for independence and shows that Scottish voters were right to reject their inflated promises.

North East Scotland needs to transition quickly to renewable energy where with on shore and off shore wind we have substantial resources and the price is far more stable and predictable. Oil and Gas will be a major per of the local economy for years to come but this news shows that the future is renewables and that we should invest now before we are forced to by shrinking oil reserves and volatile prices.

From:: Sanjay Samani

By David May

Yesterday at the Angus council Education Committee I raised concerns about the proposed cuts by the SNP administration in music instructors. I commented that I could not understand their argument that despite the cuts in numbers of instructors the service would be at least as good, as there be a move towards group teaching by the instructors. As I pointed out that with less music instructors it must lead to fewer pupils getting instruction.
As councillors we heard that across the county the instruction in different instruments was patchy. Consequently, in my view the cuts make no sense at all.

In my view musical instruction is rightly considered a benefit as a force for good in our young people, and I have seen first hand in both Montrose and across Angus young people developing real musical talent and concerts, including pantos which like many others I have hugely enjoyed.

I fully understand the view that reducing the number of instructors from over 18 full time equivalents to 11 will lead to elitism, as it will deprive youngsters in on Angus the chance to learn a musical instrument. I am appalled at this prospect since it will mean that it might lead to tuition for some for only those parents who can afford to pay for privately and those on lower incomes will not have this opportunity.

I have already had contact from various constituents who are opposed to this cut and I fail to understand why when the Scottish Government have such a massive underspend of almost £1/2 billion that cuts like these are needed.

From:: David May

By David May

I am delighted to welcome this as it mirrors the plan introduced in England last Sep and delivered by the Lib Dems at Westminster with the Barnett element coming to Scotland.

It means that now all our p1-p3 pupils will benefit from a healthy and nourishing free school meal each and every day of the school week. This will I am sure have a positive impact on childrens readiness to learn and thus boost what they can achieve in school.

The previous system of free meals was quite restrictive and only available to those whose families received child and working benefits. This new universal provision across the board will I am sure have a positive impact on children’s readiness to learn, what they can achieve in school as well as benefitting families. This universal approach will no doubt be a boost to Angus families as well as making a difference to these youngsters achievements at a crucial age in their development.

From:: David May

By Sanjay Samani

Sanjay Samani and Cllr David May visit the Closed Police Counter in Montrose

Angus Liberal Democrats have reacted angrily to news that the SNP Government has left £444 million unspent last year, despite closing key services across Angus and failing to invest in local infrastructure.

Accounts have emerged showing that the Scottish Government has underspent £92 million on Justice, £10 million on the Procurator Fiscal Service, £102 million on Infrastructure and a whopping £165 million on Education.

Sanjay Samani and Cllr David May visit the Closed Police Counter in Montrose

Lib Dem Campaigner for Angus, Sanjay Samani said,

“The SNP have been steadily closing down services in Angus. They have closed Sheriff’s Courts, Police Counters, Noranside Prison and Angus College. They have failed to build a flyover at Laurencekirk that we desperately need to protect drivers. Yet in all these departments there was plenty of money left to be spent.”

“Meanwhile our SNP elected representatives, Mike Weir MP, Nigel Don MSP and Graeme Dey MSP, have done absolutely nothing to stop the closure of key Angus services by their SNP colleagues in Edinburgh. This has cost Angus jobs, made it harder for students to study, left Laurencekirk junction unsafe and had a negative impact on our local economy.”

“The SNP have blamed all the cuts on Angus services on Westminster, and yet they had close to half a billion pounds left to invest.”

Lib Dem Montrose Cllr David May said,

“As an ex-teacher and head master, I am appalled to see £165 million go unspent on Education. The merger of Angus College with Dundee and loss of hundreds of college places has had a huge impact on our young people, just trying to get on in life.”

“In Montrose we have a major issue with parking on double yellow lines that are not being policed due to SNP cuts, that they have blamed on Westminster, despite having £92 million left over.”

“Sanjay and I have backed Jill Fotheringham’s campaign for a flyover at Laurencekirk for many years. The news that on Infrastructure £102 million was left unspent will be a body blow for those desperate to see safety at the junction improved.”

Sanjay Samani concluded,

“We have an SNP MP and two SNP MSPs who have badly failed Angus residents. This year they will blame cuts on Westminster to gain votes at the General Election. Then we will see a big spending spree in the run up to Scottish Elections in 2016 and they will try to claim the credit.”

“The SNP need to stop playing politics and start investing in Angus.”

From:: Sanjay Samani

Jan/15

10

Call on Shop Owner to close the Legal Highs Shops Now

By David May

IMG_6061

Angus Liberal Democrats have welcomed the news that Legal High or “Head” shops in Angus will soon stop selling the controversial products, but have called on the shopowner to close the stops immediately

The owner of shops in Arbroath and Montrose has said that the campaign against the selling of Legal Highs has been successful and forced him to reconsider. In addition, the Lib Dem led policy to make New Psychoactive Substances illegal in future will mean that he will no longer be able to sell the products legally.

Lib Dem campaigner for Angus, Sanjay Samani and member of the Montrose Against Legal Highs Group said, “Angus Lib Dems have fully supported the Montrose and Arbroath Against Legal Highs and we are delighted to see that their campaigns will be successful. Many parents have been concerned about the effects these Head shops are having on their children.”

“The Lib Dems have taken a grown up approach to tackling drug abuse with the realisation that the current approach is not working. As part of the UK Government, Lib Dem Ministers conducted research to show that Legal Highs should be banned, and that those suffering from drug dependence should be treated for their addiction, rather than treated as criminals”

“We are the only party that are taking common sense, evidence led approach to tackling drug abuse and have a plan than can properly address the issue.”

Lib Dem Montrose Cllr David May said, “I am delighted with the news that these shops will soon stop selling Legal Highs. They have been a blight on Montrose and Arbroath for several years. It is fantastic to see a grass roots campaign get wide spread backing from the community and be successful. Everyone who has backed the Montrose and Arbroath Against Legal Highs should be congratulated on their success and thanked for their hard work.”

“Too many of our residents of all ages, including many youngsters have suffered as a result of easy access to cheap drugs. We have to take a more grown up approach and help victims of drug abuse, by understanding what led them to drugs in the first place. We also need to stop an easy supply of cheap dangerous drugs. That is why I am delighted Lib Dem Government ministers have, despite Tory opposition, have indicated that these drugs should be made illegal in future and proper treatment provided for those who have become addicted.”

From:: David May

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Published and promoted by Sanjay Samani on behalf of David May, Alison Andrews, Kevin Barthorpe, Lorraine Barthorpe, Avril Simpson, Elizabeth Petrie, Jennifer Graham and Janet Cowan, all at Viewpark, Meethill Road, Alyth, PH11 8DE.

Published and promoted by Michael Reid on behalf of Peter Bellarby and David Fleming, all at 4 Robert Street, Stonehaven, AB39 2DN.

Published and promoted by Tom Fleming on behalf of William Howatson, both at Ramsay Place, Fettercairn, Laurencekirk, AB30 1XX.

© Angus and Mearns Liberal Democrats 2011-present.

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