|Alison McInnes MSP|
I am not long back from the AV referendum count at DISC after three hours sleep last night and a 22.5 hour working day on polling day, so I’ll try to keep this necessarily short …
The election result has been exceptionally disappointing for the Liberal Democrats and in Dundee it was no different. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all who voted Scottish Liberal Democrats in Dundee yesterday and also place on record my appreciation to Alison Burns in Dundee City West, Allan Petrie in Dundee City East and our team of party workers for all their hard-working efforts in such difficult circumstances.
The SNP has won a famous victory across Scotland and they deserve congratulation for their slick, professional campaign. They have promised the earth. Their majority government has no excuses for failure to deliver. So let’s wait to see the effect of on council services of their unfunded 5 year Council Tax freeze, how long they put off an independence referendum, and if they deliver on the many other costly promises they have made.
I am by nature a party loyalist, and my natural instinct is always to be supportive to the party and the leadership. But I am gutted at what happened the Scottish Liberal Democrat vote in Scotland yesterday and the loss of so many good, hard-working MSPs. I am awfully relieved at the re-election of our North East regional MSP Alison McInnes and at the election of Willie Rennie to the parliament – the Scottish LibDem MSP to watch. But I cannot pretend it was anything remotely like a half decent night for the Scottish Liberal Democrats. But we’ll bounce back. In the immortal words of Yazz, the only way is up.
My Dundee Liberal Democrat colleagues – parliamentary candidates Alison Burns (Dundee City West) and Allan Petrie (Dundee City East) have met up with Alison McInnes, Liberal Democrat MSP for North East Scotland, in the West End to show their support for the Yes to Fairer Votes campaign. They are pictured below in Taylor’s Lane.
Alison Burns said, “At the moment, MPs can be elected with fewer than one vote in three. With fairer votes, MPs would have to aim to get more than 50% of the vote to be sure of winning. This is good for democracy.”
Allan Petrie added, “We need political reform now and the Alternative Vote is our best chance. For far too long we’ve had a situation where a monkey could get elected just by wearing the right colour of rosette.
That must change if we want the right people in government taking decisions on our behalf. We must say goodbye to First Past the Post, and vote Yes to AV.”
Alison McInnes MSP said, “I am delighted that Dundee Liberal Democrats are campaigning for a YES vote on 5th May. The campaign for Fairer Votes is gathering momentum in Dundee and across Scotland.”
As featured on tonight’s STV News and on local radio, North East Scotland MSP Alison McInnes, together with myself and Dundee Liberal Democrat colleagues, today launched a petition outside Tayside Police’s Headquarters that invites the public to support the campaign to stop Scotland’s emergency services being centralised into Scotland-wide force.
Alison then visited the Broughty Ferry and West End shopping areas to meet local people and explain why she and the Liberal Democrats oppose the abolition of Tayside Police and Tayside Fire and Rescue and believe that centralised police and fire services would be to the detriment of areas of Scotland outside Strathclyde & the central belt.
Alison said, “The SNP Scottish Government is aggressively pursuing the creation of a single nationwide police force and a one-size fits all approach to policing. It is clear that this proposal is being driven by personal preference rather than facts.
“However the Justice Minister has failed to give any details of where the £200 million savings that he purports will be made is to be found. In reality, it will be hugely expensive, increase political interference and could reduce the number of officers on the beat. Indeed there are fears that the proposals could result in the loss of up to 4,000 officers across Scotland.”
Allan Petrie, former Dundee Councillor and now Convener of Dundee Liberal Democrats, added, “The Scottish Government has failed to account for the costs of implementing a merger. This could amount to millions of pounds and was the reason similar plans were previously scrapped both here and in England and Wales.
“Tayside is already one of the most efficient police forces in the country. It would be extremely foolish to see an efficient force like Tayside become part of a Scotland wide force, to the detriment of the people of Dundee, Angus and Perthshire.”
Allan added that a merged Fire Service could result in re-opening the debate over the future of the Balmossie Fire Station. He said it was very clear that the people in Barnhill, Monifieth and across Broughty Ferry who are served by Balmossie do not want to see the fire station downgraded and he was concerned that, in a single Scotland-wide fire service, local voices would be drowned out.
Alison Burns, Liberal Democrat candidate for Dundee City West, said, “Inevitably, with a single force run from either Edinburgh or Glasgow, bureaucrats would be given far too much say over local policing without full awareness of local circumstances and issues.
“This policy poses the greatest challenge to our local police service for a generation and would be disastrous for Dundee and Tayside.”
From my own perspective, it is clear, speaking to constituents in the West End today that they are very concerned by these Fire Service and Policing centralisation proposals. People in Dundee value local Police and Fire services and centralising the services into a national service is something they view with concern.
THE PETITION READS :
“We are concerned that a one-size-fits-all approach to our emergency services will leave our area worse off. We are concerned that it will lead to a loss of local accountability, increase political interference and reduce the numbers of officers on the beat and firefighters in our local fire stations.
Help Alison and the local Scottish Liberal Democrats oppose the proposed centralisation of the Police and our Fire and Rescue Services by signing our petition and returning it to: Alison McInnes, Dundee Liberal Democrats, Freepost SCO3668, Dundee, DD4 7ZR.
“I/We the undersigned oppose any moves toward a single nationwide Police Force or Fire and Rescue Service”.
Some photos from today :
Above: From Left – Me, Alison McInnes, Alison Burns and Allan Petrie
Above : Alison McInnes in the West End
Above : From left – Alison McInnes, Alison Burns and I take the petition to Blackness Fire Station
Yesterday, along with colleagues from Dundee Liberal Democrats, I campaigned at the Angus Council Carnoustie and District by-election in the morning and met with LibDem colleagues from across North East Scotland in Aberdeen later in the day. Here’s a couple of photographs from yesterday!
|Above : In Aberdeen with colleagues Allan Petrie (left) and Alison McInnes MSP (centre)|
|Above : Campaigning in Carnoustie!|
Earlier this week, my LibDem colleague Alison McInnes, MSP for North East Scotland, met with Graham McKee, the project leader for the V&A at Dundee initiative.
Alison said after the meeting, “I have followed this project with keen interest and it was useful to get an update from Graham McKee on the next steps. We discussed the winning design and viewed the model of the innovative design currently on display in an exhibition at Parliament. The stunning design for the new centre for design innovation has been created by Kengo Kuma and Associates.
“The V&A at Dundee is a welcome addition to the growing arts offered in the city but will also bring significant benefit to the economy of Dundee by creating 900 jobs and an estimated 300,000 visitors per year.
“That is why it is essential that the detailed preparatory work goes ahead promptly now that the winning design has been chosen and I therefore welcome the £5 million of funding committed by the Scottish Government to take forward the V&A project.”
Yesterday, responding to the announcement that up to 170 new jobs could be created in Dundee by Spanish wind turbine manufacturer Gamesa, regional MSP Alison added, “The creation of new jobs in the renewables sector is to be welcomed.
“Gamesa’s interest in siting the logistics and manufacturing centre in Dundee is likely to lead to others following suit. Scotland is widely acknowledged as a centre for renewable engineering expertise and Dundee is a good place to invest.
“I would urge the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise and Dundee City Council to do all they can to clinch the deal.”
We had an enjoyable day today at the Maryfield by-election.
Alison McInnes, MSP for North East Scotland was in Dundee today, campaigning for Chris Hall, our Liberal Democrat candidate in Maryfield.
Alison McInnes, Lib Dem MSP for the North East is backing Tavish Scott’s call to the other political parties in Scotland to work with the Liberal Democrats to cut the income tax rate by two pence in the pound.
Mr Scott, the newly elected leader of the Liberal Democrats in Scotland, believes that as families across Scotland have to tighten their belts because of the current economic climate, the Government should do the same.
Under the Liberal Democrats’ plans, around 50,000 workers in Dundee, could save money. The average earner in Dundee could save £298.
Liberal Democrats have identified areas where the Government is wasting or misdirecting public money. We think that this money is better back in peoples’ pockets. We are absolutely committed to protecting schools and hospitals, which is why none of the savings will come from these frontline services.
Commenting, Mrs McInnes said, “It’s the measure of a political party that it can respond to urgent new demands. That’s why this Party needs to be ready. People are hurting now. The British economy is in meltdown. People want to hear what we can do for them.
“People in Dundee are tightening their belts. It’s right that Government does as well. Families are feeling the pinch. They have to make sacrifices just to make ends meet. We Liberal Democrats will respond to that.
“Families in the North East are being hit hard by rising prices. Energy costs up by half, food costs up by 30 pounds a month, inflation the highest for 16 years. We can’t let this go on. We can’t turn our backs. We’ve got to find ways to help people out.
“We have to say what can be done to put money back into peoples’ pockets. We should use the Scottish Parliament’s power to cut income tax by two pence in the pound. This could save 50,000 workers in Dundee money. The average earner in Dundee could save £298 a year. Putting money back in the pockets of people who need it most is our practical ambition.
“The Scottish Government’s Budget comes out in a few days time. That Budget cannot be ‘business as usual’. It has to cut the cost of living. It has to put families first.
“So this is our challenge to Scotland’s other parties. Are they up for helping people across Scotland? Are they up for helping people in Dundee? Do they support hard pressed families at this tough time? Will they work with us to make it happen?”
Liberal Democrat MSP for North East Scotland
McInnes dismayed by radio jobs threat
North East MSP Alison McInnes has contacted the owners of Radio Tay after plans emerged for standardising evening and overnight broadcasts across seven Scottish stations.
Bauer group anticipates redundancies or reduced hours as a result of the decision to centralise broadcasts between 7pm and 6am. As a result, listeners in Dundee will be listening to Clyde FM’s Glasgow-based broadcast, rather than the local programmes currently aired by Tay FM.Mrs McInnes has written to Bauer group urging them to rethink the proposals. She commented: “This decision seems short-sighted. My immediate concerns are for those staff who will be made redundant because of this decision if it is allowed to stand.
“I also wonder how the decision will play out in terms of Bauer’s audiences. Evening and night-time shows have dedicated followers and in the era of online radio where so much choice is available, it seems strange to reduce the local distinctiveness of stations such as Tay FM.”
Dundee West End Councillor Fraser Macpherson added: “Radio Tay provides an excellent local radio service for Tayside & North Fife and any drop in the amount of local output would be a regrettable step. I am hoping that Bauer, the station’s owners, will reconsider this decision.”
Alison said, “Just over a year ago the First Minister outlined his new Government’s priorities. He devoted a good deal of time to talking about the environmental challenges, the need for a Scottish Climate Change Bill, and the all-encompassing nature that action against climate change must take. But, 12 months on, every day it seems more and more as though the First Minister’s words were just that – words, and nothing more.
“We cannot, however, accuse the Government of doing nothing since they have come to power. Ministers have found the time to ditch their manifesto commitment to binding annual reduction targets of 3 per cent. They have committed to a huge increase in spending on roads, while at the same time delivering budget cuts to public transport. They have cut funding for sustainable travel initiatives and turned down planning applications for wind farm developments, while at the same time proclaiming that ‘coal is King’.
“For all the rhetoric, we have yet to see evidence that the Government has any substantive policies that will help meet the Bill’s targets. Setting an emissions target is important, but actually taking action that will allow that target to be met is where the real work lies.”
· Liberal Democrats want to see 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2050 and binding annual emissions reduction targets to set a clear trajectory towards an 80 per cent reduction by 2050. Liberal Democrats in Westminster have set out plans to make the UK carbon neutral by 2050.
Also met with representatives from NCR and, apart from an administration group meeting on budget matters, the City Council’s Development Quality Committee met for some four hours in the evening, including debate over a number of highly contentious planning applications.
One of the items I spoke on was the decision of the Scottish Government Reporter to uphold an appeal (and quosh enforcement action) against the committee’s decision to refuse planning approval for a flat conversion at the Meadowside/Victoria Road junction.
Apart from chairing the TACTRAN Board in Forfar on Tuesday, I attending my employer’s Christmas reception in Edinburgh and to give a degree of “balance” (having mentioned the Glasgow Christmas lights recently!) here’s a couple of Edinburgh Christmas photographs!
Spent much of yesterday catching up on constituents’ issues and we are awarding the winner of the West End Children’s Window Spotting Competition at lunchtime today.