Cllr Ben Lawrie Welcomes Interreg Funding for Angus Health & Social Care

The Angus Council Scrutiny & Audit Committee met this morning in Forfar.

Commenting on the Angus Integration Joint Board Annual and Strategic Performance Report at this mornings Scrutiny & Audit Committee, Cllr Ben Lawrie said:

“I noticed that the [Angus Health & Social Care] Partnership accessed funding through the Interreg programme, allowing them to work with European Partners on digital innovation and improving service design.

This is a really good example of how the Interreg programme benefits Angus and I hope that the UK Government will continue participation in the programme after Brexit so we can continue to reap these benefits.

I’m also heartened to see all the work that’s being done around substance misuse.

I see there’s been some collaboration with the Tayside Council on Alcohol who do a lot of outstanding work around drugs and alcohol abuse so it’s good to see their involvement.

Also, the report lists a lot of training which has been overseen by the Alcohol & Drugs Partnership. I think there’s a good focus here on education, harm reduction and preventing deaths and this is something I welcome.”

Angus IJB Chief Officer Vicky Irons responded to Cllr Lawrie’s comments on the Interreg programme saying:

“We’ve had huge benefit from the Interreg project… We’ve learned so much from that partnership that will benefit us in the future.”

Angus Councillors back “Brexit Task Force”

A cross-party motion to establish a group to review the implications of Brexit for Angus was passed unanimously today at a meeting of Angus Council.

The motion was seconded by Liberal Democrat Councillor Ben Lawrie who said at the meeting:

“Brexit will have far-reaching implications for Angus; opportunities to be seized, and challenges to overcome.

If Angus is to make the most of Brexit, then it’s important that we keep our eye on the ball and prepare for every eventuality, this is exactly what this officer group will set out to do.

Whilst the list of issues for them to examine is not exclusive, some of the things they will look at include:

Funding
Angus currently receive millions of pounds from various EU funding programmes, some of which there may be scope to participate in from outwith the EU.

Domestic and structural funding looks set to be replaced by the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, the officer group will be well placed to respond to UK government consultations as they come out to make sure that replacement funds are properly targeted to meet the individual needs of Angus and that opportunities to cut bureaucracy in the funding application process are fully seized.

As well as funding, the group will look at

Changes to regulations
EU legislation currently affects much of the work that councils do around state aid, procurement, environmental regulations, waste management, energy efficiency etc. It will be prudent for the council to have an understanding of how leaving the EU will affect the way the council operates as well as if there is scope for powers coming from Brussels to be further devolved to local authorities.The group can also look at the

Effects on the labour force
For example, the soft fruit industry is one of Angus’ largest industries. An officer group will be able to examine how Brexit will affect the migrant workforce, which plays an integral role in this sector, and recommend any action that the council can take to make sure that the soft fruit industry is adequately supported.
This is in line with measures other councils in the UK have taken. In response to Brexit, Cornwall has set-up a Brexit task force which has already made calls to the government for solutions which will fit the region’s needs.

Brexit, for better or worse, will undeniably have implications for the council and across the whole of Angus. We should be prepared to hit the ground running on our date of departure.
If we wait until we leave the EU to review these implications it will already be too late. The earlier we set up this group, the earlier it can participate in UK government consultations to voice Angus’ needs. There are groups such as COSLA representing the needs of local authorities in general but they are not able to represent the individual and sector specific needs of Angus Council.

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail, and I hope that members here today will join me in supporting this motion so that this council is prepared for the future, come whatever may.”

Mike Rumbles MSP has commended the move, commenting:

“Bracing for the Brexit body blow is not an act of desperation, it is what is right to keep our most vulnerable housed, our industries flourishing and youngsters educated.

I commend this motion and am pleased a majority of Angus councillors voted in favour. I would also heavily recommend other councils across the country do the same.”