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.”

Saved! – Monifieth Recycling Centre open for another year.

At today’s full meeting of Angus Council, councillors voted 13 – 8 in favour of halting recycling centre closures across Angus.
Speaking at the meeting, Monifieth & Sidlaw Councillor Ben Lawrie said:

“I’d like to start by disagreeing with the comments made by one of the members here at the last meeting of the full council, when he said that he “doesn’t think recycling centres are that important”.

Because I do think recycling centres are important. So do my constituents in Monifieth and they are fiercely opposed to the closure of our local centre.

But that shouldn’t be news to anyone here.

This is a view that Monifieth made abundantly clear when the SNP originally proposed these closures.

They made it clear to me on the doorsteps prior to the election.

They made it very clear last week at the public meeting held by Councillor Myles.

And they’re still it making clear today, taking time out of their day to attend this meeting. The people’s voice on this issue has been consistent and united.

I’d like to commend the Monifieth Community Council and the people of Monifieth for the energy they’ve shown in making their opinions heard.
Democracy is at its best when people are active in telling their politicians what they want.

So I will be voting for the motion today, to give us more time, in the hope that we can find a sustainable and fair arrangement that satisfies people in Monifieth as well as across Angus.”

 

The motion puts on hold all closures of recycling centres across Angus for one year so that public consultation can be held and a deeper review of options can be consulted. Leader of the Council Bob Myles stating during the meeting that “We must make the right decisions, not the quick ones.”

 

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Lawrie said:

“Despite it looking like a lost battle over the past few days, we’ve managed to pull out the stops and halt the imminent closure of the Monifieth Recycling Centre.

This isn’t a permanent solution however, we’ve bought ourselves another year, but a new site for the Centre will have to be found.

If us folk in Monifieth want there to be a local centre in the long term we’re going to have to be proactive in coming forward with offers or suggestions of a location. It won’t be easy but hopefully if we find a suitable site then there is potential for a brand new centre. To me, that would be the ideal outcome.”

Willie Rennie MSP & Cllr Lawrie campaigning to for the Monifieth Recycling Centre last April

Monifieth Recycling Centre Closure Put on Hold

This afternoon, the newly-formed Angus Administration passed a motion which “defers implementation of the closures and changes to hours for the recycling centres” in Angus.

A member/officer group will be established to review the proposed changes to opening hours with the aim of bringing forward a report on the conclusions of this review in September.

The motion was proposed by leader of the council Bob Myles and seconded by Councillor for Monifieth & Sidlaw, Ben Lawrie.

Speaking at the meeting of the council this afternoon, Cllr Lawrie said:

“It’s incumbent upon all of us to foster a culture of recycling.

As well as our responsibility as individuals to do our bit, there is also a responsibility at all levels of government, whether it’s national, international, or in our case, local.

To promote this culture of recycling, we need to make recycling as easy as possible for as many people as possible rather than creating extra barriers.

With that in mind I’m pleased that this motion has been put forward. Whilst protecting our environment becomes ever more important, it may not be prudent to reduce the opening hours of recycling centres across Angus.”

I’m particularly pleased that the motion puts on hold the impending closure of the Monifieth Recycling Centre.

Monifieth residents do not want to lose the centre and as an environmentalist I share that sentiment.

Whilst the motion can’t guarantee the long-term future of the recycling centre, I’m convinced that this is the best first step. I hope that fellow members will join me in supporting this motion so that Angus can play its full role in protecting our environment.”

Ben Lawrie: Mental Health

Ben Lawrie is campaigning for improvements to mental health services in Angus.

“As the previous mental health rep for the University of St Andrews, I’ve worked closely with mental health professionals, charities and people who have suffered from mental illness,” he says. “In the past, I’ve had my own trouble with depression. I admire the dedication and compassion of mental health professionals, and it’s not their fault that services are under-funded and understaffed. The Mulberry Unit at Stracathro is ‘temporarily’ closed due to shortage of staff and I fear we may not see it open again.

“My strongest motive for getting into politics was the desire to see mental health treated as seriously as physical health. If I’m elected, you can count on me to stand up for everyone who’s affected by mental illness and the stigma attached to it.”

Monifieth Group for People with COPD

The group meets at Monifieth Health Centre every second Monday at 2pm.

Do you or does someone you know have COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)?
If so, there is a group in Monifieth just for you!
Christine Burnett, chair of the Monifieth COPD support group says:
” We are a group of friendly, like minded people in Monifieth who have C.O.P.D.
We meet every 2nd Monday in Monifieth health centre at 2 pm.
We do gentle seated exercises to attempt to keep our muscles working.
Lots of laughs. Lots of huffs and lots of puffs.
If you would like to come along and see what we do our next meeting is on Monday Feb 27th at 2pm.
If you know anyone in the monifieth area who would benefit from our group and our input please tell them about us.”

My Mum, is actually a COPD nurse and she tells me that gentle exercise is super important in managing COPD so I would definitely recommend going!

For more information please phone Christine: 01382 535289 or Mary: 01382 539302.

“Higher taxes and more cuts to services”: Ben Lawrie on the Angus Council Budget

Households across Angus will soon be seeing hikes in the council tax they pay.

Monifieth and Sidlaw candidate Ben Lawrie has spoken out on the recent budget passed by Angus Council.
Commenting on the budget, Ben said:
“Normally an administration would opt for low taxes and low services or high taxes with strong public services. In Monifieth we’re getting high taxes and no services, lucky us!”

“Monifieth and Sidlaw ward contributes more in council tax than any other borough and what do we get in return? Not only are we the only ward without any council-provided sports facilities, the few services we have left, such as the recycling centre, are either being cut to the bone or scrapped altogether.”

“I’ve lived in Monifieth my whole life, I went to school here and all my friends and family live here. If elected, I’ll always put Monifieth and Sidlaw first, making sure we get our fair share of services for the huge amount of tax that we contribute.”

“The SNP are always attacking the Tories in Westminster for imposing austerity whilst doing the same thing themselves back home. Monifieth deserves better.”

Ben Lawrie is the Scottish Liberal Democrats candidate for Monifieth and Sidlaw in the local elections on the 4th of May.

Better Mobile Phone Coverage Needed in Monifieth and Sidlaw

No Service - Phone Coverage in Monifieth and Sidlaw has been less than satisfactory .

No Service – Phone Coverage in Monifieth and Sidlaw has been less than satisfactory .

Ben Lawrie has highlighted the need for better mobile phone coverage across Monifieth and Sidlaw.

Ben said:
“Phone signal across the ward, particularly in the villages such as Wellbank and Birkhill, is way below standard. Not only are people struggling to find signal to communicate with their work, friends or family, they aren’t even getting 3G internet access while most people are getting 4G.”

“People in rural areas are getting a second class service. I am calling on the council to explore ways to work with service providers so that phone signal and internet is strong for everyone, everywhere.”