After a gruelling campaign in Nov/Dec '21 I have learned a lot about the Lomond North Ward and the needs of our communities. It was a steep and very valuable learning curve!
It is an essential part of any prospective Councillors campaign to get out and meet the people, listen to the problems and see the issues first hand. I did not shy away from that responsibility and over a 5-week period I worked my socks off (!) to cover all 3,000+ houses and walked over 120-miles to get to speak to as many poeple as possible. I attended meetings with Community Councils, local organisations, trusts and charities throughout that time - and continue to do so.
I've summarised some of the things I stand for and believe in. They may not please everyone and they may not change the way you decide to vote - but in reality I am never going to please everyone. But at least I am putting my views out there and I will stand up for what I believe in.
In the recent by-election, on December the 16th 2021, your support enabled me to get very close to overturning the incumbent Conservative Council seat and with that platform to build on for May 5th '22 it bodes well. If I can count on your support again, with 3-seats available in Lomond North, I am certain that I will be elected and have the chance to repay the faith you will put in me.
My personal view is that if you want a truly effective councillor then that councillor needs to treat this as a full-time role. It needs: -
Voting for me ensures you get all of that - and a whole lot more!
From Westminster in London to Council offices across the country we are bombarded in local and national news with stories of sleaze, favours, wrong-doing, self-interest and self-serving actions.
I am sure many of you feel the same as me that it is time for change. It is time for hard working taxpayers, who fund the salaries of elected officers, to be able to confidently elect officers that do NOT have self-interest as their motivation.
I have made it very clear that I have NO other interests, no conflict of interests and no motivation other than to serve the communities of Lomond North to the best of my ability.
The current administration of Argyll & Bute is a coalition with a large contingent of Conservative Councillors who are joined by a group of Lib Dem, Independent, SNP and others to form a working group with a majority.
This group of councillors predominantly vote as a 'unit' - creating a 'party line'. This is contrary to what I stand for and believe in - and I will once again stand by my principal of staying Independent in order to achieve the best outcome for the Lomond North Ward and our communities.
I am totally against this proposal to remove 84 Headteacher roles and replace them with 14 ‘executive managers’ - this would mean an average of 6 schools each! Our children deserve better and so do the headteachers. I will stand firm with parents and teachers to oppose this proposal.
I am determined to ensure that a more proportionate share of the funding and investment is directed to the rural communities. I see many millions of pounds being spent on projects that would be considered less than essential compared to housing, education, health & social needs.
I am passionate about Rural Growth Initiatives which bring investment and jobs to an area. Throughout my term of office I will be actively seeking funding for Trusts and Community Groups that trying to sustain and rejuvinate our communities. I am currently working on 3 separate funding initiatives, right across the Lomond North Ward, with a combined value of almost £500,000 - and I know I can do even better when I'm elected.
I am opposed to Indy 2 and firmly believe that our First Minister and the Scottish Govt., need to focus on the home grown issues that Scotland faces. Social inequality, our NHS, care for the most vulnerable in our communities…Amongst many other problems.
I am a proud Scotsman and I am so proud to be able to represent the people of Lomond North - I was born in Aberdeen, I attended military school in Dunblane and my late Father was from Barrhead. My accent belies the fact that I am a true Scot. But we can still be proud to be Scottish and remain part of the Union. The devolved goverment of Scotland gives us, in my opinion, the best of both worlds - strength inside the Union and self-determination.
I come from a proud military background. My late father served for over 25-years, starting with national service from 1957 until his retirement from the armed forces in the 80’s.
I believe in our armed forces and the need for a deterrent. Our servicemen and women are often asked to put themselves in harms way to preserve our freedom and democracy. That is something we often take for granted. I thank them for their service at every opportunity - I encourage others to do the same.
The armed forces and the MOD are part of the very fabric of our community and the naval bases are an integral part of our local economy. If elected I will be doing my very best to engage with the MOD for the continued benefit of the community.
Affordable Housing - there is a real lack of affordable housing stock for young families to buy. Developers are getting away with the loopholes in the rules and profits are taking the place of providing for the needs of all of the community.
Social Housing - there is a serious lack of social housing. It’s not improving quickly enough and this needs to be addressed with real intent.
Holiday Homes & AirBnB - we need to bring some controls into place to manage the boom in holiday homes and holiday letting. Whilst tourism is a vital source of income for many of our communities the rapid explosion of the holiday let market has meant fewer and fewer houses going back on the open market at affordable prices. This has added to the ongoing housing shortage and has created artificially high property prices.
We live in a beautiful rural area and with that come a whole host of transport and road related issues. I am passionate about the need to maintain and improve our transport links enabling the people of Lomond Ward North to work and travel safely around the region.
There is a lot of work to be done - not least basic road improvements, safety measures and addressing (what seems like a recurring problem) speeding in many of our villages.
We need to start looking at environmentally efficient public transport solutions that allow us all to contribute to reducing road traffic and emissions. That means better services and more access - not less.
Our health service has never been more of a focal point than in the past 2-years. The covid pandemic has highlighted the strength of our NHS workers, whilst also magnifying a whole host of failings and weaknesess. As we face another winter of uncertainty, with new strains of the virus threatening to wreak havoc, we must learn the lessons and strengthen the NHS to ensure that it is robust enough to deliver care to those who need it most - when they need it.
I stand shoulder to shoulder with the dedicated NHS staff and will oppose any cuts to services, by the Conservative led Council, that reduce it's ability to meet the needs of our communities.
I am also making a concerted effort to futher support our local NHS staff and GP's by promoting RESPECT towards all our hard working staff. I have been told many terrible stories of staff being verbally abused across the region and it has to stop. I understand that there are extended waiting lists, treatment delays and shortfalls caused by the strain placed upon the NHS by the Covid Pandemic.
But we must show all staff the respect and courtesy we would like to receive ourselves. Many NHS staff are working long hours, often unpaid, often volunteering to take extra hours and shifts in order to try and maintain a level of service. In rural communities it can sometimes seem 'fragile' and under-resourced - and perhaps it is! But those on the front-line, manning the phones & manning reception desks are under pressure already without being verbally abused.
Let's take a step back and put ourselves in their shoes - and show respect and courtesy to our NHS staff.
I have been asked about this 'mantra' of mine many times. It is simple - at the local level we need to focus on the people of our community and their needs. Politics gets in the way of the needs of our community. We need strong Independent Councillors who can challenge the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition and ensure that rural communities do not get overlooked.
Of course it's impossible to avoid politics in local goverment. But it's also entirely possible to set politics aside for the benefit of our community on crucial issues.