Council

Outcry over Councillor failing to make meetings

It has been shown that Labour Councillor Lesley Laird, since being elected as an MP, has made it to very few Council meetings. Since the start of the year she has only made one meeting of the South West Fife Area Committee and her previous meeting was as far back as the 5th October 2017. Local Liberal Democrat Campaign Aude Boubaker-Calder has expressed grave concern at this state of affairs.

Aude Boubaker-Calder has said, “I cannot believe that Cllr. Lesley Laird has only turned up to 2 meetings in a 6 month period. Frankly it is appalling that the people of Inverkeithing and Dalgety Bay are being left unrepresented at Council meetings by an elected Councillor. Being a Councillor is a privilege that she does not seem to appreciate.

“Since her responsibilities as a Councillor are clearly low in her priorities, perhaps Cllr. Laird should do the decent thing and resign that position. This will allow the people in the ward to elect a new Councillor who will take seriously their responsibilities.”

James Calder - Lib Dem candidate for Dunfermline North

From Cllr James Calder

As 2018 is getting underway I thought I would discuss how things are going at Fife Council. It will be a busy year and there is plenty to get on with locally.

The start of the year brought my motion to make Single Carriageways in Dunfermline to a maximum speed limit of 30 mph. This was passed with one amendment to bring a report back to the Dunfermline Area Committee, and I am pleased this is now on the agenda. It will have huge beneficial effects on the communities affected.

Schools continue to be a challenge. The catchment situation is a mess and it appears that many children who wish to be in school in Dunfermline are being put in place in Inverkeithing. This needs to be resolved quickly, and I am hoping children will get to go to the school of their choice. I will be working on this in the Education Committee

Alongside this we have the spectre of rising class sizes. Supersized classes of over 30 may be acceptable to the SNP, but not to me. We must do more to help our children’s education. After the Administration have said they will be looking to increase Fife’s lower than average school uniform grant, which I highlighted last year, I will be holding them to account on this. We will see what happens at the budget meeting later in February.

I will also be battling for my local community. We need to see more frontline staff for Dunfermline’s green areas, which have been cut significantly over the past few years. Many of the roads and pavements are also in a poor state and this is becoming a health and safety issue. I will be looking to deal with this.

Finally, I am always happy to discuss issues with people. You can find a list of my Council surgeries on the Fife Council website, along with my contact details. I hope to be a helpful Councillor to my local community primarily.

 

2017 was far from a predictable year in politics: Theresa May calling a snap election in June and the task of negotiating Brexit not going smoothly to say the least. But in May 2017 Liberal Democrat James Calder was elected as councillor in Dunfermline South.

As 2018 starts we look back at a few of James Calder’s main achievements since becoming councillor in May and what he has done for Dunfermline.

Cllr Calder highlighted the fact that Fife pays significantly less for School Uniform Grants than both the Scottish Average or Scottish Government recommended amount. Since then Fife Council has committed to look into increasing the grant which will hopefully be reflected in the upcoming budget.

He has also been liaising with Amazon on the issue of lorries travelling through residential areas, disrupting residents due to noise pollution. Amazon have subsequently worked with the AA to put in place signs to divert Lorries to Halbeath Junction on the M90.

Cllr Calder arranged for works to help improve John Marshall Community Centre in Pitcorthie such as outside lights to be repaired which should make it safer when dark as well as a replacement carpet inside the centre.

James Calder also organised for the grass to be cut before events such as the South Dunfermline Gala at Pitreavie Primary and the Community Picnic in the Dovecot area. In addition, he has helped to arrange for the garden of the former janitor’s house at Pitreavie Primary (Council owned property) to be tidied up.

He also brought the Department of Transportation’s attention to the condition of poor roads such as Fir Grove and Willow Grove which lead to them being repaired as well as getting drains fixed in places such as Holly Crescent and Heather Grove.

James Calder has already made improvements to the lives of residents in Dunfermline which he will continue to do into the new year. We wish you all happy holidays from the Dunfermline Liberal Democrats.

James Calder

Story from Teresa Little

LibDem Councillor James Calder rescued 92-year-old John Gray when the Council stonewalled him, says his daughter, Teresa Little.

Cuts to council services meant that a mysterious ‘policy’ appeared. This strange policy forbade council officers to sign forms requesting proof of elderly pension recipients’ being still alive. John Gray was set to lose his French pension because the French Authorities would accept no other proof of his existence except that from his Local Authority, Fife Council.

At the last-minute James Calder stepped in, signed the form and obtained the appropriate stamp from officers. No Councillor has ever heard of the mysterious policy. So do officers make policy or should policy come only from elected councillors? James knows! Do you?

By Cllr. James Calder

It has been over 6 months now since I was elected as the Liberal Democrat Councillor for Dunfermline South and I have to say it has been very exciting for me. It has been enjoyable to represent the people of Dunfermline South and also to be helping to advance Liberal Values in the Council.

To recap at the election I was one of 7 Lib Dems elected to Fife Council, and the only Lib Dem elected in the West Fife area. As such, for me it has been important that I am carrying the weight of our area of Fife in the Party too.  I was also fortunate that my predecessor in Dunfermline South, Tony Martin, was an excellent Councillor, and I have been aiming to try and keep up his good work in the local area.

Within the Ward I have been working on a number of issues. As Dunfermline has been hit significantly in front-line cuts in staff for Parks, Streets and Open Spaces, I have been fighting for more funds for our Green areas and in particular for staffing, as many have asked me about this. I have also been working to improve the roads locally, and have had some notable successes, including in Fir Grove, the roundabout between Morrison Drive and Masterton Road and it now looks as though there will be resurfacing on Morrison Drive too. I am also seeking improvements to pavements, including within Pitcorthie and Abbeyview. Another issue I have been tackling recently has been Amazon lorries going through residential areas, and I am pleased to say that after discussions with Amazon they will be looking to put signage up both outside the warehouse and on the Motorway to redirect lorries away from the residential parts of town.

I would also like to add that much of these successes also depended on the help and assistance of the local Community Councils, and it has been a pleasure to have been attending them.

Outside of the wonderful job of improving Dunfermline South and Dunfermline as a whole, I have also been fortunate in being made the Fife Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson. In this role I have been taking on a number of issues. I have helped to ensure that children at Masterton Primary continue to go to school in their city of Dunfermline. I have been challenging the Council Administration on teacher numbers, and the Scottish Government on the fact that Fife receives a lower share of Scottish Attainment Challenge Funding than I believe it should be. One of my key successes was getting the Council Administration to agree into looking to make the School Uniform grant for children with lower income backgrounds higher, as in Fife we are both below the Scottish Average and the Scottish Government recommendations.

Overall it has been an exciting time, and I would like to thank the hard work of everyone else who has made this possible, including the local Liberal Democrat team. I will continue to work my hardest as a local Liberal Democrat Councillor.

Following the meeting of the Full Fife Council on the 5th October, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Councillor James Calder has expressed concern over the attitude of the SNP/Labour Fife Council Administration towards schools.

Councillor Calder has commented,

After the behaviour of Councillors in the SNP/Labour Administration in the last Full Council Meeting, I am concerned that they are out of touch with the reality in our classrooms. When I asked a question asking if  they would take action in reducing class sizes for P4-P7 after a shocking rise of over 50% for pupils in class sizes of over 30, I couldn’t quite believe the response.

The SNP Education Convenor stated that this was ‘normal’ and then dismissed the concerns of a teacher I spoke to who stated this often presented a nightmare, claiming that was just the views of one teacher. However I have had similar views articulated by a number of teachers. I would like to see some of these politicians handling classes of this size and I think teachers should be given more support.

Later in the Council meeting I was astonished to hear the SNP Council co-leader attacking opposition politicians for simply scrutinising the Council’s record in education. Claiming we were attacking education as a profession is of course nonsense – teachers are doing a great job despite the SNP.

Of course it is no surprise this attitude has been taken considering that this Administration’s political masters at Holyrood have consistently underfunded education and caused problems with their interventions over the years. We have seen Scotland slide down the Pisa International rankings. Incredibly the attitude of some of the SNP Councillors is rather than to try and fix this, they instead decided attack the credibility of these findings.

The Council Administration has to step up to the plate and take a positive attitude to fixing our educational problems, rather than trying to discredit opposition politicians who are simply holding them to account.

Woodmill High SchoolWith the publishing of The Local Benchmarking Framework Report by Fife Council for 2016/17, Fife Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson, Councillor James Calder, has commented this shows the need for Fife to receive a higher level of Scottish Attainment Challenge Funding.

James Calder has said, “With all indications that Fife should be due significantly higher levels of Scottish Attainment Challenge Funding due to the high numbers of children from disadvantaged backgrounds, the 2016/17 Local Benchmarking Framework Report has given further signs that Fife schools should be receiving more from the Scottish Government.

“While we are making progress in Fife, we are still below the national average in S4-6 exam performance on all levels of children from disadvantaged backgrounds. This shows Fife should be a priority for the Scottish Government’s Scottish Attainment Challenge Funding.

“My question is why does the SNP Scottish Government instead feel Fife children don’t even deserve to be in the top 10 of local authorities when it comes to funding?”

Woodmill High SchoolWith the long-awaited release of the Dunfermline and West Fife catchment area review, James Calder, Councillor for Dunfermline South, is raising concerns on the impact for both parents and children in the area. Children in the catchment areas for schools such as Masterton Primary would be moved to Inverkeithing rather than go to school in Dunfermline.

Councillor Calder has commented, “Parents and children will rightly be concerned at the proposals. In particular I am worried that children in Masterton aren’t getting to go to their local High School and are being bussed out of town. After so many years of problems with capacity at the Primary School, this acts as a double-blow.”

“We should be seeking to ensure children can go to their local High School. We can surely do better and ensure that all children in Dunfermline can go to school in Dunfermline. For that reason I will continue to make the case at the Council on behalf of local parents and children.”

After a hard fought campaign James is looking forward to working hard for the local community.

Councillor Calder has said,

It is a privilege to be given this opportunity by the people of Dunfermline South. I would like to thank everyone who has given me their support and I pledge to work as hard as possible to ensure that the local area’s voice is heard in the Council.

We have problems caused by the Capacity Crisis in our schools locally as well as roads and pavements that have deteriorated into a poor state. I hope to work with fellow Councillors from all Parties to try and tackle these issues which need to be dealt with.

It is also important for me to be an approachable Councillor, and to that end I welcome anyone contacting me regarding issues that they would like dealt with.

 

Bryn Jones, our Dunfermline North Candidate

Bryn Jones, Dunfermline Liberal Democrat candidate for Dunfermline North, wants to improve the area. As such, here is his plan if he is elected:

  • Investing in sorting out the state of the roads. We need to get it right first time.
  • Fighting dog fouling – particularly in problem areas like on Tuke St, in Kingseat and parts of Bellyeoman.
  • Counter the problem of youth drinking by supporting police and promoting more youth activities.
  • Bryn is committed to prioritising education when elected.