Highland Council Group
 
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SURGERIES

John holds regular surgeries in the

Hilton Community Centre.

Contact John: (01463) 712836 

Mobile 07748 624296

FORTHCOMING SURGERIES

5 -6 pm Tuesday

9th March

5 -6 pm Tuesday

6th April

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SNP HIGHLAND COUNCIL GROUP NEWSLETTER

We produce regular updates on the work of our SNP Highland Councillors and issues affecting the people of the Highlands.

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Other Articles:

Flip Flops over privatisation admissions from Lib Dem Leadership

Trident billions should be spent on schools care and transport

Privatisation documents exposed

£150,000 on 3 New Managers - Not What We Needed!

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) the Fight Goes On

Small Business Bonus Even Better

Scotland For Peace

Finnie Pledges Support for Children

Finnie Supports "Local" News

Council Squanders Community Money

Graffitti "No Problem" Apparently

Lib Dem School closure threats move closer

SNP Reject Administration Abdication of Responsibility

SNP Referendum Promise

Inverness Prison

McLean Court Day Centre needs highlighted

What an SNP MP can do for you

Cowardly Budget

Lets Work Together

Whose Tears Matter?


SNP makes it easier to "Go Green"

Lib Dems "Don't Care"

Candidate Finnie Pledges "Cruelty Free"

Administration Ducking Care Home Questions

Liz wins repreive for Mclean Court Day Centre in Nairn

SNP Challenge on Home Care staff numbers

Finnie Condems Labour over "Older People Attacks"

Warning on Winter Fraudsters

Council Home Care Programme - "A Cruel Deception"

Needle Exchange Schemes - Vital to Harm reduction

"Legal" Drugs Warning

Gaelic Education Expanding

Mobile Phone Campaign - Latest

Social Work Assurances Needed

Housing Register Figures Mean Building More Homes

Police Can Engage with Young People Through Cycling

End the Fuel "Rip -

Off"

Digital Switchover

MPs Expenses - Kelly Report Response

Bouncing Back From Recession

What Can Still be for Scotland

SNP Delivering Wick High and Blowing Away Lib Dem Hot Air

Highland Handy Person Scheme Support

John to Speak to Commex

Scottish Government Web Research - Your Views

THIS PAGE IS NOW ARCHIVE MATERIAL -

FOR ALL OF THE LATEST FROM JOHN - CLICK HERE

Councillor John Finnie

Inverness Ness-Side

Contact Details: john.finnie.cllr@highland.gov.uk Tel: (01463) 712836 Mobile 07748 624296

John is always available to help with any issues that you would like to discuss with him. John also holds regular surgeries in the Hilton Community Centre.


Councillor John Finnie

About SNP Councillor John Finnie

John Finnie was born and brought up in Lochaber and has lived in Inverness since 1982. He served for 30 years in the police service and is married with a son, a daughter and two grand-daughters.  

Councillor Finnie is rightly credited as being the driving force to stop the privatisation of the Council's Care Homes after the 2007 election. Working with colleagues he then brought forward proposals to build the five new council run homes currently under construction.

He refused to accept additional public money forced on him as leader of the opposition in 2008 as the Lib Dem leadership on the council introduced new paid posts for themselves, instead donating the extra cash to charity. His view is that the payments were unnecessary and could not be justified in the prevailing circumstances.

John brings a fresh approach to politics and is determined to put fairness first as he delivers real improvements for both his constituents and, in his role as SNP Group Leader on Highland Council, for people in all areas.

Councillor John Finnie is the SNP Westminster Candidate for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey in the forthcoming Westminster election.


London Labour threaten Scottish Tourism
Friday 26th of March 2010

John Finnie fully supports the SNP’s call for the UK Government to immediately reverse the decision to scrap furnished holiday lets relief which will be deeply damaging for the tourist businesses of Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, and beyond.

* Read more

Finnie says treasury must release fossil fuel levy
Friday 26th of March 2010

The value of the Fund for Scotland has tripled in value since 2007 and now sits at over £176 million yet continues to sit in accounts in London unused, when it could be helping us fight the recession - right here, now. The Government in London could - and should release this money.

* Read more


Drive down fuel prices - Elect a local champion
Friday 26th of March 2010

As part of the Party’s focus on fuel prices, John Finnie joined Angus Brendan McNeil MP to launch the latest campaign postcard urging voters who want to drive down fuel prices to ‘elect a local champion’. Read the full story here


Finnie says ‘Darling's duty delay deludes no-one’ -
Wednesday 24th of March 2010

John Finnie believes the public were entitled to expect that the Chancellor would use this budget to help hard-pressed families and not raise fuel duty by his planned 3 pence.

* Read more

SNP Candidate Challenge To Lib Dem MP – ‘Don’t Be April Fool On Fuel Duty’
Tuesday 23rd of March 2010

With less than 24 hours to go until Chancellor Alistair Darling presents his final budget before the General Election, the SNP Westminster Candidate in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey has called on his Lib Dem opponent to oppose a planned 3p increase in the rate of fuel duty scheduled for April 1st.

* Read more



YOUR CHANCE FOR A SAY IN THE FUTURE OF SCOTLAND 19/03/10


Councillor John Finnie is delighted at the SNP’s response to the Scottish Government’s public consultation on the draft Referendum (Scotland) Bill.

The response sets out the Party's view on the proposed referendum, clearly stating: Our preference for the first question to be in regard to full devolved powers for the Scottish Parliament, as opposed to the London parties' fudged proposals from the Calman Commission and our support for a 'YES' vote on the second question in regard to Scotland's Independence.

Anyone who wishes to add their own response to the consultation can do so at this link:
or by email: referendum@scotland.gsi.gov.uk or by writing to: Referendum Bill Team, National Conversation, Referendum and Elections Division, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh EH6 6QQ

Councillor Finnie hopes YOU will join us in calling for the people of Scotland to have their say on our nation's future. For a copy of the full response contact john.finnie@snp.org

AVIEMORE COMMUNITY SCHOOL MUST MOVE FORWARD 19/03/10


Councillor John Finnie understands the importance of a new community school to Aviemore.
The recently announced delay has disappointed many and prompted questions from Fergus Ewing MSP. Councillor Finnie applauds the support given to this project by Fergus and local SNP Councillor Dave Fallows and backs their comments in the local press. Here..

MONOPOLY WARS’ – FINNIE SAYS ‘VOTE LOCAL!’ 19/03/10


Councillor John Finnie was first approached by the good folk of Hilton Community Centre to support their bid to by a ‘landmark’ on the Highland version of monopoly being brought out later this year.
Competition to be a place on the board is hot from Ruthven Barracks and Cairngorm Mountain in Badenoch and Strathspey to ‘Nessie’. Councillor Finnie will stick by his original vote and encourages everyone to ‘vote local’ here: monopoly@winningmoves.co.uk

HILTON COMMUNITY CENTRE – ‘THE MAYFAIR OF THE NORTH’ 17/03/10

Councillor John Finnie is delighted that a Highland version of the board game ‘Monopoly’ is to be brought out in October or November of this year, in time for Christmas.
The manufacturers are seeking nominations for local landmarks to feature in the game and Councillor Finnie is lending his support to those seeking to have Hilton Community Centre, situated within his Ness-side Ward, as one of the places on the Board.
Councillor Finnie said “I have told the manufacturers that ‘the Centre, which is staffed by enthusiastic and community-spirited folk, is the focal point of the community for all ages and offers a range of activities to suit all tastes’ and think it be great if Hilton Community Centre took Mayfair’s place on the Board.”
Please support this proposal by voting here: mailto:monopoly@winningmoves.co.uk
http://www.winningmoves.co.uk/newsview.asp?ID=35

FINNIE ON THE ECONOMY - ‘UK GOVERNMENT MUST DO MORE’ 17/03/10

Councillor John Finnie believes jobs will be a key part of the Westminster campaign and he applauds the SNP Scottish Government protecting and creating as many jobs as possible to ensure strong growth as the economy recovers.
Many levers of power are still held at Westminster and Councillor Finnie believes the UK Government must do more and, in particular, continue with a fiscal stimulus. The UK is the only G7 country which hasn’t continued with such a move and there is no doubt that capital acceleration from the Treasury to Scotland would help stimulate the economy by creating much needed jobs in the construction industry.

FINNIE ON RACE RELATIONS/IMMIGRATION 17/03/10

Councillor John Finnie is very interested in race relations. He is a former Member of Grampian Racial Equality Council, http://www.grec.co.uk/index.html and a great admirer of the late SNP MSP Bashir Ahmed, Scotland’s first Asian MSP.
Mr Ahmed use to say that what really matters in Scotland is not where we come from, but where we are going - together.
The SNP believes Scotland should determine its own rules on immigration so that they better reflect the needs and interests of our nation. Within the UK system there should be opportunities for Scotland to attract the sort of highly skilled immigrants who will add to the strength of our economy and society.
Councillor Finnie and the SNP strongly opposed the dawn raids on asylum seekers and the detention of their children.

DANNY ALEXANDER ‘LOST’ ON A HUNG PARLIAMENT QUESTION! 17/03/10

Councillor John Finnie believes that the public have a right to know to whom the Lib Dems would lend their support in the event of a hung UK Parliament.
That simple question was posed to Danny Alexander, the present MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, on the BBC.
Listen to Mr Alexander’s torturous, evasive responses, from about 10 minutes onwards, here:

FINNIE APPLAUDS CROSS-PARTY CONSENSUS 15/03/10

 

Councillor John Finnie supports Inverness College moving to the new Beechwood Campus on the outskirts of the city where they can benefit from the wide range of facilities to be constructed as part of the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI).
The public like politicians working for the common good and Councillor Finnie applauds the cross-party approach adopted in respect of this important issue. BBC Article...

FINNIE CALLS FOR STRAIGHT TALKING ON HOUSING CASH 15/03/10

Councillor John Finnie believes that with 10,000 folk on the housing waiting list in Highland housing is a huge priority which should not be used as a political football.

The SNP Scottish Government is committed to addressing housing and has, and will continue, to ‘put its money where its mouth is,’ sadly, our opponents, both party political and so-called ‘independent’ are not quite so ‘accurate’.

Councillor Finnie won’t flatter those who shout from the sidelines by repeating their inaccuracies, rather, here is a comment prepared by the Scottish Government press office regarding the affordable housing budget in Scotland.


The… issue is actually one for the UK Government to address in the forthcoming Budget, which is where representations need to be made.
We brought forward £120 million accelerated funding from 2010/11 into this year in order to support affordable housing in Scotland during the economic downturn, providing vital work for the construction sector and accelerating Scotland's economic recovery.

By definition, that boosted spending available to fight recession in 2009/10, and reduced it correspondingly in 2010/11. It is totally dishonest to ignore the £120 million advanced from next year’s budget and £75 million in subsidies which will give local authorities the flexibility to borrow £200 million for house building.

Obviously when you bring forward money, the year you bring it forward from is always going to show a lower figure. It was spent early because we wanted to make sure that during the recession we maximised the amount of spend.
That is precisely why we have called for a further round of accelerated spending into 2010/11 as part of a further targeted stimulus from the UK Government in the 24 March Budget, in order to allow for additional resources to be brought forward into the forthcoming year.

Over the current spending period, spending in Scotland on affordable housing has been protected in its entirely and to the penny – despite budget cuts from the UK Government. The Scottish Government will invest more than £1.65 billion over the three years in affordable homes across Scotland, we are on track to build 8,100 homes this financial year.
However, there is a significant risk that the premature withdrawal of fiscal stimulus by the UK Government could result in a ‘double-dip recession’. The head of the International Monetary Fund has already cautioned that reducing public sector support before private sector demand has recovered could result in economies falling back into recession, which is one reason why we need a further round of accelerated capital spending in 2010/11.”

BACKGROUND:

An additional £75 million is also being invested to reverse decades of decline in council house building in the largest council house building programme for 30 years, with over 1,300 new council homes planned across the country.

MUSIC: LIB DEMS OUT OF TUNE AND OUT OF TOUCH 12/03/10

Councillor John Finnie led the SNP Group on Highland Council’s opposition to the Lib Dem lead Administration’s ill-conceived and arbitrary cuts.
The SNP Group recognises that the UK Government removing £814m from the Scottish settlement means there is a need for economies, however, we will not be party to attacks on front-line services, especially when Highland Council employees nearly 900 folk who earn more than £40,000 per annum!

Few cuts have galvanised Highland opinion like the senseless attack on music for our young folk. The facts speak for themselves and can be found at ‘ECS8’ and ‘ECS22’ here;

How did your local councillor vote?
Please sign: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/handsoffhighlandyoungmusicians/signatures
Facebook Group: http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=10150129297745646&ref=ts

Highland Youth Big Band

JUST WHAT WE NEEDED –THREE MORE MANAGERS! 12/03/10

Councillor John Finnie and his SNP colleagues on the Housing and Social Work Committee were unable to stop the Lib Dem lead Administration adding three more managers to the wage bill.
Councillor Finnie believes that every single council tax payer in the Highlands could find a better use for £150,000!

Read our Media Release here:
Council Squanders Community Money
The Lib Dem led administration on Highland Council's decision to respond to the need to encourage more facilities for older people in communities by employing three senior area support officers at an annual cost of £150,000 has been described as wasteful and unjustifiable by the SNP opposition.
Speaking after the meeting of the Housing and Social Work Committee that made the decision, SNP Leader John Finnie said “This is money we could have used to provide real financial support to get new projects off the ground. There are many Highland Council staff locally who could, if so directed, assist communities with good projects to bring them to fruition without the need for yet another layer of expensive jobs”.
Dave Fallows, SNP spokesman on Health and Wellbeing said “We opposed this proposal in committee, but the administration were not in listening mode. We will be watching the progress of this approach over the next twelve months to see what, if anything, actually delivers for older people”.

MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS (MS) – THE FIGHT GOES ON 11/03/10

Councillor John Finnie is a Director of the MS Therapy Centre in Inverness and, recently, via Facebook, he became aware of research by Doctor Zamboni, from Italy, into possible links between chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI) and MS.
Councillor Finnie wrote to the Scottish Government and today received an excellent reply from Shona Robison MSP, Minister for Public Health and Sport, indicating; the Scottish Government were aware of Doctor Zamboni’s work;

Scotland’s Chief Scientist Office is presently funding three projects into MS, totalling £312,000; the Scottish Government is also providing funding to support the start-up of an MS audit to provide an accurate estimate of MS incidence in Scotland which will be key in facilitating MS research and which will provide a valuable data source for clinical trials.
Incidence of MS is higher in Scotland than anywhere else in the world and Councillor Finnie applauds the work being done by the Scottish Government and others to find a cure.
Please donate to the Inverness Therapy Centre, which services a wide area.
Contact details here:

SMALL BUSINESS BONUS GETS BETTER - HAVE YOU CHECKED? 11/03/10

 

Councillor John Finnie is keen that businesses take full advantage of the latest stage of the Scottish Government’s Small Business Bonus Scheme.
Councillor Finnie is aware that 5,200 Highland businesses have benefitted from the scheme and urges all businesses to check whether or not they may now be eligible.
The changes, which will come into effect on 1st April, are:
- Rateable value of £10,000 or less - business rates abolished
- Rateable value between £10,000 and £12,000 - business rates halved
- Rateable value between £12,000 & £18,000 - business rates reduced by a quarter
- Businesses with small chains of properties with a cumulative rateable value under £25,000 - business rates reduced by a quarter

SCOTLAND FOR PEACE 11/03/10

Councillor John Finnie is delighted that the US and Russia are, once again, discussing reducing their nuclear arsenals, an initiative which starkly contrasts with the UK Government’s proposal to waste billions replacing Trident.
Councillor Finnie is happy to endorse the ‘Cut Trident’ and ‘Scotland’s for Peace’ campaigns to see the monies spend on alleviating poverty and creating jobs.
www.scotland4peace.org

FINNIE PLEDGES SUPPORT FOR CHILDREN 11/03/10

Action for Children Scotland, formerly called NCH, have a proud record of acting to ‘make the future better’ for children.
Councillor John Finnie is proud to endorse their work to end child depravation and recognise that targeted early intervention breaks the cycle of deprivation.
Read about all their work here: www.actionforchildren.org.uk
The Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) Project in Highland is about everyone working to ensure every child gets the help they need when they need it.
Read how Highland leads here:

FINNIE SUPPORTS ‘LOCAL NEWS’ 11/03/10

 


Councillor John Finnie sent the following message to BECTU and NUJ, Trade Unions seeking support for quality local news programmes;
I believe that my local news programme on STV plays a vital role in our democracy by ensuring that viewers in my constituency have access to quality TV news from a variety of sources. If elected, I commit to ensure the future of local news on STV will be protected, including finding long-term funding solutions that will maintain and strengthen investment in quality programmes.
Links to unions comments..bectu and nuj

Council Squanders Community Money 11/03/10

The Lib Dem led administration in Highland Council's decision to respond to the need to encourage more facilities for older people in communities by employing three senior area support officers at an annual cost of £150,000 has been described as wasteful and unjustifiable by the SNP opposition. Speaking after the meeting of the Housing and Social Work Committee that made the decision, SNP Leader John Finnie said “This is money we could have used to provide real financial support to get new projects off the ground. There are many Highland Council staff locally who could, if so directed, assist communities with good projects to bring them to fruition without the need for yet another layer of expensive jobs”. Dave Fallows, SNP spokesman on Health and Wellbeing said “We opposed this proposal in committee, but the administration were not in listening mode. We will be watching the progress of this approach over the next twelve months to see what, if anything, is actually delivered for older people”.


FINNIE OPPOSES REPLACEMENT OF TRIDENT 09/03/10


Councillor John Finnie is a long time supporter of the SNP’s Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and is ashamed that Scotland hosts the United Kingdom’s obscene arsenal.
Councillor Finnie will not be at the March in Edinburgh this coming Saturday, rather, as usual, he will be calling on houses in the constituency seeking folks’ views on what is important to them. So far the response has been ‘education, jobs, care of our older people, the environment, transport’ never the need to spend vast sums of money on weapons of mass destruction.
Read the First Minister’s comments on Trident here;
Cut Trident, Not Jobs

This Saturday, I will be in Edinburgh to join marchers campaigning against the replacement of the UK Trident nuclear weapons system.

From a personal point of view, I’ve always been resolutely opposed to the UK’s nuclear weapons. I’ve never believed that they acted as any kind of deterrent, or that their use could ever be justified. With the Cold War long over, it’s now even less clear what purpose these weapons could ever serve, or even at whom they might be targeted.

However, at a time when budgets are tight all across the armed forces, when our armed forces are being sent into conflict zones without the proper equipment to do the job we ask of them, and with savage Treasury cuts to other budgets on the way, it really does beggar belief that the UK government would want to sink billions of pounds into a new generation of nuclear weapons.

The people of Scotland do not want weapons of mass destruction on the Clyde. The Scottish Parliament opposes it, the Scottish Government opposes it; defence chiefs, trade unions, religious organisations, and civil society all oppose replacing Trident.

It’s inevitable that some politicians would like to pretend that the UK remains a major player in world affairs, and will argue that having nuclear weapons is key to retaining that status. However, there are many other countries around Europe which manage to use their influence more benignly, and without the need for nuclear weapons.

A £25bn ‘Son of Trident’ is an exorbitant price to pay, simply to allow a small elite in Westminster to pretend that they still matter on the global stage. With so many other competing and more worthwhile calls on our resources, membership of the nuclear club is an expense we can no longer afford.

Join the SNP’s campaign here: http://www.snp.org/node/185

LIB DEMS FLIP-FLOPPING, FOR A THIRD TIME – DOCUMENTS STILL SHOW LIB DEMS CANNOT BE TRUSTED 09/03/10


Today, the Lib Dem Leader of Highland Council, Michael Foxley, confirmed Councillor John Finnie’s assertion that the Lib Dem-lead Administration has considered privatisation and/or closure of the Councils’ Care Homes.
Councillor Foxley alleges the Lib Dems are no longer planning this, however, given his continuing change of views, the public have a right to know exactly where the Lib Dems stand.
Here’s the letter Councillor Finnie has sent to try and clarify some basic points;
9th March 2010
Councillor Michael Foxley
Leader of the Administration
Highland Council
Glenurquhart Road
Inverness
IV3 5NX

Dear Michael
Highland Council Care Homes
Following coverage in today’s ‘Press and Journal’, and for the avoidance of any doubt, can you please confirm that your Administration wish to retain all the Council’s Care Homes in the ownership and managerial control of Highland Council and, with the possible exception of qualified nursing staff, that they will continue to be staffed by Highland Council employees.
Yours sincerely

Leader of the Opposition

 

DOCUMENTS SHOW LIB DEMS CANNOT BE TRUSTED 08/03/10


Councillor John Finnie and his colleagues in the SNP Group have long warned of the Lib Dem lead Administration’s intentions regarding the care of our older people; more privatisation, more centralisation and more uncertainty for an ever-increasing number of folk.
In contrast to the previous SNP Administration who reversed the privatisation of Council’s Care Homes and commenced a costed programme to build and run five new Council Homes, the Lib Dems have awarded contracts worth several millions to the private sector and now papers obtained by Councillor Finnie reveal that they are considering further privatisation and even care home CLOSURES.
The SNP Group will not abandon our older folk.

Press and Journal Article here..

Councillor John Finnie outside the now demolished Burnside Care Home in his Ness-side Ward.

‘NO PROBLEM WITH GRAFFITI’? 05/03/10

Councillor John Finnie has been trying to encourage Highland Council to be more responsive to the blight of graffiti and, having chased a reply for months, was astonished to be advised today that graffiti isn’t a problem in Inverness!
Perhaps you know different?

Please advise Councillor Finnie john.finnie@snp.org of any graffiti where you live and he will ensure action is taken.

 

Lib Dems about to implement school closure threat? 05/03/10

Councillor John Finnie and his colleagues in the SNP Group have repeatedly reminded the public of Lib Dem Vice Chair of Education, Councillor Drew Miller’s, threat to close and amalgamate schools.
Councillor Finnie and the SNP will continue to defend schools, the hearts of our communities.

BBC link here..

 


Finnie calls on the Lib Dems to accept responsibility for power- 05/03/10

Councillor John Finnie values the public’s views, indeed, he knock countless doors to chat to folk to hear what’s important to them.
Political parties incorporate such views in their programmes and, even when facing financial difficulties, the public expect their elected politicians to act, not abdicate, responsibility and engage in a costly gimmick which cannot bring about evidenced outcomes

Press and Journal article here

 

SCOTLAND'S FUTURE - SNP delivers on referendum promise - 27/02/10

Councillor John Finnie is a life-long believer in Scotland’s right to take its place amongst the other Nations of the world and is proud that the SNP Government has published the Draft Referendum (Scotland) Bill Consultation Paper. www.scotland.gov.uk/referendum
Councillor Finnie met with Bruce Crawford MSP, Minister for Parliamentary Business, the driving force behind the Government’s exciting legislative programme, to discuss this and other matters.

 


Finnie Visits Staff and Inmates at Inverness Prison - 24/02/10

 

Councillor John Finnie and other members of Highland Homeless Trust visited Inverness Prison and witnessed the high standard of support given to the 170 inmates.


The Trust hope to contribute to the prisoner rehabilitation programme by ensuring housing support for those released.
Councillor Finnie believes that prisons should be for the ‘bad’ rather than the inadequate members of our society and is very supportive of constructive alternatives to custody.


The Scottish Prison Service can be proud of their staff in Inverness.

 

FINNIE AND MACDONALD ‘WIN’ NAIRN MONIES – MAYBE! - 17/02/10


Councillor John Finnie and Provost Liz MacDonald of Nairn won an assurance from the Lib Dem lead Administration that they would examine allocating some of the vast proceeds which Highland Council will get from sale of the land at the former care home site at Corsee, Nairn to upgrading McLean Court Day Centre, Nairn.

The Lib Dems are threatening McLean Court with closure and the SNP hope that using some of the receipts to upgrade bathroom facilities will improve prospects of its retention.

Councillor Finnie said ‘The SNP is fully committed to the best possible facilities for our older people. We initially supported a review of day care facilities as a sensible way of examining whether the needs of our older folk are being met have been met, however, we have since withdrawn that support having seen that the Lib Dems, lead by former Conservative Candidate, Councillor Robbie Rowantree, have pre-empted that review with cuts and now threaten lunch clubs too.’
Councillors Finnie and MacDonald will be watching this matter closely.
The Lib Dems should be aware the good folk of Nairn will be watching closely too!

WHAT CAN AN SNP MP DO FOR YOU? - 16/02/10

 

John Mason is a fine example of what an MP should be and Councillor John Finnie can be exactly the same for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey.
Watch here;

 

FINNIE COMMENTS ON ‘COWARDLY BUDGET’ - 15/02/10

Interest in Highland Council’s budget extends the length of the authority.
Read Councillor John Finnie’s comments to the Oban Times here;
The £800m cuts from Westminster won’t miss the Highlands, however, the SNP is dismayed that this Lib Dem lead Administration went straight to the front-line, attacking Primary and Secondary schools and the voluntary sector, all so vital to our communities.

Following on from halting the Council's Care Home Building Programme, they now plan cuts in our older peoples' lunch clubs and day care centres.

Highland Council has almost 900 employees who receive over £40,000 per year yet they could only find one such post to delete. This was a cowardly budget.

and his comments in the Strathspey and Badenoch Herald report here:

LET’S WORK TOGETHER! 15/02/10


Councillor John Finnie was one of the 1700 invited to participate in local MP Danny Alexander’s meeting on the Inverness By-pass in Inverness Town Hall.

The modest attendance of sixty in no way reflects the widespread frustration at an apparent lack of progress with the issue.

Councillor Finnie advised the meeting that the written replies he had received from the Transport Minister, the Chief Executive, Political Leader and Chair of TECS of Highland Council all indicated a willingness to examine creative ways of moving forward.

Councillor Finnie believes Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the British Waterways Board and Historic Scotland need to be actively engaged and the public kept informed.


Press and Journal Article:

BUDGET COVERAGE – ‘TEARS’ SEEM FASHIONABLE - 12/02/10

Burnside Nursing Home is being demolished

 

Councillor John Finnie understands that the Lib Dem lead Administration on Highland Council think they ‘got off lightly’ by the coverage following their attacks on schools, older folk and our voluntary sector, however, time will show that the public are not easily duped.


Almost nine hundred Highland Council employees receive over £40,000 but the Lib Dem Leader, himself a veteran of budgets where the inflated salaries of an increasing number of bureaucrats grew, could only find one post not to fill.

Any tears associated with this shocking budget may legitimately be shed by parents of pupils, families of our older folk not by some highly paid politician.

Read the Press and Journal Article

SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT PLANS MAKE IT EASIER TO ‘GO GREEN’ - 10/02/10


Councillor John Finnie believes that any obstacles to everyone being able to contribute to ‘green targets’ should be removed.

Read his press release on a Scottish Government proposal to do just that here;

Going green in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey
SNP clearing the way for green energy generation

More households in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey are being given the opportunity to generate their own green energy under SNP Government proposals.
Currently many homeowners are unable to install equipment including solar panels and ground and water source heat pumps without planning permission.
But under fresh proposals set out in a consultation launched this week, people could install wind turbines or air source heat pumps without a requirement for planning consent.

Commenting, SNP Candidate for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, Councillor John Finnie said: “Protecting the environment, and allowing people in the Highlands to do so, is really important. At the moment people who want to cut their energy bills and reduce emissions by installing micro generation equipment are telling me there is a real problem with red tape."

“These new SNP Government rules would make it much easier for householders to play their part in reducing emissions.
“The Scottish Government has already permitted development rights for some technologies but we want to go further.
“It will also provide a vital boost for Scotland’s growing renewables sector and help to support jobs.”

ENDS
Notes:
The consultation, which runs until April 30, 2010, can be viewed here:

FINNIE SAYS LIB DEM’S BUDGET SHOWS THEY DON’T CARE - 10/02/10


Councillor John Finnie believes that Highland Council, like all Scottish Local Authorities, will have to take its share of the obscene £800 million cuts imposed by the London Government.
However, the SNP Group also believe in protecting front-line services and this is reflected in the eve of Meeting Press Release reproduced here;
Opposition Leader says ‘Administration Doesn’t Care’
Highland Council meets tomorrow (11th February 2010) to consider the Lib Dem lead Administration’s budget proposals for 2010/11.

Budget Papers show that in addition to cuts the Administration already forced through in December, the Administration plan significant cuts in schools and the care of older people.
Commenting SNP Group Leader and Leader of the Opposition, Councillor John Finnie said;
“There are hundreds of highly paid officials behind the scenes at Highland Council yet the Lib Dem lead Administration choose to attack front-line services with cuts in primary and secondary school teachers, an end to language assistants and music staff laid off. Altogether a shocking indictment of where their priorities lie.

“Our older people fare no better from an Administration which has already awarded a multi-million pound contract to the private sector for home care services and halted building of the five new Council Care Homes, giving rise to fears of even further privatisation, as they now attack older peoples’ lunch clubs and day care services.

“The SNP had already agreed a review of day care services, on the understanding that the Administration withdrew its threat to close McLean Court Day Centre, Nairn, and we are dismayed to see that the outcome of that review prejudged with twenty two posts identified to go and plans to ‘deregister’ Care Centres, just a fancy word for ‘close’.

“This Administration doesn’t care about education or our older folk and know the value of nothing.”
NOTES:
The Budget can be found here:

Specific proposals referred to are on pages 10, 14, 17, 25, 27, 41 & 43

FINNIE PLEDGES TO ‘VOTE CRUELTY FREE’ - 10/02/10


Councillor John Finnie believes that how we treat animals reflects the sort of society we are and, for those reasons, he is happy to lend his support to ‘Vote Cruelty Free’.
Read Vote Cruelty Free’s press statement here;
First candidate in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey to Vote Cruelty Free

Scottish National Party Candidate, John Finnie, has pledged his support for Vote Cruelty Free, a new non-partisan coalition of animal protection organisations working to put animals on the political agenda. John is the first candidate in his constituency to support the coalition.

The alliance has sent its manifesto to all candidates announced for the next General Election and asked them to show their support for the issues raised. So far more than 190 candidates have pledged their support.

John Finnie said, “It is important we recognise the important part that animals play in our lives and the need to maintain the high standards of livestock management I know traditionally apply in the Highlands. Future generations will rightly expect that we apply ourselves to ending animal cruelty, whether in the laboratory or the countryside, and, to that end, I am happy to lend my support to this coalition of animal welfare organisations.”

A Vote Cruelty Free spokesperson said, “Animal protection is an issue close to the UK public’s heart but this is often not reflected in current political debate. It is fantastic that John Finnie has shown he believes in animal protection issues as much as his potential future constituents in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey; we are calling on all candidates to follow his lead by pledging their support for Vote Cruelty Free.”

Vote Cruelty Free comprises the BUAV, Compassion in World Farming, IFAW in Action, League Against Cruel Sports and Respect for Animals. It covers a broad range of animal welfare issues including wild and marine animals, animal experimentation, cruel sports, the fur trade and farming.

Vote Cruelty Free is urging all candidates to pledge their support for the initiative. Voters can track candidates who have signed up by visiting the website

FINNIE CONDEMNS ‘UNPROFESSIONAL’ REPLY TO CARE HOME BUILDING QUERIES   15/01/10

Councillor John Finnie leads a Group committed to the Council’s Care Home Building Programme and, when the Lib Dem lead Administration decided to halt the Programme, pending a ‘review’, he sought clarificatio9n on a few points.
Read below a Press Statement covering the response he received;
SNP Councillor John Finnie, Opposition Leader on Highland Council, has refused to be put off by an unsatisfactory reply from the Chair of Housing and Social Work, Councillor Margaret Davidson, indicating her unwillingness to clarify the terms of reference of Highland Council Administration’s review of Council Care Home Building Programme.
Councillor Finnie wrote Councillor Davidson on the 27th December asking her to explain what specifically the Administration meant by the phrase ‘taking into account: The Social and Economic impact on the locality’ used in the review’s terms of reference.
Such detail is important because the precise terms under which the Programme’s future is to be judged must be clearly understood by all interested parties. As things stand, mystery still surrounds the Administration’s sudden halt to a major Capital Programme, hugely popular with the public, which Members were told only a few weeks ago was ‘on target’.
Given the magnitude of the proposal to halt the Programme, Councillor Finnie also requested an assurance from Councillor Davidson that residents, their families and friends, Care Home staff and their trade unions, along with the Highland Senior Citizens Network and Community Councils would be consulted during the review.
The reply, received from Councillor Davidson on 12th January, ignored the first question and avoids giving any undertaking to consult beyond ‘local Members’.
Councillor Finnie said;
“Those familiar with Councillor Davidson’s ever shifting position on privatisation of the Council’s Care Homes may not be surprised by her unwillingness to answer reasonable questions from the Leader of the Opposition, however, her dismissive tone is both disappointing and unprofessional.
“I received no reply to my request for her to clarify one of the terms of reference and she makes it abundantly clear that the Administration has no intention of consulting residents, staff, communities and others on this sudden and unexplained halt to a major capital programme we were told only weeks ago was ‘on target’.
“I would ask the Administration to live up to their commitments on community engagement and have meaningful consultation with the Care Home Residents’ support groups, the Highland Senior Citizens Network and others.”

LIZ WINS REPREIVE FOR MCLEAN COURT DAY CENTRE, NAIRN  15/01/10

Councillor Liz MacDonald, Provost of Nairn, who has campaigned, along with Fergus Ewing MSP and Councillor John Finnie, Westminster Candidate, to retain the Day Care Facilities at McLean Court, Nairn, this week forced the Lib Dem lead Administration to defer any decision on the future of McLean Court pending an agreed review of all day care facilities.
SNP defending communities, protecting our older folk!
Read some background here:

SNP CHALLENGE ON HOME CARE STAFF NUMBERS  15/01/10

Councillor Finnie and his colleagues who attended this week’s Housing and Social Work Committee Meeting were involved in a number of debates with the Lib Dem lead Administration who have already spend several millions on private home care, put a halt to the Care Home Building Programme and now give cause to raise concerns over the commitment to the Council’s role in providing care for our older folk.
Read some of the reality here:
A lesson to us all, keep it simple:

FINNIE CONDEMS LABOUR JOINING LIB DEM ATTACK ON OUR OLDER PEOPLE  15/01/10

Councillor John Finnie is dismayed at the latest attack on our older folk by the unionist parties, this London Labour’s plan to scrap attendance allowance.

Read his full Press Statement here;

LABOUR PLANS PUSH INVERNESS, NAIRN, BADENOCH AND STRATHSPEY PEOPLE INTO POVERTY
SNP candidate for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, Councillor John Finnie, has hit out against Labour plans to scrap attendance allowance for nearly 170,000 elderly and disabled Scots.
The plans, announced by Gordon Brown, will see attendance allowance scrapped to fund a National Care Service in England with no consideration of Scottish pensioners.
Figures from the Department for Work and Pensions and the Institute for Social and Economic Research show that 167,940 people in Scotland receive attendance allowance. Independent research by ISER shows that removing attendance allowance would push 40% of those people into poverty, or 67,000 Scots, that’s 1,060 in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey.
In addition to removing attendance allowance Scotland’s carers could also be affected. Receipt of AA by the disabled person is one of the grounds for receipt of Carer’s Allowance by the carer and its removal could affect 46,300 carers in Scotland.
The proposals have been opposed by Age Concern, Help the Aged, Royal National Institute for the Blind, MacMillan Cancer Support and Leonard Cheshire Disability and a petition on the Downing Street website has attracted 23,705 signatures.
Commenting, Councillor Finnie said:
“This will be terrible news for some of Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey's most vulnerable people. It is inconceivable that instead of tackling poverty, Labour is planning to push 67,000 Scots – some of our most vulnerable residents – into poverty and remove funding from a further 100,000.
“2,650 of Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey's people will really suffer under these plans. This is a clear sign of how little the UK Government considers its impact on Scotland and in particular on vulnerable Scots.
“Attendance Allowance offers essential support to many of Scotland’s elderly and disabled residents and helps Scotland’s carers. To get rid of this valuable benefit would be a hammer blow to elderly and disabled Scots.
“Without Attendance Allowance more elderly people would be forced out of their homes into the care system instead of living independently in their homes.
“This proposal is entirely focussed on England with no attention paid to the consequences in Scotland. Labour’s plans ignore Scotland completely.”
ENDS
1. Attached are details of the number of attendance allowance recipients (according to the Department for Work and Pensions) in each Westminster constituency.
2. Charities who deal with elderly and disabled people have united in opposition to Labour’s plans:
Age Concern and Help the Aged are opposed to the move, pointing out that ‘That extra bit of help may help prevent, or delay the need for more formal care.’
The Royal National Institute for Blind People (RNIB) is actively campaigning against the proposals as some 53,000 blind and partially sighted people across the UK receive AA.
Macmillan Cancer Support has also expressed concern, fearing that removing AA ‘would leave many cancer patients over 65 unable to pay for the extra costs of disability, such as a special diet, higher fuel bills or travel to hospital.’
Leonard Cheshire Disability stated in their response to the Green Paper they would be ‘strongly opposed’ to integrating AA into the social care system – adding: ‘…it simply does not make sense to look to remove elements that are actually working successfully at present.’
3. Attendance Allowance (AA) is a non means tested tax free benefit paid to people over the age of 65 requiring help from another person due to severe mental or physical disability. It is paid directly into an account of the recipient’s choice. It is paid at two different rates:
o Higher rate: £70.35 per week
o Lower rate: £47.10 per week
The Higher rate applies to those needing help both day and night. The Lower rate applies to those needing help either day or night.
4. Motions for Thursday 14 January 2010
Government Motion:
S3M-5515 Alex Neil: Attendance Allowance for People with Disabilities—That the Parliament notes that the UK Green Paper, Shaping the Future of Care Together, published in June 2009, may have long-term implications for vulnerable older and disabled people in Scotland who are eligible for attendance allowance and disability living allowance as it proposes to remove the universal benefits of attendance allowance and disability living allowance and instead redesign the benefit system to meet English social policy objectives and redirect funding to pay for the provision of a National Care Service in England, while failing to give adequate consideration to the position in Scotland, and calls on HM Government to consult fully with the Scottish Government, the Scottish Parliament, local authorities, NHS boards and other interested parties before proceeding any further.
SNP CONDEMNS THE SECOND ‘CALLOUS’ LIB DEM LEAD HIKE IN SHELTERED WARDEN CHARGES IN TWO MONTHS! - 14/1/10
The SNP Group on Highland Council considers protection of our vulnerable citizens as one of our primary duties as elected representatives.
Councillor John Finnie, Group Leader, has issued the following press statement;
Highland Council’s Housing and Social Work Committee, meeting in Inverness today, voted 15-5 to increase charges for Sheltered Housing Wardens Charges, for the second time in two months.
The SNP Group opposed the measure as it follows an increase, agreed by the same committee on 11th November, as it would affect the most vulnerable members of our community, older people and the disabled.
Speaking afterwards, SNP Group Leader John Finnie said;
“The Lib Dems say they understand the economic crisis faced by our communities yet choose to punish our sheltered housing tenants, treating this increase as another opportunity to increase the coffers.
“Lib Dems Leader, Nick Clegg, has announced the Party is dropping its support for Free Personal Care for our Older Folk, and already we that mind set at work in the Highlands with them halting the Care Home Building Programme, privatizing even more home care and now our sheltered housing tenants facing another hike in charges for their much needed wardens.
“We are disgusted that our proposal to protect vulnerable members of our communities form this second callous charges hike fell on deaf ears but will continue to fight to protect the old and vulnerable.”
NOTES:
The first rise can be found at item ‘6’ here;
http://www.highland.gov.uk/yourcouncil/committees/strategiccommittees/housingandsocialwork/2009-11-11-hsw-min.htm
The second rise can be found here;
http://www.highland.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/EC8AF894-5548-4966-A113-BEB0272F807B/0/Item4HSW0810.pdf
Over a quarter of our tenants affected first faced up to £20.78 per week increase, now will have that raised, for the second time, by 1.3%.

WARNING ‘IF IT SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO TRUE IT PROBABLY IS!’  09/01/10

Councillor John Finnie is keen to raise awareness of various fraudulent schemes which criminals use to steal from persons they contact by telephone or mail.

If you have any suspicions about any approach you may receive please do not hesitate to contact Northern Constabulary on 01463 715555.

Please find advice from the Financial Service Authority here:

NEEDLE EXCHANGE SCHEMES – VITAL PART OF HARM REDUCTION 6/1/10

Today, Councillor John Finnie visited the staff of the Needle Exchange Scheme in Waterloo Place, Inverness.

The Scheme is part of the Harm Reduction Scheme and supported by all public agencies.

Work in this complex field is often undervalued and frequently misunderstood and Councillor Finnie will continue to support any effort to reduce drug dependencies and the community damage it causes.

Read about the Scheme here: and the Press and Journal story here:

COUNCIL HOME CARE PROGRAMME - A CRUEL DECEPTION’ 30/12/09

Burnside Nursing Home is being demolished

The SNP stood at the election in 2007 committed to reversing the privatisation of the Council's Care Homes.

When the SNP formed Highlands first political administration with the so-called Independents, we secured agreement to retain the five Care Homes in Council ownership, build five new Homes and target additional monies and resources at older people to ensure as many as possible could stay safely for as long as possible in their own houses.

The Lib Dem lead Administration's decision to halt the Care Home Programme, coming only weeks after they had announced the replacement programme was on target, is a cruel deception which the SNP is committed to fully exposing and reversing.

Councillor John Finnie, SNP Group Leader has written to the Chair of Housing and Social Work asking for details of their so-called ‘review’, requesting that residents their families and friends; care home staff and their trade unions plus Highland Senior Citizens Network and Community Councils are not only consulted but listened to.

This is a significant lurch towards total privatisation of care and the SNP are committed to ensuring that does not take place.

Inverness Courier articles here and another here plus Oban Times here:

COUNCILLOR FINNIE ISSUES DRUG WARNING 29/12/09

Councillor John Finnie is aware of the damage that illegal drugs can cause to lives and highlights a recent phenomenon of very low priced and legally available drugs. John is concerned that supplies flooding in will lead to deaths. Read the Press and Journal story here

Care of Our Older People Crucial 24/11/09

Councillor John Finnie was delighted to visit the Mackenzie Day Centre for the City’s Older People, in Culduthel Road, Inverness.

The Centre is an important t lifeline to not only the clients who attend but also their carers.

The smiling and attentive staff, and the warmth of Centre Manager, Fran MacLeod, highlights all that is good about the Council’s care of older people.

Councillor Finnie is known for his keen interest in older peoples’ services and will not allow facilities such as the Mackenzie Centre to be sacrificed by a short-sighted Lid Dem lead administration.

Idea Girona - Showing Scotland the Way 17/11/09

Councillor John Finnie was delighted to have been invited to speak at a meeting of idea GiRONA!, an organisation which seeks to encourage public engagement in Catalan affairs and specifically the promotion of a referendum about Catalan independence from Spain.

Whilst in Catalunya, Councillor Finnie also addressed a meeting of the Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, political partners in the European Parliament, in the town of Figueres, home to the Dali museum.

BBC news clip about the referendum:  


Youth Forum – Councillor Finnie Listens to Our Young Folk 16/11/09

Councillor John Finnie was delighted to meet again with pupils from Inverness Royal Academy at a Ness-side Ward Youth Forum.

Also represented were the local community councils, Hilton Community Centre Management Committee, and a number of statutory and voluntary youth agencies.

Councillor Finnie understands that it is important not just to listen to the young folk but also to act on what you are told.   More youth clubs and a youth shelter have been progressed. Read More..

TOWN CENTRE IMPROVEMENT FUNDS FOR NAIRN WARMLY WELCOMED - 13/11/09

 

The award of £800,000 to improve Nairn's town centre has been welcomed by the SNP's Westminster Candidate for the town, Councillor John Finnie.

Nairn's award came as part of part of the second wave from the Scottish Government's £60 million Town Centre Regeneration Fund, which assisted 41 towns.

Commenting on the award, Councillor Finnie said;  "This significant sum of money will make a huge difference to the centre of Nairn and shows the Scottish Government not only recognises the long-term decline and neglect of small town centres but also sees the value of town-centre regeneration."

"I am particularly pleased at the lift this money will give to the local construction industry and, like everyone, I look forward to seeing a vibrant and attractive Nairn town centre." 

The Scottish Government release detailing today’s announcement is here:

GAELIC EDUCATION EXPANDING - 12/11/09

Councillor John Finnie is a keen supporter of the Gaelic language and proud to have the first purpose built Gaelic Primary School in his Ward.

 

Councillor Finnie is delighted at the rapid growth of Gaelic education in Inverness, and hopes to see Gaelic Medium education at Drumnadrochit very soon.

 

Read about the expansion here:

MOBILE PHONE - CAMPAIGN LATEST - 11/11/09

Councillor John Finnie's mobile phone campaign to have providers improve coverage or cut bills continues.

 

Angus MacNeil, SNP MP for Western Isles, suggests an improvement to mobile phone coverage in his Ten Minute Rule Bill, introduced  today at Westminster - his excellent speech is here:

 

Commenting on the Bill, Councillor Finnie said:  "I am grateful for the help of the public in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey with my campaign and only wish the telephone companies were all as co-operative.

 

"Angus MacNeil's suggested obligation for automatic roaming capabilities between networks has the potential to remove blackspots, not only from rural areas, but also parts of urban Inverness where coverage is poor or non-existent."

 

"I am continuing my campaign and hope to publish the results in the New Year."

SOCIAL WORK BUDGET - PUBLIC MUST BE ASSURED ABOUT LEVELS OF CARE - 11/11/09

 

Despite representation, in the strongest terms, at today's Housing and Social Work Meeting, Councillor John Finnie was initially unable to secure any assurance from the Chair, Councillor Margaret Davidson, that her Lib Dem lead Administration would meet the Free Personal and Nursing Care of any assessed as requiring it.

Fortunately, that assurance was eventually dragged out from the Lib Dems - read their press release here: 

The public can be assured that Councillor Finnie and his SNP colleagues are presently involved in detailed checks to ensure that this promise is being honoured.

 

If you know of anyone having difficulty with their care package please contact Councillor Finnie at john.finnie@snp.org or telephone him on (01463) 712836 or 077 486 24 296.   

HOUSING - WE MUST BUILD THOUSANDS MORE HOMES - 10/11/09

Councillor John Finnie believes that a home is a fundamental right and, with ten thousand on the Highland Housing Register, every new house built is vital.

 

Councillor Finnie was delighted to lend his support, at today's Planning Committee Meeting, to the construction of 14 affordable houses by Cairn Housing Association, at Slacknamarnock, the old sand and gravel pit off Essich Road near the Southern Distributor Road.

 

At the Meeting, Councillor Finnie secured an assurance that Ward Councillors would be consulted on the provision of play equipment on the site and received confirmation that the developer's failure to protect the trees on site was being addressed by officials.

 

Read the full planning application here:

Equality and Human Rights Commission 8/12/09

Councillor John Finnie was delighted to meet informally with Officers from the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Councillor Finnie, who has spoken at a number Council for Ethnic Minority Voluntary Organisations (CEMVO) events, and was himself involved in equality and fairness training in the Police, spoke to the EHCR about the added pressure of rural victims of racial abuse and the growing need to address the intolerance directed towards gypsy travellers.

COUNCILLOR FINNIE - LET'S GET POLICE ENGAGING WITH OUR YOUNG PEOPLE - 7/11/09

 

Thanks to the record number of Northern Constabulary officers funded by the SNP Scottish Government Councillor Finnie suggests it is time to go back to police being involved in cycling training.  Read about it here: 

 

ECONOMIC RECESSION - SNP GOVERNMENT HAS HELP TO GIVE 6/11/09

 

Councillor John Finnie is keen to ensure everyone has all the help they need at these difficult times. 

Read what the SNP Scottish Government can do here:


FUEL PRICES - THE LONDON 'RIP-OFF' CONTINUES - 06/11/09

Councillor John Finnie and his SNP colleagues have long campaigned for fairer fuel prices for the Highlands and support a 'fuel-regulator', a system which would stabilise prices at the pumps during periods when oil prices fluctuate.  London doesn't listen!

Councillor Finnie is also keen that the UK Government pursues 'derogation' with the European Union - a discount scheme which has been applied to rural areas of France. 

The Highland depends heavily on the haulage industry and Councillor Finnie and the SNP will do everything they can to support this key sector with the consequential benefits this will bring for ordinary folk.

Read about it here:

EU diesel prices can be found here:  

Prices without taxes can be found here:  

John Finnie and SNP Colleague, Councillor Drew Hendry discussing the Fuel Situation with Macritchie's

DIGITAL SWITCHOVER - CONFUSED?  HELP IS AT HAND - 05/11/09

Councillor Finnie is keen that older and disabled people confused about the switch-over to digital get all the help they can.

Here's some helpful information from John MacNeil, Assistant National Manager - STV North, Digital UK;

Go to fullsize image

More than 190,000 older and disabled people in the STV North region will be entitled to practical help to switch over to digital. The Switchover Help Scheme is run by the BBC through an agreement with the Government to help eligible older and disabled people to make the switch to digital on one of their TV sets.

The Help Scheme has launched a television and print advertising campaign to raise awareness of the help available to older and disabled people so they can continue to watch their favourite television programmes after switchover. The Help Scheme will also be running local activity and poster advertising campaigns and Help Scheme events in the lead up to switchover. The Help Scheme is also working alongside Digital UK and with local charities and organisations to spread the word. More information can be found with the recent press release.

Eligible people in the STV North TV region will be offered a Freeview set top box for £40, or free if they also get income benefits. The help also includes installation if requested, a demonstration of how to use the equipment, an aerial check and upgrade if necessary for those that own their own aerials and a free help line to ring for advice while they get used to it.

There are many ways to go digital and additional Help Scheme options are available at extra cost – these are set out in the options guide sent to eligible people. The Help Scheme will write to all those who re eligible, starting with the islands as a distinct mailing burst to allow installers to complete installations within a fixed window of time.

The Switchover Help Scheme has appointed Luke McCullough as its National Manager, Scotland. If you would like more information about the Switchover Help Scheme in the STV North TV region, please do not hesitate to contact Luke on 07590 306972 or luke.mccullough@bbc.co.uk 

 

Auditor General Calls For Urgent Action Across The Public Sector - John Finnie Agrees! - 05/11/09


Councillor Finnie notes with interest the Audit General's Call for action across the public sector and the 'need to make informed decisions about competing priorities'.

 

As Leader of the Opposition on Highland Council, Councillor Finnie and his 16 SNP colleagues take that message, and the scrutiny role they are charged with, very seriously.

Commenting on this hugely important report Councillor Finnie said;

 

"The Audit Scotland report is extremely welcome, because it confirms everything that the SNP Government have been saying about the spending squeeze being imposed by the UK Government at Westminster - not just £500 million next year, but up to £3 billion by 2013/14.  

 

"Given that the latest Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) analysis shows Scotland in budget surplus - with a surplus of some 2.3 billion pounds in the past three years - the Audit Scotland report reinforces the need for Scotland to be responsible for our own tax and spending decisions with independence.

 

"I am delighted that the Scottish Government have already risen to the challenge, not just in an ambitious efficiency programme which will deliver £3.2 billion in savings by 2011 while delivering the same level of services, but also in taking tough decisions such as cancelling the unaffordable rail link to Glasgow Airport - where the cost of work at the airport alone had spiraled from £8 million to £70 million without a single yard of track being laid.

 

"In demanding MORE spending virtually every day in the Scottish Parliament - including reinstating GARL, and more money for local government - while Scotland's budget is being CUT by the UK London Labour Government, Labour and the Lib Dems are living in a fiscal fantasy land.

 

"The Audit Scotland report sets out the reality of Scotland's budget cuts within the UK.  London Labour and the rest of the opposition have to get real over their ridiculous spending demands.  And Scotland needs to acquire the real financial and economic powers that come with independence."

 

Read the Auditor General's report here: http://www.audit-scotland.gov.uk/media/article.php?id=119

 

Read the Finance Secretary John Swinney MSP's response here: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2009/11/04153502

 

Read the Lib Dems 'wish list' here: http://www.highlandsnp.org/JohnFinnieSNP.html#LibDemCall

MPS' EXPENSES AND ALLOWANCES - THE KELLY REPORT - CANDIDATE FINNIE'S RESPONSE- 04/11/09

Councillor Finnie recognises the damage done to public service by the greed and apparent dishonesty of some Members of the UK Parliament.

 

As the SNP's Candidate for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey for the forthcoming Westminster election, Councillor Finnie welcomes the Kelly Report as bringing the UK Parliament more in line with Holyrood.

Councillor Finnie said;

 

"I don't think anyone should be out of pocket as a result of their work, and that includes elected Members.

 

"Regrettably, the greed of some has tarnished the entire political process and it's time to remove the trough.

 

"If elected at the forthcoming election, my needs will be modest.  I will continue to live in Inverness and will have no difficulty feeding and cleaning myself."

 

Have views on the expenses scandal?  Please share them with Councillor Finnie at john.finnie@snp.org

 

INVERNESS CLACHNACUDDIN FC - FINNIE: 'HIGHLAND COUNCIL HAS ACTED APPROPRIATELY- 3/11/09

Clach

 

Councillor John Finnie is an avid football fan keen to ensure maximum public support for Inverness Clachnacuddin Football Club.

 

Read the Council's Press Statement here: http://www.highland.gov.uk/yourcouncil/news/newsreleases/2009/October/2009-10-27-07.htm


Town Twinning - Spain - Badenoch and Strathspey- 25/10/09

Councillor John Finnie recently held wide-ranging discussions with the Consul General of Spain, Federico Palomera Güez.

 Here's the press release to the Strathspey an Badenoch Herald on the subject; Following a meeting, at the SNP's Annual Conference in Inverness on Saturday 17th October, between the Party's Westminster Candidate for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, Councillor John Finnie, and the Consul General of Spain, Federico Palomera , it is hoped that a town-twinning arrangement, between respective mountain areas in Span and Scotland, can be arranged and directly benefit Badenoch and Strathspey.

 

Town Twinning with Spain

Councillor Finnie stated;

"In a meeting with the Consul General, covering a range of topics, I asked what steps he thought we could take to boost the number of Spanish tourists visiting the Highlands. I discovered that the Consul General was presently examining town twinning options for Huelua. Although the town of Huelua itself is on the coast, there are striking similarities with our mountainous area including farming, recreation activities such as walking, golf and other outdoor pursuits as well as unique wildlife.  Huelua is also a birdlife  conservation area"

As Badenoch and Strathspey had not been included in the list of those areas under consideration for this town-twinning, John moved quickly to ensure that the area was not only included in the Consul General's options, but should be considered as a main contender for the tourism partnership opportunity.

Councillor Finnie added;
 

"I am delighted that the Consul General has agreed that I could pursue options of twinning with a town or village in Badenoch and Strathspey.  I have already spoken with the Highland Council Chief Executive, Mr Alistair Dodds, and know he has progressed the matter. It is important to move fast when an opportunity to protect jobs and boost the area's income presents itself"

"The Highlands is a welcoming area and there is no doubt that town-twinning benefits go beyond simple economics with shared cultures and experiences, especially for our young folk, enriching both communities."

NOTES:
 
Huelua (AKA Huelva) is on the coast and is flat and industrial until you move out of town.
http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sites/index.html?action=SitHTMDetails.asp&sid=1962&m=0

Also of interest is that "the Man who never was" is buried in a cemetery there. The operation "Mincemeat" started in the Holy Loch.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Mincemeat


What's Happening with the "Saved" House?- 3/11/09

 

Councillor Finnie prevented the former janitor's house at Cauldeen Primary School, Hilton, Inverness being sold on the open market.

John is now wondering when the Lib Dem lead Administration is going to make it available to one of the 10,000 folk on the waiting list?    

Councillor Finnie won't wait too much longer for action!

Press and Journal Report   

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Freedom of Speech and the Independent Councillor   - 2/11/09

Councillor Finnie supports freedom of speech. 

The question is does your so-called non-political Independent Councillor?

Read about the future here:  

Councillor Bill Clark, like Councillor Finnie's Ward Colleague Councillor Norrie Donald, is an honourable man.   

Maybe there is a 'Independent Party' operating alongside the Lib Dems and Labour?  

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WANT A 20% COUNCIL TAX INCREASE? - THESE LIB DEMS DO! - 29/10/09

Lib Dems 20% Council Tax Hike is a dead end

Those Lib Dem fiscal wizards are at it again with another daft proposal. What they don't tell you is that the removal of the package of support from the Scottish Government would mean a TWENTY PERCENT increase in Council Tax to match. Of course, it is all just posturing Press and Journal Article

Councillor Finnie knows that the Scottish Government's funding of the Council Tax freeze has been warmly welcomed by everyone - except Lib Doom councillors!

Read the official - non-political - response here:

Make you own mind up and feel to share your views with Councillor Finnie john.finnie@snp.org

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£66 Million Contract - John unimpressed by "Gross Inneficiency"  - 28/10/09

Read about Highland Council's awarding of a £66 million contract below.

Councillor Finnie would be surprised to hear of any 10 year public sector contracts still operating in their 13th year!

For the record, both Councillor Finnie, and his SNP colleague Councillor Wynd, declined to take part in any vote. Read The Press and Journal Article Here

 

 


WORKING EFFECTIVELY WITH YOUNG PEOPLE - HILTON COMMUNITY CENTRE - 26/10/09

Councillor John Finnie is on the Management Committee of the Hilton Community Centre but takes no credit for the outstanding work of local Committee Members who provide a safe and caring environment for Hilton's young people.

Councillor Finnie enjoyed participating in the Management Committee's training course, 'Working Effectively with Young People', and views the subject as key to good relations in the Hilton area.

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MS CENTRE MUST CONTINUE - 22/10/09

Councillor John Finnie is a keen supporter of the MS Centre in Inverness.

 

At the Annual General Meeting he expressed concerns about financial projections and rejected any suggestion of staff redundancies.

The Centre has been a life-line to countless MS sufferers and their families and Councillor Finnie is keen that efforts are redoubled to ensure its long-term viability. 

 

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HIGHLAND HOMECOMING - UR BEATH DHAN DUTHAIC- 22/10/09

Councillor John Finnie was delighted to attend Eden Court Theatre, Inverness for the opening of the Highland The Year of Homecoming.

Read more here:

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HIGHLAND POPPY APPEAL - LEAST WE FORGET - 21/10/09

Councillor John Finnie was delighted to attend the launch of the Poppy Scotland Highland Appeal at Inverness Town House.

Councillor Finnie is keen to raise awareness of the work the Appeal does on behalf of those who fought in Korea, the Falkland Islands, the North of Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Scottish National Party Government is a strong ally of our armed services and introduced arrangements to ensure that they were not disadvantaged on NHS lists by virtue of having to transfer across Health Boards.

Councillor Finnie also applauds the work of Erskine, the charity which cares for ex service men and women. http://www.erskine.org.uk/

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JOHN FINNIE CONDEMNS COWARDLY ATTACK20/10/09

 

Councillor John Finnie condemns the cowardly attack on an 82 year old woman at Hilton Village, yesterday morning.

 

Anyone with any information should contact the Police on 715555, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, or Councillor John Finnie in confidence, and he will liaise with the police.

http://www.northern.police.uk/news-item.htm?item_id=PR1753_2009

 

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WORRIED ABOUT FUEL BILLS? - THANKS TO THE SNP INCREASED HELP IS AT HAND - 11/10/09

 

Councillor John Finnie is delighted that the Winter Payments Scheme, which the Liberal Democrats shamelessly tried to restrict, is to be retained.

Details as follows; City of Inverness - Scheme of Winter Payments to the Elderly and to Persons with a Disability.

Elderly persons or persons with a disability who are resident within the City of Inverness Wards (Aird and Loch Ness, Inverness West, Inverness Central, Inverness Ness-side, Inverness Millburn, Culloden and Ardersier and Inverness South) who wish to receive a donation under the above scheme should make application as soon as possible and not later than Friday 20 November, 2009. Application forms are available from the Town House, Service Points, Social Work Area Offices, and Local Libraries.

The applicant must be aged 60 or over or be a person with a disability:- (a) who is in receipt of Pension Credit or Disability Living/Attendance Allowance; (b) does not have a wage earner residing with them and (c) is the sole claimant in the household. All donations are sent by cheque.

For further information please contact: Mr David Haas, Inverness City Manager, Town House, Inverness IV1 1JJ Telephone: 01463 724368

Councillor Finnie can provide you with an application form and, if you do not meet the criteria for this scheme, and are having difficulties with meeting fuel payments, he will see if any other assistance is available.


STUDENT FUNDING ANNOUNCEMENT - SNP GOVERNMENT CONTINUES TO DELIVER - 7/10/09

Councillor John Finnie is delighted that the SNP Government continues to prioritise education by funding additional Childcare, Student Income and Grants with more to follow.

Figures from Student Award Agency for Scotland suggest that around three thousand four hundred and ten students from Highland will be supported.

Read the full announcement here: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2009/10/07102114


Charities Need Their Helpers - 03/10/09

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Councillor John Finnie was delighted to attend a well-supported Coffee Morning, run by Seonag Anderson and friends, at the Recreational Hall, Raigmore Hospital, Inverness.

 

Society cannot function without charities and the present economic situation means charities' needs for resources, and demands on their services, are greater than ever.

 

Councillor Finnie is aware of many who have benefited from the outstanding service provided by MacMillan Nurses. You can donate here:

 

John Meets Polish Ambassador - 03/10/09

Councillor John Finnie was honoured to have been invited to a private lunch with Her Excellency Ms Barbara Tuge-Erecinska, Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to the UK, Provost Jimmy Gray, David Stewart MSP and City Manager, David Haas.

 

The Ambassador was accompanied by a long-standing friend of the Highlands, Consul General of the Republic of Poland, Aleksander Dietkow, from the Polish Consulate in Edinburgh and was due to attend the Polish school, run by volunteers in Inverness on a Saturday, after lunch.

Flag of  Poland

Provost Gray spoke of the long shared history of our two nations and the continuing welcome the City extends to our Polish brothers and sisters.

 

Councillor Finnie delights in the large number of nationalities who reside in Inverness Ness-side ward, not least many from our long-standing ally, the Republic of Poland


Gaelic Education - Finest In The Highlands? 03/10/09

Councillor John Finnie is a resolute supporter of efforts to sustain the Gaelic language and recognises this is the least that should be done to right the historic wrongs visited on Highland culture and the Gaelic language.

 

Councillor Finnie was delighted to have been invited to open the Gaelic awareness day at Bun-sgoil Ghaidhlig Inbhir Nis and spoke briefly in Gaelic, welcoming everyone present before enjoying excellent performances from the school's choir and Highland dancers.

 

Many organisations are giving Gaelic its vitality and they were present today and there is no doubt that the enthusiastic support of teachers, parents and the often small class sizes make Gaelic Medium education very attractive. Read more here:  

 

CLIMATE CHANGE - HELP PROTECT SCOTLAND 01/10/09 Go to fullsize image

Councillor John Finnie believes that climate change is the major issue facing humanity.

 

The Scottish Government leads the world on this matter and Councillor Finnie believes that London Labour Prime Minister Brown should recognise this fact and send a Scottish Minister to the Climate Talks, in Copenhagen, in December 2009.

 

Councillor Finnie encourages you to sign a petition supporting this:

 

ACTION TO TACKLE CLASS SIZES - TIME FOR THE LIB DEMS TO DEAL WITH THE FACTS 01/10/09

Full classroom

Councillor John Finnie warmly welcomes the Scottish Government's moves to tackle class sizes with new regulations limiting P1 class sizes to 25, announced by the Education Secretary, Fiona Hyslop.

 

As a Member of the COSLA Convention, Councillor Finnie knows that the Local Authorities Body is working, with renewed vigour, to bring about incremental class size reductions, paid for by the Scottish Government, and contained in the historic Concordat.

 

Councillor Finnie believes it's time the Lib Dems lead Highland Council followed that example. More Here..

 

FLY-TIPPING - LIB DEMS DENY PROBLEM 01/10/09

Councillor John Finnie and his colleagues warned about the consequences of the Lib Dem lead Administration charging for bulky uplifts.

 

We said there would be increased fly-tipping and there has been, albeit Councillor Angela MacLean (Lib Dem) assured yesterday's Resources Committee that wasn't the case.

 

Well, certainly that isn't the experience in Ness-Side Ward where fly-tipping is a problem in residential areas and at every lay-by and forest track end. 

 

Councillor Finnie was at the recent Ward Forum when Chief Inspector MacLean confirmed there was an increase in fly-tipping, albeit it wasn't being formally reported to the police.

 

The irony is that by charging the cost to the Council has gone up as special trips have to be made by Council workers to uplift the abandoned items.

 

Will the Lib Dems remain in denial or will they be big enough to admit they are wrong and stop a flawed charging policy which takes no regard of ability to pay?  Watch this space!

 

If you wish to report any instances of fly-tipping please contact Councillor Finnie or telephone the Council on (01463) 230634. 


GORDON BROWN'S CONTRIBUTION TO THE FINANCIAL CRISIS - 30/09/09

Councillor John Finnie has watched with interest London Labour Prime Minister Brown distance himself for the financial crisis.

This News Release from the SNP provides some fascinating informed comment and some irrefutable facts about Gordon Brown's past and present role.

Councillor Finnie commends this 'good read';

Wednesday 30th September 2009
 
ROBERT PESTON SAYS LABOUR’S REGULATORY BANK REGIME IS “UNCLEAR”          
 
IS CULPABILITY BROWN LEARNING ANY LESSONS?
 
Commenting after Robert Peston’s appearance at the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee today where he said that the legislative proposals for a new banking regulatory regime are “unclear” about who will now be in charge, SNP committee member Rob Gibson said:
 
“Mr Peston’s appearance at today’s committee was both welcome an interesting. In particular were his comments about the legislation for a new regulatory regime being ‘unclear’ about who would be in charge of the new regime.
 
“After all we have learnt about how Gordon Brown’s tripartite regime had failed this is extraordinary. Has Labour learned any lessons from the banking crisis?
 
“We have a trail of headlines showing Gordon Brown’s culpability and this begs the question of what Labour is now playing at.
 
“This is also why the committee’s inquiry should have the full co-operation of the UK Government, Financial Services Authority and Bank of England.
 
“Without a full examination of the banks and the regulatory systems they operated under we cannot get to the bottom of what happened in the industry or focus properly on its future.”
 
ENDS
 
Notes:
 
Examples of how Gordon Brown failed to regulate the financial sector properly:
 
1. A speech Gordon Brown gave to the CBI Conference in 2005 where he called for "limited" regulation and even suggested whether there should be regulation at all.
 
The better, and in my opinion the correct, modern model of regulation – the risk based approach - is based on trust in the responsible company, the engaged employee and the educated consumer, leading government to focus its attention where it should: no inspection without justification, no form filling without justification, and no information requirements without justification, not just a light touch but a limited touch.
 
The new model of regulation can be applied not just to regulation of environment, health and safety and social standards but is being applied to other areas vital to the success of British business: to the regulation of financial services and indeed to the administration of tax. And more than that, we should not only apply the concept of risk to the enforcement of regulation, but also to the design and indeed to the decision as to whether to regulate at all. In the new legislation we will publish before Christmas we will make this risk based approach a statutory duty of the regulators."
 
2. The resignation of Sir James – one of the prime ministers key advisors - followed revelations that when he was chief executive of bank HBOS he sacked a whistleblower who warned that banks were heading for disaster. Sir James was knighted on the recommendation of the UK government, and later appointment as deputy chairman of the FSA.
 
3. The warnings by the HBOS whistle blower reflect similar warnings given to the FSA and the Prime Minister about Icelandic banks months before the UK Government took any action - and which is now seen as being so heavy handed it precipitated an even more rapid collapse.
 
Links to news articles showing how the FSA and Gordon Brown were similarly warned about the Icelandic banks months in advance can be read here:
 
PM knew of problems with Icelandic banks in March

 
FSA was warned not to allow Kaupthing to take over Singer

 
4. Details of the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee report on Banking Supervision and Regulationcan be found here:
 
5. In March - A National Audit Office inquiry into the handling of Northern Rock, found that the tripartite regulatory structure created by Gordon Brown was seriously flawed, and that Treasury officials decided it was not a priority to fix it.
 
6. “Brown told us not to question banks on risky practices, says City watchdog”:
 



Flooding - Shocking News! - 29/09/09

Councillor John Finnie, a long-time supporter of flood relief measure on the south side of Inverness, was angry to hear of an unacceptable to the South West Relief Channel which will draw excess water away from the area which previously caused the flooding in Lochardil.  Councillor Finnie was also disappointment was that no-one in the Lib Dem lead Administration on Highland Council thought it appropriate to share this hugely significant information with an elected Member for the area affected.  Highland Council officials have done a great deal of work on this project and Councillor Finnie has thanked the Director of TECS whose staff have been left to clear up the mess.  Read Highland Council's News Release and, below it, comments Councillor Finnie provided to the 'Press and Journal'.  

 

 Tuesday 29 September 2009 South Water Flood Relief Channel 

The works to construct the Inverness South West Flood Relief Channel, which will divert flood water from the south side of Inverness away from residential properties in Hilton, Lochardil, and Holm by collecting overflow water from the burns on the sought side of Inverness and channelling it into the River Ness have been delayed. 

It was hoped to start the works in September of this year subject to the completion of land negotiations, however there are still some outstanding issues to be resolved, and this has resulted in the works being delayed. The works in the Holm Burn are subject to very strict environmental controls and can only be carried out at certain times of the year.

Officials will be discussing the new works programme with SEPA and other interested parties, however it is likely the construction will be delayed until the summer / autumn of 2010. In the meantime preparatory works, including the diversion of services and limited site clearance, will be undertaken this year in advance of the main works.  

Provost Jimmy Gray, Chairman of the Council’s Inverness City Committee said: “This is very disappointing news, as we had expected the first two phases of the works to start this year. Officials will be working very hard to resolve the outstanding issues, and get the project back on track. The environmental issues are very sensitive, and we will be aiming to start construction next year. I would like to assure the many residents who will benefit from this scheme that the funding for the project will be carried forward.” ENDS 

Councilor John Finnie's comments;  

"I am angry about this delay and the potential affect it could have on my constituents many of whom fear a repeat of the floods of a few years. "I understand the problem is down to the same individual land-owner, who objected to the Flood Prevention Scheme proposal, now denying access to workers.

 "Legislation, similar to compulsory purchase schemes, will now be used to obtain that access, however, we must have proportionate flooding legislation which allows legitimate objections but weeds out spurious complaints.

 "Sadly, the Highland economy can ill afford to loose the £4million injection this work would have given in this year alone."


BOUNCING BACK FROM RECESSION!  - 28/09/09

Councillor John Finnie is delighted to hear that a country "has bounced back from the mild recession it suffered." 

Sadly, that country isn't Scotland, rather it's our oil-rich neighbour Norway.

"The Economist on Norway & Latest IMF Estimates of GDP per Capita at PPP for Iceland, Ireland & Norway (2009-14) data from the IMF and the following from page 52 of the Economist (18-25 September) states:

"The economy is in good shape. Unemployment, at 3%, is the lowest in Europe.

"Norway has bounced back from the mild recession it suffered in the early months of this year. It is expected to grow by 2% next year.

"The $400 billion wealth fund that holds surplus revenues from North Sea oil and gas exports, turning petrodollars into hoard of stocks and bonds , naturally took a hit in the market slump but is still worth some $85,000 per citizen.

"The Norwegians are a contented bunch. Bergen reveals handsome, well-fed citizens who work in designer offices or high tech fishing vessels, relax in art galleries and theatres and enjoy pristine scenery. Education is free and health care is heavily subsidised."

Councillor Finnie belives it all could have been so different  for Scotland if we weren't shackeld to the wasteful UK state. 

 
Below and attached are latest IMF estimates for this year and up to 2014 which demolish opposition claims - particularly Jim Murphy's - that neighbouring countries have suffered worse than the UK in the recession with official figures showing that Iceland, Ireland and Norway will remain wealthier per head than the UK.

The IMF estimates of gross domestic product per capita based on purchasing-power-parity (PPP) show that the wealth per person in Iceland, Ireland and Norway is not only still larger than the UK’s but that the gap between those countries and the UK will actually increase over the next 5 years.   

 1. IMF estimates of gross domestic product based on purchasing-power-parity (PPP) per capita between the UK and Iceland, Ireland and Norway (Currency = Current international dollar) are as follows*:

Country 2009    2010    2011    2012    2013    2014   
Iceland 35,757.53       35,484.96       36,798.59       38,625.92       40,752.46       43,127.06      
Ireland  39,382.54       38,253.28       38,745.75       39,925.78       41,404.23       42,947.46      
Norway  52,796.52       52,854.69       53,761.22       55,139.71       56,830.33       58,610.09      
UK      35,286.03       34,881.40       35,401.91       36,540.60       37,838.03       38,807.83      
  

The above figures can be viewed on the IMF site here: http://tinyurl.com/ljm7zw
     
% difference with UK
 

Country 2009    2010    2011    2012    2013    2014   
Iceland +1.34%  +1.73%  +3.95%  +5.71%  +7.70%  +11.13%
Ireland +11.61% +9.67%  +9.45%  +9.26%  +9.42%  +10.67%
Norway  +49.62% +51.53% +51.86% +50.90% +50.19% +51.03%


2. For further info Jim Murphy’s attack on Iceland, Ireland and Norway at the time can be read here:
 
http://www.heraldscotland.com/murphy-in-arc-of-insolvency-attack-on-snp-1.891802

 


WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN - 1970’s PAPER REVEALS OIL OWNERSHIP WOULD BOOST SCOTTISH INCOME BY 30% - 28/09/09

Councillor John Finnie was not surprised by the latest revelations about the efforts the unionists parties put in to ensuring energy-rich Scotland bankrolls the failed UK state.

Read the following SNP Press Release, issued today;

Civil servants calculated that North Sea oil could boost incomes in an independent Scotland by up to 30% according to government records made public today at the National Archives of Scotland in Edinburgh.

SNP MSP and Chief Whip Brian Adam, who represents Aberdeen North, said the papers reflected the McCrone papers and others which revealed the lengths to which both Labour and Conservative Government’s went to keep Scotland from her oil wealth.

  

Commenting Mr Adam said:

   

“These explosive figures confirm yet again what the SNP said at the time and what revelations have shown over last few years – that Scotland would have boomed with ownership of its oil revenues.

"Scotland would have flourished as an independent nation and investing in an oil fund would have built a firm foundation for Scotland's future. These figures show the missed opportunity that came from UK control of Scotland's oil revenues.

“There is a real sense of déjà vu with these revelations. In Brighton we hear Labour politicians scaremongering Scots about the 1980’s – the very decade huge oil revenues underpinned Margaret Thatcher’s destruction of Scotland’s economy.

“Scotland’s oil industry has a bright future with an estimated 30 billion barrels of oil still to be extracted, new technology developing and a central role in the global oil industry.

“There is as much oil left in the North Sea as has been taken out of it – and much more than half of the revenues. Scotland’s oil industry has a positive future. With the UK making £250 billion of revenue from North Sea oil over the last 30 years in real terms, it is now time to ensure that future revenues are invested properly for Scotland’s future.

“In the 1970’s requests for an oil fund were turned down – a repetition of this failure by Labour in the 21st century would be unforgivable.

“The UK Government must see the error of its ways and enable Scotland to invest our own oil revenues for our future.

“Oil has become the new taboo for Scottish Labour. It must not be another missed opportunity for Scotland.

“The lessons of 30 years ago must be learnt – and applied to ensure Scotland’s prosperity is a thriving one.”

ENDS


LIB DEMS NEVER LEARN - SNP GOVERNMENT DELIVERS NEW WICK HIGH SCHOOL - 28/09/09

Councillor John Finnie and his SNP colleagues are keen to deliver on public services for the Highlands and will work with anyone to achieve that aim.

The Lib Dems, big on demands, low on substance are yet to grasp the real politique .  

Take Highland SNP, Jamie Stone, never missing in action when a mindless quote is required.  On 1st April, this year he said;     

People ask me, "Where is the new school?", and in the streets of Wick and in Caithness people do not mind if it is PFI, PPP or the Scottish Futures Trust—they just want that school. That is the sort of issue that lies before us. It is about choice and carrying on with the capital programme. Patient and kindly as I am, I fear that we are going precisely nowhere with the Scottish Futures Trust.

Councillor Finnie hopes Mr Stone will have the good grace to reflect on his comments and give credit where it is due, with the SNP Scottish Government. 

http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/business/officialreports/meetingsParliament/or-09/sor0401-02.htm

Wick Academy has been announced as one of the schools to be built under the Scottish Government’s school building programme


CLOSE A LOOP-HOLE - MAKE COMMUNITIES SAFER 27/09/09

Councillor John Finnie believes that every effort should be made to make communities safer and for that reason he has lent his support to moves by MSP Stewart Maxwell toclose a loophole in the DNA legislation. Read the statement given to the Press and Journal below:

Amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill will seek to end a loophole that currently prevents police retaining DNA and fingerprint evidence where an alleged offender accepts a prosecution offer of a direct measure (e.g., a fiscal fine, compensation order, or work order).

Under the current legislation DNA or fingerprints can only be retained where there is a criminal conviction or the accused is charged with violent or sexual offences. The rules for retaining DNA were last amended in the Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2006.

SNP Group Leader on Highland Council, and the Party's Westminster Candidate for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, Councillor John Finnie, has lent his support to MSP Stewart Maxwell who  today signalled his intention to lodge amendments to close the loophole after reviewing evidence given in response to a Scottish Government consultation and discussing the issue with Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill.

Councillor Finnie, a former Police Officer with 30 years service, said:  "I fully endorse Stewart Maxwell's proposal to lodge amendments in line with the police response to the consultation which stated : 'The acceptance of an offer of disposal by the Procurator Fiscal should equate to a conviction and forensic samples should be retained in line with current procedures.'”
“Of course there is a delicate balance to strike in retaining DNA between supporting the work of the police and protecting human rights, however, Scotland has been rightly praised for attaining that balance, and this loophole now needs to be closed."

“I believe that when those who have been accused of crimes accept direct measures such as fiscal fines or work orders they are also accepting their guilt.  In these cases DNA or fingerprints taken by the police should be treated exactly the same as if they had received a criminal conviction and this will help police identify those who re-offend or develop a pattern of offending - without impacting on human rights concerns.”


Use of Direct Measures – Offences include:
* riotous behaviour while drunk in licensed premises, such as a pub or club;
* Vandalism;
* breach of the peace;
* Destroying or damaging someone's property on purpose (known as 'malicious mischief').
* Possession of controlled drug (18%);
* Theft
* Assault       Responses to the Government consultation can be found here:

YOUR VIEWS ON THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT RESEARCH WEB-PAGES - TELL THEM WHAT YOU THINK! - 27/09/09

 Councillor John Finnie makes regular use of the excellent information available from the Scottish Government.   The publics' views on are being sought on the Scottish Government Research Web Pages and how it can be improved. If you could spare a few minutes to complete a short on-line survey to tell them what you think of the Scottish Government Research web-pages and how it can be improved.
 http://register.scotland.gov.uk/bulkmail/clickTrack.ashx?url=f31ee36a-8e1e-4f63-b595-23584e24bb7a&iid=11928520
  


SCOTLAND'S PEOPLE ANNUAL REPORT: RESULTS FROM 2007/2008 SCOTTISH HOUSEHOLD SURVEY - It's about YOU and I -  27/09/09  

The Scottish Household Survey is designed to provide reliable and up-to-date information on the composition, characteristics and behaviour of Scottish households, both nationallyand at a sub-national level. It covers a wide range of topics to allow links to be made between different policy areas.  Like the 2007 report, at the start of a chapter, introductory paragraphs draw on key policy documents to set the results that follow into the policy context for the topic it covers.

Click Here  


Social Work Budget - Lib Dem Budget Leader 'missing'? - 16/09/09

Councillor John Finnie and his SNP colleagues support Social Work staff dealing with the ever increasing demands for their services.

Social Work finances show the Lib Dem lead Administration failed to allocate funds to cover the implications of an Equality Impact Statement which first came to light in December 2008. It should be noted that this is the same Administration which keen to pay themselves additional salaries invented some new posts, notably the post of 'Budget Leader' held by Lib Dem Councillor David Alston. 

What have the public received for their extra money to Councillor Alston?  Where has he been since December? 

Did he participate in the setting of the Council's budget for 09/10? 

If the answer is 'yes', does he think it competent not to budget for known costs?

What, if anything, did Councillor Alston contribute to this so called 'recovery plan'?   

Coverage of the discussion can be found here:    


Highland Handyperson Service - Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey - 17/09/09  Councillor John Finnie was delighted to attend the launch of the Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey 'Handyperson Scheme'. The scheme is designed to help people over 65 years of age, or any age with a disability, with carrying out small jobs around the house like changing light bulbs and tap washers; cleaning windows; painting and decorating; moving furniture within the house; securing carpets putting up shelves; fitting grab rails and handrails as well as weeding and pruning; grass cutting; hedge trimming etc, etc.  The only charge is for materials used.  No charge is made for the Handyperson's time or travel expenses. Councillor Finnie has been grateful for assistance given by the Handyperson Scheme to residents in the Ness-side Ward and would encourage anyone eligible, who needs assistance, to contact Volunteering Highland on 01463 711 393 or at handypersons@volunteeringhighland.org  


COMMEX - Committee of Experts Visit to Scotland - Councillor John Finnie Invited to Give Evidence - 23/09/09  

The Committee of Experts monitoring the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages visited Edinburgh on the 23rd September. The visit followed the delayed submission, in May of this year, of the UK's third periodical report on the application of the Charter. Councillor John Finnie was delighted to be invited give evidence to the experts on the progress being made by Highland Council with the implementation of their Gaelic Plan:

 The SNP remains committed to righting the historical wrong visited upon the Gaelic language and Councillor Finnie and his colleagues on Highland Council are very keen to promote the well-evidenced benefits of bi-lingual education. 

Read a Recent Government News Release about additional funding for Highland Schools here;


Energy Assistance Package - Get Free Advice Now! - 25/09/09
Councillor John Finnie is alarmed to hear that, according to a new survey commissioned by the Energy Saving Trust, four in ten Scots are worried about being unable to afford their home heating bills this winter. The survey coincides with a new Scottish Government campaign to promote the Energy Assistance Package, which will provide real financial and environmental benefits to those struggling to heat their homes this winter. Councillor Finnie encourage everyone to read about the assistance available here;  

Public Money - Councillor John Finnie Will Look After YOUR Money - 25/09/09  

Councillor John Finnie is known for his tenacity at protecting the public's money.  The 'latest' coverage of an issue exposed by Councillor John Finnie some considerable time ago; Inverness Courier Article 

Even further back, then 'Constable', John Finnie tackled the Police on this very issue: Article in Scotsman 


SNP Government Backs the Highlands - Backs Inverness 25/09/09

Councillor John Finnie, SNP Candidate for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, was delighted that the Highlands economy received a boost after it was revealed that Inverness has been chosen for an innovative life science project, safeguarding 223 jobs and creating a further nine.

Finance Secretary John Swinney announced that two million pounds from the Scottish Government's Regional Selective Assistance programme would support the manufacturing of LifeScan's new testing strip system - a product for monitoring blood glucose.

The project is part of an 11.1 million pounds investment programme at LifeScan, Scotland's largest life sciences company which will see this new product manufactured for use worldwide.

In a further boost for the company, an R&D grant of 313,000 pounds from Highlands and Islands Enterprise will safeguard a further 12 jobs in 2009 and ensure that LifeScan's base in Inverness continues to be a centre for cutting edge life sciences research.

Mr Swinney said:

"LifeScan's decision to manufacture this new product in Inverness is a major vote of confidence in Scotland's world-renowned life science industry.

"It safeguards more than 200 vital jobs for the Highlands economy, creates new posts and gives staff the opportunity to showcase the excellence of Scottish life sciences on a global stage.

"Scottish Development International (SDI) has played a significant role in securing this major investment for Scotland. And as the Government works to position our economy for recovery, we will continue to use tools at our disposal - like the Regional Selective Assistance scheme - building on our economic recovery plan to create new jobs and attract fresh investment of this kind."Mr Finnie said:  

"This is great news for Inverness and the Highlands.  Contrast the UK Government unleashing £1billion pounds of cuts on Scotland's budget with our Scottish Government supporting this vital employer expansion.  I wish Lifescan continuing success." 


John Finnie's Mobile Campaign

Mobile Phone Reception? - Why Pay Same for Reduced Service? 14/09/09

John Finnie has written to mobile phone providers asking them to improve their coverage throughout the constituency OR reduce their bills for their reduced service.

Councillor John Finnie would be grateful if YOU could assist his campaign by contacting him with details of your mobile telephone provider and where you are unable to provide coverage in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey. 

The more precise the details of the location the greater the likelihood of identifying technical solutions, failing which Councillor Finnie will continue to push for reduced bills.

Thanks to those of you who have already provided helpful details. Use the contact detail above or email here


Lib Dems threaten highland council staff sackings

SNP Values Council Workers and Condemns Lib Dem-lead 'Bullying' Tactics 10/09/09

Councillor John Finnie recognises the limited role for elected Members in negotiations between a Council and its staff.However, when Highland Council's Lib Dem/Labour/Independent Administration pushed through a plan to demand the workforce, 2,000 of whom are engaged in an agreed appeals process, accept the terms and conditions offered or be SACKED and offered their jobs back under the new terms, Councillor Finnie lead the fight, with his SNP colleagues, to stop this happening - see item '30' here:

Without debate, the Administration's leadership, Councillors Michael Foxley (Lib Dem), Leader of the Administration; Councillor David Alston (Lib Dem), Budget Leader; Councillor Caroline Wilson (Independent), Chair of Resources Committee and Councillor Margaret Davidson (Independent), Chair of Housing and Social Work Committee plus others, including Councillor Deirdre MacKay (Labour), voted to sack staff. 

At no point did any Member of the Administration give any explanation for taking such a draconian stance.At the Full Council Meeting on 3rd September, Councillor Finnie again attempted to have the matter debated. 

Once again the Lib Dem, Labour and Independent Members used their weight of numbers to forbid debate, a worrying democratic deficit.Councillor Finnie has written an open letter (see below) to the Leader of the Administration, Councillor Foxley, encouraging him to personally engage in meaningful debate with the trade unions and to reconsider denying the public, and our workforce, the right to view open debate on this important issue.Councillor Fraser Parr (Inverness Ness-side) was the only Labour Member to vote for a debate. 

Further evidence, if any were needed, of the contempt the Labour Party has for the Trade Union movement and its Members.The SNP will continue to fight for 'fair play'.  Letter to M Foxley;

Dear Michael

As you know, the SNP Group’s amendment to delete the Administration’s Modernising Employment – Job Evaluation proposal to terminate the contracts of employment of those employees who are not willing to vary their terms and conditions by agreement and offer them re-engagement on the new terms and conditions, tabled at the Resources Committee of 19th August, was voted down by the Administration, without discussion.

Despite the support of eleven of your colleagues, our subsequent attempt to prompt a wider debate on this crucial matter at the Full Council Meeting on 3rd September, was again defeated, without discussion.

Quite the reverse of modernising the employment, this proposal is what might be expected of a callous multi-national corporation or a totalitarian regime rather than the Highland’s largest employer and would have a dramatic effect on thousands of council staff and the delivery of services to our communities.

Notwithstanding your mandate, many will consider it inconceivable that the sacking of thousands of public sector employees will now be ushered through, behind closed doors, by the Administration.

I implore you to personally engage with the Trade Unions on this matter and afford an opportunity to openly debate this sad state of affairs.

Yours sincerely


DID TESCO OFFER '£17 MILLION'? 10/09/09 

Councillor John Finnie believes that multi-national supermarkets should contribute to infrastructure costs in the same way as other developers are expected to and that Highland Council must be seen to be even-handed in its dealings with every supermarket chain. 

At the recent Full Council Meeting (3rd inst), Councillor Finnie sought to establish if the Lib Dem lead Administration's pursuit of ASDA for money for roads was a 'change of policy' following the reported loss of '£17million' from Tecso.

 It was evident that the question struck 'a raw nerve', with Councillor Ian Ross (Lib Dem), Chair of Planning, now and also when Tesco were granted permission for their fourth store at Holm Mains, stating he would request the Chief Executive investigate the background to this much quoted figure.    The public deserve to know the truth and Councillor Finnie has written to the Chief Executive seeking to establish the terms of reference of his enquiry and a likely date for it to report. Councillor Finnie will advise you of any developments as soon as he hears. In the meantime you may wish to see what Tesco themselves say about that figure

sound of music is not a hit with youth club members

YOUTH CLUB 'HIT' - 'Sound of Music' 'miss' 27/08/09  

Councillor John Finnie is a member of the Hilton Community Centre Management Committee but takes no credit for the excellent work that the Committee do in running youth clubs.  The clubs are so popular that creative ways have been required to get the young folk to leave the premises.  Read all about it here; http://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Article.aspx/1370253 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/highlands_and_islands/8223956.stm http://news.scotsman.com/scotland/Youth-club-deploys-a-bit.5596763.jp http://blogannath.blogspot.com/2009/08/roundup-of-weird-news-for-28-august.html


Kenny MacAskill MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Justice Minister 24/08/09

Few in Scottish politics can have faced a decision of the magnitude Kenny MacAskill MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Justice, had to make in respect of the convicted criminal Mr Al-Megrahi. Councillor John Finnie believes that the manner in which the Justice Secretary conducted himself in reaching, and explaining, the decision to release Mr Al-Megrahi displayed the humanity for which Scotland is known and respected throughout the world. Councillor Finnie is one of the many who has written Mr MacAskill a supportive letter and he would now like to see, what both the UK and US Governments wouldn't, a full independent enquiry into the whole Pan Am affair.  '


Community Safety' Ward Forum  25/08/09 

The Ness-side Ward Forum takes place this week (27th) and the subject is one that affects us all, 'community safety'.  Councillor John Finnie is chairing the meeting.  Please come along and join the discussion. Read all about it here 

HOUSING REPRIEVED FOR A FAMILY - REVIEW UNDER WAY 05/08/09 Councillor John Finnie constantly deals with families struggling to get a council house so, when he was asked to agree the sale of one of Highland Council's own properties, the former janitor's house at Cauldeen Primary, he went straight into action to save it for use for social housing.  Read all about it here  In addition to this success Councillor Finnie also pressed for support from the Chair of Housing and Social Work, Councillor Margaret Davidson, for a review of the 'pressured area status' boundaries, to include Hilton.  As things stand, even though there are hundreds wishing housing a Council House in Hilton, the Council continues to sell houses to tenants and Councillor Davidson conceded it was 'high time we reviewed Hilton'.  The SNP is on the side of those wanting a Council House - watch this space!


SNP CANDIDATE SAYS MOBILE PHONE COVERAGE SHOULD BE IMPROVED OR BILLS CUT 31/07/09 

SNP Councillor John Finnie, who is Westminster Candidate for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, has called for Mobile Phone companies to provide a much better service if the area is to benefit from advances in technology or to return some of the charges billed to customers.

Read More Here......


DANNY ALEXANDER MP - the facts! 30/7/2009

"If you say something often enough people will start to think it's the truth" is the way the saying goes and Danny Alexander seems to work to this premise, Councillor John Finnie has always tried to avoid political arguing over issues that require cooperation but the public are entitled to know the facts. Instead of ignoring Danny Alexander's frequent posturing and misrepresentation of basic facts you can find, here an accurate position, starting with the old chestnut of the A9 upgrading.  John makes no apology for the detail. Read the two press statements and supporting documentation for yourself and make your own judgement.

Read the facts here


Internationalism - Inverness and Europe 27/7/2009 

Whilst on a week's break on Councillor John Finnie took the time to visit;

The Somme Battlefield Museum, in the town of Albert The MacRae Battalion Memorial, in the village of Contalmaison

and a variety of Normandy World War sites.  Councillor Finnie believes that a visit to those mass graves should convince anyone of the folly of war and the need for us all to co-operate as nations.  Councillor John Finnie is an internationalist who supports the European Union and applauds the town twinning arrangements which see our young folk from Inverness stay with peers from France and Germany -


ADMINISTRATION IN "USUAL CHAOS" 25/06/09 

Councillor John Finnie believes it is very important to have 'visible' democracy and he is therefore delighted that the SNP's proposal to web-cast Highland Council meetings moved on a bit after today's meeting. However, Councillor Finnie believes that there is 'nothing like the real thing' and he would encourage everyone to attend one Council meeting to see their elected Representatives 'in action', or not, as the case me be. Minutes and Agendas can be found here. 

Of course no Minute, however accurately recorded, can give the full flavour of a debate and I'm sure that will be the case with the debates we sought on important issues like 'Council's Response to the Economic Downturn' during which Councillor Drew Hendry's forensic interrogation of the paper literally left senior Members of the Administration speechless!  Confidentiality precludes much detail on one paper discussed in private, suffice to say, Councillor John Finnie leads a Group intend to resist the creeping privatisation taking place in our Social Work Service!  

In November 2007, following a huge consultation process, Highland Council adopted a Gaelic Plan which received world wide acclaim.  Sadly, since that time, ill-informed and unrepresentative elements, who contributed nothing to that original debate, have sought to undermine progress in revitalising the language.  Councillor John Finnie leads a Group who will maintain unequivocal support for the Gaelic language.


HOUSING – A HUGE JOB REQUIRED 25/06/09 

Scottish Government Spending on Affordable Housing

Councillor John Finnie regularly deals with housing issues from young families forced to live in cramped conditions with relatives whilst forlornly waiting on the housing waiting list.

With 10,000 on that waiting list, the problem is significant, and has been growing for years.

Modest improvements are taking place such as welcome Scottish Government support for houses under construction within the Ward at West Heather Road. insert pic

More can and must be done, starting with the London Labour Government writing off Highland Council’s housing debt as it was once prepared to do.

  

Councillor Finnie welcomes the Scottish Government’s support for the construction industry which means homes for families and a much needed jobs boost.

Look out for those Scottish Government sites they are across Inverness and the Highlands and show the Scottish Government's commitment to providing a mix of social housing.

INFORMATION: The Scottish Government LIFT shared equity scheme aims to help people on low incomes who wish to own their own home. Buyers pay for the majority share in a property, normally between 60 and 80 per cent, and the Scottish Government holds the remaining share under a shared equity agreement. For further information please visit www.scotland.gsi.gov.uk.


HOUSING MINISTER VISITS - AND DELIVERS! 23/06/09

Councillors John Finnie and Jean Urquhart were delighted to meet with the Housing Minister, Alex Neil MSP, in between his many Highland engagements.

In addition to the very welcome announcement on the Highland Housing Fair, which Councillor Jean Urquhart has tirelessly worked on, the Minister opened new affordable housing at Kildary.

Councillor John Finnie was later invited to join other senior Members of Highland Council for what was a highly productive meeting, full details of which will be published separately. 


 SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT ACCELERATES CAPITAL WORKS 10/06/09 

Major Ness-side School Improvements Welcomed

Councillor John Finnie is delighted that one of the many Scottish Government initiatives to kick-start the economy, the acceleration of capital funds to local authorities, means that much needed work can go ahead in three schools in Ness-side Ward.

The fabric of our schools has been neglected for years and Councillor John Finnie is therefore pleased to report the following work;

  • Hilton Primary School Window Replacement Phase 1 - £291,600 Inverness Royal Academy -Replacement of Music Block Roof - £58,320
  • Lochardil Primary School Windows Phase 3 £77,760

                   

all thanks to the Scottish Government.


FLOOD RELIEF CHANNEL MONIES ADVANCED BY SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT

Councillor John Finnie welcomes the advance of £1,000,000 of capital from the Scottish Government which means that work will commence on the Inverness South West Relief Channel


INVERNESS COMMON GOOD FUND - PUBLIC MONIES 10/06/09

Councillor John Finnie is aware of the high level of interest in the use of Inverness Common Good Fund. Read an interesting report on the Fund.

John and other Members present at the Resources Committee agreed the 'recommendation'.


SINGLE OUTCOME AGREEMENT (SOA) 20/04/09

- 'words into actions'  Councillor John Finnie believes that the Scottish Government's Single Outcome Agreement (SOA) should focus the public sector on the need to evidence joint working, for the public good, to avoid duplication of effort, money and resources.  John believes that papers Councillors are presented with should show proposals with a clear link to the SOA and, at today's Inverness City Committee Meeting, Councillor Finnie won unanimous support for that proposal. John will keep you advised of progress with this matter.  


  HOMELESSNESS APPOINTMENT 21/04/09

Councillor John Finnie was delighted to have been appointed today as a Director of Highland Homeless Trust and hopes to contribute to the considerable good work of the organisation.


 HIGHLAND COUNCIL/NHS LEADERSHIP AND PERFORMANCE GROUP 21/04/09

Councillor John Finnie is a Member of the Highland Council/ NHS Leadership and Performance Group which provide a strategic lead in the many areas of joint working between Highland's two leading public services, coincidently the Highland's two major employers. John was present at today's Group meeting which discussed a range of issues.

Minutes of the Group are available here


  COST OF CONSULTANTS

Councillor John Finnie, Inverness Ness-side, who successfully highlighted failings in Northern Constabulary's use of consultants, is 'continuing enquiries' at Highland Council where the Lib Dem led Administration is incurring significant costs hiring consultants whilst making vital front-line staff redundant.

Press and Journal Article 1, Press and Journal Article 2


ASDA should provide welcome competition 27/07/09

Ness-side Ward residents and their fellow Invernessians will be delighted that the Scottish Government has backed Highland Council’s decision to allow Asda to build a store at Slackbuie.After weighing the planning criteria carefully, John Finnie seconded the motion which won the Planning Committee's approval and was in no doubt that the ASDA store would be suitable for the area. The decision has since enjoyed huge local support. Lib Dems locally opposed the proposal and Danny Alexander remains a critic – watch this space for a “shift” in position from them.In other “Store News” Electors should note that, under the ‘watch’ of the Lib Dem Chair of Planning, Councillor Ian Ross, the initial ‘offer’ of a massive £17 million planning gain form Tesco at the Holm Mains site was not pursued and resulted in a massive own goal and wasted opportunity.In total, unforgiveable folly on the part of the Lib Dems!


Inverness - Direct European Airlink Vital 26/07/09 Councillor John Finnie believes that it is vitally important for the economic well-being of the Highlands that a direct air link, to a hub airport, is available from Inverness.  

Councillor Finnie is just back from a week's break in Germany, Belgium and France and flew direct to Inverness to Dusseldorf, the flight took about an hour and a half, using the new summer air link


Inverness MS Therapy centre saved INVERNESS AND DISTRICT MS THERAPY CENTRE - SAVED! 08/06/09Councillor John Finnie is delighted to have lead and secured support from the Inverness City Committee for the MS Therapy Centre's application to the Inverness Common Good Fund. The Centre had been under pressure of closure...read more


WILDLIFE LAWS TO BE MODERNISED - HAVE YOUR SAY!- 30/06/09  Whilst Ness-side Ward has one of the smallest natural areas of any Highland Council Ward, Councillor John Finnie believes that constituents value those precious pieces of ground and the species that reside or visit there.  Please have your say here


HILTON AND ANTI SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR - JOHN FINNIE - ACTION NOT SURVEYS - 12/06/09  Councillor John Finnie has been working hard with all the statutory agencies and the community in Hilton to bring about a safer and more pleasing environment for all. Councillor John Finnie's initiative with dog-fouling has seen a marked improvement and means the police and the Council are working closely on this and the added problem of litter....read more


EDUCATION CUTS Feb 2009 Councillor John Finnie and the SNP in Highland have been dismayed at the careless approach to the Education service taken by the Lib Dem/Independent/Labour Coalition on Highland Council. Cuts are being made now in Ness-Side without any thought to educational outcomes.

John has obtained figures on teacher numbers which show that Highland Council's Lib Dem lead Administration is failing our young people and follows the announcement that seventeen community youth workers are being made redundant. Press and Journal Article


ALZHEIMAR SCOTLAND - WORDS INTO ACTION ON DIMENTIA - AWARENESS DAY  25/05/09Councillor John Finnie was delighted to visit the Woodlands Centre, Culduthel Road, Inverness for Alzheimar Scotland's 'awareness day'....read more


HIGHLAND COMMUNITY CARE FORUM (HCCF) OLDER PEOPLE'S GROUPS CELEBRATION 25/05/09 Councillor John Finnie attended a celebratory event, organised by the Highland Community Care Forum, to recognise the marvellous work done by many older peoples' charities, their employees and volunteers....read more


PARKS AND OPEN SPACES IN NESS-SIDE 24/05/09

Councillor John Finnie and colleagues have inspected the play areas and parks at Balloan, Castle Heather and Holm Park...read more


HOUSES OF MULTIPLE OCCUPANCY (HMOs) 21/04/09

Assynt Road Hostel - ongoing  The issue of non-compliance with the Houses of Multiple Occupancy(HMO) legislation, by Highland Council, was recently exposed by Councillor John Finnie. http://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Article.aspx/1118695  Councillor John Finnie was aware of the excellent work done by Highland Homeless Trust at the Assynt Road Hostel, a Highland Council HMO, whose HMO licence was shamefully allowed to lapse.....read more


HILTON COMMUNITY CENTRE

Hilton Community Centre is a key facility in the Ward which is served by a Management Committee and Centre Co-ordinator whose commitment is outstanding. In 2008 John secured £3,000 worth of additional funding for the Centre to help them employ their own youth workers.The Centre does a great deal of fund-raising  with the Hilton Community Centre Strawberry Fayre taking place on Saturday 20th June 2009.


PLAYING FIELDS

Councillor Finnie is very keen to see greater use being made of the Council's school playing fields and he has now secured the opening of the playing fields at the IRA outwith school hours.


EDEN COURT THEATRE

Another suggestion being examined is the potential for 'young peoples' cinema'at Eden Court Theatre.

Wearing his Eden Court Director's hat, Councillor John will actively promote this excellent proposal which has the potential to break down some perceived elitist barriers connected with the theatre.


LITTER - Updated April 2009

Following representations by Councillor John Finnie, Inverness Ness-side, a more focused approach to litter, involving the Hilton Community Warden, TECS Services and the Police has now been agreed.

Police Community Beat Officers and the Council officers will undertake the vital education role whilst the Police and the Council's Enforcement Officers will enforce the legislation.


DOG FOULING - April 2009

Dog fouling of our play areas, pavements and open spaces continues to blight our communities. Councillor John Finnie pressed for action on dog-fouling

Press Release1, Press Release2

John supported Ness-side Ward Councillors' Discretionary Budget paying for additional Dog Waste Bins at Holm Dell and Culduthel Mains and has been assured enforcement work, including action by Northern Constabulary, will take place throughout the Ward.


YOUNG PEOPLE -April 2009

John Finnie is very keen to engage with young people in the Ward. In conjunction with Ward colleagues, two very successful meetings have taken place with secondary pupils from the Inverness Royal Academy (IRA). Community Councils, voluntary groups and the Council Officials were present at the most recent event and John believes it is important that the issues raised, which included access to facilities, the opening hours of Hilton Youth Centre and transport are seen to be addressed.


ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR 20/4/2009

Since being elected in 2007, Councillor John Finnie, Inverness Ness-side, has responded to community concerns about anti-social behaviour.

Councillor John Finnie was delighted to receive a private briefing about progress with the issue of 'curfew orders'.  Councillor John Finnie was made aware of a high-level meeting which took place last week at which the Justice Minister tasked various parts of Government with examining the implications of enacting Northern Constabulary's 'curfew' proposal...read more  


COUNCILLOR JOHN FINNIE AT THE STUC HIGHLAND AND ISLANDS CONFERENCE  13/6/2009

Councillor John Finnie was delighted to represent the SNP for the Politicians 'Question and Answer' Session during the STUC's Conference in Inverness Town House.

 An interesting range of questions, from dental provision and Road Equivalent Tariff to MPs' expenses and disabled access prompted much agreement, and some none too heated debate, with fellow panel Members, Mary Scanlon MSP for the Conservative and Unionist Party and Rhoda Grant for the London Labour Party.  

The Liberal Democrats failed to send a representative and Councillor John Finnie speculates as to whether this is further evidence of their contempt for Highland Council employees.

DANNY ALEXANDER MP - the facts! - Continued from top of page 30/7/2009

How Lib Dems are misleading the public calling for Improvements locally whilst having no intention to deliver - List of Calls and Lib Dem Policy

Responding to Danny Alexander’s hypocritical comments on the Scottish Government’s A9 upgrading, a spokesman for Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson said:

“Danny Alexander’s comments are disgracefully misleading – the liberals were in office with labour for eight years until 2007 and they left the SNP Government with a transport infrastructure that was shambolic and not fit for the 21st Century.

“Mr Alexander’s outrageous hypocrisy seemingly knows no bounds. The Liberals failed to even commit to dualling the A9 road in eight years and proved incapable of making the long overdue improvements to Scotland’s road and rail networks which are so vital to our nation’s infrastructure.

“During this parliamentary term, the SNP Government is investing more than five times the amount on trunk roads in the Highlands than the previous Liberal/Labour administration did from 2003-07.

“The reality is that the Scottish Government is delivering the biggest construction programme seen in Scotland in a generation. We are investing progressively in the A9 on a continuing basis leading to dualling the A9 between Perth and Inverness. This demonstrates the progress made by this Government in delivering an effective transport infrastructure.

“Factors outwith our control such as a larger than expected number of local objections leading to public local inquiries, and other complex technical issues, have meant some projects are taking slightly longer to complete, but this does not detract from the fact that this Scottish Government is currently delivering a record programme of works which will deliver around £2.7bn and thousands of jobs to the economy. Construction employment has increased in Scotland by 1.4 per cent in the year to March, a much better position than south of the Border.”

Note:

S3W-24816 - Dave Thompson (Highlands and Islands) (SNP) (Date Lodged Friday, June 12, 2009): To ask the Scottish Executive how much was spent, expressed in today’s prices, on trunk roads in the Highland local authority area from (a) 1999-00 to 2002-03 and (b) 2003-04 to 2006-07; how much has been spent and is planned to be spent between 2007-08 and 2010-11, and how much is planned to be spent in each year from 2012 for which information is available. 

Answered by Stewart Stevenson (Thursday, June 25, 2009):

Total expenditure on major trunk road projects in the Highland local authority area is as follows:

 

1999-2000 to 2002-03: £20.872 million

2003-04 to 2006-07: £8.850 million

2007-08 to 2010-11: £41.754 million 

The current three year budget settlement does not extend beyond 2010-11.

2. From 2007 the transport portfolio has been held by an SNP Minister 

In the 2003-07 Parliament the transport portfolio was held by two Liberal Democrats - Nicol Stephen followed by Tavish Scott. 

In the first Parliament (1999-2003) the transport portfolio was held by a number of Labour MSPs.

Sent: Thursday, July 23, 2009 2:50 PM

CLEGG LEAVES LIBDEM ROADS POLICY IN TATTERS

LONDON LIBDEMS HYPOCRITICAL DEMANDS JUST DON’T ADD UP

An announcement by the LibDem leader Nick Clegg that they ditch key Lib Dem policies in an attempt to be more honest with voters about spending cuts has undermined his own self-styled Chief-of-Staff’s attempts to make un-costed demands for spending on roads says SNP Highlands and Islands MSP Dave Thompson.

Yesterday the LibDem leader announced that his party had to be "disciplined and honest" which has been followed today by his Chief-of-Staff, Danny Alexander, making demands for immediate funding in Highland roads.

Mr Thompson pointed put that it was already the LibDem’s policy to cut roads funding and that yesterday’s announcement just further undermines Danny Alexander’s spurious attack on the SNP Government.

Mr Thompson also pointed out that the LibDems failed to invest in one single major road project in the Highlands in the eight years they were in power with Labour.

Research already shows that the LibDems’ policy on roads is a chaotic mess with local demands for roads improvements contradicting the party’s national policy which would cut roads funding.

Mr Thompson listed the LibDems’ position on transport funding and roads which contradicts what they are telling voters at a local level:

* A Liberal Democrat policy signed by LibDem Scottish leader Tavish Scott is not to invest in roads - "We believe that building more roads and runways will not tackle congestion. We would invest in a proper public transport system, taxing lorries and domestic flights to invest in high speed rail." (See Note 1)

* As part of their UK 4p income tax policy which will see cuts of £20 billion across the UK the LibDems want to cut 90% of all major road projects

* Liberal Democrat MSPs voted for the £500 million Edinburgh tram project - diverting funds from other projects

* Liberal Democrats want to charge for usage of all motorways and trunk roads - a scheme supported by LibDems' Scottish leader Tavish Scott

Yet at the same time LibDems at a local level are demanding immediate or increased funding in roads projects which directly contradicts the policies they have and would enact in power.

Commenting on Mr Thompson said:

"Danny Alexander is being entirely dishonest and hypocritical with the Highland public. He is making demands that his party has no intention of delivering – in fact they will cut funding for Highland roads.

"And in the eight years in power with Labour, the London LibDems delivered little in terms of major road project and what was announced was subject to delay, dither and incompetence under two LibDem Transport Ministers!

"In contrast it is the SNP which is bringing forward an unprecedented number of plans to improve road transport across Scotland.

"The LibDems not only had eight years to deliver these improvements, and failed, they now actually have a policy that would mean no money and no new roads.

"Not content with diverting valuable cash, which could have been used for other transport schemes, to an Edinburgh project that even people in Edinburgh don't want – the LibDems in Holyrood and Westminster want to cut the funds and stop roads.

"We even have LibDems bidding against each other with Danny Alexander wanting money to be taken away from the new Forth Crossing. How will that go down with LibDem MSP Jim Tolson?

"The LibDems are notorious for trying to hoodwink the voters. They will say one thing on local doorsteps whilst hoping the voters don't notice what policies they are supporting in Holyrood and Westminster.

"A raft of LibDem MPs and MSPs has some questions to answer about why they are trying to hide this policy from people locally whilst supporting it when in Edinburgh and London?

"If we had a LibDem administration none of those projects would have had sufficient funding and the schemes they call for locally would never be started, far less finished.

"It's time the London-based LibDems told the truth to people across Scotland about their policy on roads and recognised the damaging impact their policies would have on the economy."

ENDS

Notes:

A. Nick Clegg’s comments can be read here:


B. At a national level the LibDems’ policy is anti-roads and wants to cut funding…

1. Tavish Scott is one of the signatories of this Liberal Democrat policy to not invest in roads – i.e. “We believe that building more roads and runways will not tackle congestion. We would invest in a proper public transport system, taxing lorries and domestic flights to invest in high speed rail", can be read here:


2. Nick Clegg said that they would pay for the £20 bn of cuts from their 4p income tax policy by cutting major road projects by 90%. NB As Clegg's Chief of Staff Danny Alexander was instrumental in pushing this policy through their conference.

The article in the Telegraph can be read here:


The other biggest saving - around £1 billion - will come from shelving 90 per cent of the major motorway and trunk road building programme.

3. Explaining how the Scottish LibDems would pay for their £800m of cuts for their 2p income tax policy Tavish Scott has said that cuts to fund their tax policy would come from infrastructure projects:

"We could, for example, look very closely at the savings that they plan to make on the massive infrastructure programme across Scotland. I think they're being very conservative there indeed."

Press Association, 14th September 2008

That is also reported in this Scotsman article:

"Target areas include ... a £14 billion infrastructure investment plan."

4. Tavish Scott described any attempts at dualling the A9 by the SNP Government would be a "stitch-up" and because Fergus represented Inverness it "wouldn't be a good enough reason" to go ahead with it. Read Here


...He added: "A simple political stitch-up because a road ran through Fergus Ewing's constituency (Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber] wouldn't be a good enough reason."...

...He made a thinly veiled claim that the SNP only wanted to dual the A9 from Perth to Inverness because it went through an SNP constituency...

5. In June 2007 all LibDem MSPs voted to spend over £500 million on trams in Edinburgh. Read Here


C. …but at a local level they are demanding large amounts of investment in roads

The are making calls locally throughout the country - obviously hoping that other local papers don't notice this contradiction between their national policy and what they are doing locally.

* Danny Alexander demands a Nairn by-pass (2nd March 2009)


* Danny Alexander demands immediate funding for the A9, A96 and A82 (2nd March 2009)


* Mike Rumbles wants funding for the A90 Laurencekirk Junction (11 December 2008)


* Mike Rumbles demands immediate funding for the Aberdeen by-pass (21 September 2007)


* Alison McInnes demands immediate funding for the Elgin by-pass (23 January 2009)


* Alison McInnes demands trunk road improvements for Dundee (10th Apr 2007)


* Jamie Stone demanding funding for dualling the A9 from Tore to Tain (15 January, 2009)



* Jeremy Purvis wants funding for the Leadburn Junction in Peeblesshire (23rd January, 2009)


* Jeremy Purvis wants £33million for the Selkirk bypass (30 January 2009)


* Jeremy Purvis also wants improvements on the A7 north of Galashiels, overtaking places on the A7 north of Gala and improvements on the A68 and A702.


* Jim Tolson wants funding for the Rosyth by-pass (04 January 2009)


* Jim Tolson “urgently” wants a new Forth crossing (*31 May 2007*)


* Jim Tolson wants improvements to the junction of Dunfermline Road, Limekilns and the A985 (26 January 2009)

* Ross Finnie calls for A82 upgrade (24th Jun 2008)


More to follow, of course!

 

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