A week at Westminster with Gordon MP Malcolm Bruce

Anger over Labour’s attack on our future

THE vehemence of the reaction I have received against the negative decisions of the Labour led city council over the Union Terrace Gardens project, the effective cancellation of the Dons’ bid for a new stadium, the threat to the third Don crossing and the relief to the Haudagain has been astonishing.

I accept that the proposed redevelopment of the gardens has been controversial. Nevertheless, most people want to see the city moving forward and everything the new administration has done implies hostility to progress.

The Labour group want to cancel the third Don crossing which has been brought close to going ahead by the previous administration and is essential to easing traffic on the Haudagain.

Labour have only 17 councillors out of 43. The SNP, Liberal Democrats, Conservatives and at least one of the Independents have consistently supported the bridge. I have written to all the councillors urging them to stand by the policy.

I have also been collecting signatures in support of going ahead with the crossing as proposed. You can sign online at www.malcolmbruce.org.uk

As readers of this newspaper you almost certainly live in Aberdeenshire. Be aware what Labour thinks of you. They regard you as parasites on the city’s assets. At least 25,000 Aberdeen city residents live north of the river and even more Aberdeenshire residents.

What parochial, small-minded city Labour fail to grasp is that Aberdeenshire residents boost the city’s economy by travelling in to work, shop or transact business as suppliers or customers.

The city has a responsibility to the thousands of its own residents and those yet to come to live in major new housing developments planned for the Bridge of Don. They also should recognise the benefit they gain from those living outside the city to the north and contributing to the city’s prosperity. If you agree please back my campaign.

Tarves let down by 
Scottish Government

ALONG with 300 local residents, I attended the public meeting in Tarves’s Melvin Hall last week to discuss the closure of the GP’s surgery in the village.

Alison McInnes MSP and I have expressed our concern and made representations on behalf of the local community over the last three years, The GP practice has made it clear that the opening of a pharmacy and the consequent loss of the practice’s license to dispense, at least in Tarves, would make maintaining the surgery in Tarves uneconomic. That is precisely what has transpired.

NHS Grampian recognised this and refused the initial application. The appeal, which was decided by pharmacists and which the GP practice was denied the right to representation, decided in favour of the commercial interests of the pharmacy and discounted or ignored the fact that 96 per cent of the local community had made clear their preference for the continuation of a dispensing surgery.

NHS Grampian insist that they followed the Scottish Government’s rules meticulously. I have asked them to consider whether they would allow the practice to continue dispensing in Pitmedden but, even if they did, I am aware the pharmacist in Tarves might well then apply to open in Pitmedden too.

I was not just astonished but frankly disgusted that Alex Salmond chose to attack NHS Grampian for incompetence and a shambles. Let us be clear. Having said he accepted the practice’s argument and supported it, Mr Salmond and his office have, reportedly, had no communication with the GP practice of any kind for three years.

Nor, we are told, has Mr Salmond provided directly or through his ministers any advice to NHS Grampian as to how they could interpret his government’s rules to reflect the wishes of the people of Tarves or offered to amend or override them. He has hung the community out to dry, and then tried, as is his routine practice, to blame anybody but himself for the consequences.

The practice now has to redeploy staff and will find it difficult to provide even a temporary delay of closure. The only basis would be a reversal of the decision and the restoration of dispensing.

Government ministers have made it clear that the development of community pharmacies is an essential part of the NHS future. What they have failed to do is come up with a strategy for scattered rural practices such as the one that serves Tarves, Pitmedden and Methlick.

Bluster will not work for Mr Salmond this time. The people of Tarves made it abundantly clear at their meeting last week that they have no confidence in him as their local representative. They want the surgery kept open.

30th summer tour yields information as always

THIS week I have been engaged in my 30th summer tour of the constituency. This ensures I reach every part of the constituency and reach some of the smaller communities I might otherwise not visit every year.

This means places like Glass, Arnage, Leslie, Ythanwells and Collieston. It also enables people to raise particular issues with me. Of course, they can do that at any time, but sometimes my accessibility in their community is helpful.

It also enables me to drop into schools, shops and other businesses to see how they are doing and get a feeling for what concerns the local community.

I live in the North East with my family so many local issues are also my issues and I am therefore happy to take them up and provide feedback.

People tell me they appreciate my interest and the fact that I take the trouble to get out and about – and of course I am always happy to make return visits at other times of the year if required.

A variety of issues have been raised as usual and I will be following them up in the next few days.