Author: Robert Brown

“Tory Government have landed Brexit in a worse mess than ever” – Liberal Democrats

8th December 2017

The initial deal done by Prime Minister Theresa May with the European Union is a fudge on top of a surrender on top of a contradiction. This was the comment by Rutherglen Liberal Democrat Councillor Robert Brown following the Conservative Government’s last minute deal with the European Union to allow Brexit talks to continue. The end result was to land Britain and the Brexit process in a worse mess than ever.

Robert Brown said:

“So far the Government’s negotiations have achieved literally nothing. All the controversial issues have been punted into the long grass – the Northern Ireland border, the “divorce” bill, access to the Single Market and the Customs Union. Instead of saving £350 million a week as the Brexiteers promised, we have a bill thought to be around £60 BILLION to pay.

This is an agreement made up of contradictory assurances – not least to the DUP on the one hand and the European Union on the other about the Irish Border. It is also increasingly clear that we will need to stay in the Single Market and the Customs Union and accept their rules – but lose any power to influence these as we have at present as members.

The Conservative party are in complete chaos over Brexit. When Theresa May returns with a bad deal or no deal at all, the British people must be allowed their say on the terms in a Brexit deal referendum – with the option to halt the whole process altogether.

Every day, Brexit is proving to be the worst decision made by any British government in three quarters of a century.”

Royal Bank Closures condemned by Council

7th December 2017

The Royal Bank of Scotland came in for sustained cross party criticism for its further programme of branch closures at Wednesday’s meeting of South Lanarkshire Council.

An urgent Statement agreed by all the Political Party Leaders attacked the Royal Bank’s decision to close 62 further branches in Scotland. In this area, Cambuslang and Burnside branches have already closed. Now more branches across Lanarkshire are due to close.

Rutherglen Liberal Democrat Councillor Robert Brown said:

“It is a matter of shame for Scotland that the profiteering greed of the Royal Bank of Scotland almost crashed the national and world economies in 2008. The Bank is still part owned by the taxpayer and it should remember that.

The Bank has already closed its branches in Burnside and Cambuslang without looking at alternatives to help local customers – like collaboration with other Banks to provide pay in facilities for local businesses and groups. It is time they took seriously their duties to local communities and residents.”

The Leaders’ statement reads:

“South Lanarkshire Council deplores the announcement by the Royal Bank of Scotland that it intends to close 62 branches in Scotland.

These are reported to include several that serve communities in South Lanarkshire – Biggar, Carnwarth, Douglas, Cadzow St. in Hamilton, Larkhall, Lesmahagow and Strathaven and earlier closures at Cambuslang and Burnside.

Council is deeply concerned about the potential impact of such closures on local communities, especially those in rural areas and those where there are no other bank branches.

Council notes that such closures would be a betrayal of the RBS Customer Charter of June 2010 which included a commitment never to close a branch which was ‘the last bank in town’.

Council supports efforts to fight the closures and mitigate the impact on our local communities and residents.

Salami-slicing of Council services must stop – Liberal Democrats

4th December 2017

Council services can take no more cuts without serious reductions in both general Council services and in education and social work services supporting children and vulnerable people. This was the comment by Rutherglen South Liberal Democrat Councillor Robert Brown in reaction to South Lanarkshire Council’s budget proposals which go before the Executive Committee this week.
Robert Brown said:
“The Council is largely dependent on central government grant for funding for local services. These are vital services like teaching staff in education, social work staff caring for vulnerable children, disabled people and older people together with the cultural, sporting and voluntary sector supports which provide libraries, football fields, youthwork provision, employment support and a range of other things which make South Lanarkshire a better place.
For some years we have suffered annual budget shortfalls of around £20 million. The result has been salami slicing of key staff in all areas. We have had a “double whammy” – reductions from the SNP Government in the Council share of the Scottish budget as well as the general austerity since the banking crisis in 2008.
This constant damage to Council services has to stop– it affects every citizen of South Lanarkshire in some way, and particularly people more dependent on local services, such as older people and children.
I am particularly concerned at the further cuts in attendance and behaviour support in schools, the heavy cuts proposed in road and pavement resurfacing and the growing pressure on community care for elderly people.
Liberal Democrats have consistently argued for a 1p increase in Scottish income tax to fund a transformational investment in education – and there are now at last some signs that the SNP Scottish Government in Edinburgh is embarrassed by the way Scottish schools have been slipping down international league tables under their watch and are looking at this. It is not before time.
Final decisions will probably not be taken on the Council budget until February. Before then, we need announcements of clear and specific support from the Scottish Government. They have the powers – they need to use them!”

Robert Brown supports Unison’s SOS Libraries Day campaign

19th November 2017

Commenting on Unison’s SOS Libraries Day campaign, Rutherglen Liberal Democrat Councillor Robert Brown said:
“I very much welcome Unison’s SOS Libraries Day on Thursday. It is a timely reminder of the importance of libraries. Libraries are a tremendous resource for our local communities, old and young alike which we can often trace back to the foresight of our Victorian ancestors.
Nowadays the role of the library has widened with the availability of IT services, large print and audio materials and exhibitions or displays of community history. They help avoid isolation and, as Unison point out, also save the NHS by supporting people’s health and social education.
Locally we have accessible libraries in Rutherglen, Cambusang, Cathkin and Halfway which are of huge value to local people.”

Robert Brown comments on Parliamentary Boundary proposals

19th October 2017

Commenting on the Boundary Commission proposals for new Parliamentary constituency boundaries, Rutherglen Liberal Democrat councillor Robert Brown said:
“I am strongly against losing Rutherglen from the constituency name. People identify strongly with historic communities, not least in Rutherglen with its historic Royal Burgh status.
The actual boundaries at least keep Rutherglen and Cambuslang intact within one constituency although I think a link with Bothwell and Uddingston might have been a more obvious link.
This is being driven mainly by the Conservative Government however because it is thought likely to benefit them. It would be a great shame if the historic Rutherglen Parliamentary name disappeared as a side product of the weakness of Teresa May’s Government.
At present it looks as if these proposals may be locked into the long grass because of the strength of political opposition to them in Westminster.”

Liberal Democrats call for an “Exit from Brexit” as May and Corbyn mark time

Rutherglen Reformer article – st October 2017 – by Councillor Robert Brown

It is astonishing that,15 months after the European referendum, no one knows the policy of either the Conservative government or the Labour Opposition on Brexit.

Yes, they both want to leave the European Union – and both refuse to let us have a vote on the Brexit terms. Otherwise it’s just the blank piece of paper which David Davis took to the negotiations.

Whether Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn want to stay in the Single Market and the Customs Union or not remains a mystery, along with pretty much everything else about the post-Brexit situation.

The squabbles between Theresa May and her uninspiring colleagues is a daily soap opera while the EU negotiators try to decipher the British Government’s position. So far there is no sign of a single advantage to Brexit – it’s all about limiting the damage!

Meanwhile the Labour leadership were so concerned about taking a position that they refused to allow a vote on Brexit at the recent Labour Conference.

Frankly it’s not good enough. Over the summer Rutherglen and Cambuslang holidaymakers have seen the value of their pound plummet by a quarter. Now the magic deal with the UK eagerly awaited by the USA and the world’s other big economies was demolished by the Bombardier fiasco – with 4,000 jobs in Belfast threatened by American protectionist duties of 220%.

Meantime a major think tank has shown that the Glasgow area was amongst the 50 worst hit areas regardless of a soft or hard Brexit. However you look at it, leaving Europe is a slow motion crash, damaging to jobs, businesses, living standards and public revenues.

The time is coming when the public will demand a rethink on Brexit. People in our area and across the country did not vote in the referendum to make themselves poorer, to destroy our economy and the prosperity of our cities.

The new Liberal Democrat leader, Vince Cable, is the only Party leader to offer a way out – a public vote on the terms of Brexit once they are negotiated.

An exit from Brexit – an option to change our minds – should lie with the public.

Local residents up in arms over Cathkin By Pass lights fault

25th September 2017

Local residents in the Cathkin By Pass area are up in arms over the lighting fault which has kept the By Pass in darkness since the end of August. A street lighting control pillar was damaged on 30th August and Scottish Power attended the same day to make the supply safe. The Council Lighting Department installed a new control pillar the following day and asked Scottish Power to reinstate the electricity supply. However the company have 30 working days to do the work which allows them until 19th October.

Rutherglen Liberal Democrat Councillor Robert Brown said:

“This is a totally ridiculous situation where the lights on Cathkin By Pass will have been out for 6 weeks. The Council have now got a promise that the work will in fact be done on 10th October which is a slight improvement but it appears that Scottish Power are allowed the 30 working days – equivalent to about 6 weeks – under rules laid down by Ofgem, the Regulator. I have written to Ofgen to find out the background and to urge a review.

Meantime my constituents in Cathkin and Springhall have the main road through the area left without street lighting during the hours of darkness. It seems to me that, if the Council can do the substantial repair within 24 hours, it should not be impossible for Scottish Power with all their resources to restore the electric supply much more quickly. I can see no compelling reason for them

Robert Brown – “It is time to move on from the divisions of the Independence Debate

18th September 2017

On the 3rd anniversary of Scotland voting to stay in the United Kingdom, it is time to move on to build a new partnership between the nations and regions of Britain. That was the call this week from Rutherglen Liberal Democrat Councillor Robert Brown.

Robert Brown said:

“The independence referendum has left deep scars and divisions on Scotland. Now that the prospect of a further divisive referendum has faded following the General Election, it is time to look forward and develop a new, modern relationship amongst the nations and regions of the United Kingdom which will endure for the future.

Such a relationship has to balance identity and loyalty to Scotland, Britain and local communities like Rutherglen or Glasgow that the vast majority of people feel in different degrees.

Liberal Democrats have always argued for a federal United Kingdom – the same sort of set up which exists in many parts of the Commonwealth like Australia, Canada or South Africa and in many parts of Europe like Germany or Switzerland as well, of course, as in the United States. This is a relationship where people choose to be both Scottish and British and take pride in both.

I think it is the job of Liberal Democrats to lead the way forward just as we were a key part of the partnership which created the Scottish Parliament within the United Kingdom in 1999. Our new UK leader, Vince Cable, is a real asset as the Tory Government drifts rudderless onto the rocks and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party has still not managed to decided its policy towards the European Union.

I worked hard in 2014 with colleagues in other Parties to make sure the threat of independence was defeated and that Scotland stayed in the United Kingdom. Now I want to make sure that the structures of the United Kingdom itself are fit for the future and that people across Britain’s nations and regions are again in family partnership, pulling together for our common UK good, as well as forging Scottish solutions to specific Scottish problems.”

Ellen Bryson demands action on Richmond Drive and Calderwood Road traffic

11th September 2017

A demand for urgent action on traffic hotspots in Richmond Drive and Calderwood Road has come from Ellen Bryson, Liberal Democrat candidate in the forthcoming Rutherglen Central and North Council By election. Ellen Bryson made her call amid concerns about traffic volume and speed in the area which are used as rat-runs by traffic as short cuts, or to avoid traffic lights or other hold ups.

Ellen Bryson said –

“There has been growing local concern about the pressure of traffic in these streets and I am fully behind local residents who want to see action taken to tackle it.

Much of the traffic going through local streets is not local traffic but people looking for the quickest route through the area to somewhere else. Local people want to see streets made safer and traffic speed curbed.

Richmond Drive is astonishingly busy, especially at peak times. It is made worse by the downhill gradient and the difficult junction at the bottom where the traffic calming has created new problems.

Calderwood Road has become part of a regular route from East Kilbride Road via Western Road, Langlea Avenue, Hawthorn Walk and Calderwood Road either through Rutherglen Town Centre or to the motorway. It also has both Stonelaw High School, the back entrance to Calderwood Primary School and the difficult Dukes Road junction on its route with considerable dangers to local children.

Both roads need effective traffic calming measures on them to make them less attractive routes for motorists and reduce the speed of those using them.”


Liberal Democrats have been champions of Scotland’s place in a modernised United Kingdom – Robert Brown

11th September 2017

Speaking on the 20th anniversary of the 1997 referendum which led to the setting up of the Scottish Parliament, Rutherglen Liberal Councillor Robert Brown said that Liberal Democrats had been champions both of the Scottish Parliament itself and of Scotland’s place in a modernised United Kingdom. He contrasted the unity and success of the Home Rule movement which had led to Scottish and Welsh Parliaments within the framework of the United Kingdom with the division and discord that later accompanied the independence referendum campaign of 2014.

Robert Brown was himself a Liberal Democrat MSP from 1999 to 2011, deputy Minister for Education and Young People from 2005-7 and has made a major contribution to thinking about how to move to a more federal United Kingdom through the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ Steel and Campbell Commissions.

Robert Brown said:
“The Scottish Parliament itself has been a considerable success and the achievements of Liberal Democrats in government with Labour in Scotland from 1999-2007 were remarkable – a major overhaul of Scottish education, free personal care for the elderly, a fair voting system for local government, the abolition of Labour’s university tuition fees, free eye checks as part of an improved service for sight issues, universal nursery education and many more.

Local people in Rutherglen and Cambuslang along with people across Scotland have benefited from these changes and from innovations in public policy like the smoking ban, now almost 10 years old, which led the way for the whole of the UK.

Liberal Democrats played a major part through the Constitutional Convention in bringing about this successful Scottish Parliament within a decentralised United Kingdom, with decision making closer to people, with a pluralist approach at its heart, reflected decades of campaigning for Britain to become a modern democracy.
Contrast that with the way things have stalled since 2007 as the SNP have been obsessed with the divisive independence campaign at the expense of good government in Scotland. They have rightly if belatedly put independence on the back burner at last. I hope Scotland can again set the paced for the whole United Kingdom from focusing on creating a world class education system to tackling the challenges in mental health provision. I want the next 20 years to be about achievement and success for Scotland as part of a revitalised United Kingdom.”