SNP Councillor for P&K Ward 9 and Almond and Earn branch member, Henry Anderson writes.
I hope you are all coping with the challenging times we have been enduring since March. I don’t imagine anyone will ever forget Covid-19, as every generation has been impacted in one way or another. My thoughts and condolences go out to those who have lost loved ones during this time, whether directly due to Covid-19 or for other reasons. The restrictions introduced to protect us against the virus have made it difficult to say our goodbyes as we normally would.

It is regrettable that I have not been able to get around the Ward as much as I would have liked. However, please don’t hesitate to contact me with any issues that I can assist you with. During this year to date, I have kept busy with Ward issues and a bit of volunteering, to help when I can, ensuring that those who are more vulnerable receive all the support we can possibly give them.

You may ask what was done when we were in lockdown. There were great community initiatives involved in the distribution of food parcels to those who asked for help. We need to thank all those that were involved in Almond and Earn and Perth as we all worked extremely well together to ensure that everyone who needed a food parcel received one.

Transport was another issue, for key workers in the care sector and those who needed to attend medical appointments. Delivery of prescriptions was another task that many volunteers undertook for their neighbours. Leaflets produced by the Council, giving information and advice, were delivered by volunteers.

All these tasks and much more were done by ordinary folk looking after one another. It is with great pride I can say that SNP Members were among those who stepped up to the task in Perth and Kinross. They rallied around and got all these tasks and countless more done, and I thank you all. Covid-19 has impacted on our businesses. It is heart-breaking to see local businesses being double-whammied with both the virus and the disastrous Brexit that will happen in December. Covid-19 could not been avoided, and as little was known about this disease we went into it making the most of what little knowledge we had. However, Brexit was and is a different matter. As we are all aware, Scotland clearly didn’t want it, and little notice of our desire to remain was taken on board at Westminster.

In Scotland there are more things that unite us than there are to divide us. Therefore we need to ensure we have the maximum number of SNP MSP’s at Holyrood in the 2021 elections. Voting for the ‘Pop-up’ political parties are not an option, as apart from agreeing on an Independence referendum, they cannot be relied on to support a minority SNP government scenario to push through the policies we require for a stable Scottish Government in these challenging times.

So, what can we do to mitigate against Brexit and Covid-19 in the meantime? Well, we can support our local businesses by shopping locally, and eating and drinking in establishments with locally sourced food and drink. We must not accept the removal of local and Scottish branding on our products, to be replaced by UK branding, as we then do not know where the produce is sourced from.

Across the area covered by Almond and Earn branch, Abernethy has now lived with the Binn Ecopark for many years. Local people have rightly been concerned when new developments happen. Working with the Ecopark companies and in dialogue with SEPA, PKC officers and your local Councillors will ensure the projects that go ahead are monitored, and health and safety is paramount for the community and the workforce. I will continue to make it my job to ensure that any further developments will be scrutinised, and expert guidance will be followed if these projects are to progress.

Elsewhere in the Ward we are seeing housing development at Oudenarde which will open up opportunities for lobbying for a new primary school, health centre and public transport infrastructure, all of which I will be wholeheartedly supporting.

Methven is also seeing an increase in house building, and the community is expanding as the ‘gated’ development at Station Road, and the ongoing growth of the Hayfield Brae/Taylor Avenue site continues. However work needs doing to assist those in social housing in Methven, who require additional support. Historically Perthshire has a high cost of living tempered with a low wage economy, hence even in places with a broadly good quality of living such as Methven, we have pockets of social deprivation.

Road safety and core footpaths are also an issue for Methven and the surrounding area. The A85 running through the main street is an important and busy trunk road, serving areas to the west of Perthshire and beyond, managed by Bear Scotland on behalf of Transport Scotland. It is crucial that as the SNP councillor, I relay concerns about speed and vehicle habits to Bear and Transport Scotland, and request solutions to any issues and get them resolved to all interested parties.

Core footpaths are higher up on my list of to do items. With Covid-19 restrictions encouraging people to get out and exercise daily, there has been an increase in walkers and cyclists on core footpaths. The majority of users and landowners are working together well. Unfortunately, a very small minority cannot seem to work in harmony, and this saddens me greatly. Users must obey the country code and show consideration for the countryside, while motorists need to be aware of higher footfall on these country roads. Landowners have a duty of care to both the land they own, and the safety of those who properly use and enjoy it. They are custodians and should be able to share and educate with those who wish to appreciate our great outdoors, especially this year.

As November dawns, I have been working closely with colleagues in Perth North and Perth South, to distribute leaflets on behalf of the 2 SNP candidates standing in the by-elections. These by-elections are very important, as they are to fill the vacant seats in the Council which were created by the very sad loss of our much-missed friend and fellow SNP Councillor Bob Band, and by the election to Westminster of our friend Dave Doogan.

Best wishes to you all for the remainder of 2020. Please bear with the Scottish Government and follow the rules and regulations which will hopefully lead us out of this pandemic, so we can all safely look forward to a happy and healthy 2021.