Saturday, 18 March 2017

Two Fingers to Bears Wsy

You may have read my recent letter to my local SNP councillor. If not, why not! Go read it here now! It explains that there was to be a meeting on the 16th March where Labour were to ask for a discussion on the petition to extend Bears Way.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to make the meeting myself, but a very trustworthy, quietly campaigning friend was able to go along to witness events. In his message to me after the meeting, his first words were:

Well that was a shambles!

Was the content of the petition discussed? No.

Was the advantages (which are significant) and the disadvantages (which are mostly factitious) of extending Bears Way discussed? No.

Was there any discussion of the incident where tacks were placed on the cycle lane? No.

No, the greatest concern of the opposition councillors, led by Cllr Keith Small of the SNP, were....

Where do the people live who signed the petition?!?
Yes dear readers, we have entered the primary school playground.

And so it apparently continued. With Cllr Ian McKay (SNP) suggesting that there should be a breakdown of the the areas where the petitioners lived, to shouts of ludicrous from those in other parties (almost certainly not the Lib Dems though, as they too are opposed to the extension). Ludicrous because, well.....did anyone ask the same question about the petition that asked for the Bears Way to be scrapped? Well, of course not. Sanity descended for a short while, when it was decided that that would be a waste of council time.

Cllr Duncan Cumming (Ind) wanted to speak about petitions in general, but apparently spat his dummy out (not my words!) when it was pointed out he had already spoken and should give others an opportunity. To be fair....at the council meeting I attended previously (which is well worth a read) Cllr Cumming spat his dummy out then, so I tend to believe this description.

Then came the curve ball..... In an attempt to raise the condescending level to warp factor 10, Cllr Keith Small moved an amendment, that a copy of the original decision be sent to the chap who started the petition. Yes, in a move that can metaphorically be described as giving those in favour of the extension 'two fingers' whilst blowing a raspberry, Cllr Small made it quite clear what he thought.

As far as I am aware that amendment was passed.

Yup......primary school playground.

These people are your elected representatives. These are the people who are supposed to be working in the best interests of the area, and its constituents. This is the same SNP who have a national policy of investing in active travel schemes and of having 10% modal share of cycling by 2020. This is the same SNP who in Glasgow have just announced that they will be investing 10% of the transport budget in active travel. This is the same SNP who's transport minister I spoke to earlier this week and who is wanting to do more towards active travel.

It would appear that we were wrong in declaring the dinosaurs extinct. The dinosaurs are alive and well in East Dunbartonshire, and these dinosaurs are a problem that the SNP will have to solve quickly if it doesn't want to loose support in the area.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

A Letter to Anne - Again

As some of you may have read previously I wrote a letter to my SNP council representative. I wrote this after she voted against extending Bears Way. I also met up with her to discuss this when I didn't get a response. 

Now that we have submitted a petition to the council asking for the lane to be extended, signed by nearly 3000 people, the council are considering it at their next meeting. Labour are putting forward a motion to have the 'standing order' dropped that prevents any further work on the lane. Thus I have written to Anne once more asking that she consider voting to have the standing orders dropped. 

If you live in East Dunbartonshire I suggest you write to your councillors to. You can do so here.

Is the local SNP really as progressive as they suggest they are?


Dear Anne McNair 
It is my understanding that the council will be considering the petition to extend the Bears Way cycle lane at this week’s full council meeting. I also understand that Labour will be proposing that the ‘standing orders’ are suspended, so that detailed planning work on phase 2 of Bears Way could recommence or at the very least be considered again.
I should stress, as we discussed when I met you, that suspending these orders and allowing the detailed planning to progress does not commit the council to building phase 2. This would only provide you and the rest of the council with the information you need to base a properly informed decision on. I am sure that you understand the need for informed choices, just as Nicola Sturgeon discussed in her speech yesterday, on the need for a second independence referendum.
I will be meeting with Transport Minister Humza Yousaf tomorrow as a representative of Pedal on Parliament. I will be congratulating him on the commitment made by the SNP council in Glasgow in their upcoming manifesto to set 10% of the transport budget on active travel. I will though be stressing that as things stand, East Dunbartonshire is bucking this progressive trend.
On Thursday evening you have the opportunity to demonstrate that local SNP is as progressive in transport policy as the SNP are in Glasgow, that the future of East Dunbartonshire matters more than the vagaries of local politics, and that you truly believe in making East Dunbartonshire a people friendly region.
Please demonstrate that Scotland can be, and is progressive, as I believe that this is why many people are considering voting for independence.

Yours Sincerely
 David Brennan

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Dear Outraged...

Dear Outraged of Milngavie and Bearsden,

You are correct. I apologise. The Bears Way cycle lane has caused you chaos. I know this because I see it every morning. For example...


Horrific. Never mind that though. It is even worse at night! Egads!



I've come to realise that you are right. It's time to widen that road. I think we need dual carriageway as that works really, really well at reducing congestion as this road a little further down the road demonstrates...


So yes, no more extension to the Bears Way cycle lane please.

The future is bright. The future is motorised!


Yours sincerely,

The Ministry of Alternative Facts


Thursday, 5 January 2017

Humble Pie and Downright Lie?

I have an apology to make. Quite a significant one. One of my previous blogs was entirely mis-representative. This one. Even the title, "Failed by the police" is completely wrong. I was not failed by the police.

Thus, I would like to apologise unreservedly to Police Scotland and to the police officers that I anonymously implicated. I am sorry.

Police Scotland did not mess up on this occasion. That was completely false. My accusation, which was based on a conversation I had with a Procurator Fiscal, was that the police had messed up their procedures and hadn't applied a section 172, which requires a driver to identify him or herself when requested by the police.

There was no issue with the 172. Let me explain.

As I discussed in the above linked blog, I attended court for an incident where a van driver had (in my educated opinion) swerved his vehicle at me, whilst hitting his horn in anger. This forced me to swerve into another lane, which was fortunately empty. Here is the video.




I think you will agree that this was a seriously bad piece of driving.

The case finally went to court and whilst I sat in the witness room waiting for the case to be called, I was taken outside by the procurator fiscal (PF) who told me that there was a problem. The problem was apparently with the section 172. It hadn't been applied correctly. This meant that the defence would be able to have the case dismissed on the ground of not being able to 'legally' identify the driver. More details are in this blog. The PF told me that if the case went ahead it would fail, and I would have wasted my time. The PF then asked me what I wanted to do....

That bit was a bit strange, and only in hindsight does this make sense. Well, actually, even then it doesn't. Why ask me what I want to do? Anyway I agreed that if there was no prospect of prosecution, that there was no point. So I agreed that the case should be dropped.

I then went home, angry with the police, and wrote the angry blog.

But....

I wanted to make a formal complaint so I started writing that. At the same time I spoke to Herald reporter (Helen McArdale) who at the time was transport correspondent. She took an interest and suggested that she would do her own investigating. I left her to it, expecting to have my story confirmed.

Then I got an interesting reply from Helen.

The police got back to Helen and categorically denied that there was any issue with the section 172. They suggested that the section 172 had no bearing on the case being dropped.

Strange. Very strange. I expected that the PF would counter that suggestion. I expected that there was some form of miscommunication and that there was indeed a problem with the 172. It turns out they didn't and there wasn't.

This was the quote from the PF that came shortly afterwards via Helen.

.... the Section 172 had "no bearing" on the decision to drop proceedings in this case - .....the issue of establishing the identity of the driver wasn't an issue and he had provided details. The decision to drop the case was down to "other factors" and not related to any problems on the police side.

What!? Seriously!?!

I'll just re-iterate the following:

The PF (young lady) who took me out of the witness room was quite clear that the issue in the case was down to the section 172. In fact I remember seeing the notes in front of her and it had a 'post it' note on the notes for my case. It clearly said 's.172' on it. She specifically took me outside the witness room to discuss this, and told me that on this basis she could proceed with the case, but that as soon as the prosecution stood up they would call for the trial to be stopped. They would highlight the issue with the section 172 and the Magistrate would have no option but to drop the case. She pointed out that it could proceed, but would ultimately fail, and thus wasn't worth it for the strain I would be put through (she pointed out that they knew I posted on YouTube and that this would probably be used against me). On this basis she asked me.... did I wan't to proceed? I thought that this was a little unusual, to be asked this, but thought she was just being nice, as the only obvious answer was.... not to proceed. I left very angry, as you can imagine.

I was angry then, having heard the PF's latest response I was furious!!

Oh and one more thing.....The Sheriff court suggested that the accused was absent from court that day.

WTF!!?

I had to get to the bottom of this. Helen had helped me all she could (and I am grateful for that help!), but had two options;

A direct complaint,

and a

'Subject Access Request'.

The direct complaint is self explanatory and here is what I sent:

I was recently a witness in a case against xxxx xxxxx. On the 28th September I attended court.
Whilst I was there I was called outside by the Procurator Fiscal working on the case. She told me that unfortunately, due to a police error, the case was unwinnable. She pointed out that the police failed to process a section 172, and thus the identity of the driver, whilst know, could not be proven in court. She then suggested that the case could go ahead however, as soon as the defence lawyer stood up, he/she would call for the case to be dismissed on these grounds and would succeed. She then asked if I wanted to proceed. She pointed out that if I did, it would not be a nice experience as the defence lawyer knew I posted videos on Youtube and would use these against me.
I decided, based on this information to allow her to drop the case. I commented that there was no point wasting my time on something that can't succeed as I have a lot of work to do. She then made a comment about having lots of other cases to prosecute that day. She seemed relieved. 
Since that day the Glasgow Herald has taken an interest. After contacting the police, yourselves and the Sheriff Court she has ascertained;

  •     There were no issues with a section 172. Both the PF and police have confirmed this.
  •     There were no issues in identifying the accused for the purposes of the trial.
  •     The accused apparently was absent on the day of the trial. The local Sheriff has confirmed this.
  •     The PF now list the case as being dropped for 'other reasons'
Understandably, I am very concerned by this, as I only agreed not to proceed (I was surprised at being asked!) due to the particular issue surrounding the S.172. In fact I explicitly remember seeing a sticky note on her notes with S.172 written on it. There is no way otherwise I would have agreed to drop this case.
Therefore, please can you provide full details of why the case against xxxx was dropped. Why was I told by the PF that there was an issue with S.172 when there wasn't? Was xxxxxx absence allowed or did he break the terms of his summons? If so, has he been charged for this?
I look forward to your reply with interest.
Best regards
Dr David Brennan
The subject access request is a process by which a member of the public (i.e. me) can ask a body such as the PF to share any information they hold about that person (i.e. me). I therefore e-mailed the PF at the specific 'Subject Access Request' address and asked for information held about me, related to this particular case.

I received an instant reply that I would hear in 40 calendar days or less.

Some time later I received a reply in relation to my complaint. Here is a picture of the reply.





So...The Procurator Fiscal was in error.

Error.

Well, when you tell....and the following is my opinion I should stress....an untruth, a fabrication, a.....lie....then yes an error was made. A very serious error. An error of judgement that this fabrication would not be questioned. That someone, be it this particular PF or a colleague who suggested this course of action, made an error in deciding to deceive, because...... they were a bit busy that day and this was an easy case for them to get rid of.

Is it possible that my opinion of what has happened here is is wrong? Is it possible that a genuine mistake was made? Is it possible that someone might accidentally think that the section 172 had an issue when it didn't? I seriously, seriously doubt it. Even the procurator fiscal here suggests that a decision was made, at some point which is uncertain (probably when the PF felt a bit busy and decided to chat with me...), that this case was not in the public interest. They imply that the decision was taken before the PF came to speak to me.

Hmm.

Very confusing.

If that was the case, if the PF really had decided that the case was not in the 'public's interest' why did the PF suggest the 172 problem? Why give me an option to proceed or not? The PF in the letter doesn't even refute my recollection of events. They appear to agree that that section 172 was mentioned.

Let's take a trip to cloud cookoo land, and imagine that it was a genuine mistake. Even if that was the case...In what way was this case not in the public interest? Is it now reasonable to expect drivers swerving at you in (my opinion), obvious anger when you are riding a bike? That's just life, is it? Any why wait until the case comes to court, thus completely wasting my time? And I'm not really buying the whole, well, the defendant didn't have to show up excuse!

Oh and notice, if I want to phone them to chat about this, I need to pay 7 pence per minute. Yes I need to pay them to discuss being lied to by them (in my opinion!).

So what has come of the Subject Access Request?....I hear you ask.

Well, I waited 40 days. I chased. I waited 80 days. I waited 92 days. I chased. I eventually got a reply saying that the complaint reply above, covered the Subject Access Request. It does not. Their response has not provided me with all the information they hold about me in this case. It only responds to my complaint, so I am still waiting....

I have chased this and well,.....perhaps they will eventually get back, but I gave up waiting and decided to write this blog. I will continue to chase and when I eventually get the information I require and am entitled to, I will then use that information to complain further.

Yes the PF is snowed under. Yes they are almost certainly understaffed. Yes I sympathise. But all sympathy from me was lost the minute....in my and perhaps your opinion....I was lied to.

More on this when I know more....


Friday, 9 December 2016

Accusing the Victim

A lot has happened to me recently. You'll know from previous stories and blogs that I've had tacks placed at the end of my path. I've had stones thrown at my house and car. Recently a letter was sent to my neighbours suggesting that if I don't stop reporting drivers to the police that thugs would vandalise the area and perhaps poison local animals

You can read it in this tweet.
So, please excuse me a little, that when I get an egg thrown at me a few days ago and I post about it on Facebook, that I get a little angry with one particular woman who, rather than demonstrate any anger at the incident itself or concern from me, gets angry at me for thinking the egg was thrown from a particular unidentified car.




Here is the text of this particular conversation, just in case it should disappear.....

Laura D:
Watched the video and i have no idea why you think is acceptable to blame one particular car without knowing for sure. I would be absolutely raging if I had innocently driven passed you as this incident happened to later find a photo of my car on the Internet and the finger being pointed to me.
Whatever happen to innocent until proven guilty?
"this is the vehicle the egg was thrown from"
Where is the proof?
Shocking accusation from a so called health professional
My reply:

Have you read what I've written above? The bit where I say I have no proof. The bit where I say keep an eye out? Exactly where have I shared anything apart from a make of vehicle? Is that identifying in any way? Which other vehicle exactly could this have come from? Possible from the houses? Perhaps, but incredibly unlikely due to speed and angle that it hit me, and lack of any images of anything untoward on the video. Most importantly where have I accused any person of being guilty? 


Oh and thanks for your concern. I'm fine thanks
Laura D:
Don't be flippant with me, this post isn't about how you are, it's a post trying to identify a car, on a road where there are many cars and also houses, like you've said. 
Yes I've read your comments, but those were made after you had originally posted this and advert others had put their valid points over. 
You are not always in the right,although it appears that you think you are. 
Other people are allowed their opinions, that's what happens when you create blogs,or Facebook accounts, we are allowed to say what we think, just like you are. 
And that's what I'm doing here. 
Have you ever thought of a career change, clearly you think you should be part of police Scotland. 
I have never had any issues with cyclists on the road, being a horse rider and being on the roads myself i know exactly what is like. 
But your tone, your attitude and your false accusations are giving other cyclists a bad name. 
I just pray.i never pass you and accidently sneeze, or look at you the wrong way or ill end up players ask over the Internet. 
Your very bizzare

My reply:

Hi Laura, I am writing this from my own account, just to be sure there isn't any misunderstanding about who is writing it. 
I can assure you, in my reply I was not being flippant. In fact I was being quite serious. I was pointing you in the direction of the comments above, where one poster had commented on my claim, and I agreed that perhaps it had been strongly worded, and thus I corrected it. The tweet itself, in which I did state that it was 'definitely from the car', was an initial reaction to viewing the video. You'll notice that posters above comment that they can't see the link. The reason they and you can't link to it is because I deleted it.
Now, remember I posted this that evening having got in, and having had an egg thrown at me (quite hard I might add, it stung quite a bit). So that was my initial response. I corrected it without any issue. 
Remember also I have recently had a letter sent to my neighbours which has been threatening, that I have had bricks thrown at my house and car, and tacks left at the end of my path. All things considered, I think I was rather restrained. Despite all of this you come onto the thread and without any comment about the incident itself, or about how wrong it is, started accusing me of being unprofessional. 
In fact it is of particular interest that you mention my profession. In fact you edited your post to make sure you mentioned that I am a 'health professional'. You are quite correct I am (although only part time these days as I am also part of an exciting new spin out company developing a diagnostic and therapeutic in stroke, but you won't be interested in that....). Anyway...what does my job have to do with any of this? What does my career in Medical Physics have to do with me tweeting about being hit by an egg whilst cycling? My impression from this, and this may not be your intent at all, is that you are suggesting I am not fit to do my job, and that perhaps someone should put a complaint in. That's how that comes across. If that is indeed your intent, please feel free to. You wouldn't be the first. 
Am I always right? Well, of course not. However, I reacted to your posting on here, the way I did, for the reasons above. 
I am glad you have not had any issues with cyclists on the road. Neither have I. I have though, as a cyclist had many issues with drivers. I am not alone. If you don't believe me have a look at the Near Miss Project (http://www.nearmiss.bike/). It's an enlightening read. Also as the father of a daughter who rides horses (and who's wife used to) I too understand the needs of riders. I also know that sometimes riders are treated very badly on the road (http://www.herefordtimes.com/news/14293167.Horse_rider_shares_the_moment_lorry_got_too_close_for_comfort/)
Then you mention the most bizarre thing...false accusations. Who am I falsely accusing and of what? I have accused no-one of anything, I have even at the very earliest point, only suggested that the egg appeared to come from the vehicle. I have no idea who owns this vehicle, or even exactly which type of vehicle it is (although I think it might be a Mitsubishi L200). By posting this I am warning others to keep an eye out for such vehicles and to be careful around them, as it would appear they have a grudge against cyclists. Is that so bizarre?!
As for praying you don't sneeze when you pass? If I am honest that is just condescending. Do you ride a bike on the roads? Have you experienced being knocked of your bike, or having a vehicle driven at you? Have you experienced the abuse and intimidation? I have, and I can assure you it is not nice. I also know families of cyclists who have been killed. I was honoured to have been given a fallen cyclist's bike by one family as a thank you for the campaigning that I do. So, pardon me, if I get a little angry when I see people getting 'flippant' about the incidents that many cyclists face on the road.
Finally, do I understand how blogs and Facebook works? Well, it turns out I do. Public posts are, public, and thus free to be commented on and..... shared. Just to prove the case, have a wee look here (Link back to this blog). I think I managed to post the blog right.....