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Dundee pensioners campaign for better education, healthcare improvements and an end to drug deaths

Dundee Pensioners Forum Manifesto
Dorothy McHugh.

A Dundee campaign group is calling for protection of their pensions, the extension of bus passes for use on trains and ferries, the city’s drugs problems to be tackled and investment in education.

Dundee Pensioners Forum has prepared a manifesto making the pleas ahead of a virtual hustings to be held on Tuesday.

The hustings will hear from candidates standing in the upcoming Scottish Parliament elections.

‘Our voice remains vital’

Dorothy McHugh, secretary of the Dundee Pensioners Forum, said the group is  widely recognised as one of Scotland’s leading campaign groups, representing and giving voice to the needs and hopes of older people.

“As well as campaigning for pensioners’ current needs in terms of the state pension and the NHS, our hopes are expressed in a desire to improve the lives of future generations, our children, our grandchildren and great-grandchildren,” she said.

“With our vast experience stretching from the dark days of the war to the dark days of the coronavirus pandemic, we believe our voice remains vital to our nation’s present and future. It is in that confidence that we offer this manifesto.”

Dundee Pensioners Forum manifesto
Dorothy McHugh.

The pensioners’ campaign also covers calls for a new national care service.

Dundee  Pensioners Forum members.

Their manifesto states: “We are calling for an increase in NHS funding from the public purse that is sufficient to sustain a significant increase in staffing, equipment, and in the pay of all NHS staff.

“An increased share of that funding should be directed towards mental health services as an already struggling area of health care is being overrun by the effects of the pandemic lockdown. This is particularly true of young people.

“We are calling upon the nation to act with urgency to build a National Care Service akin to the great vision that founded the National Health Service. We would further argue that the headquarters of a National Care Service should be sited in Dundee to sit alongside the existing Care Inspectorate.”

‘A daily nightmare’

The manifesto also calls for more action to tackle Dundee’s growing problem with drug-related deaths.

It reads: “For far too long Dundee has been the drugs capital of Europe – A horrible title that has sadly been ours for 20 years and more.

“Despite the best efforts of many heroic individuals, services and projects, this social disaster remains a daily nightmare.

“There can be few families in the city untouched by the premature death of a son, a daughter, a friend or neighbour.

“The forum wants to see well funded, drug services devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

“Dundee Pensioners Forum believes the tackling of the city’s drug nightmare is intrinsically tied up with the needs of quality employment and quality housing.

“The number of homeless people is another dark blot on the city. There can be little hope of a rise in self esteem for a person who has no home to go to.”

Dundee Pensioners Forum manifesto

Forum members have also called for investment in education to help children catch up following the disruption to schools during the pandemic.

For their own age group, they want to see free bus travel for people aged 60 and over extended to include trains and ferries.

The manifesto said:  “We urge the earliest possible deregulation of public transport services and call upon the government to build a national public transport system to include buses, trains and ferries.

“This would also produce environmental gains. We believe that public pension funds should wherever possible be diverted from fossil fuel power production into renewables.”

The statement comes to an end by saying the forum does not have an “agreed position” on the subject of Scottish independence.

The hustings will be held on Zoom from 11am until 1pm. To take part, email