Aside from any election based activities – #ge2015, #votesnpgetsexy, #bbcdebate – I’ve been engaging in the usual diverse range of activities in Annandale North ward and at committee.
Community and Customer Services Committee (CCS) was a chance to air concerns to Community Safety Team within the council about anti-social behaviour, especially how this is dealt with alongside the Registered Social Landlords (RSLs), primarily DGHP and Loreburn Housing. A common problem for councillors in general is the number of agencies outwith the council itself that are involved in the region and providing valuable services but are harder to scrutinise and influence due to different ways of working.
At a recent DG First Management Committee I raised the matter of Community Enforcement Officers (part of the community safety team) being able to have the discretion to operate discreetly when operationally necessary (such as when targeting fly-tippers, dog fouling offenders) rather than be forced to wear hi-visibility uniforms that everyone can see coming. There is a balance to be struck between raising the public awareness and profile of the service and the effectiveness of enforcement and this was raised again at CCS by more councillors so that officers got the message.
An oddity was the number of parking tickets issued in Dumfries, where there are 5 council managed car parks, and Stranraer, where there are 2: I asked the question at Committee for a breakdown of where tickets were issued but was only able to get an answer the following day:
Total Tickets for 2014/15 = 824
Stranraer = 613
Dumfries = 211
Raises more questions I think!
Lochmaben Community Council on Tuesday night was unusually chocabloc with ward councillors and there are some ongoing issues with drainage in parts of the village (Victory Park) as well as some reports of dog poo, road defects, and faulty streetlights – although I’m very pleased that sustained pressure has finally achieved the recent resurfacing of the A709 at the Shieldhill/Watchhill junction. The A709 is the busiest non-trunk road in Dumfries and Galloway and really needs to be recognised as such. More interesting developments included the official opening of the Castle Loch path last weekend – part of the ongoing work of the Castle Loch Trust which is really embracing community ownership – and some discussions on flag-flying and the Provost’s chain.
Annandale & Eskdale Area Committee allowed me to raise with the appropriate DG First and Planning & Environment officers an issue brought up at Moffat Community Council but affecting the length of the ward which is the not unfamiliar problem of roadside littering, especially at laybys (in this case the B7076 or APR road which runs roughly parallel to the M74.) There is a well used lorry park servicing this road and the motorway but the amount of litter being left at laybys after lorries have parked overnight is needing a coordinated approach from the council’s environmental enforcement officers to identify and take action, neighbourhood services to help clear up the resulting mess (including piss-jugs and other unpleasant waste), as well as notifying haulage companies to get the message to their drivers that this is not acceptable. I feel it will be an issue that might never be solved but will need regular initiatives to keep it in check.
Station Park, Moffat progress continues to drag but fortunately, despite somewhat misleading communication from the Labour Council Leader, it is recognised that the costed up works to the pond, which involves making safe and addressing leaks and filling in part of the current pond area to provide an area for future development, can be taken forward if there is slippage in any other capital works initially planned for this financial year. It will take some more work and concerted pressure from ward councillors working together to get it started but I’m positive we can achieve what should have been done a long time ago.