This week in Annandale 22/06/2015

The George Hunter Trust
We met in Lochmaben Primary School to consider applications and disperse some of the moneys from this year’s Trust earnings. This Trust is for the benefit of the residents of the burgh of Lochmaben and in particular for projects that promote sailing, prizes for school children and anything that improves the amenity of the town, including the greatly appreciated newsletter produced by Lochmaben initiative. Applications to the Trust should be directed to Community and Customer Services in Annan Town Hall.

Bunting Furore
Lochmaben Gala has been on this week as well with a set-to over hanging bunting across the street being an unfortunate episode in the otherwise enjoyable proceedings. We did get a last-minute briefing from council officers that there was a problem about getting prior permission and not using lights with bunting going across the street but see the Lochmaben Gala page for some perspective on the matter.

Planning Committee
Mochrum Fell windfarm was refused permission against the recommendation but it will be interesting to see if this goes to appeal with the Reporter. Controversially, Hollybank was refused against the recommendation by a vote of 9-8 but again could be appealed.

ANCBC (Annandale & Nithsdale Community Benefit Trust)
This community-council-based company Board met to consider applications to the ‘Harestanes’ community benefit fund. Foundation Scotland are providing the administrative support and helping ensure governance arrangements are in place and observed for board members to make the process as fair and conflict-free as possible. Check if your community group meetings the criteria and apply online or contact your local community council for smaller considerations.

Full Council
All 47 elected members (excepting Apologies) of Dumfries & Galloway Council met on Thursday to consider reports and determine items of strategic business, including the Anti-Poverty Strategy. Although most reasonable-minded people would support a well-thought through and deliverable strategy to end poverty in the region, sadly, what was presented on the day contained potentially misleading inaccuracies, which was a shame, given the research and data sets that were readily available.

The covering report also conspicuously failed to emphasise the significance of Westminster government’s reserved powers in shaping the economic policies, job creation tools, and austerity agenda for the non-wealthy, that directly affect Scotland and our region. Currently we are left to mitigate as best we can around this but without access to the tools needed address the causes of poverty, we can only try to ‘lobby’ and influence with a common voice the UK legislature. Interestingly, the strategy document itself made reference to the UK government in the first page of it’s introduction as a key influencer, but political idiocy or bureaucratic lameness must have got in the way.

Because these strategy commitments cost money (£2.5m over the next 30 months) they have to be worth it, no matter what the title of the strategy is, so we don’t want to see a strategic commission duplicating work that partner agencies already do. In an age of shrinking budgets from Westminster, and the reductions this forces on the settlement for Scotland, this council needs to learn to lead and support, not do by default, especially when working with other groups and providers achieves better results for everyone, rather than artificially protect some legacy positions that no longer give best value for the public pound.

However as the SNP councillor group we ensured that these issues were addressed and included before agreeing to the recommendations

Johnstonebridge
The Community Council met on Thursday night and the road safety issues surrounding the B7076 are still a concern. I’ll be representing the views of the community when the the 40mph speed review is next at the council’s Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee as this can’t wait for yet another accident or fatality to get the right measures in place.

There was a walk-round the new Community Centre which is coming along nicely and hopefully ahead of schedule. Loads of people turned out and students from the school next door were getting a good look as well. It really will be able to make a huge difference to the village and importantly will be owned by the Community Trust for the benefit of everyone.

Constituent Issues
Can’t believe this is still not resolved but finally the speed-activated signs have been ‘found’ and will be installed in Wamphray and Kettleholm in the coming weeks. There’s an internal mess between council departments being sorted out as a result of this fiasco which is long overdue.

DGHP are now aware of the tree growth affecting the house at Craigielands Park in Beattock and will inspect and make safe as soon as possible, They are also being prompted to contact tenants in Lochmaben who are due upgrades to old storage heating systems but will be doing the worst first.

Moffat – Scottish Rootes Enthusiasts
A well attended event over the weekend for fans and aficionados of Rootes Group vehicles, including Hillman, Humber, Talbot, Talbot-Sunbeam and Singer – it was mobbed on both Saturday and Sunday. One of the biggest events in the area, regularly.

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