This week in Annandale 29/06/2015

Proudfoot Activity
Well, talk of the Proudfoot is never far away from this blog at the moment but on Monday there was a Digital Champions event with the young students from Moffat Academy and the older learners who have a new-found lease of digital life. This has been a committed and practical example of inter-generational working (or ‘working’ as I normally call it) where the now ubiquitous mobile devices can be tamed so that Facetime and Skype can actually be of use. I was able to commandeer the Academy head teacher for a discussion on a wide range of aspirational community ideas which I hope to be able to support so the wider Annandale area can develop ways of tackling access to services and opportunities. Damn and blast that Mercury Motor Hotel quandary.

Social Work Committee
There was a reported underspend in the budget which is only good if the services is meeting all its requirements and targets, and this was questioned by committee members given that there are a number of ongoing issues with some areas of the service (including the D****** P*** investigation and follow up, which is due to see the light of day in August or September.

Police and Fire and Rescue Sub Committee
The 101 number has come under criticism as the service was not responding to concerns in the way some Dumfries and Galloway residents were expecting. We were assured on the day that this was noted and is being dealt with so that just because the call centre is in Govan, the staff will be sensitive and courteous when dealing with concerns from people, whether that’s Glasgow or Lochmaben. Generally though the crime levels are remaining low and I see the change to Police Scotland as an initially uncomfortable but healthy step away from the unwieldy and wasteful divisional based model. The flattering illusion that the previous Committee of this council had any significant power over local policing or the Fire and Rescue Service was more of an accounting exercise than one of any meaningful authority.

Bizarrely, the discussions around the fringes of the national pathfinder events running up to reform date on April 1st 2013 seemed more worried about pensions than more efficient service delivery. There are people growing up now in a class-based Austerity system who will look at current retirees final pensions greater than any salary they might even earn in their lifetime. Go figure.

Curiously, one of the complaints from some political quarters about Police Scotland has been about the lack of engagement and consultation, so following the committee we were due to have some early input into the Fire Plan for the region. Good? Yes, I thought, but most of the committee members had other places to be, so only 3 of us stayed on to speak with the local Fire Commander, which turned out to be very helpful. You throw a fricken bone and some people walk away whinging.

Lockerbie Jazz Festival
Well brush my fluff! Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell is to act as host for the reception for the Festival. The US Ambassador and the US Consul will attend as the USA has sponsored some American artists for this year’s festival. David is an “old boy” of Lockerbie Academy so the event in the school will be on Friday 25th September @ 6:00pm.

Dumfries and Galloway Advocacy
In the evolving world of health and social care service delivery, most people who need access to services don’t want to know about the structural wrangling of public sector bodies, they just need their voice to be heard. The Council and NHS currently co-commission the independent advocacy service under obligations arising from the Mental Health Act 2007 and it’s essential that this is protected in a fair society. Independent advocacy avoids the risks and potential misrepresentations that can arise from conflicts of interests and protects vulnerable individuals. I’ve pressed for a community meeting of the Area Committee to explain in normal language what the integration of health and social care will mean for people using services so this should happen towards the end of the year (probably in Annan.)

Lockerbie Swimming Pool
All about the fundraising now – they went to Lockerbie Trust to establish some funding towards part of the costs associated with the build but came away somewhat confused with the message from the Trustees. I don’t sit on the Lockerbie Trust but 2 other ward councillors and the local MSP and MP do, as well as the chair of the community council so I would imagine support, where possible, would be forthcoming when the time is right.

Beattock Pavilion
Progress! The council officers met with community councillors and are keen to invest in the required upgrades to the pavilion and take ownership responsibility, providing they can reach a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with Moffat Thistle, which looks hopeful given the recent contact I’ve had with the club. I want to see SLAs cleaned up and made effective across the council as these are potential timebombs if not done properly. Work is underway.

Mid Annandale AFC
Took a friend to the official opening of the King Edward Park 3G Pitch on Saturday where the Mids played a Queen of the South under 20s Team. I’m glad we’ve been able to support the 3G pitch development through the Council as this has been needed for some time. King Edward Park is not always playable and part of it is Common Good land (let’s not go there!) so the 3G Pitch is addressing a clear need in the community and will provide a strong base for the club to develop its future. I had to leave at half-time sadly with Mids 1-0 down from a header after some pressure from QoS, so don’t tell me the final result.

CoReS (Corridor Regeneration Strategy)
Hmm. This quarterly meeting typifies why Scotland needs autonomy and independence. Also why the Council needs to sort out it’s external bodies and consolidate it’s voice in unified platform (e.g. South of Scotland Alliance)

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