This week in Annandale 31/08/2015

Lockerbie Swimming Pool
Holiday periods aren’t the best for organising meetings with community groups and council officials but I managed to get Estates management and Leisure and Sport officers to meet with the Swimming Pool Trust members on Monday and Tuesday to clarify and update the council land situation (old caravan park in Lockerbie) to try and link this provision with the planning permission dates, and also what kinds of support the council will be able to give in helping with fundraising, staff training in future, enabling works for access to the pool from the road, and so on. There will have to be an update report comes to the relevant committee so that Members can agree the progress and extension to the initial loose timeframe given in 2011.

Station Road Lockerbie
It is extremely frustrating for local residents and council staff to see what were once attractive but still prominent buildings deteriorate due to neglect, such as the Tower buildings in Lockerbie.

station-road-gutter-issue I’ve been trying to find some way through the powers Dumfries and Galloway Council can use but the council has little option but to constantly monitor these properties and wait until there is a safety issue such as a loose slate, gutter or piece of masonry. Only then do the powers kick in for the council to carry out emergency work if the building owner is absent or uncooperative. Legislation needs to be strengthened so that communities can take comfort in knowing these problems waiting to happen can be dealt with more effectively, or even more creatively through grants or incentives. That would be where the politics comes in at a higher level.

Lochmaben Community Council
Flags got raised again in Lochmaben. Or didn’t, which is the problem. There are two accessible flagpoles on the town hall, one of which should always have a saltire flying, with the other being used to fly the union flag (until we don’t have to any more) especially when the designated days have to be respected, e.g. queen’s birthday(s), or (as in recently with the red ensign) merchant navy day. Other Scottish local authorities seem to manage it and it is within the discretion of the Council to do this but clearly no Unionist-led administration has seen the benefit of flying the saltire to help celebrate and mark the country we live in. Ongoing…

Community and Customer Services
Round and round and round the houses we go. Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are like little tortuous timebombs that get set up then left to hibernate for a few years before exploding in your face (metaphorically). These usually set out an agreement between the council as ultimate owner of a property or piece of land, and a community group or body that wants to manage or operate the property. The key thing to ensure is that these are legally clear, reviewed regularly and have an exit strategy for when they can no longer be sustained. As you may imagine what I think is a ‘key’ thing differs from what some historical SLAs seem to contain. Anyhow this has been raised repeatedly, most recently at Community and Customer Services Committee and also subseqently at the Ad Hoc Review of Schemes Sub Committee (what does that even mean to normal people?) and I will be making sure the new Director of Communities appreciates how we could do these better to protect all parties.

Royal Four Towns
Community Council election time is nearly upon us. Get your nomination forms to me or to Council Offices in Annan as soon as possible. Final, final deadline is 25th September so hurry up.

Recording of Spitfire and Hurricane flying over Moffat

Dowding Memorial
It was the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain this year so the Dowding Committee were able have the event in Station Park, Moffat, recognised at a regional level as a Civic Reception, with Prince richard, Duke of Gloucester attending to bring some bling to the occasion.

duke-of-gloucester-prince-richard-and-jean-tulloch-lord-lieutenantThe weather was nice, the park had some last minute touch ups (why can’t they keep it like that all year round?) and it went as well as could be expected. There was even some delicious (compliments to the baker, yum yum) home-made shortbread to be had up at the Dowding House after the event. Sadly, but not unexpectedly, royal privilege meant the minibus for the mobility-challenged residents had to be moved further away from Station Park entrance so he and his entourage could stick to their timetable, but everyone got home safely in the end and the normal people were only inconvenienced a little.

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