This week in Annandale 28/09/2015

Special meeting of the Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee.
This is all about the bins. Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS) have already written to the Chief Executive of the council expressing concern that the ambitions and commitment of the commissioner (Planning & Environment Services – PES) were not being matched by the delivery arm (DG First). Zero Waste Scotland believe that DGFirst are not fully bought into the change in their core business and lack the ambition and drive to deliver the PES strategy and policy. ZWS are of the opinion that DGFirst see the new collection as an “add on” rather than “core business”. The Director explained the complexity of the situation particularly with reference to the infrastructure being developed, the Waste PFI contract with Shanks and related Zero Waste Contract variation. It should be noted that Dumfries and Galloway Council is not the only local authority to miss the January 2016 target but there is a need to move quickly to show greater progress.

In short, there are some serious concerns from elected members about how business is being done by the council with this project since its inception.

Community Council Elections
No election for me as Returning Officer it turns out. Royal Four Towns had sufficient vaiid nominations but less than the maximum so it is an uncontested community council election. My next duty, after putting up the appropriate notices in Hightae is to make sure the first meeting of the new community council on 29th October goes smoothly with the new office bearers being appointed on the night. Unfortunately for Lockerbie there weren’t enough nominees so the community council will disestablish on 23rd October at 8:00am – there is still some detail to be clarified as to when the community council could re-establish but it could take a year!

Full Council
I’m minded just to post the link to the minutes on the council website – we get sent them a couple of days before they get published online but you should be able to access them here: council meeting minutes

One change that has arisen due to councillors flitting over the summer is that the proportionality on sub-committees of 7 has changed so there is only 1 member of our SNP Group entitled to a place. Luckily for me this means I get to participate on the Welfare Reform Sub Committee which I am still getting up to speed on.

Dowding Committee
This was a de-brief meeting following the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain event in September with a royal presence to boot. Thanks must go to all the volunteers, including the council staff from Annan office that helped make sure the event went smoothly on the day. The home-made shortbread was most delightful and it still lingers in my memory (this is a thing)

Beattock Station
A positive meeting with the group and South of Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine helped bring this further to attention of Drew Hendry MP. I’d written to Derek Mackay MSP to get an update on what the landscape looked like with a cohort of MPs in Westminster who could influence reserved matters, along with Abellio settling in to their operation under Transport Scotland, not to mention the re-opening of the Borders line as far as Tweedbank.

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