This week in Annandale 26/10/2015

Wamphray Community Council
The process for getting planning permission to improve the existing village hall is tortuous and beset with difficulty (not how it is advertised by D&G Council.) After seeking advice on best practice and advice from planning officers after concerns were raised, the community council advised their agent to draft up drawings that could be considered by planning officers so that appropriate planning guidance could be given before submitting a full application. The planning department must be under some duress at the moment as the timescales for responding and limited availability to meet with applicants are being stretched. However I’ve had some assurances from the Service Manager that this will get looked at properly as soon as possible. Wamphray CC will be looking to ensure their timetables for funding applications aren’t put at risks by delays from other quarters.

Social Work Services
The committee met to look at the latest business requiring decisions, including the Council’s aspiration to promote not just the statutory Minimum Wage change that kicks in with April 2016, but also the Living Wage. Lazily this often gets reported as need pressure put on the Scottish Government but it is through CoSLA that this is negotiated with Scottish Government. Also we need to ensure as a council that we’re communicating clearly with all the providers in Dumfries and Galloway that we contract to deliver the likes of care at home services. A lot of smaller providers, especially in rural areas like Annandale are feeling the squeeze when trying to deliver care at home – I’m seeking assurances from the Chief Social Work Officer and Resource Manager that the council recognise the cost implications for using new systems that suit the council but require small local companies to make significant changes.

Moffat Community Council
First meeting since the election and a few changes to the office bearer roles within. It’s always a busy agenda with Moffat CC so there will be a considerable transfer of knowledge required to keep things focussed.

Planning Committee
This happened and interestingly there was an additional item relating to a legal manoeuvre on the back of a recent application decision. Members of the committee were able to hear legal advice and ways forward. Can’t say much more than that at this time but maybe over a coffee one day… SPEN (Pylons) will be likely requiring a planning committee response under the Section 37 Electricity Act from D&G Council – this will come to Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee as a draft outline shortly.

Returning Officer
Well I’ve enjoyed learning about the role of Returning Officer by actually doing it. Royal Four Towns Community Council didn’t need a poll so no actual ‘election’. The first meeting went through the official agenda and also in a roundabout way, the ‘familiar’ agenda. Main safety related item was around the poor road markings on B7020 between Hightae and Lochmaben with a number of cars going off the road. The police are aware of it but there is a real budget pressure slowing down the repainting of lines which normally would help in this case. Technically each new community council can’t have an agenda beyond matters arising from the minutes of the last meeting maybe, and AOCB, as the Chair is appointed on the night, and given that all the members could have changed, an agenda would need to be set and public notice given (7 days) – the reality is that there are often very few changes to CC membership so there is an assumption that everything slots back into place, same old same old business as usual; this is a dangerous habit of thought and could lead to gatekeeping and a sense of entitlement, which could plague some communities if left unchecked.

Bench Press
After much pressing the bench has been replaced at Lockerbie Town Hall.

Proudfoot Institute
Good news to come soon about the Proudfoot’s future – it really does take years to sort out some sh*t.

Dark Skies
Finally a letter from the Council to the International Dark Sky Association in support of Moffat as a dark sky place.

Johnstonebridge Community Centre
Now open!

Lockerbie Old School Project
DGHP originally bought the caretakers property when they were looking at possibly buying the Old School site. Unfortunately their bigger plans fell through and due to the amount of money (around £30-40k) required to bring the old caretakers building up to spec (for either renting it or otherwise) the property has been left since then. I went back to see if there would be any scope for a community group to make a case to take the building on, or if there is a way DGHP could support a pilot community project and there could be some scope for this with the best bet being to send DGHP a proposal in and take it from there. On a related note I attended the Old School Craft Fair Christmas event at the weekend after having an interesting surgery at Lockerbie town hall on Friday.

M74 Lockerbie
There is business interest in relocating and developing in and around Lockerbie, but there has been limited availability of units to satisfy some of the needs. Their priority for being close to the M74 has been to allow businesses to be able to service a much larger area quickly and easily whilst keeping overheads low.

Moffat CAN – Lease
With governance being my guiding principle at the moment, and having met with the new chair of Moffat CAN, we ran some of the intentions by D&G Councils property and legal team just to be safe (as the site is on a former council asset – questions will always be asked) – the Council would be willing to relax the terms of the lease to allow the community enterprise company a licence/lease to use part of the premises, especially to support a sustainable community enterprise model. Don’t assume, engage.



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