This week in Annandale 02/11/2015

South of Scotland Alliance
The shame! Councillors from Borders Council tried to connect to the wifi in Council HQ and couldn’t. We are the odd one out. This is critical to running the Council property in the 21st Century and we are not getting it right. Wifi should be publicly available in all public buildings. We have the means but currently not the clear direction to do this. We discussed a better provision of college education for the South of Scotland regionally we are two sides of a brain with no corpus callosum. There is a case for investing in the A708 to connect our regional capital with Selkirk, Galashiels and the Borders Rail network. The alternatives are going over Eskdalemuir, going into another country (England) and then back up the A7. Either way the A708 needs looking at given the heavy traffic that pummels it regularly and the patch up jobs we have to do every time the roads collapse or there is a landslip.

Home Care Providers in rural areas
With minimum wage going up in April 2016 and delayed discharge from hospital a major issue in extreme rural areas, home care providers in Annandale are being stretched to attract and keep staff and deliver care. I’m pushing for an agreed tiered hourly rate that will allow this to let more people be cared for in their own homes but this needs to be negotiated and modelled effectively so that providers are kept informed and there is a clear commissioning process.

Grow Your Own Teachers
Quick summary: workforce plans to come forward in March next year from each service, identifying where skills shortages and demands might be, recognising recruitment difficulties e.g. for teachers. There is a national strategy to try and address teaching needs with Angela Constance MSP working up proposals with indications that there will be a 1 year settlement on teacher numbers; key issues with secondary schools in west of the region.

Did you know?
The DG First staff demographic for highest absence rate is among female staff over 50.

Business Week
Feedback from the region’s businesses, with increasing numbers participating, particularly highlighting gaps in wider basic skills. Businesses and relevant agencies rather than the Council should take the lead on developing (e.g. FSB, Chamber, SDS, VisitScotland, BGateway, SE) business models for the future;

Super Fast Broadband
This is currently at 67% rollout in D&G. Dumfries and Galloway is identified as 1 of 5 priority areas and DFM J Swinney MSP is being asked for support with a paper from SOLACE to go to Scottish Government expressing concerns. BDUK is controlling from Westminster. Universality of access to mobile network to be treated as equally important;

Dumfries Learning Town (DLT)
Papers going to Policy & Resources Committee outlining capital and revenue funding picture for DLT, including Dalbeattie, St. Josephs and North West Dumfries project phases. A range of emerging issues has increased scope, e.g. including Langlands, and is more expensive for the recommended best option, but the additional cost for this will be up to £20m more (e.g. crudely £46m going to £66m), including Langlands being brought forward. There must be potential revenue benefits for school estate in Dumfries, noting 7000 spaces across primary and secondary, with 1000 spaces in Dumfries secondary school estate. Where exactly is this £20 million supposed to come from? Everywhere else. Not acceptable.

Lochmaben Community Council
First meeting since election but very much business as usual. A number of vehicles have been going off the B7020 where the markings are very worn.

Education Budget review
Lockerbie Academy Parent Teacher Council and Moffat Academy parents have expressed their views on this but really the consultation has been written in a language of educational functions rather than education experience. How can parents easily understand what actual difference salami-slicing will make to their children’s education?

When the Johnstonebridge community centre project was being developed, there was a form of agreement with D&G Council Property Services and Education that on evenings and weekends the hard-standing at the primary school next to the community centre and MUGA, could be used as overflow parking. I’ve asked for this be clarified now that the centre is complete so that there is a clear understanding with all parties in the interests of wider community benefit.

Moffat Road Safety – Transport Scotland
Transport Scotland use the Scottish Roads Traffic Database (SRTDb) who utilise permanent Automatic Traffic Counting equipment (ATC) embedded into the Trunk road network. While Moffat is located off the M74 none of the roads through the town itself are Trunk. As such it falls out with Transport Scotland jurisdiction. So it’s down to the relevant Local Authority, in this case Dumfries and Galloway Council, to install and monitor temporary tube based counters.





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