This week in Annandale 09/11/2015

DG First Management Committee
If you were given a weekly household budget of £100, with £60 to buy food, £20 to pay for gas & electricity, £10 to top-up your mobile phone, and £10 towards costs of TV and broadband, how would you work within your budget to do achieve that? If you spent £80 on food, £20 on your phone and went into arrears on your gas, electricity and TV/broadband package but stayed within the £100 budget, that would be missing the target.

At DG First there was a ‘good news’ underspend of total commission budget reported but underneath this were significant overspends in Waste Collection, offset by “vacancy management” in Grounds Maintenance amongst other things. There is also a significant ‘under-recovery’ from the Roads Maintenance trading account, part of which is linked to issues with overtime bills, which clearly aren’t getting billed on to the customers. An odd business model.

Cuts, cuts, cuts
We met with the Council Directors to discuss additional budget and service reviews that we’ll need to work up to cope with the gloomy UK Spending Review forecast (details to come on Wednesday 25th November as far as is known) which will no doubt put greater pressure on the Scottish Government, and subsequently Scottish Local Authorities.

Syracuse Trust
My turn to take the role of Chair for the Lockerbie Syracuse Scholarship Trust this year. The application process is underway and is published with ever greater clarity on the Lockerbie Academy website. We went through the business of the meeting and were treated to feedback from the current scholars who are really embracing the experience, so we’ve agreed to write to them to thank them for the heartening updates and encourage them to make the most of it. Closing date for this year is midnight on 13th December…

Area Committee (Community)
Held in Lockerbie for a change, this evening event opened up to public responses to the draft Health and Social Care Integration locality plan. (Un)surprisingly there was quite a low public turn-out but it was recognised that the best way to understand what service users feel is to listen to them at the point of service delivery, rather than at an additional event which not everyone would be able to attend. Interesting all the same.

Kirkpatrick Juxta Community Council
First meeting since the community council elections but straight into ongoing business. I was able to update those present on ongoing cases, including the proposition arguing for a disabled parking space outside Beattock Village Hall. This would fall under “Schedule One b) On Street – Others” which could be included in a future Traffic Order but needs more information on a demonstrated need and likelihood of objections. Am following up. The works to the pavilion are now likely to start in January 2016.

Lockerbie MUGA
A bracing meeting with Estates, the Headteacher, Leisure and Sport and Architectural Services helped to understand the potential ways forward for the old MUGA over the fence from Lockerbie Academy. Unusually there is a former path that ran from the old school to the MUGA. This runs through a field with streetlights(!) and there is an “informal” arrangement for a pony to bide in the field, which is council property.

Barrashead, Lochmaben and DGHP
We met with DGHP on Friday and were able to establish that the land behind Barras in Lochmaben up to the edge of the old railway line is DGHP’s and they assured that they would cut back the undergrowth and add it to their annual maintenance programme for at least 2 cuts per year. The old railway land is owned by R&D (in administration or perhaps liquidation) so it will be a while before anyone knows who should look after that stretch of ground.

Lockerbie Jazz
Later in the day I attended a meeting with representatives from Jazz Scotland to look at the developing identity of Lockerbie Jazz Festival. It is becoming clear that in order for bodies like Jazz Scotland to support events in this way, they have to tap into more regional funding pots and this starts to dilute the Lockerbie identity. The concern is that the Steering Group could be more effective in ensuring that the Lockerbie voice is shaping what future festivals look like, with Lockerbie at the centre, rather than a puppet group that allows a national body to have a local presence. Governance again…

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