This is the story of the week, with the main outline of the draft Scotland Budget coming out on Wednesday, just before our Full Council meeting in Dumfries and Galloway. We had a briefing with our Finance officer to look at some scenarios (ranging from 4% – 6% of additional savings required) so we’re as prepared as we can be in terms of quantifying the scale of what’s required.
Celebration of Learning
I attended (quietly in the background) this event in Lockerbie Town Hall in the ‘Youth Room’ and enjoyed the achievement awards, including Duke of Edinburgh, for the young people and volunteers. My eyes kept getting drawn to the array of acoustic guitars at the back of the room so I may try being useful by giving some guitar tuition if the chance arises.
Care at Home
After meeting with Senior management within the Council to discuss issues and opportunities around re-ablement and delayed discharge, how this is always the weakest link in the chain, and something that the Integrated service model needs to get right irrespective of what any strategic plan says. Am following up with Scottish Care who are working with providers to look at realistic cost implications of providing services, especially in rural area so expect to see a briefing on this soon.
Community & Customer Services and Social Work Services were back to back on Tuesday so head was mince by the time I was getting prepared for evening meetings. There are a number of savings actions delegated to officers to try and bring CCS back into budget for the end of the year, and progress being made on arrangements for proper support and monitoring for management of former council assets, either by management committees or through asset transfer. Social Work featured an update on Dunmuir Park which is still to be totally concluded.
Moffat Community Council
Well there was a clear issue with process here, but also a disregard for the conduct of a community council meeting – it’s something the community council needs to resolve, but I’m confident that there is more than enough sense among the members to make it work for the benefit of the town. There will be a meeting in the new year to push on Station Park project with the relevant officers, and there is a community buy-out being put in for the old Academy amongst other things. Was able to feedback on the accessibility issues and dropped-kerb join up.
Annandale & Eskdale Area Committee
Police reporting was interesting and we’re finally getting through the transition period. The Police Officer was very adept at addressing any 101 or ‘local’ concerns – there is a political element to why this is happening clearly but equally there are rose-tinted glasses at work when considering just how much engagement or influence local communities, and the council, may have had under the old 8-constabulary model.
Dumfries and Galloway Council
What can I say? Not an unexpected tone to the meeting but the irrelevance and unhelpfulness of some Councillors’ comments reflects immaturely on our region. We have been allocated some money, albeit less than what we had last year; we have services to provide, and need to structure ourselves more efficiently. I don’t see the value or benefit in spending my time in Attack-Defence mode as it doesn’t result in much except bitterness and waste. What we need to do is put our energies into reconfiguring the problem into solutions. I believe that most people in the region get the fact that money is tightening in the public sector so we need to be smarter at lobbying for more where we can, and generally wise-up with our attitude on how to work with the Scottish Government through CoSLA.
Moffat Flood Action Group
Picked up on a number of familiar issues relating to improving communication between the community and the council. Definitely a gap between the individual understanding of senior and operational staff, and the bureaucratic structure that fails to keep people informed as it trundles wastefully along, aye-beening all the way. Some additional input from the Scottish Flood Forum who flagged up some useful legislation and support mechanisms.
After attending a George Hunter Trust meeting at 7:30am (some people need to look at making themselves more available) I caught up with Lockerbie Academy headteacher so that we could promote the Syracuse Scholarship and encourage all students to go for it. We have 7 good candidates this year following the 13th December deadline for applications, and interviews will start at the end of January after allowing for prelim week at school. The Scholarship is there precisely to support those students who would otherwise never get the chance. If you’ve got the ability, you’ll get the support – throw away your preconceived notions and take the opportunity.
I might not have time to do an update next week (what with Christmas and that) so have a peaceful time with those that are most important to you and be good.