This week in Annandale 08/02/2016

The Good

Moffat is a Dark Sky Town – well done Jim!

Lochmaben Gala – I attended at the Kings Arms Hotel along with a Council Officer and discussion around the issues from last year led to a safe way forward for this year. The Council should be able to support groups to achieve their goals and help provide guidance to achieve this.

Syracuse scholars buffet at the Townhead Hotel went well and this was the first buffet organised by Annandale Area Framework using local providers in Lockerbie. Last year the buffet was held in Lockerbie Academy and was well received so the Trust agreed to try offering the informal buffet provision to local caterers and establishments. We can review this at the follow up Trust meeting later in the year.

Dowding Memorial Committee met again for a debrief of last year’s event and a look forward to the preparation for this year.

The Bad

Full Council was a sham with no amendment to the 3 year budget presented by the Administration. I’m concerned about the style of ‘leadership’ here and it doesn’t bode well for Dumfries and Galloway if political fears are prohibiting any sense of clear direction by the largest political grouping in the Council. This was just a wind-tunnel of negative shite, blown way out of proportion to the reality, and demonstrating a complete lack of perspective on how well funded this Council has been compared to those who live and work in the private sector. We have to set a budget that will deliver statutory services, we have been given effectively £340 million to do this for 1 year, go figure out a way to do it. Okay it’s slightly less than last year but we have to rise to the challenge and remodel our antiquated and digitally unfriendly, often hard to monitor, ways of doing things. Why reward bad practice and promote inefficiency? The staff feedback into the budget process shows that the Council has a wealth of ideas on modern progressive ways of making our services more efficient so what’s the obstacle?  There are also new millions going into Health and Social Care Partnership delivery which will help boost the wages of those in the care sector as we move to an integrated model – how is this bad? Anyway as everyone and their dog predicted there will be a replay of the budget setting meeting on 29th February.

David Mundell’s office burst Moffat’s balloon by getting the national news involved in the Dark Sky status. Way to listen to the community and respect their wish to tell it their way – everyone knows someone whose been let down by their MP! No sooner had the media outlets got hold of it they asked the Council’s communications unit for a line so the Chair of Economy, Environment and Infrastructure had to say something. I got asked about this by the Comms Unit as I seemed to be the only ward councillor available who’d been actively supporting the community in trying to get blood from the Council stone in the form of a letter of support last year. But thankfully only MPs and MSP list candidates got their names mentioned. There was a bit of a furore over Nithsdale councillors having a say on it but this dampened down strangely (cynical ha-ha) when it became clear that the ‘leak’ had come from the MP’s office. Nothing to see here.

Reported a number of potholes and drainage issues raised by Lochmaben Community Council as well as chasing up the slow progress on the proposal to light up the Bruce Statue in a fitting way. Also looking to address the nick of the paving around the monument at the end of Princes Street, Lochmaben.

Also reported a number of issues around Beattock including bits of concrete falling off the A701 Bridge over Evan Water, blocked gullies at Moffat Manor and Woodlea Court, and debris being carelessly dumped on the public road going south out of Beattock village. Not to mention pushing for progress on the repairs to Beattock Pavilion agreed some months ago.

The Boring

Budget meetings to review various suggested savings templates. There is a thing called the ABB or Activity Based Budget which is a tome produced every year with lines of spend by each department in the Council. It contains a wealth of information but still doesn’t tell you what you need to know to get at the heart of true functional budgeting. Have to read it though #duty #boring



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