This week in Annandale 25/01/2016

The Good

First meeting of the re-established Lockerbie Community Council. The Chair (re-elected) had asked me to provide an A5 mini-poster for the Town Hall noticeboard to make it easier for constituents to get in touch, so I gave one out on Friday. Currently only a suspiciously youthful looking David Mundell photograph along with contact details is available on the noticeboard, but clearly all community representatives should be contactable. Good idea.

Lockerbie and Syracuse Scholarship Trust interviews went ahead with all the candidates performing well. So hard to find clear front-runners in this process as all 7 of the students could be excellent ambassadors for Lockerbie.

I’ve met with Lochmaben Gala representative to find a safe way forward for this year’s bunting.

Surgeries in Lockerbie and Johnstonebridge were well attended and a number of issues picked up including some Council service delivery failures but also some small school aspirations, particularly Applegarth Primary School parent teacher body’s plans for improving the outdoor offerings within Council premises. Happy to support initiatives like this providing it is recognised that schools are Council assets for the whole community and not just staff and students (although clearly that’s the primary purpose during the school day)

£1500 grants available from Scottish Government via Council for those properties affected by recent storms. Just get in touch.

Working with Johnstonebridge groups and Loreburn to arrange for some appropriate community noticeboard at Kirkhill as that end of the village would benefit from knowing what was going on in the village and at the community centre.

The Bad

Unable to attend Moffat Community Council due to the unusual clash with Lockerbie’s but was able to send a councillor’s report giving updates on issues previously raised, including the need to improve accessibility and the dropped kerbs, the Viafix fiasco, the repairs to the Station Park wall after recent flooding and the flooding issue at Annanside.

Council has been backwards in coming forwards over £1500 grants available from Scottish Government via Council for those properties affected by recent storms. Probably some political interference going on.

Noisy manhole covers (is that sexist these days?) are blights on the nights of sleepers in Lochmaben, particularly on Princes Street. These have been reported for action more than once.

The Boring

Planning Applications Committee is not necessarily boring but I’m worried about developing DVT due to having to sit for so long without meaningful activity. If I could pedal an energy-generating cycling machine at the same time it might reduce electricity bills and improve the general fitness and well-being of elected members.

Annandale & Eskdale Area Committee also occurred.

The Budget setting process becomes quite boring with the repeated bleating of career politicians. I’m working with Councillor Iain Dick to pull together our SNP Council Group’s amendment to the 3 year budget agreed last year and don’t agree with the exaggerated framing of the Scottish Government funding as being “savage”, etc. This whole process has been delayed by Westminster in the first instance – that is undeniable – and the knock on means everyone else is late – easy to understand. No-one I’ve met in the last 3 years has been of the view that the Council is  a lean-mean-service-delivery-machine and there are clearly more efficient ways of doing things. I need to be aware that not everyone thinks the same but I can’t see the actual substance behind the political rhetoric from some quarters. As long as the Council as a whole can show leadership and take difficult decisions on the day (which is what the public expect of their councillors) business can continue. Only an idiot or a coward would try to borrow, or dip into the piggy bank reserves, or delay taking a saving just to store up the problem for next year. With the savings templates available there is a way to balance the books – it should end up being a straightforward vote according to each of our principles.




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