Lockerbie Syracuse Scholarship Trust

The Syracuse Trust will be opening again in October for applications – the actual Trust Deed specifies that the opportunity is open to all residents of Lockerbie Community and isn’t restricted to Lockerbie Academy students, although this is normally where most of the interest is from. The forms should become available on the School website next month and the closing date will likely be 11th December. The ward councillors have taken turns at being Chair each year so there should be a new one in place for this year…

Samuel Elliott Bequest

This trust fund has traditionally supported a Christmas lunch for older people in Johnstonebridge over recent years, as well as Lockerbie Community Council who had sought support for the Lockerbie Gala by getting funds for ice cream for the children (and young at heart.) Like many small trusts it’s now at the point where the cost of keeping it is more than it’s annual income so we’ll be looking for a best way forward at the next meeting.

Lockerbie & Lochmaben Common Good

No, it’s not closed for applications but we did have to eat into capital to fund a project at the last meeting. As is well known, the fund’s income for dispersing to community projects in Lockerbie comes from rent of Common Good land. This is currently being used by the golf club who have a long-term lease with the Council to use the land for a fair rent. However recent years have seen challenges for golf clubs in general and Lockerbie is no different with drainage issues and weather being some of the factors affecting the club’s income – the Common Good committee had previously decided to reduce the golf club’s rent for 3 years to recognise the value of the club to the community but at a cost to the Common Good fund. Tricky. I’ve been in contact with club members though and have met with members of the Committee so am getting a better understanding of the challenges the club will have to overcome to have a sustainable future. More to come on this as the club’s AGM is coming up in November which will allow members to get up to date.

Kirkpatrick Juxta community council (Beattock)

Ongoing frustrations in Beattock with the disruptions caused by the works enabling the Minnygap connection. Private landowners can hold the likes of Scottish Power to ransom when the land is in the ideal cable path but of course the ‘public realm’ can be disrupted without paying out monies to the normal community.

Policy & Resources Committee (P&R)

Our SNP Council group met with the Unions on Monday and it was helpful to hear the concerns and ideas coming forward in light of the budget reports and P&R Committee. The staff costs savings have been a concern especially around the manner of the consultation with the Joint Trade Unions. The current status is that the officer-led initiative appears off-target as it is not delivering the predicted savings. We asked the Human Resources officers for assurances over staff getting proper training and also how ‘vacancies’ were being managed by managers. It looks like lack of recruitment to a post is delivering a saving but this is not the intended outcome as existing staff can get more stressed and services can suffer. The sickness and absence figures are way worse than the national average, except for teaching staff it must be said. The Scottish Government has provided more certainty for teachers through the funding settlement structure but other staff that this Council has direct control over are not being served as well.

We managed to deal with the Kirkcudbright Art Gallery project soberly and with prudence. Some gung-ho nutters were being somewhat cavalier in chucking an ever-increasing proportion of reducing council money at the project with no controls in place, even glibly recommending unsafe and incompetent conditions. Luckily we challenged the use of contingency capital funding getting assurances from the Chief Executive and the Finance Officer that the roll out of Next Generation Broadband for rural areas would not be compromised, and were able to cap the final amount of funding so that the project we’ve supported all the way through could go ahead but with responsible controls. There was also some blatting on about “gain-share” and £40million being shared out, none of which was in the actual report of course, and what was in the actual report wasn’t as clear as it should have been.

Royal Four Towns Community Council

Carried over from last week and attended to pick up a on a couple of local issues. Busy community council and hall committee in Hightae so very much a supporting role.

Surgery in Lochmaben Church

Broadband is available in Lochmaben church – you can hire the office out and get free wifi! I held a ‘surgery’ (wrong name really) and was able to catch up on an email backlog and get some reading done. I think I should really be putting up posters in some locations. The website/newspaper ad strategy has had limited success.

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