Annandale North By-Election:

Only the SNP candidate, Sylvia Moffat, seems to have provided any literature on how she will use her role as councillor to influence things the council can influence in the ward for the benefit of residents. Other literature I’ve seen posted through doors is of an MP and MSP talking about a referendum and using their candidate to send a message to someone/body/thing.

Currently of course D&G Council doesn’t actually do referendums; it tries to focus on delivering education, maintaining the roads, recycling our waste and other local authority duties like planning and licensing. I’ve even seem MPs in my area waste tax-payers’ money and time on local authority matters – that’s what Councillors are for! MPs are elected to represent your interests and concerns in the House of Commons. They can propose new laws as well as raising issues that matter to you by asking government ministers questions about current issues including those which affect you as local constituents.

To add insults to injuries, there are already Councillors from that very same party who should be busy working at a local authority level. Not wasting time and tax-payers’ money embarrassing the reputation of the Council by  trying to and have a referendum for Dumfries & Galloway to leave Scotland. It’s like they don’t know what the role of Councillor empowers you to do?! Maybe it suits some career politicians to blur the boundaries so that we’re never sure who’s best-placed to deal with which issue. Small comfort for you if that same party’s philosophy is mercilessly cutting disability benefits, threatening pensions and throwing money at undemocratic institutions – it’s seemingly all ok so long as they keep shouting about referendums rather than do anything constructive. Don’t waste your vote.

Syracuse Trust

Syracuse Scholarship application process will open 17th November. Forms and guidance will be available on the Lockerbie Academy website (search for ‘syracuse’ on the homepage)

Friends of Lochmaben Hospital

Attended the Friends meeting with a very active group of volunteers who are already getting Christmas pressies and movies organised for patients.

Ward Visit

This was a chance for local community groups to speak to Director of Communities on supporting projects such as Lockerbie Old School Hub, Mens Shed, Lockerbie Swimming Pool, Proudfoot Institute, and many others.

Kirkpatrick Juxta and Kirkmichael Community Councils

A double whammy for a Wednesday evening. Beattock is part of the Beattock Moffat Community Plan which is to be published imminently and shows the potential developments and link between Beattock and Moffat, such as the cycle path, Beattock Station re-opening and other amenity and public realm projects. Parkgate and Nethermill are still needing bus shelters but I’m advised that the infamous Parkgate shelter on the A701 is to be replaced in December. I have a meeting arranged in Nethermill next week with council officers and community reps to see what’s possible.

Welfare Reform Sub Committee

Always an opportunity for cheap politicisation because of the effects of poverty, especially on children in Dumfries and Galloway. I tried to ensure that the Committee agreed to write to UK Government and ask for support through DWP and more sympathetic Welfare Reforms as well as looking at further Economic Powers so that Scotland can properly tackle what Westminster has failed to in addressing the causes of poverty. Usually there is a clamour for more Scottish Government money to put a sticking plaster on the symptoms, and although this is always welcomed in the short term, it won’t solve the underlying problems.

Annandale Transport Initiative AGM

First visit to Gretna for some time but was invited along as an Annandale & Eskdale Councillor but was only 1 of 11 that could make it on the night. The financials made interesting reading but from a Council perspective we really need to look at a strategic model for supporting Community Transport Initiatives that augments the work of the Health and Social Care Partnership or IJB as well as use our MPs to ask questions of the UK Parliament for creative solutions around fuel duties, rural transport pressures and the reality that our geography will never change (well, it will but veeeeeeeery slowly.) The constituency MSP was booked to give a talk after the AGM and although I had gone to listen and learn, ended up getting drawn into a bit of a debate which turned out to be interesting.





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