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With reference to your lead article, in last week’s Arran Banner, about the locality partnership this raised an interest for me as, having been chairman of the community council for several years, I was involved during that time in the pilot scheme being run by the Scottish Government, which I believe was the forerunner to the locality partnership.
At that time it was about grants to community councils for projects which they identified, but the actual distribution of the money was controlled by the Scottish Government. We were successful in our bid and £15,000 pounds was granted for the refurbishment of the all weather pitch at the Ormidale Sports Centre.
I remember meeting with civil servants in Glasgow and discussing the plans for this scheme and the community council at that time had reservations about the responsibility being placed on them to distribute large amounts of grants.
After reading through the article I became concerned regarding some of the comments being made as to it being ‘dysfunctional and non representative’.
I have read the rules governing the body only to find that it is made up of the three elected NAC council members , representatives of the police service, the fire and sescue service, health and social care, two community members and the chair of the community council – plus persons who could be co-opted on for their specialist knowledge on any subject that is at that time a matter for discussion.
So as chairman of the community council Mr Calderwood has a reserved place on the locality partnership, but I also noted from its minutes he is vice chair of the partnership. The governing rules stating that the chair should be one of the three NAC councillors. At this time Councillor McMaster.
It is also to be noted that Mr Calderwood has not accepted his position through his capacity as chair of the community council but as a community member, the community council then being allowed to delegate a member to fill the chairman’s place. Therefore it would appear that the community council is well represented having two members.
Under the governing rules the group must have quarterly meetings and there are dates set out in the minutes for those meetings. There are also reports from a Eco Savvy representative, as Arran had been chosen for a pilot scheme for green health and living, and reports from health and social care representatives as to what is necessary for a better standard of living for the islanders. Between those quarterly meetings several workshops were arranged throughout the island allowing the general public to attend and air their views.
This I would suggest is the island being well represented.
From my interpretation of the article it appears that Mr Calderwood wants the community council to have full control.
In my opinion and with my experience of the community council this is not a healthy way forward as the community council can be unrepresentative, as very few councillors are actually elected by their communities, most being appointed.
For Mr Calderwood to turn down the position offered to the chair of the community council to serve on the locality partnership and then use his position as chair of the community council to attack the workings of the group of which he is vice chair of as a community representative, I find very disturbing .
The purpose of the community council is to form a link between the various local authority departments and the community it represents. This requires a degree of respect from both and I would suggest that this article based on Mr Calderwood’s views does nothing to support a good relationship.
Backing for Bill
With reference to your front page story last week on locality partnerships can I just say: ‘Well said Bill Calderwood!’
There is no need or use for a locality partnership on Arran – as events have proved. For decades community councils have had the statutory role to fulfil, just the very function that locality partnerships have been recently delegated i.e. to represent and consult with communities.
Community councillors are democratically elected by their community and have the remit of consulting with and representing their electors on local matters. Their only and major constraint is that they have never been adequately funded. Community councils are well equipped to deal with matters pertaining to ‘community planning partnerships’ and to disburse funds as seen fit.
Locality partnerships are one of the sillier initiatives of the current Scottish government who have a penchant to denigrate any structure that they didn’t invent themselves. Community councils are the long-established arm of local government that couldn’t be any closer to local community than they currently are.
For the record Arran Community Council was recognised as one of the best performing in North Ayrshire. I don’t think that has changed. This is the body through which community concerns and suggestions should be channelled and dealt with.
Clean it up
North Ayrshire Council have recently launched another campaign aimed to highlight the problem of dog fouling. We on Arran have numerous dog waste bins, waste bags available free of charge in local outlets and signs encouraging owners to be responsible – which thankfully most are.
However this is all to no avail with some people as I have just discovered walking on the Rodden. Someone, with what must be a large dog, has not cleaned up a big pile of mess right beside the dog waste bin and waste bag dispenser, which was well stocked.
There is absolutely no excuse for this. Apart from it being an offence and a health hazard it’s totally disgusting and vile. If I said you could be responsible for just one child being infected and losing it’s sight would you still refuse to clean up after your dog? I don’t know who you are but YOU know who you are. Clean it up !