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The views of Bob Haddow, resident of Arran since 1938.
So, there we are, five years came to an end on Tuesday September 21 after 60 formal community council meetings and a number of other attendances with and about various people and authorities regarding Arran.
My qualifications for writing this piece. Thirteen years a district and community councillor with my birthplace, Arran, at the heart of it all. So, what to say of my last two years as the ‘fall back’ temporary member for Whiting Bay.
But it’s YOUR community council.
The objectives of Isle of Arran Community Council are to ascertain, coordinate and express to local and public authorities and others, the views of the communities on Arran and to take such action in the interests of these communities as appears to the council to be expedient and practicable, with monthly reports from the police, roads, planning and the elderly forum.
In the ’60s when I was first a councillor, we met in Lamlash and did many things. The list is long but included housing at Montrose Terrace, Brathwic Place and Hillside; the Brodick to Lamlash road way; Whiting Bay, Shiskine and Pirnmill primary schools and so on.
Then we were THE council and the only other body was in Westminster, which, had little or no interest in the 2,000 voters of Arran.
Since then, we have seen a great transformation on our island, but the control and destiny has been drastically eroded and moved from Arran to Cunningham House.
Along with it our ability to be heard has been further diluted to one member (as of 2022) out of a total of nearly 30, all of whom are connected to a political party and may predictably, ‘toe the line’.
Arran continues to suffer because of its small footprint within its mainland ‘overlord’ in an environment dominated by job losses, regeneration and social depravation.
Some of you may remember the days of ‘at your door’ refuse collections, stalwarts such as Alan Currie, Alastair Mckelvie and Donald Bannatyne provided this service at minimal cost to the council. A decision was taken to transfer this to council control despite years of good Arran-delivered service.
A comment credited to the then director of cleansing, based in Ardeer, to his fellow directors: ‘Arran – five per cent of the population … but 95 per cent of my trouble.’
Back to your community council, Arran’s only elected body established by Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 to represent your community bridging the gap between local authorities and the communities within their boundaries.
Why this article? A call to arms. If we are to see our community flourish and raise our profile both here on Arran and within North Ayrshire Council, your community council of elected members is the best hope we have. We need YOU!
A heartfelt request to all those of you, Arranites of long standing or more recent. If you feel you can contribute, and feel passionately about our island home and community, please think about standing in your local community council elections and let’s get things moving.
Let the community council become the conduit through which all the disparate but relevant and important groups on Arran could come together. Standing together we are stronger.
Note: completed nomination papers need to be with North Ayrshire Council by noon on Monday September 27.