What our readers have been writing about this week.
A number of important points
Sir, – Last week’s letter (March 28) by John Lafferty from Condorrat, urging voters to carefully consider how they vote in the forthcoming election, raises a number of important points.
He notes the chief problem with the party system is that it forces councillors to vote as directed by the party and not as their constituents would want, and in Cumbernauld we have suffered as a result.
Cumbernauld has seen the loss of X-ray facilities, the reduction in the number of treatment rooms, all of which are to the detriment of the public but have scarcely caused a murmur from our elected ‘representatives’. Add the grossly inadequate town centre and the lack of a proper bus station and the closure of schools and the picture is of councillors whose role is to be directed by party officials rather than standing up for those they claim to represent.
Mr Lafferty suggests that what is required is that candidates should be prepared to put Cumbernauld first and work for the benefit of the town and its people and I could not agree more.
It would be of great service to the town if there were to be a public meeting where the candidates could be asked to guarantee that they will support the people rather than the party on issues affecting the town. Many of us are not convinced that a change of administration in May will necessarily result in a change in the neglect of the town, and would welcome the opportunity to pose pertinent questions to those seeking to represent us. Perhaps the Cumbernauld News could help organise such a meeting, which I am sure would be welcomed by the candidates as much as by the public. – Yours etc.,
T. J. DOWDS
Not a political party
Sir, – In a recent article you referred to the Cumbernauld Independent Councillors Alliance (CICA) as a ‘breakaway political party.’ As chairman of CICA I would like to clarify that we are not a political party, although we are registered with the Electoral Commission.
The CICA exists as an umbrella organisation to encourage local citizens of Cumbernauld to stand as independent candidates at local elections. We operate only at local election times although we maintain our registration with the Electoral Commission.
The CICA has no policies that we impose on the candidates standing under our banner. Unlike the Labour and SNP councillors, they will, if elected, be free to fully represent first their Ward, and secondly Cumbernauld, as they see fit. They will not have to follow any party line in deciding how to vote.
Our candidates, Donald Masterton, Adam Smith and Alan O’Brien will also liase with one another to ensure that Cumbernauld’s voice is heard clearly at NLC. One particular issue that unites them is the state of our Town Centre. Although the Town Centre is in Donald Masterton’s ward, all three agree that, for too long it has been neglected, and it is in desperate need of improvement.
The people of Cumbernauld will be well aware, through the pages of the Cumbernauld News, of the efforts Councillor Alan O’Brien has been making over the past several years to highlight the state of the Town Centre, and has indeed, on his own initiative, made great efforts to try to bring various parties together, including NLC, to progress the redevelopment of the Town Centre. He has been frustrated in these efforts by the decision of the Council to virtually abandon any serious attempts at a formulating a comprehensive redevelopment plan.
Adam Smith, who has also been active locally in helping save Cumbernauld House, believes that the Town Centre gives much needed employment opportunities and retail income to Cumbernauld, but is chronically in need of investment and redevelopment.
“It needs much, much more than some signs, a new footbridge and a tarted up central reservation”, he says.
Both Alan and Adam will work with and support Donald Masterton in trying to persuade North Lanarkshire Council to put pressure on Campsie Centre Cumbernauld Ltd (which they own) to bring forward plans to develop the Town Centre to a status that NLC’s biggest town deserves.
The people of Cumbernauld can help by electing them as Independent Councillors on May. – Yours etc.,
A call to NHS Lanarkshire
Sir, – Regular readers of the letters page will be familiar with previous correspondence from Save Cumbernauld Practice Treatment Rooms Action Committee.
This Action Group, comprising representatives from the Scottish Socialist Party, SNP and Labour along with community activists and residents of the new town, have campaigned vigorously against the cuts to the practice treatment rooms service in Cumbernauld proposed by NHS Lanarkshire.
As part of this campaign, the Action Group demanded a face to face meeting with NHS Lanarkshire to ensure our concerns were heard. After initial refusal, officials from NHS Lanarkshire conceded to this request and met with representatives of the Action Group recently.
Sadly, NHS Lanarkshire appear intent in reducing the currently locally accessible service. The Action Group have consistently been critical of the lack of information NHS Lanarkshire has provided to the public, and strongly believe many will be unaware of the changes to service until it is actually implemented, commencing later this year. NHS Lanarkshire state they have completed a consultation to these changes, however the Action Group call on NHS Lanarkshire to commit to calling public meetings in all affected communities in advance of any implementation. NHS Lanarkshire have agreed to keep the Action Group updated on developments and it is our intention to continue to monitor this situation closely.
It is only when we stand together cuts to essential services in our communities can be prevented.
– Yours etc.,
Save Cumbernauld Treatment Rooms Action Committee
A raw deal for pedestrians
Sir, – A big thanks to NLC, in particular their planners, for authorising the Sanctuary development in Carbrain.
Equally, thanks to Sanctuary and their builders who damaged and ripped up a brand new council-installed railing that cost us all a total of £6990 (FOI request confirmed this) and which citizens were never given the opportunity to use.Why?
They stopped up two main footpaths running east to west (Stonylee to Beechwood). They also stopped up three main paths going south to north (train station to 1. Stonylee/Tryst, 2. Craigieburn/College or 3. Beechwood/Tesco). However, they never ensured a working alternative was available without citizens needing to take a minimum half-mile diversion – including stairs in one direction – which is no use to the infirm, wheelchair users or those with prams.
Sanctuary put up signs saying ‘please use an alternative route’ – but no arrows or symbols pointing out directions to the town centre, rail station, college, Tryst, etc.
Would they do this to motorists – no, they get real diversion routes.
Pedestrians have used their common sense and utilised the St Joseph’s Church car park stair entrance as a way of avoiding the biggest diversion. An inconvienence for the less able etc.
Last year the planners, Sanctuary and the councillors all said we could continue to use this route until the site was finished and new access paths installed (one south to north from Free Church to Stonylee shop and one east to west route alongside the new road – pedestrian crossing points = nil ).
Now we are told via a sign that the church stairs will be closed on April 18 – bet we dont get diversion routes of a standard suitable to car users.
We definitely do not want the planning officers who authorised the recent new signage around the town centre area - they have installed a sign advising you to walk up and through the new wall to get to the Town Centre from the train station. I wonder if the planning boss got a bonus. Do you not need to ensure you or your staff do significantly more than expected to get a bonus as a head of department?
So let this be a warning to all who have to deal with the current lot in charge of the council and Sanctuary. They do not look at planning applications and say ‘would this be acceptable next to my house’. If the answer is no then they should not be recommending it or sugesting it. Their attitude seems to be if it is not in my backyard then who cares?
For those in Kildrum – beware the recent spate of stopping up orders. You are going to lose an underpass with no replacement method of crossing the road at a bad bend that cars and buses regularly speed on.
Can any councillor, planner or Sanctuary manager state they would be happy to have a wall for a view? I think not. – Yours etc.,
(name and address suppied)
Not such a Good Friday
Sir, – Families and low income workers, who need tax credits to stop falling into poverty, would not have had a ‘Good Friday’ as the Chancellor’s bid to reduce the welfare benefits bill by £4.7billion begins.
With Child Benefits frozen and the cap on working tax credits increased more than 7.8 million families are in line for a huge reduction in their income. Some families will see a reduction in their annual income of £4,500.
While the basic annual rate for working tax credits is being held at £1,920, individuals who work more than 30 hours will lose out as the supplement stays at £790. Couples will have to work an extra eight hours a week, 24 hours up from 16 hours, for working tax credits.
Families who claim child tax credits will also see their income drop dramatically – as child tax credits will no longer be paid to one child families that earn more than £26,000 and to two child families on £32,000 or more.
As a charity which helps people claim the welfare benefits that they could be eligible for, we would urge individuals, especially during Benefits Awareness Month, to make sure that they claim what they are entitled to. – Yours etc.,
Head of Policy and Research
Elizabeth Finn Care, London
Can we have a skatepark?
Sir, – I have written the following letter to North Lanarkshire Council:
Dear North Lanarkshire Council, I am writing to you to kindly ask if a skate park could be built in Kilsyth. My fellow primary six pupils and I are not expecting you to do it with absolutely no credit given.
We will provide you with lots of signatures which will show that most of the people that we know want to do it. The question is how many signatures would you like? We all love playing on our scooters, BMXs, roller skates and skateboards but we don’t have a place to use them except from the streets and busy roads.
I do have an idea of where you can put the park which is the Burngreen. We always want to go to the skatepark in Kirkintilloch but we can’t go back and forth to Kirkintilloch every weekend! I think that some people have already asked but now I am just making sure. Please try and organise this or contact me any time. – Yours etc.,
St Andrew’s Place
A misuse of carers’ funding?
Sir, – What qualifications do carers hold? Should they not be paid accordingly.
Surely there would be more money in the pot if careful scrutiny was made when assessing the needs of disabled people, as some seem to get all the help and others very little.
If relatives are in attendance why should carers be helping when elderly people who are alone get short shrift?
This is were the system falls down and money is being used unfairly. If misuse of funding was carefully scrutinised no cuts would be required. Yours etc.,
Cumbernauld (by e-mail)