What our readers have been writing about this week.
Sir, – The newly elected list MSP Mark Griffin has decided that the people of Kilsyth should be under represented as he intends to continue as local councillor on North Lanarkshire as well as being MSP for the Central Region. His intention to do the very important task of councillor unpaid means that he is forfeiting the salary of around £16,000-£18,000 per annum plus expenses which is very laudable but where will his priorities lie, Holyrood or Motherwell? If the task is so important as to command such a salary then surely someone who can devote all his or her time should undertake it.
Will the surgeries he intends to continue be dealing with council business, Parliamentary business on separate occasions or will they be combined as one issue remembering that the Parliamentary Constituency covers an area much larger than the council district of Kilsyth and Croy. Will he then claim expenses from both Holyrood and Motherwell?
Is the MSP acting on his own initiative about not forcing a bye election on the voters of the district, or is he following orders from Labour HQ who would then appear to be running scared after the recent elections. Surely it is time for all elected public office holders to be seen to do their job full time. – Yours etc.,
Citizens will determine future
Sir, – At its best, local authorities, such as North Lanarkshire Council, can make a profound difference to the quality of peoples lives. It has been found, however, that in many cases where councils are led by weak politicians they ultimately end up as officer-led authorities with the councillors reacting favourably to suggestions made by the officers, rather than bringing forward their own ideas and policies such as the proposed parking charges.
In safe seats, of which there are many in North Lanarkshire Council the candidate wearing the right coloured rosette will automatically receive votes and know that, if they are elected, they will owe their seat to the local party association. As a result, their first loyalty will lie with that association, rather than with the people who they were elected to represent.
There are, of course, some notable exceptions to this within the ranks of councillors who do represent their electorate above and beyond the call of duty but it is clearly evident that there is a growing concern and disenchantment within North Lanarkshire. Many residents believe that their views are being disregarded and that a great majority of councillors are totally out of touch with, and have lost the confidence of, their electorate.
This became very apparent to me recently when, after listening to a council meeting at the Civic Centre from the public gallery, I was reminded of a quote by the late Russian actor Boris Marshalov who had been invited to watch the American Congress in session and it summed up so succinctly for me the councillors present on that particular day. “Somebody stood up, nothing was said, nobody listened, and everybody disagreed”.
At local elections people stand, with the best of intentions, for councillor, and if successful, enter local government only to be moulded, with it must be said a fair degree of compliance from the newly elected representatives, into whatever shape their own party desires, to follow, as it were the party line at all times. Councillors, especially within the leading political group in North Lanarkshire, have secretly voiced strong reservations in regards to always having to follow the party line. It begs the question Why secretly?. There is no room for moral cowardice in local government when the decisions you make can affect hundreds of thousands of lives.
In the Councillors’ Code of Conduct which all councillors must adhere to it states under the heading Duty: “A duty to be accessible to all the people of the area you have been elected to serve, and to represent their interests conscientiously.”
Many who have in the past sought help from some of their local representatives would find this statement to be basically untrue and without foundation.
The American Supreme Court judge Louis D. Brandeis once said “The most important political office that can be held is that of private citizen.”
The present North Lanarkshire Council would do very well to remember this, as it will be that very same private citizen who will be instrumental in determining, come 2012, in whose hands the political future of North Lanarkshire should rest. – Yours etc.,
Area Representative for North Lanarkshire Association of Scottish Community Councils
Turn blue this June
Sir, – I am writing to ask you to support Male Cancer Awareness Month this June.
Prostate cancer kills one man every hour, while testicular cancer is the most common cancer in young men.
Everyman was set up by The Institute of Cancer Research in 1997 to improve these figures. Since then, its scientists have made some promising breakthroughs, with testicular cancer now 97 per cent curable and new prostate cancer drugs offering hope to thousands of sufferers.
By donating to Everyman, you’ll be supporting more of this world-leading research. An easy way to get involved is to Turn Blue this June. Get sponsored to wear something blue, cook something blue or dye something blue!
One day, the work you’ve helped fund could save your life or that of your father, brother, granddad or mates. – Yours etc.,
Against Kilsyth charges
Sir, – Whilst I object in principal to all the proposed parking fees I would like to add my objections to the parking charges in Kilsyth, in particular, as I regularly pop down to the shops etc. go to the Coachman and attend the Anderson Church which has had the good fortune of having free use of the parking facilities behind the council offices throughout the week.
I think the charges would have a great effect on the local community as well as people parking all over the place to avoid the charges. What about the cost to install all the ticket machines and the manpower to police these parking areas? As folks have already pointed out, a lot of investment has been made in Kilsyth Main Street and every opportunity should be made to encourage people to go there.
Whilst it would be great (in an ideal world) to have free Park and Ride at the fantastic facilities at Croy, I was pleased to read that you can purchase a season ticket, which is some consolation. However, it will mean again some folks clogging up the local streets in Croy which is not fair to the local residents.
I sincerely hope that these decisions on parking charges can be reconsidered and that if savings have to be made they can be made elsewhere without incurring additional costs in order to make those savings. – Yours etc.,
Sir, – Having read with interest your article regarding the above, I was utterly amazed at the attitude of NLC.
How charging people to park can actually encourage shoppers, escapes me. I wish someone could explain that logic. For instance if one went somewhere with no charge or somewhere with a charge it is fairly obvious which one would be taken up.
Are NLC trying to kill off completely the centres of Kilsyth and other small communities? They are willing to spend £245K on signage etc for visitors but then fleece them with parking charges. Prescriptions are now free, but it would cost you at least a pound to have it prescribed.
The Scottish Labour party are always banging on about helping the Scottish people, they have unusual and strange ways of showing it. If NLC want to save money perhaps if they were more efficient at what they do they may save money. As a disabled motorist I have been waiting over a year to have my disabled parking bay re-painted and others I know of have been waiting the same time to have a disabled space painted in the first place.
If NLC and The Scottish Labour party are for us, heaven help us if they ever go against us.
I say pay off top heavy, over paid managers to save money, streamline their workforce, make sure that NLC workers are doing what they should be doing and not galavanting about all over the place. Please be honest in your dealings with the Scottish people and not keep foisting national Labour policies on us. After all who was it that was called the father of Scotland after we achieved devolution, and who was it that put in place a voting system that would prevent any party from becoming dominant in the Scottish parliament? What is that about reaping what you sow. – Yours etc.,
A & C Designs
11 Balcastle Gardens
Prices keep on rising
Sir, – Scottish and Southern Energy announce profits of £1.3 billion.
While acknowledging that SSE is a valuable local employer, on the day that they announce their substantial profits their statement also contains the warning that their energy prices will rise steeply later this year. And being one of the big six energy companies, I’m quite certain that it won’t be long before the others follow suit.
The reason given is that wholesale prices have risen, and while this might have some bearing, doesn’t it seem strange that when the same prices fall, the consumer never gets the full benefit. This coupled with the recent announcement by the Westminster Government of a reduction in the Winter Fuel Payment, made to some of the most vulnerable in our society, seems to me to be a double whammy, designed to make sure people who are in no way to blame for the country’s present woes, suffer the most.
I sincerely hope that these increased costs don’t lead to unnecessary deaths, especially amongst the infirm and elderly, as they struggle to heat their homes this winter. – Yours etc.,
97 Broomlands Road,