Thursday, April 01, 2010

Community Councils being ignored? - Stirrings of protest in the Highland Capital

Tory activist Liz Gilchrist carries another interesting article on her blog today. She has published a letter from Veronica Mitchell, Chair of Inverness South Community Council, in her intro to the letter Liz asks:
'Is nobody is listening to us? Or they are listening and will not compromise, as the developers have control. I’m afraid it does appear like that and as a result there is massive unrest in communties now.'
Here's a taste of the letter from Veronica:
'Why are public concerns and views being ignored? Why are local pressure groups being formed?Development must go forward but the Highland Council and the Councillors, who are elected into office by the local people, are not listening to the public. At best it is ‘lip service’ at worst we are just ignored. This happening throughout the country, why?
The Scottish Government has granted Community Councils the status of being statutory consultees, and should be recognised in their local area accordingly. The Highland Council may ask for the opinion of a Community Council but the comments do not appear to have any impact on decisions taken by the Highland Council.'
Is there a bandwagon of public protest gathering serious momentum in Inverness now?

1 comment:

nairnbairn said...

These comments by Liz Gilchrist and Veronica Mitchell pick up a significant and disturbing local trend.

They highlight the gap between Highland Council official rhetoric about the importance of consultation, and the Council's actual behaviour - which is often to align themselves with developers and to discount the serious and considered views of the local community.

If this happened only occasionally, or if it were only over nationally-contentious issues like the Beauly-Denny pylons, that would be bad enough.

But what we are seeing is a consistent pattern, in which the Council appears to be ignoring local concerns and dismissing the input of well-informed elected bodies such as Community Councils. As a result, local voluntary action groups mobilise for what is often last-ditch campaigning. For example:

- the objections to the proposal for an incinerator at Invergordon;
- the recent row over a housing development at Fortrose and Rosemarkie;
- the current protest by residents of Resaurie over a high density Barratt Homes development plan;
- and not forgetting, of course, our very own Deveron/Sandown housing plan, now the subject of an Appeal Inquiry.

No doubt there are other instances too. This suggests that Highland Council and its planners are badly out of tune with the people they are paid to represent and to serve. This is simply not acceptable.

When it is combined with questionable political practice (committee votes being determined by minority vote, as with the latest windfarm project, or decided by votes of councillors from outwith the area concerned) then this does suggest there is something rotten in the state of local government in the Highlands.