'The Gurn understands that Liz raised a few issues that have been impacting on Nairnshire residents at the Transport, Environmental and Community Services Committee on Thursday through in Inverness. The Gurn further understands that no other Nairn councillors were present. Quite often a lot goes on at Glenurqhuart Road that concerns us here in Nairn but it’s rare we hear much about it. The Gurn got in touch with Liz to ask her what went on and more about the issues she raised, this is what she told the Gurn:
'The loss of the Moss-side school bus and the need for a Fishertown bus. As the tenders are currently being looked at now is the time to influence them. I said that as well as the commercial bus service Nairn required a supplement to that that served different interests of community ie. geographical communities (Fishertown) communities of interest (parents needing school transport). I suggested the Dial-a bus scheme may be able to service Fishertown as well as the country. You can understand the present private sector provider only being able to supply a profitable service but currently needs are not being met and cuts to provision should be picked up by the new tendering contact. I shall be meeting with Sam McNaughton and Bob Edwards to discuss this further.
I moved against the decision to put the grass cutting out to tender and that efficiency savings try to be found within the existing service. I questioned the timing of the tendering process stating that it had already been put on the Public Contracts site inviting interested parties to come forward. The report stated beginning the tender process on 28th May, I was given a fudgy answer that it had only invited interested parties and not gone to tender. There was also mention of a review of standards and I questioned if this included reducing the number of flower beds, but these are apparently not part of the review. My concern was that they'd be removed and grassed over and put to the contract.
Prior to the meeting I spoke to some of our front line staff who assessed that one third of their work was on grass cutting and may equate to 6 redundancies in Nairn one third of the staff, although I pressed the Director on the number of jobs at stake he would not give a figure. We have 160 full time grounds staff in Highland.
In addition to this our ground staff provide winter maintenance so there would be a reduction on this service as well which was only skirted over in the report.
Last year when charging for bulky uplifts was introduced I spoke at length that older people and people on benefits would suffer and that there should be a dispensation for them, however this got voted down. The number of people receiving the service reduced by 88% and I asked if they had information about the client group still using the service. The Council has a duty to do an equality impact assessment on any changes to service, but no-one had collected data about the clients, but it makes sense that it will be people without cars that are obliged to use it - the poor getting penalized yet again.'
Liz also told us about a recent Housing and Social Work Committee meeting.
'At H&SW Committee the week before I asked for a report to come forward about upgrading the bathroom in McLean Court, I got agreement at a previous Resources Committee that some of the money for Corsee may be used improve this facility and open it up for residents and day care clients. The housing for older people in the grounds has had its planning application lodged, and I was involved at the very beginning pushing this concept sometimes in direct contrast to what other local members wanted. I always believed that there was an expectation from the people in Nairn that provision should still be in this site for older people.
I also moved against increasing charges for the care at home service. The council is trying to get full cost recovery, there has been no recent review of the cost of providing the service so they used a figure from January 2009, but since then there have been cuts to this service and privatization (that has not been going too well). We got voted down by the administration 7-11. The home care is two and a half percent of the workload so the same % should apply to the management costs charged to it.'