"Local Government in the Highlands has grown distant, and in doing so is damaging democracy and economic development in Scotland."
"We have a situation in my constituency where councillors can decide planning applications for projects hundreds of miles away and where spending decisions are made by officials with little or no knowledge of the places they are affecting. Ordinary folk in the Far North feel disconnected from their council, and many businesses and voluntary groups feel frustrated by the lack of local involvement in Council matters. This must be addressed.”
The words above are from Caithness Sutherland and Ross MSP Rob Gibson. We might not be so far away from Inverness as folk in the Far North but much of what Rob has to say will seem familiar here in Nairn. In the previous post we urged readers to go and look at this week's editorial in the Nairnshire Telegraph for a summary of all that is wrong with the way Nairnshire has been treated by Highland Council. Rob has started a debate about whether his constituents would like to see a more decentralised Highland Council. The Consultation will ask whether respondants agree that the following should be devolved to a local level from the Highland Council:
Planning - Culture and Leisure - Economic Development - Enviromnental Management - Licencing
One imagines that a similar initiative would find favour in Nairn with so many here who are scunnered with the way that Highland Council have treated Nairnshire over the years - again for a succinct summary of what has gone wrong in recent times read the editorial in the Nairnshire this week.
Rob continues in his statement:
"I am pleased to be able to kick-start this important debate about the future of our local government. I believe that where local communities take control of services and development, they stand to reap the rewards.
In a time of limited budgets and difficult spending decisions, surely local communities should take responsibility for delivering local savings in a manner that best suits that community. And in a time of fierce competitiveness for resources, surly local communities will argue for investment more fiercely than a centralised body.
These democratic challenges are not unique to the Highlands, they arefaced across Scotland. The 'Save the Accord' campaign is clear evidence that even in the Great City of Glasgow, communities feel disconnected from local government but will fight hard to retain services. This is a debate we need to have in light of the ChristieCommission and Westminster cuts, and I'm pleased to have begun this discussion."
Rob is out to start a country wide debate Gurnites - maybe here in Nairn it is time to take the debate forward in a similar vein. Time more than ever perhaps to get the Community Councils to work together more in preparation for taking back local democracy and to do that the only effective ultimate goal is to have a Royal Burgh of Nairn Community Council, democratically elected and installed in the Courthouse.