Saturday, November 17, 2012

Centralisation of playpark equipment in the western suburbs - alternative ways of consultation worthy of consideration by the Community Council?

Recently Jane contacted the Gurn she said: “I wondered if there had been any comment about the removal of play park equipment from 'the Courts' in Tradespark?  
I've contact Councillors and TEC Services at the Council but have yet to receive a response. The equipment might've been old but it was in good working order - in Alton Bank the items were removed yesterday without any consultation or negotiation.  
I'd like the items replaced as the play parks are very safe play areas for under 12s.I
Would be interested if any other gurnites share my concerns and might want to do something about it?

Very quickly however, Jane received a response from Colin. The present arrangements had their origins before the elections in May but he was aware of the situation from his attendance at Suburban Community Council meetings. He told the Gurn:
”My understanding is that the equipment in various parts of Nairn has worn and become unsafe. The view was taken that we should move away from some of the smaller sites/types - as at Altonbank (but also other areas) - partly because increasingly many family gardens have simple play equipment. Instead, the idea is to have some better play areas, more sophisticated apparatus, better maintained, wider age range etc.
After some discussion with Suburban CC, it was agreed that Moss-side would be the best location for all Tradespark's youngsters.
You'll have been at recent CC meetings when the equipment has been praised. Its really very well used and Suburban CC are now actively seeking external funding and looking at adding to the range on site. Indeed, I'm trying to get a bench installed so that parents can sit in comfort and watch their kids play.
I can see why Jane is so disappointed, but I do believe that strategically this development brings greatest benefit to the wider community.”

Jane isn’t satisfied with that however and told us: “It's really short-sighted, unnecessary and I'm annoyed by the lack of consultation by all parties.  If I'd known I'd have put up a fight to stop the removal - now it'll be about replacement or re-use. The Councillor's offered to meet me which I'll do and I've done a FOI request on costs and maintenance time over recent years.”

Jane’s situation demonstrates well how the democratic situation can often fail to connect with us. There are three community councils in Nairn, their affairs are reported to a certain extent in the press and one of them (River) has a website. How many people knew, in western suburbs, for example that playpark equipment was being discussed and decisions had been made? Yes some people will show no interest until something happens but could the community councils make more use of the digital resources out there to engage with the public? It is wrong to accuse everyone of apathy, quite often local issues are being hotly debated on Facebook and word gets around digital Nairnshire very quickly. It is time perhaps for all of Nairn’s Community Councils to have web pages or even twitter or Facebook accounts to engage with their constituents. There are hundreds of Nairn folk out there on twitter now and the number of Facebook will be in the thousands. Would it have been any better if a tweet had gone out such as “Nairn playpark areas – should they all go to one site to save money? Contact etc….” In this observer’s opinion the Community Councils will have to consider more use of digital resources or there is a danger they could get left behind by the younger members of the community and even the ever increasing legions of silver surfers in Nairn.

With regard to digital resources, we recently came across an excellent website that shows community organisations and voluntary groups how to manage their affairs more efficiently with free services that are available online. Some of the facilities won’t be to everyone’s taste but the site is worthy of examination. Here’s Community how 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Does Nairn Suburban CC:

Have a web site? A face book page?
Use Twitter?

Publish an annual,half yearly, or quarterly newsletter?

Send regular letters to all the residents in its area describing what a CC is and what its duties are; when its meets; what sorts of things it discusses at meetings?

Advertise the dates of the next meeting every month that they are held in the local press or in accessible venues throughout its area?

Was the issue of play parks in general or this play park in particular ever clearly displayed on an agenda?

Was a special meeting or meetings held on the issue of playparks?

In fact, just what are the duties of a CC? All the CCs in Nairn or Highland for that matter?

Is there a code of conduct? What does it say?

What training and support do CCs get from the council? Is it enough to support their role?

Come on folks and not just the ones on the CCs either. If important decisions are being taken make sure you know how and where these decisions are taken and by whom.

Get involved in things and make sure you know what is what and support those who take on the responsibility of community roles and that includes Highland Councillors and Community councillors.