Thursday, September 05, 2013

“Local Matters” a COSLA document that could have been written just for Nairn?

Gurnmeister opinion.

Given the recent South Nairn decision from the Inverness based Planning committee one could be forgiven for wondering for a moment if it makes any difference at all where central government is situated. Be it Edinburgh, London, Brussels or even Peking, if Inverness is allowed to dictate to Nairn what goes on then things will more or less stay the same no matter who is in power and no matter where that seat of power is. 
The Gurn has stated before that with the major debate raging about Scotland’s governance then surely now is the time to have a parallel debate about Nairn’s future.

It would be good to see our two SNP councillors, members of the ruling Glenurquhart Regime, contribute to this debate themselves and say why an independent Scotland could be a place where real democracy could be returned to Nairn. In the short term we are promised a new area committee taking in Badenoch and Strathspey but the big decisions like large housing development applications will still be decided in Inverness, won’t they? Will the new committee have any real power or will it just be another talking shop for doggie jobbie worries etc?  Let us hear our representatives explain their vision of how Nairn could rule itself again and just how they envisage a road map to that end destination.  What is the point in voting for Independence if communities like Nairn end up still having their future decided by councilors that were not elected to represent them, in our case mainly those councillors from the city of Inverness.

Step in then a document published by COSLA this week, the President of that organisation, David O'Neill is quoted:

“This is an exciting time for democracy. There is a passionate constitutional debate taking place about Scotland’s future and it is widely accepted that regardless of the outcome of the Referendum in 2014, the status quo will not prevail. 

However, there has been little consideration of what this should mean for Scotland’s local services and for local accountability.  In large part this is because the Referendum focuses on questions of decentralisation to Scotland rather than issues of decentralisation within Scotland.

Some might think that odd. Scotland’s constitutional future is important, but for people in Scotland the real difference will not be felt in the internal workings of Holyrood or Westminster. The debate must therefore be about improving lives in local communities, not simply repositioning governments nationally.”

Further into the document it states: “In fact, if the Referendum cannot deliver better local outcomes for everyone in Scotland then it is not worth having. Simply repositioning  power nationally will not tackle the complex multi-layered issues that communities face. The real task is to put control into the hands of local people, and to make sure that public services are driven by their priorities.”

Highland Council is presumably a member of COSLA and one imagines the new SNP led regime would welcome this document. Some parts of it are obviously at odds with the trend we have seen in the past 20-30 years though:
There is often an assumption that centralisation is the only answer when money is tight. In fact, centralisation is the enemy of everything we stand for in local government. Any reading of history tells us it will lead to increased cost, inflexibility and an inability to respond to local requirements.”

That paragraph could have been written for the Highland Council (South) planning committee?  Gurnites can find the document here. It is worth a read and there is a lot in there that resonates with debate you may have already heard locally from the usual suspects on the Community Councils.

Yes, there is a debate about Scotland’s future but it is also time to put the debate about Nairn’s future up there as well as the countdown begins to our individual appointments with the black boxes next October.


Anonymous said...

"What is the point in voting for independence"? You said it brother,what a waste of time.

Yes said...

There is more to an Independent Scotland than the possibility of more local democracy

A No vote doesn't even mean we will stay as we are as monies from Westminster will become less

UKOK is what it sounds for No voters (think UKIP when saying it!)