Councillor Colin MacAulay is quoted in a local weekly newspaper:
"There's undoubtedly a view in Nairn that Nairn should have its own local council. I support that view, but it's not on the cards over the next several years ahead and the important thing is for people to work with the structure that we do have."
The complaint of our community councils and others is that they have tried and failed to work with the existing structure - they say it is a structure that has failed to lisen for years. It was only when citizens took to the streets in large numbers that the "structure that we do have" finally listened and went against the advice of its own planners on Nairn South. For years that structure in Glenurquhart Road has slowly been draining the civic life blood out of Nairn. Recently Highland Council approved the Inner Moray Firth Local Development Plan and sent it on to the Scottish Government to see what they make of it. Little recognition was taken of the considerable submissions by Nairn residents on parts of it relevant to areas of the town. Just take the Showfield for one example there is potential there for conflict again between the Council and the community on the scale of the South Nairn incident.
Our administration councillors (Liz and Colin) will say that we have the new area committee as a measure of power being given back to the community . But that committee includes Badenoch and Strathspey - already a councillor down by is calling the new committee "Nairncentric". Administration of this geographically massive area has been problematic and difficulties are far beyond "teething troubles" according to some critics. The area committee has no powers or budgets however and anyone watching it on webcasts would be forgiven for thinking that all it does is congratulate officials for powerpoint presentations and "note" reports presented to them.
At the Gurn referendum debate John Finnie MSP asserted that 60% of the cuts are still to come. There is no guarantee either that in an independent Scotland there would not be further cuts trickling down from central government - so come what may in September Nairn needs more autonomy to protect itself. Already the Highland Council is gearing up for more cuts. If all we have for the next several years to protect Nairn is the impotent device that is the area committee then we are in for trouble.
Dick Youngson Chair of Suburban CC is also quoted in this week's Nairnshire: "We're trying to establish projects that benefit Nairn. We're not getting that support from council officials and the bulk of the councillors, who are Inverness based and our own councillors don't stand much of a chance of influencing committees."
Both Liz and Colin also hold positions of power in the three party coalition that rules Highland Council and again this means there will be even more pressure on them to toe the Glenurquhart Road line. For the next few years at least then is Nairn stuffed?
Excellent summary of where we seem to be at - and it's not good. We are trapped in a system that not even our councillors can do anything about. The Area Committee will just mean more expenses claims. What does it achieve for us in the real world? Either way, after 18th Sept I fear it will just be more of the same. More committees, more expense claims, more promises that it can only get better. I fear it's going to get a whole lot worse.
Very simple, we look at the Swiss system of local government where the people can vote on issues which they want dealt with. Or even at national level.
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