Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Faith and confidence

Over the past few weeks, a number of issues have crossed the public agenda which have failed to endear Comhairle nan Eilean Siar to its populace. In general terms, when people are elected to serve in public office, they sometimes have to take decisions that may not be popular. It is however the responsibility of a councillor, a member of parliament, a minister of government to take the bigger picture into account. Us simple citizens do not always have access to the bigger picture, and we should be able to trust our elected representatives to take the big decisions.

The issue of the Stornoway Town Hall refurbishment, which in itself I support, has thrown up a number of questionmarks over the way the consultation process was run. Opponents allege that CnES have been cutting corners - I am not in a position to ascertain whether that is true or not.

The issue of the windfarms, which I have opposed, underlines the point that I hope that councillors have made the right balance of judgement - something that I don't believe they have - in weighing up pros (monetary gain) and cons (environmental impact).

A round of proposed school closures was announced in recent times, slashing the number of schools in the Western Isles as whole by half. A consultation exercise is supposed to be in full swing. However, if private reports from North Uist are anything to go by, councillors cannot even be bothered to make it to a previously announced community meeting to discuss the closure of the school in Lochmaddy. I don't know if a vote of no confidence is sufficient to unseat a councillor, but this is absolutely atrocious.

The final point that blotted the CnES copybook from my perspective is the Stornoway Harbour Authority row. The Comhairle is moving to take over Stornoway Port Authority, because SPA was opposed to a plan to fill in part of the Inner Harbour for some very good reasons. I do not trust CnES to make the correct judgement in matters that the SPA currently hold sway over - they could do actual harm.

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