The Scottish Borders Council debacle about the infamous tapestry is the latest in a long saga of incompetence on the part of the current regime.
Taking Hawick as an example, it seems that only half the councillors have the integrity or strength of conviction to take a business-like approach to decision-making. I wish Watson McAteer and Stuart Marshall all the best for their continuing careers as truly independent councillors who can represent the public properly.
To spend £40,000 on consultancy fees to investigate the tapestry for which SBC has no statutory obligation or need is just plain stupid. To follow this, ignoring most of the report’s findings, by going ahead with this project is no more than shear lunacy. It is a another example of doing everything possible to invent a business case on very shaky foundations
The £7million for a building to house a tapestry that anybody who wants to see it will already have done so on its tour of Scotland is not good value for the taxpayer.
The allegedly independent, but well known nationalist, leader of the council appears to be the root cause of many problems. Portfolios are given to his cohort of sycophants in the administration, with extra payment so that they toe the line. They have presided over the apparent reduction in professional people in senior management and their replacement with non-professionals, such as a personnel officer as chief executive and a former police officer as deputy in control of social work and education. The other deputy’s background was never made clear. It is no wonder they have employee-relations problems.
Having done technical work for the whole existence of Borders Regional Council, I can only say that the regime then was much better. The old committee system was more satisfactory because councillors of all persuasions took part. The former chairmen were all of much higher calibre than the blustering, little oaf, Parker.
Kenneth Clark was an excellent chief executive, being a well-experienced professional solicitor, and the service directors were soundly qualified professionals such as Leslie Deaton and, latterly, Robert Fraser in water and drainage who were chartered civil engineers.
Having just read last week’s Hawick News, I am writing to publicly offer my heartiest congratulations to Councillors Stuart Marshall at Watson McAteer.
I am sure many in the town will agree that both these gentlemen deserve much praise for having the courage and strength to stand up to those at Scottish Borders Council who continually think that they can ride roughshod over those who we have elected to represent us.
I have for many months refrained from writing to your paper to express my views on the tapestry issue, but in the wake of those two councillors departing from the ruling body at SBC, I feel compelled to add my support to them.
I don’t need to spell out to your readers that our town is suffering badly in respect of shop closures, footpaths soiled with dog muck, litter everywhere, poor street lighting and, of course, the cessation of the garden waste uplifts. Surely the millions of pounds that will now be wasted at Tweedbank for this tapestry would have been better used making improvements in the aforementioned areas?
Thanks goodness Hawick has at least two councillors who are prepared to put their heads above the parapet and say to those in the ivory towers at St Boswells: “Enough is enough” to this shocking waste of public money.
I wrote to the Hawick News a few weeks ago to condemn the idea of Scottish Borders Council giving out even moreperks to its staff and councillors in this poor financial climate of cutbacks, which looks set to become even worse in the future, now it that SBC is going ahead with the ludicrous idea of purchasing The Great Tapestry of Scotland while we are still millions in the red.
How can this ruling administration even consider putting us in debt to the tune of £6.3 million over 30 years at a cost of £219,000 per year as was stated in the paper last week. The local authority cannot afford the green bin collections, and is cutting the finances of many more desperately-needed services in the Borders.
No one knows what will happen over the next 30 years when this ruling administration has long gone with their inflated pensions and golden handshakes, while Borderers are still saddled with this debt. Let’s be honest, the tapestry is highly unlikely to pay for itself, never mind make a profit.
I have respect for Councillors Marshall and McAteer for “doing the right thing”, and while I am disappointed at Councillor Davie Paterson changing his vote to yes, I feel that he is really saying what the other two councillors have stated, but in a different way, that you toe the party line or you are shouted down, which really is a form of bullying.
As we head into 2015, Scottish Borders Council is set to pick up another two huge bills.
It has been reported it will take the council 30 years to pay off its costs of £2.5million for housing The Great Tapestry of Scotland at Tweedbank.
Also, a little-known fact following a request to the council’s freedom of information office is that when the first train from Edinburgh Waverley to Tweedbank runs, reportedly in September of this year, the council’s developer contributions start to be paid, with a target to reach of £8,477,900. This amount is also to be paid within 30 years. So by 2045 the council will have to find £10,977,900 – an eye-watering amount of money.
There seems to be no end to the council’s financial mismanagement, something we mere mortals can do little or nothing about.
Last year was bad enough with the loss of the dog/traffic wardens and the axing of the green bin collections – but will no doubt face more cuts in 2015, and a Council Tax freeze really will not help.