In the absence of golf in the high wind today Huttonian returns, virtually, to the Merse having been intrigued by the Berwickshire
belatedly devoting some attention to the Borders local elections:
Rather ominously, given local history an article on the newly elected council is headedAffordable housing will be top of the agenda
The main points of interest in the article are as follows
CONSERVATIVE, Liberal Democrat and aligned independent councillors have joined forces to form the new administration at Scottish Borders Council following the May 3 elections, leaving the six SNP, two Borders Party councillors and one independent to form the opposition.
Voters in Berwickshire seem to have managed to understand the new voting system and super wards that have been created better than other parts of Scotland and there was a relatively low number of spoilt voting papers in the county compared with other parts of the country. However, there is uncertainty as to how these new super wards, each with three councillors, will work.
Scottish Borders Council has 11 wards, 10 have three elected members and one ward has four elected members.The political make-up of the council is: Scottish Conservative and Unionists - 11; Liberal Democrats - 10; SNP - 6; Independent/No Ticket - 5; Borders Party - 2.
All three East Berwickshire ward councillors have roles in the council's new administration - new councillor David Raw has been given the social work portfolio and Jim Fullarton who successfully sought re-election has responsibility for technical services.
Announcing the aligned coalition of Conservatives, Scottish Liberal Democrats and four aligned independent members, Scottish Borders Council described it as "a great deal for the Borders".
Despite the Conservatives being the predominant party they have conceded leadership of the council to former leader, independent councillor David Parker, on the grounds that he has "done a fine job in the last four years and he has experience", plus it was a question of continuity as the council is still working towards the corporate plan drawn up four years ago.
All administration posts, plus other committee appointments will be confirmed when the council holds its first meeting today, Thursday, May 17, and the administration is also expected to put forward its plans for the next few years.
Top of the agenda is expected to be affordable housing and already a task force of councillors which includes East Berwickshire's David Raw, plus Vicky Davidson and Carolyn Riddell-Carre will work with senior officers and registered social landlords to deliver a supply of affordable housing to rent, "Home Stake" shared ownership schemes, and through discounted sale by private developers in each housing market area.
This task force will also explore innovative new models of delivering affordable housing, particularly in rural areas, but first of all the different political parties will have to reach agreement on the level of affordable housing required in the Borders - the Conservatives are looking at a figure of 25% but the Liberal Democrats believe the figure should be nearer 30% to meet demand.
The new administration has also spelt out the foundations of what they hope to achieve in the coming years, for a "bright future for the Borders". As well as increasing affordable housing in the region, they want to see building design standards raised, including renewable requirements.
Sound financial management, minimal Council Tax increases and no increases specifically to pay for the Waverley Line are also high on the agenda, as is protecting rural schools, improved safety on school buses and the spending of up to £100,000 a year on Borders-wide youth projects.
A new tourism strategy for the region, support for local retailers and businesses and exploring innovative partnerships with Borders business is the way forward to improve the economic performance of the region according to the new administration.
On the transport front, investment in road improvements, better safety measures on the region's A roads and the introduction of a taxi bus service in rural areas are promised.
Community priorities are: enforceable road safety measures, particularly around schools; a pilot youth panel to address youth disorder; making the council more accessible and responsive to the community; promotion of community policing in each ward; delivery of more council services through local post offices; production of whole town plans; and development of a sport and culture strategy.
Care and health priorities are to secure long term funding for voluntary bodies to deliver community care services and improve their partnership with NHS Borders.
And on the environment front, renewable energy generations, more wardens to wage a war on dog fouling, an increase in SB Local rapid response repair teams, purchasing more local produce and developing a Borders rural development strategy are the administration's main priority
A great sigh of relief that Councillor Big Jim Conundrum is hived off to 'Technical Services' So a long way from planning, one hopes. As he couldn't get his head around the new voting system I hope that the technical services will not prove to be too technical for some one with an advanced Pooh Complex*
We also hope that new boy David Raw can get a good grip on such issues as social housing. Thank goodness he is not a land owner. I am sure a number of them-and I can think of two or three not a thousand miles from Hutton and Paxton-but rather nearer the latter who will be positively salivating at the prospect of getting around the developmental restrictions imposed by the new Local Plan via offering large tracts of their land for Social Housing and then being able to build over the rest as being no longer viable for agriculture. Social Conscience 3, Vast Profits 25
(Half Time score)
And who will be the Councillor from East Berwickshire detailed off to sit in on the meetings of the H and P Community Council, I hear you cry? We don't know and I think we should be told.
(* Pooh was a bear of very small brain and long words bothered him)