A quaint but outdated system

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I read with interest in last week’s Southern SBC convener Graham Garvie’s call for the restoration of town councils which would, in effect, necessitate the reintroduction of the equivalent of the pre-1975 set-up.

That system certainly had a better element of localism than the present arrangement.

It had, however, major defects. Many of the authorities were simply not large enough to be able to provide the services which we need and expect from local government. In addition, there was a confusing overlap among the different authorities resulting in inefficiency. It, quite simply, was not fit for purpose.

That august body, the Wheatley Commission, of which, incidentally, Henry Ballantyne, a former provost of Innerleithen, was one of only nine members, strongly criticised the then system and advocated larger authorities which would be capable of delivering the required services.

It is worrying that someone of Councillor Garvie’s stature is proposing such a retrograde step, no doubt motivated by fond memories of a quaint but outdated system. I suspect that his suggestion is not official Liberal Democrat policy, but there is an obligation upon the party leadership to either endorse or disown the proposal.

David S. W. Williamson

Pinnaclehill Park

Kelso