The Conservative group leader at Scottish Borders Council says the new scheme for each child to have a ‘named person’ is worthwhile.
The Scottish Government’s Children & Young People (Scotland) Bill comes into force next year and includes the controversial scheme whereby every Scottish child up to 18 will have an appointed state guardian or ‘named person’.
But a major legal challenge is expected against the scheme after criticism from various groups and child welfare experts who claim it is unnecessary interference in family life.
Conservative MSPs failed in their attempt to limit the scope of the scheme, but Councillor Michelle Ballantyne, Conservative group leader on SBC, believes the scheme is a genuine attempt to address a growing and serious problem.
She says she is in a slightly different position from many of her Tory colleagues, having a previous professional career with youth organisations and those dealing with drug and alcohol problems among young people.
“In terms of my perspective, therefore, I don’t have the same fears and concerns that some others do,” she told The Southern this week.
“A lot of people have commented it will be interfering with parental rights and responsibilities. But it’s nothing to do with that.
“People are resisting this because they see it as some sort of ‘Big Brother’ scenario because of the ‘knowledge kept’ thing, but it is actually an opportunity to help ensure that every child gets the protection from society that it deserves.”
However, her views are in opposition to that of Tory colleague and local MSP John Lamont, who says it is easy to see why there has been a groundswell against the policy.
“Introducing a named person for every youngster in Scotland fundamentally undermines the role of parents and families as it gives monitoring powers to the state,” he said.
“What is even more concerning is that it will take resources away from the most vulnerable children.
“The time, effort and money being wasted on named persons should be spent identifying and supporting those children most in need of support.”