Catalogue of failure
Scottish Borders Council – could any organisation be mismanaged in a manner worse than this one? There was the debacle over the mislaid data which resulted in the council, i.e. you and me, the Council Tax payer, being fined £250,000 pounds. No-one accepted responsibility, no-one was disciplined, and it’s obvious that the buck does not stop with David Parker or chief executive Tracy Logan as neither decided to fall on their swords.
No apology from the chief executive, just a statement saying it was very disappointing that the council had been issued with such a large fine and acknowledging the seriousness of the breach. Well whose fault was that?
Then there was the case of the schoolgirl who suffered dreadful injuries at a technical class because of a fault in procedure. Who was directly responsible and who was managing that individual and making sure they were doing their job correctly? And why was no disciplinary action taken? Yet another case of secrecy and back covering, with no satisfaction being given to the pupil in question or her family.
Next, whose bright idea was it to start digging up Galashiels town centre in the run-up to Christmas? So much for encouraging Borderers to shop locally and supporting struggling local traders.
The money spent on the Galashiels beautification schemes is questionable. I can see little difference other than in the aesthetics. And why the necessity to make Cornmill Square a pedestrian area when Galashiels has happily lived with it in its current state for many years? Why has that money not been spent repairing the rutted and potholed roads around the town which has been desperately needed for years?
Wasting tax payers’ money is bread and butter to the high heid yins in Newtown. Now we learn that two deputy chief executives are to be employed at a salary of £105k per year, whilst at the same time a disgraceful attack is being made on the salaries and working conditions of some of the lowest paid workers on the council payroll. What for? A look at the job description and the proposed organisational chart appears to show that the two will be little more than buffers between the directors of each service and the chief executive. Why? If the directors are not doing their job efficiently get rid of them. If the present chief executive cannot cope with her post on her salary of £115,902 then perhaps she should reconsider her position.
If money is to be saved, cancelling these two posts should be done now, as well as the department dealing with “Organisational Transformation and Change”. I had experience of working with ‘change managers’ in Scottish Government and Royal Bank of Scotland. They add no value whatsoever to the smooth working of departments, generally causing upset and inertia, then move on to cause upset and inertia elsewhere in the organisation. Scrapping that department would save a shed load of time and money, as well as allowing the ‘worker bees’ to get on with their jobs.
If cuts to the salaries and allowances of low paid workers are approved, then David Parker, the elected members, the chief executive, and others down the senior management chain, should show empathy by voluntarily taking similar cuts to their salaries and allowances. After all David Cameron, George Osborne and Nick Clegg each say that, “we are all in this together”. Sorry my mistake, not if you are a politician, or a council high heid yin. Silly me!
Will there be any change? I doubt it. Like all other previous scandals manufactured in this dysfunctional organisation, heads will be kept below the parapet safe in the knowledge that events will eventually fade from public memory. Who now talks of the scandals of “Miss X”, the ‘loss’ of more than £3.5million from the education budget, the Icelandic banking fiasco, or the issues over the sudden departure of the last chief executive which have not yet been fully explained? However Mr Parker and his colleagues should look back to the lessons of history, both within their own organisation and in wider UK government, where once good leaders began to disdain the opinions of others who did not agree with them, and became consumed by their own arrogance, leading to a very bitter and painful fall from grace.
Roberts Court, Galashiels
Darnick fights back
As chairperson of the Darnick Village Trust, I am receiving complaints daily about the parking situation – our community has been taken over by cars from the hospital, to the extent where it feels like a giant car park. Even our village hall users, often elderly residents, are turning back because they cannot get close enough to the hall.
We are a village with old fashioned narrow roads and little or no parking controls, and the community cannot accept being treated like this by hospital authorities. No thought has been given to where the staff would park after the charges had been introduced, no consultation approach or warning was given to us at Darnick or at community council level for Melrose. If there had been, we could easily have told the NHS what was likely to happen.
We feel for the staff who have had no parking provision made for them and who are being fined for going to work.
Our community has been changed from a village to an overspill carpark overnight. We really need a solution to this and fast.
Chair of the Darnick Village Trust
Rail parking prediction
Having read the article reference parking fines at BGH (cash cow comes to mind ), may I make the observation that if nothing is done between now and the opening of Tweedbank railway station, the much lauded free parking will be immediately be filled by hospital staff who are trying to follow David McLuckie’s directive that “ Staff who are unable to find a ( parking ) space within the site are expected to park safely in an alternative location”. The result, within a very short time, will be charges at the station which will negate the proud boast of Borders railway that parking will be free!
I have no connection with BGH but would like to travel to Edinburgh on the long awaited train but will need to park before using the facility.
I am puzzled by your correspondent Mr Kerr’s claims about the use of the Dip in Jedburgh in last week’s letters page.
He believes that dog-walkers and keep-fit enthusiasts will lose out if the Dip is used for a skatepark. That doesn’t make sense.
People with dogs tend to use the path along the riverbank and that won’t be affected by the skatepark scheme.
As for joggers and keep-fit fans, I know the Community Council has been given permission to instal fitness equipment along the side of the path. The Dip isn’t used now, and there will be no need to use it in future for keep-fit.
The Dip is, in fact, a boggy area at the moment. It is the best site for a skatepark as it is near the centre of the town. There is already the great play area next to the town hall.
So what’s wrong with doing more for our young folk by putting in a skatepark which will benefit not only locals but could draw people in from other towns?
It is time to look forward rather than back.
160 Bongate, Jedburgh
Apathy rules at SBC
I see that the full Council meeting scheduled for November 21 was cancelled due to lack of business.
The Community Strategic Planning Board meeting on 28th has been cancelled due to lack of pressing business.
I’m shocked that, given the scale of the financial challenges facing local government, and the potential impact on services, that our elected representatives can’t find anything to talk about.
The current administration issued a document in April 2012 titled, Ambitious for the Borders. How about Apathetic for the Borders?as a better description?
Name and address supplied
Grove House appreciation
After all the bad publicity care homes have been getting, we felt we had to write about Grove House, Kelso.
After my mother died six years ago, my father Jim went to live there. From the moment he moved in he was made very welcome by all staff and residents. It was like an extended family to him. Nothing was too much trouble.
Grove likes to involve the residents and he enjoyed many day excursions in his time there. Sadly my dad passed away recently with great dignity. So thank you Grove for all your excellent care and attention. We all appreciated it very much.
Colin and Katie Blackie
Children to be proud of
I was extremely fortunate to attend a concert at Earlston High School of over 300 schoolchildren from nine high schools and some primary schools in Borders.
I would like to express my appreciation to everyone involved in making such a wonderful evening of entertainment possible.
Every musician and singer excelled and the enthusiasm and enjoyment shown by the children was very evident to the audience.
We were treated to a welcome by pipers and drummers followed by various types of music including “Big Drums”, orchestras, clarsach, accordion, guitars, brass, wind, and choirs. We even had some jazz and modern variations to Christmas carols.
At times we are very quick to talk about the faults and bad behaviour of children, but this event demonstrated that we do have children to be proud of, children who are well behaved, attentive, and very talented. Each and every teacher, parent/guardian and child should be thanked for the time they must have spent to get to this standard of excellence. I look forward to a similar event next year.
The Selkirk Committee of Cancer Research UK would like to thank everyone who supported their sale at the Tower St Pop-Up Shop last week. Over the two days £1,351.30 was raised for the charity. A big thank you to everyone who helped in any way to achieve that fantastic result, and congratulations to Ellie Jubin and Hazel Pemberton who won the Christmas hampers.
Secretary, Selkirk Committee, CRUK
Rezz youth club
The Rezz youth club would like to thank all the people who came to our stall at the farmers market in Kelso recently. We raised a massive £178.25 towards our Christmas trip fund. After so much effort put in, we are all extremely pleased with this total.
Rezz Youth Club, Kelso
I would like to thank all those who played a part in the ‘Faulty Towers Dining Experience’ charity event at Kingsknowes Hotel in Galashiels, which raised over £1,000 for Prostate Cancer UK and Galashiels Rotary Club (Southern Reporter, November 7)
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and, by 2030, is predicted to be the most common cancer overall.
Our Borders support group meets at 7pm on the first Wednesday of every month, at the Chaplaincy Centre in Borders General Hospital – call 0141 314 0028 for further details. Alternatively anyone concerned about the disease can call our confidential helpline, which is staffed by specialist nurses, on 0800 074 8383 or visit www.prostatecanceruk.org for further information.
Many thanks once again to all those who organised the event and supported this worthy cause – and to the Southern Reporter for highlighting the issue.
Fundraising Manager, Prostate Cancer UK
Thank you to everyone who organised and provided the Yetholm village lunch on November 21. The meal was delicious and it was good to see so many people there supporting us. The £220 raised for the Primary School Fund is really appreciated and will go towards science equipment.
Mrs Angela Hinnigan
School Administrator, Yetholm Primary School
Bag it, but also bin it
There is someone, or a number of people, who walk along Jedburgh Road and Station Road in Kelso leaving bags of dog poo on the pavements. Over a very short distance this morning (Saturday, November 28), I saw nine black bags of dog poo. There are bins in Brigend Park which is only a short distance away.
Apart from the litter and hygiene aspects, this person/s sees fit to leave the bags in front of other people’s houses.
There are many local people trying to improve Kelso for the benefit of everyone. It is both sad and disgusting to see that some people have so little consideration, both for other people and for the area itself.
Name and address supplied