Local heroes for the common good

I would like to agree and expand upon much of what was stated in the article on Borders common good funds in TheSouthern (February 9), including comments by Councillor Nicholas Watson, and Lindsay Neil’s letter last week.

Some towns and villages – unfortunately for them – do not have a common good fund. That is why councillors representing these fundless towns have little interest in the funds and are quite happy to sit back and let the management team at Scottish Borders Council have it all their own way.

When I served as a councillor, my colleagues and I were looking at trying to take Hawick common good fund back into local control.

Hawick councillors called a meeting with the common good fund investment managers from the Edinburgh-based firm concerned.

We discovered that in spite of charging us exorbitant commission charges for the fund’s management, they had, in fact, never looked at our fund for months and some of our FTSE investments had gone down to zero (on a rising market) over a long period of time without intervention by them.

Nevertheless, their huge commission invoices kept arriving and being paid by SBC.

These funds belong to the people of the respective towns and not the rest of the Borders. The financial worth of the funds and the income derived from them should stay firmly in the respective towns’ control and not be siphoned off into SBC funds to augment its past and forthcoming financial disasters.

A local committee/board should be set up for each fund and the elected councillors serve on it because they are directly answerable to the electorate. The rest of the committee should be made up of local, intelligent, financial, legal and administrative-minded volunteers who are prepared to serve their respective town fund for no financial rewards.

We can only hope that after the forthcoming elections in May that the Borders will again be served by genuine local councillors who have their local common good funds at heart, combined with intelligence, diligence and ability to take the funds away from SBC’s maladministration and back in to our own hands.

Let us hope the next batch of new councillors will be able to look after our interests in all ways and not merely take a part-time hobby job to augment their huge public or private-sector pensions.

Norman Pender

Kinninghall Dell