Rust never sleeps…Posties Park

The definition of insanity…

Save Posties park

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  This is, according to many, the very definition of insanity.

Well, it would seem that West Dunbartonshire Council’s Infrastructure, Regeneration and Economic Development Committee are in need of an intervention from Nurse Ratched, as they voted today to approve the first stages of a plan to develop Posties Park into a pay-to-use managed leisure facility.

Did these Councillors and officials learn nothing from the last time they proposed to take the park away from the community?  Just over a year and a half ago in the Denny Civic Theatre, in front of an audience of hundreds of concerned citizens, the very same Councillors issued a motion to dismiss the proposal to develop Posties, saying :

“[We] have taken into account the lack of support for the building of a new school on Posties Park; and the strong public desire to retain the open space.”

And yet, here we are again, facing another proposal to turn the open space into a restricted access site for school use during the daytime, and fee-paying club and group use in the evenings and weekends.

Of course, our Council leader-cum-spin-doctor sells this development to us as a “tremendous” proposal benefiting the “whole of West Dunbartonshire”.  We’re all winners, apparently.  And not one member of the IRED committee disagreed, with back-pats reverberating all around the room, even when it was made clear that your average Joe would no longer be able to trot around Posties for free, at anytime of the day.  There was no mention of the losers in this proposal; the hobby-joggers who would rather fly to the moon than join an athletics club; the people who exercise during the daytime, but who aren’t still in school; and most importantly of all, those who just don’t have the money to shell out on a pay-to-use facility, and who rely on our parks being free and accessible.

Park Wars logo editedSomebody coined the phrase ‘clowncillors’ to describe some of our local elected officials, and after today’s vote, I am left wondering how many of them have the Circus theme tune as their ringtones.  I’m certainly developing a case of coulrophobia from just observing Council meetings.

I’ll post more details from the meeting in due course, including how the proposal to offload the Council-owned Marinecraft site to a local businessman for redevelopment sailed right through committee without a single question.  Right now, I’ve got letters to write…


– MAx

Borders Council bad at common good

One of the other issues which the Community Empowerment Bill aims to deal with, albeit with a pretty light touch, is the Common Good. Many felt that the Bill’s reluctance to frame a definition of what Common Good actually means will undermine its ambition to bring greater transparency to the way that local authorities keep records and to restrict how a common good asset can be disposed of. A retired GP from Selkirk has reviewed the performance of Scottish Borders Council in its management of the region’s £10m Common Good fund and has found it to be worryingly off the pace.

19/11/14 Borders Telegraph

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Portobello Park school plans: Holyrood official in row over conflict of interest

Herald Sunday 22 June 2014

A top Holyrood official is embroiled in a conflict of interest row over controversial plans to build a school in an Edinburgh park.

Andrew Mylne, the head of the Parliament’s non-executive bills unit (NEBU), advised Edinburgh council about its legislative proposals for Portobello Park and met opponents of the plan.

However, a campaign group has made a formal complaint as Mylne lives in the area and has children in the school catchment.
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It has been announced today that MSPs have decided to put the Portobello Park private bill, which seeks to circumvent the ruling by three senior judges of the Court of Session prohibiting the development of Portobello park or any other inalienable common good land, to the vote on 26 June. This comes as no surprise – evidence sessions were cut short, not all objections were heard, not all questions were answered but, such is the desperation to railroad this bill through, the objections of more than 500 people and many others have been swept to one side. The council has declined to make the “new park” part of the bill, despite the fact that it was suggested by PPAG and one of the bill committee. A clear indication that they have no intention of creating one and conveniently there is no mechanism for the parliament to call the council to account if (when) they do not follow through on their promises. There will be a “debate” in parliament on 26 June but we know already how the vote will go as many MSPs without knowing anything about the issues stated their intention to support the bill way back before it was even lodged. The merits or otherwise of the bill have not been properly scrutinised and a political decision has been taken. Never mind that it puts all common good land across Scotland at risk.

Please e-mail your constituency and list MSPs now and ask them to vote “NO” to the bill.