Friday, 4 May 2012

Recount in one ward taking place now... but overall results indicate lots of the same faces at the council

The conclusion of The Highland Council elections held at Inverness Leisure today (Friday) was delayed by a recount in the four-member Cromarty Firth Ward. This will commence at 5 pm.

The results in the other 21 wards saw the Independents secure 33 seats; Scottish National Party, 21, Liberal Democrat 14, and Labour 8.

The first meeting of the new Council will be held on Thursday 17 May when the office-bearers will be confirmed.

The average turn out across the 22 wards was 41%.  The highest turn out was 51.92% at Black Isle Ward, where the four councillors were all returned.

A total of 13 councillors did not seek re-election while 8 lost their seats(**). They were, 

Councillors Robbie Rowantree (Lib Dem), East Sutherland and Edderton; Graeme Smith (Ind Members Group), Wick; Richard Durham (Ind) Tain and Easter Ross;  Peter Cairns (SNP) Dingwall and Seaforth; David Chisholm (Ind Members Group) Dingwall and Seaforth; Pauline Munro (SNP) Inverness; Bob Wynd (SNP) Culloden and Ardersier; Graham Marsden (Lib Dem) Nairn.

The 21 new councillors include the youngest councillor to serve on the Council – 19-year-old Alex MacLeod (SNP), Landward Caithness.

From THC web page here

** So, out of 80 councillors from the previous administration 59 will be 'old hands', roughly 75%.  

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

E Day tomorrow

The Highland Council Election will be held on Thursday 3 May 2012 to elect the 80 councillors who will serve on the Council's 22 multi-member wards. Polling takes place between 7 am and 10 pm at 271 polling stations...The count is being held on Friday 4 May at Inverness Leisure, Bught Lane, Inverness.  More here

A big thank you to all those candidates who took the time to contact me in such a fashion as I was able to feature their input.

Those 21 candidates were - out of the 170 candidates contacted - were:

Richard Mitchell, Ward 6 - IND
Colin Macaulay, Ward 19 - SNP
Jess Thomas, Ward 1- IND
Allan Henderson, Ward 12 - IND
Andrew Baxter, Ward 22 - IND
Gregor Rimmell, Ward 21, SLD
Dave Fallows, Ward 21 - SNP
Donald Boyd, Ward 20 - SCP
Michael Green, Ward 19 - IND
Bob Wynd, Ward 18 - SNP
Kate Stephen, Ward 18 - SLD
David McGrath, Ward 18 - IND
John West, Ward 16 - IND
George Macdonald, Ward 14 - Scottish Anti-cuts Coalition
Susan Wallace, Ward 12 - SCP
Moira Scobbie, Ward 11 - IND
Myra Carus, Ward 10 - GP
John Campbell, Ward 4 - IND
Nick Noble, Ward 2 - SLD
Russell Taylor, Ward 1 - All Scotland Pensioners Party
George Farlow, Ward 1 - SNP

Why not skip back through the pages of the blog and remind yourself of their views.  

(I am just dashing off so apologies for any minor errors.)

Candidates Views: Richard Mitchell, Ward 6 - IND

As a long term resident in the Highlands as well as an Independent candidate for Ward 6, I am well aware of the difficulties surrounding planning applications in our area and wholly endorse the idea of more locally determined results.
We live in a large and diverse region where conditions applicable to any one submission would be different from place to place. A recent application in Ullapool was granted despite a large body of evidence that there was no community support for the project site, although the project itself was endorsed by nearly everybody. It is self evident that where legislation is applicable there is not a lot of room to move, but surely planning law is there to protect not just the applicant but also the surrounding community and as such there should be total transparency in all aspects of a planning application and where there are objections they should be made public.
Planning law can be very specific and sometimes can appear unjust, in which case there should be some way of applying an appropriate remedy. It would be a step in the right direction if the right of appeal against a decision, extended to opponents of any such decision as well as to the applicant. The individual or body making a planning application can appeal against an adverse decision, but this right is not available to the other parties involved.

It is also a matter of concern that much of the decision making has been devolved by committee to the planning officer concerned and whilst I can appreciate this makes life easier for some it can give rise to the accusation that an individual officer is guided by a personal opinion rather than the law and policy as determined by the council itself.

If elected I will take an active interest in local planning throughout Ward 6 and hope that all constituents will keep me informed of their concerns.

Richard Mitchell
Independent Candidate for Ward 6 

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Candidates Views: Colin Macaulay, Ward 19 - SNP

[ Just to say upfront that Mr Macaulay had been contacted both by my use of his election pamphlet email address and, as I was assured, via the Highland SNP Office further to my discussions with Mr Farlow.  Mr Macaulay was kind enough to respond: I cannot think why I did not receive your initial contact email. Even although the spam filter sometimes filters too broadly, I always scan to see if something has been caught that should not have been]

I’m not sure if we have ever met, but I’m Colin Macaulay and I am one of the SNP candidates in Ward 19 – Nairn.
I saw from the Gurn’s Nurn site that you have been striving to get in touch with candidates – and not found that to be straightforward!
I have not received any email or snail mail correspondence from you - so thought that I would preempt! Hope that is okay?
I am new to politics and am currently knocking on virtually every door on the West side of Nairn – rural and within the Town itself. I’ve found the canvassing role an extremely interesting one and have enjoyed listening to people and learning of their specific or community-wide concerns. I’ve even attempted to resolve a few issues – and it is very easy to identify with folk who say that they have been passed from pillar to post!
In terms of planning transparency, I’ve only ever been involved in the past as a notified neighbour – and even then I’ve not objected at any point. However, having thrown my hat into the ring I attended much of the Sandown lands charette process earlier this year. I have to say that I thought that was a very good model of community engagement – albeit that the advertising could have been better.
Given the structures that we have in Highland, I do think that it makes sense to fully involve our local community councils in planning decisions. In many situations they should be closer to the grassroots view of their specific communities, although occasionally they may find it impossible to take an overview of what might be best for a wider population of interest.
Additionally, as in all aspects of public involvement and engagement, there are those who fail to participate for a wide range of reasons – and therefore, Councillors will have to take a view about what may or may not lie in the best interests of the population they are elected to serve.
As you will be aware, the SNP Group if elected have committed to decentralise many aspects of the way the Highland Council has been operated. I 100% endorse that view, to bring decision making closer to community level and to increase the transparency behind any decisions.
To me, it seems that Highland is “sub-national” Government rather than “Local” Government. As such, political alliances make strategic sense – the alternative is for individual so-called “Independents” to simply whistle into the wind. (It has been suggested to me that many Independents are LibDems or Labour or Tory candidates “in disguise” – having recognised that their actual allegiance have become to a degree “toxic”.)
I look forward to an independent Scotland reinventing Local Government – either on a continental style or perhaps bringing back something akin to a pre-Wheatley Scottish system.
Kind regards
Colin J Macaulay

Candidates Views: Jess Thomas, Ward 1 - IND

As a current member of Assynt Community Council, I fully endorse the practice of C.C.s being made aware of and going through any planning proposals for their area at each meeting. It is good for Community
Councils, especially those adjacent to one another to keep in touch and correspond over any planning applications put forward which may affect each other's areas. I would like to see this practice continue
as it acts as a good safety net for the community and this includes the continuation of Community
Council Minutes being published in the local newspapers.
Jess Thomas