So many choices to make...

Normally at this time of the year, the Royal Burgh of Lanark Community Council can relax and look forward to enjoying doing its bit, individually and collectively, during Lanimer Week. This year however, life in the Community Council is proving to be just a little bit busier than is normally the case.

We have only just recovered from the trauma of the local elections and the hustings held for that event to allow the Clydesdale North electorate to meet and rate the candidates standing in that election. The result thrown up by that election has automatically provided us with a fresh set of associate members! That is the title afforded to the elected councillors who automatically become members of the Community Council.

Well, not entirely a fresh set. We have two new members in Julia Marrs and Richard Eliot-Lockhart and are very happy to welcome back Catherine McClymont.

Sadly, we did lose former associate member Ed Archer, whose candidacy was unsuccessful and who had made a sterling contribution to the community via his membership of the Community Council during the five years of his tenure with South Lanarkshire Council.

However, in Ed’s case, the adage of “where there is a will, there is a way” has applied and Ed, having stated his eagerness to continue to be involved as much as possible in the community, sought to offer his talent and service to the Community Council as a regular member. This was discussed at our May meeting and after some discussion, Ed was unanimously enlisted in the ranks of the Community Council as a co-opted member, with full voting rights.

Now, thanks to Theresa May calling a snap election and making a serious attempt to knacker Lanark Lanimers in the process – but no-one is that strong and stable - we are faced with general election hustings. This one will be different.

The study of genetics has established as a scientific fact that we are each of us is supposed to be unique individuals.  In most fields of human endeavour and excellence (arts; science; entertainment; sporting prowess; community councils), this individuality is highly prized and has been almost solely responsible for the improvement and progress of man and woman.

There is however, one field of human endeavour where freedom of thought and individuality are positively discouraged and must be suppressed at all costs.  This is in the pursuit and wielding of power, commonly known as ‘party politics’!   Individual party members may well be articulate and have an infinite variety of ways of saying the same thing without saying anything at all, but at the end of the day, if you’ve heard one party activist spouting the party catechism, you’ve heard them all!  

But, no matter how ticked off you currently are by Brexit or Remain; hard or soft; Indy2 or Scotland3; hard right or hard left; the accepted style of national politics these days, we are looking forward to Lanimer Day more than ever, because by then it will all be over, you should still vote. Democracy isn’t perfect, but would you like to live anywhere that doesn’t have it? 

The Community Council is also currently yet again engaged in Lanark’s own unique way of celebrating and rewarding individuality; the annual awarding of Burgess Tickets to individuals nominated by their peers for their contribution to someone, some group, or some cause in our local community. These awards are annually presented to the awardees in September but they are only awarded if we have nominees to award them to and the window for such nominations ends at midnight on the Saturday of Lanimer Week.

We have been doing it that way since we restarted the awards five years ago in 2013 and you know what that means in Lanark? “It’s Aye Been!” So, vote for someone on the 8th (let’s face it, you don’t have anything else to do that day now anyway, do you?) and nominate a local hero by the 10th.

The Community Council also intend to re-establish the legendary Lanark Garden Competition next year. In its heyday, this competition was so popular that we stopped doing it! But we intend to start it again in 2018.

This year - just as a taster - we are simply seeking family members; neighbours; friends; garden lovers; anybody who likes gardens; to nominate any garden in Lanark they admire to the Community Council. These will be looked at and appraised quietly and without fuss by team of three experts selected from Lanark Garden Club and Lanark in Bloom, and a trophy will be presented to those the judges think represent the best of the nominated choices in three categories of large; small; and courtyard garden.

So, use your sense of duty to vote for a candidate on 8th June; use your sense of gratitude to nominate someone for a Burgess Ticket by the 10th, and use your eye for beauty to nominate a garden in June and July, for judging in August.

And thank you for being a community minded lover of democracy!


Frank Gunning shares his views on various local issues in his Let's Be Frank column.