Is Lanark too resistant to change?
A long-standing argument from Lanarkians is that “This would never happen in Hamilton or East Kilbride”. One which we always held true, but now we are beginning to see flaws in.
The council seat of power is in Hamilton and many of us seem to think that the streets of Hamilton are paved with gold, and all our council tax pounds end up being spent within a three-mile radius of Almada Street.
The Community Council, local groups and historians have begged for the restoration of important Lanark landmarks, such as the Tote, St Kentigern’s Kirk and the Murray Chapel - but the funds are not there.
We moan about the constant roadworks in our Royal Burgh, while Hamilton have their roads repaired within a few days.
Local groups are complaining that they cannot use the refurbished Memorial Hall due to the rates being levied on the user groups.
Drive half an hour down the Clyde Valley, and everything will be better. Or is it?
The prominent Hamilton Mausoleum is now under threat, perhaps due to years of low maintenance by the owners, South Lanarkshire Council, and the historic Mausoleum Keepers house is now a shell, arguably fit only for demolition. Does this echo the Murray Chapel and the St Kentigern’s Kirk?
Lengthy road works have clogged up Hamilton, with Freniegair, Burnbank Road and Meikle Earnock road undergoing upgrading, maintenance and utility installations. Does this echo Lanark’s recent temporary traffic lights at Steels Cross?
The fact is that the council, along with most of us, has found its budget stretched. No money should be wasted, and every penny is a prisoner. We all appreciate this. However, we also turn a blind eye to what could be considered major wastes of money.
Long standing jokes about six road workers looking at one road worker doing the job are coming true.
Each stop go sign at Steels Cross had two workers manning it, one worker normally on his phone, the other tasked with turning the sign.
During the summer, van loads of council maintenance crews can be seen taking two-hour breaks from their work whilst their lawn mowers are in the back of the pickup.
Relatively minor tasks such as temporary licence applications now need to be checked by three or four departments before a decision is made.
The Minority SNP administration lay the blame at the previous Labour administration, who blame the SNP for clogging up decisions, as they need help form the Tories and Independents to pass every order. Is it time that the council tax payers stand up for themselves and get the people who we voted for to do what they promised in May?
We are all very good at moaning, but unless we properly address the problems it seems like they will just continue to happen.
Some things do seem to run their course, and we need to accept it.
The rise of the motor vehicle has led to the closure of many saddlers, farriers and horse dealers, and has allowed the garages and tractor firms to flourish.
The internet has killed off pretty much every independent travel agent, as you can book your next holiday online, without having to leave your house, or even get out of your nightgown!
The newly developed Tolbooth has become somewhat of an Information hub and focal point in our town. However, we seem to be wary of change.
The local tourist information centre on Ladyacre Road has now closed, over two years after the last public toilets in the town shut.
This was met with uproar, mainly form locals who never used it, but are sad to see it go.
The internet, and smartphones, have pretty much made it redundant yet one important facility in the building can never be replaced with your latest iPhone or Samsung; the public toilets.
Lanark now has no public loos, but Biggar has one (albeit with a 20p charge to spend a penny).
The Loch toilets were closed, and replaced by the caterers there with a private portaloo, and the council said that to man the toilet would be upwards of £40,000 per year. A very high cost, for little return. May I suggest a solution which would help the whole of Clydesdale?
We could employ one worker with a van to maintain the loos in the province. Crossford, Carluke, Douglas, Lanark, Crawford, Forth, Kirkfieldbank, Biggar and Law could all have a small public convenience, serviced twice daily and unmanned. A sign in each toilet could give a number if immediate attention was required. We do not need every public convenience to be manned when it is open, the Wanlockhead Mining Museum WC is a great facility.
Crossford, Carluke and Douglas already have premises there, which can be easily opened. The council have properties in the other towns and villages which they could easily convert, and give toilet to the masses again, and a van and a man would probably cost less than £50 000 per year, servicing the whole of the region twice daily. This would be step forward and could only be a good thing for the Council.
Could I suggest one of the stop go sign workers at the top of the braes to take this role? They certainly seem to know how to use a mobile phone!