That’s snow way to keep Lanark moving
I have lived long enough with the current local government system to be able to identify trends that pertain to our elected officials. The whole thing is becoming rather predictable.
Political parties select potential candidates who will gain the votes of the public, and who are allied to the particular party policies. Lanark has had a mix of Labour, SNP and Conservative councillors such is the spread of political opinion in the area.
Elections take place every four years, normally well into the Spring, and the leading party usually becomes the political colour of South Lanarkshire Council.
New candidates are keen to put wrongs right. They can identify niggles we are all aware of and pledge to do all they can to right a wrong. Things like lack of public toilets, the closure of the Lockhart Hospital, and the need for car parking are easy to agree with. They are credited with common sense and honesty.
Candidates standing for re-election are in a different situation. They are aware of the complexities of dealing with the niggles. They have built up relations with the officials who, in theory, work for them. They rely on the expertise of the officials and can frequently be seen writing letters in the press praising what a good job they all do! Local papers no longer carry reports about council debates, and the letters give the impression that all is well. Criticism about the council is usually defended by the experienced councillor. Some have even been known to take such criticism personally!
The issue that occurs to me at the moment is the clearing of snow from our pavements. Who is responsible for this and why are the majority of our pavements death traps after a snow fall?
I remember reading about a debate on this in the late 1970s at a Community Council meeting. One point of view was it was the responsibility of the owner of the property next to the pavement in question. In Glasgow you could be fined if you did not clear your pavement of snow and ice. A local lawyer refuted this, claiming the responsibility was that of the local authority. They adopted pavements so it was their job. Worse still if a homeowner cleared it and someone later fell, the homeowner ran the risk of being sued by the victim.
As a youth I have vivid memories of the town lorry touring Lanark and casting ash, grit and salt on pavements. The lorry was brown with gold lettering, and was used throughout the year from garden duties to pavement clearing.
If things continued, local builders were pressed into action to help the burgh workmen keep our town safe. Sandy Wilson was a welcome sight with his tiny tractor and snow plough! There were even green motorised three wheel machines that cut grass in the summer and cleared snow in the winter.
Today, a visit to the internet search sites does not give any clarification. The government tells us it is ok to clear a pavement. No law can stop you. It is unlikely health and safety could be used against you if someone was injured. They proceed to advise how to clear properly! Hardly a clear mandate!
You can put your post code in a box and it will tell you the routes and pavements the local authority have agreed to act on. My postcode tells me I am in South Lanarkshire. - a link to their website reveals zero information!
South Lanarkshire needs to make clear what their intentions are to road and pavement clearances. They need a plan to assist those who need to clear their pavements with local access to salted grit at a local venue. Remember the county yard has gone now. Don’t ask us to venture to Carnwath or Lesmahagow during a yellow weather warning.
Do not patronise us by reminding us what a great effort the roads department does keeping the main roads open. They get paid extra to do it and I do not hear them complaining.
Come Spring election time this will be a distant memory, yet it will not go away! Please come up with a plan that will lead to improvements. Don’t leave it to the officials alone.
Another running sore in the town is the continual issue of parking. At this time of the year the number of funerals rises significantly. Services of memorial for the deceased tend to take place in the middle of the day, when demand on street parking is at a peak. People in attendance often rely on cars to get to the service. Walking on ice is not an option. Where therefore do you park if the service is in St Nicholas, or Greyfriars? There is nowhere available for this important moment in the town centre.
There is no point sitting back and saying the town was never designed for as many cars. That attitude has solved nothing over the years!
Easy solutions are obvious but there are good reasons why they would not work.
Hold the services at off peak times, perhaps in the evening? Full of snags. Create a church car park at the top of Delves? Difficult to control its use, making sure only church goers would have access.
Perhaps we should build a custom built facility close to but out with the town centre. Have plenty parking available on the day. Have it heated, with a good sound system and comfy seats and toilets. Have audio visual equipment available, and an office and changing room for the clergy. Call it the Murray Chapel 2 , featuring some of the artifacts from the original before SLC let it fall down. Make it a place to be proud of and delivering comfort and peace for those attending.
Once again there will be reasons why our councillors fail to take these two areas on. The short answer is “there is no money”. That kills any further discussion. Yet we do have a fund of money that belongs to us. The Common Good Fund has been whittled away by SLC to pay stuff they should fund themselves!
Why not a real debate on what we want before 2021?