**press release from the Highland Council SNP group**
Councillors today rejected an SNP proposal intended to enable the public to ask questions of Council leaders in their communities.
Today the Lib Dem Group proposed that members of the public should be allowed to ask a 1 minute question at Full Councils, with the whole session taking no longer than 20 minutes. Councillors debated the merits of this, with the Independent Group suggesting the idea be thrown over to the Re-Design of the Council Board for them to consider. Opponents of this said that this was just “kicking it into the long grass”.
The SNP Group Leader, Cllr. Maxine Smith put forward a further amendment that suggested her Group wanted to engage the public to a greater extent and that the Lib Dem motionb didn’t for far enough. She proposed that the public should be able to ask questions on the Council’s website, and receive an answer, which will be published and filed under a topic heading so that people can easily find it with a simple search. The SNP Group further wanted a question and answer forum to become part of the community planning district partnership meetings going forward.
The Lib Dems and the Independents offered that the SNP amendment be attached to their own, as they both felt it held great merit and was a good idea. However, when it came down to the vote the SNP amendment was defeated, with the Independent Administration winning through, meaning the suggestion would be taken to the Re-Design Board.
Speaking about this debate today, Cllr. Maxine Smith said, “I thanked both Groups for saying that they liked the SNP proposals, but unfortunately they didn’t follow through in voting for it, instead simply voting for their original ideas. The SNP Group feel it is imperative to engage better and wider with the general public when looking at service delivery, as they know what they want and what is important to them. As councillors we do regularly speak to our constituents, but the website idea gives the opportunity for anyone, who wouldn’t normally participate to freely and easily ask a question that must be answered promptly. Furthermore, if we take forward our suggestion that our community planning partnerships should include a public question and answer session, this would be taken at district level which interacts with a wider audience, who are just not city-based. It also offers a chance to do it any time, day or night.
After the break in Full Council, both the Leader of the Council, Cllr. Margaret Davidson and the Convener, Cllr. Isobel MacCallum said they liked both of our ideas and would investigate them further with a view to implementation. So even though we may have lost the chamber vote – we won the point.”
This year’s Games day saw another great turn out and the weather was perfect for it too. The Nairn Games is probably the most anticipated event in our annual calendar and remains free for everyone to enjoy. This year we had a special guest as Carol Vorderman paid us a visit and oversaw the days proceedings.
Our local branch held a stall which was well attended and did a great job raising funds. Fergus Ewing MSP paid a visit and took time to speak to the stalls and visitors on site. Drew Hendry MP held a stall to raise awareness and gain support for the campaign to save Fort George.
Overall another great event enjoyed by many, here’s looking forward to next years 140th Nairn Games.
Children’s play is one of those things we take for granted; the importance of it is often overlooked. Play is an invaluable part of a child’s development, and fresh air and exercise an essential part of a child’s physical and emotional growth. Outdoor play areas provide open spaces to fulfill basic childhood needs such as jumping, running, climbing, swinging, racing, hiding and yelling, which is what childhood is all about! Outside play and recreation spaces have also been shown to have a measurable impact on community interaction, new friendships and community safety. Play provision often acts as a focal point for parents and carers to meet, giving them an opportunity to socialise with other adults. If these facilities were to disappear or become neglected it would impact everyone but especially the most deprived areas of our communities where children are more likely to experience health problems and fall behind in development.
Play is not a luxury; play is a necessity. In February of this year the Highland Council had the responsibility of setting its annual budget, the independent group administration had proposed completely axing the budget set for play park maintenance, this would have resulted in many play areas across the Highlands becoming neglected and slowly disappearing altogether. Thankfully the SNP group put forward alternatives to such proposals and this budget was saved. This is a very important issue to me, and since being elected I have worked to bring together a community group with the focus of improving play facilities in Nairn. After a few false starts, I am now confident that we have established the right group of enthusiastic people to tackle this project. I’ve initiated a new task group Nairn PLAY (Preserve Local Areas for Youth) is now a constituted body and registered SCIO, and is currently focusing on breathing new life into the Riverside play park. This site was chosen due to its central location in the town and because it is an area of common-good land that has a lot of potential.
Nairn PLAY has members from many different backgrounds, with many different skills, including one person with experience in project management who’ll be keeping it all on track. The group has already knocked on the doors of the residents in the immediate area to introduce themselves and gain support. A survey has been made up that’ll be put out to the wider area, and to schools, to gain the views of everyone with an interest. In addition, a number of leaflets have already been handed out. Moving forward, Nairn PLAY will be looking to engage with stakeholders, and more importantly, get children involved with the decision process. They, after all, have the most important view in this project. The overall aim is to create an inclusive and accessible park for children of all ages and abilities to enjoy. We are an open group and any input and new members are always welcome.
If you would like to find out more or be kept up to date on developments, you can follow us on facebook.com/NairnPLAY . Or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org