Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain in the Autumn for a month or so
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Thursday, 21 September 2006

Internal politics in the Highlands

I noticed this story this morning about fears being voiced by the local Chamber of Commerce's chief Executive, Simon Cole-Hamilton, that the Inverness Area Committee within Highland Council may be dispensed with in a bid to reduce the number of meetings around this (vast) region which councillors must attend. I have heard, I seem to recall, similar rumours in relation to Nairn, too. It is not entirely clear to me what are the 'politics' behind the rumoured changes, nor the reactions to them, although I do wonder if it is not somehow connected to the forthcoming changes in the way local elections are conducted by introducing a form of proportional representation to the recipe, lessening the impact of individual votes on the fates of councillors or the 'parties' in whose names they sit.

Is the push for this change (the reduction in the number of 'Area Committees') coming from Councillors or from officials at Highland Council for 'administrative' reasons? Is it coming from existing Councillors who believe the upcoming changes in the electoral system will so insulate them from the vagaries of fickle voter popularity that the time, trouble and effort of participating in local Area Committees is no longer of benefit to them? I just can't get the notion out of my head that some kind of 'fast deal' is being played on residents of the Highland Council area to emasculate further what little influence they currently have over their local government - in the guise of increasing that influence, naturally, by means of the purportedly fairer system of proportional representation. Or am I reading this whole situation completely wrongly, or too cynically? (Surely not! - Ed.)

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