Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Saturday 28 July 2007

Highland Council's 'Independent'-led administration a little too independent for some tastes ...

Well, it hasn't taken long for the new council 'regime' in Highland to show signs of its inherent flaws. The coalition of an 'Independent'-led grouping with one of the smaller groupings, the SNP, was bound to have some tensions. Independent Councillor Roddy Balfour's 'unreconstructed' views about the merits of the costly renovations currently being carried out on the Eden Court theatre complex - he thinks it is a waste of money. Trouble is he was recently appointed to the post of chairman of the education, culture and sport committee. His resignation has been demanded, but he is refusing to go. The dilemma of trying to co-ordinate the views of 35 'Independents' into a coherent, consistent policy-making agenda is now being revealed with brutal clarity - is it better to maintain some kind of discipline within the Independent grouping (which probably means replacing Mr Balfour in the committee) or to revert to the older 'cats in a sack' style of 'Independent' politics in this area and the consequent re-assertion of the former dominance of unelected council officials in setting policy? Mr Balfour naturally has support for his views about the Eden Court refurbishments, and I have heard many similar views over the past few years locally. They're not exactly views I share, in this particular instance, although being scrupulously honest that probably reflects my own outlook on 'culture' as against 'sport' in the allocation of public funding (I refer to the use of 'Common Good' money some years ago when the new local football stadium, a private concern, received considerable help when it was being built on a new site on reclaimed land).

Soon after the May elections I wrote about some of my worries about where Highland Council may be heading in policy matters - it seems that at least some of these worries are now coming true; see here also.

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