Time for change

Dumfries & Galloway Standard - - STANDARD VIEW -

Sir – At last, an in­jec­tion of com­mu­nity cam­pus san­ity into the oth­er­wise febrile twad­dle of the last few weeks (and in the case of DG One, the last few years).

John Hol­royd’s let­ter in your is­sue of Oc­to­ber 5 iden­ti­fies purely facts in look­ing back and, in the last few para­graphs, states a well-jus­ti­fied, apo­lit­i­cal and ra­tio­nal view of the short-term fu­ture. Con­cise and ac­cu­rate... well done Mr Hol­royd.

There is, how­ever, more on so-called com­pet­i­tive ten­der­ing that is not well known and that shocks most who find it out.

Much of my time in elected pol­i­tics, par­tic­u­larly dur­ing the 1980s, was spent try­ing to mit­i­gate the ef­fects of Thatcher’s blunt, anti-demo­cratic at­tacks on coun­cils and, through these, on the pub­lic they serve.

In try­ing to save the jobs of in-house ded­i­cated trades­men and women, I, and oth­ers, would have been pre­pared to ac­cept a slightly higher ten­der (in the com­pul­sory process) to re­tain demo­cratic con­trol of a loyal work­force with se­cure jobs, rea­son­able con­di­tions and lo­cal spend­ing power.

The small print of the law, how­ever, made clear that any coun­cil­lor not de­lib­er­ately vot­ing for the low­est ten­der would be per­son­ally sur­charged for his/her share of the dif­fer­ence and any as­so­ci­ated court costs. Fur­ther­more, these same coun­cil­lors would be re­moved and dis­qual­i­fied from hold­ing pub­lic of­fice again.

I’m not so close to these is­sues now and there may have been changes to the com­pet­i­tive ten­der­ing leg­is­la­tion, but that ex­pe­ri­ence may help your read­ers to un­der­stand the Hobson’s Choice that de­ci­sion-mak­ing coun­cil­lors of­ten face.

It is al­ways easy to dress up mea­sures such as CCT to make them ap­pear to be some­thing they are not. They were, and I sus­pect still are, in­stru­ments to limit mean­ing­ful lo­cal democ­racy while boost­ing the prof­its of pri­vate com­pa­nies.

Where the work­forces of big busi­nesses are bussed in and out of the area, for the du­ra­tion of the con­tract, few of these prof­its and wages are ever spent in our lo­cal econ­omy. Things need to change.

Pe­ter Ren­nie Ter­re­gles Road Dum­fries

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