Nairn Provost Laurie Fraser backs call by Highland MSP Emma Roddick at the Scottish Parliament for Highland Council to be broken up
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Provost Laurie Fraser says he believes breaking up Highland Council would have significant benefits for Nairn.
Highland regional list MSP Emma Roddick, who is currently also a councillor in the Inverness Central ward, believes replacing Highland Council with a number of smaller local authorities would benefit the Highland capital.
Provost Fraser believes the same would be true for Nairn. “I have been saying exactly the same thing for years,” he said.
“This is about local governance, which is completely broken.
“We have lost every single manager who was delivering services in Nairn. We have gone from a full to a part-time ward manager and one previous ward manager for Nairn was based in Fort William.
“That shows you what Highland Council thinks of Nairn.
“The people of Nairn feel totally disenfranchised, and rightly so.
“We have gone down from 13 councillors (from the district and regional council days) to just four, and the level of representation has dropped significantly.
“Local area committees are only good for scrutinising papers.
“They don’t work for decision making – decisions which affect peoples’ lives and how communities plan for the future.
“You can’t run a committee with four people. It’s nothing more than a working group and that’s why you end up with decisions being taken which are in line with policy at private business meetings.
“We have seen the frustration of our local community councils and the public at this process. The people feel they have no voice in how the town is being run.”
He added: “I’m very much of the view if local areas feel they can undertake responsibilities for roads, social work, street lighting, education it should be kept at a local level.”
Nairn local leader on Highland Council, Councillor Tom Heggie, however, defended the authority.
“Over the past few years the council has been proactive attempting to promote localism ie enabling decisions to be made at a local level,” he said.
“The benefit of maintaining Highland Council enables decisions to be made around capital investment such as the new Nairn Academy.
“Without Highland Council we would be relying on people in Edinburgh to make such a decision.
“Currently the governments in Edinburgh and London are trying to tinker at changing boundaries within local authorities without taking account of the need of local communities. Highland Council has strongly resisted this and is fighting for the rights of Highland communities.”
Making her point at Holyrood Ms Roddick said: “A local authority the size of ours can efficiently represent neither urban nor rural constituents.
“Our councillors do fantastic work but they are hamstrung by administrative boundaries that simply do not serve Highlanders well.”
Rejecting calls for immediate change minister for parliamentary business George Adam said: “I understand the geographic challenges for Highland Council were recognised when it was first created.
“Unfortunately, these challenges did not allow for a practical solution that would have allowed the area to be split up, and those challenges have not changed.”
Nairn River Community Council chairman Hamish Bain said: “We certainly feel change is needed for Nairn.
“We don’t have a strong voice, we’re getting a raw deal and are not well served.
“Highland Council is predominately ‘look after Inverness’.”
Alastair Noble, vice- chairman of Nairn West and Suburban Community Council said he was also “100 per cent in agreement” with the idea of breaking up Highland Council.
“Nairn needs to start getting its fair share, which we have not been getting,” he said.
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