Local democracy and schools put at risk by Executive

22nd June 2001 at 01:00
The report that over 40 schools could be closed in Dumfries and Galloway has more than local significance. Apparently, the local council was "instructed" by the Scottish Executive to rationalise school buildings as part of a pound;70million public private partnership deal. On June 5, consultancy fees of pound;450,000 were allocated on the advice of Tommy Sloan who, as well as being education chair, was also the Labour candidate for Galloway in the general election.

The real issue is local democracy. Why not rationalise local government by getting rid of it altogether? It is pointless to vote for a local council which has no role other than to impose executive policies on its electorate.

Life would be so much easier if the Scottish Executive could simply appoint someone to administer ech region and save the money wasted on the fig-leaf of elected local government. It worked in the past. Indeed the headquarters of one such centrally appointed local administrator still exists near Castle Douglas and is ripe for reconstruction. Back in 1369, Archibald Douglas was chosen by David II to manage Galloway. His impressive castle at Threave still exists.

All that is needed is to pay a top-level marketing consultant to re-brand feudalism to give it a more "touchy-feely" 21st-century image. The constitutional importance of democratically elected local government (and judiciary) as a check and balance on central government is obviously a luxury we can no longer afford. Nor, it seems, are rural schools.

Alistair Livingston Abercromby Road Castle Douglas

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