Potless at the end of the rainbow

17th March 2000 at 00:00
CRITICS are hard to discern on Dumfries and Galloway Council these days. For it is a real rainbow coalition run by Independents, Labour, Liberal Democrats and the SNP. Only the Tory rump is in opposition (a veritable mirror of the nation, in fact).

SNP councillors, for example, have had to perform a neat trick. They had to follow their national leadership which opposes public-private partnerships (PPP), while going with the flow and agreeing to dip a toe in PPP waters by "market testing" a number of projects.

Outside the council, of course, criticism is unabated. As Fraser Sanderson, the director of education, noted in a report which summarised consultations on possible primary school closures - sorry, "provision" - "somewhat surprisingly (!) some evidence of lack of trust in the education department's motives surfaced".

(Incidentally, we believe this isthe first example of an exclamation mark we have come across in a local authority paper, presumably denoting a commendable sense of irony. Well done!) A couple of members of the public, with an interest in the Lochside area in north-west Dumfries, gave Jotter an impromptu insight into local feelings.

"Ah think they're after the ground for something."

"Naw, they're nae after the ground."

"Ach, ah dinnae think they ken whit they're after."

"It's aw wrong onyway."

This succinct exchange confirms the perception that education, education, education is still about money, money, money. Former education convener Elizabeth Smith (now a saintly church rep) praised hard-pressed council staff for "juggling with money" year after year to ensure the budget breaks even.

"It's juggling without money that worries me," director Sanderson quipped.


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