Blantyre Community Committee have by a resounding majority voted to not put forward nominations to become a Community Council. The well established Community Group for Blantyre put the motion to a vote on Sunday 15th November 2015. After some discussion, the vote saw everybody aligned with an outcome to continue as they are.
Committee chairperson, Paul Veverka told us, “Just as we did when we formed in April 2012, we have unanimously voted not to put ourselves forward for Community Council for the same reasons as before. South Lanarkshire Council’s maps and guidelines which zone each Lanarkshire Community Council, already have much of High Blantyre, Priestfield, parts of Springwell, Auchinraith, the Industrial Estates and all of Westcraigs actually already managed by Hamilton Community Council. Had our nomination been favourable to become a Council, this would have ironically meant we strictly could not become involved in those particular parts of Blantyre on any community issue arising or taking place there. Becoming a Community Council would have effectively meant we would be dealing with only parts of Blantyre, rather than the current 18,000 people and all of Blantyre, we represent at the moment. We had no desire to leave behind nearly 3,500 people in our Committee dealings. By not putting ourselves forward also meant that other candidates would likely stand a more serious chance of consideration.”
Committee secretary Rose Lee added, “We felt that as a close-knit group, we are exceptionally keen to maintain the harmonious relationships we currently enjoy, not just with each other, but with local businesses and South Lanarkshire Council themselves. Importantly, we did not want to change our brand. The Blantyre Community Committee (BCC) has worked hard to establish an identity in Blantyre as being the leading Community Group, bridging the gap between Council and the town’s residents. This is something we feel we can maintain, regardless of any formation of other groups, given how well known, respected and trusted our organisation has become in Blantyre.”
The Committee’s treasurer Caro added, “As a self funding group, we have raised money, saving South Lanarkshire Council money each year. This will be more important than ever now that their budgets have been cut further. Council rely on grants from the Council, ultimately costing money for them, which does not fit in with our model of saving Council and Public money. Additionally, each of our Committee members are professional individuals with our own families. The time we volunteer to the Committee is important and speaking from experience, none of us had any appetite to be entangled in minor local planning issues, politics or give up more than the huge amount of time we already expend on committee matters.”
Paul added, “We have witnessed negativity, undue competitiveness and transparent, self imposed political agendas previously by others on the subject of local Council and we sincerely wish no part of that. We have seen several Blantyre Community Councils being disbanded in the past, one of which, actually by the Council themselves due to the fractured relationships that can often occur in such organisations. It was also felt that should we wish to become a council at any future time, we could simply provide 20 nominations at the public meetings once every 4 years, forcing elections and of course attend any monthly public meeting to ensure our efforts aren’t being duplicated.
Ultimately, we saw no difference in being a council from the day to day activities we currently undertake, with exception of planning matters, which would have been additional to our constitutional aims. Not one of our committee members had any appetite to be involved in these type of planning issues. With the full support of our local MP and several local councillors already in place and with the continued and appreciated full backing of South Lanarkshire Council, BCC will thankfully remain in name and structure as we are. We will continue to service the community in the efficient manner Blantyre has become accustomed to with the following unaltered aims:
‘To relieve poverty, improve community engagement, togetherness and participation and to promote the benefit of all inhabitants of the town of Blantyre, without distinction of age, sex, race, political, religious or other opinion, by associating the statutory authorities, voluntary organizations and inhabitants in a common effort to advance education, improve aesthetic standards, and to provide communal facilities in the interests of social welfare, events for recreation, fun, environmental or other leisure- time occupation. At all time to act with civic pride in improving all services by local organisations including local authorities with the object of improving the conditions of life for the said inhabitants.’
Finally, should any individual or organisation in future be willing to form and establish a Community Council, we would offer our full support in mentoring them and by offering advice relating to dealing directly with the community, sharing best practice and lessons learned.”