ISLE OF BARRA
SNP Councillor Donald Manford
© Siar Media 2012
SNP Councillor Donald Manford Barra, Vatersay, Eriskay & S.Uist Hello and welcome to my webpage on the Isle of Barra website. I am grateful for the oppurtunity to be able to keep my constituents upto date on current issues and developments and welcome any feedback or questions you may have for me.  My contact details are available at the foot of this page. Getting openness and understanding on what is and isn't a safe walking route for children is proving very difficult. The council insists there is an assessment which considers the width of the road, the volume and type of traffic, the height of the verge etc. etc.   All very well until you ask, what width, what volume and type of traffic or height of verge, is safe to walk on?  This it seems is far too complicated for us to know. I secured a report on this matter to the council's Audit and Scrutiny Committee on 5th December.  I expected it to give me that detailed information; it didn't.  The Chairman of the committee then tried unsuccessfully, to prevent me questioning (an essential part of scrutiny) the report, claiming it was for noteing and not for discussing. Having overcome this ridiculous attempt to stifle debate I ask to be provided with the detailed information on how a route is judged safe for children to walk on.  Astonishingly The Chief Executive advised it was not competent for the Scrutiny committee to get that information. Finally, at a full council meeting the following day they relented and agreed that the information in question will be provided to forthcoming committee meetings; that will be next year. Throughout this shameful prevarication and delay the council insist that no child will have to walk to school, if they pay the cost.  It is the potential cost of using an unsafe walking route which concerns me. The announcement of nearly £290k from the Coastal Communities Fund is very welcome and a great relief to all who have been fighting for so long to secure a full funding package for Ardveenish pier.  The winter berthing shortcomings at the pier came to a head a far back 2005, the major storm which struck the island  causing significant damage to the fishing fleet. With the funding package now over £1.5m including the contribution from Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, this project can look to get started in early 2013.  My thanks to all who have worked so tirelessly to make this project happen, and particular thanks to Barratlantic for the very significant contribution of the land involved, without which this development would never have got off the ground. Council democracy and budgets. The Council's Labour/Independent administration leader, has publicly stated he does not support SNP proposals to continue vital public services.  This is a view he is entirely at liberty hold.  Therefor the contention that the SNP is not engaging in the difficult decisions is by his own admission without foundation.  Indeed we are working with the public and the council to identify what the priorities are, and we are providing choices and alternatives to his proposals.  When Angus states  (we urge "them" to work with us), that really means "agree with him". Such is democracy CnES style. A constitutional row has erupted at the council's Audit & Scrutiny committee Wednesday 5th December.  I called for a report on School Transport to detail how "safe walking routes" are assessed.  (Item 11).  The Chairman informed the committee that the report is for noting only and attempts unsuccessfully, to close discussion on the item. When I question the detail of the report it emerged that there is significant further information that is not before the committee.  Extraordinarily it is argued that the vital information should not be provided to the committee.  I continue the call for all the information to be provided but the Chairman insists that is for other committees and not the business of Audit & Scrutiny and rules my amendment to the contrary inadmissible.  For the Scrutiny committee to be denied the ability to scrutinise by its own chair is highly questionable constitutionally and risks bringing the entire organisation into disrepute. I have requested the Chief Executive provide a full transcript of the exchanges at the committee, as a matter of urgency. Contact: Mobile: 07884236101 Email: dmanford@cne-siar.gov.uk
ISLE OF BARRA