Letters to the Editor - August 24, 2011

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READERS have their say on the issues which matter...

Greenbelt concerns

AS chairman of the North Local Area Partnership, which encapsulates the area affected by the decision of the Reporters to identify some 39 sites for further scrutiny, and as a local councillor for the area, it would be remiss of me not to provide a few words of explanation of the steps taken by North Lanarkshire Council to publicise, advertise, engage with and listen to the local community within the North Local Area Partnership.

In 2008 the council approved the Finalised Draft Local Plan for consultation and received approximately 1,000 submissions.

The council organised and attended over 50 meetings with local community and voluntary organisations, including the house building industry, and proactively engaged with both the community and businesses prior to agreeing the Plan, as a result of which we identified land for 5,926 houses.

This contrasts entirely with the approach of the Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals (DPEA) who, on behalf of the Scottish Ministers, and at the height of the holiday period have launched a restricted consultation exercise involving only the proponents of the sites, a small number of community councils and those individuals whose property is within 20 metres of a possible development.

The industry pressure group, Homes for Scotland, claim that the council has failed the public, we consider that we have gone to extreme lengths to consult with, and listen to, all of the interests involved in this process.

Homes for Scotland claim there is a deficit in the North Lanarkshire Local Plan and no doubt the Reporters’ unit will adjudicate on this, however, I would like to point out there is always an available supply of land for house building in North Lanarkshire.

An audit is carried out each year of available land by the council, this is agreed with the house building industry and up until the present date this allocation has never been fully utilised.

I do, however, agree that there has been a democratic deficit which contrasts between the open, transparent and responsive way in which the council has prepared its Local Plan to the approach adopted by others.

North Lanarkshire Council, as part of the local plan preparation, identified three community growth areas, two of which are in the north area, and which are intended to provide not only housing, but educational and community facilities, with links to the public transport network.

This again contrasts with the approach of an industry which seeks to cherry pick sites with little thought for the needs of communities who will be largely forgotten when the last ‘For Sale’ sign has been taken down.

Councillor William Hogg,

Chairman,

North Local Area Partnership

Puzzling name

HERE’S a puzzle. What begins with an “I” and ends with an “eyesore”? The answer is - the newly-named Initiative Road.

Was this really the best and most apt designation for our beloved by-pass? Let the driver judge.

He begins his journey tackling the rather dangerous roundabout at Townhead, and is forced usually to do over 30mph as he travels up the road, only to be greeted by the sight of one of the ugliest places in the whole of our town - a town which council have repeatedly said needs renewal and regenerating - the big roundabout which will take him down towards the viaduct, the Lenzie Station turn-off and away from Kirky.

This circle is one of the worst eyesores in our area.

Weeds, discarded bottles and a top-covering of what looks like the residue from a railway sidings - it’s a really appallingly badly designed and maintained place, and ironically next to welcome notices asking “walkers” to come to our town and assurances that Kirkintilloch is indeed “open for business”! So why place these key adverts right next to a disaster area?

Council have shamefully lost the “roundabout battle” with our near-neighbours North Lanarkshire, which boasts some of the most innovative and attractive circles in West Central Scotland.

Yes, money has been spent on them, and East Dunbartonshire probably hasn’t got much of that to spare, but some are sponsored by local firms, even schools.

If only someone had shown a bit of “initiative” at the outset and thought more about the basic design of a roundabout, indeed all our roundabouts, the subsequent road name might seem a little more appropriate.

Council seem blinkered when it comes to taking the initiative on really important issues. Sadly the driver can’t close his eyes as he approaches this eyesore....but he’s sorely tempted, I can tell you!

S.Klimowicz,

Kirkintilloch.

E–mail: kirkyherald@jnscotland.co.uk

Post: Letters to the Editor, Herald Series,

11 Dalrymple Court, Townhead, Kirkintilloch, G66 3AA

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