Friday, 6 June 2014
A Borders blog...the beginning
I've been told on many occasions that the Scottish Borders suffers from a lack of worldwide exposure, although many of us who live in this attractive, and mostly tranquil corner of the world, probably hope it can remain largely undiscovered for a few more years.
Many of those living in Englandshire and beyond associate the rolling hills of the Borders with sheep farms and rugby union, and...nothing else.
But encouraged by family members and my extremely small band of friends, and goaded by others who can only be regarded as fleeting acquaintances, I've decided to bite the bullet and blog, despite my advancing years.
Apparently there's plenty of interesting goings on around here though most of them may have passed me by. According to one of the few folk who gets in touch from time to time: "You know Jed, I can mind the day when our local papers were willing and able to criticise our councillors, our politicians, and anyone else who messed up. But for the most part they've given up the fight and are happy to fill their columns with handouts from spin doctors and press officers. There's naebody keepin' an eye on our elected servants any more".
I could only agree that some of the coverage is extremely tame, and our local authority (Scottish Borders Council) gets a much easier ride than it used to. But that doesn't mean the administrators no longer take daft decisions which can impact on all of our lives.
Had I started this blog a few months ago I would have been writing about the cancellation of garden waste collections from a rural area peppered with gardens. If ever a decision wasn't thought through then this was it. Result? An army of angry gardeners who may well be ready to turf out (if you'll pardon the pun) those responsible at the next council elections.
Not only that. Impressive recycling percentages are set to plummet, and the first reports of fly-tipping in the Borders countryside are already in. The once friendly relationships with neighbours are now threatened as the temptation to tip lawn clippings over next door's fence rears its ugly head. You'll be happy to learn I've resisted....so far!
Then there was the strange case of the asymmetric school week.
What's that, I hear you cry? Apparently this piece of educational madness is being phased in nationwide in a bid to save money and diminish yet another of our public services. It means that from August our Borders schools will call a halt to lessons each Friday lunchtime even though many of the affected parents voiced strong opposition during what was laughingly called "The Consultation Process".
The recently published timetables for local primary schools display a strange range of starting times, a hotchpotch of different lunch breaks, and a real dog's breakfast each Friday. I notice that more than one primary will break for lunch at the ungodly hour of 10.10 am while I'm half way through my breakfast. Good grief!
It would be difficult to let this first effort grind to a halt without a mention for the madcap proposal to spend up to £5 million on a custom-built shed to house The Great Tapestry of Scotland at the Tweedbank terminus of the Borders railway.
We are told repeatedly the council is so hard up it cannot afford to run half of the services it used to deliver. Yet those at the helm can conjure up many thousands of pounds for a feasibility study. No doubt the next step will be an application for consent to borrow the £5 million required for the project itself. For goodness sake, leave the provision of tourist attractions to VisitScotland and reinstate the green bin collections instead.