Article in the Ross-Shire Journal 25th. October 2007

This week’s Ross-shire marks the anniversary of last year’s flooding of Dingwall, Strathpeffer and many other parts of Ross-shire.

The flooding of homes is devastating.

The displacement from home, the loss of household goods and equipment and, worst of all, the loss of irreplaceable personal mementos – photos of the children growing up and relatives who have now passed away.

Flooding can leave a residue of real fear that it may all happen again.

A number of residents in Ross-shire have written to me with their experiences of flooding and I hope to meet some of them soon.

Their experience will be invaluable to me in the Committee of Parliament of which is just starting a major inquiry into flooding.

The incidence of flooding is increasing as we experience climate change.

Our flooding laws and procedures are becoming dated and we need to embrace a whole lot of new thinking if we are to protect people from flooding in future.

If you have a story to tell about flooding, please be in touch.

I have part of my website devoted to flooding and you can keep in touch with the progress of the inquiry there – just ‘google’ me!

The last couple of weeks saw confirmation of future spending plans of the UK Government, from which the Scottish Executive gets its income.

The growth in public spending remains truly remarkable.

The minority SNP government will have some £30,000,000,000, yes, close to £30 billion to spend each year.

That is twice the amount Donald Dewar had eight years ago.

The basic figures have been known since before the Scottish election, so there is no excuse for the SNP not delivering on every one of their election promises.

I expect that they won’t and you can expect to hear all sorts of excuses about being ‘short-changed’ by Westminster – its all part of this minority government’s obsession with picking fights with Westminster, to try to build up a sense of grievance.

It is also to try to wriggle out of what all their political opponents knew were undeliverable commitments – but they were commitments made.

We all need to hold them to their promises and expose the excuses when they come.

I intend to play my part in that.

One matter which should be beyond doubt should be a continuing commitment to our community wardens.

The community wardens in Ross-shire do a fantastic job, working with the police, making our communities safer and better places in which to live.

Labour is committed to doubling the number of community wardens, so more communities in Ross-shire could benefit.

That extra spending was committed as part of the increased public spending I mentioned above, yet there seems some doubt as to whether the new minority SNP government will give the Councils the money they need to keep the existing wardens, let alone double their number.

I will be keeping a very close eye on what the minority SNP government and their pals in Highland Council do and I intend to press them very hard to get more funding for this great work.

Two final matters. I was amused to hear a daughter gently, politely, but firmly, chastising her mother in the isles of Tesco the other day on the issue of good manners.

It seems a friend (who they had just bumped into) had left many messages for her mum, but mum hadn’t taken the time to respond.

She asked mum whether it was good manners not to return calls from friends and a chastened mum agreed it was not.

Good manners are still important and it is nice to see a younger person standing up for good mannered actions –adults should take heed!

Finally, I’m afraid my golf isn’t getting any better, but I will keep practising!


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