Councillors’ expenses and grant funding for local organisations – 40 years on and some of the same issues reported then are just important today.
As reported in the Dalkeith Advertiser (September 23, 1976), “A tight rein is being kept on councillors’ expenses by Midlothian District Council, who have drawn up a strict code of ‘approved duty’ for which attendance money can be claimed.
“Representation at community council meetings is one of the main activities not included on the list although some councillors do feel the payment would be justified.
“Convenor David Smith told members at a District Council meeting on Thursday that if councillors were permitted to claim £10 allowance for attending communtiy council meetings local government would be brought into disrepute.”
In the same paper, Midlothian District Council announced new guidelines for grants.
“Local organisations are to be told firmly that if they receive a grant from Lothian Region they will not get one from Midlothian District Council.
“The message was spelled out by Convenor David Smith at a meeting on Thursday while councillors discussed guidelines drawn up for awarding grants to voluntary bodies.
“‘We must make it perfectly clear that if an organisation gets a grant from one authority they will not get one from us,” said Councillor Smith.
“The guidelines were put forward by director of leisure and recreation James Gilfillan in an effort to standardise grants to certain types of organisations.”
The link between housing developments and local infrastucture was causing a headache for the local authority, as reported on September 30, 1976.
“Plans to rezone 426 acres of agricultural land at Bonnyrigg for housing have been rejected by Midlothian District Council.
“The council feel that because of ‘severe restrictions’ in spending by local authories, it would not be possible to ensure that a major expansion of the town could be servied by adequate supporting services.
“The housing plans were contained in two planning applications – one from Messrs George Wimpey and Co Ltd in respect of 246 acres of land at Dalhousie Mains, and the other by Messrs London and Clydeside Properties Ltd for 180 acres at Hopefield Farm.
“Councillor J G Hope said: “During the last few months it has become clear that, because of severe restrictions on spending by local authories, it would not be possible to ensure that a major expansion at Bonnyrigg would be served by adequate drainage facilities, schools, water, new roads and other essential services.
“Despite this, however, it is the policy of Midlothian District Council that some new development should take place at Bonnyrigg.
“In particular, every opportunity should be taken to provide sites for industrial and commercial development and thus introduce new work into the area.”
Housing on the Hopefield Farm is ongoing with more than 1000 homes having been built and more to come. Earlier this year locals raised concerns about a possible 300 houses being built at the Dalhousie Mains site.
In other news from September 1976, the saga over the Asda superstore at Loanhead rumbles on.
“The new superstore to serve both north Midlothian and south Edinburgh should be built at Lady Road in Edinburgh rather than at Loanhead or Nether Liberton, Lothian Regional Council has decided.
“But the council has also called for a postponement of the public inquiry due on November 8 so that they can study the consequences such a development would have on traffic management.
“The council agreed to back the Lady Road site despite a call by Councillors Kenneth Borthwick and Ian Cramond that the council make no comment on the site until the transportation committee had time to study the three sites.
The working party for the three sites had said there was no doubt north Midlothian and south Edinburgh lacked shops and local employment and that there was scope for a district shopping centre with little harmful effects on traders in Penicuik, Dalkeith and Edinburgh.
The development went on to become Cameron Toll Shopping Centre, Edinburgh’s first ‘out of town’ shopping centre.
It was opened in 1984 at a cost of £33 million.