Letters to the Editor

Example of community

I recall newspaper columnist Joan Burnie describing Mayfield as one on the most beautifully situated and well kept communities in Scotland.

She commented on its facilities, such as the park, shops, churches, leisure centre and library. Such reports cause us to ask what constitutes ‘community’ and would suggest one measurement would be the availability of places for people to gather together for mutual benefit, where positive interaction can have an influence for good, on all our lives.

One recent Friday afternoon, I visited my local library and was amazed to find around 60 children and 15 adults engaged in a craft workshop making ‘Mothers Day’ gifts. The children were enthralled making, cards, bracelets and jewellery boxes.

Boys and girls engaged with grownups, safe indoors on a cold day. I noticed several people searching for books, some sitting reading and several adults using computers. This to my mind was an example of what embodies the concept of ‘community’.

How many of the immediate community and those of Newtongrange and Gorebridge would have travelled to the Newbattle complex where the proposed central library will be situated?

Because of the freeze on increase of the community charge, our councillors have increasingly less income to spend and need to be innovative on major projects.

However, I believe that the inevitable move towards centralisation of community facilities, will erode the very heart of local community life and hasten the day when life will be lived in the ‘virtual world’ of our own homes.

My advice to community councillors is, yes I understand your fiscal dilemma, but remember you make your decisions on behalf of the local community you serve, do not leave that local community bereft of the very facilities that constitute community.

Ken Bell

MacKinnon Drive, Mayfield

Where to go?

As the council started ‘aging well keep active programme’ for over 55 year olds, how can it keep going if there is nowhere to go?

Another point I would like to make is, as the council is short of money how will they be able to pay redundancy pay to leisure workers?

As Bonnyrigg library and leisure centre is also closing as they have a new high school nearly ready, come on council, re-think this daft plan.

Name and address withheld

Incoherent mess

Councillor Lisa Beattie’s letter in the Advertiser (March 7) struck me as an incoherent mess.

She writes that no decision has been taken yet on the closure of public buildings in Newbattle but then notes the ‘difficult challenges’ that lie ahead, which in my mind means the difficult challenges in closing our public services.

Lisa Beattie appears to be giving the impression that her mind is not made up on this issue. If that is the case then Midlothian needs a better class of councillor. It’s high time that elected politicians like Beattie came off the fence and stopped hiding behind consultations. If they are opposed to the closure of our buildings then they should say so now; if they are in favour of closure, then let’s have the debate.

In my mind, the consultations are a sham designed to try and win the local community to the position of moving services into the new school. When the council held the last round of consultations, they had already drawn up a report recommending that services in the community should go – something which the council officials did not disclose to the meeting, even though some of those present knew that the report was being drafted.

Councillor Beattie is quoted in the Advertiser saying local people might want to consider running the services themselves as a community venture. Not only does Lisa Beattie implement David Cameron’s cuts but she must also be reading up on his “big society” idea. I can’t say clearly enough that this is a complete red herring and one which is used every time councillors like Lisa Beattie vote to close a service.

There are many problems with this approach; just ask the people of Dalkeith and Woodburn who are still waiting on their new community hub. Even if it does happen, it can take many years, during which time services close, and, thirdly, it undermines the principle that public services should be made available to all and funded out of general taxation. If we are going to save our services then we need to stop listening to people like Councillor Beattie and her colleagues.

Local people have started to campaign against specific closures, which is great news. However if we are going to be successful I think we must bring all of the campaigns together and that is why I plan to hold a series of public meetings under the banner of defending public services in the community. If you would like more information please email me at defendmidlothianservices@hotmail.co.uk

Willie Duncan

Midlothian Campaign Against the Cuts