If you’re struggling to read the text on that image you can either click on it to see it up close or read a transcript below:
I read with interest the story in the Barrhead News, ‘Kazakhstan jibe reignites East Renfrewshire planning system row’ (19th Feb), which reported a councillor’s abstention from voting as he “did not feel informed enough to make a decision”.
For towns all across the region, our Council’s handling of planning issues has long been a source of real concern. If ERC’s new procedures now mean those in Cllr Miller’s position cannot make qualified decisions, then how can any member of the public have faith in local democracy, let alone engage with the processes most directly affecting their lives?
In addition to large-scale carve-ups of our precious public spaces and greenbelt land, we have seen in recent years how vulnerable our communities are to unsuitable development proposals. Without the work of determined individuals, community councils and journalists, little scrutiny or public information would have been seen around plans in 2011 for a massive incinerator in Loganswell. Instead of recognizing the value of this work, ERC appears determined to make it more difficult.
Along with many others, my interest in politics has never been higher than it is now. We have a unique opportunity to make the most of this punlic engagement, and address the many problems facing our communities. However, we must recognise and address the lack of transparency in political institutions that prevents all but the privileged few participating in the decision-making process.
I would hope that ERC come to listen to feedback and reverse the decision to stop publishing planning representations on its online portals, as well as exploring how to increase public engagement more widely.
More on community engagement and Green politics tomorrow. For now, good night!