LESLEY Riddoch’s latest column was a great read as usual (The size of council areas matters to locals – but also for independence, May 5).

At the start of Highland Council, my employment transferred to it from the former regional council. The change was attractive in two ways: it created a unitary council and it got rid of some frankly poisonous goings-on in some of the former district councils.

Since then, I’ve become more aware of what we lost. The ecologist who transferred from cosy Ross and Cromarty District Council was like a fish out of water in the large, uncaring Highland Council. Since then I’ve become more aware of the different way of doing things in R&C that make Inverness look less attractive. Now living in Lochalsh, there are many times I have been part of conversations with long-term residents looking back favourably at the old Skye and Lochalsh District Council because it was on the spot and responsive. Even with the Highland Council’s system of local area committees, decisions are made centrally, and we are still dependant on support from non-Skye and Lochalsh councillors for decisions which seem “obvious” to locals.

Working last summer for the Highland Council ranger service and seeing the paralysis clearly brought on by having to have the same terms, conditions and rules for staff all over the council area made me come round to the view that the council was too big to get things done sensibly.

READ MORE: Highland Council: Break up of local authority on the ballot at elections

Where Highland Council does have an advantage, however, is to be able to raise money centrally and make purchases centrally. These advantages of scale are something that any future reform would have to work hard to retain. Many small community and conservation trusts all over the country spend a disproportionate amount of time chasing and accounting for the money they spend – something to avoid in any future scenario.

I have to agree with Lesley’s basic points, though. Councils are too big, too remote, too disengaging.

It strikes me that a councillor’s job is not one anyone would want to do for free, and is largely about managing the council’s response to declining budgets and enforced difficult decisions. Who would want to?

Nic Bullivant

via the thenational.scot

I AM sympathetic to the thrust of what Lesley is saying here. We do need to localise our governance, but like Nic Bullivant I can see some advantage in retaining strategic authorities as a counterbalance to national government.

Take, for instance, Scottish Water. It would not be in public hands today, unlike English water companies, if it weren’t for the fact that Strathclyde Regional Council had the muscle to organise a referendum to keep it in public hands.

There was much to recommend in the Kilbrandon Report in terms of division of labour, but I agree with Lesley that the balance struck was too much in favour of strategic rather than local.

Bill McDermott

via thenational.scot

THE latest Brexit-related vileness from the rancid Tory party has been unveiled. Now, thanks to the Tories’ “free-trade” deal with Japan, radioactive food and fish from Fukushima can be sold in the UK. It was previously banned.

Last year, the corpulent Johnson allowed the privatised water companies in England permission to dump raw sewage into the sea. This was as a post-Brexit cost-saving measure. All so as profits would not be interrupted. This could only happen because of Tory Brexit – a Brexit Scotland did not vote for and never wanted.

READ MORE: Scottish Highland council elections 2022: No such thing as a local issue here

With the local election result, there now exists a clear instruction from the Scottish electorate for an independence referendum. This exists whether the Unionist fanatics like it or not.

Tory Unionists have only got themselves to blame for this predicament. They bet their houses on lying charlatan Boris Johnson and lost.

The election of Sinn Feinn to majority party in Stormont signals the end for the Union. The UK Government is bound by the Good Friday Agreement to legislate for a border poll. If Johnson and the Tories try to get around this, they will be in breach of their treaty obligations.

An independence referendum will occur. The only thing Boris Johnson and his Tory clown show can try to do is delay it for as long as possible. This only makes the outcome of an end of the Union more certain.

Alan Hinnrichs