Saturday, 5 February 2011

Bats - did you know?

The Committee of Auchtermuchty Landscape and Environment Group are concerned about windfarms being installed throughout Fife and beyond. You may not be aware of the threat to bats posed by wind turbines and the fact that the legal position in Europe is that in order to implement the EU Habitats and Species Directive, Member States have to enact their own domestic legislation, and in the UK this is done through the Conservation (Natural Habitats etc.) Regulations 1994 (amended in Scotland in 2004). The European Commission keeps a close eye on how well member States are implementing the Directive. During the past couple of years, the UK has been obliged to make some changes. Thus in the UK, the legal protection of bats was strengthened in relation to the EU Habitats Directive, and in Scotland the previous laws were again amended. We now have: The Conservation (Natural Habitats etc.) Amendment (Scotland) Regulations 2007. This states that “It is an Offence, intentionally or recklessly, to kill, injure or take a bat.”

Moving towards more Private Care Homes

Scotland's only UKIP councillor, Mike Scott-Hayward, believes that there should be an end to the expressions of alarm at the change in direction of the management and operation of Fife Council care homes.

"As long ago as 2001, I could see that the direction now decided upon was necessary: the Council simply does not deliver as much care as can be achieved by using the private and voluntary sector. There are too many people, some councillors included, who are hung up on an ideology that the job can only be safely done by the council.

"That simply is not the case. Already, nine out of ten people in care homes in Fife are in the private and voluntary sector. The Care Commission sets and inspects the standards, be that in private or public sector. Clearly, the 3000 spaces delivered in Fife, only ten percent of which are by the Council, meet the standards and generally do so well.

"I have no criticism of the standard of care in council run homes; and certainly no criticism of the staff. Indeed, many staff in private homes joined from council run homes. The problem with delivery by the Council is in the nature of the beast: budgets are set by a bureaucracy, then spent regardless, mostly using laborious and convoluted procurement processes. The "state" usually makes a pig's ear of delivering new builds. The cost of new council owned and operated homes is not as efficient as can be achieved in the private sector.

"Moreover, the running cost, because of the bureaucrat systems, of a council home is more expensive, approaching almost twice as much, as the private sector.

"Ten years ago, and repeatedly since then, I advanced the budget proposal for a phased changeover to increased private sector use. The move now, belated as it is, was inevitable - it is a logical and sensible step, and not one for any alarm.

"Councillors, both in the opposition and some in the administration who equivocate seeking popularity, should stop disparaging this new sensible approach. The provision will still be local, will still be subject to the Care Commission regime, and will be able to provide for more people who need the care. The plan does not portend the end of care, or the turfing out of those currently in council care."

Votes for Convicts? I don't believe it!

I take my hat off to Jack Straw and David Davis - they are doing what the government ought to do - standing up for our sovereingty.

It is the sovereign right of the British to decide who shall represent us in Parliament, and who shall have the right to vote for what should be our wholly sovereign parliament.

Messrs Straw and Davis rightly wan to block prisoners, people who have gone beyond the law, from having the right to vote. The EU has dictated that prisoners should have that right - and the Coalition Government is rolling over for them. Cameron pledged he would not surrender any more sovereignty; here another slice will go unless Straw and Davis succeed in getting the support of parliament. Parliament can assert our sovereignty, even if Cameron and Clegg are too weak to stand up against the EU.

I applaud Straw and Davis - but it is only an element of what is necessary: there are those of us who would reclaim all our sovereignty.

Mike Scott-Hayward