Editorial: Flying with menace, £5m to the good – and RAF thumbs up!

The weekly opinion of the Editor on topical events affecting Moray.

Let’s talk about the Council……

WE HAVE COVERED the thorny issue of seagull attacks widely on insideMoray and through the pages of STV Local that preceded it.

It is one that seems endless – and it is one that appears on the face of it to have no immediate solution.

This week I was saddened to receive a copy of the letter sent by a local schoolgirl, pleading with the Moray Council to take some sort of action – any sort of action – that would mean she did not have to quiver with fear every time she left her home.

Had her story been an isolated one, we could perhaps accept the response she received, which was pretty much along the lines of “sorry, not our concern – nothing we can do about it – get an umbrella”.

It was not isolated though, not by a very, very long way. Nor is it acceptable for council officials to wash their hands of the problem, pointing the finger at how people caused the problem in the first place and pretty much taking the line that they must, therefore, suffer the consequences.

Moray Council say that their hands are tied by legal restrictions, laws that protect seagulls and other wildlife from the excesses of human over-reaction. Moray Council say that the number of complaints about gulls have fallen, leaving them to conclude therefore that it is perhaps not a big deal.

Moray Council say that people need to take action themselves, they need to consult with organisations that hold licences that permit them to remove gull nests or put in place other preventative action – all presumably at personal cost to the complainer.

What Moray Council appear not to be saying is well, yes we perhaps do have a responsibility on this, other local authorities who are aware of what is a growing national issue are taking action, they are seeking ways of protecting their homes, buildings and, above all, residents.

Is it not time Moray Council thought again?

On the plus side…..

As I’m always harping on about the failing of our local authority (or it might seem that way) perhaps I can end this week on a more positive and congratulatory note.

Buried under all the spicy comments and decisions that came from the Full Council meeting this week was the story that the local authority had managed to underspend by around £5million over the last year.

Now, some might say that was a bad thing, some might say that the council administration had managed this only by being the meanest bunch of skinflints ever to walk the streets of Elgin.

Well, actually I applaud them for this achievement.

Against the most difficult financial climate and under the most intense pressure they have pulled a big £5million rabbit out of the hat that should, one hopes, help alleviate the anticipated £15million in savings we are apparently all going to have to make in the next couple of years.

And finally…..

I had the pleasure of attending the annual reception at RAF Lossiemouth this week wearing my hat as a local community councillor.

It is a small, short shindig at the Officers Mess where the Station Commander and his officers can show their appreciation to the local community for the support it has shown the base over the year.

The cynical local reporter/grumpy old man side of me lifted an eyebrow when Group Captain Mark Chappell praised the local community by saying that it provided “the best support any RAF base in the country receives”.

Could that be true? My initial thought was – kind words, but I suspect that there are many other communities who put every bit as much effort into supporting their local military base as we do here in Moray.

But then I reflected on the events of a few years ago when it looked like we might lose RAF Lossiemouth.  I reflected on the reaction by the people of Moray during the tragic events that saw three airmen lose their lives when their aircraft crashed into the Moray Firth.

And I reflected on the number of former Army, Navy and RAF men and women who have made Moray their home and who are now a very important part of the very community that remains supportive and protective of our local bases.

So it is quite probably not an overstatement by Mark – here in Moray we never needed an ‘Armed Forces Day’ to show our appreciation, and hopefully we never will.