People to be allowed to speak at meetings

The Royal Burgh of Whithorn and District Community Council met on Monday night to thrash out whether or not to allow the public to speak at the monthly meetings.

At last month’s meeting, the first for the newly elected committee, a former member stormed out after being told he could not speak from the floor as there was no format agreed at the time.

Last Monday the matter was debated by the members to find a consensus.

All agreed that the public had a right to raise valid points that affected the community but how to do it was the crux of the matter.

Chairman John Wilson said there was nothing in the standing orders to say that people could speak, but if the majority wanted a public forum he was happy to go along with that. Vice chairman Kirsty Currie though it was better if community councillors were informed of any issues beforehand.

This would give the community council the chance to look into the background of the matter and contact relevant parties involved. That would give the community councillors the advantage of having knowledge of what was to be raised and hopefully have an answer for the speaker.

After some final tweaking all agreed to have a public forum at the end of each monthly meeting to run for 15 minutes. Anyone wanting to raise an issue would haveto inform a member ofthe community council by the second Monday in the month.

The snail-like pace of broadband in the town was dismissed as “useless” by Community Council member Charles Gohm.

Mr Gohm, who lives in Isle Street, said he had tried four different suppliers and was still struggling to get connected to the internet. The problem was exacerbated when the wind blew, he added.

Mid Galloway Councillor Alistair Geddes informed the meeting that this was a “national problem” but he agreed that the residents of the southern Machars were the “second class citizens” of the worldwide web. Councillor Geddes said the council was upgrading the service to around 75 per cent of the population of Dumfries and Galloway and had plans to improve the service to a further 10 to 15 per cent, which left around 10 per cent still struggling due to poor infrastructure. Councillor Jim McColm explained that although BT were investing “millions” in South West Scotland, most of the money was being spent in Stranraer. Copper cables in this area were also slowing the broadband speed down, he added.

The Community Council will not meet again until August 26, after voting for a break in July.