It's a bit on the wierd side to be sitting here tonight, gone 61 years of ancient, yet posting my first blog. I took this notion for no particular reason other than to try to get across what it's like being an SNP Elected Councillor in a Scottish Local Authority. Truth be told, I'm also a nominated member of the Cairngorms National Park Authority and, when I get the chance in between, an Artist - in which capacity, my claim to fame is having painted the pictures for Susan Hampshire's starring role in the BBC TV series 'Monarch of the Glen'. That's it, then, the briefest of introductions over - and time to put some meat in the sandwich.
So lets try and make a start.
This morning saw me make the trip which my sit up and beg Ford Fusion can now make on its own, up to Inverness - the Headquarters of almost all things Highland Council - for a meeting of the Audit and Scrutiny Committee - the only committee chaired by the official opposition - which we in the SNP currently are. It's role is to scrutinise and audit pretty much anything and everything - if it moves, scrutinise it till it stops, then audit it.
OK, so that's not really what it's about, but it has a serious role in ensuring that decisions are taken properly, policies and procedures are fully followed, and money is spent appropriately. Most interesting issue this time was an audit of job appointments, in which, amongst other things, it was discovered that five out of a sample of thirty five new appointments didn't get issued with contracts of employment. The audit recommendation was to ensure that all service managers informed human resources as they should so that contracts could be issued. But I know that there are many people washing around in the Council system who have never had a contract of employement, so I asked what they were going to do to track these down and fix it. They seem to have something planned, so we'll see.
After a bite of lunch - HQ's notoriously unidentifiable sandwiches - it was back home to log on to have a look at the test site for the National Park's new web portal - not yet launched, but intended to link to via local tourism marketing organisations' sites. The more I dug, the worse it got - inconsistent results and problems with some businesses not being found, or not being linked to. There is still some way to go with this, so I needed to take a trip down the four miles to Grantown to talk things through with the staff involved and agree what I was going to say at tomorrow's board meeting, and why. Perhaps there'll be more on this subject later. For those with a high boredom threshold and a death wish, watch this space.