THOUSANDS on our streets because a council didn’t bother to seek their views.
That’s what it has come to in South Ayrshire. And this wasn’t a protest by militant activists.
This was a march by swimming club mums, dance school kids and people who enjoy a game of golf.
They are the ones who walked tall and looked a shabbily-run South Ayrshire Council straight in the eye.
We don’t make that criticism lightly.
But this council MUST start taking people’s views into account BEFORE closing facilities.
Politics is supposed to be the art of the possible. And the council must start bringing options to the table well in advance of closing swimming pools, theatres, and even public loos.
All of us, including the marchers, know financial resources are extremely limited.
And there is nothing wrong with the council’s aim of balancing the books.
But it’s how they go about it that really matters.
South Ayrshire Council is this week advertising for a communications manager, on a salary of up to £49,000.
The advert proudly proclaims: “We believe there is no better place to be than South Ayrshire.”
You have to wonder how the manager would have sold that message to the people on the streets on Saturday.
Not, we trust, in the manner in which Councillor Bill McIntosh does so in a newsletter to the people of Troon, under the heading Setting The Record Straight.
The Conservative councillor takes a swipe at the Ayrshire Post for “the bizarre step of not even bothering to attend the council’s post-budget press conference, choosing instead to consult with opposition Labour councillors”.
Councillor McIntosh concludes: “So much for balanced reporting, and the integrity of journalism.”
Well let’s indeed set the record straight, councillor.
The Ayrshire Post sent two reporters to cover the council meeting which set the budget. And the two were later invited into the members’ library by an SNP councillor.
While there they spoke to councillors of all political persuasions.
The paper made a conscious decision not to attend the press conference, as we wanted to study the detail of a 30-page budget document before framing our questions, during the course of the week.
Sorry if you think journalism is all about attending stage-managed press conferences – and that talking to someone who holds a different view from yours somehow compromises our integrity.