:— Burst into
it's the ‘cooncil‘ that picks up your rubbish and runs the buses and mends the roads (sometimes); but which one? in Glasgow and Edinburgh it‘s not always that easy to be sure because of Scotland’s ‘two-tier‘ system where the district does some things, like rubbish collection, and the region is responsible for others. including the buses.
That could all change under the Government‘s plans. set out in a recent White Paper, for reorganisation of councils into ‘single-tier‘ or ‘unitary‘
all the services in an area. The Local Government Bill, which has begun its passage through Parliament. has met with opposition from many councils. particularly in Scotland. where the Government is accused oftrying to introduce changes without proper consultation.
Strathclyde and Lothian feel threatened and want to be left alone. They‘ve taken very different approaches to repelling boarders. however. Last week, Strathclyde launched a £500,000 advertising campaign under the slogan ‘Strathclyde Works’ which is intended to clear up the uncertainty in the public‘s mind about what services it actually runs and win support for its survival.
‘This is not about preserving Strathclyde at all costs,‘ claims councillor Des McNulty. who is in charge of the campaign. ‘We have a
Des Mcliulty; ‘Strathclyde Works’ duty as a council to tell the people of Strathclyde about services we provide and why this proposed legislation could jeopardise these services.‘
So that‘s what it has been doing. on billboards and in newspapers. There
, would have been ads on television if ; the independent television watchdog
authorities, so that a single council runs '
hadn‘t deemed the ads ‘too political‘.
The regional council has been criticised
for this high-spending approach but defends the strategy as supplying information the public needs to make an informed judgement about the restructuring.
In contrast, Lothian is going for a behind the scenes approach. lobbying MPs and civil servants in the corridors of Westminster. with a series of high- powered reports on the effects of the upheaval. ‘We decided not to go fora
high-profile ad campaign.‘ according to i
a spokesman. ‘We didn‘t feel that ads in the press was a particularly effective way of trying to influence the Govemment and thought it was better to target the people who might have
Whichever tack turns out to be more effective. the odds are against the survival of the two regions in their present form. (Eddie Gibb)
What would happen to the region under the proposed reorganisation? It would disappear. John Major has described Strathclyde. which is the UK‘s largest local authority. as a ‘monstrosity' and the White Paper proposes that it be carved up into ten authorities. including a single-tier council for Glasgow.
And who decides on Strathclyde’s fate? The Govemtnent. or more precisely. Scottish Secretary Ian Lang. What does the council say about the idea? The Labour administration is taking an ‘if it ain‘t broke. don‘t fix it‘
approach by emphasising the economies of scale that such a large local authorin can make. It has pointed to services which could be vulnerable under reorganisation. ranging from its grant to Scottish Ballet through to elderly people‘s bus passes. So, it’s not keen on the idea? No way. ‘The regional council believes that the Bill‘s proposals will seriously damage the ability of local government to actively tackle poverty and the . regeneration needs of whole : communities.‘ according to Councillor Des McNulty, who is in charge ofthe ‘Strathclyde Works' campaign. : How much is it going to cost the humble council tax-payer? The ‘ council‘s own estimates put the figure s at £200 million but clearly the bigger that figure. the stronger its case for maintaining the status quo. It also suggests running the ten new councils would cost nearly £30 million a year i more. But the Scottish Office has said , that the cost of reorganisation alone won‘t necessarily be the central issue 1 when the final decision is taken.
Would the region be recognisable after restructuring? More so than Strathclyde. The White Paper suggests that boundaries of Lothian and the Borders be redrawn to produce four unitary authorities. two of which would be the existing city of Edinburgh and pans of East. West and MidLothian. Does the regional council have a better idea? Of course. it‘s rather attached to the two-tier system but if that has to go. it prefers an ‘Edinburgh and Lothians Council‘ which would combine all the region‘s existing councils under one roof.
A bit of a monstrosity then? That's an unkind suggestion. No, it believes that Edinburgh and the Lothians form a ‘natural region‘. to which the public feels a strong sense of ‘belonging‘. So, how much is this all going to cost? How long‘s a piece of red tape? Because the Govemment‘s proposal would significantly redraw boundaries it‘s hard to compare like with like. According to a study commissioned by the region. the mega-council would cost £15 million to set up but would give savings of around £18 million a year. By contrast, the council reckons the White Paper proposal would cost £20 million to set up and £2 l0 million more a year to run. (That’s over £12 each. apparently.)
What does the region say about reorganisation? ‘There is no case. in cost terms. tojustify reorganising the current local authority structure in the Lothian area. The White Paper proposal will result in major disruptions in the provision of essential services.‘ There has also been muttering about gerry mandering.
Following its success last year, Glasgow’s experimental radio station Sweet FM has secured a second temporary licence. From its base at the Art School, Sweet FM II is opting for more speech-based programmes during the day with plays, comedy and interviews, while at night it reverts to a music format with funk, jazz and hip hop early in the week and clubs sounds at the weekend.
As well as local this from every musical genre, the station has confirmed several big name DJs as guests throughout the month, such as Andy Weatherall, Spooky, Mix Master Morris and Jon from Pleased Wimrnin.
‘We have learnt from the mistakes we made the last time and now know what people want to listen to,’ says Crae Caldwell, one of the station’s music organisers, ‘There is a vast gulf not filled by the likes of iiadio 1 and Clyde, we hope to draw on this audience and give them a broadcast medium that they can listen to. The music will be played by people who really have a passion for it and hopefully that passion will be conveyed over the air.’ (llory Weller) Sweet FM ll broadcasts 24 hours a day from 7 Feb-6 March on 87.7FM.
4 The List 28 January—IO February 1994
_ Depressing statistics
A new group has been set up in Glasgow to give information and advice about depression, a problem suffered by 5 per cent of the population and something that nearly one in three of us can expect to experience at some time in our lives. Time Out began last year as a small self-help group for suffers of depression and will be officially
launched as a charity in February. It
was started as an alternative to
seeking help from doctors, who many
j sufferers of depression find
unsympathetic. ‘There’s still a stigma
; attached to depression,’ says Time Out
i coordinator Sheena MacKinnon.
; ‘People don’t want to admit they are
; clinically depressed and they will go
to the doctor with other complaints.’ This is a problem recognised by the
Royal College of General
Practitioners, which is running a
campaign called ‘Defeat Depression’
: initially aimed at making GPs more aware of the symptoms of depression.
l Doctors frequently fail to spot that
g depression is the root cause of many
of the symptoms exhibited by people who visit their surgeries, according to llCGP president Alastair Donald.
The next phase of the campaign, which includes a Defeat Depression Action Week in March, is intended to increase public recognition of depression as an illness which can be treated. ‘We want to make the public more aware of the condition so they go to see their doctor, particularly men who may think it’s not macho to say they are depressed,’ Donald says. (Eddie Gibb)
Time Out can be contacted on 041 337 2521. Defeat Depression, which is run jointly with the Royal College of Psychiatrists, is on 071 235 2351.
[— Harping on
Scottish women‘s magazine Harpies and Quines is relaunching as a monthly title with a provocative advertising campaign featuring the slogan ‘Not just for dungaree-clad dykes‘.
The ad is intended to reflect the magazine‘s aim of offering an
3 alternative image of women to the ones ‘ which dominate the media, according
. to H&Q's Lesley Riddoch. ‘We aim to i debunk institutions. including feminist
stereotypes.‘ she says. The ad was produced by the same
F creative team of Evelyn Gillan and
9 Frankie Rafﬂes which produced
'1 Edinburgh District Council‘s Zero
_ g Tolerance campaign. ‘It was a
‘There are a lot of preconceived notions z about H&Q as a women‘s magazine. ' One of the objectives was to make it . humorous because for many people
i formidable challenge,‘ says Gillan. i
not just ior dungaree-clad dykes.
.ﬂdr/J/Zzs st [(1 l
feminism equals humourlessness.‘ Riddoch promises that the magazine‘s house-style of irreverant humour, which includes a ‘cliton's awareness column‘ and ‘wanker of the month‘ award. will deﬁnitely continue. (Eddie