New role will help groups work better with council
COMMUNITY empowerment and emergency planning are two of the issues with which Eskdale's new ward worker can help groups navigate through council bureaucracy.
Stuart Hamilton, who is based in Langholm and Gretna as Annandale East and Eskdale's ward worker, is the point of contact between groups and Dumfries and Galloway Council.
Any group can talk to Stuart about any issues it has relating to the council and he will be able to get answers from officials.
He told Langholm, Ewes and Westerkirk community councillors that the role came about after the reshaping of the council from six to four directorates and a review of community planning and engagement.
The review showed the council and its partners could work better with community organisations and the ward worker model was the most appropriate way to do this.
He said: "It's a very varied role. It involves working with community groups and dealing with issues like broadband.
"Community empowerment is covered and includes community asset transfers and participation requests. This covers council-owned assets which a community would like to buy and run itself.
"There will be opportunities to participate in council business and any other statutory duties. Communities can participate in the decision-making process of the council, police and NHS. Due consideration will have to be given to those requests.
"There are other things like community resilience, emergency planning and facilitating area committee grants.
"If there is any specific project or piece of work I can help with, I can come along to the community council and listen. I'm here as the community's point of contact. I can get the right person and apply pressure and use the ward councillors to get answers and get the facts."
Councillor Craig Peacock said: "Stuart can navigate through the council which is important. If you have an issue and you can't get anywhere with it, he can get an answer for you."
Stuart recommended that the community councillors continued to use their own reporting service as well but he was available if they wanted to talk something over.