By Bill Heaney
Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Willie Rennie has accused the Scottish Government of allowing communities to be become seriously rundown.
He revealed new information that 53% of Scots reported issues such as drug misuse, vandalism and litter that were common in their neighbourhood.
A clear insight into how badly West Dunbartonshire has been allowed to sink into depravity under successive SNP and Labour councils is contained in the council complaints service on Facebook, which citizens are asked to contact if things go wrong.
Poor policing and cash-starved council services are widely perceived as being catalysts even for the deeply worrying incidences of vigilanteism in the community.
Some citizens are raging that although they have gone to the bother of reporting those services that have let them down, they are simply referred on to departments which sometimes takes ages to answer them or turn out to be uncontactable altogether.
“Why the person who replies to the complaint e mail can’t simply tell their colleagues what the complaint is and who it’s from is one of those mysteries there appears to be no satisfactory explanation for,” said one citizen.
“But then their policy appears to be to never apologise and never explain to the people that matter.
“If someone e mailed them to say there was a huge pothole in the road – and there are lots of them – which might cause a serious accident were some one to drive into it, why wouldn’t they pass that to the Roads Department themselves instead of the complainer having to do that?”
Figures published as part of the Scottish Household survey and analysed by Scottish Liberal Democrats reveal:
- 34% reported that rubbish or litter lying around was a very/fairly common problem in their neighbourhood.
- 31% reported animal nuisance such as noise or dog fouling.
- 13% reported drug misuse or dealing.
- Overall 53% of Scots reported at least one very or fairly common problem in their neighbourhood.
All of these problems were rated as more common in the most deprived neighbourhoods, with issues such as vandalism, graffiti or other deliberate damage to property, and anti social behaviour e.g. drunkenness, hooliganism or loutish behaviour reported twice as frequently as in the average neighbourhood.
Willie Rennie said: “Scotland is a kind and generous country, packed full of people who go out of their way to help their neighbours and those around them.
“However, these figures show the common problems that ordinary Scots are having to deal with every week.
“Some of this behaviour is clearly criminal. Some of it is an annoyance that local authorities should be clamping down on.
“Sadly our communities, our police service and our local authorities have been starved of funding under the SNP.
“The SNP’s neglectful approach has seen officers removed from the streets, local police counters closing and padlocked neighbourhoods springing up.
“We need a proper return to community policing to increase the visibility of officers and strengthen the safety of our neighbourhoods. Scottish Liberal Democrats also want to see tougher fines to tackle offences such as fly tipping which blight our beautiful country.”
- West Dunbartonshire Council refused to speak to The Democrat about this serious matter. Look at the most recent WDC complaints service on Facebook to see the details of just how bad is the state we are in. The figures for this can be found in table 2.20 of the Scottish Household survey here.