The new leader of South Lanarkshire Council’s Conservative group, Clydesdale East councillor Alex Allison, has called for a fair deal for rural areas from its new Scottish National Party administration.
He has challenged the minority administration’s proposals on neighbourhood planning arrangements, claiming that new local forums to discuss development issues are being set up in South Lanarkshire’s towns but not in rural areas such as Clydesdale.
At a meeting of the council’s executive committee last Wednesday, he led opposition calls for the authority to “empower rural communities as well as those in bigger towns and cities”, adding: “We need to recognise small and remote communities experience many of the same problems that impact on bigger towns and city suburbs.
“Unemployment, poverty, poor-quality housing, low education attainment and ill health all affect people living in rural communities.
“The new neighbourhood planning areas are intended to help places experiencing these sort of issues, so it was disappointing to see that none will be created in Clydesdale.
“There was a very clear message from councillors that rural communities must not miss out on new ways of working just because they are spread over larger distances.”
Neighbourhood planning areas are intended to bring together residents, businesses and officials to identify how people use existing services and use their local knowledge to suggest how they might be improved.