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Fire and Fury

Not quite an appropriate description of Stirling Council’s various committees’ deliberations and subsequent actions. 

The Wee Vine attended meetings of both the Broadband and LOIP (Local Outcomes Improvement Plan).  Both characterised by a surplus of verbiage and a paucity of actions (except by local action groups such as Balquhidder).  However, stated aims in both cases are to be applauded.  A brief summary: 

Broadband:A telling comment was made during this meeting to the effect that the provision of usable broadband underlies availability of virtually all other services.  The meeting was largely concerned with the progress towards “100% coverage” of Stirling by BT/ Openreach as agents of Digital Scotland.  The actual phrase used is “provide access to” which means that the copper cable passing a business or residence has been connected to a fibre cabinet.  This is the case for all properties in Kippen.  It does not however mean that all these properties can or do avail themselves of this.  The Wee Vine would be interested to collect statistics on the level of satisfaction felt by Kippen residents in preparation for the next meeting. 

Also discussed at the meeting was a successful action being pursued by Stirling Council to provide gigabyte facilities to the urban area of the council.  This project is approaching completion of its initial phase, which will link Council premises within the city.  This network will then be made available to businesses initially, followed by residential access.  It is hoped thereafter to extend this facility – north to Dunblane and Bridge of Allan and south towards Fallin and Plean; subsequently out the A84 towards Callander via Thornhill and Doune; and, a centre at Balfron.  No mention of a plan for Kippen. 

At a subsequent meeting, it was indicated that BT has plans to upgrade current provision to a number of areas during 2018.  These areas appear to include those parts of Kippen and Arnprior close to the A811 – from Leckie and Boquhan through to Arnprior and Garden.  As is standard BT practice, no details or confirmed dates were provided.  

LOIP:This is an initiative stemming from a 2015 directive from the Scottish Government to reduce inequalities within communities in all areas – health, crime, prosperity, education, housing, etc, etc. Chaired by Stirling Council but involving other public bodies across the area – NHS Forth Valley, Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Scottish Enterprise. And, crucially, seeking active involvement from communities in decision-making involving their own community. 

 The meeting abounded in statements of statistical inequalities across communities, descriptions of how these might be addressed containing all the right words.  It was deficient in defining targets, timescales, and budgets as to how these might be achieved.  Also, in defining means whereby the desired level of community involvement might be met. 

 One project has been started – in the Raploch, where there are multiple levels of inequality to be considered.  Kippen’s needs are significantly different from these, and possibly might be summarised under the designation of “communication” in all its forms – road quality, bus services, broadband provision, mobile telephony.  It can be argued that health provision, education, business opportunities, housing (both public and private), job provision, recreation are all dependent on these.  Kippen residents with concerns may relay these either to the Community Council, or via The Wee Vine.  There should not be an expectation of speedy action. 

 At a further meeting with a senior member of the Council, positivity abounded with all aspects of communication included in the friendly conversation.  Warm words and positive sentiments – to convert these to actions, please let The Wee Vine know of your concerns about the community of Kippen. 

Stuart Thomson