It’s the one issue that unites all candidates. No matter their party colours, leaflets up and down the land declare that McTumpshy’s number one priority, if elected, will be to address this, and other instances of anti-social behaviour.
It takes local to a whole new meaning. Potholes also get a look in. As does litter.
I too, find all three issues annoying. Like many parents, I have (and still do) walked through parks with eagle eyes like Action Man, swivelling in all directions, often at the same time, in search of offensive doo-doo. It was easier when the chicklet was wee. Poo was the cry. Now he’s graduated from *crap* to *shite* (the boy is nothing if not Scottish), it’s a little less helpful and likely to find his maw hauled up by one of the many wardens our council candidates want to put on permanent alert for all manner of anti-social doings and sayings.
Sadly, few candidates appear to have got with the preventative spending and early intervention programme. Their solution usually amounts to more powers, more wardens and more enforcement. Presumably the last, in the form of fines, would help pay the astronomical costs which attach to the former. But it really is clearing up the mess after the fact. If we take the preventative spending argument to its logical conclusion, we would be banning dogs, but I doubt there are many votes to be had in this. Probably more if they threatened to ban weans.
And yes, I know I am trivialising a serious health issue, not to mention thoroughly scunnering state of affairs. I too would like to enjoy the walk to school without dodging poo. Playing fields and parks should be green and pleasant places we can all enjoy without navigating our way through turds and broken glass. These things blight our lives and communities.
But so do many other, much bigger issues. It is the lack of ambition and apparent understanding of the role of a councillor which causes me to scoff and harrumph at all the election literature thumping through my letterbox. Listen in, election hopeful – your job is bigger, way bigger, than this kind of stuff. Even in your ward, there will be serious concerns to be addressed. And it will require more than platitudes and soundbites to do so.
It isn’t enough to say I will support local schools. What I want to know is what you are going to do to raise attainment. Something is not good enough. I’d also like to know what you will do to turn the principle of inclusive education into a reality. Oh, and the 20% left behind? A wee mention would be nice.
We all love old people. But frankly, they need more than motherhood and apple pie to sustain them. So what are you going to do to make sure more people can live longer in their own homes? What policy do you have tucked away that can make life more enjoyable, less isolated, less dependent on crumbs of care? What is your vision for ensuring that pensioners – of whom there are going to be more in your ward at the end of your term – do not live out the remainder of their days in poverty?
Jobs. More jobs. Especially for younger people. Yes, yes and yes. But how? And what? In supermarkets? Call centres? Bars? Call me a jobs snob – and the Tories do – but I’d like some assurance that you know how to achieve decent jobs for all. Sustainable ones which pay a living wage (and not just for your own employees).
And women. I’d like one – just one candidate, any one, anywhere – to show they realise that half their consituents are female.
Childcare. Not a women’s issue but a key component in creating a healthy local economy. What is your strategy for creating more quality, affordable and accessible childcare places? It’s a tough one I know, but pretending it’s not an issue isn’t good enough.
Police. Uh huh. More police on more streets. Yep, the SNP should be proud of all its extra officers. But here’s a thing. I’d forego all those community safety officers in my community, if they could instead be focused on resolving serious, specific crimes. Like rape.
Indeed, I’d forego extra officers full stop if the plan was to divert the resources into family support or providing better support for women who need to escape and recover from the trauma of domestic abuse.
Finally, disabled people. It would be nice if a candidate or party could acknowledge that they exist. That might just be enough to secure my vote.
Too many candidates are concentrating on the hyper-local in these elections. Yes, we need to know that councillors can address what goes on in our immediate surroundings, but we also need councillors who see the big picture, who can do strategy and joined up thinking (and writing, for that matter).
I know that many, if not most, of those standing for election are fine, upstanding people with the best of intentions and a desire to serve. I know too, that this is about securing votes, and that means addressing community concerns. I also know that many who will be elected are already thinking about how to address the intransigent, extensive problems in their communities, villages, towns and cities.
Ideally, we need councillors who can do both. Work their wards, improve their local communities and tackle the big challenges facing our society, no matter where we live in Scotland.
I know we have candidates who can do all this. I just wish they’d talk more about it in their leaflets than they do about dog poo.