A sticky situation
After months of debate, the referendum campaign has finally crossed a line – for our councils at least. And it isn’t questions about the EU, Trident or currency which have tipped the scales and roused the ire of our local authorities but something more fundamental: defacing public property.
Today’s press are running gleeful stories about the money councils are being forced to shell out removing Yes and No stickers from road signs, street furniture and even Glasgow’s rental bikes. In Moray, staff are spending hours removing stickers from road signs and with the referendum getting closer, the number of instances are increasing.
A council spokesman said: “Three weeks ago there were just six signs affected; yesterday there were 25. It takes a road engineer a full day to clean up all the affected road signs in Moray, only to find many were targeted with new stickers within 24 hours.”
While this might seem like a classic ‘silly season’ story favoured by newspapers in the typically quiet summer months, there is a more serious message behind the headlines.
Like it or not, our councils are facing tough times and after the referendum, they are the ones who will continue to provide the day to day needs of Scotland’s people. Okay, so the costs incurred scraping stickers off road signs might not be the weightiest issue of the debate but in these straightened times, where our councils are concerned, every penny counts.
Councils are struggling to balance their books, budgets are shrinking while demand continues to grow and local authorities are all working to make savings while still trying to protect front line services.
The financial situation might be improving across the UK as a whole but at a local level in Scotland, things are still worrying. While the politicians have spent the duration of the independence campaign setting out their own particular stall on one side or anther, the ordinary men and women on the ground are still delivering the best they can for those in need.
The good thing about the debate from a local point of view is it has encouraged decision makers and policy bods to actually ask people what kind of Scotland they want to live in. Let’s hope post-September, regardless of the outcome, the momentum for positive change in our local communities continues.
And perhaps this will make you think twice before slapping a sticker on a street sign.