Mike Vickers' Blog

September 30, 2010

LBA Question Time 2010

Filed under: Linlithgow Business Association — derryvickers @ 2:57 pm

The Linlithgow Business Association held its annual question time on 29th September 2010 with the theme ‘Tough Choices’.  The title came from a consultative document issued by West Lothian Council on how  best to meet its target reduction in revenue from £380m to £320m by 2013.

Members of the panel were:

Cllr Peter Johnston, Leader of West Lothian Council,

Lesley Riddoch, Feisty Productions, BBC producer and presenter,

Jim Lindsay, General Manager, Airdrie Savings Bank,

Stephen Sweeney, FD, Campbells Prime Meats.

The Panel was chaired by Simon Walton, Specialists in cutting your bills at home and work.

The questions ranged across the whole gamut of cuts and what we could do about it.  A few of the ideas and comments from the meeting:

  • PJ considered that self help groups are better organised and more effective in  Linlithgow but this could be due to the fact that its population is more affluent
  • The Linlithgow Town Centre Management Groups is fuelling ideas for the town.  It is being taken as an example to other groups throughout the West Lothian Region
  • It would be suicide to re-establish Lothians Region at this time; nevertheless the current regions are now working together to see what activities are common and where savings may be made.  The fire services are one such
  • Nevertheless LR considered that the regions are presently neither big enough nor small enough.  Local should be local
  • Contractual procedures are too cumbersome and too open to all.  At a certain size they need to open to the whole EU.  Agreed that while Local is contractually not acceptable, “fresh” and “low mileage” could achieve the same effect
  • The Coalition’s ‘Big Society’ needed to be viewed with caution: it looks more like passing costs to the Social Sector.  It was often forgotten that the Social Enterprises are also businesses – its just that their ‘profits’ are distributed differently
  • There are other ways that small companies might survive eg Pay taxes through the provision of services.
  • So often businesses come up with novel ideas but their ideas fall on stony ground; and after a couple of different attempts they just give up: being ignored is worse than never having tried.  In this respect small isolated communities may fare better as they are on their own and the bureaucracy is too far away to stop them, LR instanced Eigg
  • Stewart Liddle on behalf of Linlithgow Union Canal Society  emphasised that their society provides a whole range of canal based activities with little external support
  • LR considers that Scotland falls behind England – Scotland is more conservative.  Scotland believes it is radical but it is not. She also considers Scotland is Skill Rich but Cash Poor
  • JL considered that it would not be feasible for Linlithgow to set up its own ‘Narrow Bank’ eg as the Airdrie Bank but considered creating a Credit Union would be valuable.  SS related his favourable experience of Credit Unions in Canada and PJ said that ones have been successfully set up in Livingston and Bathgate.  Development Trusts could be another way to raise and provide cash.
  • The point was made that Falkirk has a strong Business Panel where Public / Private Partnership looked to flourish; this was supported by SS where the Falkirk Council had been very supportive for Campbells Meats to take over the abandoned Abattoir following their fire in Broxburn. 
  • PJ emphasised the desire  of West Lothian Council to work with the private sector

The meeting finished with a rousing cheer and members and friends went away with lots to think about not least, I suggest, on how the many very active groups in the Town can pool their efforts for the common good.

1 Comment »

  1. excellent summary. I actually feel like I was there!

    Comment by lesley riddoch — October 1, 2010 @ 8:07 pm

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