Councillors frustrated by £7 million wishlist for Linlithgow spend

Choosing how to allocate a £150,000 Covid recovery fund from a “wish list” valued at more than £7 million has been compared to ‘throwing darts at a dartboard’ by frustrated councillors.

By Stuart Sommerville, LDR
Wednesday, 15th December 2021, 6:00 am
Stock photo of Linlithgow.
Stock photo of Linlithgow.

Councillors in Linlithgow were the latest to find that 186 projects for the limited recovery fund far exceeded the money available.

And they also found many or the projects put forward by officials cost far more than the total amount of the fund, while others had already received some funding.

The committee’s lead officer Graeme Struthers admitted the Linlithgow ward had the toughest job and by far the largest potential spend. Chair of the town’s local area committee Councillor Tom Conn described a large number of the jobs proposed in the list of 186 as a “wish list”.

“Many of these are a wish list of works, some are not even within the council’s ownership, such as the path around the loch,” he said.

He suggested removing all projects which outstripped the £150,000 and others which already had some money assigned to them to whittle down the list.

SNP Councillor David Tait said: “We do need some kind of plan. Without a plan we are as well just throwing darts at a dart board. It’s a hell of a number, £7m.”

The fund is designed to refresh and renew the environment in all nine council wards post-Covid, and each ward has been given £150,000 to allocate.

Over the two hour meeting it became clear that the front runners for funding would be works to improve road signage, improved road markings on heavily used junctions in town and in the surrounding countryside.

Andy Johnston from Operational Services explained that a lot of the road clearing proposals would apply to roundabouts and traffic islands which had to be cleaned by contractors because the council only had kerbside brushes.

Money was also assigned to put up handrails on steps to the surgery in Linlithgow and to replace ageing public benches.

The steps leading from Strawberry Bank to Union Road will also have a fit-for-purpose handrail installed.

Officers stressed that spending would not be confined to the Linlithgow Town Centre but to road junctions around the ward.

More money will be assigned to the siting of solar compacting bins, including at the Forth bridges viewpoint car park near Newton, something which was welcomed by Julie Brechin from the village community council.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​