Well-known Lochgelly campaigner James Glen has announced he is standing as an Independent candidate for Lochgelly, Cardenden and Benarty in May’s Fife Council election.
39-year-old Mr Glen, who has lived in Lochgelly all his life, believes councillors should put their communities above all else.
Mr Glen said:
“People are sick fed up of party politics and political infighting. As an Independent councillor, my only interest will be to get the best I possibly can for Lochgelly, Cardenden and Benarty.
“Too many councillors have let down their communities by putting party interests first, or pursuing vanity projects as a short-cut to popularity. They often forget they are not paid to big up themselves or their party; they are paid by the Council to represent the ward which elected them. This is one reason why so many core facilities and services in our communities continue to lag behind other parts of Fife.
Mr Glen sees standing for Fife Council as the “logical outcome” of his work as a volunteer with many local groups and as a community activist for over 15 years. This has including roles as both chair and secretary of Lochgelly Community Council. He explains:
“I have spent a lot of time engaging with the Council to get a better deal for our community in areas as diverse as planning, Mossmorran and GP access and helping community initiatives such as the Gala Committee, Growing in Lochgelly and Lochgelly Heritage Group.
“Dealing with the Council as a private individual is hard, and I think I can be more effective inside Fife Council as a democratically elected representative.
“People have put a lot of time and effort into creating Community Action Plans for the three areas, and I want to see them put at the heart of Fife Council’s work here.
“The community website Loch of Shining Waters, which I helped set up and have contributed to for seven years, has tried to bring transparency and accountability to local government in Central Fife by scrutinizing the performance of private developers, local charities, community councils and Fife Council itself among others.
“I hoped that greater transparency would both give people the information to become more engaged in their local communities and put pressure on these bodies to improve their own poor and often secretive practice. Now is the time to take that push for greater accountability, transparency and community engagement into Fife Council itself.
“Fife Council and councillors expect us to engage with them more and more online, yet committee meetings are not online and are only nominally open to the public. The locations and times of meetings make them very difficult to access. If residents do manage to attend, they are often poorly mic’d. Minutes produced are thin and do not even record how our councillors voted.
“All this creates barriers to local democracy and allows councillors to hide from the public, avoiding scrutiny and accountability.
“All meeting should be filmed and broadcast live using the social media networks that Fife Council has access to. Footage should also be available as a permanent archive. And minutes should record how a councillor votes on any given issue.”
Mr Glen has published his manifesto online at: www.jamesglen.org.uk/manifesto. The council elections are being held on 4th May 2017 and voting has been extended to 16-17 year olds. To register to vote contact Fife Council on 03451 55 55 11