National Park

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 5:15 pm on 8 June 1999.

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Photo of David Davidson David Davidson Conservative 5:15, 8 June 1999

I must declare an interest in this issue. I have spent many years representing the Trossachs-for the past five years as a member of the local council and before that as a community councillor and community councillor chairman covering the area up to Strath Ard-and am especially interested in the welfare of the people who would be affected by this measure.

I hate to think how many meetings I have attended where fears have been expressed about the interests of those who live and try to earn a living in a particular area. Time and again, under the previous Labour administration in Stirling, many of the comments that were made were not listened to. At one stage, no one living in the park was sitting on the various bodies that then existed to discuss the issue or to represent the views of those living in the park. I found that distasteful. I will make the point-Dr Jackson has passed it on and I hope that the minister gets the message-that there is a vital need for input from the people who live and work in that area. They must be present at and able to participate in any discussions.

The community councils in the area fought hard for representation. I, as their councillor, fought hard to try to ensure that we would have a two-tier management system; one for the Trossachs and one for Loch Lomond. I am afraid I have to say that the lord who was responsible refused that and decided that we were only going to have one body. In one stroke, local accountability and input were removed.

I am sure that that is not what this Parliament is about. I know that earlier on I accused someone of being parochial. I admit to being parochial now, but it is because we must get these things right. In the future, when we consider national parks in other areas of Scotland, I am sure that things will roll out. It is vital that we convey the need for local democratic input. Much lip service is paid to that principle, but I would like to see it in action for the people of the Trossachs.