Friday 9 June 2017

Rally - Democracy rules

There will now be a pause within parliamentary circles, both up here and doon there, to allow the politicians to draw breath before going on the verbal rampage once again, after weeks of squabbling and downright unsavoury rammies.

If ever there was a reason to abandon adversarial politics this was it. Politicians of all parties tend to forget that it was the entire British electorate who put each and every one of them in the House. On that basis they should all work together for the common  good, not just gang up on the one party who has the majority. Democracy is not all it's cracked up to be, eh?

I digress, but based on past experience the matters that concern US will be pushed further down their 'easily-overlooked' to-do list as other more important matters of state take priority.

When eventually our professional politicians, elected by us and salaried by us (Oops, I'm getting all cynical again), finally get round to OUR very small matter of getting back on the roads of Mull and the Borders there will be the usual delays and costs.

So why does it take so long for a Bill to go through the House, and why does it cost so much? This is a democracy, so why should it cost anything at all?

That brings us back to the guys/guyesses who got us in to this mess in the first place, although admittedly they were unaware at the time of the possible repercussions of their ill-considered 'Compensation Clause' in the original 1990 Bill. Mind you, the lawyers can't take all the blame, they write up the drafts, but the politicos read them, debate them and approve them - or not.

The preparation of an initial Draft Bill requires a legal team to write it up, but they will be advised by consultants and other professionals who will also require a fee. For instance, if you are preparing a Bill to build a third Forth Crossing (cos they'll bluidy need it soon!) then architects, engineers and construction firms will have to be consulted about timescales and costs. Studies will have to be conducted on the impact on local residents and subsequent traffic flows and that comes after a case has been prepared and accepted that such a bridge is needed. And then of course there is the 'environmental' study. In such a big project these costs alone will be in millions.

At a more modest level where a current Act merely requires a change of wording or a new Bill adopted in its place then this will need to be considered and approved before the legislative process will start all over again.

That will take months, sometimes years, for such a Bill to make its way through Parliament, and only then if there are no objections and re-writes. In theory it could happen within one session, but there are some right old windbags ensconced in their ivory towers who can pontificate for hours even when they have nothing to say.

Some rally/motor sports fans believe that the new 'English' legislation will enable a wholesale introduction of closed road events of all types across the country, and if adopted up here, ease the path to many more events. That will not happen. For three reasons, such a process will still be costly and affordable only by the bigger competitions and sponsored events. So who will fund this? The MSA? Scottish Motor Sports? The Scottish Sport Council? Us?

Secondly, think of the implications of the required Safety Plan and the restrictions which will be imposed on such events by Police and Local Authorities, and thirdly, volunteer manpower. There is already a shortage of Marshals to run what we have.

Is there any good news? John Lamont has overnight become the new MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk and he is a known supporter of the Jim Clark Rally while the MSP for Argyll & Bute Michael Russell at least seems receptive to Mull's endeavours.

Could Mull get back on the roads this October? Given all that, highly unlikely. Even if there were no objections, the process itself would take too much time. Wonder if the MPs/MSPs are up for a bung, eh?

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