Over the years that I have been a councillor, I have noted many changes in the way the council operates.

Some of these changes have been for the better but some have been for the worse.

Whereas in the past, councillors could pick up the phone or send an email to local council officers to highlight problems that had been raised by constituents and most officers would take early action to address these problems, unfortunately that is no longer the case.

Most councillors built up excellent working relationships with local council officers and it was through these relationships that problems were resolved.

Now councillors can no longer raise problems directly with local council officers. We are now required to report problems to admin officers through a ‘Members’ Casebook’ system.

These officers then send our queries to the appropriate service department, where other admin officers will direct our problems to the appropriate official.

By the time our problems are passed around various council officers, it can take some considerable time to resolve problems.

In the meantime, constituents who have raised problems with us are wondering why it is taking so long to get a response to their queries.

Whereas in the past, local council officers could often provide answers to councillors’ queries in a matter of minutes, this is no longer the case. It can often take weeks to get answers to constituents’ problems.

* Meanwhile, the area committee grants system that many local voluntary groups depended on has now change to the Supporting Communities Fund. Unfortunately, the way that decisions are taken on how grants are allocated is also changing.

The grant applications from local groups that meet the new criteria, and are eventually shortlisted, will go out for the pubic to vote on.

I have argued strongly that the council did not think through the new system when councillors agreed to how these grant applications would be decided.

The public will be asked to vote on the shortlisted applications and those receiving the most votes will be successful.

My argument is that this system clearly discriminates against our small rural communities and favours the larger towns, where most of the votes will come from.

It is disappointing that a rural local authority can introduce a system that clearly discriminates against our small rural communities.