Comment posted Angus Council just voted 15-14 in favour of secret hearing of proposal to take Education Secretary to Judicial Review by Fiona McClymont.
I was also one of the members of the public who was ‘ejected’ before the ‘secret meeting’. On 7 February I sent emails to Councillors expressing my concern about the fact that the public were to be excluded. The only reply from Councillor Nield was a standard ‘out of office’ reply.
Councillor Myles replied with an email addressed (strangely) ‘To all concerned’.
“Angus Alliance Councillors have been, and remain, committeed to debating the new school provision in Arbroath in public.It would allow us to scotch the ridiculous and misleading twisting of facts surrounding this case.However, the purpose of the report which is to be considered by the Council this Thursday is about the legal options available to the Council arising from the decision of Scottish Ministers to refuse consent to the closure of Muirfield and Timmegreens Primary Schools. Under local government law certain categories of information are exempt from publication and should be considered by the Council in private.”
I sent another email to Councillor Myles asking him to explain why this specific matter had to be discussed in private. He replied but did not answer the question.I persisted and sent two further emails seeking an answer.
When I arrived home, having been ‘ejected’ from the secret meeting I had recieved this reply from Councillor Myles dated 9 February (13:51):
“I have just picked up your latest e-mails as I have had many meetings this past few days as you could imagine.
I’m glad you are not speaking from a political point of view, as I have always said when it comes to operating at Local Council Level, National Political stances hinder rather than help the smooth running of a Council.
This Council has been very open and transparent through all this process and it is the decision of the Cabinet Secretary that lacks transparency and could be questioned.
How the council wishes to proceed be it legally or otherwise has to be decided in private.”
What do you think?
Still hasn’t answered the question….
For me his statement “Angus Alliance Councillors have been, and remain, committed to debating the new school provision in Arbroath in public” to be at best ludicrous!
Recent comments by Fiona McClymont
- Social media has its limits: Angus Council Leader loses it in public following loss of Ewan Smith
I too live in Angus. Not sure what you can find to stand up for people who have no idea of fairness, honesty and accountability. This is a Council that can uphold a formal grievance that senior education officials did not follow Angus Council policy to investigate the Council’s own failures to provide services to chilidren reported to be at risk of harm. The elected members did not then demand an investigation. I have been seeking an investigation of those complaints since 2008 – Stuart Hosie MP has been trying since 2011 – to obtain an explanation for this unacceptable situation. Guess what they keep avoiding the issue.
- Seconder for Councillor Ewan Smith’s referral of Arbroath primary school estate decision to full Angus Council
Ewan Smith is the only person on Angus Council who has presented an informed and intelligent proposal to the people of Angus. However, we have been denied all opportunity to benefit from his input. We have a Council Leader (Iain Gaul) who uses Facebook to make what has been described in the Courier as a ‘Foul Mouthed Rant’ attacking other Councillors. See http://www.facebook.com/pages/Councillor-Iain-Gaul/433761449989181 He does this while claiming that ‘Team Angus’ (his actual words) are working for the betterment of Angus! Angus Council has to be the most undemocratic local authority in the UK: they have what Iain Gaul has described as a ‘new & improved’Scrutiny & Audit’Committee who voted NOT to ‘scrutinise why Angus Council Officials previous proposals had to be called in by the Scottish Government. The Scottish Government criticised Angus Council because the proposals were not ‘fully transparent’ and were not ‘wholly accurate’. The people of Angus paid for that incompetent ‘proposal’ but Angus Council have decided not to find out what went wrong. Instead, they have given Council Officials another bite at the cherry and have excluded Councillor Smith from that process. The Director of Education, Neil Logue vigorously progressed the proposal that was described by Angus Council’s ‘Leader’ as ‘flawed’. Neil Logue leaves angus Council at the end of the month with an early retirement package that includes a generous ‘golden handshake’. The people of Angus will just have to trust that this time round he has not been progressing plans that are ‘not wholly accurate’- the fact that Councillor Smith’s question could not be answered does not bode well…. Never mind if these proposals (arranged at meetings attended by the non elected Mr Logue but excluding the elected Councillor Smith) hit the fan – Mr Logue will no longer be involved or indeed accountable.
- Councillor Ewan Smith does battle alone at Angus education meeting
I would also like to know what Mr Russell’s views are on how the SNP controlled Angus Council responded to the fact that the Scottish Government rejected the Angus Council proposals made last year. The SNP controlled parliament rejected those proposals on the grounds that they were not ‘fully transparent’ and that they were not ‘wholly accurate. The people of Angus paid for those proposals to be made, even although they had already rejected them. Employees (and possibly elected members) at Angus Council were responsible for the reasons that the Scottish Government severely criticised the rejected plans. Senior Council Officials are well paid in Angus but failed to deliver a competent proposal. After the local election when the SNP gained control of Angus. I complained to all members of the newly formed Angus Council that it was not acceptable for Angus Council to have made such a mess of the proposal that the Scottish Government was forced to reject. Councillor Gaul (SNP), Leader of the Council replied. He replied using the word ‘flawed’ three times to describe the proposals. He said that Angus Council’s ‘new and improved’ Scrutiny & Audit Committee would consider the matter as a ‘priority’. The Committee voted NOT to ‘scrutinise’ why the Council had been so severely criticised by the Scottish Government or to explain to the people of Angus why/how public money had been wasted on what the Leader of the Council himself called (3X in one email) a ‘flawed’ project! It is sickening that the SNP should have used the ‘Arbroath Schools Issue’ to gain control by clearly supporting Ewan Smith’s campaign against this specific proposal and then to ignore why this mess was allowed to be progressed by non elected Council Officials. The SNP Group in Angus are concealing serious issues that concern the honesty, transparency and competence of Senior Council Officials by failing to investigate or scrutinise their conduct. The SNP have lost any respect or trust I had for this party – they have also lost my vote.
- Schools campaigner, Councillor Ewan Smith quits Angus Council SNP group and administration to go independent
The Director of Education, Neil Logue used the Angus Council web site to publish his personal opinions about Ewan Smith’s opposition to the proposals. This was before Ewan was elected as a councillor. Logue’s letter to the Scottish Government complained that Ewan had been uncooperative by refusing to attend meetings ‘behind closed doors’. The proposals were rejected – lack of transparency on the part of the Council was one reason cited. The people in Angus are now expected, by the SNP ‘controlled’ council, to accept that Councillor Smith,Education Vice- Convenor and the Councillor repesenting the a ward that will be directly affected by proposals, can be excluded from Council meetings! This sums up what democracy means in Angus – is any wonder the turn out at local elections is so poor? I feel very badly let down by the Angus SNP group, not simply because they have become turncoats but because they are behaving in such an underhand and undemocratic manner. I was a supporter of Scottish Independence but this whole issue is making me reconsider that position; I will never trust the SNP again.
- Martha Payne and NeverSeconds hit fund raising target: new kitchen for Mary’s Meals
The poor dinner ladies are frontline workers. Someone much higher up the ‘food chain’(sorry)in the Council will sit in an office and be paid a promoted salary to ‘manage’ what the dinner ladies are able to provide. It is that person (possibly even persons) who is responsible for goes on prison trays in schools. It is their responsibility to ensure that dinner ladies have good quality ingredients, cooking equipment,facilities and training to produce good food.
If there is a problem in doing this then it is THEIR responsibility to convey that to elected members so that THEY can address issues.
Is the whole photograph debacle really down to the actions of a paid council official?
Time for some clarity (not just in A&B but across Scotland)about who does what within a local authority. Councillors have been elected to make policies. Officials are paid to implement them.
Lines have become blurred and no one is ever held accountable for their area of responsibility. Especially when it all hits the fan.
The current system failures are mocking democracy.
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