Great point neil, just shows you how poor …

Comment posted Spygate: unholy mess in the bunker but Council Leader focuses on petty score-settling by north argyll.

great point neil, just shows you how poor the manifestos of our political parties/groups are when they all lacked support and we are landed with a Regional Highlands & Islands MSP that couldnt muster enough votes for previous council election. More importantly, his personal commitment to economy and young business people (with school aged family) must be questioned when he failed to pay his company bills. Only to wind up the company when he lands his £80K salary and then ordered my a sheriff to settle!! Poor show and many have short memories and lack of focus on long game!

north argyll also commented

  • totally agree…..and thanks to Anne and Integrity for turning this conversation around! I appreciate the pressures some may have re: need to stay anon….but please remember, if others are courteous enough to put there head up above the parapet, then those that arent shouldnt fire shots or speak about MANIFESTO in an aggressive manner. Its taken me lots of time today to drill into what your all about!!! does everyone have to do the same???
    We all have work, life, kid commitments and the web is our portal….pls, pls, pls….expand on your website. You have a great platform. Those willing to add their identities (do so) and honestly, copy some of your responses on here onto the site. It makes all the difference and actually makes you out to be human and non political. The content on your site has major gaps, lacks detail and also portrays you as a one issue group. After some debate,…..I’m swayed that you may not be (bunch of tree huggers! – sorry – its the only description I could come up with)
    The direct criticism of others by your membership doesnt reflect well….esp as I’ve had to drag certain things from you all. Make it nice, easy and simple for folks to support you! I’ll never attend a committee, or a protest but doesnt mean I cant support in other ways!!! I know others won’t like some of my views, issues or beliefs but on this ocassion pls “like” below, if you would support ARSN adding more detail to their website???
    Best wishes to you all! Keep up the robust debate but pls temper your responses to others that haven’t delved so deep!
  • ive been here for 7 yrs and was born & educated in Oban until I left for education and work!
    thankyou integrity….all I’m asking for is to get a feel for your cause and the people within it. some are open with identity and others not. I’m not bashing for bashing sake..just there is a poverty of info and opportunity to support you! simple thing…your asking for hard earned ££££ on your site yet, I’ve not a clue who is responsible for it!
    as with regard to volunteer time, it would seem there is plenty of ARSN folk on here (including yourself, that could copy n paste what you’ve just written into your own blog!!!)
    Its refreshing to read your latest post but you must understand my concerns.
    Your right, I never put my own work:life over that of kids but, its the work:life thing that will dictate whether our family resides in a&bc! we need to earn more and reduce costs, (like councils) and the pattern of running back and forth to schools (& expensive nurseries) whilst on drastically lower than average salaries, will drive us out of the region!!!!! (i agree, great schools are a major attraction but families and adults making decisions to stay or go based on opportunity & connectivity! (well I do!)
  • i aint forcing a campaign on others or having a go at others that havent (yet) aligned with their dogma…..if your key members of an organisation, then let us know who they are….I would happyily reveal myself but there are ARSN members on here that want us to support them but I can’t cause I dont know who, where or what they stand for!
  • for douglas…I’m not down on schools but I’m challenging a one issue group of people…I’m open to changing my viewpoint when ARSN offer more insight. Your post is exactly what I’m wanting to read and runs with my own opinion. However, cllrs, council employees and constituents have to realise that growth has to be achieved with reduced resources and one focus must not detract from others. I’ve not done the level of detailed research or sourced case studies such as yourself, so please could you have one place to publicise or debate them.
    All I can do is reflect on my own experiences of working, living in this region and as I say….school closures isnt a high priority for me as my kids have great time and experience. However, there are significant issues such as start time, wrap around care, community use (and others such as after-school clubs etc) all of these are of equal importance but I dont read anything about them. If my kids school closed, they would go to another (yes increased pupil/teacher ratio, less time in gym etc but it would be equivalent to our experience in urban area) the issues I raise for parents still exist; ie: start-time, wrap around and after-school!!!!
    I’m open to debate and want you to gain my support! it doesnt come automatically becuase I’m a parent or without a bit of work!
  • oh the anticipation….please consider using a neutral platform aswell. I like FA but they can sway towards the SNP also. Get something up on your own blog…names & skills of the esteemed volunteers would be a starter for 10. You are all alias on here! come on play ball!

Recent comments by north argyll

  • 81%-full Hillhead school closed on an educational benefit statement copied from Arbroath? Who needs a law?
    this development is exactly why I was so keen to learn more about arsn and its presumption of snp support (or opposition) “when in power”………it highlights that I was correct to press the subject matter. I was also correct to back others such as neil macintyre as he was pressed on manifesto pledges and his attributes. well, our great snp msp and minister can make decisions irrespective of law, established benchmarks, facts and common-sense.
    Why?….well we have egotistic and powerful individual/party that uses their communication machine to gain popularity/votes whilst sweeping past matters of their doing. the latest “bloody disgrace” of a calmac gangplank is a perfect example. here we have a belter….he only complains after a visit with fellow cllrs, yet, i’m sure he wasn’t so swift to act or comment in response to mullachs or visitor feedback! more importantly…soon after election, he was quicker to sort out the leadership of calmac (chief exec)! ludicrous
  • Extraordinary attack on Education Secretary by Angus Councillor
    “I wouldn’t be surprised if the leader of MAG (schools group) stood as an SNP candidate at the next election or as a pseudo independent.”

    Haha

    Ditto in Argyll, especially Oban!!!

  • Louise Glen-Lee wins Oban North and Lorn by election
    fair cop, you maybe didnt say constituents but you did ask how residents of dunbeg would benefit? as a Cllr, all your comments are public. the snp and your own style is accustomed to manipulating the media to your benefit. but, not everyone is taken by this. over the last 6 mth, you’ve been in OT (maybe the front pages) raising issues about dog dirt, loss of parking attendants, oban common good chairmanship. at the same time, the snp decided to walk away from the big decisions such as the chord board following poor decision to not support obm. also 11th hour decision to back out of schools proposals. snp were ruling body for majority of the 4-5yrs term, so please tell us the improvements that have been made in this time?
  • Louise Glen-Lee wins Oban North and Lorn by election
    for ken – I simply queried if you lived in Oban North. I had a look at the boundaries and wasn’t sure because it splits some of the town centre or residential areas within the town. thanks for offering the clarity but please don’t engage in debate with me if you have any issue. (I would be delighted to meet in person if you wish)
    The reason I’m so direct to yourself is that you are in a fortunate position to have access to the political comings n goings. well done!
    Unfortuantely, my home didn’t receive any documentation from the candidates and I live in one of the villages cited. (It is highly likely I was out working one of my jobs during the day/night but I do have a post box)
    In fact, as you mention remuneration, the average A&BC wage is lower than the salary for our hard-up Cllrs whom all seem to bicker over committee chairs etc. Why? earn more for themselves. So…..I’ll make no apology for expecting them to work for their money…..after all, we all have to pay for our local authority pension deficit.
    Moving forward, I’m not being negative for a number of reasons; 1. I have a different outlook as I’m from different generation and have different expectations, wants & desires 2. I’m not satified with the status quo or the quality or performance of some of our cllrs.
    I’m entitled to air this and happy to explain myself.
    Best wishes from Oban North environs
  • Louise Glen-Lee wins Oban North and Lorn by election
    I’m not aware of the good reasons?……financial, time, conflicts???? on a personal level, I would hope you would stand but understand your commitments. however, im confident you would sharpen the focus on the schools matter and support for businesses if you were closer to the machinations.

    totally agree with you but with regard to fireworks but I would love to see some fireworks or fire in the bely from some of our cllrs. all we’ve been subjected to is letters to oban time editors……come on get real!! lets not be Mr or Ms Nice and get on with the job in hand. local authoirty is a business responsible for the services we buy into! so lets ensure our cllrs are business like and have the necessary acumen & skills to deliver.

    Finally, I agree about cllr maccuish as I like him as a person but at times he’s guilty of style over substance and has made some public comments that I can’t stomach. (ie: how will my constituents in Dunbeg benefit from marine tourism – in public meeting about OBM)

    There is a degree of naievity and risk aversion with some of our cllrs when it comes to big decisions! ie: 5 yrs in post and things have gone back the way! we need cllrs to be strategic and think of the long-game. all to often they are bogged down in minutiae with a&bc staff and others rather than setting out the goals & actions required!

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80 Responses to Great point neil, just shows you how poor …

  1. But Walsh must have been very upset that the lady he personally chose to do his bidding at every and any turn might show the slightest sign (in self-defence?) of listening to any suggestions but his own.
    By and large I disapprove of making political attacks personal, but Walsh is pushing my consideration and his luck.

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  2. Think it might just be too late for the panic button as I’m sure certain individuals are already confused about which Lochgilphead institution they are in.

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  3. I am with Simon, this is becomming boring and repetitive.

    Apparently we should have transparent local government but objecters to council policy can form secret cabals. This smacks of hypocrisy at the very least.

    Given some of the negative comments about the council on this site I am glad to find out that they are keeping an eye on some of the malcontents.

    Of course you can easily identify the good councillors, they have wings, halos and the letters SNP after their names. Bring back the days when all councillors were independent, I say. There should be no place for party politics in local government.

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    • Jim B get a grip,”secret cabals” what utter nonsense and drivel!!!

      Fact, we do not have transparancy in local goverment in Argyll and the only “cabal” is ensconced in Kilmory, Dear Leader and his cohorts acting as the executive excluding all and sundry who voice opposition.

      By the way this forum is open to anyone and certainly not secret, even Ms Smith knew that.

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    • I totally disagree with JimB 14th Feb. WE MUST NEVER AGAIN VOTE IN INDEPENDENTS. The recent history of A&B Council shows what happens when you do. The Leader becomes in effect a ‘party leader’ but without a manifesto and the result is a kind of parochial stalinism – with the most undesirable consequences across the board – as we have seen. A & B’s failures have been enormous and comprehensive, ranging from financial bungling, attempted school closures, inappropriate allocation of funds, including ‘consultancy’ fees (see CHORD Project) to bullying and now, it appears, even espionage!
      In future, don’t trust ANY Independents – we need to see their credentials – and that means a Party Manifesto to which they are accountable. Otherwise they can make it up as they go along, and that. most certainly is NOT ‘representative democracy’.

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  4. JimB – “I am with Simon, this is becomming boring and repetitive.”

    Repetitive as in you always agreeing with Simon?

    I remember feeling the same way when you were all banging on about the Dunoon Ferries saga, however as it was obvious a number of you felt passionately about it, although there were a bunch of “usual suspects” stirring that one big time, I just kept to other stories.

    If you are sick of what it a massive story just now, then perhaps you should stick to the other articles. :)

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  5. As an outsider looking in I made the following post at the week-end ie. ” All the Communication manager needs to do is provide a complete list of her “aliases” and the forums she frequented and we can all see how innocent this is!

    The Chief Executive, Council leader etc can also confirm that they have not received any information from their Communications Manager from such sites. Should be easy — open government!”

    As far as I can see there has no explanation as to the Council employees alleged actions.

    How local authorities work is important for the democratic process–see the debacle at Glasgow— be it Councillor’s or council officials, procurement issues etc.

    Let’s hope the answers re ABC is clarified soon. Maybe the Data Protection Officer needs to be involved?

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  6. I’ve come late to this with mild disinterest. I gather that one or more concillors may have been posting on here and othern ‘social media’ sites under an alias. Is that it?

    it is hardly phone hacking or the climategate mass e-mail theft, is it? Many on here post under an alias (myself included, although it is not difficult to crack). The very nature of a medium like ForArgyll allows whistleblowers anonymity and similarly allows those on whom the whistle is being blown to defend their position without sticking their heads too far above the parapet.

    Can someone explain to me why there is such moral outrage? Perhaps you can point me to where it says that public servants may only post under real names, because I can’t see it. Political propaganda campaigns are waged as much in the ‘social media’ as anywhere else nowadays, and I fail to understand the faux outrage now frothing up because A&B Council are too inept to keep quiet about it.

    Could someone please enlighten me?

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    • I don’t know about moral outrage but the truth would be good.

      Was the alleged activity undertaken during working hours or ABC behest? Did anyone suffer as a result eg lost a job?

      Either way once the full details are disclosed the public will be in an informed position to be outraged or bored.

      As for your alias- come out —you will feel better!

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    • Perhaps you’d need to be one of the people they may have spied on. I’ve spent the last few days changing passwords on every account I have. I keep telling myself I’m not a criminal and I have done nothing I wouldn’t be happy to have in the public arena, yet you begin to think about those throw-away comments you made among friends that might be taken out of context and misconstrued.

      This is NOT what a council should be doing.

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    • You’re right, it should be no big deal.
      I can see and understand why these additional accounts with pseudonyms have been set up.
      There’s nothing illegal about setting these up (although they MAY break the terms and conditions of the social media site, but that’s an entirely different matter).
      I can think of a perfectly reasonable explanation for all of this. If this perfectly reasonable explanation were true, it should have tripped of the tongue quickly, naturally and quite unselfconsciously. To a PR Dept it should have been routine and run of the mill.
      My question is why after almost a week of this haven’t we heard this perfectly reasonable explanation or something like it? What limited explanations we have had simply don’t stand up to scrutiny. It’s this that gives an impression of “no smoke without fire” and there being something more to it.

      For those who think this is nothing more than a “For Argyll” clique-fest for all the paranoid wing-nuts and the terminally disaffected, I’d like them to reflect on the fact that the story was broken by the Herald and that it was their investigative reporters and editorial staff that thought the story worth printing. Whatever it was that made them suspicious and that the story had legs, they certainly weren’t satisfied or convinced by whatever limited explanation they received before going to print.

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  7. DE Blair, if you are curious as to my identity then let me Google that for you

    (If OTOH I google DE Blair your actual identity becomes no clearer to me . . . making up a convincing sounding name is hardly a major feat of spycraft)

    I still don’t understand the moral outrage. If the worst that has happened is that someone has accessed the internet while at work then half the working population in the UK is in trouble.

    If I was a public figure or organisation under attack on the social media then it would be pretty likely that either myself or persons acting on my behalf would set up a sock puppet or two to defend my position. In fact, I suggest that it would be unusual not to. In terms of media manipulation it is small beer – and not AFAIK in any way illegal in itself.

    The Council’s ‘crime’ lies in their stupidity and ineptitude in having this come out and explode in their faces in the way that it has. For that I agree they deserve to be pilloried.

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    • Dear Webcraft,

      making up a convincing sounding name is hardly a major feat of spycraft—-

      You have found me out! BUT I need to thank my parent’s for making up my name.

      However, I am grateful to see that you checked me out on google– just shows how lowly a person I am when you cannot find me.

      You need to trust people more. As previously stated the Council/ Data Protection Officer can clarify this issue very quickly and then folk can decide for themselves.

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      • I wasn’t suggesting for a minute that you are not DE Blair, merely pointing out that it can be very difficult to tell the sock puppets from the citizens online.

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    • Ah, but these are not sock puppets we’re talking about really are they — we’re specifically talking about ‘Spy Accounts’. These are about the monitoring of online activity of the opposition, whether councillors or not, without that opposition’s knowledge or permission. And before you say it, there is a vast amount of difference between having your say on an open and public forum like ForArgyll, and having your private communications monitored on a private forum. I think that is what the kerfuffle is about. You’re right though, the council have made a pig’s ear of this — hardly surprising having employed someone as naive (if we are being charitable) like Jo Smith.

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  8. JimB, You must be missing something. There are no secret cabals, merely a few people who need to keep hold of their jobs so don’t use their names on this site (as often pointed out in posts). Most belong to perfectly public organisations.

    If you actually read the posts you will see that schools activists in particular, SNP supporters included, have regularly given credit to George Freeman, Gordon Chalmers, the Argyll First Group, Jackie Baillie and Jamie McGrigor as well as Michael Russell and the SNP group. ALL of these have supported schools.

    As for the “no politics in local government”, that’s what Argyll & Bute has at the moment. No manifesto, vision or aim, no guaranteed policy they have to stick to, no obligation to meet a standard. That we have a handful truly independent councillors who meet high standards is a great blessing. The rest have led a council that, at best, has nursed decline and, at worst, is in the national press with yet another scandal.

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  9. If this was just social stuff she was doing in private then its not a problem.Why use George Berry as part of her powerpoint, which was council business and I would of thought as a so called private matter to hide the councillors name conviently, under there own rules should not of been used.
    As for getting bored with certain subjects, then we are bored of having councillors masquarade in doing things for the greater good. I would think that anyone would be annoyed if you or a member of your family were wronged by those in power. its a different ballgame then maybe.!

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  10. What evidence is there of people’s jobs being at risk? UK employment law, as I understand it, makes it difficult to sack anyone. Then there are Tribunals who look into the legality of such things and unions to fight peoples’ cases.

    Years ago public authorities often got rid of their dross by giving them early retirement. I would hope this no longer happened as it is basically a reward for incompetence. (Unless you are a banker of course when it is completely justified apparently.)

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    • Jim B, a few examples of how it might work. If you’re teaching in a small school and are not popular with the management, you might well find that your school is on the next closure list (and teachers’ experience is that the union wasn’t interested in helping with that). If you’re working in social services you might find your office is the one that’s being closed or shrunk. If you’re ambitious in any way you might find yourself being repeatedly passed over for promotion.

      Conversely, if you were in power long-term, you might wish to reward those you consider to be bright and loyal employees by making sure their positions were secure and they had every opportunity to advance.

      It’s not rocket science to see how it might be done and indeed IS done the world over. There is at least one ex-employee who has taken A&B to court and won. They’re still unemployed.

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  11. It isn’t only employees of the council who are worried about allowing their identity to be known. It is also small business owners who may be reliant on the Council, council employees or elected members as a major customer. There is a fear that public criticism may impact on their chances of being awarded business or that their shop won’t be frequented by particular people.

    I hold up my hands and say that this is not something that can be proved – it is simply a concern that has been expressed by people in that position.

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    • I can remember, years ago now, being told by someone that their father said to them ‘just remember who pays your wages before you go public with your concerns’ – and this was in mid Argyll, probably the area of Argyll & Bute with the highest proportion of livelihoods dependent directly or indirectly on the council. This cannot but have put the dampers on local debate on the council’s performance over the years, and I can’t help thinking that this is reflected in the culture within the council that’s taking so much flak in this website.

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  12. I have to say that the concept of every village having its own school is an outdated concept. It was good in the days of the horse and cart but rarely tenable nowadays. Taking Toward as an example, it should have been closed years ago as many if not most of the pupils do not live in the village and Innellan Primary is only about 3 miles away. This represents a cost that Counil tax payers could do without, and, if closed when first mooted by the Council could have been sold for a pretty penny.

    (I use Toward as an example because it is in Cowal of which I have knowlege and not for any other reason. I am sure though that the same situation pertains in other areas of A&B.)

    I therefore do not see the protesters as heroes of the people and given the way the council settlement was dealt with by the SNP this year, I think they have even less of a case as the Councils have lost the right to raise local taxes. The council is right to keep an eye on malcontents activities in my book.

    What I am trying to point out is that the protesters that are trying to subvert ( for want of a better word ) the council’s policies are not the only people with a point of view on the subject, in reality probably only a vocal minority. The council does have policies on many things and they are probably better for not having a party political slant to everything.

    The question of possible council bullying is all smoke and mirrors as far as I can see.

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    • JimB, Don’t feel limited to Toward. Google provides ample opportunity to explore the others so you can come to a balanced view. It’s useful to note that since the days of the horse and cart a great many schools have already closed and those that are left are quite a distance apart, especially when you consider that the council proposed to put children as young as four on unsupervised service buses (or involve their parents in round trips with the prospect of standing in the rain/wind//snow/sun for a whole school day). It’s also useful to note that most of Argyll & Bute bears no resemblance to Dunoon and is in fact remote and truly rural.

      Finally, when my local school had its consultation meeting the whole community turned out for it. The same was repeated in many of the threatened schools. Your assertion about vocal minorities misrepresents them. I respectfully suggest you get to know more about the subject before you make further public judgements.

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  13. JimB, I do not recall one councillor in Argyll & Bute arguing at anytime that there should be no school closures.

    The problem with the school closure proposals that were brought to the Council over a year ago was that they were clearly flawed and did not stack up. Some of us were willing to put our heads above the parapet to say so.

    It was for this reason that the ConDemAll administration was forced to withdraw them at a special Council meeting called by opposition councillors.

    Unfortunately a second set of proposals were brought forward by the ConDemAll administration but these were also flawed.

    No one is saying that every village should have its own school. As far as Toward is concerned, it probably would have been closed years ago if it was not in the ward of the Leader of the Council.

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  14. JimB is surely unlikely to suffer significantly from the effects of Council surveillance- a process he apparently approves- when he adopts such an uncritical attitude to those presently in control. I suggest that he comes clean and reveals his identity.
    Sadly it would appear though that he cannot see very clearly if he fails to recognise the bullying culture that is endemic within the present administration of AB&C.
    He choses a particularly unfortunate example to support his argument when he touches upon local schools where the attitude of the controlling group has yet to come under proper public scrutiny for their past behaviour but surely will do so in May.
    I wish that I could discover stated cogent council policy on any topic.Perhaps JimB could tell me where I will find it?
    I wonder how, for instance, the proposals to spend £1.84 million of borrowed cash, in part, on their CHORD proposal to land visiting cruise passengers onto pontoons in an unsuitable, weather exposed,situation to the north of the North Pier in Oban can be justified with this same Council having recently spent cash on “improving” the present landing situation of the Oban Times jetty – a fixed link to the north of the North Pier!How this extraordinary decision was reached has so far eluded the public who will nonetheless be saddled with the bill.
    I have no problem at all in being described as a “malcontent” or as a “protester” in the context.
    A better word than subvert would be “oppose” but the opportunities to do that constructively within the closed culture of the Council’s ruling group is slim indeed.

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  15. First time I have heard anything about the Oban Chord project, mind you the Dunoon one is of dubious benefit. I am not sure we are permitted to dicuss the latter – I suggested to Newsie that Dunoon Chord was at least as interesting as the Helensburgh one and ditto the new supermarket proposals for Dunoon vis a via Helensburgh. I didn’t get a reply but then there probably aren’t any votes in it for a certain party.

    I will certainly name one area where the council has a stated policy as you requested – Planning & Development. Local area plans exist for all areas as far as I am aware.

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    • Would those be the local plans that limit the amount of affordable housing being built in villages? The plans that force local youngsters to move into town with the chldren who might have filled the school?

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  16. This story is being driven to who knows where. The data protection act has a set of defining principle to which all organisations must adhere to. In fact, the Council will have had to sign up and disclose the type of information they collect and how it is managed. If an employee breaches the Act then the Council and employee are both guilty of a breach. Check out http://www.ico.gov.uk/for_organisations/data_protection/topic_guides/privacy_impact_assessment.aspx So who is going to bell the cat? Come on For Argyll you will have signed up to the act and the data principles – Point people in the right direction – explain how it works, what are the remedies?

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  17. And as for the voters being better off with”independent” Councillors – it might have been so in the past, but where we have a majority of the Council being elected on no other basis than that they are “good eggs” with no statement of the principles they hope to bring to the governance of the area, which results in a collection of incompetents with one strong minded individual who is interested in his power and another 11 who have nothing to say on important decisions but wait to gather how he is going to vote and then hold their hands up – this is good governance? At least with Parties they state what they want to do, and if they fail the voters will throw them out next time.
    Thias is why I was glad when the Administration by its majority vote in the Council passed through to the Rural Schools Forum the opinion, as that of A&B council, the policy statement by a Paid official that the question of whether a school should be closed must be left to the education officials and not decided by the Councillors elected to represent the public view. So in May we will see whether the voters agree with JohnB and Sneddon or think that decisions which will affect their children and their village must be made by people who are accountable to them.

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  18. I just love it when the good old party supporters come on and deliver the great news that all there councillors are the only way forward for Argyll.
    Ask George Berry how helpful the local party councillors were.
    SNP.councillor Mary Jean Devon and her coat of many different colours.
    Walsh and his band of so called independents are rightly vilified but don,t tar every person who intends to stand independently,and at there own expense, with the same brush.
    Your SNP.colleaques have a lot to prove after five years, what improvements have we seen in Oban.
    Sorry Argyll but this wee bit is our battleground.
    Power to the People.

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  19. OK, let’s name some names. Below are the ‘Naughty Nineteen’- the Councillors who in the teeth of popular opposition, voted to close around 26 Primary Schools.

    Rory Colville (Lib Dem)
    Robin Currie (Lib Dem)
    Vivien Dance (Ind)
    Alison Hay (Lib Dem)
    Daniel Kelly (Ind)
    David Kinniburgh (Con)
    Neil MacKay (Ind)
    Bruce Marshall (Ind)
    Donnie Macmillan (Ind)
    Duncan McIntyre (Ind)
    James McQueen (Ind)
    Ellen Morton (Lib Dem)
    Gary Mulvaney (Con)
    Andrew Nisbett (Lib Dem)
    William Petrie (Ind)
    Al Reay (Lib Dem)
    Elaine Robertson (Ind)
    Len Scoular (Ind)
    Dick Walsh (Ind Leader)

    Most of these people will be standing for election in May. Verb. sap…… Grrrrr

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  20. For Barcaldine Tyger.
    Democracy seems to be a one way show with you, how can anyone debate without your name.Slagging someone who will stand as a independent candidate like myself without giving us the right of your identity is as low and cowardly as WALSH and co.I will debate any issue you like face to face in public with my thoughts on the way forward for Oban and Argyll.Please come along with your mask on it should be very enlightening.
    Or even better why not stand yourself for your own party because you obviously have very strong views or are you just too busy.
    I am Neil MacIntyre I have lived and worked here all my life.Married to Margaret for 32 years,still going strong,I have great patience.Three sons who work in economic development, education and constuction.My wife is a nurse in our local hospital so between us we cover a fair span of
    local issues.My three young grandchildren are the light of my life and what happens in this area through poor local govt. will greatly affect there future.I was a stonemason with Historic Scotland before taking up the job of mobile librarian with the council.That lasted 20 years which were some of the happiest times of my life.Meeting young mums in playgroups through to going into primary schools in our rural areas gave me a great insight into how important and fragile our communities can be.Elderly care, I attended a very interesting meeting with the head of that service and I will make my views on that clear during the election hustings.Finance,I went on strike over the imposition of single status,I went on the local radio and put correspondence in the Oban Times,we do not need a lot of the jobs they are not producing anything.I would go through them and release that money to more deserving posts.Jobs would have to go but who would miss the Q.I.O.s etc.
    Just a little on who I am and what I am about, plenty more good and bad just give us a shout or even better come along to the hustings and have a go at me.LOOK FORWARD TO IT.
    Power to People.
    ,

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    • Neil, I think you’ve got the wrong end of the stick with Barcaldine Tyger. He/She has only ever been a schools activist and I don’t think he/she is a nationalist. You can, if you think about it, see why people interested in schools came to loathe independents as it was independents who were hellbent on closing their schools. I’m not sure everyone sees a distinction between one kind of independent and another.

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    • To Neil MacIntyre
      What’s your MANIFESTO statement? If you don’t have one, no-one in their right mind will vote for you. It doesn’t matter how good a bloke you are: that’s not the point.You must have a POLICY and you must be ACCOUNTABLE TO IT.

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  21. Totally agree with Anne here. Not only is Barcaldine Tyger a lovely bloke but a staunch rural schools supporter.

    I think his comment is more related to the people who are currently in power and have let the people of Argyll down repeatedly already.

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  22. barcaldine tyger….i’m yet to see any of the political parties deliver on a promised manifesto..its only as good as the day its printed. also…running for council is more than just schools. Our demographic is getting older rapidly and we continue to have high levels of outmigration!!!! what about economy, planning, social work, leisure, etc etc. Personally, I’m bored with ASRN and school activists as I very much doubt we will see them enter the fray. More importantly, I doubt they will have the staying power to last a term (most will disappear as kids leave school)
    The independents (alongwith the SNP) were in charge when the schools issue came to light. At the 11th hour, they retreated!! using the typical SNP spin, they are now portraying themeselves as the good guys!! remember, it was under there watch!
    good on neil, he’s speaking is mind and offering to back it up by meeting to discuss. if you don’t take up the offer of raising the issues personally and are only known to your ASRN commrades, then it hard for a candidate to build a manifesto to reflect whats best for constituents. Its good to talk!!!

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  23. North Argyll, sorry to disabuse you. There are more than a few ARSN members whose kids already left school. They’re members of the communities the council tried to kill. The organisation has sticking power, largely for the reason that the council has made it clear it intends to continue decimating our schools and communities when the current moratorium is over. It’s not over until pro-schools, pro-communities councillors are in the majority. Are you indicating that your friend Neil won’t be one of them?

    Moreover ARSN has a range of skills available to it and recognised long ago the range of factors which have an impact on communities and their schools. Planning, housing, transport and jobs are the foremost but the whole range of council services matter, as does the basic attitude of the council that delivers them. Securing a future for our communities involves much more than waving an ARSN banner and our members are tackling the issues in various ways.

    ARSN is known to a great many people in communities across Argyll & Bute, not least because those are the members who are doing the work, actively promoting their communities and doing what they can to help themselves. In the long run it’s the regeneration of these communities that holds the only hope of reversing the trend of out-migration which, if you’d taken time to think, is largely the out-migration of the children currently filling our schools. We need a council that can think positively, be honest and open, and engage with us.

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  24. For Anne Baird
    Please if you want to ask me about what I want for my community ask the people locally and my fellow community councillors don,t play your stupid political rubbish.I look forward to debating the future of our community with your SNP CANDIDATES when the hustings start even the well known and long serving SNP.councillor Mary Jean Devon.As for North Argyll thanks for your comments whoever you are.

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  25. North Argyll said ‘Personally, I’m bored with ASRN and school activists as I very much doubt we will see them enter the fray. More importantly, I doubt they will have the staying power to last a term (most will disappear as kids leave school)’

    Fair enough but maybe you should wait to see the proof in the pudding. Anne is a perfect example of how wrong you are – being a noble gentleman I won’t betray her age however I can assure you she doesn’t have kids in a school and has been fighting the schools issue for much longer than you have the decency to give her credit for. I will also go on record as saying (and you can judge me on this at a later stage) that I will continue to fight for viable, quality schools long after my children leave.

    Be bored of us as much as you like. That is your right and perfectly entitled to it however we are fighting for what we believe is a just and proper cause, and one which has the education of everyone’s children and the long term sustainability of Argyll communities deeply rooted in its objectives. If that bores you then it casts doubt over your sincerity about the key issues that threaten Argyll and Bute. If there are specific areas that you feel willing to fight to protect then get mobilised and do exactly that – you might be surprised and find that we support those causes as well.
    However if you don’t and just sit back and take shots at people who do commit massive amounts of time and energy for something they believe in it makes your postion a lot less credible.

    What is it you mean by ‘enter the fray?’ I presume you mean stand for election (however correct me if I am wrong). There are many other ways of entering the fry without necessarily standing for election and I can assure you we have entered the fray and without the political badge you seem keen to cast upon us. I can assure anyone who is willing to listen that when I got involved with ARSN it had nothing to do with political leaning and if I had found it to be a group that was swayed by that I would have walked away and carried on supporting the retention of good rural schools on my own.

    Luckily I found that ARSN were not that way inclined and I am delighted to still be involved.

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  26. For Barcaldine Tyger
    I was going to post a reply till I read the crap from Anne Baird so I shall keep my ideas and my honest answers to different issues for the hustings.If she wants to play for votes go ahead I look forward to the debate.My grandchildren go to Benderloch so even though it is not the ares where I will be standing in the elections I will look forward to the hustings out there.I HAVE TO SEE WHAT THEY OFFER IN THEIR MANIFESTOS.
    Hopefully the Tyger will have the decency to introduce himself or will his mask give him away..
    I must agree with North Argyll the myth that the rest of Argyll has no soul unless you have a ARSN.tag is wearing thin.Education is important but so is everything else.
    Power to the People.

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  27. Neil: Just who from ARSN has said that if you don’t have an ARSN tag you have no soul?

    Education is the single largest part of any local authority’s responsibilities so you can argue it is the most important of a number of the range of functions. I think people are entitled to know how the thoughts of proto-councillors regarding education. An ARSN badge means that you support rural schools (like Lochnell!) and are pledged to maintain rural schools throughout Argyll. Saves a lot of explanation.

    Of course this might be a vote loser with some: the “Simons”, JimBs etc so it worth having a sober thought as to which badges you wear (and the company you want to keep!).

    ARSN came into being because of the schools issue but that doesn’t mean that this is the only issue that vexes us. I could sum ARSN’s wider interests as good governance – something we feel is woefully neglected in ABC (and, yes, EVERYONE has to take some responsibility for that – difference is that some people want to continue on the same old course while others want to change things for the better). With good governance comes transparency, trust and true efficiency. The latter leads to well delivered, cost effective, front line services and that benefits everybody.

    Knowing the Barcaldine Tyger well (and no, it is not me) I’m sure he will make himself manifest at the appropriate moment.

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  28. by enter the fray…..I do mean stand and let people vote for your manifesto as requested by barcaldine tyger. in my part of a&bc, we’ve got schools that don’t perform, schools that are half empty, schools that parents drive past to get to other schools in neighbouring villages. alll of these are a drain of important resources. i would fight for my local community school but I’m pragmatic enough and have foresight that the pattern cannot continue. we need to look at the DEMAND and SUPPLY side of things. There will be no demand, if we continue to have huge increases in spend to look after our aging population in a&bc. added to the fact, we will keep losing our young people, families etc as there is poor service provision, poor housing (stock & supply), poor & low value job prospects and poor infrastructure (roads & access)……..yes, the SUPPLY of community based schools is very important but it can’t be looked at in isolation. I’m desperate to see how important the issue is to your members when the elections come around!! Suppose everyone will have their own lives, commitments and work to get on with. Doubt there will be a ASRN ticket to vote for as they will cosy up to the SNP councillors who change opnion & stance like the wind. more importantly, they will probably side with the education minister (as for argyll recently reported) was happy to close 8 or 9 schools….his bully boy style isn’t a good thing for argyll either as he/they (the SNP) will also devastate our region if they progress with their divisive manifesto!……oh, forgot to ask, how does one join your organisation? is it open to all?

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    • ARSN is, and always has been, open to all. The cosying up to SNP remark is not proven by our history as when this all kick started we petitioned the SNP councillors who were in the administration at the time and we also have close ties with members of Argyll First, the actually independent group of councillors and also James Robb. Trying to frame us as a political group is lazy and factually incorrect.

      ARSN have also gone on the record many times to state that they are not opposed to school closures as a fundamental principle. If the Council presented a proposal to close a school where the proposal provided an educational benefit (as required by that pesky thing called legislation) then we would not oppose it, we would in fact support it. That might not sit well with anyone who would expect us to oppose any closure however these are our principles and we would stick to them.

      Your knowledge of who we are, what we stand for, what we do and how we go about doing it is clearly limited. There is no reason why it should be anything but this however it might be worth finding out the truth before making wild assumptions.

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    • North Argyll: too many issues here for me to deal with right now – though why don’t you stand yourself if you believe you have the panacea?

      As for rural schools being a drain on resources: as Tim McIntyre’s analysis showed, ABC receive pretty much all of the extra cost of their rural schools from the Scottish Government through GAE and associated grant lines. So rural schools do not detract from housing, care for the elderly or indeed expanding the PR services of ABC (I know where my priorities are in that list!).

      As for demand, there was a story yesterday on the BBC about the appalling problems in England because of under provision of school places. Councils had closed lots of schools then found that the population of pupils was rising and they no longer had anywhere to put them. The population projections suggest we will see a similar rise in primary school children over the coming decade in Scotland and in North Lorn we may see a more dramatic increase due to economic development and new housing in that area.

      As I have said before, North Lorn is not exactly awash with surplus capacity in its primary schools. Many of the schools are already running at or near capacity (Park, Taynuilt, Lochnell, Barcaldine, Dunbeg). National revision of capacity guidelines may mean that people look back fondly at the time when we could talk about “half empty” schools. What spare capacity there is (outside of the Oban Campus) is in schools at the extremities of the County (eg Lismore, Appin, Ardchattan). Only Achaleven offers useful capacity and I am pleased to hear that Achaleven will be opening again next session with a new P1 input.

      The presence of local schools is an important part of services – indeed in many rural areas it is pretty much the only part other than dustbin collection (that will probably set Treblet off!). Lose your school and property prices drop, young families don’t want to move in and you end up with a poorly distributed age structure that costs more for the Council to serve as there are no young neighbours to look after the elderly.

      Schools are not the be all and end all but they are a vital component of community resilience.

      Not quite sure why you are down on them.

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      • for douglas…I’m not down on schools but I’m challenging a one issue group of people…I’m open to changing my viewpoint when ARSN offer more insight. Your post is exactly what I’m wanting to read and runs with my own opinion. However, cllrs, council employees and constituents have to realise that growth has to be achieved with reduced resources and one focus must not detract from others. I’ve not done the level of detailed research or sourced case studies such as yourself, so please could you have one place to publicise or debate them.
        All I can do is reflect on my own experiences of working, living in this region and as I say….school closures isnt a high priority for me as my kids have great time and experience. However, there are significant issues such as start time, wrap around care, community use (and others such as after-school clubs etc) all of these are of equal importance but I dont read anything about them. If my kids school closed, they would go to another (yes increased pupil/teacher ratio, less time in gym etc but it would be equivalent to our experience in urban area) the issues I raise for parents still exist; ie: start-time, wrap around and after-school!!!!
        I’m open to debate and want you to gain my support! it doesnt come automatically becuase I’m a parent or without a bit of work!

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  29. For the Doc.
    I love the bit about the badges and the company I keep, have we now got to ask ARSN. and yourself what friends and political party if any we should support.If you and Anne think everything in the SNP. garden is rosy dream on.I will support honesty and integrity whatever flag it flies under and as for schools I was down at Kilmory with the other schools protesters representing Oban community council but after being told I would get into the chamber I was knocked back.
    I wish that we did not have to be there but the afternoon was spent in good company and with great crack.
    If you are sad enough to think I will say anything to get someone,s vote grow up and as for winning a seat well who in there right mind would vote for someone like me.
    Even better If you don,t get elected or pay your bills you get a job in the Scottish parliament just ask Mike MacKenzie, really good company to keep.

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    • ARSN will support any candidate of any political persuasion providing they sign up to our aims. Late converts will be treated suspiciously! ARSN does not equate to SNP, though we are pleased that the SNP has already produced a robust statement on the issue. A number of existing independents also support ARSN’s aims. I suppose the question is really for the new boys and girls.

      We are not telling anyone what to think or how to vote. That’s down to them. But what we want to ensure is we don’t have a situation as we just had where councillors were elected without a peep about closing schools then proceed to propose closing one third of all the primary schools in Argyll once they are elected. We want to know where all candidates stand on the issue and then people can make up their own minds whether or not to support them.

      Since I don’t know you I cannot have an opinion of you either happy or sad!

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  30. great point neil, just shows you how poor the manifestos of our political parties/groups are when they all lacked support and we are landed with a Regional Highlands & Islands MSP that couldnt muster enough votes for previous council election. More importantly, his personal commitment to economy and young business people (with school aged family) must be questioned when he failed to pay his company bills. Only to wind up the company when he lands his £80K salary and then ordered my a sheriff to settle!! Poor show and many have short memories and lack of focus on long game!

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  31. How did this comment thread manage to morph from ‘Kilmory Spygate’ into ‘Bash Mike MacKenzie’?

    Even a professional stream-of-consciousness comedian would have trouble generating lateral shifts of the magnitude going on here :-)

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    • The trouble is there tend to be one or two people – usually noisy and strident in their views – who unfortunately do little more than attack others’ views.
      Sometimes they don’t seem to have any real opinion of their own, and appear to be in it just for the aggro, twisting the thread for maximum effect. They often seem to revel in narrow party political point scoring and insult, and if any of these people hope one day to be on the council, God help us all.

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  32. north argyll, you clearly have no knowledge of the ARSN membership. I said at the very first meeting I’d walk away if there were no members of other parties to balance my presence. As it happened we also had members from Labour, SWP and the Tories so I stayed, as did they. Sadly we didn’t have any Liberal Democrats. We had, and still have, support from ALL the opposition councillors and are confident we’ll have the support of some of the new candidates.

    Why you would wish to attack ARSN is beyond me. As a group it boasts some of the finest people I’ve known and the vast majority have no political allegiance. It has been a breath of fresh air to work with them. ARSN is a great example of the people taking power for themselves and I stand in awe of their integrity and commitment. They’ll be some of the positive, hard-working people who rebuild this region and for the life of me I can’t think why you would wish to alienate them just to have a stab at the SNP.

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  33. for ARSN.
    Who is asking the question on rural schools and how do they back it up.Councillors not only back down on their pledges but also move from one party to another.So how do ARSN. quarantee their support and please don,t say it,s in their manifesto why would they lie.Do you sign them up on some sort of contract?

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  34. For Anne.
    what has not being a political group have to do with someone standing in the local elections.Surely members with your group being in Kilmory to help the rural schools issue would be sensible.

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  35. We fully expect to be in Kilmory helping with the rural schools issue when the current opposition councillors and their new colleagues are in power. ARSN’s aims are not best met by having a focus on the council alone. Other national bodies require attention if we’re to truly establish our schools and communities in the national framework.

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  36. firstly, this thread is titled “petty score settling” and some key ARSN allies (or closet SNP members, candidates etc) were challenging on manifestos. I was merely challenging on theirs and also highlighting a local case, where we get something we didn’t vote for (and some facts about our MSP’S behaviour at the time of his election – as there was limited comment about it!)
    for anne, yes, I dont know much about ARSN as nobody is telling me about them…..who are all they?, can you direct me to info on membership, key personnel and what is their long term policy/objectives. Is For Argyll the only place……do I need to attend a meeting to join the clique? You are all very supportive of each other and dont tolerate others opinions. I’m entitled to attack ARSN as despite my children being affected by the proposed closures, I feel your organisation is being reactive in search of a utopia. So…..are you going to enlighten me to what your long term (policy making ha) objectives will be?
    is it to save the stock we have or add more costly schools???? I’m also very interesting that you have confidence in being invited to help with rural school when in “power” Thats a very interesting concept and bottomless promise (from who??) the current opposition councillors that actually led you into the fight you find yourself in??? Ironic!!

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    • North Kintyre

      Again your information is incorrect. ARSN were formed when the school closure proposals were first announced so were not led into the fight by the current opposition councillors as many of them were in the administration at the time. ARSN formed without political intervention or coercion. They were formed out of a common appreciation that the policy being out forward for consideration was fundamentally flawed and potentially catastrophic for A&B communities. You are of course entitled to attack us and I welcome the challenge, in a lot of ways challenge ensures we stay on our toes. However it is worth highlighting that Anne (openly admits to being an SNP supporter) was one of the founder members of ARSN at a time when the SNP were in the administration and thus was putting herself in opposition to policy which, at that time, we believed the SNP were fully ware of and therefore we had to conclude they supported.

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      • so you agree with me then….your current allies (ie: the opposition) were SNP cllrs who knew of the proposals to close schools, for example, the PPC at the time knew of the proposals (as per FA revelations and he accepted 8 or 9 school closures) ironically, he is now the education minister!……so ARSN are happy working with poachers turned gamekeepers on their solemn promise to involve you when in “power.” The SNP are arrogant and populist and will do anything to aid their manifesto – independence!!! (or is it more powers? who knows, they havent the bottle to go for it!)
        its not just education matters I will challenge on as the SNP cllrs in Oban also didnt support their community with economic projects and once again walked away from the table. now they are up in arms about projects & funding that has been approved as an election gimmic. Our local cllrs should have had the backbone to support our community & businesses as they are best placed, to create the prosperity and environment that will create demand for places in your sought after rural schools. unfortunately, the SNP are populist and were also naive (as one has admitted to me) the only manifesto they are all committed to is independence so they will mobilise support in any way possible (inc, promises to ARSN)
        Best of luck with your campaign! Make a well rounded economic and social case and I’ll support. Until jury is out (need more answers & insight)

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  37. Hi Neil,

    No problem regarding the FOI and I wish you, and George, the best of luck in one day getting to a stage which might come somewhere near resolution.

    I see Anne has already answered the question regarding who will stand and her response is the appropriate one. We are not a political party, have no political allegiance and our aims and objectives cannot be fully achieved within the limitations of power in Kilmory . If we did have political allegiance (as a group) it would clearly give us fundamental problems in terms of pursing what we believe is the appropriate course of action with regard to the delivery of rural education as there are bound to be conflicts of interest. Of course the group is made up of individuals and, as Anne has already pointed out, we have cross party affiliations and also members with no specific party affiliation. This may well cause personal conflicts of interest at some stage (fortunately not yet) and it will be down to the individual person to decide how they want to deal with that.

    You are of course correct that political parties do back down on their pledges – sometimes due to material changes in circumstances which mean they are operating under a different environment but also sometimes for reasons which leave the voters somewhat exasperated. Furthermore you are right to point out that councillors move parties and this is an area that I, personally, can find difficult to be comfortable with depending on the circumstances. Two perfect and contrasting examples are Cllr Freeman and Cllr Devon. Cllr Freeman’s move away from the administration was forced upon him because he had the decency and integrity to publicly support his community and also the strength of character to speak his won mind rather than the alliance’s mind. On the other hand I have great difficulty supporting Cllr Devon’s return to the SNP (and maybe this will provide additional assurance that ARSN is not an SNP bandwagon) as the timing of it raised concerns of it being medium to long term opportunism rather than genuine disenchantment with the direction, attitude and behaviour of the current administration.

    So the answer is we cannot guarantee anyone’s support as that is never possible. We place faith in the commitments they make, whether that be commitment to a group manifesto, or individual councillors who act without party ‘restrictions.’ If promises relating to our area of interest are made which are subsequently broken without sound justification then we will be no more or less critical and challenging then we are being right now.

    Cllr Freeman can maybe offer some evidence of this as at the very outset of the closure proposals (when he was still in the administration) I am sure he will recall a few meetings where I asked him for clear answers on his position on the matter with the position I was seeking being his personal one (as an independent rather than party whipped) and he was forthcoming with that position. He stuck to it throughout. Other Councillors when asked for the same position were less forthcoming with their commitment to their local communities and even when they did state a personal position (again without an official party whip) their subsequent actions were hard to reconcile with that personal position. That charge can be made at a number of councillors from Helensburgh, the Rosneath Peninsula, Minard, Oban, Islay… the list goes on. It is these councillors whose actions contradict their words who should be most subject to challenge. If a councillor’s actions reflect their words then at least they are acting with a degree of honesty (even if you don’t agree with their opinion and subsequent action). We will continue to challenge councillors who go back on their commitments and those who seem unable to grasp the need for their policies, and approach to forming them, to be robust, compliant with legislation, and supported by factual evidence.

    That challenge will be irrespective of their political allegiance.

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  38. Jeez, I’m out for the morning and it all kicks off. Typical.

    ARSN is NOT a political organisation, its a cause. Do we talk to and work with Politicians? Yes. Are they all in the SNP? No. Will we talk to anyone of any political persuasion? Yes, if they are willing to support our cause. Do we all have our own differing views on Politics completely separate from ARSN? Yes, of course we do. Are we open to everyone? Yes, we’d love more like minded people, the more the merrier.

    We have a website http://www.arsn.org Feel free to have a peek and make contact if you wish to come to a meeting (none planned at the mo).

    If you want to sit back and wait for Argyll & Bute Council to regenerate and repopulate the area, go ahead. But as we have seen, this council lack the skills, intelligence and desire to actually do so. So we as parents and members of communities have decided to take our destinies into our own hands and make sure these things happen.

    And about our longevity. ARSN would have dropped dead as soon as the schools were saved last June, but it didn’t. We’re still going STRONG and will continue to do so.

    As my ARSN colleagues will tell you, I don’t let things go and I will pursue this until I am happy with the outcome. Unfortunately, I also know where most of the ARSN membership lives, so I also won’t give them peace either :twisted:

    I hope this covers a lot of the issues. Perhaps you can answer a question for me? You seem very bitter towards us, is there a reason for this? I just find it strange as you say you would also fight for your local school.

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    • website is light on detail on campaign, key personnel and poilcy/objectives that I’m after…..surely you’ve got more substance to put in the public domain or is it for the priviledged few.
      I do support my local school but having moved from an urban area, I recognise we have things relatively ok in these parts. In my part of the region, connel school closed, appin is nearly empty and barcaldine and lochnell do very well….I would prefer investment be made into 2 of the 4 and make sure the schools, facilities and teaching staff are expanded. before ARSN came into existance, parents of appin and connel were already voting with their feet and bypassing their local schools (which they are entitled to do!)….diluting the investment in search for a utopia is daft….I’m more interested in the bloody school opening times. my kids school starts at 9.15, both working parents need to be at work at 9am (and its 20min+ drive away!!!) hmmmm, we also put kid into a school nursery and there is no wrap around provision so parents or grandparents are forced to pick up and drop off….yet more cost and disturbance to work:life balance. lets get our house in order first!!
      More importantly, once my kids leave schools, I would like them to have a job and prospects in a&bc, and I doubt that will happen if we focus on the SUPPLY end, over the DEMAND for rural schools. Rural schools, need rural jobs, families and homes……lets think holistically!…….I’ll keep checking the website until there is sufficient info….until then. I will keep challenging as it has been welcomed!!!

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      • I think For Argyll will be publishing something soon which might give a more comprehensive breakdown of all the issues and ARSN’s position.

        I believe its in the works already, so keep your eyes open and perhaps then we can open the debate further. :)

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      • north argyll. ARSN is very reticent about being prescriptive as Argyll & Bute is hugely diverse and a single method won’t suit all schools/communities. For instance, the situation you describe is very different from that of Luing or Ashfield, and in any case you’re taking a snapshot that doesn’t take account of developments that are already going on – ones that will seriously tax the collective capacity of your local schools.

        There are things that are common to all though and nursery provision is one of them since it may be a determiner in choice of school. Parents voting with their feet is something that demands the attention of the education department. The reasons may be practical – placing children in a school near the workplace – or they may be to do with the school itself. Either way the education dept should investigate to ensure its school is not failing for the wrong reasons.

        Childcare is not a council obligation so breakfast and after-school care is more usually organised and funded by parents working together. Some councils do facilitate parents to achieve it and we are looking at that. Your complaint about school opening times underlines again why ARSN can’t be prescriptive. In another school a 9.15 start brought benefits and parents were keen to change from 9.00. Saying 9.00am starts should be the norm wouldn’t be useful.

        The notion that the council would somehow divert its “savings” from a school closure to another school fails to recognise that a) there may be no actual savings (GAE may be lost creating a net loss for the council on closure – this would have been the case in your neck of the woods) and b) the council asserted that it simply didn’t have enough money to keep the schools open so there would be no extra money for other schools.

        On a personal note, I’m also an incomer from the central belt. I see some ways things are better here and some ways things are worse. In any case I find it best to consult my thoroughly rural peers before I make judgements.

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  39. oh the anticipation….please consider using a neutral platform aswell. I like FA but they can sway towards the SNP also. Get something up on your own blog…names & skills of the esteemed volunteers would be a starter for 10. You are all alias on here! come on play ball!

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  40. i aint forcing a campaign on others or having a go at others that havent (yet) aligned with their dogma…..if your key members of an organisation, then let us know who they are….I would happyily reveal myself but there are ARSN members on here that want us to support them but I can’t cause I dont know who, where or what they stand for!

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    • Can I ask when you moved to the area? I’m not trying to be deliberately obtuse but if you only moved in the past few months you may of missed the events which happened during the Councils school closure programme.

      If you would like some more historical background to the issue FA has a banner on the left side of it’s front page ‘Save Our Schools’ (4th one down). You might want to put the kettle on before you start!

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  41. North Argyll, again were going into the political stuff in asking who and what we stand for. We are not a political organisation.

    We all have differing views on politics and it is seperate from what we are fighting for.

    For the record, as I have said a number of times on here, i have no political allegiance. I was a Labour voter and a Unison Rep, however I became highly dissatisfied with all politicians and politics when Tony Blair became leader of the Labour Party and I saw that insincere cheesy grin of his.

    I’m a member of ARSN because I fight for the retention of my kids school and as a member of a community that would be dead without the school at its heart. I want to live here in this village for the rest of my life and for my children to have the option to live here when they grow up, if they so choose and see this place not only survive, but thrive.

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  42. North Argyll,

    I accept that the website doesn’t really provide much detail. That is entirely down to time and priorities. Don’t forget that ARSN is entirely voluntary and the majority of us have jobs and families which take up a lot of time. Maintaining the website is not seen as a priority because quite simply we have enough to keep us busy which we feel is of far greater value. What we hope we have demonstrated over time through our approach to the school closure process and since it came to an end is that we, through For Argyll, are transparent in our approach and opinion. We have been criticised on here (by posters and FA themselves) for some of our decisions and actions and we are more than comfortable to acknowledge that we didn’t get everything right – it would be insane to think we would given that we are a group of people who had never met, who operate predominantly by e-mail and do not have the luxury that council officers have of being able to produce policy and objectives in working hours.

    I have already referenced the fact the SNP were in the administration when the closure proposals were put on the table however it is worth noting that the education spokesperson at the time (in the SNP) was deliberately kept out of the appropriate chain of communication regarding the proposals being put together (as proven by FOI) and the SNP party were not aware of the extent to which the Council were looking to slash primary school provision. However, that said, personally I am of the opinion that she should have done more at the time to find out what was going on as any claim of total ‘ignorant bliss’ are not credible.
    However once the proposals were put on the table and available for all to review and make judgement on (including the actual ramifications for school children rather than just the number of schools) councillors had the opportunity to make a proper judgement and pin their colours (or lack of colours!) to the mast. There are obviously contradicting opinions about why the local SNP councillors walked out of the administration and it is obvious to see why that would be. As a group they are big enough and errr old enough to defend their own corner in that regard and defending them is not something that is really my business or interest. There was the slightly ridiculous accusation from the local Lib Dems about the SNP motivation, ridiculous because their motivation for doing a u-turn on stated position regarding school closures (a couple in particular spring to mind) was far more apparent.

    If school rolls are falling because of outward placing requests then the Council should be investigating the root cause of that seeing if corrective action can be taken BEFORE jumping the gun and proposing closure. Once that has been exhausted then closure consideration may be appropriate and that would support potential cases like the ones you refer to (let me state I am not all that familiar with the specific cases you mentioned so don’t take that as me saying that any specific school should be closed).
    You seem to be able to entirely differentiate between existence of local schools and future job prospects however it is maybe not as straight forward as that. Despite what the Council have claimed (twice now despite being found to be misleading the first time) local schools are important to the sustainability of rural areas. If an area is no longer sustainable then how do you expect there to be job prospects there for your children? Of course we could just adopt an ‘it doesn’t matter as long as there are prospects in the more urbanised towns’ however that is sounding the death knell for rural communities far and wide.

    You are right that rural schools need families to support them and rural jobs and housing. This is exactly why we have been firm in our opinion that there is insufficient joined up thinking within the Council. One department pulls one way whilst the other pulls a different way with contradicting objectives and priorities. It is laughable that a recent council report identified areas for regeneration and named school provision as one of the key factors, laughable because some of the identified areas were ones where schools were proposed for closure.
    We are not a one issue group of people – if we were we would have disbanded by now. Issues such as wraparound care and after school clubs were key arguments we made during the closure process. In a lot of cases the children rom the closing schools were going to be denied access to them yet this was not seen as being detrimental to them. Wrap-around care and nursery provision was also a key issue in some proposals with the Council almost dismissive of the need for them to properly consider the impact of these issues.

    Personally I wouldn’t be happy for my kid to be shifted schools if it meant less time in gym, large classes, lower teaching interaction, up to 45 minutes (or more under Cllr Morton’s holistic approach) each way on buses without proper safety measures in place. I would prioritise these things above the disturbance to my own work/life balance however I appreciate that people have different considerations.

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  43. ive been here for 7 yrs and was born & educated in Oban until I left for education and work!
    thankyou integrity….all I’m asking for is to get a feel for your cause and the people within it. some are open with identity and others not. I’m not bashing for bashing sake..just there is a poverty of info and opportunity to support you! simple thing…your asking for hard earned ££££ on your site yet, I’ve not a clue who is responsible for it!
    as with regard to volunteer time, it would seem there is plenty of ARSN folk on here (including yourself, that could copy n paste what you’ve just written into your own blog!!!)
    Its refreshing to read your latest post but you must understand my concerns.
    Your right, I never put my own work:life over that of kids but, its the work:life thing that will dictate whether our family resides in a&bc! we need to earn more and reduce costs, (like councils) and the pattern of running back and forth to schools (& expensive nurseries) whilst on drastically lower than average salaries, will drive us out of the region!!!!! (i agree, great schools are a major attraction but families and adults making decisions to stay or go based on opportunity & connectivity! (well I do!)

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  44. north argyll, I get the impression that if you sent us your email address and came along to the next meeting you’d find there wasn’t much to disagree about. Most of the differences would arise from not knowing the detail in particular cases and we’ve all been working on that for over a year.

    Totally agree that we shouldn’t be exporting our kids wholesale. Our school seems to excel at populating other continents! Infrastructure is the key and that means holding on to what we have, engaging communities to contribute, and working hard to put the flesh back on it. Apart from the disruption to kids’ education the largest impact from closures is on jobs – from the kitchen staff to the teachers – and we can’t afford to lose those, especially when there’s so little to gain from it. School closure is much bigger than the building versus bus debate.

    Re the lack of knowledge about ARSN activists, I see your point. It’s evolved from ARSN being bigger than any of its parts, i.e. it’s a team, no one person would make a decision without referring it to the others and none of us is particularly self-promoting. The other reason is that from evidence early on we understood that the council would attempt to discredit us either as ARSN or as individuals and no-one saw reason to help them out with that by giving them a list. Some will always remain anonymous for employment reasons and we respect that totally.

    As for the ££££s, I’m the one responsible for that but again there’s not a penny spent that isn’t decided upon by the team and everything I do is double checked by another member of the team. It’s been used exclusively for materials. If I think about the sheer number of hours, miles driven, nautical miles sailed, fat documents printed, words typed, letters sent and calls made I think most of the team has donated enough of their lives and income to perhaps have a cup of tea and a bun if ARSN ever meets its aims;-)

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  45. totally agree…..and thanks to Anne and Integrity for turning this conversation around! I appreciate the pressures some may have re: need to stay anon….but please remember, if others are courteous enough to put there head up above the parapet, then those that arent shouldnt fire shots or speak about MANIFESTO in an aggressive manner. Its taken me lots of time today to drill into what your all about!!! does everyone have to do the same???
    We all have work, life, kid commitments and the web is our portal….pls, pls, pls….expand on your website. You have a great platform. Those willing to add their identities (do so) and honestly, copy some of your responses on here onto the site. It makes all the difference and actually makes you out to be human and non political. The content on your site has major gaps, lacks detail and also portrays you as a one issue group. After some debate,…..I’m swayed that you may not be (bunch of tree huggers! – sorry – its the only description I could come up with)
    The direct criticism of others by your membership doesnt reflect well….esp as I’ve had to drag certain things from you all. Make it nice, easy and simple for folks to support you! I’ll never attend a committee, or a protest but doesnt mean I cant support in other ways!!! I know others won’t like some of my views, issues or beliefs but on this ocassion pls “like” below, if you would support ARSN adding more detail to their website???
    Best wishes to you all! Keep up the robust debate but pls temper your responses to others that haven’t delved so deep!

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