Comment posted Voting by newsroom.
What happened with the first incarnation of what became CHORD is that it began as a competition with, as you say, a £10m prize pot. This was to go in major part to the winning proposal for a waterfront regeneration scheme, with a secondary amount to the next best entry.
This was astonishingly sexy and innovative for a council – at the level of an idea.
The trouble was that there was no ability to take it beyond an idea – to prepare the specification of practical guidelines to realise the idea. This was beyond the ability of the council – so they threw money at consultants whom they also did not know how to brief or monitor. The first set of proposals were too unable across the board to proceed so the timescale was extended and the consultants retained and tasked with helping the town teams to develop secure outline business cases.
As matters progressed towards a conclusion, the penny belatedly dropped.
A competition will produce a winner – but means losers and lost votes. Critically, the Dunoon bid was judged as the least capable so it was not going to win. Dunoon is of course Councillor Walsh’s own patch and that of his colleague James McQueen – there was no way lost votes were coming home to that particular roost.
So the Council Leader stood up with a flourish at a full council meeting at which we were present and pulled a long chain of linked money out of his sleeve. He announced that all the entries were great. It was impossible to choose between them. So they were raiding the reserves to the tune of a further £20 million or so, making a pot of over £30 million. All five towns would get all get the money they had costed for their projects. Hip, Hip…
We slammed that at the time for the fiscal irresponsibility, political cowardice and pork barrel lathering it was – and we were a lone voice amidst the universal celebrating of the prospect of the loot.
And what has happened since?
How many years is it exactly, from the start of the regeneration ‘competition’ to now: What has been produced in all that time? How much has this charade cost Argyll and Bute – and for exactly what – to date?
And while the airport may have started under a previous administration, the mess that was made of it was ramped up under successive administrations led by the Alliance.
Trying to spread blame around patently junior partners is itself an admission that blame is fully due.
We are identifying the primary source of the canker in Argyll – and while we have said that the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives have been greedy bottom feeders in supinely supporting Alliance decisions, we have said that they are not the primary predators.
When the SNP were minority partners in power, they were clearly asleep on watch. But when they woke up to the reality of what was going on, they tried to persuade their senior partners of the wisdom of binning the Sneddon proposals to close 26 rural primaries.
When they could not do so, they walked. They put the interests of rural communitiesm parents and children before their party’s role in power and before their own financial interest. In contrast, the LibDems and Conservatives have stayed in power and in the money at all costs – to others.
We have challenged anyone to come up with a list of stellar achievements of the Alliance led administrations to counter their disasters.
Let’s hear them. They are the only viable defence. So where are they?
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- Documents – and many of them – obtained under Freedom of Information and published by us at the time, showed that the then Education Spokesperson, SNP Councillor Isobel Strong, was deliberately kept out of the loop on what was going on for a considerable time.
This was done with the clear connivance of the Council Leader who was party to much of the correspondence in question. Had he been unaware of the manipulation, he would have expected to see the Education Spokesperson’s name on the circulation list and, properly, would have immediately insisted that she be party to the ongoing planning and discussion.
The correspondence from which she was excluded was from sources including external ‘consultant’ Keir Bloomer, Education Director Cleland Sneddon – and more junior members of staff who obviously followed the lead given.
This was disgracefully improper and undemocratic political manoeuvering.
So there is nothing remotely ‘kind’ about the way we have judged the SNP – and Councillor Strong’s performance in this. Had she been proactive, present, controlling – it would have been more difficult for them to succeed in their evidenced objective of keeping her in the dark as to the closure plans – and on the discussions on how to cook the cases to be presented.
And in case you object to that statement too, Simon – there is documentary evidence of it in the FoI documents.
The external consultant advised the internal staff – who went on to take the advice, to suppress the fact that Minard School, one listed to close (and again in the second (Morton/Sneddon) attempt)had the third best HMIE report in Scotland.
You may not like the picture you see above any more than we do – although for very different reasons – but it is the objective reality.
We have asked for a counter-list of substantial achievements to match the level of these multiple failures.
Perhaps you can produce something on that front?
- Bit vote independent Independent.
Recent comments by newsroom
- Colonsay votes 60%-40% in favour of proposed Marine Harvest salmon farm
Freedom Foods is less and different than it seems.
This article is required reading for any understanding of this tricky situation:
- Institute of Fiscal Studies economist looks at fiscal context of independent Scotland
We would be be very happy to answer this question if we could.
But, as things stand, there is no substantive information and economic detail on exactly what economic strategy and its associated policies would be pursued for an independent Scotland.
The First Minister’s ‘Scotland’s Economy’ paper, recently launched, was profoundly disappointing in this respect and, in its lack of economic substance, replaced by ad-man puffery, was damaging to the campaign’s credibility.
We can assure you and anyone, that when such information becomes available – and we are sure it will because it must – we will not be prejudging it but will respond to it with open mind and goodwill and the necessary intelligent scrutiny.
We have WANTED and still want to see a coherent, joined up, strong, imaginative, challenging and achievable strategy and policies put forward for a specific future for Scotland – honestly described in unchallengeably accurate costs and benefits and carving out an identity for Scotland that is realistic and unique.
The extent to which all we are being offered is essentially the status quo with a new badge and a few costly goody bags to entice ‘Yes’ votes could not undermine the ‘independence’ prospectus more thoroughly.
No one can possibly believe that a change of this magnitude can be made without cost to all concerned.
It is necessary is to know the realistic costs, perceive the realistic benefits and decide if the price is worth paying.
We do not believe that the price need be too high or the benefits inconsequential – but as this campaign is being run, the price IS too high and the benefits insubstantial because, in any competent sense, the necessary thinking has not gone on.
What is being proposed is unrealistic, often unspecific and unproductively expensive into the future – and the easy answers are clearly both misleading and dishonest.
This won’t do and it won’t do it.
- White smoke rises from Councillor Duncan MacIntyre’s chimney as two-man College of Cardinals settle a deal
Short and sweet for short and sweet: don’t be simplistic.
No one could defend Councillor Robb’s sudden swerve last Thursday, leaving his loyal colleagues like flotsam and jetsam.
But that does not mean that he did not deserve the support he was given by his colleagues when he was given it.
Life is not a simple business.
- Russell to make parliamentary statement on rural schools today
In the circumstances of the destructions of the SNP councillors group in the last 12 months, you can hardly expect credibility elevating the importance of ‘collective’ action?
Being ‘collective’ when it suits one to harvest support from others it not what collectivity or collegiality is about.
And many in Argyll now know more than enough about your party, its councillors, its members, its structures and its wonderfully elastic ‘rules’.
- Russell to make parliamentary statement on rural schools today
This was a RESPONSE to a party political slanting of the issue – scoring points in an internal SNP turf war which should never have happened, was consciously manipulated, and has divided a party I voted for and was a member of until relatively recently – when I stopped my subscription in a mixture of anger, despair – and contempt – at what was and is – being done to hopes for better governance in Argyll and Bute.
You might also reflect upon the contradictions inherent in approving of For Argyll for being straight speaking when it suits one agenda and condemning it when what it says – equally objectively, is less comfortable.
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