Comment posted Argyll First endorse Michael Breslin in Dunoon vote by Sandy Longmuir.
The funding has nothing to do with block grants, revenue grant or the normal capital program. It is Schools for the Future money allocated to Argyll & Bute Council back in November 2009 when Fiona Hyslop was Cabinet Secretary for Education. Argyll & Bute Council will receive £6.745million (at 2009 prices) towards 50% of the cost of upgrading Dunoon, Kirn and St Muns primary schools. This funding is scheduled to be made available in the 2013/14 financial year.
The funding will be administered by the Scottish Futures Trust which is a company set up by Scottish Ministers to handle major investment in capital projects. The criteria for entering this scheme was that the schools should be in poor condition/suitability (C or D grade) and that the investment should bring the school environment up to good standard. Exactly how that is achieved is down to negotiations between the Scottish Futures Trust and Argyll & Bute Council. It is hard to envisage a situation whereby a cost effective alternative to the shared campus which met the required building standards and had the support of A&BC would be rejected by the Scottish Futures Trust. I am somewhat mystified that a leader of any Council in Scotland would not be aware of this.
Recent comments by Sandy Longmuir
- Audit Scotland ‘Action Plan’ for Argyll and Bute Council a flawed document
Could not agree more with Mike Breslin above. From my communications with Audit Scotland and the Accounts Commission it is pretty clear that they just want all of this to go away. The Argyll fiasco has been a feature of the last 3 Accounts Commission meetings. The agenda for the next meeting this Thursday coming should be published tomorrow. It will be interesting to see if the discussion is to be continued this week or if the broom and carpet approach is to be taken.
Anybody interested can keep an eye on this link to see if any of the multiple complaints the Accounts Commission have received are being treated in any way seriously….. http://www.audit-scotland.gov.uk/about/ac/papers.php
- FOI documents on Castle Toward support Actual Reality’s allegations against Argyll and Bute Council
“In fact it manages to mislead its readers on every important issue that it covers, mainly by omitting relevant facts.” Dr Chris Mason.
Am I alone in seeing similarities to other actions taken by this Council? Did the Council’s timeline of the schools debacle they submitted to the Scottish Parliament not suffer from exactly the same disease that Chris Mason so aptly describes the symptoms? In this case the incompetent and farcical 25 school consultation of late 2010 was expunged from history when it was the most relevant thing of all to a Parliamentary Committee discussing changes required to the current legislation.
The minimisation in accurately reporting facts to Audit Scotland is also nothing new. In their Audit Report, Audit Scotland refer to work done on identifying misinformation in the consultation process by the Scottish Rural Schools Network as having been established to be “untrue”. I wonder where Audit Scotland could possibly have received the information that our work was a pile of complete and utter b*****ks?
The shame here in this case is on Audit Scotland as they did not take the care to investigate properly the complete garbage that Argyll & Bute officials spew out on a regular basis.
Audit Scotland have been found to be all too ready to accept the word of people who have been completely discredited on a local, national and international basis. They have identified the serial problems of Castle Toward, the schools fiasco, the schools meals blog and the care homes shambles and yet they find time to praise a CE who is presiding over a shambolic meltdown of a Council. At the same time they find pages of space to criticise elected members for their mistrust of the same officials.
While Audit Scotland are right that blame does lie at the door of elected members they have only been superficial in their investigation of where many of the problems really lie. Had they done a more thorough job on Castle Toward, involved Dr Mason and others. Had they contacted us before printing that our work was all b*****ks. Had they listened to some of the radio interviews given by officials at the height of the school meals blog fiasco. Had they done any of the above, people like Dr Mason would not have to be considering expensive legal action to achieve a result that a national watchdog should really be there to do.
Audit Scotland may claim, possibly correctly, that this is not in their remit. If it is not then Scotland needs a body whose remit it is. Cllr Breslin is right, this Council needs to be investigated and that investigation must be thorough and carry public confidence. What we cannot have is a national watchdog which inhibits councillors from scrutinising and questioning the information they are provided with. At this moment we are perilously close to that.
- SRSN Chair raises issue of Argyll evidence with Holyrood Education Committee
A prediction for you Michael. At the December meeting officers will launch on a diatribe on why I am the devil incarnate and should be cast into a pit of darkness for all eternity. They will deny point blank that they have made any misrepresentations of information, ever, without producing a single shred of evidence to support that view. They will already have convinced a bunch of shameless, numpty, single figure IQ councillors that it is best all round if they vote to support officers in this endeavour. Some ridiculous motion will be trumped up which blames the Scottish Government, me, SRSN, leprechauns or dancing fairies and which everybody on the planet knows is nonsense The vote will be won and officers will report to Audit Scotland that all is well and the devil has been slain. Audit Scotland will then include in their audit report a paragraph which summarises the above and all will be well. Officers will continue to pass “Go” every month and will continue to collect their £8,000 to £10,000. Audit Scotland will continue to fail in their very purpose for existence and the world will continue to rotate on its axis.
How can I be confident in my predictions? It has all happened before, it will happen again and it appears nobody has any will to change the culture..
The one good thing, as stated in another post, is that Parliament does have people capable of analysing these events and A&BC will have damaged Cosla’s aims in trying to undermine changes to the legislation.
- School closures: Russell commits to centrality of educational benefit – without clarifying the current meaning of the term
Perhaps I can help here. Coll and Tiree are lumped together for datazone purposes but I can confirm that Karl is correct about a mini boom in the two islands. In 2010 15 births were registered to parents on those two islands with 10 and 12 births in the previous two years – a total of 37 for the three year period. This is far higher than has been experienced in the immediate past with only 20 being registered in the first 3 years of the millennium.
Such local fluctuations are why Cleland Sneddon was warned off by the General Register Office for Scotland (GROS)from using their Local Authority based projections in individual school consultations.
Bute had a recent high birth rate of 52 in 2010 with 46 and 50 in the previous two years – again the highest 3 year total this millenium.
Islay, Jura and Colonsay had a high birth rate peak in 2008 (35) but have since seen a decline which , depending on migration figures, may result in a fall in school rolls by 10% or so in around 4 years time.
It is worth noting that Argyll overall has had a dip in births since the school closures fiasco in 2010. This is more marked than almost anywhere else in Scotland. This may be down to numerous factors such as the recession hitting a tourism and public sector based economy harder than other areas. It may also be, in some small part, due to the closure publicity, the school meals blog debacle, spygate and other PR disasters making Argyll a very unattractive place to have kids at this moment in time.
- Scottish Rural Schools Network’s response to Rural Education Commission report
Touch a raw nerve did I Simon?
Is it only you that cannot see the contradiction in saying you are not an advocate in closing rural schools when you have spent the last couple of years singling out schools like Luss for just that very action?
I agree that your course of action would be sensible and is the same as I would take but that was not what you were advocating I should do. You were pushing me for a number or a list of school names (as you have done with others in the past) without that process having taken place.
How could I have carried out community impact assessments, travel times and distances, assessments of economic activity, future rolls, birth rates etc on those 35 schools without consulting with each individual community in the way this report recommends? But you were pushing me as you have pushed others to create some sort of arbitrary list while now admitting that is not the way to do it.
I do not need to misrepresent you – you do an excellent job of that yourself. Are you sure you are not Cleland Sneddon?
powered by SEO Super Comments