For Simon, there is no change in the …

Comment posted The shape of the new council by Councillor George Freeman.

For Simon, there is no change in the allowances. Just the same as the ConDemAll administrtaion. The legislation restricts the number and total amount.

Recent comments by Councillor George Freeman

  • Castle Toward a gone deal
    Firstly I should say that I agree with much of what John Semple and Integrity say above (but not all). I should also say that some of the comments from individuals above are totally misguided and/or misinformed. As far as yesterday’s Council meeting is concerned, I believe that it is worthwhile clarifying a few issues.

    I have produced many motions and amendments for Council and Committee meetings over the years, both as an opposition councillor and as an administration councillor. Many of these were straight forward and did not require advice from Council officers. Where an issue is even slightly complicated, sensitive or very important such as the Castle Toward issue, I would always take advice from Council officers on the competency of my draft motion/amendment well in advance of the meeting. Officers are always willing to give such advice to any councillor, be they part of the administration or not. I would never take the risk of turning up at a meeting with a motion or amendment that could be ruled incompetent. That would be a waste of everybody’s time and would not help me to achieve the result I was looking for.

    It should be remembered that it is the Provost who rules on the competency of any motion or amendment. Advice will always be provided by the appropriate officers but the final decision is the Provosts. As far as yesterday is concerned, the view of the Legal Manager was provided before officers gave final advice on the competency of Cllr Breslin’s amendment to the Provost. Clear reasons were given as to why officers considered that the amendment was not competent. The Provost is in a no win situation whatever his decision. It would be a brave Provost or Chair of a Committee who would go against the advice of officers as they would have difficulty in justifying their decision.

    I was most surprised to discover that Cllr Breslin had not taken advice from officers on the competency of his proposed amendment long before yesterday’s meeting. That is a massive risk to take, especially on such an important and controversial issue. Personally, I would never have taken that risk and would have obtained advice from officers so that I was confident that my motion / amendment was not going to be ruled as incompetent at the Council meeting. Even if I was to lose the vote, it would ensure that the issue was debated and that I managed to get my views across in public. If Cllr Breslin did consider seeking advice from officers, I can appreciate why he may have decided not to do that.

    As Alan Stewart of SCCDC and many councillors (including Cllr Breslin) and Council officers will be aware, I spent a great deal of time working on Business Plans and valuations in the lead up to yesterday’s meeting and had prepared a wide range of questions/comments that I intended raising at the meeting. Unfortunately, because there was no competent amendment, I did not get the opportunity to raise any of these issues.

    After the Provost had ruled Cllr Breslin’s amendment not to be competent, he asked if there were any other amendments. I was surprised that at that stage, none of those councillors (such as Cllr Marshall, Cllr Blair, Cllr Strong, Cllr Dance or Cllr Breslin), some with years of experience, who had clearly expressed support in the past for the sale of Castle Toward to SCCDC at the reduced price, did not bring forward another amendment. There was no need for them to provide a detailed amendment. All they had to do was to move that the matter be continued to another day. Although they may still have lost the vote, that would have allowed the matter to be debated in public and would have given them the opportunity to have a roll call vote which would have recorded the names of every councillor and how they voted. Unfortunately, they did not take that opportunity.

    My understanding is that the record will now show that the decision taken by the Council yesterday on Castle Toward was a unanimous decision of the Council.

    I hope that this helps to clarify a number of issues with regards to yesterday’s Council meeting.

  • Castle Toward: the smoking gun
    Newsroom states in her report that: “It is being said that members of the council’s administration were told by senior officers only last week that they had no option but to sell at the District Valuer’s price”.

    For the avoidance of any doubt, as a current member of the Council’s Administration, I can categorically state that no such statement has ever been made by any Council officer or Member of the Council at any meeting that I have attended.

  • Council Planning Committee meeting on 21st January promises to be lively – as 2 MSPs call for postponement
    Integrity, I agree. When dealing with any planning application, especially those such as wind farms, fish farms and nuclear facilities that tend to attract a large number of representations (often from out with the UK), councillors are reminded that it is up to them to decide how much weight they apply to individual representations.
    I would normally give much more weight to an objection or letter of support from someone who lives next to a proposed development and will see it on a daily basis than one from someone living at the other end of the country or in another country who is unlikely ever to see the development. I can only speak for myself but I am sure that the same applies with most councillors.
    Many of the objections that were received against this planning application were clearly “political comment” and were highlighted as such by Planning Officers in their report to Committee and were certainly not material to the determination of the application. All the objections and the Planning Officer’s report are available on the Council website for anyone to view.
  • Council Planning Committee meeting on 21st January promises to be lively – as 2 MSPs call for postponement
    As a member of the Planning, Protective Services and Licensing Comittee (PPSLC), I can confirm that what Integrity says is correct. This planning application was approved today.

    Looking at the comments from Michael Russell above, I have to laugh. He said: “I call on Argyll and Bute Council to postpone the meeting to allow objectors to be present, given the strong feelings in my constituency that further nuclear development at Faslane is unacceptable”. What he does not say is that Faslane is NOT in his constituency. It is in Jackie Baillie’s constituency which includes over 30% of the Argyll & Bute population. It is also clear from the report that approximately 90% of those making representations do not live within Michael Russell’s constituency and are therefore not his constituents.

    Michael Russell also says that: “One week is simply not enough time for substantial representations to be made”. He does not appear to realise that this planning application has been available for the public to make representations on since October last year. Over 700 representations were made on this application and all of these representations were submitted last year. It is clear from this that the public had months to make representations on this application and not just one week as Michael Russell puts it.

    If Michael Russell felt so strongly about this issue or shared the concerns he says his constituents have, why did he NOT bother to submit any representations himself?

    Michael Russell called on “Argyll and Bute Council to postpone the meeting to allow objectors to be present”. If Michael Russell believes that the “objectors” felt so strongly about this application, he may wish to say why no “objectors” bothered to turn up? One person was sitting in the public area of the Council Chambers throughout the whole of the PPSLC meeting and, although I may be wrong, they appeared to be a local reporter.

    It is also noted that Stuart McMillan, who is a list MSP and not a constituency MSP, called on the “local authority to postpone the meeting to allow the time for those concerned to play their part in the decision making process”. He also said that he had “been contacted by constituents who are angry and frustrated at this lack of transparency by Argyll and Bute Council”. It should be pointed out that this planning application was treated in exactly the same way as any other planning application. Given that over 700 people made representations, it is clear that all those concerned DID play their part in the decision making process. It is also clear from the level of representations that, as with any other planning application, the Council was fully transparent and that the public had (and took) the opportunity to play their part by making their views known to the Council.

    Like Michael Russell MSP, Stuart McMillan MSP obviously did not feel strongly enough about this application to bother making any representations.

    Michael Russell states that this is “further nuclear development” at Faslane as if this was an escalation of the local nuclear facilities. Although not a planning consideration, this proposal is to provide one modern facility to replace the current two aging facilities that deal with waste materials and is a welcome modernisation.

  • Save Castle Toward campaign brings it on home to Walsh and MacQueen
    Isla, from your comments, it certainly appears that you are on the inside and probably a councillor. I can assure you that there is no fight between Cllr McCuish and me to take over the position held by Cllr Dance. As far as I am aware, there certainly has been no suggestion that Cllr Dance will be removed from her position and, as far as I am concerned, such a change has never been mentioned or considered.
    Why should such a change be considered? Councillors within the Administration are free to vote as they wish but would be expected to give warning to the Group / Administration if they were going to vote against the Group / Administration. I have repeated on a number of occasions that I would not be part of any political Group / Administration where a whip was applied.
    If you can find one person who has said that I want to take on the position held by Cllr Dance then you should name them as, to put it bluntly, they are a liar.
    It should be clear to anyone who knows my history that I, as an Independent councillor, do not “do as I am told by Morton, Mulvaney, Walsh, or Kelly” as you put it or any of the other 31 councillors. I try to work with all councillors and seek consencus but, if there is an issue that I feel strongly about, I will not toe anyone’s line as was clear 4 years ago during the schools closure debate. At that time I stuck to my guns and was thrown out of the Administration that was in place at that time for doing so and lost the extra responsibility allowance that went with my position. My reputation is more important to me than money.

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24 Responses to For Simon, there is no change in the …

  1. First class selection and the point that Ann Horn should have a depute is a sensible suggestion. Her work load will be considerable, and she is the person to bring much needed effective change to this aspect of council activity.
    The balance appears to be just right and should ensure the new council administration goes from strength to strength.
    We need to give Roddy McCuish and the rest of this new administration the time to get the council moving forward. A realistic observation must be maintained, not just reaction to the problems of the past. We all hope we can see quick effective action as soon as possible but this must be tempered with time to create the new atmosphere that is required within the council.

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    According to report Walsh’s comment of “embarrassing” hit home as McCuish was unprepared and out of his depth at his first meeting. Seems he had to be rescued by officers all the time as he had no understanding of his brief. 6 months now probably too optimistic. The turn-coat Tory picks up his additional twenty pices of silver.

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    • The only person who should be “embarrassed” is Mr Walsh. Previously leading this council area to the brink of destruction.

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    • Arnie is that not virtually the same comment you made on the other thread?

      Robert is right – grapes, not pears. Big soor ones.

      Your comments don’t seem to be making any particular argument, but are just bitter personal digs. How personal are we getting here? To feel so vehemently, it would suggest you are incredibly close to the situation… perhaps that of the now ousted administration… perhaps even its leader… perhaps finding a little more time on his hands now… and realising he has finally lost… and that his salary is going to drop SIGNIFICANTLY.

      Just a theory ;)

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  3. No idea what the ‘embarassing’ story is but would be willing to wager it is being blown out of all proportion by some bad losers.

    If you want to talk about petty embarassing moments in the chambers lets recall Cllr Marshall strolling in late to the Council meeting where Sandy Longmuir tore the council figures apart then challenged Sandy about his credentials. Safe to say we chuckled form the viewing gallery when Sandy obliged him.

    I am optimistic that this new administration will be welcoming to external challenge and be more than prepared to amend council papers where errors are highlighted. Something the previous administration, and the current CMT, were never prepared to do. To err is human, what defines a person is how they manage the error.

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  4. Well done ForArgyll for such thorough and quick reporting. All eyes will be on this new administration and it looks good to me with good ‘attitude’.

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    • It’s a sure bet that all councillors in all councils need all the luck that they can get, when you look at the increasing social and economic challenges facing them.

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  5. Good luck to the new council.

    Now, can someone – anyone – tell me how many people under this regime are getting additional repsonsibility payments compared to the previous administration?

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  6. Thanks Cllr Freeman – I appreciate that. One of the ‘like’ ticks is from me. :)

    So, I guess the fact that the new admisitration has exactly the same number and total amount (of allowances)as the previous admistration really just exposes, yet again, Newsie’s biased blog.

    If she keeps inventing rubbish stories like this (you must remember the never-ending ‘rag-bag alliance’, ’30 pieces of silver’ and ‘noses in the trough’ crap) she’ll get her press accreditation in no time….

    Have a nice night and sleep safe in knowledge that you have a new Council. :)

    ps You’ll be pleased to learn that the Samaritans have been stood down.

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    • Simon – distributing responsibility payments as a form of patronage to councillors who are then expected to toe the line and flip-flop on demand is rather different to allocating responsibility payments to those who are expected to successfully rise to the challenge of their extra responsibility – and I very much hope that time proves we’re in the latter scenario now.

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  7. Well Robert, we’ll see what we’ll see. ;)

    Remember you have those two serial flippers Mary-Jean and Robb on board. And of course the whole snp group who were in the admistration with Tricky and Co.(before mike russell told them to get out…)

    From the look of things all those who jumped into the SNP-led rag-bag alliance have been rewarded with special repsonsibility posts. I’ll say one thing for them – they’ve got their noses in the trough early this time… ;)

    Have a nice evening. :)

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    • Simon – just as bitter as usual. At least this group of councillors are expected to bring change and hopefully improvements to the folks of Argyll and Bute. We can only judge by performance. The outgoing regime despite the same allowances and payments did little or nothing for this area, actually took retrogressive actions and wasted monies for little or no apparent reason. I am sure if you gave up the amount of time that this new administration will need to and did some of the traveling that they do, you would expect nae demand recompense. Irrespective of political background or persuasion councillors should be given stipends and allowances, we as an electorate just need to be more selective as to whom we select to represent us. If you dislike Mary Jean Devon and James Robb as much as you seem to why did you not stand for election give us your background and let us vilify you?

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  8. Simon seems to have forgotten that many members of the previous administration did a complete somersault on their previously stated and widely supported position in order to grab the extra shekels. Many voters did not forget however, and the only surprise is that several of these unreliable specimens managed to get re-elected.

    On the other hand several of this new progressive administration gave up substantial extra payments and high positions on the last ruling administration on a matter of principle.

    Extra allowances for extra resposnibility is hardly a surprising component of councillors remuneration.

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  9. Actually, I am all in favour in paying councillors a decent allowance and extra for additional resposibilities.

    What I was doing of course was comparing and contrasting newsie’s treatment of councillors’ allowances in the previous adminstration with this new one.

    I recognise that there is a financial cost to democracy – regardless of who is in power. And unlike newsie (and some of the more vociferous on here) I don’t choose to rail against councillor’s allowances if the elected administration is not my first choice.

    Have a nice day. :)

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    • Sorry Simon, we have consistently said that councillors must be paid a decent rate for the job we expect them to do. £16k a year is derisory. And we said that when the previous administration was in operation.
      All we are interested in in competence and integrity in all quarters.
      While one would hope to see integrity whether or not people were paid at all, no one is entitled to expect or demand high levels of competence and dedication on low pay.

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  10. Simon Councillors are now paid wage.
    This has been the case since the 2007 election.
    ABC has a Leaders fixed wage(£31/32k) based on the size of the Council and the total budget.
    There are 9 Senior Councillors(£24/25k) usually including Senior Opposition leaders based on the results of the Councillor groupings.
    The remaining 16 Councillors are paid a set wage(£16/17k)
    Additional expenses are reimbursed to all Councillors.
    Councillors in each Ward should meet with officers to agree how they will represent the people in each Ward.
    This information and agreement to be communicated to the people.

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