Imagine what Argyll as a whole and most individuals in it, would feel like if they woke up on Saturday morning, after Friday’s count, and were looking at the same old picture?
What Argyll has had for too long has been a series of coalitions led by the Alliance of Independent Councillors, utterly dominated by the long time Council Leader, Dick Walsh.
This has produced a run down area whose council:
- has spent years and around £1million on consultancy fees on the CHORD programme – which has still not got beyond meetings, plans and controversies, with little if anything physical yet emerging and is no less than the betrayal of the five major towns whose economic vitality is needed as the engine of Argyll and the Isles;
- lost Argyll and Bute – out of sheer incompetence – something like £7 million in the annual revenue budget negotiations at COSLA in 2010 for 2011-12 – requiring substantial bailouts by the Scottish Government – twice;
- has indefensibly neglected the roads infrastructure;
- has made an expensive mess of several harbour infrastructural projects on Islay and in Dunoon and neglected the Craignure jetty on Mull altogether;
- has supported SPT in ill-considered cost-cutting decisions which have lost Helensburgh its Seabus service to Kilcreggan and Gourock; and left Kilcreggan and the Rosneath peninsula uncertain as to whether it will actually have a winter service;
- has made its mishandling of and failure to develop Oban Airport a serious obstacle to the realisation of that airport’s potential;
- has undermined the confidence of parents and children in the survival of the rural primary education network;
- has wasted sums it cannot even account for in two successive failed attempts to close large numbers of rural schools;
- has been prepared to remove at a stroke the entire social day care service for our most vulnerable residents, save only for those classified as urgent cases;
- has failed to deal with an unable CEO under whose aegis the performance of the council executive has fallen far short of acceptable – as in the CHORD programme; serially flawed legal advice to elected members; failed procurement procedures as in the Helensburgh CHORD tender; transport – as above; the awful mess that is subject to national attention in the so-called ‘Communications’ department; the school closures fiascos; and – worst and most recently, the utter failure of the social services department in a case where a young girl unnecessarily lost her life…
Is there any need to go on?
And if anyone has a counter-list of shining successes, let’s have it.
Argll needs to believe in itself and to believe in its Council’s ability and will to drive it forwards.
The current administration has removed Argyll’s ability to pull itself up; sapped its self esteem; destroyed its self-confidence; undermined its future; and wasted public money like the last days of empire we can only hope it has been.
Whatever else people do with their votes tomorrow, those ‘Independents’ who joined together out of self interest as the Alliance of Independent Councillors and sold Argyll out at every turn should, to a man, not be returned to office.
They have bred a diseased culture of bullying and fear; and have led administrations that have been nothing less than disastrous.
Of course, latterly, the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives have done real harm by supporting Alliance-driven decisions but they have been greedy bottom feeders, not the primary predators. Some of them may go and if they do they will have earned it – but the canker in Argyll is the Alliance of Independents.
There is a wealth of genuine competence in other candidates standing for election, already experienced and new.
Things can be much better. They can be capable. They can certainly be no worse.
We need fresh air and we need integrity back where it has to be – at the heart of government, local and national.
Voters who return these particular candidates will have questions to answer – at least in the privacy of their consciences.
It is the future of Argyll and the Isles you have in your hand along with the pencil in that voting booth.