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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?
- 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?
Recent comments by newsroom
- The EVEL mess and the name of the game
‘Scottish Affaires Committee’ sounds quite exotic, NCH.
As a political realist, l am as uninterested in the ‘affaires’ of the Scottish Affairs Committee at Westminster as I would expect any serious nationalist to be.
The SNP has indy within its grasp if it has the bottle to go for it in the 2016 Scottish Election.
I have absolutely no doubt that, if it wants indy, the party can muster what it needs to take the win in May 2016; even though, on the hardest of hard evidence, in my view it would be – after the Blair 2003 Iraq gig – the stand out act of irresponsibilty in the direct experience of my lifetime.
And if the UK Government were so foolish as to deny a second referendum, the mandate of the 2016 Scottish election that had led to the request would support a UDI in short order.
The power is not at Westminster and I would have thought you would celebrate and use that rather than get drawn into silly parochial games in the House of Commons.
It remains a matter of wonder to me that the SNP are now focused on Westminster, with Holyrood already the B-arena.
The seduction of the bigger game seems irresistible even to supposed separatists with supposed contempt for ‘Westmonster’.
Why so worried about whatever happens at the Scottish Affairs Committee? It doesn’t matter.
- Is Greece facing the possibility of another junta?
‘Perpetual bailout’ has been exactly the case – and the IMF’s calculations of the impact of the austerity requirements on Greece were very short of the mark, with the reality biting much deeper, harder and not necessarily in the right places.
- Is this the ultimate dream Scottish property? Golfers will agree.
Not unlucky, Treble T – lucky.
I used professionally sourced information on a subject I know nothing about, which may actually prove to have been correct.
The eventual correctness would be a relief – but the enjoyment has been the learning – from your knowledge of the sport and of that course – of how you may be able literally to create eighteen different playing holes with six greens and eight tee blocks.
The ingenuity of this is fascinating and I now want to know the detail of how this course is arranged.
This has been a wholly positive contribution and the thanks are genuine.
- Is this the ultimate dream Scottish property? Golfers will agree.
This is very illuminating. Thank you.
So – speaking logically and in ignorance of golf, this would suggest that, since the Tower of Lethendy has eight tee blocks, each of these will serve ore than one hole, creating perhaps eighteen different ‘holes’, using the same six greens but coming at them by different routes.
If this is the case, it may be possible for ‘eighteen holers’ of this nature to gain a Par 57?
The design would be intriguing to know- and we have asked to know.
- Western Ferries: history and validation
You are quite right – and the title and text are being edited to conform with that.
I have lived for some time with a quite wrong sense of what ‘valediction’ means.
The mistake was mine. Apologies for that. Lynda
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