Bit vote independent Independent. …

Comment posted Voting by newsroom.

Bit vote independent Independent.

newsroom also commented

  • 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

  • Indy, research funding and Scottish universities
    Anyone is welcome to put their views on this site, Graeme. That’s what the Comments facility is there to enable.
    I was an academic for a substantial period and have experience both of engaging in academic research and of supervising doctoral research; of the way research funding works; of the way the research process works; of what drives it and what enables it to be the best.
    Of course Scottish universities would continue to do research but without membership of the common research area we have at the moment, it is hard to see how they could hope to produce the top flight results they have been producing in the current research environment.
    Most research has a value but if a small country wants to get its research into orbit, it needs a bigger rocket than it can fuel by itself.
    Anyone may say what they wish on this but I defer to no one on the soundness of the argument this piece presents.
    And it has nothing whatsoever to do with nationality.
  • Campbeltown Picture House planning for spectacular return
    In many cases we would agree with you.
    In this case, with the Campbeltown Community Business working closely with the funders to ensure that they meet the requirements of the applications’ processes when they submit them – and with the general level of awareness and interest there is in this project, we are confident that the project will succeed and the work will be done.
    There is little attraction in going to an event that marks a temporary closure so, while we have no information on the event or the size of its audience, it is not surprising if there were few there.
    When the Picture House reopens, it will be an object of curiosity and interest over a wide area.
    If the team and their consultants get the ambience right and the programming right [these are their next series of challenges - it's pretty sadistic in the continuing demands], that initial curiosity is – and must be – convertible to a regular audience.
    This initiative has so much to offer to the community life of Campbeltown, to its business community and to support for economic growth, it has a strong likelihood of success – and the voluntary members of the Community Business have their feet to the Board.
  • On nationalism
    If you’re referring to the author of the letter, you demonstrate the process he is talking about.
    If you’re talking about the author of the article, myself – I am a rationalist, not a nationalist. The two are not compatible.
    Lynda
  • On nationalism
    It has to be doubtful that the egg-lobbers of Kirkcaldy see: ‘a Yes vote about trying to protect what is left of the values and institutions that many of us used to think of as being British’.
    There is though a very challenging play by the Irish playwright,Tom KIlroy – Double Cross.
    This identifies the double-jeopardy of empire as being that a state newly emerged from empire into independence and forming its own identity, has no template other than empire – and so ‘creates’ itself in the image of its former imperial principal.
    What you are saying here carries all of the symptoms of that particular double cross.
    How can you know that there never was a better way of doing any of the British things you claim, bizarrely, that a ‘Yes’ vote is designed to preserve? [And the notion that the proposed new Scotland is conceived of as a place of sanctuary for the repository of the sacred artefacts of the Union you would destroy is the laugh of the campaign.]
    The NHS, for example, is now a sacred cow by default. It would be a positive advantage to be free to start again in defining, shaping and delivering a national health service free at the point of delivery.
    Your stance would be more worthy of respect had you shown an independence of mind that is willing to think newly.
    It is also noticeable that you choose the soft option of engaging with the patently honest letter – from the already paralysed victim of the action you support Scotland to take; and that you are sufficiently arrogant to assume that your own idealism is in some way ‘better’ than his?.
    You fail to engage with the major issues of the Achilles heels of nationalism – its chauvinism, its utopianism and its incipient racism.
    And by the way, the federation that the United Kingdom should move to become and which would without doubt be the most popular option of all – cross-party and across the Union – would not be a ‘unitary state’.
  • On nationalism
    ‘we ourselves’ and ‘ourselves alone’ have the same connotation of comfort in separateness.

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34 Responses to Bit vote independent Independent. …

  1. Think you’ll find Dearest Dick wasnt the leader re Oban Airport and all the issues- this was Banks and MaCaskills baby which has burdened the people of Argyll for the next 30 years. Im somewhat surprised you failed to mention the SNP in your now somewhat tired but highly predictable Council Bash fest. Were they not in power as part of this and previous administrations therefore cupable for the list of “achievements” above? In fact I recall it was their petty squabbling that led to all 5 towns centres getting a CHORD monies, the original proposal was 10 million but they couldnt agree so lets just up the borrowing level so we can all have a marina and all weather pitch! Suppose that was all Dick’s fault too. Interested why there’s never any stories about our local NHS and the substandard services and HIGH profile bullying and serious mismanagement going on there? Oh that’s right, too many pals there. I sincerely hope the SNP do well as then there will be no hiding from the issues then, looking forward to seeing how you dress that up! When the SNP Holyrood government cut the A&B funding and reductions or cuts have to be made, who’s going to decide? There’s not a single Councillor who could lace Dick’s boots and they know it! Hence no opposition budget and a few petty opposition based on what? no more than oh my pals on Bute are losing their jobs, so a “strategic” not in my back yard, good thinking from the then leader of the opposition! Quality strategist! If every Councillor took the same attitude then no decisions will be made. I can’t wait for the 3 day twice fortnightly full council meetings to take place all via webcam (cure for insomnia just around the corner folks!) without any Cabinet type structure, the decision making will simply grind to a halt. I await with eager anticipation the minutes on the website – the honourable (used lightly) member for Cowal awoke from his/her coma and…….

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    • 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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  2. I’ll be voting for candidates who will work hard for their constituents’ interests not ones intent on spending their time trying to wreck the United Kingdom

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  3. I have to agree with the majority of posters on here (never been able to say that before) Almost anyone but the ineffective and fairly talentless snp. :)

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  4. Aside from the specific failings of the current administration what Argyll & Bute also needs to rid itself of is the culture of protection that the Administration offer the CMT. Their abject failure to challenge fundamental failings in their performance and loyally push through reports which have been shown to be flawed is symptomatic of a collection of elected members who have either failed miserably to understand what their role is or are happy to support whatever rubbish is put in front of them as long as it serves their self interest.

    One of the key roles of a councillor is to challenge and scrutinise the work of the council. During the school closure farce not one of the current administration performed that role, in fact it would be easier to show that they, quite possibly deliberately, ignored it.

    Incompetent proposals, riddled with errors, without empirical evidence, legally deficient and what how did the administration deliver their role to challenge and scrutinise? They said ‘aargh bugger it, they’ll do – lets move on with it. 15 months later, after being publicly criticised by the Rural Education Commission, after Cleland Sneddon sat beside Alison Hay and was told that every main argument that was put to the Council, and rejected by the Council, was entirely valid, we are yet to hear a single member of the Administration admit they got it wrong or ask questions about why the Council CMT made such a balls up on the entire process. Hell we even have some of the Administration trying to take credit for saving specific schools.

    This administration is a made up of a number of self serving stronger personalities with the balance made up of spineless sheep. They have no moral compass and need to be purged.

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  5. Newsie – if as you say “When the SNP were minority partners in power, they were clearly asleep on watch.” Personally I think you are being very kind with your words – ‘incompotent’ and ‘way out of their depth’ might be a more apt description.

    But even if we accepted your description why on earth would anyone vote for these serial somnambulists?? Those who were asleep back then (claiming their cllrs allowance) are all back standing again!

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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?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. Newsie – I’m not so obsessed with FA and the Council as you are – nor am I paid for my modest contributions !!!

    So I have neither the time, the staff, the records, nor the inclination to provide you with “a counter-list of substantial achievements”.

    However, if you are seriously looking for evidence of achievement – here is I think (and I know you do as well ;) ) the evidence you are looking for.

    Tricky Dicky has had his budgets passed almost unanimously every year. The raging but incompetent opposition, the same people that who rail and thunder on here and in the print media meekly vote for Tricky’s budgets – WHY?? Simply because they have neither the skill, intelligence nor ability to come up with their own alternative.

    The Council has had to make millions of pounds of savings because of decisions made by the SNP Govt. It is a tribute to Dick Walsh and his administration that they have achieved these draconian cuts.

    I have to say that that I feel that your obsession with rural primary schools has blinded you to the extent that you are actually almost unable now to make a reasonable judgement about anything that happens in the Council without you going for their jugular. Your cause-celebre has so blinded you that you will gleefully print any rubbish that seems to either blacken the Council’s name or fits-in with your view of reality – often with “we hear…” or “we understand…” as the introduction.

    As I said elsewhere on here recently it was Clinton who said “it’s the economy stupid” So, to get back to your point – the only objective reality you can use to judge is how well the administration is doing – is to ask how are they doing with their economy? Even you would have to admit they’re doing that very well indeed. C’mon even the opposition, that talentless bunch of ‘loud but dim-dunderheids’ recognise this as they all tamely troop in behind to vote, again, for the Administration’s budget.

    Have a nice day :)

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    • Newsroom asks for a list of achievements of the Council led by Cllr Walsh and all “Simon” can offer is the fact that the ruling group get their budget through??? Budgets which are only presented to the full Council on the day they have to be voted on so no time for the opposition to scrutinise them or offer alternatives (which would be voted down anyway).

      Sorry; not good enough.

      I very much hope that the electorate throughout Argyll join me in rejecting this incompetent administration and instead voting for a SNP led group. The SNP offer policies and a vision – something completely lacking in the non-independent independents.

      Time for a change

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      • Dr McKenzie: you have to make allowance for the facts that Simon is clearly quite a simple, naive and trusting fellow, so dedicated to the task of keeping us all on the straight and narrow that he frequently loses sleep worrying about our desperate state of political, intellectual and moral turpitude. Have pity, please.

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      • “The SNP offer policies and vision” and WIND TURBINES. MMmmmm – what’s up Doc – I thought you told me a few days ago on Karl’s forum that you were not tied to any political party. And Dear Robert – did you not say recently that you had Tory friends but were ‘programmed’ not to vote Conservative. Where did they stick the plug ?

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        • Malcolm: I’m not sure where you got that from. Perhaps when I commented that ARSN was not party political?

          I have been a supporter of the SNP since I was an undergraduate student at Glasgow University (a long time ago now). However, my views on renewables, climate change and energy in general has nothing to do with my view that Scotland would be better off independent or that the SNP represent the best option available for good government. My views are formed by my scientific background and my interest in ensuring that my children (and hopefully grandchildren one day) inherit a better world than the one I inherited from my parents’ generation (another thing I have been keen on since my undergraduate days).

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          • I think he may have read that you ‘…disagree with some aspects of the SNP Government’s energy policy” and assumed that meant you didn’t support them at all.

            I don’t know what he’s talking about in respect of ‘dear Robert’ – maybe it was a dream?

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        • Fortunately, I have no chance of voting this time around…I say fortunately because I really do not know any of the individuals standing…and I do not trust any of the parties involved…I hate to waste a vote.
          I would most probably have ended up voting for a couple of drams and the sunset.

          Upon reflection 20 minutes later…I would vote for a person who has:

          Climbed at least 20 Munros…Sailed from Oban to Soay in a yacht…has youngish children…rides a cycle, but owns a car…knows where a golden eagle nests…stood in the rain waiting for a bus…dagged ewes…enjoys the craic…invites friend to watch a sunset over the sea…buys a ‘Big Issue’…grows potatoes in their garden…and always answers an email…knows how to find Polaris…would help get rid of Trident and most of all admits when they are wrong…!

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  7. Six entirely negative, anonymous comtributions above, most from the exceptionally tedious Simple Simon.
    May we hope that the cloth will be over the parrot after today?

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  8. All one has to do to underlne the veracity of the main article is to check the national Audits of Scotland’s councils and note that Argyll and Bute, ruled by mainly “independent” coalitions for the vast majority of the last three decades, comes very close to the bottom all of the time.
    If one is to believe what insiders say this is a council run by intimidation and bullying in which a couple of bigwigs make all the decisions supported by a clueless selection of nonentities.

    Badly managed decline is what has happened here under successive administrations which have had no vision, no imagination and no ideas for what is undoubtedly Scotland’s most beautiful council area and an area of unlimited potential.

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    • Selective at the very least!! There are also numerous audits and league tables since the inception of Argyll and Bute Council showing individual Service areas as vastly improved or having best practice and in some case award winning!! Does this mean a jot to Joe Public? Nope because sadly Local Authorities deliver services for Auditors nowadays and not the public. The majority of Councillors are too interested in pet projects and petty squabbles and personal agenda’s to see the greater good for Argyll. The official line in terms of ABC is that it is improving however tell that to the public, so really who cares about the numerous audits – they mean he haw and our Elected representatives, like yourself, pick and choose which elements to promote. E.G. Argyll Ferries wonderful performance stats – 99.9% super smashing great but tell that to my daughter who missed college at least 5 days since January. Best result would for Argyll would be an SNP win, as I previously said then there would be no place to hide and squeaky bum time for those who think they are best placed to run an Authority. How will Mike cope, with his MSP duties, his Cabinet remit and running ABC, he only got two hands for his puppets! Upside of an SNP win is that Argyll and Bute would then have a Organised and Able OPPOSITION with Mr Walsh at the helm, something that’s currently sadly lacking! Anyway I’m off to vote SNP just for the pure fun of it!

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  9. After reading the above you are all obviously far more intelligent & competant than all of the candidates up for election today and have ALL the answers to ALL the problems at Argyll & Bute Council. Why don’t you all PUT UP OR SHUT UP! – so c’mon stop hiding behind your pc screens/silly names etc, and get off your a****s – go meet your newly elected Councillor and tell them EXACTLY how it should be done!And why are you ALL not Standing for election today?

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  10. The standard of contribution is steadily improving here.
    In particular I’m impressed by the wholehearted encouragment for us all to exchange views.
    For some people’s a**e to point downwards it would have to be under their chin.

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