There have been no shortage of FOI requests …

Comment posted Council issues prompt response on Martha Payne’s NeverSeconds clampdown by Integrity? Not in the Condemall.

There have been no shortage of FOI requests submitted for copies of e-mails, correspondence etc relating to the decision to enforce the ban so unless the Council have been careful to cover their tracks (which is possible as they surely learned something after the revelations of their underhand behaviour during the school closure farce) it won’t be long before the truth behind the involvement, or otherwise, of elected members in the decision is known.

I have it on second hand information that the Council Leader found out about the ban only after it had been imposed and the instant media reaction however whilst that information is second hand I fully accept that some won’t believe it (and I can understand why).

It is important that the root of this is dug out and treated as however the ban was brought about was clearly a session of amateur hour and for too many years A&B has been plagued by such incompetent action. That doesn’t necessarily mean people should be dismissed, it may just highlight a need for the Council to deploy and develop their skills better and maybe keep certain people away from public facing duties. Not everyone is cut out to present the Council in its best light however that doesn’t mean they don’t have skills and experience that are useful in other areas.

Integrity? Not in the Condemall also commented

  • Well well well. A&BC in administration demonstrate leadership and appropriate separation from corporate management team shock. Times have changed and changed for the better. Council leader is to be applauded for a swift and decisive response and clarity if action.

Recent comments by Integrity? Not in the Condemall

  • Scottish National Party selects candidate for by-election in Oban North and Lorn
    Just to be clear I don’t work for ABC. I just have a reasonable knowledge of how local govt should work and how it often works in reality.
  • Scottish National Party selects candidate for by-election in Oban North and Lorn
    I obviously don’t know the specifics of your case and wouldn’t want to be accused of the same thing you are accusing the councillor of! However in principle I agree. An elected member should be taking account of the views of all affected parties and making their own decision based on all the information they gather. They are, after all, elected to represent all their constituents and also the wider council area. There will be other influencing factors for them to consider of course. If the development being applied for was something which was in keeping with the council’s local development plan (rather than just a private property) then they would also need to give that consideration. In addition they need to consider other things such as national planning policy, possibly employment opportunities, meeting local needs etc etc – but yes they must consider compatibility with neighbouring properties and any impact the application might have on them.

    As a non member of the planning committee the councillor in question here has a degree of influence through being able to lobby the members of the committee and, how should I say it, take advantage of any ‘friendly relations’ they have with committee members. That is if the application is being taken to the planning committee. It could be that the application is delegated to planning officers. Every council will have a Scheme of Delegation which sets out which planning applications are to be determined by officers and which need committee approval. The amount of influence an elected member has over an officer decision will be more limited.

  • Scottish National Party selects candidate for by-election in Oban North and Lorn
    No they don’t Malcolm. Community Councillors can respond to an application as an individual and the community council can respond as a group however the ultimate decision lies with the planning officer for less material applications and the elected members on the planning committee for more material ones.
  • Scottish National Party selects candidate for by-election in Oban North and Lorn
    I understand where you’re coming from although I think you over estimate how much of a say councillors really have. They have a limited budget to play with once mandatory services are financed.
  • Cybernats savage Paul MacCartney for ‘Let’s stay together’ plea
    Aargh nothing like a good old fat joke is there Graham. Rapier wit duly acknowledged. Is that part of the fairer more just society you claim to want to deliver?

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110 Responses to There have been no shortage of FOI requests …

  1. Pingback: NeverSeconds blogger Martha Payne banned from taking school dinner photos – BBC News « Pharmacy and Drug Store News | DrugStoreSource

    • Christians v lions springs to mind.

      Here is the Council’s statement:

      “Statement on school meals from Argyll and Bute Council
      Published Date:
      15 Jun 2012 – 10:53
      Argyll and Bute Council wholly refutes the unwarranted attacks on its schools catering service which culminated in national press headlines which have led catering staff to fear for their jobs. The Council has directly avoided any criticism of anyone involved in the ‘never seconds’ blog for obvious reasons despite a strongly held view that the information presented in it misrepresented the options and choices available to pupils however this escalation means we had to act to protect staff from the distress and harm it was causing. In particular, the photographic images uploaded appear to only represent a fraction of the choices available to pupils, so a decision has been made by the council to stop photos being taken in the school canteen.

      There have been discussions between senior council staff and Martha’s father however, despite an acknowledgement that the media coverage has produced these unwarranted attacks, he intimated that he would continue with the blog.

      The council has had no complaints for the last two years about the quality of school meals other than one from the Payne family received on 6 June and there have been no changes to the service on offer since the introduction of the blog.

      Pupils have a daily choice of two meals from a menu which is designed with pupils, parents and teachers. Our summer menu is about to be launched and includes main course choices like meat or vegetarian lasagne served with carrots and garlic bread or chicken pie with puff pastry, mashed potato and mixed vegetables.

      Pupils can choose from at least two meals every day. They pay £2 for two courses and this could be a starter and a main or a main and a desert. Each meal comes with milk or water. Pupils can have as much salad and bread as they want. Salad, vegetables, fruit, yoghurt and cheese options are available every day. These are standing options and are not a result of any changes in response to the blog site.

      As part of the curriculum for excellence, pupils in all our schools are regularly taught about healthy eating and at lunch breaks staff encourage pupils to make good choices from what is on offer. We use a system called ‘Nutmeg’ to make sure everything is nutritionally balanced. Our staff also get nutrition awareness training so they know how to provide a good healthy meal. There is portion sized guidance which we adhere to and it is matched to the age of the child so they get the right amount of food. Second portions would mean too many calories for pupils.

      In Lochgilphead Primary School we are piloting a new pre-ordering scheme which is designed to encourage class discussion around meal choices and also improves the accuracy of meal choices. The pupils use a touch screen to select their lunch option and the data is downloaded in the kitchen so they know how many portions of each meal are required. As they place their order, the pupils are given a coloured band which relates to their meal choice that day. They wear it during the morning, and at lunchtime they hand it to the catering assistant, who will give them the corresponding meal.

      The council’s focus is now on supporting the school in the education of young people in Argyll and Bute.”

      Rather different in tone from what FA is reporting so muyst be two statements coming from different sources.

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    • The World At One beat BBC Scotland with the retraction, they were told in an interview that the ban on photography was immediately revoked but BBC Scotland only added it on the end of their report five or ten minutes later.

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  2. What is really aggravating is that A&B could so easily have turned the Record story to their advantage.
    They could have pointed out that all the staff at the school were supportive of the Blog and that they valued what Martha was doing but that the Daily Record was guilty of gross mis-representation of what was said in the blog and that the council would defend their staff who couldn’t answer for themselves.
    In one quick press release they would turn the attention from the council to the Record article and if, as I’m sure would have happened, Martha’s blog and/or her father made clear that the headline was ‘out of order’ The Record would have had to defend itself. They would have become the ‘guilty party’.
    Instead with their eyes ‘wide shut’ A&B decide that they will blame the child and instantly are the ones ‘guilty’ of picking on a child and that can only be because they have something to hide.
    This is a mis-calculation on the level of Goliath saying “I’ll soon sort out that pip-squeak David.”

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  3. How about all the choices being photographed and published, every schoolday? – could even start a competition between schools and who knows where this might end? – would surely encourage the decision makers (and concentrate their minds) on decent meals for kids. The dinner ladies at Lochgilphead seem to have been caught in the middle of the furore, and if they’re prevented from defending themselves by their conditions of employment, they can’t rely on their employer to defend them, and they’re hung out to dry by the disreputable end of the national press, this raises a serious issue way beyond school meals and council staff.

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    • The photographs shown are of the meals actually selected and eaten. There is continuous on the blog of other meals and choices available.

      If you were interested how long would it have taken you to look at the blog?

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  4. Looks like the councillors in the new administration are on the issue, whereas the employees are at sixes and sevens and only digging deeper. Are we witnessing the opening shots of an employed executive vs. elected administration struggle for power at A&B council. Fascinating.

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  5. The Council leader has surely done the right things in his interview on BBC R4 ‘The World at One’, in:
    a) overturning the ban on Martha’s photos,
    b) assuring that the circumstances surrounding the imposition of the ban will be investigated,
    c) defending the role of the dinner ladies,
    d) condemning the national press’s unjustified criticism of them, and
    e) making the point that there had been no previous criticism of the meal service.

    It was a great relief to hear the council being represented by the elected leader, not an unelected council manager.

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    • Sorry robert but Roddy McCuish leader of the SNP Council he also seemed to say he was responsible for the ban in the first place.
      Listen to his own words on the BBC Iplayer “Its a good thing to do change your mind and I have certainly done that”.

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      • Ferryman, you seem to be keen in your various comments on this string tonight to plant the blame for the ban on Roddy McCuish (and the SNP), but you’d do well to listen to the lengthy interview with Cleland Sneddon on BBC Radio5Live at 11.25 friday morning, as he seemed to confirm that he instructed the ban. Maybe he was acting on the orders of Roddy McCuish, but it would be good to get clarification on this point, and could save you from wasting energy on fingering the SNP. By the way, I do believe that the council is not just the SNP any more than the Westminster government is just the Tories.

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        • I don’t know what Mr Sneddon seems to confirm. I only know what what I actually heard Roddy Mc Cuish say.

          As I have written, perhaps he chose his words badly and I also understand his dilemma. However to read that he is “walking on water” and the person to put in front of cameras and the next MP for Argyll and Bute seems a bit rich if he actually instigated the ban.

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          • Having had the chance to speak to a couple of (non SNP) councillors today I can confirm that The Council Leader knew nothing about Mr Sneddon’s actions until the media brouhaha brought it to his attention.

            There are two ways to interpret Cllr McCuish’s remarks: the first (and I admit the most probable) was that he just chose his words poorly (and let him who has not said something he regretted later on live radio cast the first stone) or, and more interestingly, he was admitting that the buck stops with him and he was taking responsibility as Council leader for the bourach even if he hadn’t instigated the action.

            So, looks like Mr Sneddon was the lone gunman and I expect some interesting conversations between the elected and non elected officials on Monday.

            In the meantime, Martha’s meals have benefited by some £71,000 (plus £12,000 gift aid). I fully expect Mr McCuish to turn this round to Argyll’s favour just as he did with Obang. Played right, everyone will be a winner (except perhaps Mr Sneddon but as the old joke goes: if a bodhran player and a banjo player fell of the Eiffel Tower at the same moment, which one would hit the ground first? Answer: who cares?

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          • Those bodhran players get everywhere. Incidentally, no-one seems to have picked up on Roddy McCuish’s Radio 4 assurance that the council’s never censored anyone and never will (or words to that effect). He can maybe get away with saying this, but if Dick Walsh had said it I think some of the staff would’ve queued a long time to witness his disembowelling. It seems to have just been an unfortunate choice of words, as his assurance is slightly different in the council website statement: ‘There is no place for censorship in this council and never will be whilst I am leader’ Very good to hear.

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          • Whether we like it or not Mc Cuish is being groomed to be the next MP of Argyll and Bute.He would not be my choice.This is a fact. I detect the cold hand of SNP officers in this affair directing a very naive Roddy. Again whether we like it or not Scottish Council Leaders if they are SNP will be directed from above. The day to day battles at HQ Kilmory between direct employees and elected officials will be the stuff of legend. Not before time.Issues like Chord, the white building in Oban, and Rockfield School need to be addressed. Sale of these assets would produce capital cash which could be spent on improving school meals, or roads. Rather than them lying around for more than a decade deteriorating every day , until they are beyond economic repair.Assets for sale neecd to be taken out of the hands of the incompetent council, and handed to the private sector. Action is needed on this.

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  6. “National press” seems to be just the Daily Record, have any other newspapers tried to blame the dinner ladies.

    The people of Argyll (and further afield) should follow the Merseyside example and have a boycott of the Daily Record (perhaps until they give a very large donation to Mary’s Meals as an apology)?

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  7. Hear, hear.

    Very polished response from the Council leader. Hit all of the bases and shut the issue down. Masterful leadership.

    Such a relief that not everyone from ABC comes across as a numpty on the radio!

    Over £20,000 now raised for Mary’s meals.

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  8. Well well well. A&BC in administration demonstrate leadership and appropriate separation from corporate management team shock. Times have changed and changed for the better. Council leader is to be applauded for a swift and decisive response and clarity if action.

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  9. Funny thing is the cynic in me sees that the council leader has come out of this well AND £20,000+ has been raised for Mary’s Meals. Was it all a secret fundraising plan and PR exercise? :P

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    • What .. a bit like Obang?

      If that was the case then we truly have a Prince in Cllr McCuish!

      I suspect not but Roddy does seem to be a good bloke to put in front of cameras and microphones when something goes wrong.

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  10. Shades of the previous administration in the way this was handled.. The person responsible for making the decision to gag Martha should be asked to resign or sacked. In Mc Cuish you are looking at your next SNP MP for A & B.

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    • The new administration sorted it out – it was the continuing inept senior management who, in the absence of a press office, messed up big style.

      It was great to see the piece on BBC news tonight where they were highlighting how Councils hadn’t really got to grips with social media. Now isn’t that what Jo Smith was lecturing her press colleagues about? Oh, the irony!

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        • I have just listened to this and you are correct.What part of this Robert(i know everything about everything)Wakeham and Doctor Knowitall don’t or won’t understand is really becoming tedious.

          If Councillor MacCuish is to lead this new council, let him lead by example and get a grip of situations like this BEFORE they get out of hand.

          I’m sure even he would be embarrassed by comments on here by his fan club trying to defend him.

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          • Gus, if you read my post above you will see that I think the most likely explanation of Cllr McCuish’s statement is that he chose his words poorly. So my praise for his rapid and sensible action cannot be seen as defending him (Roddy is more than capable of doing that himself). But credit where credit is due.

            You are correct in that the new administration must sort out the operational structure in ABC so that gaffes like this do not occur (or at least at a dramatically reduced frequency). Takes time to change a culture though and care has to be taken to ensure that a correct balance is found between proper leadership by the elected members that the Council’s officers respect and implement and micromanagement by councillors of the officials.

            Common sense for officials to inform the councillors before they take action that is likely to have political reprecussions for the Council and I would suggest that press releases should definitely go before relevant councillors before they are released. Mr Sneddon did neither of these things. and it was left to Cllr McCuish to sort the mess out.

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  11. Hip hip hooray for the dinnerladies……they are lovely ladies doing their best – faced with an onslaught of nastiness from the media and cyberbullying ….all on a low wage, they could have decided to leave their jobs or go ‘on the sick’….but they care about the children that they look after. Despite the fact they are scared for their jobs and worried about going shopping in their town…..is this how nice ladies should be treated! So tonight my children and I shout three cheers for the lovely ladies at Lochgilphead Joint Campus!

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    • Hands of the dinner ladies, they are blameless. The responsibility for this disgraceful affair , lies with A&BC, and its counsellors. No one at A&BC comes out of this smelling of roses. The person or persons responsible for this should stand down or be sacked.
      This should open up progressive and substantive discussions and action on improving school meals across Scotland.We need more whistleblowers like Martha and her father who clearly is the driving force behind this sad affair.

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    • I agree completely. It is not a good situation when a child has to go in to a dinner hall and both she and the staff feel ill at ease. I also have sympathy for Roddy McCuish in dealing with a difficult problem.

      However I dislike people trying to rewrite history when cllr McCuish seems to have said himself he was responsible for the ban. Also of course it is the Council that is responsible for the quality of the meals.

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      • No transparency without accountability .The Status Quo at A 7 BC will be maintained. Mc Cuish is very much in the hands of SNP press officers and officials. He is not his own man. What he has effectively done by lifting the ban on taking photographs is follow instructions from corporate SNP. This attempt to close down any further media interest in this disgraceful affair. If Mc Cuish had any hand in the gagging of Martha, then he must resign immediately. This matter has to be opened up, and go right to the top of scottish politics. Has vital funding been withdrawn for school meals, have budgets been re adjusted by the Scottish government or A & BC restricting the ability of meal providers to give the children value for money. This must not go away.

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  12. To Robert,
    Ferryman may well have been asking a question (again), he was just trying to get one of you to admit Councillor MacCuish was responsible for the ban.
    If you listen you will hear him say so.

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      • And Gus, again if you READ what I posted you will see that I was passing on the information gleaned from councillors that Cllr McCuish was not the one who instigated or approved of the ban but, as Council Leader he took responsibility for the actions of the Council. That’s leadership.

        Like Ferryman, I was initially concerned that Cllr McCuish’s words on Radio 4 did seem to suggest that he was responsible for the ban and so I was relieved to hear from his fellow councillors that this was not the case.

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          • I’m worried about you Gus; you seem to be getting far too upset at the performance of Roddy McCuish than is good for you – it’s clear that he’s carried out quite an effective damage limitation exercise, considering he’s very new to the job of council leader. It also seems clear to me that he didn’t instigate the ban, despite your belief that he incriminated himself – and it’s worth pointing out that in the same BBC R4 World at One interview he seemed to imply that the council never engaged in censorship and never would, before correcting this in his statement on the council’s website to avoid the inference that the council never engaged in censorship in the past. I’m surprised you haven’t thought this worthy of comment – or could it be that you’re only interested in criticising the council if it gives you the opportunity of having a go at the SNP?

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          • Gus, It will be a pity to reduce this to Westminster style adversarial politics. I know what Councillor McCuish said and it’s exactly as Dr D says, that’s leadership. I also know what he did and that was the right thing.

            Now are you, after all those years of the old regime that we all agreed was awful, so keen to score a technical point against the SNP that you’ll worry away at it in an attempt to destabilise the hope for the future? Not that I think you’re in any danger of succeeding, but it seems a very negative aim.

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  13. There have been no shortage of FOI requests submitted for copies of e-mails, correspondence etc relating to the decision to enforce the ban so unless the Council have been careful to cover their tracks (which is possible as they surely learned something after the revelations of their underhand behaviour during the school closure farce) it won’t be long before the truth behind the involvement, or otherwise, of elected members in the decision is known.

    I have it on second hand information that the Council Leader found out about the ban only after it had been imposed and the instant media reaction however whilst that information is second hand I fully accept that some won’t believe it (and I can understand why).

    It is important that the root of this is dug out and treated as however the ban was brought about was clearly a session of amateur hour and for too many years A&B has been plagued by such incompetent action. That doesn’t necessarily mean people should be dismissed, it may just highlight a need for the Council to deploy and develop their skills better and maybe keep certain people away from public facing duties. Not everyone is cut out to present the Council in its best light however that doesn’t mean they don’t have skills and experience that are useful in other areas.

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  14. The Courier (Tayside) published a very good article about this issue 16 June 2012.Had a good laugh at A&B Council Leader’s response.In brief: Council officials have to let this go for now, prepare a report for elected members – ‘to clarify the councils’ policy position in regard to taking photos in schools’. SO we can assume that A&B will then come up with a policy to ensure that no one will ever be able to gather photographic evidence about the authority’s failings to use to back legitimate complaints etc!

    Look out people your Council is getting ready to deprive you of an important tool in complaints you may have about the services they do/don’t provide. You can bet that they will rigorously implement their new policy and will write in dire consequences for those who dare to use photographic evidence (reality/ the truth) to criticise the conduct/administration of the Council in future.

    Suggest this is time to act – write to your ‘elected member’ & demand that your right to take legitimate photographic evidence is maintained. THIS REALLY IS BIG BROTHER GETTING READY TO STEAL AN IMPORTANT ASPECT OF YOUR FREEDOM. STOP THEM BEFORE THEY STOP YOU!

    In The Courier article there was not one quote from your Leader about what the Council was going to do about the scandal of the school lunches – it appears the Council’s priority is about keeping a lid on that issue rather than addressing the very valid point that Martha has made.

    Well Done Martha! You truly are a legend – and not just in you lunch-time!

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    • You seem very keen to see the school lunches as a scandal, and our council in the worst light. You might be assuming too much; Martha’e photos of the lunches are by no means all bad (except in the Daily Mail’s initial selection for headline news) and our council is new and seemingly determined to be more open and honest than the previous lot. Perhaps the Tayside Courier is itself chasing sensationalism too hard – time will tell.

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      • Just going by the photograph of meal shown on internet. A&B Council are not alone in serving poor quality meals. As a former teacher I have seen my fair share of what the nation’s children are served up as ‘balanced’ meals. It does not help that state schools all seem to serve food ‘a la incarceration’ on those ghastly preformed plastic trays. I suppose ‘food’ can be slapped on quickly & washing up kept to a minimum… Does this really fit in with learning to eat & enjoy good food properly though?

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    • To be fair to a new council that inherioted this ,mess, the Council Leader in announcing yesterday that he had reversed the to loghten the officer’s ban on Martha’s photography, also announced that he was meeting her adn her father next week to discuss her dinners and was setting up a summit on school dinners in Argyll and Bute to which everyone with an interest would be invited.
      Chef Nick Nairn has been invited and will attend, also taking a cook in with diner ladies which will give them a bit of fun.
      This is hardly ‘keeping a lid on that issue’ and it does seem to be ‘addressing the very valid point that Martha has made.’
      We all have to be careful to be fair to everyone in this so as not to distort the picture.
      This means sticking to the facts, even if we interpret them differently.

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      • It would be interesting to know if the Council Leader made all of these appointments and calling for summits, before the lid was lifted and this went worldwide.This is a bigger issue than Martha’s meals. This is about total transparency, and media management. Shadows of Blair and Campbell here.

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    • Congrats Fi. Your last para gets to the heart of this matter. This sad affair clearly demonstrates that we have an authority that wants to keep all the lids on many areas of their operations. Mc Cuish’s statement , written by Mike Russel and Corporate SNP media officers, has for now put temporarily put the lid on this.This will protect their hand in the whole matter. Sneddon must go.!!!!!!!He did not act alone , someone in A&BC gave him authority to make the call. Mc Cuish is politically naive.He is being groomed by the SNP in the dark arts of media manipultation.Nothing less than complete transparency is what the public want. Will we get it.????? We need more can openers, and whistleblowers like Martha and Dad with the courage to go public.)

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      • What utter cowpat Ian Frazer, one should know right away it was Clelland Sneddon who was the culprit in issuing the ban which could only have come from a higher authority. Old habits die hard in Kilmory but will no doubt be flushed down the pan by the new council leadership.

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        • You’re not dealing with any old cowpat, it appears to be academic cowpat, as Ian Fraser signs himself ‘Professor’, so just mind and show some respect.

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          • Robert thanks for the respect. I tend to dispense with suffixes and prefixes when it ocmes to signing off my name. I see them as being pompous additives. I am not a shrinking violet, i can hand it out, so i am prepared to take it. Gloves off please!!! in all communications, we need structured , high level comment, debate, and input. This is how great societies are built. Democracy comes from the Greek. ” by the people”. Our input, and debate, without personalising matters, will raise the level of debate, and stir these politicos old and new into action. WE can shape the future of this council with our contributions.

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        • I think that it is generally accepted that Sneddon was the messenger. Clearly he was acting on instructions. Who instructed him to take this action.??? Was this a collective decision by the authority.If so we need that name.Clelland was in no position to refuse the instruction. There will be no cowpats going down the pan with the new leadership. Mc Cuish failed his “Baptism of fire”. The only winner in this will be Nick Nairn who will raise his profile, and make money. Martha and friends will be front stage for a while and then fade away.

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          • Why is it generally accepted that Mr Sneddon was only the messenger? Previous experience suggests that Mr Sneddon is quite capable of doing extraordinary things off his own bat. This is not to say that he wasn’t under instructions but I am just wondering if you have some evidence of this?

            As to winners, I think Mary’s Meals has benefited tremendously from this so it is not just Nick Nairn who benefits (and indeed, if you do something good but then receive benefit from this does that mean you shouldn’t have done the good thing in the first place?).

            I’m also unsure why you think Cllr McCuish failed his baptism of fire? I’ve been on live TV and radio a few times in my career and I thought that Roddy did OK. More importantly he shut the story down and moved things onto a positive agenda.

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          • Without trying to ‘whitewash’ the new council, it doesn’t look to me as if Roddy McCuish did fail his ‘baptism of fire’ – given his very recent ascendancy to the council leadership, his inheritance of both a damaged public relations office and some senior staff who might have been far too cosy with the ‘old guard’, and the fact that the affair blew up in his face just before the weekend. I think that this coming week might be a bigger test of the whole administration, albeit less in the public eye.

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          • It is ABSOLUTELY NOT accepted that Sneddon was “just the messenger” in this, which is only the latest debacle to hit this council since he graced us with his bumbling, lying, inept, arrogant presence.

            We’ve all seen this farce of a man in action Ian, in person and yes he is as bad as he seems, in fact probably worse as we have not been privy to a lot of what had been going on in Castle Greyskull under the last administration.

            An investigation is underway as I understand and as those from the other side so ever reminded us over the past 2 years, a councillor or council leader will not come out and name and badmouth council staff, so Roddy has played it by the rules so far (this is a new experience for many, so I understand if its not been recognised).

            Until the result of that investigation, no-one will be named and shamed, however with the presedent of Jo Smith and the media office, those under suspicion of bringing the council into disrepute should be suspended immediately and appropriate action taken.

            So this is dead easy, see who was behind the email to LJC’s HT and suspend them, complete the investigation, take appropriate action.

            I’ll skip to the outcome, since I already know it. Sneddon sent the command down, suspend him, then sack him.

            He has made Argyll & Bute the laughing stock of local government so many times since he arrived here, time to get rid of bad rubbish.

            Give him a calculator as a parting gift.

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  15. Maybe it’s just me but the £77k (currently) raised for Mary’s Meals has actually lifted my spirits.

    The fact it took the unwitting collaboration of an unfortunate headline in an unfortunate newspaper and the incompetence of a council often ‘at war’ with those it is supposed to serve is perfect.

    Two wrongs can actually make a right.

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  16. Time to put the issue to bed and let her dad make a pack lunch for his daughter.Save everybody a lot of hassle and let the dinner ladies get on with feeding the rest of the kids.As I don,t recall any other compliants about the food.
    Rhodie,s leadership will face it,s first big test when the evidence about Spygate is revealed at the end of the month.
    If we are to have open government we will get all the information and the council will supply the names of councillors and officers involved in any of the so called Spygate stories.Any regular poster on here will be aware what ex councillor,s name and his involment with Jo Smith against George Berry will be of great interest to me.If the circumstances around this don,t come out after Rhodie being aware of the whole story then the battle will go on till we get the truth made public.George and myself will not be going away.
    Power to the people.

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    • Neil stay with us. There is much to do. It has to be clearly understood that they work for us, not the other way round. Wise words. Martha needs to get her life back. However as Hollywood now seem to be interested, will they let her.
      The old guard have not gone away, and now that Duncan Mc Intyre has come out of the closet and declared himself a Conservative , and for the Union ,things will get more interesting.

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        • Easy to assume someone of British professorial standing, but across the pond (and maybe elsewhere) it seems that the term is used as loosely as the description ‘city’.

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        • Morag, by our comments and contributions we are all trying to raise the level of political debate and focus the politicos on matters that concern everyday working people. There are many families out there struggling with the actions of our elected and unelected political masters. Believe me when i tell you that we do make a difference as these comments are read. This site is for reasoned debate, and discussion, not for personal attacks.

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  17. So the end the end of the day did Roddy McCuish personally ban photographs on the blog. Did the party ban them or did the officials under their control ban them ?

    Personally I can see the issue, but who was responsible?

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    • Ferryman: to the best of my knowledge, Cllr McCuish did not ban the photos nor did the Councillor with the Education brief, Cllr Breslin. Neither of them apparently knew anything about it until late Friday when Mr Sneddon apparently phoned Cllr Breslin to say he might have a problem.

      By the party I assume you mean the SNP? I’m pretty certain they didn’t ban the photos!

      Short of an official statement from the Council, the situation seems to be that Mr Sneddon was solely responsible for the ban and for the first (and disastrous) press release which was apparently not cleared by councillors before release though it should have been.

      No idea as of yet what role the CEO had to play in all of this.

      Hope that clarifies things. Of course, none of this is official and is just my understanding based on discussions with councillors and other people close to the Council. Hopefully we will see a definitive statement coming from the Council itself (though I’m not holding my breath on that!)

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  18. It would probably clarify things if Cllr Mc Cuish simply said it was not him that instigated the ban and he chose his words badly on he radio.

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    • I think he sort of did – at least to the same extent that his words about changing his mind (which is what you are referring to). Cllr McCuish said in several interviews that he would be investigating what went wrong – which suggests to me that he didn’t have anything to do with it. He also said he had instructed officials to reverse the ban and said there was no place for censorship in Argyll. Would he have done that if he was the one responsible for it.

      I think you are flogging the proverbial deceased equine here.

      It has just occurred to me that Newsroom hasn’t come up with a “gate” for this story yet: Marthagate? Streisandgate? Daftestactionofcouncilofficialstodategate?

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      • How about Dumbogate? – and, ferryman, given the level of your concern, why don’t you email Cllr McCuish and asked him straight; you could then relay his response to all of us. For the avoidance of doubt.

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      • On the radio Cllr Mc Cuish said “its a good thing to do changing your mind and I have certainly done that”.
        I heard him say that in his own words.

        To me he was clearly accepting responsibility for the ban. Which I lauded as a good thing thing. Has he retracted that? If so who is Cllr Mc Cuish saying is responsible?

        To me this is a silly issue, as ultimately as leader of the council cllr Mc Cuish is responsible anyway.

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        • So, Ferryman, you’re remarkably fixated (that’s another way of saying ‘flogging a deceased equine’) on what you say is a silly issue, ‘as ultimately as leader of the council cllr Mc Cuish is responsible anyway’. I could almost believe that this is you constructing cover for the unwelcome news that just possibly Cllr McCuish really wasn’t consulted before the ban was issued.
          I’ve yet to hear of a case where someone’s found guilty of something instigated by others clearly without his authority or knowledge. Except in places like Stalin’s Russia. He could well find himself responsible for damage limitation and having to ‘pick up the bits’ – but if his authorisation wasn’t obtained when it should have been, he’s not responsible for the affair, the perpetrator is.

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          • I am not constructing anything on the radio Cllr Mc Cuish said “its a good thing to do changing your mind and I have certainly done that”.

            I was giving him the benefit of the doubt and saying he might have chosen his words badly and that perhaps he was not directly responsible. Though of course as leader of the council he is responsible for all those under him – the buck stops here.

            If people under him acted without his authority or knowledge it is still his responsibility because he is in charge he is the leader.

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  19. This sort of side show will not unsettle Roddy. Hopefully all councillors (and officials) need to get down to working for the good of each and every corner of their respective areas.

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  20. For Robert,
    You flatter yourself, to suggest I could be upset at the performance of MacCuish is rather feeble,
    If this is a good example of his leadership then god help us.
    He clearly said “it’s a good thing to do changing your mind and I have certainly done that”
    As for opportunities to have a go at the snp, i’m sure there will be plenty in the months and years to come if this is anything to go by.

    For Anne,
    This is not about scoring points against the snp, I can assure
    you I most certainly do not worry away at it.

    Hope for the future is important, and if that means finding fault with this council then so be it.

    Was it not so long ago you and your cybernat colleagues were on here day and night constantly trying to destabilise the previous council?

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    • Gus, your comments have now reached the stage where they seem to be going round in circles, and I for one am getting confused about where you’re coming from. As far as I can guess it’s based on resentment at the SNP being the main group in the new council, and on arranging and re-arranging (or ignoring) events and facts to fit your party political convictions. The trouble is, sometimes facts can’t just be conveniently ordered to fit.

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    • “For Anne,
      This is not about scoring points against the snp”
      That is exactly what it is and it gets very predictable and boring after a bit. Many on here have criticisms of all parties for various reasons but they make their point and get on with life. Others will use any excuse to have a go at one party even using a nine year old girl to further their vendetta. It is quite sad really. Do you really care about her, Mary’s Meals, dinner ladies, free speech and censorship? I doubt it.

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      • Not for the first time you are talking rubbish. The main point of criticism is of the mess the council have made of this situation. The council is snp led so the buck stops with them. As I have already said snp cybernats would not have let something like this go.

        The nine year old girl you refer to(her name is Martha by the way) comes out of this with tremendous credit, and of course the council should never have imposed the ban.

        I along with family and friends have been donating to this charity for many years, I have several friends who are dinner ladies, and as for free speech and censorship! my opinions on that would clearly differ from yours.

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    • I make no apology for working to dethrone Mr Walsh and would have worked with just about anyone in order to do so. Nor is it absolutely important to me that this is an SNP led council, though that’s satisfying. What’s important is that the new administration is committed to a long and positive list of actions, clearly identified in a manifesto. It won’t be easy to change such an ingrained culture and we should be giving them all the space they need to do it. The end result would be one that would suit all of us, including you, much better.

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    • Reviewing the communications department. I sincerely doubt that he is capable of evaluating the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of this discredited department.
      Perhaps he should offer Dave, Martha’s father a position.
      Nothing personal ,but Mc Cuish is limited. Perhaps his mentors can help with this. He has to report daily.

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  21. I thought Councillor McCuish was refreshing honest about the situation and only 3 weeks into the job, has handled it as well as could be expected. As usual the experts with an axe to grind should have stood as candidates in the election if they are as clever and perceptive as they try to appear.

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    • Honest possibly.His appearance on national media was prompted more by the media tsunami that was about to engulf him and the council. Roddy got it right in that he overturned the decision of the bully boys or girls. He was told to do that!!!!!.These sort of actions are more associated with Putin’s Russia , than West of Scotland politics. The normally smooth SNP spin machine got it wrong with the wording, and managed to turn a damage limitations exercise, and a cheap stunt into a PR disaster. He has engulfed himself and the council into a media firestorm, that will run and run. Now Hollywood is interested.I have no axe to grind.No time to run for political office. .
      Cheers.

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      • So tell us how you know that ‘he was told to do that’, that the the SNP spin machine was responsible for the wording. Tell us what you consider to have been a ‘cheap stunt’, and why. No axe to grind? – come off it, IanFraser

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        • Robert you have to break bread, and imbibe with the right people who sup with the right people to get this kind of information. Clearly you are wining and dining in the wrong circles. We all need to move on from this. This one is done and dusted .I think that Martha’s father has got what he wanted.Mc Cuish meeting with Martha is theatrical politics. Good PR with little substance.Again Mc Cuish is following instructions. We need high level structured debate, and decisions to move this on, otherwise all we are doing is airing a lot of words without a satisfactory end result.
          I am moving on from this one, i see our work as done unless the situation changes.

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          • It’s the ‘cheap stunt’ remark that I’d like you to clarify, but you’re clearly a busy man. Hope the imbibing doesn’t colour your opinions too much.

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      • “Too busy educating the youth of this country, and others in law and politics.”

        If this is your view of this situation then I would worry about the slant which one of your students may take from your lectures. It seems straightforward to me, somebody somewhere messed up big time and the Council leader sorted it. He would not have needed to consult anybody to realise what needed to be done.

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        • The majority of Law and politics students are free thinking intelligent individuals and are unlikely to be influenced by anything that i say. With respect you clearly are not opening you mind to the fact that SNP council leaders who are keen the climb the ladder of political success, could be influenced by their party mentors. Whether we like it or not the big boys have power over those who want a political career.McCuish left a career with Royal Mail for a political career on the basis of promises made to him. He can not go back.

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      • Mr Fraser as George Bernard Shaw said, “Those who can do. Those who cannot teach”. Just about sums you up.
        Your bitter and twisted, biased point of view does not do justice to the tremendous amount of good this incident has accomplished. Pupils, parents and teachers talking about nutrition, and diet, not to mention the unfortunate children of Malawi who will benefit from the funds raised.
        Eat your heart out Mr. Fraser.

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        • Magnus Mc Farlane Barrow and his team will make unbeleivable use of this windfall. I have witnessed first hand the despair and the hunger of Africa. Working “pro bono” in Africa many years ago opened my eyes to the corruption that accompanies such large donations. In this case i have no fears that the right people will get the windfall. I am not moved by your personal comments. I know my provenance, and satisfied that i am neither bitter, twisted, or even biased. I call it as i see it, and i see very clearly .

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  22. Perhaps A&B council or Cllr McCuish should consider giving some schoolkids a job over the summmer running courses for council staff on media relations in the internet era. I know a certain nine year old could do it. 2012 has been one unmitigated disaster after another for the council.

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  23. For Ferryman: Cllr McCuish has just been on Jeremy Vine’s show on R2. He made it clear that the decision to ban further photographs was an operational decision (ie made by officers), that this was a mistake and that the councillors had asked the officials to reconsider their decision. Which they did.

    Roddy made a good fist of this interview and defended the school meals, dinner ladies, bashed the Record, made it clear that the officials’ decision was a mistake while not lambasting them over it (which is why I could never do his job!).

    £83,600 plus almost 15,000 tax so far for Mary’s meals.

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    • Marie. thank you.What a marvellous comment. I totally agree with you. Takes a “woman of substance” to bring us all to our senses.
      I can see you and She Bat being called up by Castle Greyskull, to join their employed team.They certainly need some new blood. How about Sneddon’s job. Looks like he may be on the skids.

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  24. Today the Daily Record had the cheek to say the headline in the Saturday Edition was “lighthearted” calling for the Dinner Ladies to be sacked. Typical of a paper that associates itself with the Labour party and the lack of real concern they have for the working people of this country. Alastair Campbell stated a recent birthday honours list award, should not have been accepted. He should try telling those in his own party who have fallen over backwards to accept peerages in the House of Lords where they can attend and collect the stipend without even having to remain in the chamber. Good socialists like Lord McConnell, Lord Reid, Lord Robertson, Lord Foulkes and Lord Prescott not to mention a few.
    Keep up the good Work Roddy McCuish at least you are honest in your endeavour to protect both the ladies working in the school as well as the nine year old girl who was trying to do what was best.

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    • Robert, something that we actually agree on.Courageous words. Your paragraph 1 tells me that you are a man of some substance. I am stepping back on this one, as i see our work done. Maybe come across you somewhere else.

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