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As is the norm, this will again be …

Comment posted Jackie Baillie MSP calls on SPT to ‘get a grip’ on Kilcreggan ferry situation by Councillor George Freeman.

As is the norm, this will again be ignored by SPT.

There have been calls for investigations on a number of occasions – nothing happens.

The matter has been raised with Ministers in the Scottish Government – nothing happens.

A motion was agreed in the Scottish Parliament – nothing happens.

Meeting have been held with the SPT Chief Executive and other senior SPT officials – nothing happens (I refused to go to the last meeting the the SPT Chief Executive as I stated that, based on previous experience, it would be a waste of time and nothing would happen.

I await information from Audit Scotland on the investigation that I requested into the tendering and contract award process. Audit Scotland did arrange for KPMG as SPT’s external auditors to look into this matter and to report back to them. The timescale for them responding back to me is before the end of the month.

Although external auditors often have cosy relationships with the internal auditors of the organisations that they audit, I am hopeful that KPMG will act totally responsibly and report the clear facts to Audit Scotland.

Unless we get action soon, this matter will be taken to the Ombudsman and further. Further motions to the Council are also being considered. We are not going to rest until this issue has been resolved.

Councillor George Freeman also commented

  • Noted the comments from Harry above. I have already informed him that I have previoulsy requested a copy of the Pier Master’s report from Council officers. I have also ignored the second set of comments from Local River Worker 2 above unless he or she can identify theselves and not hide behind a pseudonym.
  • I have attended meetings with the SPT Chief Executive and almost every Tom, Dick and Harry on this subject over the past 5 months.

    The last meeting was a waste of time for everyone who attended as is clear from all the correpondence I continue to receive on this matter.

    I have led on this subject since day 1 and have only received thanks and support from everyone for all that I have been doing. This has also been the case at all of the public meetings that I have spoken at on this subject. This is the first negative comment I have had from thousands of emails on the subject over the past 5 months.

    This makes me wonder who Hamish Beaton is? He is certainly not from my area or at least he is not on the Electoral Register for my area. This is why he is probably not aware of all that has been going on with regards to this subject.

  • MCA have been contacted on numerous occasions and have been fully involved in this saga.

Recent comments by Councillor George Freeman

  • Boundary Commission recommendations reduce Scotland’s councillor numbers and wards – and Argyll & Bute takes most of the hit
    When referring to the reduction in the number of councillors, it is certainly not correct to say that “Argyll & Bute Council takes most of the hit”. If you take 2 minutes to check the numbers in other local authorities across Scotland, you will see that there are 8 local authorities who are facing a reduction of 3 or more councillors. These are Highland -6, South Lanarkshire -3, South Ayrshire -3, Dumfries & Galloway -4, Western Isles -4, Fife -3 and Borders -3. Based on population and the other criteria the Boundary Commission is required to take into account, I believe that the proposed reduction of 3 councillors in Argyll & Bute is fair and acceptable.

    Although the final proposals will not please everyone, and I am aware that there are some concerns about linking Cowal and Bute, I believe that the proposals that have now been passed to the Scottish Government are the best options available for Argyll & Bute and have addressed most of the concerns that were raised in the original proposals. I would therefore encourage the public to contact the Scottish Government by the deadline of 7 July to record their support for these proposals.

  • Final Tiree Community Council letter to Council on approaches to proposed service cuts
    I have now received confirmation that the Community Council letter dated 18th January 2015, that Mr Holliday accuses me if ignoring, was not received by me or other councillors. The reason that Cllr Breslin managed to respond to that letter was that he had been in contact with the secretary of the Community Council and received his own personal copy. I hope that this now clarifies the matter. I would advise Mr Holliday to email me in future if he wants to confirm that I have received correspondence from the Community Council as the electronic system never (or very seldom) lies. Best wishes to Tiree Community Council and all on Tiree.
  • Final Tiree Community Council letter to Council on approaches to proposed service cuts
    As I have pointed out to Tiree Community Council, I do not take kindly to being accused of ignoring correspondence from anyone. The letter that Mr Holliday states was sent to all councillors, was certainly not received by me. I have investigated and it now appears that no councillors received the letter dated 18th January. It appears that the reason Cllr Breslin responded was that he was given the letter separately by the Secretary of the Community Council. As I informed one of the Community Councillors yesterday evening, I am investigating further to try and determine why councillors did not receive that latter.
  • General Election part of the political Gallipoli of indy versus union
    RitchieMac, as you will be aware, the number of submarines changes as new Astute Class boats come into service and boats go out of service. Although it is irrelevant as to whether there are 14, 15, 16, 17 or 18 submarines, the point I was making is that the SNP will insist on referring to the 4 Trident boats only so as to try and down play the number of jobs that are at risk and the massive loss to the Argyll & Bute economy.
    Although the jobs numbers quoted may be a few hundred or so either way, it is noted that you have not challenged the approximate figures quoted and you have not tried to say that only 550 jobs are at risk if the SNP get their way which is the official line that the SNP continues to quote. You have also failed to comment on the line Brendan O’Hara argues “that the site could remain a base for existing submarines”. This is certainly NOT SNP policy.
    Do you agree with Brendan O’Hara that “Faslane and its current capacity is there and will stay”? How can this be? This is just a comment to try and gain a few extra votes.
    As part of the Maritime Change Programme, all of the UK’s submarine fleet is due to be based at Faslane. That is the reason for the additional jobs that are due to be created. As far as submarine numbers are concerned, there currently 4 Trident Class boats, 4 Trafalgar Class boats (was 5 but Tireless has just been laid-up), including the new boats in the pipeline, there will be 6 Astute Class boats and there are 7 boats laid-up at Rosyth. We can then add on to that the DSRV (Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle). At no stage did I say that there would be 17 submarines at any given time.
    If you want to play with numbers as the SNP continually do, then based on the above numbers, there are 20 (if you only include 2 Trafalgar Class boats) that are currently based in Scotland or are due to be based in Scotland (excluding Tireless which is now laid-up in Devonport) that the SNP do not want here.
    From what Brendan O’Hara now says, nothing will change and these will all remain in Scotland? Can this man be believed?
  • General Election part of the political Gallipoli of indy versus union

    I note that some of For Argyll’s contributors were recently taking my name in vain and trying to attribute a number of comments on FA to me. Some of your contributors assumed that as information on Trident and Faslane had been placed on FA, this information must have come from me. Not so. I do have a wide range of information on this subject that I provide to many people and organisations so as to try and counter the misinformation that comes from the SNP and others who are opposed to Trident.

    I note that Brendan O’Hara, the SNP candidate for Argyll & Bute, has been quoted in the Press and Journal (P&J) on their Complete Guide to Voting report where he is trying to mislead the electorate. When referring to Trident and Faslane, the P&J reports that: “SNP candidate Brendan O’Hara, lives in Helensburgh and is well aware of the issues. He argues that the site could remain a base for existing submarines without the need to spend £100 billion on replacing Trident” “There is a common misconception that that the SNP will close Faslane, which is not the case at all” he said. “As much as I personally would like to see all nuclear weapons removed from Scottish soil, that is not on the agenda. So Faslane and its current capacity is there and will stay” he said.

    Although they do not like it being discussed in public, the SNP and Scottish CND have confirmed that they want all nuclear powered submarines removed from Scotland and not just the 4 Trident boats. Taking into account the new Astute Class boats, we are talking about a total of 17 submarines and not just the 4 that the SNP would have us believe.

    On Jobs, a Scottish Enterprise ECOS Study confirmed that a total of 10,598 jobs were dependent on Faslane. That figure does not include the additional 2,000 that are due to be created as a result of the Maritime Change Programme which would bring the total up to approximately 12,500 jobs. Dr Philips O’Brien of the University of Glasgow confirmed that compared with other similar sized countries, if Scotland was to get rid of Trident and have its own conventional forces, the total number of jobs that would be left would be 2,000. These would be split with 1,000 based on the east coast and 1,000 at Faslane. A loss of over 11,000 jobs in Argyll & Bute.

    The SNP are keen to highlight that the Trident replacement would cost £100 billion. What they do not say is that figure would be spread over the next 40 years (£2.5 billion per year). What they also keep quiet is that the welfare budget over the same period will be £10,380 billion (£260 billion per year). The cost of the Trident replacement is therefore less than 1% of the estimated welfare budget over the same period.

    Apart from the jobs that would be lost within Argyll & Bute if the SNP were to get their way, Argyll & Bute Council would potentially lose massive sums of Non Domestic Rates (NDR) and Council Tax income. The rateable value of MoD properties at Faslane, Coulport etc is over £17 million. Based on the current poundage rate, this would generate a potential annual loss of over £7.5 million in NDR to Argyll & Bute Council. If we then include the Council Tax or Contribution in Lieu of Rates that the Council receives from the living accommodation within Faslane, that financial loss is pushed up to approximately £8.5 million per year.

    These losses do not take into account the massive losses / costs that would be generated as a result of the massive redundancies that would result from the removal of all submarines from Faslane.

    I believe that these facts must be taken into account when people cast their votes tomorrow.

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