Breslin pulls the pin on SNP group’s self-destruction – are there more resignations to come?

Dunoon Councillor Michael Breslin this morning pulled the pin on the potential implosion of the SNP Group leading the coalition administration of Argyll and Bute Council.

In advance of the SNP’s disciplinary hearing tomorrow on his earlier conduct under the former Council Leader, his party colleague Councillor Roddy McCuish, Councillor Breslin has resigned the party whip, taking the coalition majority to 19-17.

Mr Breslin has cited two causes for his action: the closure of Dunoon’s Struan Lodge care home; and the leadership of the second Council Leader in the hot seat since last May Councillor James Robb of Helensburgh.

Given that Mr Breslin had done his best to make trouble for the first leader, Councillor Roddy McCuish – who had simply accepted the resignation he had intended to be a threat to make McCuish comply with his wishes, it is rather repetitive for Breslin now to be claiming dissatisfaction with Robb as well.

This looks like someone who is simply not the team player his job as a party member requires him to be. In doing what he has just done, he is seen to have put ego before party loyalty and discipline – and to have made the position of independent councillors look far more attractive than party membership.

Nome of this can possibly be what his party wants to see – and on its own watch as the leading group in the local authority administration.

Councillor Breslin is foregrounding his fidelity to Struan Lodge as his principal reason for departure from the group – and appears to be suggesting that the responsibility for the Struan Lodge closure is carried singly by Councillor Robb.

This is demonstrably irrational on all counts.

Councillor Breslin threatened to resign before, to try to get former leader, Councillor McCuish to reverse the decision to propose the closure of Struan Lodge. Councillor McCuish chose to accept his resignation but the group reinstated Mr Breslin. When the vote came at full council and Mr Breslin had the chance to put his money where his mouth was, he abstained and did not vote against it.

The party group as a whole had agreed to propose this closure to full council, not just Councillor Robb who by then had become Leader when Councillor McCuish stepped down on 14th February.

The full council voted by a narrow majority to close the care home, thus converting the proposal to a decision to do so.

That was not voted by Councillor Robb but by the coalition with the exception of two abstentions – Councillor Breslin’s and Councillor Kelly’s.

Following the council vote, Councillor Breslin then issued the new Council Leader with an ultimatum that he answer two questions from Mr Breslin [which he had in essence already answered] ‘by 17.00 tomorrow’, indicating that ‘failure to be clear’ by 17.00 would be ‘very problematic’. Councillor Robb held his ground and the sky did not fall in. Another bluff called.

Councillor Breslin’s action today appears to be a self-perceived Samson taking down the pillars with him. The group would have had no choice but to discipline him tomorrow, had the hearing taken place. Ironically, they would have had no choice because they previously disciplined Councillor Robb for a lesser offence, leaving him suspended from the group for two years.

This frightfully chaotic and self-centred mess speaks for the politics of the hothouse, of people who forget that they were elected to do a job and that, elected as party representatives, they have a wider responsibility to that party, to make it be and appear to be worthy of government.

For Argyll supported the prospect of an SNP led administration at Argyll and Bute council and we, for one, could not have been more let down that we have been.

We have seen a regime where council officers call the tune and where councillors spend their time in internecine warfare driven by personality conflicts and by external intervention of questionable propriety and unquestionable poor judgment.

Would we support them again? who would?. This has been playschool with faction fighting and hand grenades aimed serially at internal targets.

We were told over five weeks ago, that there was a plan being cooked up by a small but influential faction within the SNP group with external influence, to take it into opposition in the council.

We discounted this absolutely, believing that it would signal a failure of nerve so substantial that it would make the SNP unelectable in Argyll and Bute. If there were to be any more resignations and if they were to be from a predictable coterie,  they would prove the accuracy of the information we disbelieved.

Should it prove to have been correct, it really with be time to write ‘The End’ to any serious SNP influence in Argyll and Bute.

Since the party which owns this group appears to have left them to the guidance of the local MSP, who can have had no positive impact on the self-destruct mechanism that so afflicts them, the wider party too must suffer damage to its credibility at the worst possible time.

The only chance the SNP group in Argyll and Bute have is to find some political courage – because Councillor Breslin and some others , in and beyond the group, have shown none. Councilor Robb has shown himself to be possessed of that courage – which may indeed be the cause of the latest internal problem.

It’s their game and it’s their wake. They’re making it one hell of a spectator sport – and for the current opposition. That is not what we supported in 2011-12.

It also cannot be what the SNP’s coalition partners thought they were walking into when they offered their own support only ten months ago – since when they have behaved with exemplary loyalty, like grown ups.

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63 Responses to Breslin pulls the pin on SNP group’s self-destruction – are there more resignations to come?

  1. The only chance the SNP group in Argyll and Bute have is to find some political courage – because Councillor Breslin and some others , in and beyond the group, have shown none

    …in the humble opinion of ForArgyll. Consider my point before the Cnclr Breslin abstained for reasons other than not having the balls to vote No. He abstained to create a level of uncertainty that he could use to leverage a change for the better regarding Struan Lodge. A change that would benefit the mosty vulnerable in society, the very same vulnerable the SNP scream are being put at risk by Tory policy.

    Consider that the SNP have refused to budge an inch on Struan Lodge, despite there being widespread knowledge that the closure is not for the right reasons, that that 400k saving is not really a 400k saving at all.

    Consider that Cnclr Breslin has finally realised that in doing what’s right for the people he represents, he’s totally at odds with the party who claims to represent and make better decisions for Scotland and Scottish people.

    And so, faced with the disciplinary and failing his electorate, there was only one decision – leave them to their own devices and watch them collapse through their own poor decision making.

    And so then, who has indeed shown the political courage? I’d love to hear how FA justifies their statement that Cnclr Robb has. Please elaborate. Do you think that parroting ‘£400k saving’ is political courage? I don’t.

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    • Government at any level is about the doctrine of collective responsibility.
      That is the political discipline.
      Those who cannot accept it on issues of conscience simply resign.
      Michael Breslin did not do so.
      He threatened to resign – accepted reinstatement and then abstained rather than vote against the closure proposal when the issue was up for a vote.
      That is not the behaviour of a principled person.
      That is the behaviour of a politician.
      Today’s eventual resignation is also political – and it is far less about Struan Lodge than it is about personal and indeed factional politics.
      In resigning, Mr Breslin appears to have written a letter to all of his colleagues, whose focus is criticism of the latest leader to disappoint him. That is knowingly to try to foment rebellion in a group he has decided to leave.
      Even if he had a case for everything he has done and not done, his series of actions has shown no steady commitment to anything, no political judgment and no political discipline.
      And this too has also been a substantial disappointment for For Argyll. His was a candidacy we had welcomed with some excitement; but instead of being a support within the group he has been an active agent of its repeated disruption.
      This is just not grown up politics.

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  2. Cllr Breslin will show his worth over the next 2 years. Whether or not he should have continued to fight the Struan closure from within when the current Leader from Helensburgh is intent on shutting Struan is up for debate even although his constituency party fully supported him.

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  3. What a lot crap all he was doing was following Russell,s game plan.Which is simply what is best for Russell never mind anything else.I hope Roddy brings the e-mails out into the public domain to sort all this rubbish out.Breslin as a hero will be put to bed once and for all as well as exposing exactly what he was having to put up with.
    If the SNP.want to regain any credibility they should back him to the hilt and never mind the PR rubbish.
    If not then its open season.
    Cheers Neil.

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    • Do you really think anyone would take your opinion seriously? Stick to community council work in Oban. There has been too many emails released/leaked by the Council leadership. Should they be disciplined —I hope so.

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  4. I am one of the 700 council workers under the threat or redundancy , I can’t speak for everyone but the general feeling at our work is no one will be voting snp after the budget was passed, not sure if it just gossip but 12million pounds in in redundancy payments will mostly go to managers nearing retierment, and it will be two and a half years before the council saves any money. Mr Breslin has done the right thing and fallen on his sword.

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      • Actually – on the evidence – yes.
        Dick Walsh kept a rainbow coalition of independents, Liberal Democrats and Conservatives together and disciplined – through a time of great political stress, endless revelations of incompetence by council officers and councillors in the national embarrassment of two failed sets of expensive school closure proposals.
        However he did so often by the use of vicious and vindictive tactics as in the awful attacks on the principled Councillor George Freeman – which no one with any decent values could possibly condone.
        But they didn’t break rank and they kept on doing the job as they saw fit. One could – and we did – vigorously dispute the political and social values that drove the decisions they took but they did not engage in fighting each other.
        They did have one advantage and it has been shown to be a substantial one. They had no external political intervention, a matter that has been a destabilising influence on this administration from the outset. That is proved in the nature of the mess the SNP group is currently in.
        We can only believe either
        - that the local SNP MSP mentoring the group and, on occasion the entire coalition administration, could make no impact on this self destructive in-fighting;
        - or that he has supported it, for whatever reason.
        Either way, the major achievement has been to make independent councillors look like a much better bet.

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        • Agree with Newsroom here in that Mike Russell has at best INDIRECTLY lost (substantially) the input from Cllr Roddy McCuish whom i think has few enemies even in the white hot politics of Argyll & Bute Council, or at worst DIRECTLY by his regular interference with the local SNP group.
          As someone not to date, convinced with the independence alternative, at least it appeared a credible option with well grounded individuals like Roddy at the centre of things. That has now been lost.

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        • The previous administration seem to have left a fairly poisonous financial legacy, although I’d agree the SNP haven’t dealt with it at all well.

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    • Sorry to hear of anyone losing their job—isn’t Cllr Breslin trying to save jobs or do wish Struan to close so some cushy jobs in Lochgilphead can stay?.–The Chief Executive and a few Chief Officers should be the first to go after the years of mismanagment whoever wa in power.

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  5. Well done Mr Breslin, you have done the right thing today. Hope you stand now as a independent and I’m sure without doubt that the people of Dunoon would vote for you again. I know I would now. Good to see someone actually sticking to there guns in the face of what must have been great pressure.

    Well done.

    Blair has now turned into a no person and whilst happy to take the money now it’s only going to be for now, unless he goes the same way his career is over now and he should just resign

    A tale of two very different styles

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    • MB –A No person—not really sure what you are trying to say.
      All the councillor’s still get paid however they vote-that’s they way it works.

      There will be more issues on the horizon which will test all apart from the complainer’s like you. MB will you stand for election –AND DO WHAT?

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  6. MB “Good to see someone actually sticking to there guns”

    And what guns exactly is newbie Breslin supposed to have stuck to? He said he didn’t want Struan Lodge to close but when it came to the vote he abstained. If he HAD stuck to his guns the vote would’ve been lost and Struan Lodge would’ve stayed open.

    This is the action of a spoilt wean throwing the dummy out of the pram.

    I said before that those who know him shouted from the rooftops that ‘he is not a team player’. So this comes as no surprise at all.

    Principles?? OK. Remember he was elected a SNP Cllr and has now left.

    So, if he HAD any principles – he would now resign.

    But he won’t ’cause he hasn’t. :)

    Have a nice evening. :)

    ps Blair didn’t get disciplined because Blair unlike Breslin didn’t break ranks to go mumping and whining to the press about how this so much ‘not his fault’.

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  7. As has been stated, Cllr. Breslin was voted in as an SNP Councillor. As he has now left the SNP, he has no right to stay in the position, and he must resign. No ifs or buts, resign, and re-stand with hi new ideas and what his aims are.

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    • This ongoing debate about ‘person X should stand down because they have resigned from their party’ brings up the old chestnut of a need to consider how local government operates,and its primary focus.

      As far as I am concerned if you vote purely for a local councillor because of the colour of their badge rather than the calibre of the person you are, to a large extent, inviting central policy to dictate local issues and have little grounds for complaint when the central approach to politics dictates how it works at a local level.

      Local councillors are, or at least should be, elected to represent their community (with a wider responsibility to the whole council area a little down the pecking order) and that representation should cover all, rather than focusing on those whose sympathies lie with one part or another. Ultimately only the public who are voting have it in their power to achieve/deliver this however local political parties could do a lot more to encourage it.

      Local government / councillors need to look beyond what is an entirely short term political cycle and, with competent and impartial, support from council officers have a medium to longer term vision and ambition for the area which doesn’t slavishly follow a national ‘priority’ which may not be a good fit on a more local level.

      One of the biggest problems at all stages of government is that long term planning is required within a framework where the pressures are on short term solutions due to the need to get re-elected. That is a problem that is never going to go away as I very much doubt we will see longer terms implemented (and that probably wouldn’t be ideal either).

      That isn’t to say that councils totally ignore long term planning, and in fact, many councils are pretty committed to doing it. However long term planning is always subject to change and influence. Too often long term plans get changed because councils tend to wait to see what direction they are being sent in by policy coming out of the centre rather than sticking to their own, more locally focused, strategic plans.

      This need for local planning is why longer term agreed funding packages for councils is a welcome development as is the reduction in central dependency through reduction in ring fenced grants.

      Which really brings me to my main point (OK it was about as roundabout as a trip through East Kilbride). Local government would be much better served if political parties were far less inclined to enforce party policy through use of the whip and disciplining. Councillors were elected by local people and need more freedom to support local issues and represent them at council meetings. Religiously following the party line (irrespective of party or ‘coalition of “independents”’) leaves a local councillor wide open to accusations of betraying the communities who elected them and contributes to the apathy that the public has regarding local politics. For an area like Argyll & Bute many national policies have little or no relevance and the things that would make a tangible difference to people’s lives are far more ward specific

      That isn’t to say I am a firm fan of all councillors being independent although it would be easy to see why people might think I am saying that. I am just saying that local political parties need to give their councillors more freedom to represent their communities without fear of retribution and, equally, people need to stop voting for someone just because they represent their personal party allegiance.

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      • Integrity, you may well be right in an ideal world.

        However, where you have a situation where an individual is elected because they are represent a political party – it seems to me that the honourable thing to do, if you part company with that Party, is to resign as Cllr, stand for re-election and let the electorate decide.

        Anything in my opinion is dishonourable.

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        • I do understand why people feel that way and accept there is a justifiable argument for it however my concern with adopting that policy is that we end up with councillors who will never speak out against a party policy they don’t agree with. I personally don’t believe that councillors going to local politics for the money (well I don’t think the vast majority do – there are certainly one or two in A&B, past and present, who I suspect did just see it as a second pension), most are motivated by a belief they can make a difference (and yes there can be also a little ego massaging in there as well).

          If they need to resign as councillors as soon as they stand up for what they truly believe in then they will be inclined not to stand up for it publicly as they will weigh up the pros and cons and believe that ‘surrendering’ that one principle will be the lesser evil if they can stay as a councillor and continue to argue for other policies which they believe in. For me that is an unhealthy position to push local politics further toward.

          Undoubtedly there are some who will refuse to say boo to a mouse to protect their salary and we have seen those in A&B. The hope with them is that the public see them for what they are and act accordingly at the ballot box (again as we saw at the last local election).

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  8. This whole production had been carried out without the people of Dunoon being aware of the actual facts.
    The new administration, faced with requirement to find huge savings (and more next year and the year after), inherited a Struan Lodge care facility that was costing the council £1650 per week per resident. This is three times what the council is entitled to spend per resident and the council’s prime responsibility is to spend wisely the public monies that are entrusted to it.
    To put it another way the Council could support three residents in the excellent Invereck or Ashgrove care homes for every one it supported in Struan Lodge.
    The story here actually is of the alarming incompetence of the previous administration which handed over a facility on which it had spent the best part of three quarters of a million pounds to end up with something which was economically (on the provided figures)unsustainable.
    On examination of the figures however Mike Breslin suspected they were significantly wrong and believes with the excellent staff there is a possibility of designing a new model of Struan Lodge which could operate within an economically acceptable framework. I do believe however that he would be in a better position to effect a conditional reprieve from within the administration which is facing huge strains over its attempts to find huge savings.
    The local SNP will stand behind both Cllr Michael Breslin and Councillor Gordon Blair in their efforts to save Straun Lodge and we hope that Cllr Blair takes the more difficult decision at this point to stay in a position of influence inside the administration

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    • He (Breslin) voted to close it by his abstention. End off!
      He will live to regret it off course. And losing Roddy McCuish as leader — well ?? And the local SNP will stand behind them …. daft or not.

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    • Dave McEwan Hill – Good post. As you say the previous administration and senior officers were indeed directly responsible for allowing Struan Lodge to continue to operate at a level where the cost per resident became completely untenable. A cynic could argue that it was set-up for closure well before the current administration were even elected.

      As an aside, the two homes you mentioned may be very good homes but are they both financially stable. One certainly appears to be, not sure if they both are though.

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      • this most definately needs clarified, you cannot keep 3 clients in other care homes for the cost of 1 in struan lodge…like you said this has all been done without the public being given the right information so therefor your comment cannot be justified….public meeting shortly to be held will indeed give you the correct figures as the previous have been grossly overstated obviously to try and justify the proposed closure of this excellent facility.can i point out we are talking about about elderly vulnerable people here who have been put under emense stress with the uncertainty of what the future holds for them..where are there human rights in all this fiasco…..quality care is priceless

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    • Eh Dave you seem to claim to know all the facts “The story here actually is of the alarming incompetence of the previous administration which handed over a facility on which it had spent the best part of three quarters of a million pounds”

      I understand from a friend in Dunoon that ‘the best part of three quarter of a million pounds’ was to improve the facilities for the residents ie giving them single rooms, en-suite facilities and a bit of dignity inline with the SNP Scottish government recommendations for this type of facility.

      Is that true??

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    • Dave Hill,- post is utter fabrication aimed at trying to save the snp from embarrassment throughout Argyll and Bute, in particular those from out with the Cowal area.
      Did the administration want MB to be able to find a ‘new model’of SL?
      To find huge savings? from who? The snp government cuts to local authorities – that’s who!
      Try sticking to the actual facts.

      BTW – Thought you were not commenting on here again and would not be reading FA again.

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  9. Having been made redundant by the council myself after 20 years I remember standing on the picket line and not a single councillor of any persuasion came to ask for our side of the story.As for my union they were as much use as a choclate watch.
    So Breslin resigned because he wanted to save Struan Lodge, when did he mention his fight to save the other hundreds of jobs that are to go.The services that will be cut and the redundancy payments that were passed in the Budget.
    I was led to believe that the whole Budget was passed by the SNP. Administration or did he abstain on the whole Budget.
    So Saint Michael and his buddy Saint Michael are still trying to pull our chain.Good job there underwear is strong.
    Never mind Ron will be back on to give us his bulletin that will be worth waiting for.
    Cheers Neil.

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    • no councillors came to ask the staff residents of struan lodge or there families for there side of any story…when this was sprung on then staff jumped to the defence of there clients and immediatley asked for meetings with the dunoon councillors who voted for the proposed closure,they indeed attended and where given information that warranted this proposal to be further investigated as the sums did not add up…the staff deseve a pat on the back for their quick actions.we have already lost our home care,ferry etc and now struan lodge whats next!…we are on our knees in dunoon already.its about time the public stood up and where heard,this town cannot sustain any more job losses

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  10. How about this to save money, do away with Some or all 36 councilors and elect a provost. Do we need 3 councilors for cowal,another 3 for Dunoon and bute . How much does this cost each year ? Bet it could save struan lodge , in places in Glasgow in can be one councilor to 20 or 30 thousand people why do we need so many? One provost with an assistant . What do you think.? Hamish I would love to help save struan lodge, im from Dunoon and know how much it means to people. Just ment why spend so much redundancy money on managers on a large wage, it’s more like a golden hand shake

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  11. All wards in Glasgow have three or four councillors and none of them take any more than about five minutes to drive across
    Just like the Cowal ward (I don’t think) which is longer across than the distance between Glasow and Edinburgh and keeps its three councillors at full stretch all the time.
    The number of councillors hasn’t got anything to do with this issue

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    • Yes, it has Dave. If the local tax and Council Tax payers are paying salaries for Councillors that are not needed, then yes, it certainly has got to do with this, and other issues. The residents of Argyll and all The Islands (not just Bute) are going to suffer drastically with all the cuts that are going to take place year after year, so ALL expenditure is relevant. All Councillors and Staff must stop travelling miles and miles every month to meetings and training, and use the already installed video conferencing facilities that are there for them. Cuts like Struan Lodge are only the start, wait and see what else is to be cut. Every penny that is currently being wasted, must be looked at, and working practises of Councillors and Staff changed urgently.

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  12. Simon,

    Yes put that way your right. Haven’t been able to follow every twist and turn since the mon vote, thx for the summery

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  13. If James Robb got the figures wrong when he was putting the budget together should he resign.
    Or if he was given the wrong figures and the wrong information from the heads of service should they resign.
    How when they had months to put this together and plenty of staff to help with the relevant information the budget is a shambles.Maybe they all should go it certainly can’t be any worse.
    Cheers Neil.

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    • Neil, the Council Officers have been getting their sums wrong for years. Remember the school closure proposals, first lot riddled with errors, second lot just as bad. In the Luss proposal, they couldn’t even add the savings table up correctly.

      A kid could have spotted it – without the use of a calculator.

      But still they are clinging onto those jobs.

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  14. Dave, if I was a councilor in Dunoon I think I could manage to drive to strone or glendarul, its nonsense to have so many councilors earning more than the average council worker for what is in MY opinion a part time job. Think in days gone bye a provest had the respect of the community, now it’s a money making scheme for the retired.

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  15. Simon.the en-suite facilities in Struan Lodge and incidentally Invereck were not recomendations by the SNP government but a requirement dictated by the all mighty EU of which the least said the better.

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  16. Simon would indeed be right in his understanding that a significant (and worthwhile) investment into Struan has been made in recent years (for one reason or another).

    It’s like putting a new engine and gearbox in your car at a main dealer and then giving it to the scrap man. Total waste of taxpayers money, but this was not taken into account by the administration.

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    • quote…”It’s like putting a new engine and gearbox in your car at a main dealer and then giving it to the scrap man.”
      I would say it’s more like selling it to the highest bidder rather than just scrapping it.

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      • I would almost agree, except that any money made from selling Struan Lodge would not count towards the savings, as this would not reduce the Operational expenditure.

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          • And what about the tens of thousands spent in upgrading? This money will not be recouped through the sale, and hence my point – what a waste. The council in Inverclyde have wasted millions of tax payers money doign similar things. THe high rise flats with the spanking new roofs new t-mobile? Well, after spending millions giving them a new roof, they are getting blown up. Literally. The school on the road to Port Glasgow that had hundreds of thousands spent on a new roof and refurbishment? Demolished.

            The landscaping at Gourock and the wee statue? About to get ripped up.

            Struan Lodge is no different. When you look bigger picture, the councils should be sacked for a complete lack of strategic thinking.

            Why close a care home that has the highest standards in A&B as well as having recently had a lot of money spent upgrading it? MAdness.

            The same council who are about to spend £20,000 on new tables and chairs.

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  17. Jamie, I agree with you that it has been a complete waste of money, but at least now the excessively high costs of maintaining and running this facility will cease.
    It is most unfortunate that the remaining 10 residents will have considerable upheaval in the not too distant future, but I do have to agree with James Robb on this one. (It’s not often I agree with anything the Separatist Numpties say or do)

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  18. Ah quasi – ‘the excessively high costs’. And therein lies the rub. Here is the point I’ve made countless times but not really getting picked up on. They may be high, but not quite as high as you think, and there is a completely viable alternative here.

    ForArgyll have decided, for one reason or another (and I’m sure it’s nothing to do with the fact that this statement was released by Cnclr Robb to FA first, then reluctantly, another Cowal media outlet) NOT to investigate these costs, and explore why so many people are questioning them. They have NOT taken Cnclr Breslin’s side of this debate into account and failed to present a balanced view of this debacle. There is a whol other side that has been skipped over.

    I’d have thought they would have been keen to uncover both sides of the story, rather than take the council line at face value. Be under no illustions quasijock, and I’m not just being sensational – this decision will have ramifications, if not when the figures are blown out of the water as, at the very least, inaccurate, then when the private care homes go bust and A&B are left holding the baby. Or should I say – care home residents.

    Either way, they are not getting away from Struan Lodge that easily.

    I think I’ll refrain from commenting any further and wait a year or so until A&B are left with collapsed care homes, falling or failed standards and with a very large bill to sort the mess.

    Peace :)

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    • ForArgyll have decided, for one reason or another (and I’m sure it’s nothing to do with the fact that this statement was released by Cnclr Robb to FA first, then reluctantly, another Cowal media outlet) NOT to investigate these costs, and explore why so many people are questioning them. They have NOT taken Cnclr Breslin’s side of this debate into account and failed to present a balanced view of this debacle. There is a whol other side that has been skipped over.

      Well said Jamie.

      I don’t suppose it could be mindless SNP-bashing fervour? There’s been no political balance on this blog for a long time now though debating with you has, I have to say, been a pleasantly refreshing exception to the weariness.

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  19. Good point Crazy so where do we go from here?
    Our councillors have to start asking how,why and how much in every department.They have to start digging and really find out who is really working and clear out the excess.It will be quite easy just get the internal employee page and work down.Sadly most councillors in my experience are not aware of the internal workings of a department and just listen to anything the heads of service tell them.Its less hassle but we are left with the mess.I am sure vast amounts of money could be saved yearly if this was done.
    Just to go of the subject for a minute what about MR.Bloomer appearing out of the undergrowth with the Education Commission that would certainly be the next big worry for me if our council was still in such a mess.
    Do you think the rural school’s will ever get an answer or will that be buried till after the referendum.
    Cheers Neil.

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    • Hi Neil. You have some things absolutely spot on there.

      Firstly, there are councillors who depend completely on the information that the senior officers are giving them. This through experience has proved to be on occasion inaccurate and far from impartial. Officers have clearly been telling councillors what they need to to achieve their own goals for years.

      These officers seem to still regards themselves as out-ranking the elected members, will someone for goodness sake put them straight on this???

      If I were a Councillor just now, I would have been ranting about it since the election, wearing tshirts and emailing the officers on a weekly basis to remind them of the pecking order.

      I would also not believe a word that comes from their mouths. Is anything they say a fair and balanced summation of the situation? I doubt it completely, experience tells me to. I am one of the parents from the school closures who took great delight in exposing their machinations and downright lies. As a Councillor, I would demand to be supplied with all facts and figures, do my own research and check their flippin sums!

      Will the closure of rural schools be off the agenda until after the referendum? are you kidding? I am absolutely sure that as soon as the Commission for Rural Education publish their findings, Snedders will have the typists hammering out the next set of proposals (if they haven’t been done already). As long as the same staff remain in office and the financial climate stays the same, they will come back. Mr Sneddon needs his revenge. I never knew faces could go that red.

      And Mr Bloomer??? Well, I think it will be a long, long time before Mr Bloomer shows his brass-neck in Argyll again. We’d be watching him like a hawk and we still have the dodgy dossier from last time around – bury the Minard School Report – yes Mr Bloomer, what a fine example of objectivity you proved to be!

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    • Crazy makes it clear in her post that she comes form Luss. I am surprised that she appears to be happy to keep Struan Lodge open when it is costing three times as much as it costs to provide residential care for the elderly in her area. It also deprives the elderly in her area of services that they desparately need.

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      • wrong wrong wrong…it does not cost 3 times more…it amuses me so that some people cannot see a bigger picture here….and it does not deprive anyone in any other area..the only people getting deprived are the clients in struan lodge..there have been many revised figures and they have all went down down down by 3 times.

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      • So what do you suggest Separation? Get all the elderly of Argyll together in a big field just outside Lochgilphead and care for them there?

        Should care be dependant on your postcode?

        I have made it clear, I do not know the details of the Struan Lodge case, however, I do think it disgusting the way it has been handled.

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        • Crazy, talk sense please. A little research would confirm for you that care has been dependent on postcodes. The lion’s share of the funding has been going to the Bute and Cowal area (including Dunoon and Struan Lodge) for years. The elderly in your area are at the bottom of the list when it comes to funding. You may be happy with that but those of us who do not live in Bute and Cowal are certainly not.

          As far as the way that it has been handled, I don’t think you need to point the finger much further than at Mike Breslin and Mike Russell.

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          • First of all, I will not be jumping on some political bandwagon like a lot of people on here are just dying to do. There are more people to blame in this, that I am sure of and that extends to Council Officers as well.

            Quite frankly all the political back-biting going on just now is making me sick to my gut. You want to sink to that level, feel free.

            There are alternatives to closure – loads of them and from my limited knowledge of this situation, closure junkies at the council have not been bothered or lack the intelligence to look at them or for them.

            Perhaps Struan Lodge does cost a lot to run, perhaps Dunoon gets more money for care than other areas. The geography of your elderly and infirm cannot be nicely plotted out on a map in a nice even and equal manner. And what would be next, the 4 areas of A&BC all getting the same amounts for education, roads etc. I think you’ll find that a much more unfair way of divvying up the pot.

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  20. Webcraft, “I don’t suppose it could be mindless SNP-bashing fervour? There’s been no political balance on this blog for a long time now”

    Aw diddums! Some big bad boy bashing you? Aw the sowels…?

    Want some balance? Want a new election slogan? How about this…?

    ‘From those wonderful people who imposed Argyll ferries on an unwilling community now comes the sequel – closing the old folks home’.

    Could be snappier I’ll admit – but what do you think?
    Does it capture the social conscience and actions the SNP profess to hold? Does it get across the care and concern the SNP have for vulnerable people? Or do think I should mention the SNP stealing the milk fae the primary school weans?

    I didn’t see any complaints about ‘political balance’ when Newsie was wetting herself praising the SNP last year and what they were going to do to put Argyll right. And ‘how good Mike Russell was’ and wasn’t’ ‘Mike Breslin jist great…..’ – nae complaints then at all.

    Two leaders and two education spokesperson later, a shambles of an administration, an SNP Cllr jumping before he was pushed, intrigue and internal warfare the pushing through of Tory budget proposal – AND YOU COMPLAIN ABOUT LACK OF BALANCE?????

    What is there to balance? Mmm?

    What have we all missed here?

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  21. The Chief Executive and Senior Officers should be placed on notice that for 2014-15 their respective budgets start at £0.
    They then must justify why they need (as an example) a PR department as opposed to cleansing staff or school patrols or teachers. Those providing a direct benefit to their community takes precedence over others. Maybe FA can provide a basic headcount per service per budget.

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    • Hamish I think you have hit the nail on the head. With the drastic cuts due to take place, your scenario may not be far from the reality. All non essential (and even some essential) services will have to be studied very closely for years to come, and many will disappear forever, and others cut to the bone.

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  22. Oh Webcraft – here’s a bit more balance for you – Breslin has now posted on a website mumping about “SNP rule-book bullies within the SNP group”.

    Now, you were talking about balance – how’s that for a bit of balance from an ex-SNP Cllr?

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  23. People should be asking how much the council spend on consultants when officers should be doing there job. Also most councilors seem to say they independent but that just an excuse to say they can’t fight for the party they really follow. I don’t mean mike b.

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  24. For Alan’s information – the Cowal ward stretches from Portavadie to Lochgoilhead ie further than from Glasgow to Edinburgh with an area about five times that of Glasgow

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    • There is a constant thread that runs through all that would appear to be wrong with A&BC. That is the inability of councillors to at times receive accurate information from their full time officers which would enable them to make an informed decision. This is whether it is on a particular decision like Struan Lodge or school closures or generally formulating council policy. Newsie has been highlighting this situation for some time.

      I believe it is part of a deliberate strategy of arrogance and the hoarding of power by officers. No one should doubt that officials regularly provide information to councillors that usually leaves them no option but to take the officials advice even if there is no firm recommendation.

      I had a situation last year where a senior manager, with the approval of their director, put information before an area committee that appeared to leave the committee no alternative but allow them to support a particular course of action. The information was bogus and the action so prejudicial to both the operation of a council owned facility and my business that I had go to court and obtain an Interim Interdict against the council which was subsequently made permanent to stop their course of action. What the manager put before the committee was wrong and did not stand for five minutes in court. The council had to pay me my £3,000 expenses.

      Councillors generally do not have the time, and some probably not the inclination, to research fully every situation under discussion or decision. However, if ever A&BC are to do things better, regardless of who runs the administration, the nettle must be grasped.

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  25. Aren’t these people elected on the basis that they take responsibility for doing the best for the Argyll community? On what basis do they justify simply signing on the dotted line without exploring exactly what they are signing up to or asking a few basic questions? Surely facts, evidence and alternatives must be explored before any decisions are taken. Don’t forget that elected councillors receive payment for the work that they undertaken on our behalf.

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    • From what I hear Louise Glen Lee will be the next SNP councillor to jump ship. The news on the streets of Oban is that she’s planning to stand in next years European elections with I might add the full support and backing of Mike Russell.

      Where’s her loyalty to the people of Argyll who voted for her!?

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