Council Leader’s response to resignation from SNP group of Councillor Michael Breslin

Councillor James Robb, Leader of Argyll and Bute Council. has sent this statement to all local media, on the resignation this morning from the SNP group and therefore from the coalition administration which is led by Councillor Robb.

‘It was with regret I accepted the resignation of Councillor Michael Breslin from the Administration and from his position as Lead Councillor for Education and Life Long Learning.

‘I have expressed my hope to Michael that  in the future we can find other ways to work together on matters of common interest and for the benefit of all the people of Argyll & Bute.

However, it is important that the business of the Council continues as normal.

‘Councillor Richard Trail will assume the responsibilities for Education and Life Long Learning. Richard is Depute Lead Councillor for Education and I have every confidence that Richard will step-up to the challenges of this important brief.’

It is to Councilor Robb’s credit and is evidence of his political maturity that he is dealing with this matter calmly and in such a non-inflammatory way.

He has also wisely chosen to ignore the attacks upon himself in the communication Councillor Breslin has sent to his colleagues to mark his leaving.

Councillor Trail is a former college lecturer and brings to his new post the advantage of having worked as a teacher. Councillor Breslin was not an educationalist but, with a useful background at Highlands and Islands Enterprise,  a manager of an education provider.

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10 Responses to Council Leader’s response to resignation from SNP group of Councillor Michael Breslin

    • What confidence can we possibly have in the current A&BC administration? They seem to be in total disarray. And now attempting to reverse budget decisions that they’ve already made??

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  1. Would anyone from forargyll or even our new council leader like to explain the situation regarding the Actual Reality Learning and Leadership properties in the Cowal area and the connection with the council.
    Anyone else like to comment?

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    • We have no idea but are aware of the questions.
      The recent history of the events leading to the former administration’s disposal of the Castle Toward estate to a holiday / time share variant may somehow be relevant.
      As far as we remember, Actual Reality, while still a tenant, spent their own money with the agreement of the council/landlord on basic repairs to the Castle Toward house.
      The Council had shut them down and this work was to allow the house to reopen and carry on for the time being as an outdoor education centre, in the understanding that Actual Reality would effectively be the preferred bidder, if they could raise the cash.
      That was certainly what was told by both sides to the audience at a public meeting – recorded,as we remember – at Innellan at the time, chaired by Tony Miles and published here.

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      • Newsroom,- Thank you for your reply, but I have reason to believe (and I know Simon will not like me using that comment),there may be more in this story and think you might want to start asking further questions.

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  2. Michael Breslin gave a number of reasons for his resignation including:

    “The way in which the administration has allowed the serious complaint by Actual Reality Ltd to be managed by the very same senior officials who are named in the complaint. Whether or not there is anything in the complaint isn’t the point; it’s the way it’s been handled.”

    As a Director of Actual Reality I can confirm that on 28 November last year I sent an email to some of the Argyll and Bute Councillors in which I vigorously rebutted statements which, I had been told, Councillor Dick Walsh had made about Actual Reality with reference to our occupancy of Castle Toward in 2009 and 2010. Councillor Walsh’s remarks, which we regarded as seriously misleading, had been made at an official meeting of Councillors and Council Officers convened to finalise the terms of the sale of the Ardentinny Outdoor Education Centre to Actual Reality. In the rebuttal I referred to conduct by certain Council Officers and Councillor Walsh in relation to Castle Toward between April 2009 and March 2010.

    Councillor McCuish decided as Leader of the Council that my rebuttal should be treated as a complaint of misconduct and took advice on how it should be investigated. I must emphasise that although I did not intend my rebuttal as a formal complaint, I can understand why Councillor McCuish judged that it should be treated as such.

    I can also support Michael Breslin’s statement that the complaint was “managed by the very same senior officials who are named in the complaint”. Mrs. Loudon was named in my rebuttal and she tabled a report at the Council Meeting on 20 December in which she advised the Council to ask Audit Scotland to conduct a “review of issues relating to Castle Toward and Actual Reality in 2009 / early 2010.” I also named Councillor Walsh, who took a full part in the Council’s discussions about her report on 20 December.

    The Council debate was held in secret and Mrs. Loudon’s report is regarded as exempt from publication, so I do not know what was said in the debate, nor do I know how Mrs.Loudon presented our “complaint” to the Council. The Minute of the Council meeting is available on the Council website.

    The Council decided to refer the matter to Audit Scotland but the referral was not made until early February.

    I have been told by Audit Scotland that they have no statutory power to investigate complaints. They can look at expressions of concern about an organisation which they audit but they have told me that they have decided to consider the referral by the Council only as a request for “additional audit services”. Audit Scotland have also told me that they have not yet decided whether they will deal with this issue at all.

    I regard the Council’s way of dealing with this business as extraordinary and unprecedented and I am looking forward to learning what, if anything, Audit Scotland propose to do about it. An email received this afternoon suggests that they are still thinking about it.

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    • As someone whom we are aware has substantial first hand experience of local government at a major city council, it would be valuable to have your insights into two things:
      - how best should a rookie council administration deal with the knowledge gap that exists between them and experienced senior officers – regardless of the competence and/or integrity of those officers?
      - and how best, in your view, should a rookie council administration deal with the scenario in which Actual Reality and yourself found yourselves in, in this matter?

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  3. Nah Gus you’re all right – see saying “I believe” means that you don’t have any basis for your comment other than your own beliefs. Fair, clear and straightforward.

    What Newsie does is quite different. When she wants to give her unsubstantiated opinions (or complete rumour) a degree of gravitas – she uses a range of approaches:-

    The classic Newsie approach is ” We understand on good authority…” – here use of the Royal pronoun coupled with an ‘authoritative source’ (albeit unidentified) imbues her comments with some sort of claim to have a basis in truth.

    Meanwhile the more simplistic and lazy Newsie approach is “we hear…..”

    Either way what follows is normally total mince.

    So, relax, your attempt is patently amateur in comparison and it has one other saving grace; unlike Newsie you don’t have a track record of posting such said mince. :)

    Have a nice evening.

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  4. Question 1: Don’t take everything on trust, go and see for yourself, talk with the people on the spot.
    Question 2: I am the last person to ask; I made the “complaint”. But not taking advice from the officers who were named in the “complaint” would probably be a good plan.

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  5. Newsroom.- Taking into account the response from Christopher Mason I would suggest there may be some more to this and there is a perfect opportunity for forargyll to ask more questions of some more people!

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