Struan Lodge on agenda for today’s council meeting

Council Leader, James Robb, does not run in the face of the sort of public meeting only Dunoon can deliver - as others have previously been seen to do. Councillor Robb faced the experience last Friday – 15th March – and a tough session it was.

Nevertheless, the Council Leader has an agenda briefing for his colleagues on the Struan Lodge issue at today’s council meeting where he resolutely lays out the necessary logic, based on the information he has been given by council officers.

For Argyll has, through external industry expertise, independently checked out and published on the staffing figures quoted by the council and found little discrepancy in them.

The figures however, remain a matter of keen dispute, with the cost of overheads factored in to the overall cited costs of running Struan Lodge  now the focus for challenge.

From what we saw in the staffing figures, their composition looked like ‘a desk job’, adding up the theoretical rather than the actual costs. There was no evidence given from actual council accounts.

While the ‘desk job’ approach to staffing costs appeared, in testing, not to be far off the mark, overheads can be a different matter, with a lot more latitude for subjective estimates in a similar ‘desk job’ summation. Such estimates are as like to be wrong as right, from either party.

Dunoon Councilor Dick Walsh is understood to have a major amendment to put to the council today and has been laying out his own estimate of the potential costs of Struan Lodge, showing substantially lower figures than those presented by council officers.

It should be  noted that Councillor Walsh’s costs are not alternative actual costs but costs he argues are achievable, with cost efficiencies to be made.

Councillor Walsh is claiming that the weekly cost per resident at Struan Lodge need not be the £1,621 quoted by the council but could be reduced to £1,032 per week, with service and staffing efficiencies and with expansion to 19 residents.

That is one bold headline savings claim – and a cost achievement Councillor Walsh’s own administration never managed. But this is politics and this is a less than confidently numerate society, within and outwith the council chamber.

Staffing will always be the highest cost element and, while staffing efficiencies could clearly be made,  the council figures on that element have not been found to be much astray.

The staffing at Struan Lodge predates the current administration and, where it is over generous in some cases, that was approved by the previous administration led by Councillor Walsh.

In his framing note to the council today, the Council Leader says:

‘Contact with the staff group and local community representatives has confirmed a possible interest in investigating the development of a social enterprise. In line with the Council decision, the service has confirmed the Council is open to a viable business proposal that delivers equivalent efficiencies to the closure proposal.

‘Meetings are being arranged with the community leaders to discuss the viability criteria. To assist the Struan Lodge Group in developing its potential buy-out I have agreed with the Executive Director of Community Services that a suitable officer can attend their meetings in an advisory capacity if requested and that this offer may be extended to any community buy-out.

‘At the Public Meeting on Friday 15th March 2013 in Dunoon, I had the opportunity to outline the rationale for the Council decision and to hear from local interested stakeholders. [Ed: now that's a neat way of describing a stooshie] I highlighted that over £400,000 could be realised as an efficiency saving, thereby avoiding actual cuts of a similar amount to other adult care services.

‘The proposals contribute to sustainable care services that provide a fairness and equity of support for all of our older people within a difficult financial situation. The future risks from not re-assigning this funding to support wider adult care is an increased time spent in hospital prior to discharge and deterioration in the current high levels of performance relating to personal care.

‘Attendance at that meeting confirmed my view that many people in Dunoon hold the care home in great affection and hold the staff in high regard.

‘While it is not possible at this stage to put a time frame on the closure process the community can be assured that all groups who notify an interest in a potential buy-out will be kept informed of progress to ensure timely submission of any alternative proposals.’

At the Dunoon public meeting last Friday, Councillor Michael Breslin, elected as an SNP representative for Dunoon but recently resigned after earlier threats to do so were accepted but not carried out, was still whingeing out loud about having been ‘double-crossed’ by the SNP-led administration at the council’s February budget meeting.

At that meeting Councillor Breslin simply abstained from the vote on the proposed closure of Struan Lodge, along with his then party colleague, Cowal Councillor Gordon Blair and Argyll First administration member, Councillor Donald Kelly from South Kintyre.

At the public meeting, Councillor Robb spoke not from the platform but from the floor of the Queen’s Hall, within reach of the audience – a brave decision.

The last subject to get the ‘Dunoon treatment’, local MSP, Michael Russell, spoke from the safety of the dais  – and was famously invited outside ['Just you and me, Michael.'] by Councillor James McQueen. Mr Russell wisely did not leave the platform but he was notable for making a 180 degree change in his position on the Dunoon passenger ferry situation after the experience.

Councillor Robb appears to be cut from a different cloth.
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98 Responses to Struan Lodge on agenda for today’s council meeting

  1. Once again, newsroom spoils an interesting news article with self opinion. Describing Clr Breslin as “whinging” is not professional journalism. It does however distract, along with other comments which have no bearing on the actual meeting, from the fact that Clr Robb proved how unflexible he was willing to be in this matter.
    The article is also 5 days late, and already has been over takenby todays meeting at Kilmory at which a motion of misconduct is being levied against the Leader.
    Newsroom will no doubt inform us of this next week, and the result a week after that.

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  2. I missed the article on FA about Friday’s meeting – can someone post a link? OR did FA not report?

    Why are FA focussing on staffing figures only rather than other factors such as depreciation, income streams etc etc…?

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  3. Well said John ,it’s a pity for argyll is so against Dunoon, it could be so much better as a web site if they included. Dunoon , and not put everything in a negative way.

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  4. Dear oh dear, if you had been at the meeting in Dunoon on 15th March you would be able to report accurately on what was actually said at this meeting. The figure of £1032 quoted is the actual cost per week per resident as things stand at the present time. This figure was arrived at by Bruce West the council accountant. This figure was at no time disputed by Mr Robb who like yourself focused only on staffing cost. Mr Walsh pointed out that the true cost as per Mr West was £785000 per year minus £140000 income per year leaving £645000 per year as the true cost. Divide this figure by 52 and then by 12 the number of beds and you have the £1032. Mr Walsh then outlined achievable efficiencies of £50000 which could be made with the integration of day care services already being provided within the Struan complex providing another saving of £150000 anually .Add these two figures together and you have savings of £200000. Deduct this from the true prexent cost of £645000 and a figure of £445000 per year is achieved. Now if the bed capacity was increased to 19 which would require no increase in staffing levels then you would have £445000 divided by 52 and then by 19 which woul give a weekly cost per head per resident of around £445 Which is £116 per week cheaper than the private sector. Quality care cheaper than the private sector, why is this not the model being rolled out accross the whole of Argyll we might ask?

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    • Taxpayer – do you honestly think that by increasing the number of beds from 12 to 19 and not increasing the staffing levels that the quality of care will stay the same? Less staff to residents means less time for direct, personal, intimate, palliative, social or even basic care for all 19 residents and an increase in workload and related stress for staff. That’s what happens when people take their eye off the quality of care and concentrate on finances. Nearest and dearest become income and expenditure.

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      • Hi Quackers I certainly do believe that the quality of care can be maintained in Struan lodge even with an increase of beds from 12 to 19 with no increase in staffing levels. The majority of staff are long term and very experienced, many having provided quality care to 44 residents at one time. There are systems in place eg key working, the involvement of the residents group in all decision making on a day to day basis up to and including recruitment of new staff. There is also a very active focus group, consisting of residents families friends and staff which consistently acts as a stringent quality assurance tool. All of the councils own homes are highly graded and all operate on legal minimum levels of staff,Struan being the second smallest. Of course one of the main contributors to quality care is a complete focus on that care and not on the need to turn a profit for shareholders. If you believe that it is not possible for the current staff group to maintain the same level of care to 19 residents, what do you think the level of care is in a 65 bedded unit which is the alternative being offered to Struan residents

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        • Hi taxpayer

          if any care setting is operating at the minimum legal limit, you then increase beds without increasing staff surely that takes it below the minimum legal limit.

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          • Hi Quackers minimum staffing levels are set out in bands. The relevant band here is 12 to 20. Therefore the legal minimum of staff for 12 is the same as the minimum for 20.

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  5. I am always concerned when communities let themselves be portrayed as victims. It’s unhealthy and shows a lack of community ambition.

    If Dunoon and Cowal want a bright future can its leaders not do something for the young and economically active instead of waiting for Godot?

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    • As an Snp member you let yourself down with such comments.

      If you were at the meeting you would have seen local Snp ‘stalwarts’ who attended, applaud members of the public, some members of other political parties who spoke in support of Struan Lodge.

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    • This comment may well be true, but it’s a bit rich when it’s the SNP who have no shame in portraying Scotland as a victim of the UK at every available opportunity. Almost every single announcement from Westminster is greeted by the SNP with some variation of how unfair it is on Scotland, how it’s deceit, how we are not better together and so on.

      Just saying :)

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    • Yes – Councillor Blair DID abstain and the text above is being altered to show the correct situation.
      We did know this and had previously reported it.
      This error is my personal responsibility and Iapologise for it unreservedly.

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  6. Gus, of course Blair abstained. the whole world and their granny knows he did – but not apparently Newsie. Actually the muppet DID know because she published on 15 March “Michael Breslin and Gordon Blair, both SNP representatives, registered a No Vote [abstention] rather than vote against the proposal to close the Struan Lodge care home in Dunoon, confirmed at yesterday’s meeting of Argyll and Bute Council.”

    Meanwhile Graeme the SNP stalwart is concerned because the people of Dunoon le themselves be portrayed as victims.

    Aw diddums.

    Well,Graeme maybe if the SNP had promised you a two new car/passenger ferries in their manifesto (and didn’t deliver) then closed down the only council-run old folks home in Dunoon without ANY consultation – you might not actually feel like a victim – but you might be angry and want to get even.

    The cyber-nats were ALL over this blog last year screaming that no school should close without the consent of the community. The same cybernats are strangely silent however when old people are going to lose their home.

    It seems to me at any rate that Dunoon/Cowal have been right royally shafted by the SNP.

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  7. I was at the meeting and it’s evident from this post that newsroom was not.Clearly it has taken newsroom since last Friday to put this piece together.
    There is plenty from the new council leader who’s ‘side’ forargyll has taken on this issue.Very little reference to any other contribution from those present.
    This is not surprising given previous anti Dunoon posts from newsroom.
    No report of the support from those who had actually taken the trouble to attend, support for Struan Lodge from people on the floor of the hall from all political parties and none. Describing the meeting as a ‘stooshie’ does newsroom no credit, if a community takes the opportunity to raise issues with it’s elected representatives it has every right to do so.
    The right to protest, make a fuss, is sometimes the only way to make elected representatives think again. Newsroom would do well to remember this from the school closure fiasco, even if the final outcome of that was not 100% correct.
    As for saying ‘Councillor Robb appears to be cut from a different cloth’- newsrooms support previously for MSP Mike Russell was unparalleled. Councillor Robb should be wary!

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  8. Simon, SNP members seem to have collectively decided not to bother with For Argyll as what was being published was further and further from the reality we understood.

    Grassroots members and branches across Argyll and Bute have donated over £1000 to the Struan Lodge fighting fund and are committed to ensuring that residents and staff have all the support they need to make their case. No doubt someone will find a way to make a negative out of that, but there’s no enthusiasm for that kind of debate any more. It’s just good people who care about their elderly friends and there’s nothing complex about it. No plots, no ulterior motive, nothing contentious. Just good people that I’m proud to know.

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  9. Hi Anne, long time no hear. Obviously although some “SNP members seem to have collectively decided not to bother with For Argyll” that obviously does not apply to you.

    Surely the “Grassroots members and branches” across Argyll would be better putting pressure on THEIR OWN PARTY? After all this is an SNP decision – no recommendation from official on this one. Nope this is purely a political decision foisted on Cowal by the SNP.

    One thing is for certain the SNP in Argyll is split. The grassroots have no confidence in their leadership and the leadership don’t really care what the grassroots thinks – as they are too busy trying to run a council.

    Now in your failed attempt to be elected onto this Council you were one of those that claimed schools should only be shut wit the consent of the community. I asked then and I’ll ask again now – should that veto extend to all services? Should the residents and families be allowed to veto the Struan Lodge decision?

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    • Spot on Simon. Im sure many donations are well intended, though £1000 aint gonna save anything when the ruling party have decided. What a mess!

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  10. Anne, “Same old …” well really, if you SNP types keep posting the same old keech – what’d you expect?

    Your Party is in disarray in Argyll: one of your senior Cllrs has been thrown out, your MSP shares a platform with him, the SNP branches are revolted by the SNP Council’s decision, you’re on you second Leader and second Education Spokesperson in less than a year, grassroots activists cheer the ‘expelled’ one…
    but you don’t want to “spend time on debate”.

    Same old Anne – you come on here bump your gums, make some sanctimonious comment, but retreated rapidly when challenged.

    Let’s face it Anne, your Party crow on about ‘social justice’ but the fact is thye are anything but. Your SNP branches could have saved themselves £1,000 if YOUR SNP Council had not decided to close an Folks Home and remove old people, very old people in some cases, from their home.
    But you ‘don’t want to debate’…

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    • Ther is no debate Simon. Thats why the previously vociferous nationalists are not around anymore, which is sad, as many a good debate has been witnessed here with no quarter asked or given.

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      • I am not sure about the activists leaving of their own accord, I am sure they have been held back by the party.

        In all my years in Cowal it has been a rare edition of the Observer that did not have a letter from David McEwan Hill. He stopped writing to the Observer the same time as to this site.

        Where have they been, what have they been upto? Have they been re-trained ready for the final push? Are they to become the leaders/controllers of the happy bands of local supporters mentioned by Big Eck the other day?

        I very much suspect so but time will tell.

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        • I think you are right in that they are ‘keeping their powder dry’ by their way of it!
          In they meantime they are stacking up a lot of trouble by appearing to have no answers and no debate. It appears to me this has been a party decision and not coincidence that we dont have as many regular SNP supporters, though to their credit they have occasionally broken ranks to voice opinion. Debate needs 2 sides.

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    • Simon – “social justice”. Sure Simon people in their later years deserve consideration and dignified care we’d all want that. Would that be the same “social justice” the previous administration gave to the very young in 26 schools throughout Argyll when they were going to close their schools and bus hundreds of our children from their local communities daily? The same “social justice ” we all expect from cradle to grave?

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      • Quackers ” “social justice”. Sure Simon people in their later years deserve consideration and dignified care we’d all want that.”

        So why didn’t the SNP give the old people in Struan Lodge that ‘social justice’?

        And, have a pop at the previous administration by all means – but let’s not kid-on that Tricky Dicky, unlike the SNP, ever pretended to a platitudinous platform of “social justice”.

        What the SNP are doing with Struan Lodge is removing, AGAINST THEIR WILL, frail old people from their homes, where they live for 24 hours a day 52 weeks of the year. Not a school that they attend for 6/7 hours a day 40 weeks a year – but their home.

        There is to my mind no comparison.

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        • Closing care homes without thought to residents feelings; closing schools without thought to children’s, families or communities feelings or posting on FA without thought or consideration for other people’s feelings are pretty much one and the same. Have a lovely day Simon,

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          • Quackers – “posting on FA without thought or consideration for other people’s feelings” is akin to closing schools/old folks home.

            What nonsense!

            Can we have a bit of honesty here please? And can you stop being so goody-goody sanctimonious and hypocriticsl?

            You were, and are, fixated about keeping open under-occupied and expensive-on-the-public-purse rural primary schools. Now that’s your right. But you really don’t seem to care about the old people at all – every post you’ve made on this Struan Lodge article has referred back to closing schools. Every post.

            And of course when YOU were posting previously – YOU weren’t too concerned then about having consideration for other people’s feelings. You ripped into Council officers (one of whom at least had left months previously)”Sneddon’s dirty linen and quite rightly hung him out to dry”, “Morton’s school bloomers”, “Louden’s Laundry will be in a spin today but even “Vanish” won’t remove the stains from this lot”.

            You also assured us that “For any councillor to support this… review of the school estate will be akin to pis***g against a force 10″ as you were “welcoming the thought of this ‘SNP Force 10 wind of change’

            Well despite your language and personal attacks – you got your ‘wind of change’, you got your SNP Council and they’ve just voted to close an Old Folks Home.

            No more lectures please.

            Have a nice day.

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      • Quackers, are you suggesting that because the last administration suggested closing schools, then its social justice that the vulnerable old folk of Struan Lodge 5 of whom range in age from 93 to 101 and who played no part in the schools issue should be subjected to the extreme trauma they are experiencing at just the thought of beig evicted from their home. I would suggest that you rèad some of the research freely available onine on the effects of moving old people from one care home to another. One thing all research agrees on is a large risk of shortening of life. Î hope I have misunderstood what you are saying, otherwise I find this attitude realy very frightening.

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        • Hi taxpayer – I’m well aware of the effects of moving old folks from their home or the effects of moving children from their school., Its traumatic for the individual, family and community concerned. All I’m sure would prefer to stay in their local community with either quality of care or quality of education. The elderly individuals in the care home may have attended the local school or those at the local school may have relatives in the care home. See my previous post to you about the importance of seeing people as people rather than as beds, income or expenditure. Have a nice day.

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          • Hi Quackers you paint an ideal scenario of an ideal world. Unfortunately the powers that be tell us that we cannot afford the ideal scenario and that we do not live in an ideal world. Therefore would it not make sense, if by increasing their own provision at my end of the spectrum, elderly care, the council provided quality care across the whole of Argyll cheaper tban the private sector, then perhaps the saviings could be used to ease the pressure on your end of the spectrum, community schools.

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  11. For Argyll makes no mention of yesterdays meeting, so here is the news:
    Council admit figure is nearer £1,000 than £1,600 ( so Clr Walsh was right!!!)
    This however did not persuade Robb and his cohorts to continue with their position of not allowing more residents, well at least until the whole matter is debated again at the April Council Meeting.
    So delay again, with no certain outcome, except that Clr Robb this time may NOT have sufficient support to permanently close Struan Lodge.
    It does however give those councillors who voted with him, and those who abstained, to understand fully what they are voting on and this time to vote for continuance of Struan Lodge under council ownership and financial support/control.
    It is hoped that they vote accordingly, even if it means the resignation of Clr Robb as Leader of the Council./

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  12. Thanks John. I can’t understand the stubbornness of Mr Robb here. Something is wrong, but I can’t even try to guess.

    It’s a shame that MrRobb is letting the people of Argyll and his party down so much – does he not realise the damage he is doing – not least, to himself?

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    • “It’s a shame that MrRobb is letting the people of Argyll and his party down so much – does he not realise the damage he is doing”

      It’s a shame he’s letting his party down?
      Since when did you have the slightest bit of concern for the SNP, have you had a sudden change of heart Jamie?

      I will say that I am in general agreement with your posts regarding this particular issue though, pretty much spot on.

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  13. John – Do you know who clarified the figures and was the admission actually made in the council meeting yesterday?

    Although the decision to continue to keep on hold admissions to Struan Lodge may not be what people wanted, it is the right one to make until everthing is sorted out. It would be wrong to admit someone now for them to be moved in a few weeks time if the decision to close Struan went ahead.

    I know Cllr Robb is the council leader but I don’t understand why he is the one getting all the stick. It took a majority to pass the resolution and that majority was primarily made up of SNP councillors. I always thought that part of a leader’s role was to defend the decisions made by the group they lead.

    I agree with Jamie Black that ‘something is wrong’ but would suggest that the problem may not simply be with the Councillors.

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  14. So the Administration councillors did not have a clue what they were voting for when they decided to close Struan Lodge,now that is very scary what did they think they were doing.If after so called months of work to put the budget together our SNP council have not scrutinised the figures properly in every area is unbelievable.They quite rightly
    questioned the figures the Education department put forward on school closues under the last administration although I see councillor Walsh is now there buddy, strange how things change.Could he be the next leader? the SNP are quickly running out of bodies.The SNP,s members and supporters think there own councillors haven,t a clue what there doing.Let me put there minds at rest, neither do the rest of us.
    Cheers Neil.

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  15. Neil “So the SNP and Argyll 1st councillors did not have a clue what they were voting for when they decided to close Struan Lodge…”

    There you go. Fixed that for you. :)

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  16. Simon – “So the SNP and Argyll 1st councillors did not have a clue what they were voting for when they decided to close Struan Lodge as apparently the figures given to them by council staff were totally wrong”

    There you go. Fixed that for you. :-D

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  17. John M – “that is very scary what did they think they were doing.If after so called months of work to put the budget together our SNP council have not scrutinised the figures properly” – there you – fixed it again for you.

    ps Remember there was NO recommendation from officials that Struan Lodge should close.

    Purely political.

    Purely SNP.

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    • My you are a feisty character Simon – “there you” oooh! Must admit it gave me a wee smile though, you sound like a cantankerous teenager.

      Not sure what the quote you gave is about or meant to mean, maybe you could enlighten me. And what happened to Argyll 1st if it’s now “Purely SNP”?

      I take your word for it, that NO recommendation was made by officials about closing Struan. Were you all hoping that if you dug them a big enough whole they would jump in to it themselves without needing to be pushed.

      Although it’s a by the by, at first when you disclosed you were present during a council meeting I assumed you must of been a Councillor. I’ve since followed the advice of a couple of other posters and looked at the articles and discussions from a couple of years ago on the proposals for the rural school closures. How far up the ladder are you Simon?

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  18. But you ‘don’t want to debate’

    @ Simon – Part of your reply to Anne Baird.

    Is it any wonder people on hear do not want to debate with someone who throws around dismissive, inconsiderate, and undiplomatic accusations to those directed at anyone whos views do not coincide with your own. Opinions such as “same old keech”, “paranoid rant” to name a few are unproductive only encouraging retaliatory responses.
    If you display a modicum of respect instead of playing the man rather than the ball you might give some an appetite to debate.

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  19. Jnr – good of you to jump to absent Anne’s defence.

    This is the other part of my reply to Anne – the part you’ve ignored. So, how about you deal with these balls then?

    “Your Party is in disarray in Argyll: one of your senior Cllrs has been thrown out, your MSP shares a platform with him, the SNP branches are revolted by the SNP Council’s decision, you’re on you second Leader and second Education Spokesperson in less than a year, grassroots activists cheer the ‘expelled’ one…”

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  20. It would certainly enhance the debates on FA if everybody would come clean on who they are.What with the big Independence battle to listen to let FA posters lead the way and come into the light.Be proud of who you are and where you live.If Scotland is to be free you can,t be a timerous wee beasty.Sorry for any spelling mistakes in the old scottish stuff.I think the good old first minister might want to use some of my stuff.
    Cheers Neil Braveheart.

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    • “Cheers Neil Braveheart”, change the record Neil, the only time we hear of or see the word ‘Braveheart’ is when those opposed to independence raise it usually cited to ridicule those of us who do not have the Scottish cringe.
      Regarding anonymity, how on earth does posting comments under our birth name give weight to anything? How does it further the debate? We come on here spouting our piece because we have an interest in whatever news we are fed using the platform provided to do so.
      Again, what you and others on here want is to play the man not the ball, try concentrating on content rather than who delivers it.
      I have replied on here before to an accusation more or less of cowardice for not posting under our name. Some of us reserve the right not to do so as our employment, the company we keep, the places we visit locally and so on would make it awkward or raise unnecessary or unwanted comment from individuals opposed to our views. I much prefer to keep my opinions on politics religion or whatever seperate from other things for these reasons and believe others on these sites do too.
      We are perfectly proud and secure in who we are, could it be the case that those who use their name when posting are self obssessed and full of their own importance?

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  21. “This is the other part of my reply to Anne – the part you’ve ignored. So, how about you deal with these balls then?”
    “Your Party is in disarray in Argyll: one of your senior Cllrs has been thrown out, your MSP shares a platform with him, the SNP branches are revolted by the SNP Council’s decision, you’re on you second Leader and second Education Spokesperson in less than a year, grassroots activists cheer the ‘expelled’ one…”
    And your point is? It wouldn’t be the first nor will it be the last time administrations have differences.
    During these times when the UK teeters on the edge of an unprecedented triple-dip, the first time in the UK’s history, having a poisoned chalice in trying to mitigate the impact of what is pretty obviously gross economic mismanagement by the previous Labour UK govt. is bound to create friction, disagreements etc. in councils.
    Cleaning up Westminster’s filthy mess as the councils up and down the length and breadth of the UK are forced to do is an unenviable task.
    By the way Simon, you are quick at having a go at anything relating to the SNP or your country’s independence, yet you and the rest of the armchair critics play your cards close to your chest regarding political allegiances. If the SNP regionally or nationally are deserving of this criticism lets hear your alternative. What’ll it be, right of center heading Labour in their attempts to align themselves to the Tories at the expense of their socialist roots? What about the party that props up the Tories at the expense of the fence they usually sit on? Or,is it the ever poular Conservatives who have little or no regard for you I or the rest of the people who share this country?
    Have a pop at the only democratically elected majority Govt. in the UK by all means but lets all hear who should replace the SNP and why.

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  22. You have have to laugh the SNP tell us that FA is poor and hardly anyone follows it but now JnrTick tells us that everybody will be staring at him and waiting to confront him about his posts if he comes clean.I think if anyone is full of there own importance on here it,s himself.we all like a bit of crack but sadly the SNP council in Argyll are a shambles so deserve all the flak there getting and that includes from there own supporters and members which I find refreshing.I am sure he will be safe to venture out in the daylight as most of the really rabid FA posters don,t come out till its dark.Just don,t wear your I love ForArgyll teeshirt when you go out.Thanks for the laugh.
    Cheers Neil.
    (ex braveheart)

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    • Neil, get a grip, don’t misquote me. My post is perfectly clear for all to see.
      These are small close communities we live in, most of us, maybe not you, have a life outside posting on here. I’ll keep them seperate as the vast majority on here do.

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    • You haven’t answered the question I posted Neil.

      “Regarding anonymity, how on earth does posting comments under our birth name give weight to anything? How does it further the debate?”

      Instead you again raise poor points detracting from the main issue. You raised the issue of anonimity on FA, I replied asking the above yet you come back with a petty attack rather than a grown up response.

      Come on Neil, lets hear what the relevance is and how it furthers the debate.

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        • Hasn’t braked you? I totally agree with everything Integrity has posted on this subject. Is there not a suspicion that you are not R.W but indeed Superman but as that handle and Clerk Kent have been taken R.W. it is! Why do programms like “Crimewatch” give the public the chance to remain anonymous, their contributions are still valid. Perhaps we should concentrate less on “courage of their convictions” and more on “concerns about their convictions” P.S. The postings of Tosh and Valid comments on here are equally divided between the anons and notanons, most of the posters commenting on subjects they are familiar with and avoiding others (I have not commented on ferries, A&B council etc.)

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    • I can never understand why some people seem fascinated with the idea that if you don’t put your name to a comment then your opinion is less valid or by putting it to your name it somehow engenders better debate.

      Surely it is the opinion that matters most and it is the opinion that should be debated rather than getting hot under the collar about whose opinion it is. In some ways anonymity makes it better as people often feel a little more comfortable about being stronger which, in turn, lends itself to the debate getting to the crux of the matter rather than skirting around the edges.

      What does it really matter if you know the opinion is from the guy you see outside the bookies on a Thursday afternoon or whether it is some anonymous person who may, or may not live on your street. Is it actually the opinion that people are most interested in or the identify of the person agreeing/disagreeing with them? As this is a forum for debate I would have thought it was the opinion.

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      • If you are not insulting people, not making legally dubious comments and not acting like a troll, then why would you want to hide your name?

        Do you notice how much of the Independence debate on forums involved people who will not put their name to the cause?

        If I decided not to engage with a Yes Man or Woman unless they used their name, I’d have few people to debate with. Only a rare few on here. And I respect them more for having the courage of their convictions.

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        • What if you are disagreeing with your employer (i.e. the Council for a lot of people in A&B). Your opinion is perfecty valid but it might not be an opinion you want your employer to know you hold strongly.

          What if you are a business and you know that your opinion, whilst not being offensive, is not shared by some of your major customers and you fear they may take their custom elsewhere.

          These sort of things are not uncommon.

          I don’t think it is as simple as saying it is about courage of convictions (well not in all cases. There could be many reasons.

          However again I ask why does it matter? If you agree/disagree on an issue then it is the content of your arguent that is most important.

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  23. At least Struan is not closed yet and with local councillor’s fighting for the residents I predict that a rescue package will take place assuming the Councillor Robb would like to remain in charge–and he does.
    Rumour has it that Cllr Blair was offered a wee position (with more monies)(divide and rule) but told the administration where to go and with Cllr Breslin and Walsh also linked up this unlikely trio will force a change. It is also interesting to note that from an snp position all the branches and constituencies support Blair and Breslin. What will Robb do —sack all the snp members? Time he realised that the officials fed him a pup. Predict he will call for a review of the original decision in the light of new information. Politically it will give him a breathing space. If not he will join the libdems/tories.

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  24. Says in cowal courier that council providing money for mortgages, will they help me if I’m made redundant from the cuts the snp brought in?

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  25. Your stuggling Jnr as for community involvement I want people locally to know I care about what goes on in Oban.Or more importantly what doesn,t go on.All my family and friends locally have to live with the decisions that are made by the council so I be would be delighted when I go to all the various meetings council or otherwise to see more faces but surprise surprise its just the usual faces.
    As for a grown up response well I certainly have noticed that a number of the posters on here like to be quite personal in there attacks but hide behind there nickmames very grown up and brave but it takes all sorts.I don,t say anything on here that I wouldn,t say to someone,s face but everyone locally in Oban knows that.As for a life away from FA and your delightful company very busy thanks.Work,kids,grandchildren,shinty,community council etc etc .You have certainly answered your own question by your silly reply so you just stay a junior and leave the adults to get on with it.
    Cheers Neil.

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    • Not much left i would say, of theformer leaders presence.
      Privately the SNP machine must regret ‘losing’ Roddy McCuish.

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      • Roddy left to become depute leader? Why?
        He must regret being pulled by his Helensburgh mate who only 2 years ago in his local paper was advocating Helensburgh to join with West Dunbartonshire. Loyalty to ABC I don’t think. He will transfer resources to Helensburgh and link up with his good LibDem pals in that deprived area.
        Personally McCuish is in part to blame for the current Administrations problem’s.

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  26. Not just Oban Phil/Neil.
    My intro is reminiscent of Newsie at her gossiping best I know but here goes :-

    I understand from an impeccable source that tomorrow the local paper in Dunoon will carry an open letter from 3 SNP local branches to James Robb the Council leader – they say they “deplore his callous manner”, “deplore the heartbreak he [Robb] is causing”, and they ask him to “listen to his party members with whom you appear out of touch”.

    All of this is their response to the closure of Struan Lodge.

    They say that tough decisions need to be considered fairly and explained well however in a damning statement of their own leader – they say – “Your budget failed on both counts”.

    Notice “Your budget”: not our budget; not the SNP’s budget – “Your Budget”

    The SNP rank and file are truly revolting, the SNP are split across Argyll and Bute and this administration is not fit for purpose.

    See Robb, see jaiket, see shaky nail….

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  27. Simon – Is it fair to lambast a councillor if the figures they were working with to formulate their decision making were actually fundamentally flawed.

    Any thoughts on what should happen to the council staff/officers who supplied grossly inaccurate costings for the council budget?

    It could only be described as gross incompetence or wilful intent, what’s the current disciplinary action for such actions at Argyll and Bute Council?

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    • Fair enough John you may have a point but tell me, do you think it has been ‘careless’ to lose the best asset the snp had in Roddy Mccuish.
      Why can nobody in the snp hierarchy talk about this. Is it forbidden. that man got more votes for fellow councillors in Lorn by his unselfish canvasing. Why are the snp not ashamed. Why cant they answer?

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  28. John M, ah the old hoary chestnut of blaming the officers…

    Well at least Robb is NOT as yet reduced to that feeble excuse. Remember Cllrs had the full budget 3 weeks before the budget meeting. If figures were to be challenged that was when to do it.

    But such is the split within the SNP on this issue that apparently someone from within the SNP has now leaked an email from Robb to SNP members. In this email he claims that “savings produced by closing Struan Lodge would not be £400 – as demonstrated it is actually significantly more”.

    He also says no one has put into the public domain evidence “to back up assertions that the savings of £400k per annum is incorrect”.

    So Robb, the budget mastermind, is pretty confident that the figures supplied by officers are correct.

    Let’s face it the SNP is split on this issue, their language becomes more intemperate on a daily basis, branches are in open-revolt, personal and public attacks are being made on the SNP leader by local SNP press officers: unity, authority and credibility is fast disappearing, and this shambles IS going to get worse.

    But, if it makes you feel better, feel free to blame officers :)

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    • Spot on, as always Simon.
      I personally miss anyone from an differing opinion from yourself engaging you in debate.
      You are very good at sharing information as is Neil on the Oban area in particular. Very educational.

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    • Suppose you’re right Simon, shouldn’t blame the officers. As you said yourself, Cllr Robb is putting all his confidence in the figures supplied to him by council officers.

      What does that say about cllr Breslin & Walsh though, using the residents of Struan Lodge as cheap political pawns, pretty shocking really?

      They both appear to be suggesting that they have also interrogated the figures supplied by council officers and they claim the figures are wrong. They even appear to be suggesting that the Council’s own finance director has said the figure of £1,660 is wrong and the true figure is actually closer to £1,000.

      Imagine that, two Dunoon cllrs intentionally giving very elderly residents false hopes simply to score a cheap political point. Makes cllr Robb look pretty innocuous for trusting and supporting his officers really!

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  29. Stop Press.
    Council leader James Robb has just bought some pigeons to help deliver his messages to fellow SNP councillors, hopefully they will not be shot down like himself.
    I think the SNP should just rotate the leadership.let them all have a shot for a couple of weeks each then when Robb goes it will not look so bad.
    Jo smith sacked for nothing at a cost of nearly £26,000.
    The two ladies sacked for having a laugh at Sally,s big bum.
    The letter to every council employee from Jane Fowler head of Improvement and HR. telling them not to talk to the press.
    Where does this leave us now if e-mails about council business are being sent to the press is it one rule for the councillors and a different one for the workers.
    Remember some of these same councillors sacked Jo Smith for nothing.Obviously Robb has to go even the Scotland managers job is looking safer.
    What a motley crew and there his SNP colleagues.
    I bet Roddy,s glad he bailed out when he did.
    Cheers Neil.

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    • EH!
      Joe Smith issue happened before the snp took over. Personally as the politicians fight each other—the high heid yins in the council –senior lawyer, chief executive have successfully shifted the attention from their inadequate performances OVER MANY YEARS.
      How I wish all the councillor’s would have a closer look at the officials in charge. Even Simon must agree although he has never confirmed if he is one or not!!

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      • You are quite right.
        The continuing infighting in the SNP group is wholly destructive of the party’s credibility in local government here – we could write Councilor Wash’s next election campaign statement now – we wouldn’t be wide of the mark and and there would be no defence against it.
        But, as you say, equally damaging to Argyll is the way this undisciplined scrapping is deflecting attention from the problems that do need to be resolved in the questionable competence and integrity evidenced in some senior council officials’ performances.
        Wat has to be respected in all of this is the responsible behaviour of the SNP groups’ coalition partners which has been impeccable – honourable, straightforward.

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        • Newsie “equally damaging to Argyll is the way this…is deflecting attention from the problems that do need to be resolved in the questionable competence…in some senior council officials’ performances.

          Pot, kettle, black. ;)

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      • Snowy, I’ve said many times I don’t work for the Council, I’m not an elected member and I’m not a member of any political party.

        By all means have a look at official’s performance – but let’s not take the easy way out of blaming them every time. Cllr Robb has stood by his figures and declares that they have not been proved wrong.

        And, I’ll say again – there was no recommendation from officials that Struan Lodge should close – that was purely a SNP political decision.

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        • You say you are not a member of a political party –doesn’t stop you voting for one. Just for me –I will not tell anyone –who do you prefer
          SNP– (I know the answer to this one)
          Conservative and Unionist- check your Unionist boxer short’s unless of course you are a lady
          Liberal Democrats– Possible
          UKIP– Closer
          Scottish Labour (formally a socialist party in the early 20th Century.)

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  30. John M – you seem confused so let me try to spell it out for you.

    There is a motion coming to the next Council meeting proposed by Cllr Blair (SNP) and seconded by Cllr Breslin (ex-SNP as he got thrown out.)in support of Struan Lodge and seeking to reverse the previous decision that it should close.

    For this motion to be even considered the proposers have to show evidence of ‘a material change’. If they cannot the Council will not even debate it.

    So what it looks like Cllrs Blair and Breslin are doing is trying to create enough dubiety and uncertainty about the actual figures presented in the Budget in order to get the motion heard and debated.

    If this is agreed then he and Cllr Blair will vote against the SNP Group and their votes will be enough to reverse the decision.

    The main point about my post is that the Argyll SNP are split, at each others throat, are behaving badly in public and there is yet more dirty work afoot. The said Cllr Breslin is said not to be a team player – but he is said to be hugely ambitious. And, Newsie is right about one thing – Mikeyboy Russell supports him against Robb – even although he has been expelled by the Party.

    Meanwhile, whilst this shambles is going on, there, sitting to one side but occasionally, and-ever-so-gently stoking the fire, sits Tricky Dicky, waiting, whispering, plotting.

    Have a nice day :)

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    • Simon, you are not far of the mark. How about the Argyll First lot (Philand, Kelly and McAlpine)? It is clear that they do not have the guts (or backbone) to take a hard decision and are happy for their own constituents to subsidise Struan Lodge in Dunoon when their own constituents will see services to their own eldery folk in the Mid Argyll area being cut.

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      • Argyllfirst appear to have evapourated. Not a cheep from their corner, which is unlike their previous statesmanlike comments.

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    • Do you know Simon you’re right, I am definitely confused. I think I have just read a post from a councillor that you’ve been slagging off big time saying that he agrees with everything you say as you tell it how it is…. weird!

      Thanks for the clarification as to where we are in the current proceedings. So does that then mean the outcome of this unfortunate mess will be dependant on the veracity of the figures supplied by council officers?

      Either Cllr Breslin, Walsh & Blair will be unable to produce sufficent evidence to challenge the figures proposed by council staff – Struan Lodge closes
      Cllr Breslin, Walsh & Blair are able to produce sufficent evidence to challenge the current proposed figures – Struan Lodge stays open.

      Which way do you think it will go?

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      • John M – “which way will it go”? I genuinely don’t know. But as I said it looks like the tactic is to create sufficient uncertainty about the figures purely in order to generate a debate in the first place.

        If that happens then Kelly, Blair and Breslin will probably change from ‘no vote’ (ie abstaining) to voting to reverse the previous decision. If everybody else votes the way they did the first time – then Struan Lodge stays open.

        However, if the motion is not allowed because the proposers cannot evidence material change since it was last debated, then Struan Lodge closes.

        And, this is why the argument about the figures is so crucial. But, and it’s an important but, the figures don’t need to right/wrong – they just need to generate confusion , dubiety and uncertainty in order to ‘prove’ there has been as material change.

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  31. Separation, the council subsidises a shed load of activities and services. But if you want to get onto Mid-Argyll Kintyre – how much does everyone else in Argyll pay to a) service the debt and b) pay for the running costs of the Aqualibrium in Campbeltown?

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  32. Simon like phil i have to say at least you can balance things out and put things down as they really are. I have to chucckle when i see SEPERATION IN 14 stating we do not have the guts or backbone to take hard decisions, i have to say whatever decision we take there will always be someone who is unhappy however we take decisions in public and on public record as opposed to SEPERATION IN 14 who does not even give the courtesy of allowing people to know who you are so you can hide behind all sorts of comments, have the guts or backbone to sign your own name to comments and be held publically accountable, would be interesting to hear your comments when people know who you are would you be so brave?????????????

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    • It would be helpful for the electorate if Cllr Philand would give the ‘argyllfirst’ position on Struan Lodge as their (Argyllfirst)reasoned comments previously were considered a good benchmark (in my opinion).

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  33. So can I get this right–do you want Struan to close or to stay open?

    The council leader makes hard decisions because it is in Dunoon and not Lochgilphead or Helensburgh—hard decisions are easy when it is not on your doorstep.

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  34. Noticed on another web site (sorry FA) that Robb offered Cllr Blair to join the “dark side” in order to undermine the Dunoon /Cowal councillors. Despite this being a few thousand quid more to his coffers Cllr Blair told Robb & McCuish where to go. Council Leader Robb should make a statement on this and if true resign.
    Let’s hope Cllr’s Walsh, Breslin and Blair keep up the good fight. Robb I’ve heard is chatting to the Morton Lib Dem’s in Helensburgh to bolster up his position. What deals are being done there? Power definitately goes to the head.

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  35. Snowy, “Robb offered Cllr Blair to join the ‘dark side’… a few thousand quid more to his coffers”

    What are you talking about?

    Robb is in the SNP as is Blair.

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  36. Offered a formal lead councillor position to stay on the council establishment side and to isolate Breslin and Walsh.
    Of course Robb was out of the snp for a time and currently is out of step and is ignoring all the snp constituency branches who support Struan Lodge retention and Blair and Breslin (although Breslin is is out of the snp —-for the moment)

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  37. @Neil

    “You have certainly answered your own question by your silly reply so you just stay a junior and leave the adults to get on with it”.

    Dear dear Neil, is that the best most mature response you are capable of? Still, we all have our limitations and shouldn’t prevent you from lowering the quaity of responses this site.

    For the third time, and I know it is a difficult one for you, but could you please, instead of cohersing us to surrender our right to anonymity, give us some, even a few, reasons as to why and particularly how it furthers these debates in any way shape or form. What does it bring to them? Is it to direct insults to the person rather than criticise the content of their post, I suspect so as can see nothing to be gained by posting using our names.

    If I recall, didn’t some intellectually challenged individual on here not start getting personal about Scots renewables when he posted on here bringing down his nautical skills or something like that? It’s clowns like tha who will drag anything into a debate, particularly when they have no arguement and backs against the wall that result to plastering peoples or their families private lives on these forums for all to see, despicable.

    I work five days a week in the community and have on a couple of occasions encountered irrational heated nonsense from individuals locally who disagreed with my views. This is when I used my name to post. So, instead of getting on with the productive work I do within my comminity I was held up simply because one elderly blinkered individual and another jobless guy wanted to ‘have a go’. I since decided to post anonymously and feel I can contribute to this and many other forums in the knowledge that I have not compromised the quality of the debate or posts.

    Don’t get me wrong, in my free time I will stand toe to toe with whoever on any subject I am reasonably familiar with and revel in a good old exchange of opinions but there is a time and a place, not during my work and with people I am happy to converse with.

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    Helensburgh Councillor expelled from SNP group

    Posted on March 8, 2010 by newsroom

    The SNP Group on Argyll and Bute Council has confirmed that it has expelled Councillor James Robb, who represents the Helensburgh Central ward.

    Group leader Councillor Robert MacIntyre said: ‘Following a disciplinary hearing on Thursday 4thMarch, the Council’s SNP Group concluded that Councillor Robb had breached the Party’s standing orders.

    ‘Unfortunately, this was not the first such occasion and the Group agreed that it had no option but expulsion.

    ‘The situation is deeply regrettable. However, the Group members at the hearing were unanimous in the view that a parting of the ways was necessary to allow us to focus on our work within the Administration of the Council and for the people of Argyll and Bute’.

    Councillor MacIntyre also indicated that as Councillor Robb has a right of appeal, it would not be appropriate to make any further statements on the matter.

    (Update 8th March 14.30) Responding to his expulsion, Councillor Robb has issued the following statement:

    ‘I will still remain an SNP councillor representing the interests of the people of Helensburgh & Lomond.

    ‘I believed I was exercising my right to freedom of speech when I gave a prepared statement at a public meeting of Helensburgh Community Council. The SNP Council Group decided that this was a breach of Group Standing Orders and expelled me. This has allowed me to resign from the Coalition with the Alliance of Independent Councillors (AIC). Although I consider many Independent councillors as friends I have concerns over the lack of a coherent strategy within the AIC and the lack of effective scrutiny of Council decisions.

    ‘I will continue to work with my SNP colleagues on common interests, attending SNP Group meetings in my capacity as Secretary of Helensburgh SNP. Thus while still very much part of the Council I am now free to express my concerns and to hold the Council to account. I will continue to put the interests of the people first as I fight for a fairer Argyll & Bute.

    Based on this Councillor Breslin is quids in for the leadership Cllr Walsh as Deputy Leader and Councillor Blair Leader on Moral Authority and Finance !

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  39. Hi Chris,
    No –not in any time-warp that I am aware of –but if I am so is everyone else!
    I think we should look at the motives of those involved based on their previous actions. Since Cllr Robb was in a similar position in the past as Cllr Breslin you would think he would be more understanding as a fellow nationalist?.
    I think it appears to be personal as Cllr Breslin is deemed to be linked with M Russell MSP. Add in the mix of Cllr Walsh –who Cllr Robb cannot stand the people of Struan, Dunoon and Cowal are the victims by association.

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